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Thread: The Reality of Race

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    Post The Reality of Race

    January 13, 2003

    The Reality of Race

    There's hardly any difference in the DNA of human races. That doesn't mean, argues sociologist Troy Duster, that genomics research can ignore the concept


    By Sally Lehrman


    Image: ADAM FRIEDBERG


    TROY DUSTER: THINKING ABOUT GENES
    -Grandson of Ida B. Wells-Barnett, newspaper publisher, muckraker and antilynching crusader.
    -The King of Coolocity," says Harry G. Levine of Queens College, City University of New York, because like a disciplined musician Duster combines seriousness, virtuoso skill, grace, balance and a relaxed playfulness in his work (he is a jazz aficionado).
    -Current worry: "It is almost inevitable that a research agenda will surface to try to find patterns of allele frequencies and then create computer-generated profiles of different types of criminals."


    Race doesn't exist, the mantra went. The DNA inside people with different complexions and hair textures is 99.9 percent alike, so the notion of race had no meaning in science. At a National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) meeting five years ago, geneticists were all nodding in agreement. Then sociologist Troy Duster pulled a forensics paper out of his briefcase. It claimed that criminologists could find out whether a suspect was Caucasian, Afro-Caribbean or Asian Indian merely by analyzing three sections of DNA.

    "It was chilling," recalls Francis S. Collins, director of the institute. He had not been aware of DNA sequences that could identify race, and it shocked him that the information can be used to investigate crimes. "It stopped the conversation in its tracks."

    In large part thanks to Duster, Collins and other geneticists have begun grappling with forensic, epidemiological and pharmacogenomic data that raise the question of race at the DNA level. The NHGRI now routinely includes experts from the social disciplines to assist in guiding research priorities and framing the results for the public. "The complexities of the DNA sequence require not just simplistic statements about similarities between groups but a full appreciation of history, anthropology, social science and politics," Collins has realized. "Duster is a person that rather regularly gets tapped on the shoulder and asked for help."

    The urbane 66-year-old Duster, who splits his time between appointments at the University of California at Berkeley and New York University, examines how the public absorbs news about genetics into existing beliefs and how those perceptions also shape the use of genetic sequencing, DNA probes and other molecular techniques.

    Those techniques have revealed that race is minor at the DNA level. The genetic differences between any two randomly selected individuals in one socially recognized population account for 85 percent of the variation one might find between people of separate populations. Put another way, the genetic difference between two individuals of the same race can be greater than those between individuals of different races--table sugar may look like salt, but it has more similarities with corn syrup.

    But genetics cannot prove that race doesn't exist, Duster explains. No amount of logic will erase the concept or destroy the disparities that arise from it, because people use race to sort their social groupings and to define their social and economic interactions. Moreover, they do so in ways that have significant biological consequences. Duster recently helped to draft a 15-page statement for the American Sociological Association showing how race persists as a factor in disparities in health and other areas of life. "You cannot just get rid of the concept without doing tremendous damage to the epidemiologic research done so far," Duster says. African-Americans are three times as likely to die from heart disease, for example. "Blacks are redlined by banks, followed by department store security, pulled over by the police. This can produce hypertension," he points out. "It can give you a heart attack."


    Image: TEK IMAGE Photo Researchers, Inc.

    DNA PROFILES raise issues about race that sociologists such as Troy Duster must ponder.


    A new approach, gene clustering, avoids race by dividing according to medically important markers, such as genes for the enzymes necessary to metabolize drugs. But society will very likely re-create racial categories and rankings under the new terms, Duster predicts. And by failing to name the social context, this strategy gives base-pair differences undue emphasis at the expense of environmental influences. Race is a social reality, Duster observes, and he warns that science itself is a social institution susceptible to essentialist perceptions of race.

    Raised in poverty during the Great Depression by a mother from an upper-class family, Duster, whose father died when he was nine, grew up navigating between Chicago's tough streets and its privileged intellectual and civic parlors. He witnessed firsthand the complexities of social categories and learned to "code-switch" from one to another, much as he capably moves among sociology, anthropology and genetics now.

    Duster started out as a journalist but quit in moral indignation when chided for failing to interview a trapped subway motorman waiting for a leg amputation. He turned to sociology and joined Berkeley in 1967, quickly developing a reputation for thought-provoking work on drugs and social policy. In the 1970s Duster was a familiar voice in National Institutes of Health committees reviewing grants for research on mental health and drug abuse. While sitting on a panel for President Jimmy Carter's Commission on Mental Health, he began to hear researchers speculate that drug addiction and mental illness were linked to genetic susceptibilities.

    Duster found the conversations alarming. His book, Backdoor to Eugenics, aimed to stimulate public debate by showing how genetic-screening policies tended to reinforce the power structures already within society. Since then, he has pressed geneticists and molecular biologists to consider the social meaning that emerges from what they perceive as unbiased fact.

    At first they resisted. As a member of the Ethical, Legal and Social Implications Working Group advising the agencies on human genome research, Duster urged the NIH and the Department of Energy to challenge The Bell Curve, the 1994 best-seller that argued that race correlated with intelligence. Government officials held up a response for eight months, convinced that the nonexistence of race at the genome level spoke for itself.

    Duster, along with fellow committee member Dorothy Nelkin of New York University, highlighted the ways in which cultural context influences the application of medical and behavioral genetics. Now Collins is relying on Duster and other collaborators, such as University of Wisconsin molecular biologist Pilar Ossorio, to help explain why race must be acknowledged even if it is biologically inconsequential. "It's a tightrope between trying to rescue the importance and meaning of research on race without giving it a false reality," Duster says.

    Indeed, although he maintains that race is significant in genetics, Duster insists it is misleading to reinscribe race as a definitive system to group people who share geographic origins and thus some genes. For one, concepts of race vary geographically as well as historically. The ethnic status of South Asians, for example, has changed over the past century in the U.S. and more often serves to define a political and cultural "other" than something biological. In 1920 Oregon granted citizenship to Bhagat Singh Thind of India during a ban on Asian immigration. But the U.S. Supreme Court disagreed, stating that even though Thind should be considered "Caucasian," he still wasn't "white." (Thind, who had joined the U.S. Army during World War I, managed to stay in the country, earn a Ph.D. and publish 15 books on metaphysics.)

    Researchers have also advocated assessing health risks within ethnic groups based on inherited variations in just one DNA base pair. But such single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) profiles can be deceptive, Duster warns. Ethnic differences in drug metabolism or response to tobacco exist, but they appear to be minimal and depend strongly on the environment. The emphasis on DNA, he remarks, transforms health status into a biological inevitability, and it is tempting to use the same tools to profile criminality or intelligence at the genome level.

    Specific variations in DNA can be linked to ancestral geographic origins, but those differences only occasionally offer a medically important clue. They fail to define any essential characteristics of a whole group. Race, itself a fluid idea, is part of the environmental context of the genome, Duster suggests. "Race is a relationship," he says. "When you talk about race as a relationship, it prevents anyone from giving it false meaning."

    http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?art...mber=1&catID=2
    Last edited by Triglav; Sunday, July 4th, 2004 at 02:55 AM.
    "slavic" languages are absolutely arteficial (Read "slawenlegende"). The "glagolica", invented by a bunch of monks, is nothing but an ancient esperanto, creating new words, definitions and alphabet out of regional slangs.

    The craddle of European Civilization comes from the North. All blond people originate from the north. So if you see a blond-blue eyed Slovene, Russian, Czech, Polak ect., you can be 100% sure that his ancient ancestors originated from "Germanics" (Germanic = Nordic).
    "slovenja" was the settelment of the Langobards = Germanics/Teutons. "Poland" of the Goths and East-Vandals ect. ect. What do "slavs" tell us about their origin?
    Some silly story that they originate from some swamps in the east and popped out of no where into history.

    So you see my dear "Gorostan" [=Triglav], you are in reality a "Germanic" indoctrinated with panslav propaganda and historic fantasy stories. ~Dr. Brandt, former TNP and Skadi member

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    Post Re: The Reality of Race

    Those techniques have revealed that race is minor at the DNA level. The genetic differences between any two randomly selected individuals in one socially recognized population account for 85 percent of the variation one might find between people of separate populations.
    This is argument is commonly used within "PC" circles to deny or refute the existence of race, although I find it to be terribly misleading.

    Firstly, the interpopulational/intrapopulational variation data was derived from the analysis of 100 or so genetic markers that were essentially "selectively neutral," meaning that they were neither advantageous or detrimental from an evolutionary standpoint. If one had determined differences among races in allele frequencies in regards to the genes which code for intelligence or athletic ability (not to say these genes have been discovered or fully understood), the results would have differed markably.

    Additionally, the intrapopulational variation also encompasses variation which occurs within individuals, that is, genetic differences which are present in diploid organisms which result from inheriting two random sets of chromosomes which are largely genetically distinct from one another.

    The review of the book "Race: The Reality of Human Differences" has more information regarding the subject.

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

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    Post AW: The Reality of Race

    Exactly, Tore. Here's another article dealing with that issue:

    http://www.gnxp.com/MT2/archives/lewontindebunked.pdf
    "slavic" languages are absolutely arteficial (Read "slawenlegende"). The "glagolica", invented by a bunch of monks, is nothing but an ancient esperanto, creating new words, definitions and alphabet out of regional slangs.

    The craddle of European Civilization comes from the North. All blond people originate from the north. So if you see a blond-blue eyed Slovene, Russian, Czech, Polak ect., you can be 100% sure that his ancient ancestors originated from "Germanics" (Germanic = Nordic).
    "slovenja" was the settelment of the Langobards = Germanics/Teutons. "Poland" of the Goths and East-Vandals ect. ect. What do "slavs" tell us about their origin?
    Some silly story that they originate from some swamps in the east and popped out of no where into history.

    So you see my dear "Gorostan" [=Triglav], you are in reality a "Germanic" indoctrinated with panslav propaganda and historic fantasy stories. ~Dr. Brandt, former TNP and Skadi member

  4. #4
    Member Triglav's Avatar
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    Post AW: The Reality of Race

    The many species of humanity

    Naming new human species may seem to be a harmless endeavor, of little interest to all but a few specialists playing out the consequences of different evolutionary explanations of phyletic variation, but it has significant implications in how humanity is viewed because studies of race and human evolution are inexorably linked. When essentialist approaches are used to interpret variation in the past as taxonomic rather than populational, as increasingly has been the case, it serves to underscore a typological view of modern human variation. In terms of how they are treated in analysis, there often seems to be no difference between the species, subspecies, or paleodemes of the past and the populations or races whose interrelationships and demographic history are discussed today. This is not inconsequential because both history and current practice shows that science, especially anthropology, is not isolated from society.


    http://www-personal.umich.edu/~wolpo...rs/species.pdf
    "slavic" languages are absolutely arteficial (Read "slawenlegende"). The "glagolica", invented by a bunch of monks, is nothing but an ancient esperanto, creating new words, definitions and alphabet out of regional slangs.

    The craddle of European Civilization comes from the North. All blond people originate from the north. So if you see a blond-blue eyed Slovene, Russian, Czech, Polak ect., you can be 100% sure that his ancient ancestors originated from "Germanics" (Germanic = Nordic).
    "slovenja" was the settelment of the Langobards = Germanics/Teutons. "Poland" of the Goths and East-Vandals ect. ect. What do "slavs" tell us about their origin?
    Some silly story that they originate from some swamps in the east and popped out of no where into history.

    So you see my dear "Gorostan" [=Triglav], you are in reality a "Germanic" indoctrinated with panslav propaganda and historic fantasy stories. ~Dr. Brandt, former TNP and Skadi member

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    Post AW: The Reality of Race

    Is the Concept of Race Illegitimate?


    Conclusion
    The usual arguments against the reality of race are full of fallacies. These logical defects may betoken a lack of clarity about what is in dispute. Consider the following seven hypotheses.

    - The word race has irrelevant connotations of superiority and inferiority.

    - For many scientific purposes, the concept of race is poorly defined.

    - Racial distinctions do not cut very deep in explaining human variability.

    - Racial distinctions are limited to unimportant physical characteristics.

    - Racial distinctions have no use except to foster racism.

    - Racial distinctions are unreal; races are as mythical as fairy godmothers.

    - The concept of race is without meaning; it is gibberish mixed with falsehood.


    The five authors whose work I have considered here all blur the distinctions among these statements. Each of them argues that because one of the first three statements is true, so must be one or more of the last four. However, although the first three can be defended, the fourth is disputable and the last three are plainly false.

    Yes, the workaday concept of race is too crude either to have much value for the science of molecular biology or to serve as the basis of preferential government policies, which are unjust in any case, but it does not follow and it is not true that the concept of race is either meaningless or devoid of objective basis. Tempting though the stratagem may appear, to deny the reality of races will not solve the social problem of race.

    I do not know how to solve that problem. I do not even know whether it can be solved, but I am sure that making race the basis of official policy will cause more trouble. Because preferential government policies affect everybody but are premised on attitudes and beliefs that are not shared by everybody, they should be abandoned; but because the concept of race is rooted in objective reality, it is probably here to stay.


    Source: http://www.independent.org/tii/media/pdf/tir71hocutt.pdf
    "slavic" languages are absolutely arteficial (Read "slawenlegende"). The "glagolica", invented by a bunch of monks, is nothing but an ancient esperanto, creating new words, definitions and alphabet out of regional slangs.

    The craddle of European Civilization comes from the North. All blond people originate from the north. So if you see a blond-blue eyed Slovene, Russian, Czech, Polak ect., you can be 100% sure that his ancient ancestors originated from "Germanics" (Germanic = Nordic).
    "slovenja" was the settelment of the Langobards = Germanics/Teutons. "Poland" of the Goths and East-Vandals ect. ect. What do "slavs" tell us about their origin?
    Some silly story that they originate from some swamps in the east and popped out of no where into history.

    So you see my dear "Gorostan" [=Triglav], you are in reality a "Germanic" indoctrinated with panslav propaganda and historic fantasy stories. ~Dr. Brandt, former TNP and Skadi member

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    Post AW: The Reality of Race

    Deconstructing the relationship between genetics and race

    The success of many strategies for finding genetic variants that underlie complex traits depends on how genetic variation is distributed among human populations. This realization has intensified the investigation of genetic differences among groups, which are often defined by commonly used racial labels. Some scientists argue that race is an adequate proxy of ancestry, whereas others claim that race belies how genetic variation is apportioned. Resolving this controversy depends on understanding the complicated relationship between race, ancestry and the demographic history of humans. Recent discoveries are helping us to deconstruct this relationship, and provide better guidance to scientists and policy makers.


    Online summary

    - Highlighting genetic differences among people could unfortunately reinforce stereotypical features of populations, but exploring the
    genetic influence on common health-related traits and disparities could also be beneficial to human health.

    - Accurate inference of an individual?s ancestry using genetic data depends on several factors, including the number of genotypes used, the degree of differentiation among groups and how each group is sampled.

    - Inferences of human population structure based on genetic data often differ from inferences based on phenotypic characteristics.

    - Although there might be little variation among groups, it is highly structured and therefore useful for distinguishing groups and allocating individuals into groups.

    - Insofar as geographical ancestry corresponds to some notions of race, patterns of genetic variation will also co-vary with these notions.

    - The inaccurate measure of ancestry afforded by proxies of genetic relationships such as race or ethnicity can sometimes be useful, but in other circumstances, might lower the chances of findings disease-susceptibility loci and lessen the predictive value of clinical inferences.


    Conclusions

    For hundreds of years, we have based inferences of individual ancestry on proxies, such as differences in physical appearance, language, or derivative concepts of ethnicity and race.None of these characteristics is associated with Crohn disease (CD), an inflammatory bowel disorder, in European?Americans72,73. None of these variants or other variants in CARD15 have been associated with CD in African?Americans or Asians.

    Conditioning phenotypic variation on individual ancestry proportions could help to identify risk alleles that are shared or that differ among populations and/or the basis of phenotypic differences among groups. Are descriptors such as race or ethnicity alone sufficient to infer ancestry to identify susceptibility alleles or predict risk of disease or drug response? In some cases, the accuracy of these inferences might be adequate, but in many cases, the inexact measure of ancestry that is afforded by these proxies and/or the overlap of phenotypes across groups will lower the chances of finding susceptibility loci and lessen the predictive value of
    clinical inferences. Such descriptors will become even more inaccurate as human populations become more intermixed, and/or colloquial usages change over time.

    Should susceptibility be estimated, instead, by testing for disease-causing variants alone? Most disease-related alleles have yet to be identified, so inference of an individual?s ancestry will continue to provide researchers and clinicians with information about risk if the direct cause(s) of a health-related trait is unknown.What then is the most reliable way to make inferences about individual ancestry? Self-reported ancestry can be obtained less intrusively than explicit genetic data, but in many cases ? particularly in the United States and Europe ? it is less reliable than using explicit genetic data.However, genetic testing remains relatively expensive, and genetic screening has already raised difficult issues of equity, privacy and consent.


    Source: http://www.nature.com/cgi-taf/DynaPage.taf?file=/nrg/journal/v5/n8/full/nrg1401_fs.html&filetype=pdf
    "slavic" languages are absolutely arteficial (Read "slawenlegende"). The "glagolica", invented by a bunch of monks, is nothing but an ancient esperanto, creating new words, definitions and alphabet out of regional slangs.

    The craddle of European Civilization comes from the North. All blond people originate from the north. So if you see a blond-blue eyed Slovene, Russian, Czech, Polak ect., you can be 100% sure that his ancient ancestors originated from "Germanics" (Germanic = Nordic).
    "slovenja" was the settelment of the Langobards = Germanics/Teutons. "Poland" of the Goths and East-Vandals ect. ect. What do "slavs" tell us about their origin?
    Some silly story that they originate from some swamps in the east and popped out of no where into history.

    So you see my dear "Gorostan" [=Triglav], you are in reality a "Germanic" indoctrinated with panslav propaganda and historic fantasy stories. ~Dr. Brandt, former TNP and Skadi member

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