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Race, Evolution, and Behavior

  1. Jun 27, 2004 #1

    Recently I read "Race, Evolution and Behavior" by Professor J. Philippe Rushton, 3rd Ed., see http://www.ssc.uwo.ca/psychology/faculty/rushton_pubs.htm and http://www.harbornet.com/folks/theedrich/JP_Rushton/Race.htm In addition, I decided that there were some interesting ideas I would like to expose readers here to, as well as discuss.

    In chapter 10 of this book, he goes into what evolutionary biologists call life history theory. This theory is a way that biologists theorize what sort of adaptations different species, or sub-species as in races, make to adapt to various environmental stimuli.

    In his book, he details how the three major racial groups have various genotypic, phenotypic and behavioral differences. Some major examples would be brain size and IQ scores (with a correlation between the two as larger brains equals more neurons), gamete production (sperm cells and eggs), hormonal differences (testosterone production for example) and what I will mostly touch on here: reproductive strategies.

    Reproductive strategies can be classified into two major types: r and k strategies. Species which practice r-strategies usually emphasize gamete production, mating behavior, low parental care, and high reproductive rates. Species, which practice k-strategies, conversely emphasize high parental care, lower reproductive rates, resource acquisition and a higher degree of social complexity. The k-strategy requires a more complex nervous system as well as larger brains than the primarily r-strategist species do.

    In nature, we can see the difference between extreme cases of r and k strategist species. For example, an oyster can produce 500 million eggs a year, while the great apes can reproduce only one infant every 5 or 6 years. Thus, the oyster will have reproduced itself 2500 million times, by the time a great ape will have reproduced itself once. The oyster will not spend any time “parenting” over its offspring, while the great ape will put much time and energy into nurturing their offspring.

    While primates in general are the most k-strategist of all of the species, there still remain differences between them. For example, a lemur is more r-strategist than a gorilla. In fact, going across the primate spectrum, research has shown that primates become more k-strategist with increasing brain size, with a correlation of .98.

    While humans are primarily k-selected, again differences appear in sub-groups like races as they did within species. As the increased brain size in primates is indicative of k-strategist over r-strategist species, brain size in racial groups also shows a correlation between increased brain size and k-strategist reproductive strategies.

    Different means of measuring brain size have been used to gain the average brain size of the three main racial groups that anthropologists usually classify. The methods involve measuring the skull size and estimating brain size, volume displacement of skulls( I.e. filling up an empty skull with a substance and measuring the volume of the skull), autopsy measurements, and more recently, (and the most effective form) MRI. No matter what methods used, the results consistently come out as Mongoloids and Caucasoids both having larger brain sizes than Negroids, with Mongoloids having a slightly larger brain size than Caucasoids who in turn, have much larger brains than Negroids. The mean listed for all of the measurements, to give you an example of the differences of brain size are: Mongoloids 1,364 cm^3, Caucasoids 1,347 cm^3 and Negroids 1,267 cm^3.

    The phenotypic, genotypic and behavioral differences between the races are a result of adaptation to environmental stimuli. So what kind of environmental stimuli are responsible for the adaptation of r vs. k strategies and brain size, and what sort of relation are there between the two?

    Rushton and others postulate the Single Origin theory. This theory is that Caucasoid and Mongoloid peoples dispersed out of Africa about 100,000 years ago and migrated to the colder, northern environments, while the Negroid peoples remained in Africa in their warmer environment. About 41,000 years ago, there was a split between Mongoloid and Caucasoid peoples, with the Mongoloid peoples splitting migrating towards and even colder environment than the Caucasoid peoples.

    Another theory related to the Single Origin theory is one that I will call the bio-energy theory. The bio-energy theory is that each developing sub-species possess a similar amount of bio-energy that a sub-species will expend to act adapt to their environment.

    In colder, northern environments, Whites and Asians had to hunt for their food, provide shelter and put more mental energy into survival and social structure than in the sub-Saharan environments of Africa, where the warm weather and abundance of food required less mental energy to be put into survival, I.e. tool building, constructing shelter, farming, etc. Because of these environmental stimuli, Whites and Asians grew bigger brains to deal with this harsh northern environment. A word that evolutionary biologists used to describe this phenomenon is encephalization. Encephalization is an increase in brain size during the evolution of a species, with no concomitant increase in body-size.

    While Whites and Asians expended their respective bio-energy on encephalization as response to their environment, blacks on the other hand, adapted r-survival reproductive strategies and used their bio-energy on reproductive efforts. In his book, Rushton details how blacks have higher intercourse frequencies than Whites, who in turn have higher ones than Asians, have a higher developmental precocity (age of first intercourse, first pregnancy) and higher primary and secondary characteristics ( genital size, salient voice, muscularity, buttocks, etc.) than Whites and Asians. They also produce more hormones than Whites or Asians and have more permissive attitudes to pre-marital sex than Whites or Asians and have differing biological behavioral control than Whites or Asians (I.e. length of menstrual cycle, periodicity of sexual response, etc.) In fact, all of these behaviors show a correlation with both brain size and r vs. k selection, with Asians being more k selected than Whites who are more k selected than Blacks; with the abovementioned brain sizes: Asians> Whites> Blacks.

    Another interesting component of r vs. k reproductive strategies are some of the social system characteristics. R strategists tend to show low social organization and low altruism while k-strategists tend to favor higher social organization and higher altruism.

  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 27, 2004 #2
    Fascinating topic really, and some very interesting points. Its interesting because Looking at american culture, and racial sub-cultures (trying ever so despereately to avoid stereotyping here) you can see some of these very sam patterns. Just look at the value emphasis in american movies correlated with the sub-culture that they target.
  4. Jun 27, 2004 #3
    Interestingly, I have only given a brief summary of the book: there are dozens of more biological correlates of r versus k strategy identified by Rushton. But, there is a free abridged version of the book at http://www.harbornet.com/folks/theedrich/JP_Rushton/Race.htm which is in HTML format.
  5. Jun 27, 2004 #4


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    I'm just wondering. I'd like to see the claim that Asians have the lowest birth-rate backed up statistically. The most overpopulated countries on the planet are primarily Asian. As a result, China at least has passed laws against the bearing of multiple children except by special payment. This is going to throw off any study of this nature. Does Rushton address this?
  6. Jun 27, 2004 #5


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    I don't know whether this has any connection with what you are saying, but...

    When Asian or White youth reach that age where they tend to rebel against parental authority, they often take up the music and fashion of black culture. But it doesn't seem to work the other way: black youth do not rebel by listening to country music or what have you, as far as I can tell.
  7. Jun 27, 2004 #6

    Highest survival rate maybe? Look at african mortality rates.
  8. Jun 27, 2004 #7


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    The bulk of Asian populations lie in India and China. They certainly do not have the highest survival rate. I don't know what they are, but neither is anywhere near the survival rates in the US or in Europe. I'll look them up, but the number of factors that play into this is going to make it really difficult to derive any meaningful conclusions from the statistics. This might take a while, but I'll try to see what I can do.
  9. Jun 27, 2004 #8
    China has a low birthrate. Birthrate of 1.69 child per women which is below the replacement rate. Meaning if this rate is continued, China will decrease in population in the near feature. China is also ranked about 60th or so in the world in population density. Many European countries have a higher population density such as Germany, United Kingdom, Italy, Switzerland, etc. Japan has a birthrate of 1.38 per women and South Korea has a birthrate of 1.56 per women. These are very low birthrates.

    Population density ranking here:
  10. Jun 27, 2004 #9
    India is not considered part of the Asian race, especially in this book. "Race, Evolution, and Behavior" The book strictly states East Asians. Japan, Korean, Chinese.
  11. Jun 28, 2004 #10


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    All right. Thanks for clarifying that. How are Indians classified in this report? Caucasian or Negroid?

    Well, yeah, but this isn't because of racially innate tendencies. This is because of laws that only allow Chinese parents to have one child for free.

    13% of China is desert, and the amount of desert is increasing at a rate of 2400 km^2 per year. China is also 33% mountainous and 26% plateau. That is 72% of the land that is agriculturally useless. The bulk of the population lives either in the cities or on the farms. The cities and agricultural land are badly overpopulated.
  12. Jun 28, 2004 #11
    It's hilarious to see that racist theologians still find academic posts in U.S. universities. Is this a sign of the obvious decay of Anglo-American culture?

    We all know that, from an evolutionary point of view, all "races" (a nonsensical category) are equally successfull, since they all made it to here, to this moment, to the world we're living in.

    We are all highly successful people, except for racist American professors, perhaps, who are clearly dying out.
  13. Jun 28, 2004 #12
    loseyourname, very good point.

    All sociobiologist, neodarwinist or evolutionist "theories" can be immediately thrown into the dustbin, simply by pointing out the power of mass social dynamics, which are often completely at odds with these theories.
  14. Jun 28, 2004 #13
    phycisist, why don't you simply ask: "is it correct that black people have bigger penises and have more sex, while white people have bigger brains and have the right to dominate the rest" ?

    This would make this pseudo-discussion a lot easier.
  15. Jun 28, 2004 #14
    Professor Rushton who wrote this book is Canadian and is a professor at University of Western Ontario.

    Each human race differ slightly in their genetic makeup since each race was introduced to different environment settings for thousands of years. So it would only make sense that each race would differ slightly from one ability to the next.

    It seems you would consider it racist simply because it's a study about race. It wouldn't matter how truthful, how honest, how logical, how accurate the study is, simply because it is about race, you would consider it racist.

    And American professors?
  16. Jun 29, 2004 #15
    A point to mention is that the massive genetic similarity among humans is considered to be quite odd, given rate of mutation, evolutionary processes, and the length of time Homo sapiens have walked earth there should be far more genetic diversity and subdivision than there actually is.

    It has been found that the only way to account for the genetic similarity among modern humans is a population bottle neck about 75,000 years ago when the global human population is believed to ahve dropped as low 5,000-10,000. That people in different regions would evolve different adaptations over time is only logical, if one accepts evolution. If it works for finches in the galapagos, it works for humans in different regions.

    As to whether or not the conlcusions of Professor Rushton are correct that is a different matter. However to say that people in different regions would not evolve differently is pure fallacy.

    And you're right evolutionarily speaking all races do seem to be equal, no one here has challenged that, Professor Rushton did not challenge that. All that was said in the book was that they have been successful in different environments through different means. He put that within a theoretical framework. He did not reference any studies of his own (that i recall), only the studies of others, and tried to fit the data into a theoretical framework that would explain why. Thats all.

    If you want to point and scream racism fine. Go ahead, but then don't try to say he's a white racist, because if you say that he claims blacks are inferior, then you msut also claim that he claims that asians are superior to all others. If you do not make these two claims jointly, and instead try to make one and refute the other, you have no place in a reasonable, rational discussion.
  17. Jun 29, 2004 #16
    Oh well, franznietzsche, I'm a historian and a sociolinguist and I can tell you that there's no such thing as an "objective" "neutral" or even "rational" debate. This is not just chatter about an interesting observation about race.

    The idea alone that such a thing as different human "races" exists, has long ago been dismissed by both the more sociologically orientated scientists as well as by hardline evolutionary biologists. "Race" is a category which only exists in the mind of racists. The genetic differences between humans are so small that the fact that you're focussing on them says more about you, than about anything else.

    So please don't tell me this is not a racist book by a racist professor discussed by proto-racists.

    If you want, we can open a debate on the question of which psychic disorder people who talk about race suffer from.
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2004
  18. Jun 29, 2004 #17

    Does Race Exist?
    by Professor George Gill

    Slightly over half of all biological/physical anthropologists today believe in the traditional view that human races are biologically valid and real. Furthermore, they tend to see nothing wrong in defining and naming the different populations of Homo sapiens. The other half of the biological anthropology community believes either that the traditional racial categories for humankind are arbitrary and meaningless, or that at a minimum there are better ways to look at human variation than through the "racial lens."

  19. Jun 29, 2004 #18
    Professor George Gill is an extremely irrelevant professor who has been ostracized for being too mediocre.

    And why do you always use pseudo-authoritative arguments instead of thinking for yourself for once? It really says a great deal about you. I understand why you hold on to racism in such a paranoid way.

    You are a little man with a lot of deep rooted angst.
  20. Jun 29, 2004 #19


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    This a debate about facts, not about people's opinions. What do I care about your "ideas" or you about mine?

    Can you back up your allegations about professor Gill, or did you just pull it out of you-know-where?
  21. Jun 29, 2004 #20
    I too have wondered about the classification of Indians, although they are not a racially homogenious peoples. The caste system in particular results in the effect that people of different castes even look differently to one another, with the people from higher castes generally having lighter skin.

    I think that most people in the world think that the only difference between the races is different colored skin. The people who want to debate this should not have 'racist' thrown down their necks every time they want to discuss this.
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