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.
  • #36
marcus said:
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:
Hey marcus, now I'm confused ... :confused:

This thread is entitled "Taboo Topic", and as I understand 'taboo', it can have a very heavy moral content, esp as regards your favourite area of interest - sociolinguistics. It's true you may have to go back a few decades in the US (maybe less in parts of Europe), but a large part of the reason that words associated with sex were taboo had to do with the prevailing social moral codes; even today many sex-related words carry moral overtones - e.g. f***ing (vs 'intercourse'), whore (vs 'sex worker') - and discussion of morality in how these words are used is an important part of any socio-linguistic investigation (or maybe you have a different view?).

Now, wrt 'race', do we have something similar? Well, some names (nouns, and associated adjectives) are, AFAIK, highly offensive in the US (= 'taboo words'), and maybe elsewhere too. Too, from a socio-linguistic perspective, the AAA and AAPA statements (and from many individual scientists) make it clear that the emotional loading on 'race' makes it difficult to have an objective discussion - use of the word all too often evokes strong emotional responses and even moralistic rhetoric (at least in modern US society, which clearly is obsessed with 'race').

How do you see the scope of the socio-linguist in shedding (scientific) light on this topic?
 
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  • #37
Nereid said:
Hey marcus, now I'm confused ... :confused:

hi Nereid,
I'm joking about "taboo"
I don't like taboos
I want to see if we can get past the troublesome snags on this one.
sorry if my disorderliness confuses
but you seem pretty acute and I think you will get along :smile:
 
  • #38
We could use the term "cline".

I actually liked some of Patsy Cline's songs. "Crazy" was good. :biggrin:
 
  • #39
Evo said:
We could use the term "cline".

I actually liked some of Patsy Cline's songs.

if the meaning is more or less the same I like it better than "variety"
because it is shorter (just one syllable, like race)
 
  • #40
marcus said:
if the meaning is more or less the same I like it better than "variety"
because it is shorter (just one syllable, like race)
The Europe of ~500 years ago provides a good example of 'cline':

Analyses done by C-S et al, over a decade ago now, show that there are at least six 'gene clines' across Europe, which the researchers interpret as successive waves of migrations (or, in one case, retreat), from ~10,000 years ago. They discuss whether there were earlier waves, and feel there is some evidence that there were, but they are not evident in the gene data of the time (except for one; 'Europeans' appear to be an admixture of 'Africans' and 'Asians', from ~35,000 years ago; this partly explains why the 'European' genotype is closer to the 'African' one than any other).

Each of the six migrations shows in up gene maps as varying degrees of strength (I'll happily summarise the more detailed explanation), varying smoothly (more or less) across Europe (from the presumed entry point of the migrants, or the last refuge in the case of retreats). It will come as no surprise to hitssquad, but maybe to others, but a random European will comprise some mixture of all six 'migrants', the amount of the 'mix' being more or less constant (in terms of local averages) in a small region, but will vary greatly from individual to individual (even in the same town). We may give each of the six names - Middle-East (those who introduced agriculture to Europe), Basque1, Saami, Indo-European (those who introduced proto-Indo-European), Greek, and Basque2. Oh, and certain European groups have been excluded from this analysis - the Rom (aka Roma, Gypsies), the Jews, ...

Of course, in the last 500 years, with the European explorations, conquests, immigrations from 'the colonies', etc, the gene map of Europe has changed quite a bit ...
 
  • #41
the term cline would fit better for sub-grouping varieties. For example, European would a variety and clines would be eastern or western europe.

The word line does fit well for certain population based on the definition.

1. A geographic gradient exhibited by plants usually assumed to be genetically controlled. 2. Continuous character variations (genetically based) that are related to environmental gradients. However, the term cline is not a taxonomic category.
www.worldagroforestrycentre.org/sea/AgroModels/DBases/af/cfm/GlosC.htm

A gradual shift in gene frequencies between neighboring populations.
highered.mcgraw-hill.com/sites/0072500506/student_view0/glossary.html
 
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  • #42
Evo said:
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.

To my knowledge, no one is looking or genetic proof of races any more than anyone is looking at genetic proof for breeds of dogs. If you mean one distinct marker that is, because that is the straw man that is continually attacked to show that race is not real. If race is not real, are there no breeds of dogs. In SCIENCE magazine they show breeds of dogs with patterns of alleles just like forensics can determine a person's race from genetic samples, by patterns of alleles.

To understand what race means, I think Jensen's is about the best:

http://home.comcast.net/~neoeugenics/jen12.htm

So my question to you is, how are breeds of dogs any different than races of humans. SCIENCE magazine treats the classifications of both in exactly the same way. They have color charts showing allele frequencies that show how related different breeds of dogs are. And then of course there are mongrels, just like with humans.
 
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  • #43
nuenke said:
To my knowledge, no one is looking or genetic proof of races any more than anyone is looking at genetic proof for breeds of dogs. If you mean one distinct marker that is, because that is the straw man that is continually attacked to show that race is not real. If race is not real, are there no breeds of dogs. In SCIENCE magazine they show breeds of dogs with patterns of alleles just like forensics can determine a person's race from genetic samples, by patterns of alleles.

To understand what race means, I think Jensen's is about the best:

http://home.comcast.net/~neoeugenics/jen12.htm

So my question to you is, how are breeds of dogs any different than races of humans. SCIENCE magazine treats the classifications of both in exactly the same way. They have color charts showing allele frequencies that show how related different breeds of dogs are. And then of course there are mongrels, just like with humans.
Are there any humans who are not 'mongrels'? If so, where do they live? How can one identify them?
 
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  • #44
nuenke said:
...SCIENCE magazine treats the classifications of both in exactly the same way. They have color charts showing allele frequencies that show how related different breeds of dogs are. And then of course there are mongrels, just like with humans.

I like the color bar charts in the dog article which show frequencies used to distinguish breeds.

do you have some online stuff with nice visuals about human allele frequency?

(would prefer if the study were not about American subpopulations and that always irritates people---I have no interest in American issues especially, or in intelligence, I am interested in the genetic description of human varieties. Looking for links to graphics)

--------
Oh yes, mongrels! Love the concept. the great unclassifiable. Maybe, who knows, even the majority (but all this remains to be seen)
 
  • #45
Nereid said:
Are there any humans who are not 'mongrels'? If so, where do they live? How can one identify them?

Exactly what I was thinking Nereid! Our thoughts run along similar lines, I see.
I would not ask nuenke however, but the researchers working on it. And I would not bias the question with an assumed answer. (not to say that you did, or with any implied challenge!) It is clearly a question to ask people like Mansoor et al.
(the Cavalli-team in that 2004 paper iansmith gave link), or to ask in the future when they have proceeded further in the classification.

have to run, back later
 
  • #46
Someone like Tiger

Somewhere else in Social Sciences (or was it Politics & World Affairs?), someone posted a link which said this of the Tiger: "his father is 50% of African descent, 25% Native American, 25% Chinese, and his mother is 50% Thai and 50% Chinese". Well, that may be, or it may not. Let's assume there is someone like this, call her TW.

Let's assume TW was born in 1975, and her parents in 1950, her mother in Thailand, her father in the US. The 50:25:25 and 50:50 suggest grandparents and parents, so let's assume both TW's father's maternal grandparents were 'of African descent', and his paternal grandparents were 'Native American' and 'Chinese'; let's further assume all grandparents were born in the same year, 1925 (TW's) and 1900 (TW's father's).

TW's 'of African descent' and 'Native American' great-grandparents will all (three) have been born in the US; as will the Chinese great-grandparent, though his parents will likely have come from China, say Fujian province. 'of African descent' and 'Native American' persons born in the US in 1900 will almost certainly have some 'European' ancestors within their previous three to six generations, let's assume 25% (i.e. one grandparent each).

Now what about the 'African' part of the 'of African descent'? Well, there are six groups which seem to differ one from the other by greater genetic distances than those which separate 'European' from 'North American' (one kind of 'Native American') - Mbuti, San, Bantu, Nilo-Saharan, West African, and East African (I'm using Cavalli-Sforza's 2000 book, 'Genes, Peoples, and Languages'), and genetic maps of Africa show all manner of clines (so anyone individual will likely have a <10 generations ancestry that includes several of the six, possibly all six).

Although it is common to think of Han Chinese as one group, the genetic evidence is very clear that there are two distinct groups, which differ quite a bit wrt genetic distance; the northern and southern Chinese. So, TW's paternal Chinese great-grandparent, being from Fujian, will be a southern Chinese (well, maybe; let's assume so).

TW's mother's ancestry will likely be very complex; for example, the Chinese grandparent, if from nothern China, will very likely have some Mongolian and Manchu ancestors (within ten generations). The Thai grandparent we will assume has an ancestor from the Andamans, a descendant of the migrants who left Africa, hugging the coast, and ended up founding Australia.

And we haven't explored the 'European' ancestry yet! (nor much the 'Native American' one).

Certainly, tracing TW's ancestry back only ~10 generations (~<300 years) leads us to every continent except Australia, and looking at the gene clines of Europe, Africa, the Americas, and especially Asia, we see traces of a great many migrations and mixings, making it likely that TW has at least one gene from well over 100 different population groups who lived in these places in the last 5,000 to 10,000 years.

With such a wonderfully rich genetic heritage, no wonder TW calls herself a member of the 'human race'.
 
  • #47
Nereid said:
With such a wonderfully rich genetic heritage, no wonder TW calls herself a member of the 'human race'.

She can call herself a member of the human species, a mongrel, a person of color, or anything that she wants. The last I looked, there isn't such a thing as "a wonderfully rich genetic heritage." Some genes survive, some don't. Considering that all organisms exist merely to pass on genes to the next generation, and that humans like flatworms are merely the vehicles for the genes to use to continue their blind existence, I fail to see where your story sheds any light on racial clines, racial differences, or anything else to do with race.

You could have told a similarly sappy story about a mongrel dog that saved the world. But it is still a just-so story.
 
  • #48
Nereid said:
Are there any humans who are not 'mongrels'? If so, where do they live? How can one identify them?

If you mean by mongrel, the mixing of different breeds of dogs like the breeding of different human races, then most people still fall into racial classifications and are not mongrels. That is, they know their ancestry. And with genetic testing it can be further refined.

There are also some populations or races that are very pure, like Jews, Indian castes, Icelanders, Japanese, Latvians, etc. Some of these groups are now being used, because of their purity and longevity, by pharmaceutical companies.

This issue is also discussed at length by Wolpoff in "Race and Human Evolution." In short, isolated races could absorb some outsiders, use their genetic variants, and yet keep selection going for specific traits. A mongrel then is mixing in excess of this admixture-selection rate. For example, a few outsiders migrated into north eastern Asia, mixed with Asians, but the Asians kept selecting for a high level of intelligence as well as narrow eyes for protection from the sun.

In short then, we are constantly mixing some genes, while we are also creating some new races. If a few like minded mongrels got together, and started purposely selecting for a specific set of traits, they could create their own race. That is what eugenics will allow us to do. So mongrel or a race, the genes don't care. They only care about which vehicle will be a suitable winner.
 
  • #49
nuenke said:
This issue is also discussed at length by Wolpoff in "Race and Human Evolution." In short, isolated races could absorb some outsiders, use their genetic variants, and yet keep selection going for specific traits. A mongrel then is mixing in excess of this admixture-selection rate. For example, a few outsiders migrated into north eastern Asia, mixed with Asians, but the Asians kept selecting for a high level of intelligence as well as narrow eyes for protection from the sun.
You write this as if those northeast Asians were aware of the evolutionary significance of their actions, and had a conscious (eugenic?) purpose wrt conceiving and raising children. Do you really mean it like that?

Which northeast Asian population(s) are you referring to? What time period are you referring to? Given that all human populations show evidence of migration, mixing, etc, what is the ancestry of these northeast Asians? Is there anything from their culture to suggest that they had an even vaguely (OOM) accurate awareness of roots?
 
  • #50
Environmental selection and implicators of conciousness in its action

Nereid said:
nuenke said:
the Asians kept selecting for a high level of intelligence as well as narrow eyes for protection from the sun.
You write this as if those northeast Asians were aware of the evolutionary significance of their actions, and had a conscious (eugenic?) purpose wrt conceiving and raising children.
Scenario 1:

A blindfolded person sticks his hand into a box containing two identically-shaped and identically-weighted chemically-different items in it. He selects one and pulls it out. Was he conscious of which discrete chemical bundle he selected? Did he nonetheless select between the two dicrete choices?


Scenario 2:

100,000 blindfolded persons in a room stick their hands into separate boxes each with two identically-shaped and identically-weighted chemically-different items in it. Some ammonia wafts into the room (from a recently-tipped-over container labelled "environmental pressure") and exactly half of the balls, being chemically reactive with ammonia, explode, further mostly killing the people holding the balls, though also killing many of the non-volatile-ball holders. The population that is left, as a whole, selected mostly the non-ammonia-reactive balls. Were they conscious of which ball they selected? Did they nonetheless select between the two discrete choices?
 
  • #51
Nereid said:
You write this as if those northeast Asians were aware of the evolutionary significance of their actions, and had a conscious (eugenic?) purpose wrt conceiving and raising children. Do you really mean it like that?

Which northeast Asian population(s) are you referring to? What time period are you referring to? Given that all human populations show evidence of migration, mixing, etc, what is the ancestry of these northeast Asians? Is there anything from their culture to suggest that they had an even vaguely (OOM) accurate awareness of roots?

I am talking about human migration patterns from two million to 500 years ago essentially. That is when the great migrations started and it is the date Cavalli-Sforza uses to look at different races. That is, he looks for isolated villages, towns, any part of a nation or race where ancestors have not been mongrelized for the last 500 years.

Before that, there was slow random mixing, especially further out. That is, sub-Saharan Africa, Western Europe, Eastern Asia, Australia, etc. What they are saying is the occasional migrant wondered into the gene pool, brought some new genetic material, but the ecological and social pressures remained and maintained certain phenotypes that were advantageous. For East Asians, high intelligence was essential in the harsh environment, as glaciations were occurring. There was no conscious effort at selective breeding, it was natural selection.

On the other hand, there is no reason why culture cannot have an impact on breeding patterns equal to or more than the environment. We are probably seeing the results of thousands of years of breeding for tribalism in the Middle East. That is, these people seem to be extremely xenophobic due to frequent warfare in this densely populated region of the world. We can only speculate what caused the differences in racial intelligence and behavioral tendencies from extrapolations from known differences and then working out the most likely history.
 
  • #52
nuenke said:
I am talking about human migration patterns from two million to 500 years ago essentially. That is when the great migrations started and it is the date Cavalli-Sforza uses to look at different races. That is, he looks for isolated villages, towns, any part of a nation or race where ancestors have not been mongrelized for the last 500 years.

Before that, there was slow random mixing, especially further out. That is, sub-Saharan Africa, Western Europe, Eastern Asia, Australia, etc. What they are saying is the occasional migrant wondered into the gene pool, brought some new genetic material, but the ecological and social pressures remained and maintained certain phenotypes that were advantageous. For East Asians, high intelligence was essential in the harsh environment, as glaciations were occurring. There was no conscious effort at selective breeding, it was natural selection.

On the other hand, there is no reason why culture cannot have an impact on breeding patterns equal to or more than the environment. We are probably seeing the results of thousands of years of breeding for tribalism in the Middle East. That is, these people seem to be extremely xenophobic due to frequent warfare in this densely populated region of the world. We can only speculate what caused the differences in racial intelligence and behavioral tendencies from extrapolations from known differences and then working out the most likely history.
You first mentioned 'north eastern Asia', then 'East Asians'; you also talked about 'narrow eyes for protection from the sun' and 'high intelligence was essential in the harsh environment, as glaciations were occurring'. When was the last glaciation, in east Asia? Who determined that 'high intelligence was essential in the harsh environment, as glaciations were occurring'? How did they come to this conclusion?
 
  • #53
for marcus (enjoy!)

I came across this recently "Joseph Chang, a statistician at Yale University, has recently shown that all of the people living in various regions of the world more than about 800 years ago can be divided into two categories. Each individual was either the direct ancestor of everyone in that part of the world alive today (about 80% of people fall into this category), or the lineage represented by a person went extinct, making that person an ancestor of no one today.

[...]

Now factor in the consequences of human migrations. [...] Similarly, all Africans today descend from Chinese traders who visited Africa, and undoubtedly fathered children, early in the 1400s.

[...]

So if 800 years ago our ancestors included even a single European, African, or Asian, then 1,600 years ago our ancestors included most of the adult population of all three continents.
"

Source: pp46, 47; "Mapping Human History, Discovering the Past Through Our Genes", Steve Olson, 2002
 
  • #54
Nereid said:
When was the last glaciation, in east Asia?
For the 100,000 years that human races have been separate, most of that period was under an Ice Age.

Who determined that 'high intelligence was essential in the harsh environment, as glaciations were occurring'? How did they come to this conclusion?
There seem to be well accepted theories of colder regions requiring more intelligence. Food was more scarce in Europe and Asia. It is suspected that more thought and planning was involved in order to obtain food. Also due to the smaller food supply, smaller body sizes would also be an advantage as less food intake would be required in order to maintain survival. Both Whites and Asians have developed lower testosterone level and body sizes. Meanwhile they developed higher cranial sizes. Perhaps in compensation for the lowered testosterone level and body sizes.

In any case, the different environments that is Africa and Eurasia, shaped evolution in a different way.
 
  • #55
BlackVision said:
There seem to be well accepted theories of colder regions requiring more intelligence. Food was more scarce in Europe and Asia. It is suspected that more thought and planning was involved in order to obtain food. Also due to the smaller food supply, smaller body sizes would also be an advantage as less food intake would be required in order to maintain survival.

That would be in contrast to Bergmann's Rule, which states that a larger body size results in a lower surface area to volume ratio, thus reducing heat loss. There's a basic tutorial at this site for those unfamiliar with Bergmann's and Allen's rules in ecology. Bergmann's Rule and Allen's Rule have been repeatedly validated in both human and animal populations.

The exception seems to be Oceanic populations. This has been explained as due to the selection for those best able to conserve energy during the voyages to the islands and in the early days of forming those settlements.
Bindon JR, Baker PT. Bergmann's rule and the thrifty genotype. Am J Phys Anthropol. 1997 Oct;104(2):201-10.
 
  • #56
Thermodynamic advantage of low surface to volume ratio in human populations

Moonbear said:
BlackVision said:
due to the smaller food supply, smaller body sizes would also be an advantage as less food intake would be required in order to maintain survival.
That would be in contrast to Bergmann's Rule, which states that a larger body size results in a lower surface area to volume ratio, thus reducing heat loss.
The thermodynamic advantage of low surface to volume ratio has been cited to explain the characteristically relatively high body-fat ratios and the characteristically relatively short and pudgy physiques of northeastern mongoloid populations. This is partly mentioned by Rushton on page 40 of the http://www.charlesdarwinresearch.org/reb.html of his Race, Evolution, and Behavior:

  • East Asia was even colder than North Europe, but with less cloud cover and more sunlight. There a thicker layer of fat helped to insulate against the cold. This gives many Orientals a so-called “yellow” complexion because it reduces the visibility of red blood vessels close to the skin.

If I recall correctly, in the unabridged print editions of his book Rushton goes into more detail about the distinctively pudgy bodies of northeastern mongoloid populations and how this might be explained from an evolutionary perspective.
 
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  • #57
Somewhere else in Social Sciences (or was it Politics & World Affairs?), someone posted a link which said this of the Tiger

I was the one that wrote the post about Tiger and provided the link. Geez, can't anyone remember Dagenais!?


They see he is black

If you've seen him enough times, you can tell he's mixed.

Now that he's married a girl from Sweden, I wonder what his child will look like...

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

He's Caublasian.
 
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