July 18, 2008

'Ten Commandments' of race and genetics

Via the New Scientist:
Even with the human genome in hand, geneticists are split about how to deal with issues of race, genetics and medicine.

Some favor using genetic markers to sort humans into groups based on ancestral origin – groups that may show meaningful health differences. Others argue that genetic variations across the human species are too gradual to support such divisions and that any categorisation based on genetic differences is arbitrary.

These issues have been discussed in depth by a multidisciplinary group – ranging from geneticists and psychologists to historians and philosophers – led by Sandra Soo-Jin Lee of Stanford University, California.

Now the group has released a set of 10 guiding principles for the scientific community, published as an open letter in this week's Genome Biology.

Here is my commentary on each of the "commandments":
1. All races are created equal

No genetic data has ever shown that one group of people is inherently superior to another. Equality is a moral value central to the idea of human rights; discrimination against any group should never be tolerated.
This is a vague statement that is false for two reasons: (i) for any particular single trait, there is a wealth of evidence that one race may be genetically better than another, e.g., Caucasoids are inherently more likely to get skin cancer than Negroids. (ii) there is no way set-in-stone to rand two groups based on a number of many different traits. But, this is an obvious statement: if someone is beautiful and dumb and another one is ugly and intelligent, then you can't say that one is better than another: it depends on what importance you assign to different traits.
2. An Argentinian and an Australian are more likely to have differences in their DNA than two Argentinians

Groups of human beings have moved around throughout history. Those that share the same culture, language or location tend to have different genetic variations than other groups. This is becoming less true, though, as populations mix.
Correct, although populations are hardly mixing at a very high rate even in our interconnected world, but definitely more so than in pre-Columbian times.
3. A person's history isn't written only in his or her genes

Everyone's genetic material carries a useful, though incomplete, map of his or her ancestors' travels. Studies looking for health disparities between individuals shouldn't rely solely on this identity. They should also consider a person's cultural background.
Essentially correct, since groups and individuals differ both because of genes and because of culture.
4: Members of the same race may have different underlying genetics

Social definitions of what it means to be "Hispanic" or "black" have changed over time. People who claim the same race may actually have very different genetic histories.
Correct in the sense that there is variation within races. Also, in the sense that socially-defined races such as "black" and "Hispanic" do not correspond perfectly to biological races. "Blacks", at least in the United States are usually thought of as partial Negroids, and "Hispanics" are usually thought as Spanish speakers who tend to have a variable amount of Caucasoid and American Mongoloid ancestry.
5. Both nature and nurture play important parts in our behaviors and abilities

Trying to use genetic differences between groups to show differences in intelligence, violent behaviors or the ability to throw a ball is an oversimplification of much more complicated interactions between genetics and environment.
Essentially correct. However, this statement is often used to "ease the blow" of the fact that races may indeed have genetic differences that affect outcomes irrespective of environments, or at least in the range of environments that people tend to find themselves in in the 21st century.
6. Researchers should be careful about using racial groups when designing experiments

When scientists decide to divide their subjects into groups based on ethnicity, they need to be clear about why and how these divisions are made to avoid contributing to stereotypes.
No disagreement here.
7. Medicine should focus on the individual, not the race

Although some diseases are connected to genetic markers, these markers tend to be found in many different racial groups. Overemphasising genetics may promote racist views or focus attention on a group when it should be on the individual.

Focusing on the individual is a noble goal for the future. Doctors don't have infinite time and resources to study the individual in all its particulars, so they work by placing him and his condition in a few relevant categories, e.g., "old white male". The category "white" may be of little relevance depending if one has a broken limb but of greater relevance if one has a skin pathology.

Individuals are real, but we don't really perceive individuals: we perceive a cloud of categories and attributes about individuals, as time, knowledge, and interest allows, and one of these categories -and not an insignificant one- is their race.
8. The study of genetics requires cooperation between experts in many different fields

Human disease is the product of a mishmash of factors: genetic, cultural, economic and behavioral. Interdisciplinary efforts that involve the social sciences are more likely to be successful.

Certainly.

9. Oversimplified science feeds popular misconceptions

Policy makers should be careful about simplifying and politicising scientific data. When presenting science to the public, the media should address the limitations of race-related research.

Scientists should try to make scientific results accessible to the public without fueling misconceptions. A big part of this is being honest about race-related research, something which many scientists holding a politically correct "races don't exist/races are social constructs" seem unwilling to do.
10. Genetics 101 should include a history of racism

Any high school or college student learning about genetics should also learn about misguided attempts in the past to use science to justify racism. New textbooks should be developed for this purpose.
Genetics 101 should focus on the science of genetics, nothing more and nothing less. It should impart on the student correct notions about the science, and about differences between groups.

UPDATE (July 19):

The Genome biology open letter on which the New Scientist article is based.

61 comments:

  1. The most fundamental problem here is that the word "race" is taken for granted as inherently meaningful rather than as a social construct, and there is no attempt to deal with differences of interpretation on that score. This is a serious failing.

    If "Members of the same race may have different underlying genetics" then how can we tell they are in fact "members of the same race"? Since there is no attempt to define the term, all references to it are meaningless.

    I wrote the above before I actually took a look at the document itself, which is very different from the way it's been "quoted" in this post. For example, item 4 does NOT say "Members of the same race may have different underlying genetics." It says "We recognize that racial and ethnic categories are created and maintained within sociopolitical contexts and have shifted in meaning over time." Thanks for the link, Kambiz.

    What's going on here? Do two versions of this document exist?

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  2. How many races of humans really exist? I know that in past was many different racial theories with different classification system.

    On the present, it is relevant, that we are giving consistent biological sense to conceptions, what are changeable in time?

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  3. Having taken a look at the New Scientist article, I see that this is the source of the "ten commandments" posted by Dienekes. Since the New Scientist article is allegedly based on the Genome Biology article, the difference between the two listings is very puzzling. And the difference is considerable. The NS listing cannot be regarded simply as a summary of the original.

    Dienekes, I urge you to do another post on this issue, pointing to the difference, because the NS article takes the notion of race for granted, while the GB version cautions against the misuse of this term.

    I think it important to get to the bottom of what appears to be a gross misrepresentation of the original article and the philosophy behind it. What's going on here?

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  4. I don't understand the problem.Most races have high blood pressure and diabetes,so those aren't actually race disesaes.Other diseases may be specific to certain ethnic groups that they are carried in.So if a person has proof that their genetics are a certain breed and they know that their breed has a suseptibility to have a certain disease-then both they and their doctor could know that they might carry that genetic disease,and be prepared to treat it,and not have to guess what's wrong.

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  5. I GUESS YOU'D SAY ,"WELL,WHO CARES"?. "WHO GIVES A DAMN"? WELL MY ANSWER WOULD BE--how about this,Those that go to the trouble to research their genetics can have their results considered by physicians for any diseases corresponding to their ethnicity.And if they have any medical genetic results ,those should be considered too.Each DNA ethnic group can be studied for genetic illnesses and the results be published for them and their physicians to know. IS THAT SO HARD.

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  6. Of course, some ailments are unique to the individual person,like the little black girl born without an immune system on TV the other night. That might just affect her and not all the other blacks matching her DNA .But anyway, doctors gave her a replacement thymus gland and her immune system will grow normally after her surgery.

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  7. The category "white" may be of little relevance depending if one has a broken limb but of greater relevance if one has a skin pathology.

    This is, I'd dare to say, a somewhat "tricky" (too obvious) example, Dienekes.

    Sure, whiteness is relevant for skin pathologies. In fact the degree of whiteness among whites is also relevant. In most summer cancer prevention campaigns there is a special focus on blonds with freckles. Does that mean that freckled blonds (or redhairs) are a different race?

    Anyhow, more often than not alleged race differences are supposedly related to other diseases, that have nothing or little to do with skin color.

    In any case, I think that the most important statement is no. 5, at least in the original article (not the New Scientist's version of it), where it reads:

    Statement 5: We caution against making the naive leap to a genetic explanation for group differences in complex traits, especially for human behavioral traits such as IQ scores, tendency towards violence, and degree of athleticism

    There is some people around trying to make such claims, often based on pseudoscientific literature like Lynn's "global IQ" studies (paid by a racist foundation, for those who don't know). These kind of claims remind way too much to the kind of psudoscientific junk that was behind Hitler's ideology to take a neutral stand about it. IMO, it's much more dangerous than all the ID nonsense.

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  8. Thanks, maju, for your reasonable assessment of the "race" situation.

    Here's the problem in a nutshell:

    "Caucasoids are inherently more likely to get skin cancer than Negroids."

    This sounds reasonable but in fact there is no way to determine whether someone is "Caucasoid" or "Negroid," in a strictly scientific sense, either by looking at the person or analysing that person's DNA. And if there is no way to do that, then the whole notion of "race" must be regarded as non-scientific. Which it is. Which is the whole point of the statement as published in "Genome Biology" -- and seriously distorted by the New Scientist article.

    The statement should read: "Light skinned people are inherently more likely to get skin cancer than dark skinned people." One could also add: "Since the great majority of light-skinned people are of European background and most people of African background are dark-skinned, then, it's possible to state that people with European background are, on average, inherently more likely to get skin cancer than people with African background."

    Note that it would be misleading to say that anyone is of "European descent," because all Europeans are ultimately of African descent, just like everyone else (assuming the OOA model to be accurate).

    There is a huge difference between characterizing someone as of "African background" and as a member of "the Negroid race." African background can be determined by tracing the individual's history, while there is no scientific way to determine whether or not someone is of a particular "race."

    It should also be added that the status of "race" as a social construct (which it most certainly is) does NOT mean it isn't meaningful or even that it shouldn't be used in certain circumstances. "Race" IS most certainly a very meaningful concept AS A SOCIAL CONSTRUCT. So the characterization of certain people as "African-American" for example, while meaningless biologically, is a perfectly legitimate thing for social scientists, government officials, politicians, etc., and "African Americans" themselves, to do, because as a social construct "race" does have some real legitimacy.

    Ultimately "race" is a matter of how people are perceived and how they see themselves, on the basis of their history, self-identity, and social situation. In other words, it is a social construct and NOT a scientifically valid term, that is nevertheless valid when understood as such and used in an appropriate manner.

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  9. This sounds reasonable but in fact there is no way to determine whether someone is "Caucasoid" or "Negroid," in a strictly scientific sense, either by looking at the person or analysing that person's DNA.

    It is perfectly possible to determine this. Human individuals segregate spontaneously -without any a priori use of population labels- into clusters corresponding to the traditional categories of Caucasoid, Negroid, etc. of traditional physical anthropology. This is true both for genes and for skulls.

    Note that it would be misleading to say that anyone is of "European descent," because all Europeans are ultimately of African descent, just like everyone else (assuming the OOA model to be accurate).

    There is no "ultimate" descent, unless one speaks about the common ancestor of all life, the first self-replicator.

    Ultimately "race" is a matter of how people are perceived and how they see themselves, on the basis of their history, self-identity, and social situation. In other words, it is a social construct and NOT a scientifically valid term, that is nevertheless valid when understood as such and used in an appropriate manner.

    One's self-perception or social identity doesn't make one iota of difference to the fact that he belongs to a specific biological race (or to more than one if he is of mixed-race descent).

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  10. Sure, whiteness is relevant for skin pathologies. In fact the degree of whiteness among whites is also relevant. In most summer cancer prevention campaigns there is a special focus on blonds with freckles. Does that mean that freckled blonds (or redhairs) are a different race?

    Just as Caucasoids have skin cancer more often than Negroids, so do northern Caucasoids have skin cancer more often than southern Caucasoids when living in a similar environment.

    The piece of information (Caucasoid or Negroid) has relevance on the disease factor (Skin Cancer).

    The fact that other pieces of information (e.g., red-headed and freckled northern Caucasoid) have even more relevance doesn't negate the fact that the piece of information (Caucasoid) does.

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  11. What has relevance is skin color. An albino Nigerian is surely much more likely to have such problems than the average Swede.

    Obviously skin tone is directly correlatd with our perception of race and that's why I said that it's the most tricky example anyone could muster. It has nothing to do with the overall genetic background, as syblings can perfectly be very much to the extremes of skin pygmentation and I know of such cases personally. Caucasoids specially are extremely variable in skin tone, but Mongoloids are close anyhow.

    So in the end it's a fallacy, even for such a "racial" trait as skin pygmentation. One can guess how poorly this may apply to things such as colon cancer or reumathism.

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  12. If skin color has an effect on skin cancer independent of race, how do you explain that American blacks have more skin cancer than Koreans?

    I explain it by the fact that American blacks have substantial Caucasoid ancestry, even though they are darker than Koreans.

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  13. Hmmm, I am really surprised to find out that East Asians seem to have such a low frequence of melanome. It's odd, so guess it has to do with some other skin-protection factor, exclusive to that human group (maybe the yellowish tinge?) that is as good at UV protection as melanine.

    Still, I find strange that US "white" people have twice the melanome rate of English people, and even more than Swedes (or any other European listed, at least for males), specially as we know that they all have some black and/or native admixture, so maybe it has to do with other factors specific to the USA (pollution?, clembuterol? diet? nuclear arsenal? - just guessing) and certainly not with "race" only.

    In any case your graph shows that the cummulative incidence of melanome even among the greater risk groups is of only 1.3%, what is ridiculously low, almost meaningless. If that graph would be scaled to 100% instead of just 1.5%, you would see virtually no difference.

    What it seems to say is that all people are very unlikely to get melanome, whatever their "race".

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  14. US whites don't have a substantial black or Native American admixture.

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  15. I can alway stop any debate over the scientific status of the term "race" dead in its tracks. All I have to do is ask for:

    1. A definition of the term.

    2. A scientific method for sorting people into different "races" on a purely biological basis.

    Nevertheless, people with no real sense of what scientific method is all about will continue to insist that "race" is a truly scientific concept despite their failure to either define it or explain how to develop a "racial" taxonomy in strictly scientific terms.

    Dienekes, when you refer to "the traditional categories of Caucasoid, Negroid, etc. of traditional physical anthropology," you are referring to social constructs, determined on the basis of the assumptions of physical anthropologists of the past -- assumptions that have been proven to be incorrect.

    If you want to prove me wrong, then please explain how these "traditional categories" can be applied to the biological makeup of any real person living today through any sort of test above and beyond your own personal perception of where that person "belongs" with respect to your own personal view of the world.

    As maju has stated, people with exactly the same lineage can exhibit radically different "racial" characteristics, if "race" is defined in such instances as how they are perceived by others, NOT their genetic makeup. Why is this so difficult to understand?

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  16. Maju wrote: "I am really surprised to find out that East Asians seem to have such a low frequence of melanome". In Peter Bellwood's book "Man's Conquest of the Pacific" he claims Asians' skin has very little melanin but "the outer layer of their skin is packed with keratin". If true that may account for the low frequency of melanoma. And could this be a defining characteristic of an East Asian 'race'? Perhaps it indicates they evolved in a region of strong sunlight?

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  17. Perhaps it indicates they evolved in a region of strong sunlight?

    Beijing is roughly at the latitude of Madrid. A good deal of East Asia (in the wide sense) is tropical or subtropical. But you also find very light pygmented people in NE Asia anyhow.

    ....

    I'd also like to say that I don't completely reject the concept of "race", though I'm generally very cautious about using this term (I prefer "type"). It's clades vs. clusters, and these are not opposed but two views of the same thing. Clusters exist because clades exist too (and vice versa).

    What I question, in line with the open letter discussed here, is that "race" as such has such a huge importance in deterimining health risks. I think there is a huge mystification of racialism because of cultural bias of Anglsaxon (and more specifically US) origin, and that is permeating biological sciences in a sense that sometimes reminds of the Nazi pseudoscientific approach.

    A factor in all this issue may be that geneticists may need to justify their work to whoever pays them and medical goals are a more marketeable pretext than mere biological archaeology.

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  18. The first commandment reads "All races are created equal". This is a dodgy statement on two counts. Firstly, what does it mean by 'created'? Is this a creationist declaration of some sort? Surely it means 'have evolved equally' (since our ancestors first left Africa seventy thousand years ago). But the trouble with that is it focusses attention on what would amount to seventy millenia of suspended evolution in all sorts of selectively differentl environments. Hardly credible. The second problem is with the word 'equal'. If that is not being used in a moral sense, then it must be a substitute for the word 'identical', as in 'all races have identical averages and standard deviations for all human variables.' Equally incredible.
    Commandment one as written is warm, comforting, ideologically sound, morally virtuous and meaningless.

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  19. The first statement reads in the original letter (link at bottom of Dienekes' post) reads:

    Statement 1: We believe that there is no scientific basis for any claim that the pattern of human genetic variation supports hierarchically organized categories of race and ethnicity

    The equality of rights of all human beings is an unquestionable, moral claim that cannot be challenged by descriptive, scientific findings [9-11]. As a normative commitment, equality is fundamental to our conception of human rights, and is not open to debate. Classification by racial and ethnic categories has, at particular moments in history, been used to further racist ideology [12]. In view of concerns that linking of emerging genetic data and race/ethnicity categories may promote racist ideologies, we emphasize that there is no scientific basis for any claim that the pattern of human genetic variation supports hierarchically ranked categories of race or ethnicity. Furthermore, we abhor any use of genetic data to reinforce the idea of between-group difference in order to benefit one group to the detriment of another.


    It's the most exclusively ethical and political statement of all. But it's not what New Scientist made it look like. The word "equal" is not mentioned in the whole statement, nor is the word "created". Even the term "race" is scant and dealt carefully with.

    Read the original thing better before you make up your mind.

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  20. "Beijing is roughly at the latitude of Madrid". What's that got to do with anything? Do you know for a fact that East Asians evolved in Beijing? Or anywhere in the tropical regions of East Asia?

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  21. "Beijing is roughly at the latitude of Madrid". What's that got to do with anything? Do you know for a fact that East Asians evolved in Beijing? Or anywhere in the tropical regions of East Asia?

    I just meant that the solar radiation that most Eastern Asians get normally is much higher than what Europeans do. North of Beijing it used to be the scarcely populated steppes and tundra, though nowadays Manchuria has grown significatively. Just a comment related to pygmentation differences and the possible reasons behind it.

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  22. I agree with that Maju. I suspect the East Asian phenotype evolved at a tolerably high altitude, probably in the high country northwest of Beijing. Certainly not in tropical regions. In fact the East Asian type's arrival in SE Asia is probably as recent as six or seven thousand years ago. Until that time the people in the region (Hoabinhian) seem to have resembled modern Papuans.

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  23. I can always stop any debate over whether dog breeds exist dead in its tracks. All I have to do is ask for:

    1. A definition of the term.

    2. A scientific method for sorting dogs into different breeds on a purely biological basis.

    Nevertheless, people with no real sense of what scientific method is all about will continue to insist that dog breeds exist despite their failure to either define it or explain how to develop a "breed" taxonomy in strictly scientific terms.

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  24. Sorry, Kit, but if you are going to do science you really need to know what you are talking about -- or at least have enough of an idea to be able to forumulate a coherent definition. Here's a definition of "breed" I found on the Internet: "A group of organisms having common ancestors and certain distinguishable characteristics, especially a group within a species developed by artificial selection and maintained by controlled propagation."

    The problem is that many people believe "race" to be the human equivalent of "breed," except for the part about artificial selection, of course. And it most definitely is not. Professional dog breeders can easily identify different breeds simply because they have been artificially selected -- any dogs that don't meet the standard get sorted out and are prevented from breeding.

    The bottom line, for the concept of both "breed" and "race" alike is that it can't be taken seriously as a scientific concept unless it's been the basis for serious, professional scientific study. In the past, there have been many pseudo-scientific "studies" of race, but I'd be very surprised if you could find any real science based on explicitly "racial" classification being done today. If you can, please post the reference so we can check it out. I'm curious.

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  25. Let me play Devil's advocate, Kit Chen:

    1. A definition of the term.

    A set of dogs characterized by a common and externaly visible phenotype (and presumably also have some genetic affinity, as the phenotype is mostly gene-derived).

    2. A scientific method for sorting dogs into different breeds on a purely biological basis.

    Dogs can be sorted in genotype defined clusters and those clusters will probably approach our conventions on breeds. Guess this can account for a scientific method to prove the existence of breeds beyond the mere optical illusion.

    In brief just genotype dogs with enough depth and extended sample and breeds should appear as subsets naturally. The experiment could perfectly be done double blind (the geneticists do not need to know the breed of each sample dog until the experiment is finished).

    If this doesn't happen, if a chihuahua happens to be closer genetically to a German sepherd than to another chihuahua, then the existence of breeds would be disproven. But I doubt such finding will happen.

    ...

    I would not approach the race issue this way, because clusters do exist, even if their borders are diffuse (even extremely diffuse, as happens with humans). But rather adressing two issues (genetically):

    1. Comparing the inter-racial differences to the inter-racial similitudes (what makes us humans and not bonobos). Obviously what the different clusters have in common is many many times more than any difference.

    2. Comparing inter-racial differences to intra-racial diversity. Again what separates the different individuals is much much more than what unites them as "race".

    Only that way can the racialist near-absolute be relativized up to the point of near-dismissal. We have individuals that are very different among them and humans that are very much alike - while, compared with these categories, "races" (clusters) show very little internal likeness and very few external differences.

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  26. Victor said: "many people believe 'race' to be the human equivalent of 'breed', ... And it most definitely is not". And further: "dog breeders can easily identify different breeds". Unfortunately for your argument most of us "can easily identify" what particular region of the earth particular people (or at least their ancestors) come from. Besides which many of the older breeds (especially) derive from what were originally geographic variations in the species.

    As Maju says: "Obviously what the different clusters have in common is many many times more than any difference". Same with breeds of dog.

    So obviously there are many similarities between breeds and human races. That one is formed by human selection and the other by natural selection is of minor significance.

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  27. "Unfortunately for your argument most of us "can easily identify" what particular region of the earth particular people (or at least their ancestors) come from."

    Not true. What is probably true is that a group of "educated" Americans chosen at random might well be able to consistently sort a set of stereotyped photos according to what they PERCEIVE the subjects' races to be. However:

    1. If all the subjects in such photos were dressed the same and had the same hair style the degree of consensus would probably be a lot less.

    2. Many outright errors would be almost inevitable.

    3. There is no scientific test that could be applied to determine whether the consensus opinion was in fact right or wrong.

    In other words, when we talk about "race" we are talking about how people are perceived, NOT about their ancestry.

    This doesn't mean that human morphology can't be the subject of scientific analysis -- it certainly can. But the study of morphology is NOT The same as the study of "race."

    A good example that I keep bringing up but apparantly to no avail is the common perception of "African Americans" as "negroid" -- and of "African" origin. Is it really that easy to identify which "particular region of the earth" an "African American" came from?

    You might say, "sure, isn't it obvious, an African-American's ancestors were African." And you would probably be right, in that most people perceived as African American do have at least some African ancestry. But most also have other ancestry as well. And there is absolutely NO way to determine what percentage of their ancestry is either African or anything else.

    Someone whose great-grandfather was born in Africa, but who is otherwise of European descent might well be perceived simply as "African-American." That person's brother or cousin might look totally "European." So what can it mean to claim you can "easily identify" what "particular region of the earth" someone "came from"?

    And don't let the genetic testers fool you. Mitchondrial DNA stems exclusively from the female line and will provide information only on your mother and her mother and her mother's mother, etc. Y chromosome analysis will provide information on the male line in a similar way. But information regarding your mother's father and ALL his ancestors will not be provided. And the same with your father's mother and all her ancestors. That's a LOT of ancestors that can't be accounted for.

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  28. But information regarding your mother's father and ALL his ancestors will not be provided.

    It will be provided in many cases. It's autosomal genetics and, while there may be some degree of inaccuracy or uncertainty, the results will in most cases be reasonably correct.

    This does not contradict my previous argument that "racial" differences are minor in comparison to other stuff, just that certain ancestry-informative alelles are much more likely to happen in some populations than in others. If the array of tested genes is sufficiently large and well chosen, the result will be reasonably ancestry-informative. This doesn't mean there can be no errors.

    A good example that I keep bringing up but apparantly to no avail is the common perception of "African Americans" as "negroid" -- and of "African" origin.

    Well, that's due to the very odd way of racial classification that they have in the USA, a heir of slavery and Jim Crow, by which any person with an afroamerican ancestor is considered black, no matter all the rest are something else. In fact most afroamericans should be considered mixed to honor the ancestral truth but as this denominator is nowadays more ethnic (meaning community, culture) than actually racial (meaning ancestry), it doesn't happen. Among afroamericans themselves, people with recent admixture are maybe more aware and proud of their mixed ancestry, but people with no recent euroamerican ancestry normally feel just black, even if they happen to be very light pygmented. A good example could be the former pastor of Obama (what's his name?). That guy looks more white than black to my eyes, but in the USA mixed ancestry is unconcievable, or at least not dealt with seriously.

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  29. You can't claim that racial differences are minor across the board. For each trait, racial differences may be non-detectable, minor, or major, or even near-absolute, where almost 100% of members of one race have a trait that almost 100% members of another lack.

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  30. Of all human genome nucleotides, variable ones (SNPs) are less than 1% (between 0.1 to 1%). These include those that are population-specific and those that are randomly distributed.

    Chimpanzee genome is like 95% like ours, therfore the really intra-human genetic variation could be as much as 20% or as little as 2%. In any case, it's just a minority fraction of what makes us humans.

    And this 2-20% human variability is not only distributed amon "races" but also across them. For example the most important blood groups are widely distributed (and are genetically defined) and like them there are a zillion traits (and their coding genes) spread across the different groups of humans reagrdless of "race".

    You can't claim that racial differences are minor across the board. For each trait, racial differences may be non-detectable, minor, or major, or even near-absolute, where almost 100% of members of one race have a trait that almost 100% members of another lack.

    80% is "almost" 100%, right? "Almost" can be almost irrelevant.

    An in any case we would be speaking of a minor fraction of the genome. Not sure exactly how much but surely much less than 5%, maybe around 1%. And that even if we pick up only the most distinct groups. If you compare a Negroid Somali with a Caucasoid Yemeni then probably the differences get almost totally blurred. The grey zones are immense and clusters, while real for some genes, are also very relative.

    You can choose to overemphasize those tiny, irregular and very relative differences but that's an ideological choice, not a scientifical one.

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  31. Erratum:

    An in any case we would be speaking of a minor fraction of the genome.

    Should read:

    And in any case we would be speaking of a minor fraction of the human-specific genome.

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  32. The very small difference between humans and chimpanzees amounts to quite a large phenotypic difference. This highlights the risk of naive calculations of "how similar" or "how different" groups are based on the percentage of sequence they share.

    In fact, many human traits are controlled by many genes, and small differences in many genes allow for very large phenotypic differences.

    What is unscientific and ideological is to either minimize or maximize intra-human differences without hard _relevant_ data, either to serve an egalitarian or racist political philosophy.

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  33. The very small difference between humans and chimpanzees amounts to quite a large phenotypic difference.

    They may be of the order of 50 times intra-human differences and surely much more if we talk of racial differences and not individual variation. We still are very very similar and many people, and even states, acknowledge chimpanzees, bonobos and other great apes some special moral or legal protection based on our close kinship and their very human-like nature.

    In fact, many human traits are controlled by many genes, and small differences in many genes allow for very large phenotypic differences.

    Possibly, but there are also many differences that seem merely trivial (junk DNA and all that). In any case we are talking of just some 1% (tentatively, I figure it's quite smaller anyhow) of the human-specific genome. This translated to Pan+Homo-specific genome could be as little as 0.005% (or even much less).

    I think it's important to keep a sense of proportion, ok? The quantitaive genetic differences with Pan sp. are probably 500 times those between human "races" - or even much more.

    What is unscientific and ideological is to either minimize or maximize intra-human differences without hard _relevant_ data, either to serve an egalitarian or racist political philosophy.

    Racialism, even if not explicitly racist is also ideological, specially on light of the evidence of the genetic figures. It's a subjecive decission of emphasizing the minimal differences that can be accounted for between races instead of just admitting the massive coincidences across percieved racial borders.

    And, in any case, I (and many others) prefer to play safe and risk assuming equality on what looks like pretty convincing scientic grounds (99% or more of the human-specific genome in common is like a lot of equality, specially if we compare with 2-20% differences at individual level) than become the useful fool for the minions of Hitler's ghost.

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  34. Things are simple:

    The fact that humans are 98.5% the same as chimps doesn't mean that their phenotypic differences are 1.5% in any given trait.

    Similarly, if we drop the 98.5% that we share with chimps and look at the 1.5% that makes us uniquely human, we will see that human races differ in a very small fraction of that 1.5%. Yet, that doesn't mean that there very small differences between humans.

    A sense of scale is indeed needed. We measure the differences between rocks with measuring tapes, but the differences between diamonds with precision instruments. The differences between two diamonds may be insignificant compared to the differences between diamonds and boulders, but that doesn't mean that they are insignificant -- when seen in the proper scale.

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  35. "Is it really that easy to identify which 'particular region of the earth' an 'African American' came from?" Obviously not. Their ancestors are likely to have come from various regions of Africa, without even considering possible (or even probable) European or Native American admixture. I agree totally with Maju: the term Afro-American is a product of "the very odd way of racial classification that they have in the USA, a heir of slavery and Jim Crow".

    Now, Victor, you appear to be deliberately clouding the issue by bringing in these Afro-Americans. As far as breeds go they are the equivalent of, say, labrador crossed with spaniel. As you'd know, it's very difficult to judge relative proportions of dog breeds in hybrid individuals.

    If we confine ourselves just to Africa it is often possible to tell what region within Africa a particular individual is from. Especially if we just need to say 'south', 'northeast', 'west', or 'north'. I was often even able to tell Wolof from Mandinke when I was in Senegal.

    Victor wrote, "If all the subjects in such photos ... had the same hair style the degree of consensus would probably be a lot less". But hang on. For a start they're unlikely to have the same hair styles without extensive artificial modification. Differing hair patterns are part of the way we can identify, to a large extent, what part of the world an individual comes from (ignoring the side issue of people formed as hybrids of people from many different distant regions).

    "This doesn't mean that human morphology can't be the subject of scientific analysis -- it certainly can". Hang on again. Wouldn't it be prudent to assume that morphology has some genetic basis?

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  36. The fact that humans are 98.5% the same as chimps...

    I was using 95%, as that was the figure I could find in a quick Wikipedia search. Guess there's some uncertainty on the exact apportions, right?

    ...doesn't mean that their phenotypic differences are 1.5% in any given trait.

    Phenotypes are not quantifiable. You can maybe measure them in their own terms but that is not comparable to something as DNA nucleotides that can be exactly counted and compared directly.

    In any case we and chimps have a lot of things in common.

    Similarly, if we drop the 98.5% that we share with chimps and look at the 1.5% that makes us uniquely human, we will see that human races differ in a very small fraction of that 1.5%. Yet, that doesn't mean that there very small differences between humans.

    It doesn't only mean that but actually there are very small differences between humans. Whatever aspect you look at is almost the same across humankind. Even something as "racial" as skin color is just variability inside a common basic pattern of naked skin and melanin, you just need one or two genes (probably there are some more but not too many in any case) to regulate that variability. It's not trivial but nearly so.

    People don't make such a fuzz about cat coat colors. There are white, black, smoke, cream, brown and stripped cats (among others) but all are cats, right? Unless you are into breeding, you will surely judge the cat for its individual personality, not coat color or even breed. That's very logical because surely, among cats too, most of the variability is between individuals and across breeds.

    A sense of scale is indeed needed. We measure the differences between rocks with measuring tapes, but the differences between diamonds with precision instruments. The differences between two diamonds may be insignificant compared to the differences between diamonds and boulders, but that doesn't mean that they are insignificant -- when seen in the proper scale.

    You are again trying to aggrandize the detail. We only do such measures on diamonds because they are very valuable in monetary terms, not because it would matter otherwise. A diamons is a diamond (crystal carbon) and, in what regards to me, I would only care about its market value if at all.

    This discussion is risking to become circular. I say: it's just a drop in the ocean, you say: the molecular properties of each drop are important. I can't argue against that but it's still a drop in the ocean.

    And I think that's what this letter is about: about not aggrandizing what is not so relevant after all. And specially not trying to estabilish any sort of racial hierarchy based on minor and still poorly understood findings.

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  37. Phenotypes are not quantifiable.

    Are you kidding? Isn't skin color, eye shape, hair follicle width quantifiable?

    I can't argue against that but it's still a drop in the ocean.

    If the "ocean" is human-scale variation, then racial variation isn't a drop, it's rather a large sea.

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  38. Are you kidding? Isn't skin color, eye shape, hair follicle width quantifiable?

    Did you read what I wrote?

    I said: "You can maybe measure them in their own terms but that is not comparable to something as DNA nucleotides that can be exactly counted and compared directly."

    You can "quantify" qualities, sure, but they are not intrinsecally numerical nor they are comparable to genetic quantification. The whole array of variety in, say, eye color, is maybe related to two genes or something like that. They are completely different kinds, even if somewhat related.

    If you want to focus in phenotype variance, and specifically in intra-human one, you can find "many" differences, but they are like the differences between crayons of different colors: they are all crayons anyhow.

    That's why it is specially important to emphasize genetic absolute (and not phenotypical relative) figures, because otherwise you are emphasizing the most minor and most visible (not necesarily most important) differences. In contrast genetic numbers give pretty much a realistic overview of the the actual differences: almost nil and mostly across races, not between them.

    That would also be visble at phenotype level if you are sensible enough. Maybe human skin color varies but all humans are quite non-hairy in comparison with chimps, no humans have prensile feet, all humans have brains that are about three times those of chimps, etc.

    The identity remains hyper-strong in comparison with the differences even at phenotype level. But it's much easier and more objective to quantify it in genetic figures anyhow.

    If the "ocean" is human-scale variation, then racial variation isn't a drop, it's rather a large sea.

    A "large" sea of less than 1% the size of the ocean? I would settle for a small lagoon, ok?

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  39. "In this review, we focus on the biogeographical distribution of genetic variation and address whether or not populations cluster according to the popular concept of 'race'. We show that racial classifications are inadequate descriptors of the distribution of genetic variation in our species. Although populations do cluster by broad geographic regions, which generally correspond to socially recognized races, the distribution of genetic variation is quasicontinuous in clinal patterns related to geography. The broad global pattern reflects the accumulation of genetic drift associated with a recent African origin of modern humans, followed by expansion out of Africa and across the rest of the globe. Because disease genes may be geographically restricted due to mutation, genetic drift, migration and natural selection, knowledge of individual ancestry will be important for biomedical studies. Identifiers based on race will often be insufficient."

    from "Implications of biogeography of human populations for 'race' and medicine," by
    Sarah A Tishkoff & Kenneth K Kidd, Nature Genetics 36, S21 - S27 (2004).

    maju, I think there are special problems associated with autosomal markers that make them difficult to use in establishing the ancestry of a single person. For one thing a great many markers are needed, which would make a meaningful evaluation very costly. Second, as I understand it, autosomal methods are highly statistical, and oriented more toward the identification of whole populations rather than individuals. This situation could change but at the present time I don't think it's either possible or meaniingful to characterize any individual's lineage on that basis. While some companies are now offering such a service, it's value has been questioned.

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  40. 15% of the variance is between races, so it is indeed a large sea. Humans are only variable in part of their genome, and in this part, a hefty part of the variation is explained by race.

    Re: your crayon example, you might wish to emphasize that all crayons are basically the same and only differ in oolor, but if one is interested in painting a picture, then the differences are quite relevant.

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  41. 15% of the variance is between races...

    I don't know where you get that figure from. But if 2-20% of the human-specific genome is variable (see my previous posts) and only 15% of it is inter-racial variance, then the reality of races ammounts to 0.3 to 3% (around 1%, as I was saying before) of what makes us humans - not too much, I'd say.

    ... so it is indeed a large sea

    So it's like 1%. Maybe a "large" sea of the size of the Dead Sea?

    I am not interested in discussing what part of the variance is "racial" but what part of humanity (or the human-specific genome) is "racial". And it's tiny.

    1. Humans are all alike in something between 80-98%
    2. Humans are individually variable in something like 2-20%
    3. Humans are racially variable in just a 15% of that (your figure), what is only 0.3-3%

    Is that a big deal? Nope. I can perfectly be closer in many many aspects to a Bushman or an Ainu than to my own brother. That's what really matters.

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  42. maju, I think there are special problems associated with autosomal markers that make them difficult to use in establishing the ancestry of a single person.

    Yes, there are. It's just obvious that even if 98% of my ancestry is purely Eruopean (or whatever), the remaining 2% may well be genetically relevant. I could well have a "bad gene" from a Congolese unknown ancestor or whatever.

    They would do a lot better focusing in direct identification of potentially pernitious genes, regardless of race or ancestry, because you never know who each and everyone of your ancestors was (and you probably still carry some genes from each one of them).

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  43. Ok, last attempt to explain:

    ~98.5% of human DNA is the same as chimps. That's the stuff that is either useless or makes tongues, hearts, eyes, etc. i.e all the stuff we share with chimps.

    The 1.5% of human DNA that isn't shared with chimps includes some stuff that is _fixed_ in humans and some that is polymorphic.

    The _fixed_ stuff is either useless or the stuff that makes us able to stand upright, talk, make tools, and all the other-human specific things.

    The polymorphic stuff is the cause of all human variation. Some of it is also useless, but the remaining part is that which causes differences among humans.

    15% of the variance in the polymorphic stuff is accounted by race, and this may lead to large differences in any given observable trait. In fact, while the 15% is an _average_, there are many loci where the percentage is much higher, and many of these loci show such high differences because of selection.

    So, if I'm buying a car, I don't care about the common elements between cars and chariots (they all have axles/wheels etc.), nor about the common elements between cars (they all have doors, a steering wheel etc.), but about the differences between them (how fast they are, how economic they are and so on). A lot of this difference is individual specific but a lot of it is because of the make of the car. The make of the car tells us a fair bit about it, and similarly a person's race tells us a fair bit about them. Not everything, as the racists believe, not trivially little as the egalitarians believe, but a hefty sum that may be more important for a particular trait (e.g. a neat new navigation system invented by Honda is found only in its cars).

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  44. The _fixed_ stuff is either useless...

    Nope. The useless stuff is the one that is more likely to be polymorphic, as it doesn't really matter what is written there. The really useful stuff is hard to change, unless it changes in an adaptative direction (or at least one that means no loss of function).

    You are again freely intrepreting the data in favor of your racialist prejudices - and in this particular case, against the most basic genetic logic.

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  45. Nope. The useless stuff is the one that is more likely to be polymorphic, as it doesn't really matter what is written there.

    Alleles get fixed either because they confer some great advantage and are positively selected, or because of genetic drift. In the former case they are fixed because they are useful; in the latter because of luck.

    Conversely a locus can be polymorphic because it doesn't matter what is written there, or because it hasn't had enough time to be fixed, or because of balancing selection.

    Nope. The useless stuff is the one that is more likely to be polymorphic, as it doesn't really matter what is written there.

    I suggest that you learn some basic genetics before you ascribe "racialist prejudices" to me.

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  46. I said: Nope. The useless stuff is the one that is more likely to be polymorphic, as it doesn't really matter what is written there.

    To which Dienekes replied

    Alleles get fixed either because they confer some great advantage and are positively selected, or because of genetic drift. In the former case they are fixed because they are useful; in the latter because of luck.

    Conversely a locus can be polymorphic because it doesn't matter what is written there, or because it hasn't had enough time to be fixed, or because of balancing selection.


    Isn't that exactly the same I was saying? Different (more) words, same meaning.

    Polymorphic alelles are less likely to be essential or nearly so. That's the bottomline.

    I suggest that you learn some basic genetics before you ascribe "racialist prejudices" to me.

    I didn't mean to offend. But I do think you are, consciously or unconsciously, distorting the facts to support your a priori view of racial differences as something really important. The facts do not support it, sorry.

    "A priori view" = "prejudice", it's the same.

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  47. But I do think you are, consciously or unconsciously, distorting the facts to support your a priori view of racial differences as something really important.

    The importance of race is not an "a priori" view, but an empirically derived view.

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  48. Well, Dienekes, I don't see that empirical basis in the discussion we are having here: it appears that race is a very minor issue in the human-specific genome, comprising something like 1% of it. Like 500 or 1000 times less important than the difference betwee us and chimps and like 10 or 20 times less important that the normal differences between individuals of the same ethnic group.

    There's nothing in all that to sustain that race is "empirically important". Only distorting the meaning of those facts can you make race appear as something of relevance. No serious follower of the scientific method would do that... unless he/she wants to cheat.

    I don't know if you are decieving yourself, I respect you enough to think you are not fully conscious of what you are doing, but you are not decieving me in any case.

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  49. Well, Dienekes, I don't see that empirical basis in the discussion we are having here: it appears that race is a very minor issue in the human-specific genome, comprising something like 1% of it. Like 500 or 1000 times less important than the difference betwee us and chimps and like 10 or 20 times less important that the normal differences between individuals of the same ethnic group.

    There's nothing in all that to sustain that race is "empirically important". Only distorting the meaning of those facts can you make race appear as something of relevance. No serious follower of the scientific method would do that... unless he/she wants to cheat.

    I don't know if you are decieving yourself, I respect you enough to think you are not fully conscious of what you are doing, but you are not decieving me in any case.


    In my humanitarian experience, even morons are allowed a voice. Apparently, more than a few are given the freedom to display it on a blog's comment board.

    Does said moron fail to understand that he may be perceiving this discussion from a disadvantaged viewpoint due to lack of knowledge of genetics, inborn gullibility to imbibe the PC swill, or even a distorted outlook from years of indoctrination from the egalitarians?

    Of course not, hence his continued babble and of late, signs of paranoia as others are "out to deceive him". LOL

    CUKOO!

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  50. Disqualification is not an argument (actually you only disqualify yourself that way), Cyd. And the arguments are on my side, it seems.

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  51. Dienekes, would you mind telling us exactly what in your opinion the "empirical basis" of race is? And can you site sources for such evidence in the literature?

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  52. No Maju, 'tis you who have disqualified yourself with your ever growing paranoid babblings.

    In the sane world it works like this; point made by person A. Person B has three options: 1) believe it outright. 2) Deny it outright. 3) Attempt to decipher if point is valid or not by critical analysis and research.

    Unless one knows the validity of a point with absolute certainty (and in this particular case, it is clear you do not) then 1 and 2 above are routes taken by idiots and/or the painfully gullible and malleable. Route 3 is the best approach to most things in life, especially when we deal with things of importance.

    No one, especially Dienekes, is out to "deceive" you. Your paranoia, along with the egalitarian bilge you have swallowed and now attempt to pass as accepted thought, is what makes further conversations with you worthless.

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  53. I went via number 3. You are going via number 1 (religious-like faith) on one viewpoint and via number 2 (irrational denial) re. my arguments.

    No one, especially Dienekes, is out to "deceive" you. Your paranoia...

    What paranoia?! I just think D. is decieving himself, not me. I just meant he (or you or whoever) won't persuade me without good arguments, arguments at least as good as the ones I'm providing. Just remember that yourself is always the easiest person to decieve - it happens even in the best families, you know.

    ...along with the egalitarian bilge you have swallowed and now attempt to pass as accepted thought, is what makes further conversations with you worthless.

    Obviously you are talking from an ideological position (not explicit but obvious enough). And that's what I meant when I warned D. and the rest not to play the usefool fool for people like you, who will try to use and abuse any feeble reasoning in favor of racial differences being more meaningful than just some colorful traits for certain political agenda that we know well it's extremely dangerous.

    The people like you will aggrandize whatever nimious element that favors your racist ideology and try to bury and supress the strong evidence against it. 15th century Indquisition or 20th century Gestapo... I really don't care, they both used the same tactics: propaganda, that, as defined by Goobbels himself, it's just repeating a convenient lie enough times until it becomes a pseudo-truth. And demonizing opponents is also part of that political strategy. Strategy that, by the way, you don't seem to master at all.

    Against that there is a lot of people, armed with critical thought and the scientific method. Armed with patience and honesty, and the conviction that after all humans are not that stupid as the people like you seem to believe.

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  54. I believe you are attributing some great and deep understanding of genetics and the sociopolitical underpinnings of said genetics onto yourself that is painfully lacking to anyone who has done #3 above. I have done #3 for a decade and a half and you have not at all, apparently. For if you actually did you would not blather on with statements such as this...

    I am not interested in discussing what part of the variance is "racial" but what part of humanity (or the human-specific genome) is "racial". And it's tiny.

    If this statement of yours were true, we would not be witness to the tremendous variations of societies that run along strict racial lines. What would be your explanation for such divergence in racial, and in turn, societal variations? Nutrients? Environment? Or perhaps, egad...racism? No answer is truly necessary due to the fact that anyone who uses quotation marks around racial or race is a graduate of Indoctrination U. LOL What is sad is that you are not novel in your ideas or thoughts. They are simply absurd and refuted lies that you've swallowed whole and think you are some messiah of enlightenment. No, not hardly. I, and I am sure others here, have seen this time and time again, including your cute little quotation marks.

    Let me also address your Nazi smears. Again, how novel from such a curious mind who delves in research and open thought. Am I to understand that if we do NOT follow your recipe for racial awareness we are doomed to become Nazis? Is that what the ingenious and truth seeking Maju would have us believe? It's either A or B according to you? LOL!!!!

    Pathetic you are. Grow up so you can see it for yourself.

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  55. If this statement of yours were true, we would not be witness to the tremendous variations of societies that run along strict racial lines.

    Do they? This sentence of you again evidences your prejudices and your agenda. Mind you that American Chalcolithic or African Iron Age have nothing to envy the same stages of Western Europe. Maybe the inverse would be more true. The real developement of Europe, specially Western (and much more Northern) Europe is a very recent developement. Would you be speaking some 2 or 3 thousand years ago, you'd notice that Nubia was much more advanced and civilized than Britain, or India... or almost any place on Earth. The irregularities of human developement certainly have other reasons, be sure of that, and racism is one of them. Have you ever heard of the concept "self-fulfilled profecy"?

    Let me also address your Nazi smears. Again, how novel from such a curious mind who delves in research and open thought. Am I to understand that if we do NOT follow your recipe for racial awareness we are doomed to become Nazis?

    I don't know if you call yourself "nazi" or "white nationalist" or "KKK fellow" or what. I really don't care about such propaganda subtleties: I know your kind and the medicine to use with them.

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  56. "If this statement of yours were true, we would not be witness to the tremendous variations of societies that run along strict racial lines."

    It's obvious isn't it? Any fool can plainly see that race is something real, a scientifically established fact that's simply unacceptable to the deluded liberals who refuse to accept it for ideological reasons.

    It's equally "obvious," isn't it, that the Earth is flat and the Sun, along with the rest of the Universe, revolves around US. But liberals can't deal with that either, because their egalitarian ideology won't let them accept the privileged position of the Earth in the the Grand Scheme of Things.

    The bottom line on all this is: if you think you are talking science when you talk "race" then show us the science behind it. Where are the scientific studies that have established the fundamental truth of race, without quotation marks? Where are the scientific studies that have even investigated the issue? What is the scientific basis for your claim?

    If you can't supply any of the above then you are talking nonsense. Stop wasting our time.

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  57. Maju the great researcher and open minded one states...

    The irregularities of human developement certainly have other reasons, be sure of that, and racism is one of them. Have you ever heard of the concept "self-fulfilled profecy"?

    -----

    I don't know if you call yourself "nazi" or "white nationalist" or "KKK fellow" or what. I really don't care about such propaganda subtleties: I know your kind and the medicine to use with them.


    Quite the convolution from Maju the moron. No such thing as race though racism deserves its place without any quotations. Akin to no such thing as "alien life" though you are an anti-alien lifer. Clever, these egalitarian morons. Quick to use whatever inconsistencies they have in their arsenal.

    As to the "I know your kind" line. Shocking, this preconception from someone who does not jump to conclusions, maintains an open mind, critically analyzes a situation before making blanket statements. But then, since he knows so much (utter drivel), we should just listen to his all knowing (demented) "teachings".

    Well, Maju the moron, you have clearly proven your yourself and your agenda. If we do not listen to your psychotic babblings, we'll magically turn into Nazis. Got it! LOL

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  58. Victor, my only suggestion to you is being a lapdog to an egalitarian nutjob is not very complimentary.

    It has nothing to do with "liberal" or "conservative", though thank you for those aged strawmen.

    Tell me, how do criminal investigation labs function if there were no "biological basis" or "definition" of race? Maybe they need your expertise in this matter along with Maju the moron's? It seems as if they are wasting their precious time looking for criminals or identifying decaying bodies out of pure "racism" and witchcraft. Right?

    LOL

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  59. ... Maju the moron... these egalitarian morons... Maju the moron... your psychotic babblings

    Ahem!

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  60. To add, I find it quite humorous that Victor would use this line...

    It's equally "obvious," isn't it, that the Earth is flat and the Sun, along with the rest of the Universe, revolves around US.

    As some sort of proof how "rational" the race denier's argument is and how irrational the race believer's is.

    Ummm, to quote Wikipedia...

    "Galileo's championing of Copernicanism was controversial within his lifetime. The geocentric view had been dominant since the time of Aristotle, and the controversy engendered by Galileo's presentation of heliocentrism as proven fact resulted in the Catholic Church's prohibiting its advocacy as empirically proven fact, because it was not empirically proven at the time and was contrary to the literal meaning of Scripture.[7] Galileo was eventually forced to recant his heliocentrism and spent the last years of his life under house arrest on orders of the Inquisition."

    Yoohoo, Victor. Some insight for you. The "accepted thought amongst civilized society" in this day and age is to deny the biological basis of race, ergo the Catholic Church's stance. Thereby the stance of the race believers is analogous to Galileo's. So with that, it is you who wants to continue to believe the Earth is flat and the sun revolves around the Earth. Get it? LOL


    As for Maju, to quote a nutjob I came across...

    "I know your kind and the medicine to use with them".

    Civilized discourse is not on the medicine list.

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Stay on topic. Be polite. Use facts and arguments. Be Brief. Do not post back to back comments in the same thread, unless you absolutely have to. Don't quote excessively. Google before you ask.