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Race: The Reality of Human Differences, by Vincent Sarich and Frank Miele, 2004

  1. Aug 9, 2004 #1
    A new super-cool book is "Race: The Reality of Human Differences," by Vincent Sarich and Frank Miele, 2004 (click here to read the whole book). Here are some interesting excerpts from the book:

    "Strong evidence in the case for race comes from examining the amount of variation actually present in a proper comparative context. The differences in morphology (cranial and facial features) between human races are typically around ten times the corresponding differences between the sexes within a given race, larger even than the comparable differences taxonomists use to distinguish the two chimpanzee species from each other. To the best of our knowledge, human racial differences exceed those for any other non-domesticated species. One must look to the breeds of dogs to find a comparable degree [to humans] of within-species differences in morphology. We also point out other aspects in which human diversity in morphology, pharmacogenetics (body chemistry), and behavior more closely parallels our best friends (the dogs) than our nearest relatives (the apes), and what that reveals about the origin of our species."


    Sarich and Miele also discuss how the courts also have no trouble in recognizing race and accepts "the ability of the average individual to sort people into races." It seems also that racial classifications is rather innate: "Ordinary people can and do divide Homo sapiens into a number of reasonably discrete groups on the basis of reasonably objective criteria. No special expertise is required. A series of experiments in cognitive psychology carried out by social anthropologist Lawrence Hirschfeld showed that as early as age three, children readily classify people on the basis of racial characteristics, without having to be taught to do so."


    "Why can we do this? Why, in fact, are we so good at it? The reason is no mystery, or at least it shouldn't be. Homo sapiens is a socially interactive species and was so even before we became quite so sapient. The common ancestor we share with chimpanzees and all our ancestors along the way must have been able to recognize the members of their social group as individuals and, by extension, tell the difference between any of them and members of another group. So can baboons, wolves, dogs, killer whales, and lions (but not the other big cats, who are solitary) make such distinctions. The evolution of interactive sociality strongly selects for individuals who are able to recognize other similar individuals and adjust their behaviors with respect to who else is involved. The physical evidence for the evolutionary importance of this ability can be seen in the large amount of brain tissue devoted to these tasks at the base of our brains. As Hirschfeld concluded, 'Because human groupings (i.e., collectivities of people based on gender, race, native language, or kinship status) are integral parts of nearly all social environments, acquiring knowledge of such groupings is a necessary part of the child's early development.'"


    "We explain that elapsed time does not determine the amount of change in traits that have survival value. Anatomical differences among human races can exceed those found between chimpanzee species. Finally, evolutionary biologist Jared Diamond has argued that the characteristics chosen to distinguish between races are arbitrary. Choose a different set of characteristics and you will come up with a different set of races. We demonstrate that the comparison of randomly chosen DNA variants produces the same races as the commonsense view, the art and literature of ancient, non-European civilizations, and anthropology."


    Sarich and Miele addresses Jared Diamond's attempt to deny race: "There is a further critical flaw here. The proportion of individuals carrying the sickle-cell allele can never go above about 40 percent in any population, nor does the proportion of lactase-competent adults in any population ever approach 100 percent. Thus, on the basis of the sickle-cell allele, there are two groups (possible races by Diamond's criteria) of Fulani, one without the allele, the other with it. So those Fulani with the allele would group not with other Fulani, but with Italians with the allele. Those without it, along with the Italians without it (in both cases the majority) and all the Swedes, would form another unit—in effect, primitive Homo sapiens."

    "Perhaps not, you might argue. Diamond is talking of frequencies of traits in populations, and the frequencies of lactase-competent adults are more similar in Swedes and Fulani than in Swedes and Italians or Fulani and Xhosa (one should note here that lactase-competence has clearly evolved independently in Europeans and Africans). And, yes, he is. But the discordance issue he raises applies within groups as well as between them. He is dismissive of the reality of the Fulani-Xhosa black African racial unit because there are characters discordant with it. Well then, one asks in response, what about the Fulani unit itself? After all, exactly the same argument could be made to cast the reality of the category 'Fulani' into doubt. Diamond's no-race position is thus clearly logically untenable and need concern us no further."


    Sarich and Miele take an analytical swipe at Lewontin's assertions: "Yet the world had to wait until 2002 for someone to explain the basic problems with Lewontin's famous 15 percent. It was Henry Harpending replying to a question from Frank Salter. Lewontin had noted that 85 percent of the genetic variability was among individuals within populations, and only an additional 15 percent was added when individuals in different populations were compared. However, this analysis omits a third level of variability—the within-individual one. The point is that we are diploid organisms, getting one set of chromosomes from one parent and a second from the other. To the extent that your mother and father are not especially closely related, then, those two sets of chromosomes will come close to being a random sample of the chromosomes in your population. And the sets present in some randomly chosen member of yours will also be about as different from your two sets as they are from one another. So how much of the variability will be distributed where?"

    "First is the 15 percent that is interpopulational. The other 85 percent will then split half and half (42.5 percent) between the intra- and interindividual within-population comparisons. The increase in variability in between-population comparisons is thus 15 percent against the 42.5 percent that is between-individual within-population. Thus, 15/42.5 = 32.5 percent, a much more impressive and, more important, more legitimate value than 15 percent. It's interesting that Henry Harpending noted in an e-mail to us that no one has ever published this calculation."

    "One might argue here that the genetic distances involved are so small that it makes no difference what level is being discussed—100 percent of nothing is still nothing. The appropriate and effective rejoinder, as previously noted (and will note again), is 'dogs, dogs, and more dogs.' There the amounts of both anatomical and behavioral variation added by going to between-breed comparisons are obviously far greater than for similar human between-race comparisons (though certainly no one doubts they are gene-based, while the degree of genetic variation is minimal, apparently much as in us)."

    Looking at other species alone, especially breeds of dogs, makes the validity of subspecies, races or breeds of dogs obvious. Unless one accepts denying evolution, and that humans as yet have not escaped evolution's basic construct of ecological differences acting on different subspecies, then there has to be differences between races that are more than "skin deep."


    Sarich and Miele explain: "Molecular data suggest that the two chimpanzee lineages separated around 1.5 million years ago; the comparable human figure is on the order of 15,000 years. In other words, the two chimp lineages are 100-fold older, yet show the same amount of variation. That is a remarkable result, the implications of which take a while to sink in. The implications follow this logic: Human races are very strongly marked morphologically; human races are very young; so much variation developing in so short a period of time implies, indeed almost certainly requires, functionality; there is no good reason to think that behavior should somehow be exempt from this pattern of functional variability…."


    "…there were huge differences between dog breeds, both in morphology and in behavior. How different were they genetically? Had the same methodology been applied to sorting out dog breeds as was described for humans in Chapter 5? With such large morphological and behavioral differences, shouldn't there be large DNA differences between the breeds? (It is now well known that the morphological and behavioral characteristics that distinguish breeds from one another are genetically based.) Vince's surprising answer was that (at that time) not only were there no known DNA differences between the breeds, but these methods couldn't even distinguish between domestic dogs and wolves. Although it was possible to identify individuals with the same microsatellite approach that has been in use for the past two decades, only this year (2003) have researchers been able to distinguish between a few dog breeds by DNA differences."
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 9, 2004 #2
    Some more excerpts from the book:

    Here is one example where first dogs, then humans were analyzed, with radically different reactions:

    "We next enter into the transcript the following quotation from Professor Freedman, who conducted some of the most important of these studies: 'I had worked with different breeds of dogs and I had been struck by how predictable was the behavior of each breed. A breed of dog is a construct zoologically and genetically equivalent to a race of man. To look at us, my wife and I [Freedman is Jewish; his then wife, Chinese] were clearly of two different breeds. Were some of our behavioral differences determined by breed?'"

    "Freedman and his wife set about designing experiments to test that hypothesis; they are interesting both for their scientific results and for the different receptions they received in even the most prestigious scientific journals. The Freedmans decided to observe the behavior of newborns and infants of different races. The tests they used were the Cambridge Behavioral and Neurological Assessment Scale. Unlike the typical reflex tests performed by pediatricians, these tests, called 'the Brazelton' after their developer, measure social and emotional behavior."

    "'How easily did the baby quiet? Was it able to turn to the examiner's face and voice? Did it prefer face over voice or voice over face? How did interest in the voice compare with interest in a ball or a rattle? Was the baby very active or did it just lie quietly? Did it fit comfortably in the examiner's arms or did it fight being held? Did it generally resist or accept our testing? Was it floppy or stiff? And then there were all the reflexes: were they crisp or just barely elicited?'"

    "'White and Chinese neonates were different even though hospital conditions and prenatal care were the same.'"

    "'Caucasian babies started to cry more easily, and once they started, they were more difficult to console. Chinese babies adapted to almost any position in which they were placed: for example, when placed face down in their cribs, they tended to keep their faces buried in the sheets rather than immediately turning to one side, as did the Caucasians. In a similar maneuver (called the "defense reaction" by neurologists), we briefly pressed the baby's nose with a cloth, forcing him to breathe with his mouth. Most Caucasian and black babies fight this maneuver by immediately turning away or swiping at the cloth with the hands, and this is reported in Western pediatric textbooks as the normal, expected response. However, not so the average Chinese baby in our study. He simply lay on his back, breathing from the mouth, "accepting" the cloth without a fight. I must say that this finding is the most impressive on film, and audiences have been awed by other intergroup differences.'"

    "'Other, more subtle differences are equally important. For example, both Chinese and Caucasian infants would start to cry at about the same point in the examination, especially when they were undressed, but the Chinese babies would stop crying immediately, as if a light switch had been flipped, whereas the crying of Caucasian babies only gradually subsided.'"

    "When the Freedmans tested Navajo neonates, they were like the Chinese, which might have been expected, given our knowledge of probable Navajo origins. From traditional anthropology to linguistics to DNA, Amerindians, especially the Na-Dene tribes like the Navajo, are most closely related to Asians, and not Europeans or Africans. This was impressed upon me (Sarich) one afternoon when I was flipping channels and found myself watching a girls high school basketball game. I wondered, 'Where in Asia were we?' Then something appeared that clued me in. I was with Navajos, but the resemblance to northern Asians was striking."

    "Freedman submitted the paper on racial differences in neonate behavior to Science. The most prestigious scientific journal in the United States, it had published his study of behavioral differences in pups of different dog breeds without any problem or controversy. The paper on race differences, however, was rejected by a split vote of the reviewers. Freedman then submitted it to Nature (the British analogue to Science), where it yet again drew a split decision by the judges. Fortunately, the editor broke the deadlock by casting his deciding vote in favor of publication."


    Sarich and Miele explain why the out-of-Africa rationalization for the non-existence of races is untenable:

    "The shorter the period of time required to produce a given amount of morphological difference, the more selectively/adaptively/functionally important those differences become. The Garden-of-Eden model in its earlier formulations envisioned perhaps 40,000 years for raciation within anatomically modern Homo sapiens; for a time in the late 1980s and 1990s, driven by the mtDNA work, dates of 100,000-150,000 years were common; the most recent molecular evidence (mtDNA and Y-chromosome) fits comfortably with the 40,000-year date. But that might not be all of it. During the past 10,000 years, human cultures have differentiated to a much greater extent with respect to achievement than was the case previously. Thus not only might the time involved in raciation have been brief, but also the selective demands on human cognitive capacities might have differed regionally to a substantially greater extent than could have been the case previously…."


    "As we have shown, the morphological differences between human races can exceed those found between subspecies, or even species of our nearest relatives, the chimps and gorillas, and other non-domesticated animals. Yet, as Lewontin rightly pointed out, the genetic differences between human races are small. We must look to our best friend, the domestic dog, where breeders have exercised extreme selection to find a level of variation equivalent to that found in humans. Canine differences in physique, behavior, and body chemistry have been produced in a very short time (for the most part, a few hundred years). Yet, despite the vast morphological and behavioral variation among dog breeds, we are only beginning to be able to distinguish between them, or even between dogs and wolves, using the latest DNA evidence."
  4. Aug 9, 2004 #3
    Excellent post, I am going to have to check out that book.
  5. Aug 9, 2004 #4
    Here is a review I found of this book right now when searching Google:

    January 04, 2004

    Routing The Race Deniers (Not That They’ll Notice)
    By Steve Sailer

    Read mensnewsdaily.com interview with Steve Sailer...

    Many intellectuals pride themselves on how remote their theorizing is from mundane reality.

    After all, if daily life could provide answers to lofty questions, we might not need so many intellectuals.

    And that subversive thought must be suppressed at all costs!

    Consider the topic of race. The trendiest idea among intellectuals is that Race Does Not Exist – what we at VDARE.COM call “Race Denial.” Last year, a three-night PBS documentary summed up this new orthodoxy under the title Race: The Power of an Illusion.

    That this idea, no matter how trendy, strikes the vast majority of Americans as self-evidently stupid only heightens its appeal to those who view themselves as superior because of their ability to juggle esoterica.

    Now Vincent Sarich, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at Berkeley, and Frank Miele, senior editor of Skeptic magazine, have stepped in to this debate with a new book Race: The Reality of Human Differences. They document overwhelmingly that the weight of scientific knowledge is on the side of the man-in-the-street's commonsense view of race.

    [ . . . ]

    Full text at http://www.vdare.com/sailer/sarich_miele.htm
  6. Aug 10, 2004 #5


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    According to the authors of this book, how many human races are there? What are they (name, brief description)?
  7. Aug 10, 2004 #6


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    VDARE is an extremely racist organization. If they're behind this book or endorsing it, it's probably more myth than fact.
  8. Aug 10, 2004 #7


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    VDARE is anti-immigration, and pretty right wing in other ways, but "racist" is a nasty accusation, and I think you should give us some evidence VDARE is racist.
  9. Aug 10, 2004 #8


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  10. Aug 10, 2004 #9
    "A racist is anyone that can challenge a liberal"
  11. Aug 11, 2004 #10
    Hold it, This discussion is not very clear

    If thiefs and murderers write a book that says that water boils at 100 degrees celsius (212F) then

    Now if a definition of a race is accepted with consensus that includes average skeletal properties exceeding certain ratios and dimensions, that is about as hard and as reproducable as possible. Ideal exact science that separates myths or facts regardless of the messenger.
  12. Aug 11, 2004 #11


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    I agree that this would be a good starting point. However, for the book that is the topic of this thread, none of us discussing it know how the authors defined 'a race', nor what races they identified (there's nothing clear, unambiguous, or objective about 'race' in the lengthy posts by United States).

    On the other hand, we do have very clear data on the 'accepted with consensus' part; the American Anthropological Association's Statement on "Race" is pretty categorical ... An older, but perhaps even more categorical, statement is the 1996 AAPA Statement on Biological Aspects of Race (AAPA = American Association of Physical Anthropologists). For example, point 5 in this statement: "For centuries, scholars have sought to comprehend patterns in nature by classifying living things. The only living species in the human family, Homo sapiens, has become a highly diversified global array of populations. The geographic pattern of genetic variation within this array is complex, and presents no major discontinuity. Humanity cannot be classified into discrete geographic categories with absolute boundaries. Furthermore, the complexities of human history make it difficult to determine the position of certain groups in classifications. Multiplying subcategories cannot correct the inadequacies of these classifications.

    Generally, the traits used to characterize a population are either independently inherited or show only varying degrees of association with one another within each population. Therefore, the combination of these traits in an individual very commonly deviates from the average combination in the population. This fact renders untenable the idea of discrete races made up chiefly of typical representatives.

    In short, if there is any "definition of a race is accepted with consensus" it would be closer to "'race' cannot be defined in a biologically useful way, for Homo sapiens." than to "there are 9 (or 10) human races - Polynesian, Melanesian, ..."
  13. Aug 27, 2004 #12
    The same can be said of horses. But we do classify horses differently, into different breeds. I guess it's just that horses don't get all narky about it.
  14. Aug 27, 2004 #13


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    And horses don't usually get to decide who they mate with either! :wink:

    Have you been following the 'dogs' discussions? Horses are even more domesticated than dogs; IIRC, there was only one independent domestication (vs at least two for dogs). Further, the original horse populations are now extinct, although a subspecies apparently is still (barely) hanging in there. (Of course, since you have read "Guns, Germs, and Steel", you already knew this).

    Can you tell us please Adam why you would expect the deliberate breeding of a domesticated mammal to produce the same kind of population genetic variations as has resulted from the inter-breeding of Homo sap. over the last ~>100,000 years?
  15. Aug 27, 2004 #14
    The wild ones certainly do. Although how much is choice, and how much the directive of biological urges (heck, maybe they're the same damn thing) is another matter.

    No, sorry, I haven't seen it yet.

    Why do you say this?

    The "original horse populations", or the creatures we usually look at and view as the earliest horses, were about 18 inches tall with soft feet.

    Humans are quite domesticated, and interbreed across areas. So do horses. It's very rare that you will find any bloodline of horses with more than a few generations of exclusivity.

    Personally I couldn't give a rat's Rs about the capabilities and such which people assign to different groups of people. I just don't care that much. But people are different. Eyes are good like that.
  16. Aug 27, 2004 #15


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    I used to wonder Adam why some folk in P&WA got mad at you; I think I'm beginning to understand :grumpy: *thinks, is it worth the effort to try to educate Adam? or will it be a futile exercise as he won't bother to read what you write?*
    "wild horses" are domesticated horses that have escaped their human masters; the degree to which their genotype range matches the population range of the ancestral horse is unknown but is likely to be very much smaller.
    Did your read my post?? "there was only one independent domestication (vs at least two for dogs)" An independent domestication all but certainly guarrantees the genetic diversity in the domesticated animals will be greater than that in a species domesticated only once.
    The wild ancestor of today's domesticated horses roamed in an area of what we today call southern Russia; the 'original horse' you may be thinking of is a completely different species (which couldn't have inter-bred with any modern horse).
    :rofl: :rofl: You might want to check your Macquarie Australian English dictionary; even down under 'domesticated' is not a synonym for 'domestic' or 'non-nomadic'!
    Yes, there are tall people, short people, thin people, 'horizontally challenged people', people who wear suits, people who wear skirts, people who who talk a lot, etc.

    But, if you don't give a rat's R, why are you posting to this thread? Have you contributed to readers' understanding of the scientific issue? Did you post with the intention of having a serious question answered?
  17. Aug 27, 2004 #16
    People get mad at me? *shrug*

    The point which you raised was about their choice for breeding. They have that choice.

    I certainly did read it. And I asked why you said it. Why do you say there has only been one domestication involved?


    I did not say they could interbreed with modern horses. However, just as we upright apes were once something else, and something else before that, so were horses. Thus, how could you possibly feel that some "original horse population" is in any way still around? All the surviving descendents are, sure, but no more so than for homo sapiens. If you are referring to the descendents of the first domesticated breed, that's an entirely different matter.

    This is where familiarity with history is good. Human history is choked with stories of human domestication.

    I don't give a rat's Rs about ideas such as "Mister X is smarter than Mister Y because he has darker skin". As I explained in the last post. But, as I said before, people are different. There are those who deny it. Students should be told that they have eyes, and should use them.
  18. Aug 28, 2004 #17
    I think that it is widely accepted that there does exist the phenomenon of racism and or racial supremacy beliefs in humans. I think that it is also widely accepted that our beliefs can corrupt our ability to be objective and often do. It is also a known fact that for years, every sense the European started maritime exploration beyond their continent, that they have been attempting to classify non European peoples as being so how inferior to them.

    Now, if I am not mistaken, most of the research being done is mainly the produce of white scientist. How can consumers of their findings therefore be confident that bias did not enter into the creation of the resultant conclusion? I can guarantee that most of the whites on this forum accepting the finding of white scientist as being credible, would immediately reject the finding by…say Kenyan or Nigerian scientist who independently conclude that whites have a gene that makes them demonstrate more proclivities toward oppressive practices and a need dominate and control.

    When more black, Asian and other races of people begin to form studies, then maybe the bias and prejudice will be balance and the truth somewhere in the middle.

    As it exist now...its tantamount to the fox guarding the hen house.
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2004
  19. Aug 31, 2004 #18


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    for marcus (the sociolinguist)

    In researching private genes, I came across this paper: "'Race' and the Human Genome Project: Constructions of Scientific Legitimacy". The first and last sentences of the abstract: "At the public announcement of the completion of a draft map of the human genome (June 2000), Craig Venter, Head of Celera Genomics and chief private scientist involved with the Human Genome Project, claimed that ‘race’ was not a scientifically valid construct.


    We conclude that despite the promissory representation of the Human Genome Project as having produced scientific evidence to discredit the biological legitimacy of ‘race’, the concept is likely to persist in both popular and scientific usage.
  20. Oct 16, 2004 #19

    Are this and the previous post serious or are they a joke?

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