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Will racism ever be over?

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Pattern-chaser
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Re: Will racism ever be over?

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GE Morton wrote: November 25th, 2022, 1:51 pm Classifying organisms into population groups is descriptively useful, but it shouldn't be an excuse to ignore the many individual differences among members of those groups.
I think it is a little more than merely "descriptively useful", but I accept your caveat too. It is valid, meaningful, and useful to consider humans as groups, as individuals, and (mostly) as combinations of the two. We should never ignore one perspective in favour of the other. Both are necessary for optimal understanding, I think.
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Re: Will racism ever be over?

Post by GE Morton »

Pattern-chaser wrote: November 26th, 2022, 9:25 am
Wikipedia wrote: Race acquired its modern meaning in the field of physical anthropology through scientific racism starting in the 19th century. With the rise of modern genetics, the concept of distinct human races in a biological sense has become obsolete. In 2019, the American Association of Biological Anthropologists stated: "The belief in 'races' as natural aspects of human biology, and the structures of inequality (racism) that emerge from such beliefs, are among the most damaging elements in the human experience both today and in the past."
Quoted text taken from here. I am not an expert in 'racial' genetics, but I am happy to accept what those who have studied the subject believe. Aren't you?
Absolutely not --- not when those beliefs are political/ideological rather than scientific. The morphological characteristics distinguishing the 3 races are empirical and obvious --- as obvious as the differences distinguishing German shepherds from collies, or Siamese cats from Persians. Scientists don't ignore empirical evidence because it is "damaging." That is scientifically irrelevant. It is not "modern genetics" which has rendered "the concept of distinct human races . . . obsolete," but political correctness (just as as political correctness seeks to render the concept of "sex" obsolete). Indeed, genetics not only affirms but explains those differences. In both cases those obvious differences don't go away just because they're ignored.

Sadly, post-modernist nonsense has infected science to a considerable extent in the last 30 years or so. Biologists who wish to oppose racism need to do it on moral grounds, not by ignoring reality and perverting their science.
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Re: Will racism ever be over?

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GE Morton wrote: November 26th, 2022, 12:44 pm
Pattern-chaser wrote: November 26th, 2022, 9:25 am
Wikipedia wrote: Race acquired its modern meaning in the field of physical anthropology through scientific racism starting in the 19th century. With the rise of modern genetics, the concept of distinct human races in a biological sense has become obsolete. In 2019, the American Association of Biological Anthropologists stated: "The belief in 'races' as natural aspects of human biology, and the structures of inequality (racism) that emerge from such beliefs, are among the most damaging elements in the human experience both today and in the past."
Quoted text taken from here. I am not an expert in 'racial' genetics, but I am happy to accept what those who have studied the subject believe. Aren't you?
Absolutely not --- not when those beliefs are political/ideological rather than scientific. The morphological characteristics distinguishing the 3 races are empirical and obvious --- as obvious as the differences distinguishing German shepherds from collies, or Siamese cats from Persians. Scientists don't ignore empirical evidence because it is "damaging." That is scientifically irrelevant. It is not "modern genetics" which has rendered "the concept of distinct human races . . . obsolete," but political correctness (just as as political correctness seeks to render the concept of "sex" obsolete). Indeed, genetics not only affirms but explains those differences. In both cases those obvious differences don't go away just because they're ignored.

Sadly, post-modernist nonsense has infected science to a considerable extent in the last 30 years or so. Biologists who wish to oppose racism need to do it on moral grounds, not by ignoring reality and perverting their science.

It's actually a combination of those two factors. Race is an inaccurate (even misleading) description of human genetic diversity, as has been proved by modern DNA testing. However, it is a reasonably accurate description of human phenotypic diversity (physical anthopologists used to look at not only skin color, but skull shape, nose size, etc. etc.), and (of course) for most of us phenotype is observable while genetics is not. Since you mention dogs, in dog shows the breeds are determined by conformity to an ideal phenotype. No genetic testing is involved.
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Re: Will racism ever be over?

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One more point: if modern approaches to human diveristy are influenced by "political correctness" (as GE claims), isn't it likely that the old "four races" theories were also influenced by the political and social theories of their time?

As I remember it there were 4 basic races, not 3: Caucasoid, Negroid, Mongoloid and Aboriginal (for Australia).
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Re: Will racism ever be over?

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Ecurb wrote: November 26th, 2022, 12:58 pm
It's actually a combination of those two factors. Race is an inaccurate (even misleading) description of human genetic diversity, as has been proved by modern DNA testing.
Racial classifications are not meant to be descriptions of genetic diversity, or at least, not complete descriptions. They are only broad categories defined by morphological characteristics --- "family resemblances" -- and geographical affinities. All three groups can be subdivided further, and since they're all members of the same species, there are many "mixed race" individuals. No DNA testing can possibly "prove" those differences don't exist. Indeed, every one of the characterizing traits of the races has a basis in DNA. Unlike the phenotypic differences, some of those differences are important, such as susceptibility to various diseases.
Since you mention dogs, in dog shows the breeds are determined by conformity to an ideal phenotype. No genetic testing is involved.
Correct. But as with humans, the differences in dog breeds has a DNA basis, which could be specified if anyone was interested in doing so. As with humans, different breeds of dogs have different susceptibilities to certain diseases.
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Re: Will racism ever be over?

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Ecurb wrote: November 26th, 2022, 1:07 pm One more point: if modern approaches to human diveristy are influenced by "political correctness" (as GE claims), isn't it likely that the old "four races" theories were also influenced by the political and social theories of their time?
You don't need any "theory" to justify distinctions which are so empirically obvious.
As I remember it there were 4 basic races, not 3: Caucasoid, Negroid, Mongoloid and Aboriginal (for Australia).
Yes. Though (if I remember correctly) there was some controversy regarding whether the Aboriginals should be considered a distinct "race" or some sort of early derivative of one of the others. There are also some other distinctive groups that don't fit neatly into the 3 "major" groups.
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Re: Will racism ever be over?

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GE Morton wrote: November 26th, 2022, 1:55 pm
Ecurb wrote: November 26th, 2022, 12:58 pm
It's actually a combination of those two factors. Race is an inaccurate (even misleading) description of human genetic diversity, as has been proved by modern DNA testing.
Racial classifications are not meant to be descriptions of genetic diversity, or at least, not complete descriptions. They are only broad categories defined by morphological characteristics --- "family resemblances" -- and geographical affinities. All three groups can be subdivided further, and since they're all members of the same species, there are many "mixed race" individuals. No DNA testing can possibly "prove" those differences don't exist. Indeed, every one of the characterizing traits of the races has a basis in DNA. Unlike the phenotypic differences, some of those differences are important, such as susceptibility to various diseases.
Since you mention dogs, in dog shows the breeds are determined by conformity to an ideal phenotype. No genetic testing is involved.
Correct. But as with humans, the differences in dog breeds has a DNA basis, which could be specified if anyone was interested in doing so. As with humans, different breeds of dogs have different susceptibilities to certain diseases.
So in your mind the main relevance of the races in Modern times is health related?
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Re: Will racism ever be over?

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GE Morton wrote: November 26th, 2022, 2:06 pm

You don't need any "theory" to justify distinctions which are so empirically obvious.

I don't know exactly what criteria the physical anthropologists used in the 4 races days (the Field Museum of Natural History in my home town of Chicago definitely subscribed to the 4 races notion). However, I don't think the 4 races theory is empirically obvious to the uneducated observer. Except for our obsession with skin color, Hamitic and Nilotic Africans (like the Tutsi and the Hutu) look very different -- as different as Caucasoids from Negroids, etc. Do pygmies really resemble other "Negroids", except in skin color?

I admit I'm winging it here and doubtless the anthropologists had decent reasons of which I am unaware. Still, I wouldn't call it "empirically obvious", except from the point of view of skin pigment.
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Re: Will racism ever be over?

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LuckyR wrote: November 26th, 2022, 2:29 pm
So in your mind the main relevance of the races in Modern times is health related?
Relevant for what?
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Re: Will racism ever be over?

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Ecurb wrote: November 26th, 2022, 3:36 pm
I don't know exactly what criteria the physical anthropologists used in the 4 races days (the Field Museum of Natural History in my home town of Chicago definitely subscribed to the 4 races notion). However, I don't think the 4 races theory is empirically obvious to the uneducated observer. Except for our obsession with skin color, Hamitic and Nilotic Africans (like the Tutsi and the Hutu) look very different -- as different as Caucasoids from Negroids, etc. Do pygmies really resemble other "Negroids", except in skin color?

I admit I'm winging it here and doubtless the anthropologists had decent reasons of which I am unaware. Still, I wouldn't call it "empirically obvious", except from the point of view of skin pigment.
Well, you mentioned several other characteristics: " . . . (physical anthopologists used to look at not only skin color, but skull shape, nose size, etc. etc.) . . ." All of which are quite obvious.

But you have a point re: pygmies, etc. There are groups who, as I mentioned, don't fit well into the 3 major race classes. That doesn't reduce the descriptive utility of those class terms.
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Re: Will racism ever be over?

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GE Morton wrote: November 26th, 2022, 8:55 pm
LuckyR wrote: November 26th, 2022, 2:29 pm
So in your mind the main relevance of the races in Modern times is health related?
Relevant for what?
Well, you're the one who referenced disease susceptibility in dog breeds and "races". I'm just verifying that you find these health susceptibility differences important and checking to see what else, if anything, you find important about "racial" differences, thus justifying labeling folks into said races.
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Re: Will racism ever be over?

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Pattern-chaser wrote: November 26th, 2022, 9:25 am
Wikipedia wrote: Race acquired its modern meaning in the field of physical anthropology through scientific racism starting in the 19th century. With the rise of modern genetics, the concept of distinct human races in a biological sense has become obsolete. In 2019, the American Association of Biological Anthropologists stated: "The belief in 'races' as natural aspects of human biology, and the structures of inequality (racism) that emerge from such beliefs, are among the most damaging elements in the human experience both today and in the past."
Quoted text taken from here. I am not an expert in 'racial' genetics, but I am happy to accept what those who have studied the subject believe. Aren't you?
GE Morton wrote: November 26th, 2022, 12:44 pm Absolutely not --- not when those beliefs are political/ideological rather than scientific. The morphological characteristics distinguishing the 3 races are empirical and obvious...
This isn't a topic I've looked into, but I don't think the idea is that there are no genetic differences. The existence of sickle-cell anaemia gives the lie to that, surely? I think the point is that the differences that do exist are not significant enough to support the concept of 'race'. After all, there are 'genetic differences' between you and me, as there are between any two humans. And, according to mainstream media — that most reliable of news sources! 😉 — the (genetic) difference between humans and chimpanzees is only about 1%.

The page I originally linked also links to a page on "scientific racism" (highlighted and 'linked-to' in my text, above).
Last edited by Pattern-chaser on November 27th, 2022, 9:22 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Will racism ever be over?

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GE Morton wrote: November 26th, 2022, 9:04 pm But you have a point re: pygmies, etc. There are groups who, as I mentioned, don't fit well into the 3 major race classes. That doesn't reduce the descriptive utility of those class terms.
OK, but doesn't that "descriptive utility" itself reduce to simple discrimination according to skin colour (racism)? What other "utility" is there?
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Re: Will racism ever be over?

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Pattern-chaser wrote: November 27th, 2022, 9:16 am

This isn't a topic I've looked into, but I don't think the idea is that there are no genetic differences. The existence of sickle-cell anaemia gives the lie to that, surely? I think the point is that the differences that do exist are not significant enough to support the concept of 'race'. After all, there are 'genetic differences' between you and me, as there are between any two humans. And, according to mainstream media — that most reliable of news sources! 😉 — the (genetic) difference between humans and chimpanzees is only about 1%.

The page I originally linked also links to a page on "scientific racism" (highlighted and 'linked-to' in my text, above).
As I understand it (which is not very well) DNA analysis has invalidated the concept of 4 races because they are not accurate descriptions of human genetic diversity. It turned out that many people formerly classified as "negroids" were actually far more closely related to many "caucasoids" than they were to some other negroids. Physical anthropologists now use "gene clines" to describe genetic diversity -- overlapping and intersecting circles that are far more accurate models than the older theory of 4 races.

Human genetic (and phenotypical) diversity is a real thing -- it's just that the 4 race theory (based on phenotype) was an innaccurate description of diversity when it came to genotype. I'm not sure why this is, but I'm sure the scholars have their theories. Of course phenotype is affected by diet, disease, and environmental factors (as well as genetics).
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Re: Will racism ever be over?

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LuckyR wrote: November 27th, 2022, 3:25 am
GE Morton wrote: November 26th, 2022, 8:55 pm Relevant for what?
Well, you're the one who referenced disease susceptibility in dog breeds and "races". I'm just verifying that you find these health susceptibility differences important and checking to see what else, if anything, you find important about "racial" differences, thus justifying labeling folks into said races.
What "justifies" those labels is their utility in describing and identifying persons, just as does sex, height & weight, age, hair and eye color, etc. Just as does specifying the breed of a lost dog. That is what "justifies" all labels.
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