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Thread: The "Race does not Exist" Debate

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    Race is the first step before development of a new species in my opinion, it's evident in other mammals and living creatures so why would it be any different for us?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Janus View Post
    Sorry to burst your bubble but species isn't that simple either. Different species can breed successfully in theory very often but it's an own species if, even when placed next to eachother, won't breed in significant numbers even if it's genetically possible.
    my poor bubble!

    Species
    A population or group of populations that are in reproductive contact but are reproductively isolated from all other populations.


    (n) species ((biology) taxonomic group whose members can interbreed)


    of course that doesn't come close to covering all the grey areas (a huge one here is asexual reproduction..your favourite ), but it covers upwards of 99.9% of mammals and is a definition that
    1. can be easily and OBJECTIVELY applied by inspection
    2. leads to a conclusion consistent with the ones reached by other methods in an overwhelming majority of cases where its application is possible.
    3. has been agreed upon internationally

    Race is a biological term,too, and simply means isolated populations which developed a characteristic morphology and survival strategies. The difference to species is that they most likely would breed if placed next to eachother.
    sure it's a biological term, but it's hardy ever used because it is too ambigious and lacks the kind of precise definition species has. between species genetic differences are undeniable (and the differences have a significant genetic component), between races, well, we'd fist have to define races, and in most cases actual genetic differences would be slight.

    there is just no practical use for that kind of distinction in most cases. and with populations as extensive and biologically diverse as the human one, the logical thing is to group people by allele of interest as the circumstances require. as with sicle cell, in medical terms for all intents and purposes the european carriers are just as "african" as the african ones, their skin colour is not directly relevant to the issue at hand, a useful heuristic, no more.

    Quote Originally Posted by Beornulf
    Race is the first step before development of a new species in my opinion, it's evident in other mammals and living creatures so why would it be any different for us?
    how is it evident in other mammals?
    yeah, differences appear in isolated populations of the same species, and eventually they may speciate (although, theoretically, not necessarily), but that is contingent on them staying isolated. clearly that is not what is happening with the human population.

    additionally, in the case of other mammals we can make the subspecies distinction based on geographic location or any disticntive features that have been developped. if we try to apply this to humans we will end up with either no races and just a gradient, or too many races for it to be practical. because of the large size of our gene pool and large amount of phenotypical diversity and interbreeding classifying humans into distinct cohesive subspecies would be impossible. not to mention that it would be highly impractical. what would the point of all that work be?

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    Quote Originally Posted by ChaosLord View Post
    If race doesn't exist, and whites and blacks are the same, then how come white people can't acquire sickle-cell anemia; and blacks can?
    You can't "acquire" a genetic disorder,but I know what you mean.
    Sickle Cell has been found in "white" people but it has been noted that they are of partial "black" genetic heritage.

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    it's a few months on and not really on-topic but I found an article which said all and more what I wanted to say about seasons; Scientific reasons for Earth's seasons - including a mention of them being essential for survival especially in older societies. This is true of animals and plant behaviour too. Social constructs have no reality beyond society and would vanish without a society to sustain them, it should be obvious this is as untrue for seasonal variations in the weather as it is for weather...
    Quote Originally Posted by a.squiggles View Post
    um...no..seasons wouldn't continue, weather would continue...the planet would continue...seasons are precisely the social constracts that vary, change and disappear with us.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Renwein View Post
    it's a few months on and not really on-topic but I found an article which said all and more what I wanted to say about seasons; Scientific reasons for Earth's seasons - including a mention of them being essential for survival especially in older societies. This is true of animals and plant behaviour too. Social constructs have no reality beyond society and would vanish without a society to sustain them, it should be obvious this is as untrue for seasonal variations in the weather as it is for weather...
    well, as you said, that is not really on topic. yes, the articles uses "seasons" to talk about recurring climate patters, but that is an imprecision of language/the author using said social costruct to make themselves better understood by the reader. i never implied that changes in weather or climate are social constructs, just that the distinct division into 4 periods at precise dates is.

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    Quote Originally Posted by a.squiggles
    yeah, differences appear in isolated populations of the same species, and eventually they may speciate (although, theoretically, not necessarily), but that is contingent on them staying isolated. clearly that is not what is happening with the human population.
    Well, that's obviously true seeing as how the human species is highly mobile, but geographic isolation is not necessary for continued reproductive isolation in the case of human beings. Someone already pointed this out earlier in the thread.

    Humans evolved under conditions of high competition in which the survival of the group was a prerequisite for the survival of the individual. As a consequence, humans possess an overwhelming tendency to engage in exclusionary thinking and the mental formation of in-groups/out-groups. Stable identities with an exclusive character can serve to isolate different populations even if they come into physical contact for an extended period of time. Thus, it is absolutely possible to remain reproductively isolated even in situations of prolonged contact with 'outsiders' who are of the same species, because we have developed the necessary psychological mechanisms to do so. Alan McGregor's article called The Evolutionary Function of Prejudice is a good introduction to this fact.


    Quote Originally Posted by a.squiggles
    additionally, in the case of other mammals we can make the subspecies distinction based on geographic location or any disticntive features that have been developped. if we try to apply this to humans we will end up with either no races and just a gradient, or too many races for it to be practical. because of the large size of our gene pool and large amount of phenotypical diversity and interbreeding classifying humans into distinct cohesive subspecies would be impossible. not to mention that it would be highly impractical. what would the point of all that work be?
    It really depends on the criteria being used and also the precise definitions that are involved in the process. Most of the academics who make the assertion that races are unreal are saying these things while operating with a definition of 'race' that is not necessarily valid or useful. Oftentimes they'll base the definition of race around a very narrow characteristic for which they have evidence that suits their agenda, even though this isn't nearly as significant when viewed from a broader perspective including many other relevant facts and qualities. Make no mistake, most of the individuals in academia who make this claim do so deliberately with the intention of justifying the liberal immigration and social policies that have been passed since the 1960's.

    Furthermore, I don't see how it's 'impractical', as long as useful and level-headed criteria are used to distinguish between different races. Undeniably, this would mean that every country without exception in Europe is composed of multiple races. Europe itself possesses a wide variety of indigenous types that are clearly identifiable and capable of being classified. Miscegenation doesn't invalidate the reality of racial differences -- if anything, it highlights them because it draws attention to the fact that such crosses presuppose differences beforehand.

    As one early example of people who pointed out that 'race' and 'nation' don't coincide in a proper sense, Guenther and others working inside Nazi Germany made several attempts to map out racial differences and concluded that there are approximately six identifiable races within Germany alone (if you wish I can provide references to the study). Now, it's obviously the case that actual races don't break down in the way that the popular imagination supposes (with 'race' being almost equivalent to 'color' -- such as White, Black, Yellow, etc.), but this doesn't invalidate race itself as a legitimate concept, it just invalidates popular perception. Also, national identities do not necessarily occur along racial lines either, and one can observe plenty of overlap across Europe.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MockTurtle View Post
    Well, that's obviously true seeing as how the human species is highly mobile, but geographic isolation is not necessary for continued reproductive isolation in the case of human beings. Someone already pointed this out earlier in the thread.
    yes...your point? that didn't say anything about them being necessarily geographically isolated...:

    Humans evolved under conditions of high competition in which the survival of the group was a prerequisite for the survival of the individual. As a consequence, humans possess an overwhelming tendency to engage in exclusionary thinking and the mental formation of in-groups/out-groups.
    true, but with globalization we are, more and more, moving away from the "traditional" groups to a new "man kind" super-group.

    Stable identities with an exclusive character can serve to isolate different populations even if they come into physical contact for an extended period of time. Thus, it is absolutely possible to remain reproductively isolated even in situations of prolonged contact with 'outsiders' who are of the same species, because we have developed the necessary psychological mechanisms to do so.
    again, true, BUT nowadays i rarely come across people who are 100% sure about what their identity is and what they stand for here in canada and from media reports and general popular culture products originating outside, it looks like the trend, at least up to now, was similar elsewhere

    It really depends on the criteria being used and also the precise definitions that are involved in the process. Most of the academics who make the assertion that races are unreal are saying these things while operating with a definition of 'race' that is not necessarily valid or useful. Oftentimes they'll base the definition of race around a very narrow characteristic for which they have evidence that suits their agenda, even though this isn't nearly as significant when viewed from a broader perspective including many other relevant facts and qualities.
    sure, but there are so many characteristics to be considered...how do you propose we decide which ones are "valid", "useful", and "significant" and which ones are not?

    Make no mistake, most of the individuals in academia who make this claim do so deliberately with the intention of justifying the liberal immigration and social policies that have been passed since the 1960's.
    ...oh phlease! and the fact that you personally believe that these practices (immigration, etc, etc) should NOT take place (or so i assume from the fact that you post here) has no impact on your assertions?
    when questions on the fringe of objective sicence are raised everything is decided by personal agendas eyes:

    Furthermore, I don't see how it's 'impractical', as long as useful and level-headed criteria are used to distinguish between different races
    ok, give me one application for differential races? (and here we exclude such things as sickle cell, breast cancer, etc. which are based on a particular gene/small loci differences)

    Miscegenation doesn't invalidate the reality of racial differences -- if anything, it highlights them because it draws attention to the fact that such crosses presuppose differences beforehand.
    ...when refering to mixing i was working off a "even if" position..

    from the fact that you mentioned Gunther i suppose you envision race as being defined by a combination of phenotypical characteristics, but then we run into the problem of children having parents of a race different then theirs which seems absurd, to me, at least...and this is not even going into the complete lack of objectivity involved in categorizing people (i.e. how do you define a "small" head? a "wide" nose, etc...sorry for my lack of familiarity with the proper terms)...even if we use some sort of a combination genetic test, logistically you can't take *everything* (or even a significant amount) into account...and if you are, then what on earth is the point of naming a race? any possible benefits (i.e. being able to say "you're more likely to develop leukemia") are nullified as you can make these statments with better accuracy from the "race" definition test itself than the final race classification...:

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    Quote Originally Posted by a.squiggles
    yes...your point? that didn't say anything about them being necessarily geographically isolated...
    You said that speciation rested on the contingency of continued geographic isolation. My point was that this is not necessarily the case with the human species, though it might be with others.


    true, but with globalization we are, more and more, moving away from the "traditional" groups to a new "man kind" super-group.
    According to whom? Just because technological development has increased human mobility and economic exchange to more complex heights does not imply the gradual erosion of exclusionary thinking and in-groups/out-groups. There are countless examples of different social and national groups coming into contact with each other throughout history, and this did not necessarily lead to any sort of harmony or de-emphasis on the notion of exclusionary identities. European history contains plenty of cases in which different European states have engaged in excessive business and economic exchange, even though all the while they continued to absolutely hate each other (English/Dutch, French/English, etc.). How in the world do you suppose that just because more intense business interaction is taking place that we will no longer create limited in-group/out-group distinctions? Since when has business ever been anything more significant than 'just business'?

    Besides, I am big believer in Genetic Similarity Theory anyways. GST asserts that humans have a natural preference for others who are genetically close to themselves, and that this natural preference finds expression in numerous aspects of social life, including group formation and spousal selection. If GST is correct, it will almost certainly make the 'mixed-race utopia' that our current elite wants so much impossible, because no amount of social engineering can counteract the impulses that are derived from our own evolutionary history. In-group/out-group formation is a natural tendency, even admitted by liberal academics today, and coupled with this natural preference for others who are genetically similar (as indicated most strongly by phenotypic similarity), it makes the anti-particularist agenda of the current order unsustainable in the long-term. This can be observed in all sorts of different ways right now. As global interaction becomes more and more intense, there is no reason whatsoever to suppose that like will cease to crave like -- both history and science suggest otherwise.


    again, true, BUT nowadays i rarely come across people who are 100% sure about what their identity is and what they stand for here in canada and from media reports and general popular culture products originating outside, it looks like the trend, at least up to now, was similar elsewhere
    I'm sure that is indeed case, not just for Canada but elsewhere too, as you say. But, that doesn't necessarily mean that, in the long-term, people will completely abandon exclusionary thinking or the tendency to associate with others who are genetically similar to themselves (which will almost surely lead to limited group identities). Besides, we're living in an age in which it is not really socially acceptable to possess a fixed identity that 'excludes' others based on principle, so it's hardly surprising to find that most people are identityless in this sense.

    The agenda of the current elite is precisely that, to stamp out 'improper thinking' by means of structural organization and cultural influences. My point in this regard is simply that, judging from history and scientific theory, there is no reason to suppose that these efforts will be successful. Our elites envision the world becoming much more simpler in terms of group identity and conflict (the sort of thing you describe by the word 'globalization') -- contrary to this, there is every reason to suspect that it will become all the more complex. The current ideology can't hold its spell over the population forever, and when its grip is weakened, what will prevent people from forming the same sort of limited identity patterns that have been so powerful in human history?


    sure, but there are so many characteristics to be considered...how do you propose we decide which ones are "valid", "useful", and "significant" and which ones are not?
    Good question.

    I'm not an 'expert' on the scientific angle of the situation myself, but I would suggest that phenotype would have to be one of the most powerful factors. This isn't just because it is obviously the most noticeable, but also due to the fact that it's so important in the sort of real-life interactions that have occurred in human history and continue to occur today. Since different races are known to vary in a whole suite of traits, I suppose any number of these traits could be selected as a general standard (maturation rates, food digestion, etc.).

    What's most important in this matter, however, is that the broad picture always be taken into account. No doubt, race is not a 'stable quality' because races can obviously be altered through absorption of foreign genetic material as well as through further evolution in response to novel environmental conditions. Ultimately, I think that on a conceptual and practical level, race can be mapped out with great precision, but it will never be as straightforward a matter as the contemporary academic establishment seems to wish. But, then again, what in nature is this clear-cut and unambiguous anyways? Just because race is complex, and more or less in flux, doesn't make it functionally or biologically meaningless.


    ...oh phlease! and the fact that you personally believe that these practices (immigration, etc, etc) should NOT take place (or so i assume from the fact that you post here) has no impact on your assertions?
    No, actually it doesn't. To me, the matter of race in the biological sense (which is usually the sense in which these academics are referring to) is wholly scientific. Even if it turns out that certain aspects of the 'race is unreal' theory are correct, this has nothing to do with the fact that the West should obviously maintain control over itself and survive indefinitely.

    On the other hand, however, many people in modern academia who are involved in the biological sciences openly proclaim their support for radical liberalism in all its manifestations (immigration, culture, etc.).


    ...when refering to mixing i was working off a "even if" position..

    from the fact that you mentioned Gunther i suppose you envision race as being defined by a combination of phenotypical characteristics, but then we run into the problem of children having parents of a race different then theirs which seems absurd, to me, at least...and this is not even going into the complete lack of objectivity involved in categorizing people (i.e. how do you define a "small" head? a "wide" nose, etc...sorry for my lack of familiarity with the proper terms)...even if we use some sort of a combination genetic test, logistically you can't take *everything* (or even a significant amount) into account...and if you are, then what on earth is the point of naming a race? any possible benefits (i.e. being able to say "you're more likely to develop leukemia") are nullified as you can make these statments with better accuracy from the "race" definition test itself than the final race classification...
    Well, the mixed offspring from miscegenation are actually an individual step in the direction of a new, intermediate type. In a sense, this represents a new race that could stabilize with enough repetition. It doesn't really present a legitimate 'problem', it just complicates things because it is different from both parents from whom it springs.

    In my opinion, you're simply approaching the subject from the wrong angle altogether. Just because 'everything significant' can't realistically be taken into account doesn't mean that race is functionally pointless. If it were, then how can we possibly hope to explain the extreme importance of racial differences and warfare throughout history? It may perhaps turn out that the most proper criteria for race is considerably simpler than that which is being insisted on by some academics prominent in the field. To me, the most useful definition and classification system would emphasize the practical aspect of the situation as witnessed in history and contemporary society. The 'visual aspect' of race as the expression of underlying genetic material seems most important because it has ALWAYS played a role in the unique ways in which humans have associated with each other...

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    Quote Originally Posted by MockTurtle View Post
    You said that speciation rested on the contingency of continued geographic isolation.
    from what i remember i said it was contingent on continued isolation...be that geographical or otherwise...:

    According to whom? Just because technological development has increased human mobility and economic exchange to more complex heights does not imply the gradual erosion of exclusionary thinking and in-groups/out-groups
    according to modern society. yes, globalization in and of itself does not imply it, but if you look at the world as it is today and the social change globalization has brought about you'll see that erosion did take place, and wasn't very gradual either.

    How in the world do you suppose that just because more intense business interaction is taking place that we will no longer create limited in-group/out-group distinctions? Since when has business ever been anything more significant than 'just business'?
    i don't "suppose": i turn on the tv, read the newspaper, walk down the street, and know...i'm not talking hypothetical here, i am talking about the real effects of globalization on the world around me that i bare witness to every day...of course it doesn't *have* to be like this, but who cares?! the bottom line is that it *is* this way...these distinctions, while still present (and, on a positive note, seemingly being revived in some places) are being constantly compromised by liberal agendas, affirmative action, etc. etc...the world of today is not the world of medieval europe or neolithic tribes. i don't know where you live that you are so sure that these "in/out" groups have survived uncompromised, but where i am from people are more willing to help orphans in africa than local hospitals and i know more inter-racial couples than homogenous ones.
    ...and business is never "just business". with any form of social interactions cultural exchanges take place and culture changes. it may become more xenophobic as a result of these, or more accepting and liberal, but nothing remains unaffected by changes in other parts of the system.

    Besides, I am big believer in Genetic Similarity Theory anyways. GST asserts that humans have a natural preference for others who are genetically close to themselves, and that this natural preference finds expression in numerous aspects of social life, including group formation and spousal selection. If GST is correct, it will almost certainly make the 'mixed-race utopia' that our current elite wants so much impossible, because no amount of social engineering can counteract the impulses that are derived from our own evolutionary history. In-group/out-group formation is a natural tendency, even admitted by liberal academics today, and coupled with this natural preference for others who are genetically similar (as indicated most strongly by phenotypic similarity), it makes the anti-particularist agenda of the current order unsustainable in the long-term. This can be observed in all sorts of different ways right now. As global interaction becomes more and more intense, there is no reason whatsoever to suppose that like will cease to crave like -- both history and science suggest otherwise.
    so i see you're rooting for nature in nature vs nurturer...you are an optimist, i wish i could be as convinced as you are that everything will just work out in the end, but there are just too many mixed children out there saying that like craves more than just like for me to have the kind of faith you do...even the article you cite (i will admit here that i did not read the whole thing) says:

    ...there are many examples of how maladapted modern humans are for defending their ethnic interests due to the competing demands of family and immediate kin and the sheer complexity of modern societies including the impacts of cultural factors...
    the inclusion of which, to me at least, indicates a lack of faith in the impact genetic predisposition has on social behavior on the part of the author. as he states on many occasions, it is but one factor to be considered, albeit an important one.

    My point in this regard is simply that, judging from history and scientific theory, there is no reason to suppose that these efforts will be successful.
    i could be wrong, but to me the situation we face right now has no precedent in history. global integration to this extent and on this scale, with ideaological tools as powerful as the ones available right now have never existed imo.

    the only hope as i see it is for the system to implode due to its bulk and excessive complexity.

    The current ideology can't hold its spell over the population forever, and when its grip is weakened, what will prevent people from forming the same sort of limited identity patterns that have been so powerful in human history?
    nothing, one key point however - "when its grip is weakened"...and how shall that come about?

    Just because race is complex, and more or less in flux, doesn't make it functionally or biologically meaningless.
    actually, it does. if you give me two speciements and half the time i can't tell whether they fall within the same category or not, well, the categories aren't much use to me, now are they...if my drugs affect both individuals in the same way and cause identical responses - what does it matter if these people are the same race or not? as far as science goes - it doesn't

    the "social sciences" do care, the ones where one tries to correlate speaking speed with the number of cars you own, but since biology itself is hardly a science, these surely don't count.

    Well, the mixed offspring from miscegenation are actually an individual step in the direction of a new, intermediate type. In a sense, this represents a new race that could stabilize with enough repetition. It doesn't really present a legitimate 'problem', it just complicates things because it is different from both parents from whom it springs.
    ok, so then we end up with an endlessly growing list of races...categories serve to simplfy and generalizes, in this case "race" would not be doing either, thus does not serve as a useful category.

    In my opinion, you're simply approaching the subject from the wrong angle altogether. Just because 'everything significant' can't realistically be taken into account doesn't mean that race is functionally pointless. If it were, then how can we possibly hope to explain the extreme importance of racial differences and warfare throughout history?
    ah, so we get to the root of the disagreement - i look at race from the "hard science" point of view (i.e. the kind that doesn't really care much about history, at least social history anw) and you look at it from the point of view of trying to rationalize and systemize human behaviour (inherently irrational) thoughout the ages...

    The 'visual aspect' of race as the expression of underlying genetic material seems most important because it has ALWAYS played a role in the unique ways in which humans have associated with each other...
    so has beauty...should we make that a scientific category as well?

    here we have the same problem - while beautiful and ugly are definite realities in my every day life, just like race is, they could never be scientific categories...they are simply more bother than they are worth.

    science is based on abstractions, things that do not readily yield to objective analysis and do not simplify the analysis of other phenomena are not worth persuing because no valid, reproducible (i.e. scientifically credible and valid) results can be obtained by science as it exists right now.
    sure we can make models, predictions, etc etc, but that's just statistical fun and games. here we enter the world of eye balling, heuristics, and subjectivity - i.e. leave the realm of science, at least as i see it.

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    It's a fallacy to it doesn't exist when we are debating about it's existence.

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