August 20, 2009

John Hawks on Anne Wojcicki on Race

John Hawks comments on an interview by Anne Wojcicki, one of the founders of 23andMe.

In the interview:
A lot of the difficulty in talking about race has been a lack of agreement on what “race” means. In the past, the idea of pure races also included an ordering of certain races as inherently superior to others. We reject this idea absolutely. However, that doesn’t mean that there are no genetic differences between populations of different ancestral origin. A few of our features use the genome-wide data of reference populations from around the world to trace the origin of pieces of an individual’s genome. Some customers have complex patterns depending on where their ancestors originated. These reference populations aren’t “races”; they’re representative samples of peoples who have lived in a single place for a very long time and have thus accumulated different sets of genetic variants over time.
John comments:
That's a tricky piece of wordcraft -- they're not 'races'; "they're representative samples of peoples who have lived in a single place for a very long time and have thus accumulated different sets of genetic variants over time."
Uhh....I'm thinking that's pretty much the definition of race in a lot of textbooks...

The points she starts with -- both true -- are that human populations aren't isolated ("pure races"), and you shouldn't rank them ("inherently superior"). But those ideas conflict with the process, since the software commonly used in human genetics (like STRUCTURE and other programs) assumes a model in which originally isolated groups (otherwise known as pure races) mix together.

It is true that STRUCTURE (and similar tools) use a model in which each individual is assumed to have a share of genes from each of K different populations, that differ from each other in the frequency (and in some case co-occurrence, due to linkage) of different gene variants.

These K populations, are not, however, assumed to be "pure races", but rather simply populations that differ from each other in their genetic characteristics. The program itself does not make any assumptions as to why they differ from each other: it could be due to different types or intensity of gene flow, or to reproductive isolation. Distinctive gene frequencies may arise both due to "race purity" or in the presence of gene flow, provided that it occurs at a low enough level so that changes that occur in one population are not reflected immediately in the other, and their distinctiveness is maintained.

But, more importantly, the "pure races" model is an approximation whose validity can be checked. If gene flow is substantial, then our simplifying STRUCTURE view of the world will not result in distinct clusters, in which the great majority of individuals from a particular population have the greatest share of their ancestry from the same racial clusters.

In other words, the fact that we assume distinct "pure" clusters is no guarantee that we will get distinct races via an application of STRUCTURE. Try STRUCTURE with K=2 in a homogeneous population, and you won't get 2 distinct clusters, even though you made that assumption: you will get a bunch of individuals that belong -in various proportions- to the 2 clusters, but no 2 solid blocks of individuals, one of which belongs predominantly to the first, and the other to the second cluster.

What STRUCTURE and similar programs have repeatedly shown, is that humans do, in fact, have genomes that resemble each other in the way we would expect if there were pure races which have occasionally mixed in their peripheries.

Our understanding of genetic processes helps us understand, that this is not the result of separate creation of human races, but of long-term gene flow limitations due to geography and culture, that have allowed originally related human populations to evolve apart.

In contrast with a Gobineau-istic view of set primordial races becoming ever more mixed and indistinct, our modern understanding is that human races evolved in historical time, becoming ever more distinct and separate. This is not inevitable, and human history has been punctuated by episodes of intermixture as well as separation, but the overall thrust has been one of diversification and increased distinctness, which may, perhaps, be set back in the modern age due to increased ease of transporation.

68 comments:

  1. It never ceases to amaze me that so many educated people are still so attached to the notion of race as a scientifically justifiable term. Population genetics is NOT the study of race. It could never be the study of race because there is no such thing as race as anything other than a social construct. And I am not being "politically correct," I am being scientific.

    If statements such as "representative samples of peoples who have lived in a single place for a very long time and have thus accumulated different sets of genetic variants over time" is the sort of thing we still find in certain textbooks as a definition of "race" that wouldn't surprise me. But Hawks is wrong if he thinks such definitions can be scientifically meaningful.

    The problem is that "race" has already become firmly established in Western consciousness as something to do with the way people look, the way they present themselves, the way they dress, their hairstyles, their accents, how they define themselves and how others define them. To come up with a totally different definition, based on genetics, is to generate endless confusion as to what it is you are talking about and what it is you are actually researching.

    The notion that one can take a word like race and simply redefine it in a totally new way that happens to suit you, simply because you are reluctant to let go of that term, is not only wrong, but it is also morally suspect. Hawks may not see himself as a racist, but if he's not then why the irrational attachment to that odious and harmful and for many of us still very painful word?

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  2. Would you be happier with the term 'subspecies' then? After all subspecies are simply 'representative samples of peoples [well, species actually] who have lived in a single place for a very long time and have thus accumulated different sets of genetic variants over time'. As I've pointed out previously the fact is that many subspecies are less different from other subspecies within a given species than are many so-called human 'races'.

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  3. The problem is that "race" has already become firmly established in Western consciousness as something to do with the way people look, the way they present themselves, the way they dress, their hairstyles, their accents, how they define themselves and how others define them.

    There's no such thing as "Western consciousness", and I think that most people understand that (a) the way people look is defined by their genes, (b) the way they present themselves is irrelevant to what their race is; if a white woman puts on a kimono, dyes her hair black, speaks Japanese, and becomes a citizen of Japan, that won't fool anyone that she is originally from Japan and not from Western Eurasia, and -in racial terms- that she is a Mongoloid and not a Caucasoid.

    The notion that one can take a word like race and simply redefine it in a totally new way

    It is those who define race as a "social construct" who are redefining it in a totally new way. You won't find such a "social race" in any of the traditional anthropological literature.

    The fact that people misuse the term "race" to e.g., speak of a "Hispanic race" or of a 10% Negroid as a member of the same "black race" as a Nigerian, doesn't mean that we should abandon the concept.

    People misuse scientific terms all the time (think of all the New Age nonsense that has sprung out of a poor understanding of quantum mechanics, or the misunderstanding of Relativity as "it's all relative") but we don't abandon the "uncertainty principle" because it means something completely different to the uneducated.

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  4. For those who still believe subspecies are completely different varieties within a species have a look at this:

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/08/090811-extinct-booby-masked.html

    It's not really as simple as the above article states. The local paper here:

    "the Tasman booby is actually a subspecies of the masked booby ... But the masked boobies breeding on three remote island groups in the north Tasman have sepia, not yellow, eyes, and longer wings than other boobies".

    Now, I'm sure you'll agree that those defining differences are major.

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  5. You won't find such a "social race" in any of the traditional anthropological literature.

    But that is not the origin of the notion of race, just a modern more or less scientific expansion. The term race, meaning stock or lineage, was used very loosely in Antiquity and up to the Modern Age and even in the 20th century you could read a lot of materials that equated race to language: German race, Greek race, Chinese race, etc.

    So the classical and often popular view of race prior to colonialism (at least) is one meaning people, stock or ethnos. You won't find anything like the Caucasoid race in any classical source but they used the term race liberally to mean distinct population, ethnicity or nation. And even today that sometimes happens.

    So the socio-cultural construct of race is a real process born with European colonialism and mostly used to justify, after the religious excuse run dry, the oppression of non-Europeans (and sometimes Europeans too: racism was part of the English aggression against the Irish, for instance, or that of the Nazi aggression against Jews and Slavs).

    So when Native Americans and Black Africans could not be anymore oppressed only in the name of God and religious discrimination, race became the pretext. All this happened before any "traditional" (late modern: 19th century) anthropological literature was even conceived.

    Your concept of "traditional" here is way too unusual. Traditional would be the way classical Romans used the term "race" in an ethnological and not merely biological manner. Hence Hispanic race would be a much more traditional concept than dissecting it into various groups depending on their biological affinity to this or that "pure" (??????) reference clusters.

    Notice that I do not deny all validity to the modern +/- scientific concept of race but that I am well aware that is a modern (not traditional) biological (not strictly anthropological) conceptualization, and that I am also well aware that in real practice race is cultural. For instance: Obama is "Black" (cultural) in spite of him being 50% White (biological), Japanese were "White" in Apartheid South Africa (cultural, political) but Caucasoid Indians (biological) or Mongoloid Malays were not.

    Also the concept of race tends to essentialism: there are absolute "pure" categories (races) in spite that nearly nobody falls in such categories in such a pure manner. It basically ignores that, regardless how you define races, everybody is a mestizo to some degree.

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  6. >>Hawks may not see himself as a racist, but if he's not then why the irrational attachment to that odious and harmful and for many of us still very painful word?<<

    Hilarious comment.

    Hey DocG, you should consult a dictionary about the meaning of "racist".

    Here's a tip in the meantime, John Hawk's comments in his blog post were not racist in any way.

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  7. As I see it, the irrational insistence that "race" is a scientific concept, in the face of all the very clear evidence that it is not, is already dangerously close to racism. I'm not saying Hawks is a racist in the sense that he's bigoted. But I question his irrational attachment to this term, which suggests that he is unwilling to let go of certain stereotypes that have been and still are extremely harmful.

    If you still have any doubts as to the scientific status of the term race, then I suggest that 1. you attempt to define it in scientific terms and 2. you cite any legitimate scientific study based on such a definition that's been published in a peer reviewed journal at any time over the last 30 years, and explicitly uses the term "race" in the sense that you have defined it.

    As for "subspecies," sorry but there are no human subspecies. And again, if you want to insist there are, then define the term and cite a legitimate scientific source that employs this term in a manner consistent with your definition.

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  8. Dienekes: "(a) the way people look is defined by their genes,"

    "The way people look" is not a scientific concept. What can be studied is the way people are perceived by others. This HAS been researched and one of the things that's been learned is that different people will perceive the same individual in different ways.

    "(b) the way they present themselves is irrelevant to what their race is;"

    There is no such thing as race. The way they present themselves is relevant to the way they will be perceived by others. In "The Treasure of The Sierra Madre," Humphrey Bogart walks out of a Mexican barber shop and he looks Mexican. Because he's just had a Mexican style haircut. If you take a typical WASP male, dye his hair black, give him a tan and a Mexican style haircut, and have him speak with a Mexican accent, he will be perceived as Mexican, I guarantee it.

    Many "African Americans" are in fact mostly of European origin, but "racially" they are stereotyped as "black." Two full brothers from exactly the same family, meaning they have the exact same lineage, can appear to be racially distinct, one "white" the other "black." This has to do with genetics all right, but NOT with race, if by race you mean lineage, place of origin, subspecies, whatever.

    Race is certainly an important concept that cannot simply be eliminated from our vocabulary, because it's a meaningful aspect of the way people are perceived by others. But it can be taken seriously only as a social construct, not a science.

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  9. The concept of race is cetainly a simplification of the patterns of genetic and phenotypic diversity seen in humans.

    However, to say that a person of genetically European descent can actualy pass for a Mestizo or East Asian just by modifying some cultural/social aspects of their appearance and behaviour is bordering on some sort of psychosis.

    Best of luck treating your problems. I hope you pull through.

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  10. One problem is that human race is equated to subspecies but subspecies lacks of any clear scientific definition: it means variety, subtype. What characterizes a subspecies is its blurriness, even if in theory a subspecies that would be isolated for a very very long time would eventually become a distinct species.

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  11. However, to say that a person of genetically European descent can actualy pass for a Mestizo or East Asian just by modifying some cultural/social aspects of their appearance and behaviour is bordering on some sort of psychosis.

    Not sure who said that but in Mexico Mestizo is a cultural term and certainly includes purebreed whites and purebreed natives (though admittedly they are rare). It is non-Mexican whites/blacks/whatever and Mexican Natives that keep their ancestral culture the only ones who are not classified as mestizo. In Mexico being Mestizo is part of the Mexican central identity and therefore everybody is Mestizo by default (and in fact nearly everybody has some admixture).

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  12. It is odd how some people use Science in an ignorant and abusive manner. Obviously they have no scientific training. Saying race does not exist because there is no such thing as race scientifically is an abuse of science and very ignorant. Those people, I guess a Race of dickheads, don't understand language and argot. Scientific definitions are argot or slang not the be all. Race is a word that existed in languages long before any scientist or layperson tried to understand why humans or other organisms vary among themselves. Weight and Mass have totally different meanings in scientific language (look it up and learn) but the prescience meanings still exist and are not nullified by scientific argot. In mathematics, domain and range mean totally different things. Try explaining that to a Masai tribesman. Scientific language is an argot and scientists are not the arbiters of language. I suppose Butchers or Brothel keepers have their own argot as well.

    African Americans are a mongrel group of people, not a race. There are many mongrel peoples in the world. Most light complected Americans are mongrels, part native American part African Black part whatever. Most North and Northeast Africans are mongrels. The Uighur people of China are mongrels.

    That 23andme woman is just a laywoman i.e ignorant and stupid. Only ignorant and stupid people mix race with racism. You might as well choose against all religions and beliefs as they foster bigotry and cause human and animal deaths. Think about it. What has the Pig done to Jews and Muslims? Graves said that the Pig was once their God pushed out by Yahweh/Jehovah/Allah. Islam, Christianity and Judaism may all be dumb and ignorant superstitions but they give meaning to otherwise empty human lives and rarely lead to bigotry except in the feebleminded. I would focus on trying to make people like each other for themselves than corrupting science or the English language or displaying ignorance.

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  13. "The way people look" is not a scientific concept. What can be studied is the way people are perceived by others.

    The way people looks depends on their geometry and light spectrum. And these things can be measured objectively, there is no need for them to be "perceived" subjectively.

    But, indeed, most people have no trouble perceiving what it takes dozens of measurements of thousands of SNPs for the anthropologist/geneticist to quantify.

    One could potentially confuse a dyed-hair suntanned WASP with a Mexican accent as Mexican, but isn't this a kind of cheating? The point is to distinguish people as they usually are.

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  14. I agree generally with Maju's and Dienekes position, but still I think there is need to have
    1) a formal definition of "race"
    and
    2) establish the purposes of the use of "race". For instance, it helps in having an idea about chances for developing some muscular diseases a friend of mine has of Scandinavian extraction, it helps in trying to find out patterns in incidence of colon cancer, etc. once other factors like eating habits etc are take care of.

    On Ponto:
    Now, what is the definition of a mongrel? Are all the carriers of J1 in Germany mongrels, some Semitic-European mix? And how many people descended from the common J1 holding ancestors but through a female branch? (so the link is mostly not backtrackable)
    Do they all become mongrels in a one-drop rule or do they not as established by some governments in Europe prior to 1945? (like 1/16 of X is already a Y)

    As I said earlier, I have seen in Europe people who look less European than me (with recent admixture from here and there andd there) and yet they swear they are "pure" European.
    I am sure they are not and I am sure their ancestors spread their genes a lot, perhaps Ponto has a lot of them. So: race is real but it is never an absolute unless you can guarantee absolute isolation of a region with distinctive "races"(like prior to 1492)

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  16. "1. you attempt to define it in scientific terms".

    I'm sure you could have looked this up for yourself:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subspecies

    Quote from the article: 'The characteristics attributed to subspecies generally have evolved as a result of geographical distribution or isolation'. Isn't that what we usually perceive human race to be?

    "2. you cite any legitimate scientific study based on such a definition that's been published in a peer reviewed journal at any time over the last 30 years, and explicitly uses the term "race" in the sense that you have defined it".

    You'll find the term 'race' used in such a way in almost any article on duck variation you care to look at. Of course duck hybridisation is now claimed to be a special case, but this is only so that the general public won't be instantly able to understand how evolution actually works.

    This article uses the terms 'race' and 'subspecies' interchangeably:

    http://books.google.co.nz/books?id=QYsLMvC-oA8C&pg=PA239&lpg=PA239&dq=subspecies+races+duck&source=bl&ots=cyfzu933vt&sig=xjyL0JuIRkE1KBofA6VFYOEovqg&hl=en&ei=uVOQSrDZB4aOtAPFtZAM&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4#v=onepage&q=subspecies%20races%20duck&f=false

    As does this one:

    http://elibrary.unm.edu/sora/Auk/v061n01/p0135-p0136.pdf

    This next article doesn't use the term 'race' but it does illustrate the problem:

    http://www.terranature.org/duckGrey.htm

    However I disagree with this statement concerning mallard hybridisation: Eventually, hybrids ranging between species will reverse the speciation that has previously occurred over a very long period'. I suspect that it's no reversal at all. It's just a continuation of a process of separation and combining that has been going on since before ducks even evolved.

    "So the socio-cultural construct of race is a real process born with European colonialism and mostly used to justify, after the religious excuse run dry, the oppression of non-Europeans".

    Exactly. And that is why people like DocG object to the use of the term so vehemently. But it's a miss-use of the concept.

    "Are all the carriers of J1 in Germany mongrels".

    Yes. As are all other Germans. In fact all people. Even such isolated people as the Australian Aborigines.

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  17. Terry, I have no argument with the use of "subspecies" as applied to the scientific study of non-humans, and I have no doubt that term is used legitimately in the study of all sorts of animals including ducks. And if "race" is used interchangeably with "subspecies" in such a context, then again I have no problem with that either. But I see no evidence that either "subspecies" or "race" are currently being used as clearly defined scientific terms by scientists investigating human demographics, biology, morphology, genetics, etc. Which is not to say that the word never appears in the literature, it certainly does. But either as a social construct or as a convenient colloquialism.

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  18. PONTO SAID:
    "Most light complected Americans are mongrels, part native American part African Black part whatever."


    Most White/European Americans are mixed? Where is your source for such information? Last time I checked:
    -out of 207 Anglo-Americans, only 1% had Amerind mtDNA in a heavily hispanic portion fo the USA. (Merriwether 1997)
    -Out of 114 "Caucasian" Americans, only 2 non-Caucasian Y-Chromosomes were detected (Vallone and Butler 2003; 2004)
    -Out of 628 White American Y-DNA and 922 White American mtDNA, no Negroid admixture was found; "African-American genetic contribution to European-Americans is below the limits of detection with these methods" (Kayeser et al 2003)

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  19. "I have no argument with the use of 'subspecies' as applied to the scientific study of non-humans, and I have no doubt that term is used legitimately in the study of all sorts of animals including ducks".

    On what grounds do you assume that the human species is so different from all other species?

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  20. Terry: DocG makes an excellent comment but the substance is not in the sentence you selected but later:

    "But I see no evidence that either "subspecies" or "race" are currently being used as clearly defined scientific terms by scientists"...

    In fact subspecies is not any precise scientific term: it's a way of describing different rather isolated populations like Bengal and Sumatran tigers.

    ...

    Also I'd like to say that use of the term "mongrel" that some enjoy is incorrect because breeds are not naturally occurring subspecies but artificially created varieties.

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  21. TerryT: "On what grounds do you assume that the human species is so different from all other species?"

    As I understand it, the multiculturalist model assumes that homo sapiens sapiens can be understood as a human subspecies, while from the perspective of the replacement theory we are a separate species entirely. If the multiregionalists are right, there would be scientific grounds for use of the term "subspecies" with respect to humans. And in that sense, humans would be no different from other animals.

    The real problem with "race" as an attempt to classify modern humans, is that no one has ever figured out a way to do meaningful scientific research on such a basis without begging the question from the start. One can do a study comparing the IQs of different "races," for example, but only on the basis of a notion of "race" that is never clearly defined. When "Africans" don't score as high as "Asians," for example, that is supposed to tell us something about race when all it's telling us is something about geographical origin, which can reflect certain things that have nothing to do with biology -- such as ethnicity for example, or literacy. This is the gist of the problem. Since no one knows how to define race (for modern humans, that is), the term is simply taken for granted as a given and all sorts of dubious conclusions are based on that.

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  22. Hey Maju,

    Subspecies/race is also used to define no so geographically isolated populations of tigers, like Bengal and Indo-Chinese tigers. These two overalp with each other.

    Anyway, I don't see what the problem is? The term race is valid if used properly, and can be applied to different major biogeographic zones of human populations.

    If you want to find out who belongs to what race, just run a genome-wide scan on them, and you'll know whether they're West Eurasian, East Asian, etc.

    Nothing racist about that, unless you acualy tell them they stink because they're 100% West Eurasian, and not because they do actually stink.

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  23. Subspecies/race is also used to define no so geographically isolated populations of tigers, like Bengal and Indo-Chinese tigers. These two overlap with each other.

    Can't find any refrence to such overlap but in any case it should be minimal.

    Actually looking for that, I found instead what could be considered a case of zoological "racism" by humans, as they deplore the "genetic pollution" caused by the introduction of a tiger that had some Siberian tiger ancestry. This, they say, could "jeopardize the existence of the Bengal tiger as a distinct subspecies". I guess that if there would be such "genetic pollution" flowing from/to Indochinese tigers they would be equally worried about the "racial purity" of Bengal and Indochinese tigers.

    Anyhow, I find this matter of animal "racial purity protection" quite laughable. And I wonder if these efforts to defend the purity of subspecies may actually end being catastrophic for the species as a whole, as they would be depriving it from a much needed wider genetic pool.

    Another interesting item I found is that all extant African lions are now being reconsidered as a single subspecies because the various groups have not enough genetic differences to support the traditional classification in 7 distinct subspecies.

    This kind of ratifies my idea that it is geographical isolation what creates and keeps subspecies. Eventually leading maybe to speciation, as Darwin noticed in the Galapagos islands among turtles and certain birds. I presume that in some cases ecological specialization within the same broad geography can also lead to speciation but this seems more unusual as genes would flow between the two subspecies until the species barrier is crossed - but precisely this gene flow would slow down or even totally reverse the speciation process. So the most normal way for subspecies (and eventually different species) to develop is by geographic isolation.

    Anyway, I don't see what the problem is? The term race is valid if used properly, and can be applied to different major biogeographic zones of human populations.

    Race like subspecies is a blurry concept. It is not an absolute category but a relative and often subjective one. In the worst case it is confused with ethnic stock (Jewish race, Spanish race...) and in the most strictly scientific case it is impossible to determine clear boundaries whatsoever. It's a merely indicative, convenient if you wish, categorization but imprecise and confusing. We can use terms like "population" instead.

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  24. Maju, my favorite Basque, let me teach you something about big cat genomics and classifications.

    Bengal (Indian) and Indo-Chinese tigers are thought to overlap in Burma. No one knows exactly how big this overlap is, but what we do know is that tigers from India and Indo-China are distinguishable from each other genetically. So their classification has stood the test of modern genetics.

    Most of the African lion subspecies have been scrapped, because these were based on subjective phenotypic traits, like mane size and color, not relatively deep genetic differentiation.

    However, it's interesting to note that African and Asian lions are still seen as seperate subspecies, due to genetic differences, despite their very similar appearance.

    I can tell you that recognizing an Asian lion from an African one is a lot harder than spotting a European in a crowd of East Asians.

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  25. Most of the African lion subspecies have been scrapped, because these were based on subjective phenotypic traits, like mane size and color, not relatively deep genetic differentiation.

    What happened for your love of anthropometry?

    However, it's interesting to note that African and Asian lions are still seen as seperate subspecies, due to genetic differences, despite their very similar appearance.

    Sure: they are only said to be different because they are in fact distinct populations.

    I can tell you that recognizing an Asian lion from an African one is a lot harder than spotting a European in a crowd of East Asians.

    East Asians from where? I have seen people of East Asia (not many, ok) that look Mediterranean. When they do not have epicanthic fold and their nose is more prominent than usual it's very difficult to pick them apart from West/South Eurasians and they do stand out somewhat among their kin.

    But anyhow these are "subjective phenotypic traits" like lion mane size and color... be careful.

    Obviously there are a number of populations around the world that could be assimilated to the category subspecies, always taking in account that subspecies is an almost meaningless term. And always taking in account that they overlap much more than the tigers, specially nowadays.

    But there are further problems than these: is, for instance, the H. sapiens mexicanus a distinct subspecies? What about the H. sapiens aethiopicus? And the turanicus?

    Or is the H. sapiens occidentalis a distinct subspecies or just a subpopulation of the indicus? And, if so, is it a single one or two dozens?

    Slippery, subjective, impossible methodology.

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  26. "breeds are not naturally occurring subspecies but artificially created varieties".

    That's not entirely true. Until just over 100 years ago most 'breeds' were basically regional varieties of domesticated livestock. That's why many breeds have names that place them in a geographical region. For example cattle breeds such as friesian, aberdeen angus, piedmontese, ayrshire, jersey, hereford etc. Around 100 years ago people started hybridising the various geographic variations to create entirely new breeds. The majority of these 'new' breeds now suffer extensive inbreeding depression and are dropping out of favour, except amoung the breed enthusiasts.

    "If the multiregionalists are right, there would be scientific grounds for use of the term 'subspecies' with respect to humans".

    Humans may in fact share subspecies status with such as Neanderthal but the problem we're dealing with here is that the human species itself demonstrates subspecific, or regional, variation. The fact that these human 'subspecies' overlap and form a series of clines is immaterial. The subspecies of many other species also form clines, making the delineation of subspecies within the particular species extremely difficult. Again, the human species is no different from most other species.

    "One can do a study comparing the IQs of different 'races,' for example".

    But IQ cannot be used as a defining characteristic of any human subspecies. The overlap is far too great. However the most cursory observation shows that much human variation is geographical.

    "And I wonder if these efforts to defend the purity of subspecies may actually end being catastrophic for the species as a whole, as they would be depriving it from a much needed wider genetic pool".

    That is totally correct. Recently there was an argument here about a pair of kiwis who were very succesful breeders. However the problem was that one was from the Wanganui region and one from the Bay of Plenty (in fact that's probably why they produced so many offspring, hybrid vigour). Unfortunately their offspring were regarded as not being 'ecologically sourced' and so they could not be released into the wild anywhere. Ridiculous situation. If anything is going to save the kiwi from extinction hybrid vigour is, or at least genetic variation.

    "This kind of ratifies my idea that it is geographical isolation what creates and keeps subspecies".

    I think we're all agreed on that. The disagreement is whether or not the human geographic variation is a result of the same phenomenon.

    "I presume that in some cases ecological specialization within the same broad geography can also lead to speciation but this seems more unusual as genes would flow between the two subspecies until the species barrier is crossed - but precisely this gene flow would slow down or even totally reverse the speciation process".

    Species formation doesn't happen overnight. In fact some research out a few years ago suggested there had been periods of hybrid formation during the separation of chimp and human ancestors. Makes sense. In general, as the ecological specialisation becomes more extreme hybridisation events become less common, leading eventually to the formation of two populations with incompatible genes.

    "Race like subspecies is a blurry concept".

    Again, we're all agreed on that.

    "I can tell you that recognizing an Asian lion from an African one is a lot harder than spotting a European in a crowd of East Asians".

    That sums it all up.

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  27. "But there are further problems than these: is, for instance, the H. sapiens mexicanus a distinct subspecies? What about the H. sapiens aethiopicus? And the turanicus?

    Or is the H. sapiens occidentalis a distinct subspecies or just a subpopulation of the indicus? And, if so, is it a single one or two dozens?"

    The same problem exists for other species. The North American grizzly bear was at one time divided into 74 different subspecies. It's as difficult to categorise subspecies in other species as it is in humans. Suggests the same process is at work.

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  28. Breeds are nevertheless cultivars not naturally occurring subspecies. They may share some elements but the main barrier is not geographical but human mediated. Why do such classical breeds as the Basque shepherd dog and the Pyrenean mastiff, that overlap, survive as clearly different breeds? Because they fulfil different specialized roles and hence humans have kept them separated as such distinct breeds. Naturally they would have fused long ago.

    The disagreement is whether or not the human geographic variation is a result of the same phenomenon.

    I don't think anyone has raised doubts on that yet. A clear case is Negroid Africans, who have a brutal genetic diversity but still appear as a more or less homogeneous race/subspecies. It is only their lack of internal isolation what has blended them in a more or less homogeneous type - while it is their relative (but high anyhow) historical isolation from other populations what makes them look different.

    It's as difficult to categorise subspecies in other species as it is in humans.

    That sums it up IMO.

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  29. Hi, Dienekes --

    Thanks for reading and linking!

    I don't disagree with your characterization of STRUCTURE, but as a Bayesian algorithm, it is almost always applied to samples that don't match its priors. This is hardly new -- a discriminant function on cranial samples will give good classification accuracy into distinct clusters, too. Both results are foreordained by the sampling scheme -- a small number of individuals, taken from distinct locations. Change the sampling scheme and you change the results -- even the concept of "frequencies" depends on the sampling model.

    Naturally the relevance of such results depends on the hypothesis we're trying to test. I'm not saying that clusters don't exist; like you I think that the change in terminology is Orwellian. I'm only saying that people shouldn't pretend that their methods are assumption-free.

    As to the commenters who think I'm a racist, they may have forgotten all those posts where I was fighting the white supremacists on genetic ancestry testing.

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  30. Both results are foreordained by the sampling scheme -- a small number of individuals, taken from distinct locations.

    That is true in some of the works that use a few populations, but a many STRUCTURE-type analyses, such as the recent Tishkoff et al. paper on Africa use a fairly comprehensive sampling of a geographical area, so the emergence of clusters is not an artefact of sampling from distinct and distant locations on a rather smooth genetic continuum, but rather a feature of the "lumpiness" of the genetic-geographic landscape itself.

    I'm only saying that people shouldn't pretend that their methods are assumption-free.

    We can all agree with that.

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  31. "Breeds are nevertheless cultivars not naturally occurring subspecies. They may share some elements but the main barrier is not geographical but human mediated".

    Surely the primary factor in the formation of breeds or subspecies is the fact of a barrier restricting gene flow between different populations. Whether that barrier is a result of mountains, deserts, forests or fences is immaterial, the result is the same.

    "That sums it up IMO".

    So do we abandon the term 'subspecies'? That merely shifts the problem. The boundaries between many species are also often difficult to define. The inability to form fertile offspring is in no way a consistent guide. Unfortunately evolution doesn't produce nicely compartmentalised results.

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  32. Whether that barrier is a result of mountains, deserts, forests or fences is immaterial, the result is the same.

    No! The result is hyper-specialized crits that can't live autonomously in most cases and an accelerated "evolution". Nothing of that would be in nature, the same that there are no fences in nature much less masters.

    Also you'd never see in nature that a zebra is selected for the amount of meat it can provide lions with.

    Finally the genetic variability of breeds is, in most cases, extremely low, as was evidenced by the recent studies on dogs' genetics. That kind of extreme inbreeding doesn't normally happen in nature, nor among humans (except maybe in Hitler's mad fantasies). And when it does happen accidentally it's usually a total disaster (like in those island populations that can't almost even contact foreigners - look up Tristan da Cunha, for example).

    So do we abandon the term 'subspecies'? That merely shifts the problem. The boundaries between many species are also often difficult to define. The inability to form fertile offspring is in no way a consistent guide. Unfortunately evolution doesn't produce nicely compartmentalised results

    Sure but the term species is still much more clear. And, in what regards to humans, whose closest living relatives are chimpanzee and bonobo, the difference between species and race/subspecies/type is brutal and hence very clear.

    We may have some doubts re. Neanderthals and other extinct branches but not re. living ones.

    ReplyDelete
  33. My original post seems to have flopped somehow, so sorry for coming back late. I want to point out that there is a big risk of talking past each other whenever the subject of race comes up.

    On the one hand it is true that scientists do talk about race. So is it silly to say science has proved there are no races, as we often see posted around the internet?

    I think it is not actually that silly, but only because of a language/communication issue.

    "Race", unlike the word "species" is not a word that scientists have the monopoly on. In the case of "species" Darwinian science takes a pre-Darwinian scientific word and re-defines it. Species no longer means something fixed, and it is no longer all that important to biology. Well read creationists sometimes try to point to cases where biologists disagree on how many species there are of a particular animal or plant and claim this somehow shows a problem in biology but Darwinian biology properly understood has absolutely no problem saying that species are not clearly defined, and STILL talking about species.

    The problem with the word race is similar but more difficult. Scientists use it just like they use the word species, fuzzily, whenever talking about distinct populations smaller than a species. But notice that this approach uses the word in a slightly pre-Darwinian way, implying that there are levels of phylogeny, species being higher than race and so on.

    In general we see biologists using words like clade more often now, and not bothering as much anymore with whether a clade is a "genus" or a "family" or whatever. This is a perfectly natural and logical development under Darwinism.

    In the case of the word "race" we have not just a bit of confusion however, but a serious issue in the public, because they have a clear definition of what a race is, and it is not just any relatively clearly defined population smaller than a species.

    So using the word race without causing confusions is a bigger problem than using the word species without causing confusions.

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  34. "the same that there are no fences in nature much less masters".

    Surely mountains, deserts and forests have exactly the same effect. And what's this about 'masters'? Whether the 'master' be a human individual or natural selection is immaterial. Selection is still operating, just towards different results.

    "Also you'd never see in nature that a zebra is selected for the amount of meat it can provide lions with".

    Do you really believe that lions farm zebras? On reflection I suppose that to some extent they do. Maybe you're onto something. That's why zebras are such plump-looking little horses.

    "That kind of extreme inbreeding doesn't normally happen in nature".

    That's completely untrue as well. Cheetahs, for example, have a very limited gene pool. And many threatened species are threatened precisely because they have become very inbred.

    "So using the word race without causing confusions is a bigger problem than using the word species without causing confusions".

    That probably sums this post up. Thanks.

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  35. Selection is still operating, just towards different results.

    Crucial issue. Also selection is accelerated and twisted/distorted. Animals that would survive and reproduce in nature are not allowed to dos so while others that might well die off without offspring are protected to breed. Nature would have never allowed the sausage dog, for example - in fact, wolves are much less differentiated than are dogs: breeds make no sense in nature.

    Do you really believe that lions farm zebras? -

    Obviously not. Lions affect the slection of zebras by causing them to be faster and more alert, not by causing them to be slower, dumber and fatter, as humans do with their cattle.

    That's completely untrue as well. Cheetahs, for example, have a very limited gene pool. And many threatened species are threatened precisely because they have become very inbred.

    Are we talking subspecies or whole species brought to the brink of extinction by modernity?

    ReplyDelete
  36. "Crucial issue".

    No. It's different, that's all. Selection in nature usually involves selection for several attributes whereas under domestication selection is often more focused on a single attribute. It's the same thing.

    "Lions affect the slection of zebras by causing them to be faster and more alert, not by causing them to be slower, dumber and fatter, as humans do with their cattle".

    OK. I'll breed a line of cattle that are faster and more alert. Would you be happy then?

    "Are we talking subspecies or whole species brought to the brink of extinction by modernity?"

    Cheetahs are a subspecies? Of what? Anyway it's got nothing to do with 'modernity'. Species were becoming extinct long before humans of any sort had evolved. It's just that we can examine the process today. The final step in extinctioin is almost always inbreeding.

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  37. not by causing them to be slower, dumber and fatter, as humans do with their cattle

    Humans breed their cattle for the purposes they need them, namely to eat them, milk them, and have them pull on ploughs and carts.

    ReplyDelete
  38. It's the same thing.

    It's extremely different: like eugenics and natural reproduction, like order and chaos. Nature does not select for traits: nature selcts for survivability, people for milk or other of such things that would never be selected for in nature. So we get surrealistic products: dogs with moustache, bulls without horns, etc.

    How many naturally occurring subspecies of wolf are out there? A few, all very alike. How many breeds of dog: zillions! Each one more extreme. Breeding has little to do with how Nature works.

    Cheetahs are a subspecies?-

    No. What I say is that we are discussing subspecies and cheetahs are not.

    Humans breed their cattle for the purposes they need them, namely to eat them, milk them, and have them pull on ploughs and carts.

    And show them in expositions. But that's the key: we transform them intentonally, unlike what happens in nature. That's why breeds are so funky and colorful.

    Man, the first time I saw a cow without horns... really impressed me. How can the animal excercise self-defense? What next? A cow without legs?

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  39. "It's extremely different".

    Maju. It is exactly the same. The fact that artificial selection can be 'for milk or other of such things that would never be selected for in nature' is of no consequence whatever. The gene pool is simply being altered, whether by natural or artificial selection. It makes no difference in effect. If you don't understand that it's time you did a course on basic population genetics.

    "What I say is that we are discussing subspecies and cheetahs are not".

    My original mention of the cheetah was in relation to species with a limited gene pool. It was you who brought up the completely irrelevant subject of subspecies in relation to this inbreeding.

    "Man, the first time I saw a cow without horns... really impressed me. How can the animal excercise self-defense?"

    The really interesting thing concerning cattle without horns (I assume you are not aware that the condition is actually called 'polled') is that it is in fact a naturally occurring dominant gene. In the wild any cattle with the gene would have been selected against, they were at a breeding disadvantage. However humans obviously quite liked the idea of domestic cattle without horns so have selected for it. But there is a downside. Polled calves tend to produce a more difficult birth because of the shape of their head. Hope that little explanation helps you understanding of population genetics.

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  40. I couldn't let this comment go:

    "Nature does not select for traits: nature selcts for survivability".

    Nature selects for traits that enhance survivability. It's as simple as that. Even in artificial selection it is useless to select for just one trait. A while ago Dienekes posted research that showed the gene for enhanced milk production is connected in some way with a gene for lowered fertility. So artificial selection is no simple matter.

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  41. Ponto scribbled:

    African Americans are a mongrel group of people, not a race. There are many mongrel peoples in the world. Most light complected Americans are mongrels, part native American part African Black part whatever. Most North and Northeast Africans are mongrels. The Uighur people of China are mongrels.


    The above is at best sheer stupidity.

    Its pathetic how you have so many people who have never left their parents basement yet alone their city limits, that sit around making up fantasies about individuals and ethnic groups they don't even know.


    You hate the fact that AAs reflect the ancestry from the entire continent of Africa, so now you have to sit around on your computer throwing tantrums and having Walter Mitty fantasies about them.


    Keep on dreaming. If AAs were mixed, they would be looking as old and haggard in the same fashion as europeans do.


    AAs are Africans and look like Africans. You either need to deal with that fact or you should go and see a psychiatrist that will help you deal with that fact.

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  42. DocG scribbled:

    Many "African Americans" are in fact mostly of European origin, but "racially" they are stereotyped as "black." Two full brothers from exactly the same family, meaning they have the exact same lineage, can appear to be racially distinct, one "white" the other "black." This has to do with genetics all right, but NOT with race, if by race you mean lineage, place of origin, subspecies, whatever.



    Its obvious of how envious europeans are of Africans. How pathetic it is to see euros now make a desperate claim for Africans and African Americans.


    Is it because Europeans have the least amount of genetic diversity on the planet and look exactly identical? Well too bad.

    ReplyDelete
  43. Why that agitated reply? It's obvious that all the intermediate category that elsewhere are called by other names "mulatto", "mestizo", "moreno"... have been absorbed sociologically (and biologically) in the USA by a single ethnic group: AAs. A good example is Obama: he is sociologically Black (and can hardly escape that category) but ancestrally, genetically, he's 50-50: he's as black as white and vice versa.

    I agree though that use of the term mongrel and other breeding terminology applied to humans is totally out of place.

    But as Afroamerican you should be aware that most AAs have some degree of admixture with Europeans (this is evident whith genetics), even if the main component by far is West/Middle African. IMO there's no shame in admixture and that's a reason why I'm quite reluctant to accept racial categorization (and when asked I usually reply "human"). Everybody has some admixture (except Polak, I guess) and it's something generally good - otherwise clonation would have defeated sex long ago.

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  44. Maju scribbled:

    But as Afroamerican you should be aware that most AAs have some degree of admixture with Europeans (this is evident whith genetics), even if the main component by far is West/Middle African.


    What planet do you live on? What methodolgoy of luncacy do you subscribe to that would lead you to believe that African descended men and white women were producing children the extrordinary amount of offspring that would fulfill all of jackels needs for African Americans to be this mixed hybrids with "europeans"?


    The same goes for African descended women and white men. What mind altering substance leads you to believe that African women not only would have sex with white men but would also have their children?


    How many white women were having children with AA men? 1 out of every 2, 1 out of every 3, 1 out of every 20?

    How many African women were having sex, yet alone children with white men? 1 out of every 2, 1 out of every 3, 1 out of every 20?


    Since you claim to be such an authority on AAs. Fill everyone in with the appropriate numbers and back it up.


    If anything its whites who are mixed with Africans, since most of the offspring of black/white unions go on to produce children with whites.


    The further back you go in history the less and less you have interracial sex between ethnic groups, but especially between blacks and whites.


    You'll probably fall back on what all desperate racialists use and that is rape.


    No woman in their right minds have rape babies. Yet alone would actually raise one. You need a shrink if you believe otherwise.


    On top of that they would have had to not fight the black woman to commit such a cowardly sick act but also any of the other African descended men and women who were in earshot.


    African Americans look like Africans from northern, eastern, southern, western, and central Africa. That is why many African Americans often get mistaken by Ethiopians, Egyptians, Somalis, as being one of them. If it bothers you feel free to consult a psychiatrist.


    For that matter Italians, Greeks, Turks, Iranians, Levantines, Arabs, and South Asians and using them as slaves as well.


    Look it up, its historically documented.

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  45. Maju scribbled:

    But as Afroamerican you should be aware that most AAs have some degree of admixture with Europeans (this is evident whith genetics), even if the main component by far is West/Middle African.


    What planet do you live on? What methodolgoy of luncacy do you subscribe to that would lead you to believe that African descended men and white women were producing children the extrordinary amount of offspring that would fulfill all of jackels needs for African Americans to be this mixed hybrids with "europeans"?


    The same goes for African descended women and white men. What mind altering substance leads you to believe that African women not only would have sex with white men but would also have their children?


    How many white women were having children with AA men? 1 out of every 2, 1 out of every 3, 1 out of every 20?

    How many African women were having sex, yet alone children with white men? 1 out of every 2, 1 out of every 3, 1 out of every 20?


    Since you claim to be such an authority on AAs. Fill everyone in with the appropriate numbers and back it up.


    If anything its whites who are mixed with Africans, since most of the offspring of black/white unions go on to produce children with whites.


    The further back you go in history the less and less you have interracial sex between ethnic groups, but especially between blacks and whites.


    You'll probably fall back on what all desperate racialists use and that is rape.


    No woman in their right minds have rape babies. Yet alone would actually raise one. You need a shrink if you believe otherwise.


    On top of that they would have had to not fight the black woman to commit such a cowardly sick act but also any of the other African descended men and women who were in earshot.


    African Americans look like Africans from northern, eastern, southern, western, and central Africa. That is why many African Americans often get mistaken by Ethiopians, Egyptians, Somalis, as being one of them. If it bothers you feel free to consult a psychiatrist.


    For that matter Italians, Greeks, Turks, Iranians, Levantines, Arabs, and South Asians were also brought over and used as slaves.


    Look it up, its historically documented.

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  46. African: rape and concubinage was widespread in the slavery age - that is a fact we surely dislike but way too real. Additionally for the next century Jim Crow laws established that crazy "one-drop rule" of the USA, that made all mixed people "blacks" by decree, twisted logic that has survived till now culturally. And Afroamericans generally accept that as a sociocultural fact too, so mixed people reproduced (and mostly still do) within the AA ethnic group.

    Genetic studies generally place AAs much closer to West African samples than to European ones but they do not cluster tightly with real Africans but show a cline between 100% Africanness and about only 50%. I'd say that the average AA has like 80% African ancestry but maybe as much as 20% European. And that should be greater in Y-DNA lineages, for obvious reasons.

    Even if inter-ethnic relationships and reproduction are now at an age low (probably not but anyhow), AAs carry a legacy of some European blood from all that history in America. While in most this is not too obvious in phenotype, for some is.

    And for the record there were also some white slaves (Irish mostly) and other, often enslaved or marginalized, mixed groups like the Melungeons that may have served as additional bridge for gene flow.

    In any case, wanting to keep races that live side by side apart is doomed: eventually, you know, sex happens. It is a legacy of historical racism and, IMO, should not be happening anymore.

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  47. "The further back you go in history the less and less you have interracial sex between ethnic groups".

    Not true. Inter-racial sex depends entirely on the cultural attidudes to it at the time. The cultural fact of slavery has meant that, as Maju says, the bulk of inter-racial sex in the USA in the past was between European men and African women.

    "It is a legacy of historical racism and, IMO, should not be happening anymore".

    I presume you're refering to the wish to keep races apart and prevent them from having sex. Sounds as though An African would disagree.

    By the way, there were more than just 'some white slaves (Irish mostly)'. Many Scots were sent as slaves after the uprising in Scotland. And there is a belief by some that James Cook was sent to the South Pacific to investigate the possibility of sending England's convicts to Australia, seeing that the main previous destination (North America) had ceased to be available for such a purpose. So racial mixing was possible within the slave population almost from the beginning, although we know that slave owners often had sex with their fematle slaves (or possibly not just female slaves, but that wouldn't have produced children).

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  48. Inter-racial sex depends entirely on the cultural attidudes to it at the time.

    And availability. Races after all have formed by relative isolation from each other, this is something dictated not by culture but by geography and history. Only as intercontinental interactions (globalization) became more and more common, specially in the last centuries, the availability of a wide array of racial choices became real. That's surely why racism was invented: as a knee-jerk reaction to this rather novel fact that "threatened" traditional identities. At first it was just a matter of religious (merely cultural) discrimination but eventually it became racial (skin-deep biological).

    I presume you're refering to the wish to keep races apart and prevent them from having sex. Sounds as though An African would disagree.

    I presume both presumptions of yours are presumably right.

    Many Scots were sent as slaves after the uprising in Scotland.

    Didn't know that.

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  49. "That's surely why racism was invented: as a knee-jerk reaction to this rather novel fact that 'threatened' traditional identities. At first it was just a matter of religious (merely cultural) discrimination but eventually it became racial (skin-deep biological)".

    Granted that some level of racism has always existed: the culture you're most familiar with is the one you automatically feel is the natural, and therefore superior one. But I've heard it argued that racism became especially prominent as a justification for the huge numbers of slaves required for the labour-intensive farming systems that developed in the New World. Could be something in the idea.

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  50. In the 17 th cent Scots ,Irish and English sold themselves or were sold by their parents (or clan chiefs in some cases) into indentured labour and ended up in effect slaves in the West Indies or Virginia. Others were sentenced to transportation for rebellion ordinary crime or not supporting themselves. The majority of white slaves were Irish and they were despised because as 'Papists' they were not considered to be Christians.

    Some of the Irish slaves were guerrilla fighters, beggers, thieves, or prostitutes. Many were also landowner families who had resisted being kicked off their land. Most of the females were the destitute wives and daughters of the defeated Irish Army soldiers who were allowed to leave Ireland by Cromwell. In Barbados these women and girls were used as breeders, starting at age 13 they were sent to stud farms to be impregnated by African slaves, men of the Corantine and Mandinko tribes were preferred for this work and careful records were kept much as the plantation owners did with their horses. In Virginia the process was less organized but had much the same effect. See To Hell or Barbados: The Ethnic Cleansing of Ireland

    Untill abolition slave owners in the South - not wanting to incur a loss - would often successfully defend their black slaves against allegations of rape, free but poor white females who made such allegations were frequently accused of being prostitutes or the daughters of prostitutes.

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  51. Thanks for that Ken. I visited the Museum of Black History (or some such title) in Memphis and I realised two things we have to remember about American history. 1) the first African who went to America didn't go as slaves. They went as indentured servants so, in theory, they were free after their term of servitude (maybe 7 years) and 2) the first slaves that went to America were not black. It's a side of US history that's not widely publicised.

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  52. Maju scribbled:

    African: rape and concubinage was widespread in the slavery age - that is a fact we surely dislike but way too real.


    Thats fantasy. Why you guys need that fantasy is up to you to all.

    For your fantasy to have occured in any form but the rarest, none of the following would have had to not occur at all.


    * You need to have someone to want to rape these women.

    * You have to have women who would allow themselves to be raped.

    * You have to have a situation where the offender would not lose an eye, an ear, a nose, teeth, a testicle, or his mini winnie. And that's not even mentioning suffering any scratches that would be obvious that he was in some conflict with a woman.

    * You would have to have the other Africans (men and women) that would allow those women to be raped.

    * You have the fear of retribution that would occur from the woman if a successful rape occured.

    * You have the fear of retribution that would occur from the other Africans if a successful rape occured.

    * You have to worry about the legal problems with laws against miscegenation.

    * You have the social problems and probable violence against the offender that would occur from the other whites upon them finding out that one of their own was having sex with a "supposed lower race" to put mildly.

    * You have the wife, who would have surely caused problems and most certainly blow the whistle to the rest of the town, county, and region.


    You guys keep dreaming.

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  53. It really makes one question the intelligence of those who wish to believe that a woman would not only give birth to a child that is the result of a rape, but would also raise it and want to see a reminder of the event on a daily, hourly, minute by minute, second by second basis.


    Throughout the history of this planet, what woman would have a rape child?


    Fantasy is no equal to commonsense and sound logic/analysis.

    ReplyDelete
  54. Thats fantasy.

    Uh?

    From Wikipedia:

    Genovese claims that because the slaves were the legal property of their owners, it was not unusual for enslaved black women to be raped by their owners, members of their owner's families, or their owner's friends. Children who resulted from such rapes were slaves as well because they took the status of their mothers, unless freed by the slaveholder. Nell Irwin Painter and other historians have also documented that Southern history went "across the color line." Contemporary accounts by Mary Chesnut and Fanny Kemble, both married in the planter class, as well as accounts by former slaves gathered under the Works Progress Administration (WPA), all attested to the abuse of women slaves by white men of the owning and overseer class.

    (...) Frederick Douglass, who grew up as a slave in Maryland, reported the systematic separation of slave families and widespread rape of slave women to boost slave numbers. [ref]

    (...) As in President Thomas Jefferson's household, the presence of lighter-skinned slaves as household servants was not merely an issue of skin color. Sometimes planters used mixed-race slaves as house servants or favored artisans because they were their children or other relatives. Several of Jefferson's household slaves were children of his father-in-law John Wayles and the enslaved woman Betty Hemings, who were brought to the marriage by Jefferson's wife
    .

    You have to have women who would allow themselves to be raped.

    This is the most brutal oxymoron I have ever read! Rape means that the raped person does not agree to sex - check your dictionary!

    Of course there were surely cases when the slave woman would (more or less reluctantly) accept that situation for whichever reason but most probably because it did offer for her and her eventual children a somewhat privileged status (within the brutal situation of slavery). But, even if we would consider this kind of rather forced concubinage not to be rape, strict rape existed and was frequent anyhow.

    You need to have someone to want to rape these women.

    Not sure what you mean but rapists do exist and with all likelihood existed in the past. Today this is considered criminal and highly immoral (of course) but in the historical context of slavery, when slaves were considered mere property, and when patriarcal (machista, mysogynous) values in general were much stronger than today, this kind of hierarchical rape was surely acknowledged as normal - maybe even favored. Just remember that in Medieval and even Modern Europe, aristocrats had such sick privileges over their serfs and slaves (the widespread ius prima noctis - but in practice rape and concubinage must have been much more widespread than this rule).

    And if you mean that white men do not ever desire black women, that's just false: black women can be as hot and desirable as any other.

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  55. African states:

    Its obvious of how envious europeans are of Africans. How pathetic it is to see euros now make a desperate claim for Africans and African Americans.

    So, after chastising whomever about lumping all Africans as "mongrels", you do the same with lumping all Europeans as envious of AA. Two points from me: 1) No, not all Europeans are envious of AA. As a matter of fact, relatively few are. 2) The ones that are envious are indoctrinated simpletons.

    Most Europeans, myself included, could go an entire lifetime without laying eyes on an African and not bat an eyelash. Trouble is Africans come to us and not vice versa. Hope this helps in your understanding of European/African interactions.

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  56. Professor Hawks states:

    As to the commenters who think I'm a racist, they may have forgotten all those posts where I was fighting the white supremacists on genetic ancestry testing.

    Thank you for laying out your "anti-racist bona fides", though as you can see, it matters very little to the hysterical portion of society. Simply discussing "race", quote unquote, means you are a racist. Saying that race is not a social construct is an example of your latent racism. Wanting to know answers about race signifies dark, ulterior motives. Don't you know any of this?

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  57. There is such thing as race; it is a social construct.

    We are very fortunate that this social construct is able to express itself in people’s physical attributes and help to identify skeletons.

    I had an osteology lecture last week that included the skeletal characteristic of various "races" and how they express themselves physically. The professor even had the temerity show us examples of “mixed race” individuals and talk of the special care one must take in identifying such specimens. She even spoke of how some MtDNA and Y chromosome haplogroups are common among some races than others and. should you be able to recover DNA, you can use that information to help in determining the “race” of the specimen.

    She also started the course two weeks ago with the standard disclaimer about race being a social construct.

    I love anthropology courses.

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  58. Don't understand why anyone does Anthropology courses. Such a waste of time and money.

    Race can be a social construct. There are Caucasoid Australian Aborigines who claim to be Aborigines as they come from Aboriginal families. It matters nothing to them that they look NW European or Central European, and make Southern Europeans look like Africans. These people claim in their hometowns people know they are Aborigines and they discriminate against them regardless of their White looks.

    Someone took umbrage at my mongrel claim for White Americans. Too bad. Sex biased dna is not very good at working out racial origin. Having a typical West Eurasian Y haplogroup like R1b does not make you Caucasoid or West Eurasian. It just means you have a male ancestor who came most probably from Europe, as distinct from Africa (North Cameroons) or Central Asia or the Dead Sea area of Jordan. The offsprings of an African male/European woman relationship, a woman, mixed with the offsprings of a European male/African woman relationship, a male, would still most likely look like Mulattoes despite having no African mtdna haplogroup or Y chromosome haplogroup. Haplogroups have their limitations. In the USA there is more West European Y chormosome and mtdna haplogroups than ones specific to Africa, therefore those haplogroups will predominate in racial mixing.

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  59. Maju scribbled:
    From Wikipedia:


    Don't make me laugh. Your case just went out the window on that alone.

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  60. LOL at the desperation that is looney that people would actually delude themselves into thinking that white men had more sex with African women than African men.


    Its pathetic. This is the same nuttiness that those looney scientists tried to pull on every ethnic group in Africa.


    Why are europeans and their descendants so desperate to claim Africans?

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  61. Let me humor you goons again. Again this is just humoring your desperate mixing fantasies. Let's believe your fantasies.


    What woman on earth would have a rape child? What woman on earth would not have an abortion?


    And before you go there, abortions have been around since the beginning of mankind.

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  62. "thinking that white men had more sex with African women than African men".

    Where has anyone here claimed that?

    "What woman on earth would have a rape child?"

    Many women today bring up 'rape children'.

    If you believe that separate human 'races' have never had children together you have a huge problem.

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  63. Let me repeat for the African:

    Most Europeans, myself included, could go an entire lifetime without laying eyes on an African and not bat an eyelash. Trouble is Africans come to us and not vice versa. Hope this helps in your understanding of European/African interactions.

    That should be your starting premise and not some ridiculous conflation that you conjured up in your little, underdeveloped brain. Thanks.

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  64. It's laughable how "An African" ignores genetic data!



    "...estimates of the European-American genetic contribution to the African-American gene pool were 27.5%–33.6% for the Y-STR haplotypes and 9%–15.4% for the mtDNA types"
    - Kayser et al (2003) "Y chromosome STR haplotypes and the genetic structure of U.S. populations of African, European, and Hispanic ancestry"

    Out of 115 African-Americans sampled, 33.9% had non-Negroid Y-DNA. 2 had E3b, 1 had G, 5 had I, 27 had R1b, and 4 had R*.
    - Vallone and Butler (2003) "Multiplexed Assays for Evaluation of Y-SNP Markers in U.S. Populations"
    - Valloen and Butler (2004) "Y-SNP Typing of U.S. African American and Caucasian Samples Using Allele-Specific Hybridization and Primer Extension"



    In a study of 109 African-Americans from Chicago, Pittsburg, Baltimore, and North Carolina, European admixture estimates were 18.4%, 18.3%, 15.9%, and 18.8% respectively.
    - Smith et al (2004) "A High-Density Admixture Map for Disease Gene Discovery in African Americans"

    Another study using the WLS method* claimed African-Americans are 78.7±1.2% West African, being 18.6±1.5% European.
    - Parra et al (2004) "Implications of correlations between skin color and genetic ancestry for biomedical reserach"


    A sample of 100 African-Americans from HapMap and Coriell Cell Repositories were analyzed.
    Two principal components shown:
    http://img22.imageshack.us/img22/9130/aamerf.jpg
    As you can see, African-Americans are heavily mixed, estimated at 21±14% European, with results from 1% to 62% according to the study.
    - Price et al (2008) "Effects of cis and trans Genetic Ancestry on Gene Expression in African Americans"


    *Long (1991) "The Genetic Structure of Admixed Populations"

    We also have the "One drop rule" that you probably know a bit about.

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  65. Lamprecht scribbled:
    .....


    You can post all of the junk pseudoscience that you want. Everyone knows how whites want to claim that any African American who they believe either looks good, is a leader, is successful, creative, is intelligent must be mixed with some other ethnic group.


    Funny they how this need is non-existent to any AA who is in prison.


    The reason is because there is no self-esteem in it for whites to claim something they deem as negative.


    Whites have sunk so low mentally that you have to actually either use another ethnic group to bolster your self-esteem or keep anything positive that is AA away from AAs as a group. Just to maintain your deranged, delusional, and depraved racial hierarchy.


    Pathetic.

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  66. Pseudohistory, pseudoscience, mythology and tall tales is no match for history.


    The need to believe that slavery 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th century U.S. and new world slavery only affected your bogus made up "sub-saharan" Africans, doesn't hold up to the most elementary and basic scholarship. This type of pseudohistory was created to match up with pseudoscience anthropology so that Europeans could lay claim to all things African, including its history and culture.


    People transported to the Americas from the 16th to 20th centuries included north Africans, southern Africans, east Africans (including those in the horn), arabs, levantines, Turks, Iranians, south Asians, not to mention the Native Americans used as slaves as well.


    The above is historically documented fact. Its not included in any American curriculum of course since it completely destroys the eurocentric racial hierarchy flim flam.

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  67. If African Americans are mixed, why then do they not age and have bad skin like whites/euros?


    The answer is because they are not mixed with them. Your race mythology ballon has been deflated.


    It would be like me saying that because millions of AA servicemen have been stationed in Korea, Japan, Vietnam, England, France, Germany, Italy, etc; those countries are mixed because of the rare child born to an interracial couple.


    You guys need to come off the ledge and face the facts that AAs are a mixture of the different groups of north, southern, east, and west Africans, and to be technical the people from the various parts of Asia as well.

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  68. Oops, I neglected to thank Lamprecht for kindly documenting so well what is so obvious to me and everybody except An African.

    African: you are very wrong: the brilliant as the dumb African American are equally likely to have the same apportion of white blood. But all African Americans have some, even if tiny.

    I was just blogging yesterday on a new paper at PLoS genetics (sure, "pseudo-science", and Darwin was wrong too) on PC analysis. It was not the main focus of my attention but the author makes yet another analysis of AA admixture by the end of his paper.

    But of course, the guy is just some snobbish white guy from Oxford, England, who has nothing best in his life than to waste his time doing pseudo-science because he's envious of the mythical super-sized African penis or something like that.

    Seems to be an epidemic, right?

    ...

    I don't know if there was the huge amount of Persian slaves in America that you happily claim with zero documentation, though surely there were some North Africans and others like Irish that were enslaved regardless of their skin color. And Native Americans also, true. This is not something anyone here is denying but there was also rape and concubinage and that has been sufficiently demonstrated by the very narrations of Black slaves themselves, who were not that 100% black after all (though they hated with good reason their white fathers and masters anyhow).

    Whatever the case it is a fact (and a quite obvious one in some cases, like the former pastor of Obama, who looks quite more European than African) that African Americans, have some apportion of European or otherwise West Eurasian (aka white) genetics.

    African American ethnic identity is racial to a large extent but is specially ethnic in the sense of a long oppressed minority that is only now (in the last decades very specially) rising up and standing as equals. But the belonging to such ethnicity is not granted by any racial purity test but by socio-cultural bonds created since childhood. I don't think you need any pure ancestry to belong to any ethnic group in the world, just a clear sense of self-identification and recognition as such by your ethnic peers. That's also true for African Americans. And a drop or two or even 50% of
    "white" blood change nothing because these things are in the mind or soul first of all, not in the genes.

    ReplyDelete

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.