Exploring Race and Science: A Conversation

In summary, the conversation revolves around the topic of race and its use in science and society. Some people argue that race is a useful concept in scientific research, while others argue against its use. There are various reasons given for and against the use of race, such as its usefulness in classifying people for medical research and its impact on society. It is also discussed how the concept of race may evolve in the future with advancements in genetic research. Overall, the conversation highlights the complexities and controversies surrounding the topic of race.
  • #1
marcus
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some people at PF like to talk about race: either to attack and belittle the notion, and deplore others using the word, or contrariwise to defend it. So a lot of information is flying around and you can learn a lot from the conversation. I've learned things I didnt know

somebody, Moonbear maybe, said the NIH (national inst of health) wouldn't fund medical research or some such thing unless the experimental subjects were from several races. this amazed me, but then I saw the sense to it.
Drugs work differently and diet and nutrition depending on race, which is of course scientifically real. So you HAVE to include a diverse group in your study so the information is as useful to doctors as may be.
I now see the NIH is simply encouraging good science since it makes people consider more factors and find out more. And indeed we get published results showing race makes a difference e.g. in follate uptake in pregnant women.

It needs to be made clear that the fact the classification was done by the doctor or the patient (and is thus in either case "sociological") is no drawback as long as it is repeatable enough to be useful to doctors, dieticians or nurses in the future.

so there must be thousands of scientists in US getting NIH grants and publishing scientific results where they use categories of race.
If it makes for better science and for more useful science in treating people, then more power to them.

Because so many scientists use it, one must conclude that scientifically speaking, race is a tremendously useful concept.
However, for reasons I don't thoroughly understand, one might wish to deny this and give a number of reasons why it can't possibly be useful to classify people by race. I can't remember them all but here is what some of the reasons sound like to me.

1. it isn't useful because the US is a bad country to be doing that
2. it isn't useful because in Australia they say "ancestry" instead
3. it isn't useful because that is just "sociological race" instead of some imagined other kind.
4. it isn't useful because some scientists in the special field of human genetics at the present moment do not use the word. OK so they have their own words, fine. OK so in other fields scientists do. OK even geneticists might use it in the future when their tools get a little sharper.
5. it isn't useful since the only reason those other scientists find it conveneint is because of the US Census. The fact that statisticians at the Census use it shows that the whole country is obsessed with race, which is naughty.

---------
There are doubtless other arguments, you have to go looking yourself because there's too much for one person to look through and read, but the trouble with all the arguments is that it's pretty well established that classifying people by race is useful for some kinds of science and in some professions. Also it doesn't matter if the doctor or patient does it subjectively----the categories just have to be so that people can use them with reasonable consistency in that context and application.

Now if you are not a scientist and have no practical reason to be classifying people (e.g. according to how different categories respond to a certain drug etc.) then it may be bad manners in many situations. It doesn't make for entertaining conversation either. So it won't do for people harp on it, or be inconsiderate. those are non-science issues.

If it is SCIENCE we are talking about then you want to use any concepts that work, no holds barred. and in a multiracial society this is one very useful concept in all kinds of fields.

if it ain't (yet) useful to human geneticists that is tough luck for them. they may find it helpful in the future

And what about the future? In the future I expect the human genetic tree will emerge from a lot of DNA blood samples going into the computer
and human races will have objective reality.

the term may be "racial variety" or something else, just to fit in the taxonomy. it doesn't matter what word.

I expect finns will be a race and maori and inuit and god knows what else, and maybe han and ashkenazi. And quite some people will be
unclassifiable because they're so homogenized.

Instead of only having a "sociological" or a subjective race, everybody will want to go down to the testing center and get their blood sample analyzed to find out what actual objective race they are, or if they raceless. they will be curious. and it may be a multidimensional thing too

I don't set such a high value on the information, but I'd pay 5 dollars to know. But if it cost 10 dollars I might buy a bottle of wine or go to the movies.

It is kind of intriguing. a lot of human history is in genes----the flow and mixing of different types of people. how much of you is Beakerfolk, how much Basque, how much Ottoman Turk. Did you realize 95 percent of your ancestors fished from rowboats and ate mostly codfish? (joke)

One paper Iansmith gave a link for told how in the past sometimes two or more races combined to make a new race. So the tree is not exactly a tree. It should be challenging to construct. Branches can grow back together and branch out again in new ways. the dog team modified their computer program "structure" to allow for that. Well that's my view of the future----a huge load more information which essentially classifies people and untangles riddles of ancestry to some extent.

I'm guessing there will turn out to be exactly 85 human races---or "varieties" if that word is adopted instead. Why, because 85 seems like a good number and that was how many breeds of dog those other researchers dealt with.

Meanwhile we've got ourselves a scientifically useful concept! Let's see what we can do with it!

BTW when a New Zealander says his friend is Maori he is talking of what we Americans'd say was the persons race. If he wants to call it "ancestry" that's his business. His Census Bureau can call the boxes "ancestry" which sounds real classy. I've never done the Census questionnaire but I'd be quite pleased to be asked my "ancestry". Let's hope they change the form. But the trouble is, sanitary synonyms don't have any lasting effect. If you can't clean up the words you have now, it won't help to use euphemism: the codeword will get just as smelly real soon.
 
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  • #2
100,000 medical journal articles citing race, and counting

marcus said:
...no drawback as long as it is repeatable enough to be useful to doctors, dieticians or nurses in the future.

...there must be thousands of scientists in US getting NIH grants and publishing scientific results where they use categories of race.
In fact, there are currently almost 100,000 medical journal articles indexed on Medline that mention the word race in their abstracts or titles. Judging by the first 100 citations returned by a PubMed query for the word race, almost all of those medical journal articles are using the word in the sense of a human subpopulation identifiable by distinctive hereditary phenotypic characteristics.
 
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  • #3
There is a need for some sort of identification. In the US, it is common to group people by race and/or ethnicity.

I think one of the problems in science is how do you decide what "race" a person is? How do you classify race? This is of particular importance in the pharmaceutical field. If you have a medication that will work for Asians, but not for blacks, you really need to know what criteria the pharmaceutical company that developed the drug used to determine "race". This is a major problem. There is no scientific cut and dried classification. Different pharmaceutical firms are using different criteria.

Take for example the famous golf player Tiger Woods. Most people consider him black. He looks black, his skin and hair are those of a black person. In reality he is mostly Asian. See this post from another thread:

Tiger Woods, his father and mother have tried to make it clear that Tiger Woods should not be considered black, but Asian. They've said this multiple times on SI and Golf Digest, but many people still insist that he is black, especially African-Americans. Tiger Wood's family, especially his mother seem to get quite annoyed when they deny his other races.

Quote:
According to some sources (http://members.tripod.com/~t_woods/facts.html ), his father is 50% of African descent, 25% Native American, 25% Chinese, AND his mother is 50% Thai and 50% Chinese. This would logically make Tiger Woods 37.5% Chinese, 25% of African descent, 25% Thai, and 12.5% Native American, OR 62.5% Asian, 25% of African descent, and 12.5% Native American.


So, let's say Joe Smith looks black (like Tiger), but he is 63% Asian, 25% black & 12% Native American. He is rushed to the emergency room of a hospital. There are medications which have been developed based on race which can save his life. They see he is black and administer the medication for blacks, and he dies. Ok, a bit silly, but this is why there is so much trouble with "labeling" groups of people. There is so much diversity in the population of the US.

Also, even among people that are generally considered black, there are more genetic differences among Africans from different regions, for example, than there are between Africans and Europeans.
 
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  • #4
Evo said:
Take for example the famous golf player Tiger Woods...

Love it! here we have a great paradigm for the "raceless" category!

Tiger Woods can be a great example of a "raceless" person that the
computer simply cannot catalog, even as an identifiable mixture.

----footnote for anyone new to the discussion----
I have this SciFi fantasy that the human geneticists will push the
structure program to the limit, with all sorts of improvements.
And there will turn out to be a tree-like structure
and there will be 85 "varieties" and also identifiable mixtures of them
and for $5 dollars you can walk up and give a blood sample and
find out what your genetic variety is (which might be multidimensional)
It is pretty vague, but something like this has been done with dogs.
there are unclassifiable dogs. it is good to have it pointed out that
unclassifiable dogs and people can achieve excellence in endeavors
valued by society such as playing golf and remembering where they put the bone.
 
  • #5
marcus said:
----footnote for anyone new to the discussion----
I have this SciFi fantasy that the human geneticists will push the
structure program to the limit, with all sorts of improvements.
And there will turn out to be a tree-like structure
and there will be 85 "varieties" and also identifiable mixtures of them
and for $5 dollars you can walk up and give a blood sample and
find out what your genetic variety is (which might be multidimensional)
Actually, some geneticists are pushing for bringing medical care down to a personal genetic level. It will be awhile before we get there, but I find it fascinating. So your scenario may not be too far off.
 
  • #6
marcus said:
----footnote for anyone new to the discussion----
I have this SciFi fantasy that the human geneticists will push the
structure program to the limit, with all sorts of improvements.
And there will turn out to be a tree-like structure
and there will be 85 "varieties" and also identifiable mixtures of them
and for $5 dollars you can walk up and give a blood sample and
find out what your genetic variety is (which might be multidimensional)
Well, if you live in the UK, you can already do something very similar ... today http://www.oxfordancestors.com/index.html?PHPSESSID=e9fd44cf51c66633b653591d8b2f9474
 
  • #7
Whether you group people by races or not, it really depends on how you then use the information. Science and medicine really do need to rely on the individual level, just like the semi-fictitious example of someone who is mostly Asian being treated as an African-American because he "looks black." (Aside: reminds me of a Seinfeld episode.) Scientific inquiry usually starts out by looking for broad patterns, and then refining them to narrower and narrower criteria. So, if we identify that a particular drug is more efficacious in the black population than the white population, that doesn't mean it works for all blacks and no whites, it just tells us something that affects the efficacy of that drug is more commonly found in one population over the other. That gives scientists a starting place to look for what is causing that difference. Now they can start looking at what is different about these populations, what is similar about those who respond, what is different within the population between responders and non-responders.

Let's return to the folate example, just as an example. Let's say these findings are replicated independently, African-Americans as a population have consistently lower levels of folate uptake despite being given the exact same doses of folate in their diet (there may be individuals who do not fit this profile). The next question to be asked is: why? Now, scientists delve into their bag of folate data and find there is a folate transporter protein (I don't know if there is, I'm making this up for sake of example now). Now they head back out to the clinics and compare groups included in the original study: African-Americans, Mexican-Americans, European-Americans (a.k.a., whites), and find that indeed, the African-Americans have lower levels of this transporter, and this correlates well to the levels of folate they have in their blood too. Now, this doesn't mean it's causational yet, we have to consider that it may actually be the other way around, maybe the lower folate levels cause the transporter levels to drop rather than the transporter levels controlling folate levels. Well, this is easy to test (I should note that it's not really that easy in reality...the concept is simple, it may not be that easy to actually measure this transporter depending on where it's found...it may be hard to get people to enroll for a clinical study if you need to take a biopsy of stomach tissue to measure the trasnporter, for example). Give a range of doses of folate to this cohort and measure pre-treatment and post-treatment levels of the transporter to see if they change with folate dose. If they don't, then you can narrow this down that it's likely the other way around. You can do the reverse study too. Find individuals with different levels of folate transporter (many at each level), and give them a fixed oral dose of folate to see if this affects how much of the folate gets into their blood.

Okay, in our hypothetical example, we now have used these racial differences to narrow down our test group for examining the root biological cause of the differences at an individual level, not at a population level. This is now far more useful for application to medicine. No longer does a physician have to guess if someone is African-American or Asian with a small percentage of African ancestry. Instead, when a pregnant woman of any race arrives for her first pre-natal checkup, they take a blood sample, put a few drops into a quick diagnostic kit that either measures folate transporter or some marker of folate transporter levels, and the doctor now knows if this patient needs an additional treatment other than just taking a folate-enriched vitamin supplement during pregancy, such as a drug to help up-regulate folate transporter levels to actually get the supplemented folate to the fetus. If you just stopped at race, you wouldn't be helping anyone. Breaking down the population into any sort of subgroupings has its uses if applied correctly. Science can group populations in ways other than race as well, such as occurrence of a disease that fairly uniformly crosses racial boundaries. Instead, they may find that we need to group people geographically in the US, such as with cancer clusters, to identify the root cause, or by occupation (i.e., asbestos exposure). The important thing is these are starting points, not endpoints.
 
  • #8
Moonbear said:
Whether you group people by races or not, it really depends on how you then use the information. Science and medicine really do need to rely on the individual level, just like the semi-fictitious example of someone who is mostly Asian being treated as an African-American because he "looks black." (Aside: reminds me of a Seinfeld episode.) Scientific inquiry usually starts out by looking for broad patterns, and then refining them to narrower and narrower criteria. So, if we identify that a particular drug is more efficacious in the black population than the white population, that doesn't mean it works for all blacks and no whites, it just tells us something that affects the efficacy of that drug is more commonly found in one population over the other. That gives scientists a starting place to look for what is causing that difference...

this sounds extremely right-on (as far as I can tell from limited perspective)
I'd say that broad categories are most useful when you haven't time or can't afford better information. and sometimes the extra screening test is too expensive, or just isn't practical, so I imagine the doctor or dietician or whoever just doing the best they can with the information they've got.
 
  • #9
Moonbear said:
Now, this doesn't mean it's causational yet, we have to consider that it may actually be the other way around, maybe the lower folate levels cause the transporter levels to drop rather than the transporter levels controlling folate levels.

Ahah! another turn in the logic. Must be the sort of thing that makes biology interesting.

Moonbear said:
The important thing is these are starting points, not endpoints.

One would imagine broader categories serving this way. If my doctor just treated me based on my age sex and race I would quickly get a new doctor
even if I liked his tie.

Moonbear, I've heard about this business of "lactose tolerance". Is there one of these tests for that?
You start out with a broad group and you say hmm that person belongs to a group that often has lactose intolerance. But before you prescribe anything there is presumably a test.
It might be as trivial as giving the person a glass of milk and seeing if he runs to the bathroom. But one should do the test, not just assume things.
:smile:
 
  • #10
Nereid said:
Well, if you live in the UK, you can already do something very similar ... today http://www.oxfordancestors.com/index.html?PHPSESSID=e9fd44cf51c66633b653591d8b2f9474

I am realizing how behind the times I am. It never occurred to me to wonder if I was a descendent of Genghis Khan! But here (and there is even a 5 pound stirling discount) is this service that looks at your DNA and tells.

not sure what "Seven Daughters of Eve" is

however this outfit does not smell quite right to me.
the person you link to may actually be a mountebank jumping the gun, Nereid. I would be cautious about sending him any of your blood.
 
  • #11
http://www.wwnorton.com/catalog/spring02/032314.htm . As C-S says in his Genes, Peoples, and Languages book, there is a lot of misunderstanding about 'African Eve'; similarly some people who read Sykes' book come away with wrong ideas too (some say Sykes is partly to blame for 'dumbing down' some of the complexities).
 
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  • #12
marcus said:
...It never occurred to me to wonder if I was a descendent of Genghis Khan! But here (and there is even a 5 pound stirling discount) is this service that looks at your DNA and tells.
...

there is something a little bit like vanity press publishing houses and mailorder geneology outfits here.
Personally I am a direct male descendent of Hansi Kepler and have a touch of Aristarchus on my mother's side. I totally reject the idea of having descended from Genghis Khan, even a little.
 
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  • #13
marcus said:
there is something a little bit like vanity press publishing houses and mailorder geneology outfits here.
Personally I am a direct male descendent of Hansi Kepler and have a touch of Aristarchus on my mother's side. I totally reject the idea of having descended from Genghis Khan, even a little.

Even though your rottweiler shares genes with Romulus and Remus' mommy?
 
  • #14
If you know tons of seemingly useless trivia, try the monthly quiz at this site:
http://www.skeptics.com.au/features/quiz/quiz.htm

I thought this relevant because one of the questions/answers from the July quiz was this:

Q4 - Residents of Mongolia have for centuries had only single names, but were recently required to adopt surnames. What happened?

A4 - They all took the same surname - Chingiz or variants. Actually this turns out to be quite reasonable as it has turned out that more than half the men are descended from Genghis Khan, who must have worked overtime on conquering the world in several different ways.
 
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  • #15
selfAdjoint said:
Even though your rottweiler shares genes with Romulus and Remus' mommy?

my silliness aside selfA, you once said essentially that you did not begrudge the Ashkenazi their 10 percent share of the population territory even tho they take professional jobs from your own kin---you put it nicer and stronger than that. listen now. we have transcended racial resentment and bitterness for a moment. there is to be a portioning out of the demographic "land" which is acceptable, maybe arrived at democratically, maybe it is 3004

the Ashkenazi have earned the right to be particular because all we others agree that we want to have them be (whatever it is 3 percent or 10 percent) a part of our population---because they keep doing interesting things-----and we all see it as worthwhile having a bunch of that subpopulation around even if they take some professional jobs away from our kinfolk, by being slightly better at arguing, because they are also often better at playing the violin.

we have a constitution with some protection of minority rights and some basic limitations on jurisdiction etc etc, but basically we all vote about how to share the demographic turf, and we mutually exercise control over each other's fertility (without warfare)

and furthermore to the extent any group has a group consciousness they will sense an obligation to act good and win approval for the group.
If they feel no group identity that is OK too, let them be pure individuals only representing themselves. But if some feel any shred of group identity then they are going to have an extra motive to be good citizens and win approval because other people are going to be voting----it is a "popularity contest" in a couple of senses

and it is actually not a zerosum game, there are ways that everybody can benefit-------besides removing one of the causes of genocide

Oh, what were we talking about? I was daydreaming 3004 again :smile:
 
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  • #16
Moonbear said:
They all took the same surname - Chingiz or variants. Actually this turns out to be quite reasonable as it has turned out that more than half the men are descended from Genghis Khan, who must have worked overtime on conquering the world in several different ways.

I have to correct that website's joke and say that
Mr. Genghis was working two different jobs overtime
one was conquering the world, which his guys did impressively well,
and the other was getting the world pregnant, which is different.

and it looks like he did a very impressive job on that one too.
 
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  • #17
Moonbear said:
If you know tons of seemingly useless trivia, try the monthly quiz at this site:
http://www.skeptics.com.au/features/quiz/quiz.htm

I thought this relevant because one of the questions/answers from the July quiz was this:
I'm looking at the August quiz. Question #3 How many people mentioned in the Bible were known to be ambidextrous?
I don't know. :frown:
 
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  • #18
Oh, I hardly ever know the answers to the quizzes unless I get really lucky with a google search, but they are as much entertaining as frustrating, especially when you go through and read some of the selected answers from previous quizzes and see how funny they are (not many can get the answers).
 
  • #19
The issue is not weather racial differences should not be studied and noted. For example, no one here is studying the discrepancies in regards to black poverty and unemployment rates between the races in the USA. There are likely hundreds, if not thousands, of differences that can be noted between the races. However, what is apparently obvious here is the subset of alleged or actual differences that people are focusing on.

It stands to reason that choosing a narrow subset of differentials, namely those alleged difference that helped to promote the idea of black genetic inferiority, seems to be paramount. Regardless of what many of you like or do not like to hear, the fact is that such is racist. I am not at all trying to prevent you from talking about it. In fact, I like it when people can openly discuss issues of race. However, you have to take the good with the bad, because it is a package deal. The fact that there are some on this forum who only focus on the differences that work towards implying a genetic black inferiority…which by implication then goes to explain such things as Homicide rates and lower social status, born from testosterone levels and an inferior brain.

You recognize, whether you accept it or not, that such conclusions is tantamount to calling a black person a cool person, but only using pseudo science or biased research to do so.

A person with a known and documented history of thievery, whether not currently a their or not, must recognize that he or she will always be a prime suspect, when something comes up missing, especially when they are known to have been in the vicinity. I am not suggesting that I know what is truth. It is possible, that blacks could be genetically inferior, as many of you are suggesting. It is also possible that whites could be genetically inferior, which non of you are suggesting. I have no way of proving either case and none of you do either. However, what I do know is that whites credibility on racial issues is that of a known thief. Your documented racist history destroys the credibility. The fact is that we simply need more people of color doing such research, however, that does not seem to be an area of interest and need of people of color as much as it is for white people.
 
  • #20
I consider your post here to be spam. It is inconsiderate and off topic or diversionary in nature.
I started this thread and that's how it looks to me.
You seem to be full of resentment and expecting everybody
to understand and sympathize and accept your resentment.
You are the first person to bring up the issue of "alleged genetic inferiority" in this thread and almost the first person to introduce the concept "African-American" into the thread of discussion.
The only previous reference here to "African-American" that I can find is where Moonbear says something about folate uptake----a nutrition matter relevant to human mothers generally IIRC.

I have the highest respect for your intelligence but if I were a "mod" here (Mentor) I would just zap this post of yours so the thread could move on without this distraction.

this thread is not about the alleged "African-American" classification of people or about the "alleged brain genetic hum-hum" or whatever you seem to like to talk about. Please find another thread where they are eager to talk about the various chips on their various shoulders and their alleged intellectual hum-hums.

and testosterone and stuff, like you say here.

NoahAfrican said:
The issue is not weather racial differences should not be studied and noted. For example, no one here is studying the discrepancies in regards to black poverty and unemployment rates between the races in the USA. There are likely hundreds, if not thousands, of differences that can be noted between the races. However, what is apparently obvious here is the subset of alleged or actual differences that people are focusing on.

It stands to reason that choosing a narrow subset of differentials, namely those alleged difference that helped to promote the idea of black genetic inferiority, seems to be paramount. Regardless of what many of you like or do not like to hear, the fact is that such is racist. I am not at all trying to prevent you from talking about it. In fact, I like it when people can openly discuss issues of race. However, you have to take the good with the bad, because it is a package deal. The fact that there are some on this forum who only focus on the differences that work towards implying a genetic black inferiority…which by implication then goes to explain such things as Homicide rates and lower social status, born from testosterone levels and an inferior brain.

You recognize, whether you accept it or not, that such conclusions is tantamount to calling a black person a cool person, but only using pseudo science or biased research to do so.

A person with a known and documented history of thievery, whether not currently a their or not, must recognize that he or she will always be a prime suspect, when something comes up missing, especially when they are known to have been in the vicinity. I am not suggesting that I know what is truth. It is possible, that blacks could be genetically inferior, as many of you are suggesting. It is also possible that whites could be genetically inferior, which non of you are suggesting. I have no way of proving either case and none of you do either. However, what I do know is that whites credibility on racial issues is that of a known thief. Your documented racist history destroys the credibility. The fact is that we simply need more people of color doing such research, however, that does not seem to be an area of interest and need of people of color as much as it is for white people.
 
  • #21
I suddenly got some insight into what your problem is, Noah!

Even tho it is off topic I will take the time here to say what I think it is.

You confuse science with MORALITY.

So when you hear people talk about the varieties of people you come in and make a MORAL claim on their attention.

It would be nice if you had some other interests, perhaps you do and I just didnt notice.

I don't object to MORALITY in fact I quite approve of it. But I also think that world-wide the human species has all this really interesting racial variety and I believe we are on the point of finding out more about it. And it is visually appealing and the fact that there is a chemical basis for these different kinds of beauty is, I find, compelling.

So I propose to look at human racial variety, appreciate it, try to understand its causes, and so forth, without ANY MORAL CONSIDERATIONS AT ALL.

there are very few circumstances in life where this is possible and one reason science works is that it provides that kind of unpolarized dispassionate context of thought.

Sorry if this scandalizes you, old chap :smile:
 
  • #22
NoahAfrican said:
It stands to reason that choosing a narrow subset of differentials, namely those alleged difference that helped to promote the idea of black genetic inferiority, seems to be paramount. Regardless of what many of you like or do not like to hear, the fact is that such is racist. I am not at all trying to prevent you from talking about it. In fact, I like it when people can openly discuss issues of race. However, you have to take the good with the bad, because it is a package deal.

Yes, it is a package deal. Blacks cannot blame all of their problems on "White privilege" without having Whites defend themselves by pointing out that perhaps it could be that some races are not as intelligent as others - on average. THAT is the package deal - you want affirmative action based on an assumption, and then you try to prevent research that leads to a rational explanation of racial outcomes. All of the evidence points to a Jensenist conclusion, even if it is taboo to state such in the media. Within the American Psychological Association, it is accepted that intelligence is the primary factor that determines one's health, income, longevity, wealth accumulation, etc.

So science cannot dismiss over 100 years of consistent research that shows racial differences in intelligence, and unless (which is increasingly becoming doubtful) someone, anyone, can find an environmental cause for the large gap between racial groups, we must assume the default hypothesis - racial differences in average intelligence are primarily genetic.

Science requires that you take the whole package and debate the differing hypotheses based on the data, and not on ad hominem attacks on the intentions of the researchers. Intentions are irrelevant in science - only results matter.
 
  • #23
nuenke and Noah,
I just got back had to be away
Dont misunderstand, I think both of you have excellent points
(and I am growing in my respect for the intelligence represented here, if not always in every case the originality)

But I think you are both talking about issues of equity, fairness, morality.

which is all very well in its place.

But I am groping towards a rule of discussion which makes it out of order.
I would like to have a way to have a thread where we share information about genetic variation and classification without any axes to grind and without any ethical polarization.

I think racial polymorphism or whatever you call it----variety---and its history is really fascinating (and even possibly valuable in some way, more than purely ornamental, even adaptive maybe) and a rich store of information about human history (which can be deduced by studying the tree) and also potentially a resource of genes to be mined by the genetic engineering industry, like veins of precious ore. I feel a kind of imperative to discuss this in a way that promotes my better understanding of the thing in itself, apart from all morality

And I depend on the group mind at PF, which has repeatedly in other areas compensated for my ignorance and limitations of wit by this kind of collective thinking using shared information.

And so I want to devise a protocol or etiquette that permits race to be discussed (one of several facets of human genetics) without moral polarization.
and without various axes to grind, and chips on the shoulder. (Of course a protocol even if discovered and formulated might never be put into practice---might never happen. I personally have no power to impose such a thing.)
------like this, for example----
Race discussion protocol:

1. no moralizing
2. morality and historical resentments belong in Philosophy Forum
----end of sample protocol---

I also think that for many of us race is a taboo subject because divisions in the human population seem to have often led to mass slaughter. We are forced to recognize what beasts humans can be---that WE can be. It is very sobering. And so there is this everpresent fear---if we allow talk of human genetics and the discourse is not tightly controlled wherever will it lead us? Will we suddenly be back in 1940 with some of us escorting others to the gas chamber? Well right now I personally don't see much hope and I'm pretty discouraged about the chances of having discussions that are dispassionate and free of recrimination and bickering. don't see at the moment how one can get this. but will try later.
 
  • #24
It was you, Marcus, I do believe, who asked the question why some people have an aversion to the topic of race. I did not assume that it was a rhetorical statement, thus I responded.

I think that a clear distinction should be drawn between knowledge and beliefs hers. We humans believe far more than hat which we actually know, and sometimes confuse belief for knowledge. What I find amazing is that some people can read literature, and simply accept it as fact and then represent it as part of there store of knowledge.

I am going to go out on the limb and say that there is no one on this forum who has independently, and with total control, performed the research that concludes X, Y, or Z in regards to racial genetic variations. Thus, knowing that their does exist racism, knowing that there does exist invalid studies and knowing that we have no way of producing the right answers ourselves, how do we choose what information to believe? Anyone can say that they followed a certain methodology and controlled for certain variables, but how can you prove that they did? How do you know that a particular researcher has been objective? None of this can be proven.

It is often said that a little knowledge can be very dangerous. There is far more that modern science does not understand about the body than there is that science does understand. Certain genetics differences may be controlled or offset by some other chemical or protein reactions that we have not discovered or understand. It is tantamount to not reading the whole book, but rather studying a few pages, then deducing the rest of the book from the couple of pages that you have read.

For me, the fact that all this research is being done predominantly by white scientist, does not give it credibility in my book, due to the unfortunate reality of human prejudice. Police officers swear a pledge, but are often corrupt, judges take an oath but often allow person prejudice to sway them, priest take vows, but some molest children in the shadows. To think that science is some how void of the human emotional condition is simply asinine. Black and other researches would likely be subject to similar subjective ness and bias, however, black researchers and scientist are not engaging in these type of bell curve and other pseudo scientific research to rank the races.

It is not an issue of morality…I am sorry. It is an issue of knowledge vs. beliefs and confusing the two. It is also an issue of psychology and why people choose to believe certain things and not others. I have no problem with whites believing that there is a genetic cause for black lagging socioeconomic…remember, your history towards blacks have always been such…so my expectations are well managed…thank you. It means nothing to me, other than more of the same stuff that has been going on for the last 400 years. I have to laugh when people like nuenke thinks they are making a revelation by suggesting that the package deal includes whites belief in black inferiority. Heck…as a matter of fact…that has been the ONLY package around for the last 400 years. The NEW part of the package deal is that blacks have finally reached a point where their voice can be heard. The next stage if for black scientist to start doing some of their own research, which will likely produce contradictory results to white research.

The danger here is that when you start RANKING the races, you set the stage for persecution. During times of plenty, things may be fine. However, the test of true character manifest only under stress. Thus, If a nation plunges in depression, then people who accept the notion of genetic inferiority will rationalize the oppression of the inferior group, in order to allocate opportunities for survival to the superior race. What I want to know is how do you prevent the Hitlers…from science like this?



People who do not remember the past are doomed to repeat it...
 
  • #25
The thread starter's first post is bull**** based upon the the fallicies that race is objective and biologically determined.

There is no tenable scientific biological basis for race. There are lots of other phenotypical human traits one can select that give a higher genetic variation across populations (eg. small versus big nosed people).

http://serc.carleton.edu/introgeo/earthhistory/humanrace.html

PBS has an excellent section on race.

http://www.pbs.org/race/000_About/002_04-background-01.htm

Race is a social construct. It has no place in medicine other than to identify how society effects people.

http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/348/12/1081
 
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  • #26
existence said:
The thread starter's first post is bull**** based upon the the fallicies that race is objective and biologically determined.

There is no tenable scientific biological basis for race. There are lots of other phenotypical human traits one can select that give a higher genetic variation across populations (eg. small versus big nosed people).

http://serc.carleton.edu/introgeo/earthhistory/humanrace.html

PBS has an excellent section on race.

http://www.pbs.org/race/000_About/002_04-background-01.htm

Race is a social construct. It has no place in medicine other than to identify how society effects people.

http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/348/12/1081
While you're pulling stuff from PBS, perhaps you should list this also.

"Slightly over half of all biological/physical anthropologists today believe in the traditional view that human races are biologically valid and real."

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/first/gill.html
 
  • #27
BlackVision said:
While you're pulling stuff from PBS, perhaps you should list this also.

"Slightly over half of all biological/physical anthropologists today believe in the traditional view that human races are biologically valid and real."

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/first/gill.html


It's completely irrelevant to the discussion but I'll bite. Here's the AAA statement on race.

http://www.aaanet.org/stmts/racepp.htm

The preface of that statement is in direct contradiction with George W. Gill's statements. One wonders from what orifice he got those statistics.

Race is not scientifically not a tenable and falsifable way of dividing people. Both anthropological and sociological studies have shown that conclusively. Since anthropology is a science, it's not suprising AAA made that statement.
 
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  • #28
existence said:
It's completely irrelevant to the discussion but I'll bite. Here's the AAA statement on race.

http://www.aaanet.org/stmts/racepp.htm

The preface of that statement is in direct contradiction with George W. Gill's statements. One wonders from what orifice he got those statistics.

Race is not scientifically not a tenable and falsifable way of dividing people. Both anthropological and sociological studies have shown that conclusively. Since anthropology is a science, it's not suprising AAA made that statement.


In my anthropology class we learned it like this. If one took one of every skin color and put it in a chart according to color, there would be an even progression of color and no definite lines between them. any line drawn would be arbitrary. I realize this is just one aspect of what is termed race but it is a useful analogy.
 
  • #29
BlackVision said:
While you're pulling stuff from PBS, perhaps you should list this also.

"Slightly over half of all biological/physical anthropologists today believe in the traditional view that human races are biologically valid and real."

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/first/gill.html
BV, that was a quote from George Gill, his own personal opinion, and he was being interviewed as being pro-racisim.

Here is the other half of the series, Dr Brace. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/first/brace.html
 
  • #30
Marcus, I think Noah has been on-topic. He addressed the original question of why he perceives race to be a taboo topic. And, as best I can tell, it's essentially the same reason as I put forth in the first sentence of my first post in this thread. What matters is not that there are racial differences or whether you call it race or by some other sanitized name, what matters is how people use that information. There are people on this site who focus on a select few differences, allow that to be the end-all-be-all on the subject and conclude one race is superior or inferior to another. This is what has made it such a contentious topic here.

The problem I see now is that any time anybody mentions the word race, there is a reactionary component to the replies that does not necessarily relate to the post at hand. This is the danger of racism, the infectiousness of it. It closes minds. Now, instead of just having a group of people here who see every mention of racism as an opportunity to prove how superior one race is over another, we have added a group of people who stick their fingers in their ears every time the word race is mentioned. This only worsens the problem. To deny there are any differences is as dangerous as calling these differences strengths and weaknesses to promote one race over another.

It is because I've begun to see this denial of differences that I attempted to post an explanation of how racial groupings are used in reputable science, not as an endpoint, but as a beginning. As Mee pointed out, there is a continuum of differences, this is a pattern repeated over and over in biology. For those who have already begun to attach value assessments to these differences, I'm not sure we can do anything to change the way they view these things, but, for those who have simply stuck their fingers in their ears every time the word race is mentioned, I ask that you please pull your fingers out of your ears, don't assume every mention of the word is meant to be racist or inspire racism, and see how we can learn from differences in a way that does not assign a value judgement to these differences.
 
  • #31
Gill and Brace, still in perfect agreement on the classifiability of races

Evo said:
BV, that was a quote from George Gill, his own personal opinion, and he was being interviewed as being pro-racisim.

Here is the other half of the series, Dr Brace.http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/first/brace.html
Gill and Brace do not contradict each other. The essence of Brace's "argument" is:


  • no visible boundary between one people and another

Brace does not establish that discreteness of boundaries is a requirement for sub-classifiability. If discreteness of boundaries is not required, then sub-classification can be executed via statistical tools. Arthur Jensen essentially said as much when he said that when we speak of races, we are speaking of "fuzzy sets."
 
  • #32
Evo said:
BV, that was a quote from George Gill, his own personal opinion, and he was being interviewed as being pro-racisim.

The debate on the meaning of race is purely political. It makes little sense to quote one expert or another; they all disagree because it is not scientific. The more I get into the areas where humans are highly irrational, the more I see no place where science can help us come to an answer. Any area of scientific investigation, when it treads on human's personal interests, seems to fail to come to a consensus. The meaning of race is just such an area.

At the same time that we are unraveling the genetic code that shows clearly that racial classifications can be made by genes alone, we have all kinds of experts denying race. At the same time that medicine is looking at one's race to determine the best care to give because races differ in the way they respond to differing treatments, the race deniers come out of the woodwork. Science magazine has had numerous articles that show the salience of race, and yet it is very liberal in its stance of race.

All this means is, as the genetics has caught up with what people have come to understand as race, showing that a look at a persons genes can determine their race, new lines are being drawn in the sand. It is all purely political and unscientific.
 
  • #33
hitssquad said:
Gill and Brace do not contradict each other. The essence of Brace's "argument" is:

  • no visible boundary between one people and another
Or as he said in his opening statement "There is no such thing as a biological entity that warrants the term "race." Which he then goes on to explain.

Gill's stance is "Where I stand today in the "great race debate" after a decade and a half of pertinent skeletal research is clearly more on the side of the reality of race than on the "race denial" side."

I would have to say that they are not in agreement.
 
  • #34
nuenke said:
All this means is, as the genetics has caught up with what people have come to understand as race, showing that a look at a persons genes can determine their race, new lines are being drawn in the sand. It is all purely political and unscientific.
Please post the studies showing genetic proof of different races. I am not aware of any. Perhaps you have confused DNA as it relates to ancestry? Not the same thing.
 
  • #35
Well, I only speak for myself, but I have mixed opinion in regards to so-called racial genetics being used in current or future medicine. At one point in time, Nuclear weapons seemed to be a good idea, for those claiming to represent the forces of “good”. The problem now, however, is that once the science has been created it has spread to the so-called forces of ‘Evil”. Now, the biggest threat to human existence comes from nuclear and biological weapons of mass destruction, created originally to help save or protect one group of humans from another in war.

The same threat comes from so-called racial genetics. I say this with no embellishment…given that man inhumanity to man continues to repeat itself temporally, certain disease will be engineered to whip out certain races. We already know that population control or reduction has been the goal of the elites for the last 50 years. There have been numerous efforts to control the population growth of Africa. First it was contraceptives, but that did not work. The constant conflicts and coups that create war and strife could very plausible be instigated by outside forces as another means of population control. Then finally, AIDS. I am not saying that the latter two are true, however, it is very plausible, given the history of humanity.

I am a firm believer that there is really never any progress…end the end. We may increase the present by reducing the future, but that produces no net gain in the long run. All this science and knowledge that benefits humanity so greatly…will eventually becomes humanities nemesis.
 

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