Thursday, July 03, 2014

Tibetans Inherited High-Altitude Gene From Ancient Humans (Or: Race Is Not A "Social Construct," Exhibit 85)

Very interesting.

Also: even if "social construct" made any sense, race wouldn't be one.

I mean, some alleged racial distinctions are fictional, of course--maybe even many or most of them. But not all, and not by a long shot.

15 Comments:

Blogger Dark Avenger said...

The correct term is populations, not race. Race is an unscientific term. It's like talking about phlogiston when discussing the physics of combustion.

10:19 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

None of that would mean that this does not provide evidence that race is real/non-fictional/non-"socially-constructed."

Race can be a non-scientific term, and still attach to real differences.

So: not at all analogous to phlogiston...

And, face it: the anti-race talk is driven by politics, not science. There are real, salient, biological differences between, say, Japanese and Jews. It's foolish to try to deny this.

Give it up, man: there are real, scientifically provable racial differences. If you're worried because the Klan believes that, too, just remember that (a) that's a fallacious ad hominem, and (b) the Klan is wrong about what the racial differences are like, and how dramatic they are.

11:06 AM  
Blogger Dark Avenger said...

Give it up, man: there are real, scientifically provable racial differences.

No, there are scientifically provable differences in different human populations, but to use race in a scientific discussion is still akin to talking about phlogiston when talking about combustion.

This is something that a great many scientists have recognized for decades. In fact, it is the position of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) that "present-day inequalities between so-called "racial" groups are not consequences of their biological inheritance but products of historical and contemporary social, economic, educational, and political circumstances." In other words, race does not exist, at least in the biological sense.

Evidence from the analysis of genetics indicates that most physical variation, about 94%, lies within so-called racial groups. Conventional geographic "racial" groupings differ from one another only in about 6% of their genes. This means that there is greater variation within "racial" groups than between them.

White, Black, Hispanic, or Asian, the unnoticed traits that unite us are for more prevalent than the outward traits that discriminate us. Skin color fluctuates thanks to a handful of genes that number less than the fingers on your two hands, and yet it's been used to justify a great many unconscionable practices in human history.

Moreover, the concept of race formed in what can politely be described as an unenlightened time. According to Silviene F. Oliveira, a geneticist at the University of Brazil, "It is important to remember that the concept of race emerged in a time when it was believed that the World was constant and unchangeable since the moment of its creation. That beings did not modify or evolve."


.............................

Cultural, that's all race is. Born out of an innate social desire to classify and conform. And all race really does is distort, driving a superficial wedge between individuals who are far more similar than they are different.

"Biological theory does not force the concept of 'race' upon us," Oregon State's Jonathan Kaplan, a philosopher of science, writes. "Our social discourse, social ontology, and social expectations do. We become prisoners of our abstractions at our own hands, and at our own expense."

As creators of our own culture, can consciously decide to ignore its unscientific influence in regards to race, and reshape our world into a globalized, colorblind society.

What better time to practice than at the World Cup? A world of one united species: let's make that our goal.



http://www.realclearscience.com/blog/2014/06/do_human_races_even_exist.html

As a biologist, you're a lousy scientist.

12:06 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

OMG DA! You've just provided me with absolute GOLD for my critical thinking classes! Thank you thank you thank you!

Um...I take that it that was your intention?

Or should I explain why (a) nothing in any of that refutes my clear and oft-repeated position (many racial distinctions are real, many are not + overall, racial distinctions aren't that important biologically) and (b) some of what you've quoted above includes textbook fallacies?

12:18 PM  
Blogger Dark Avenger said...

some of what you've quoted above includes textbook fallacies?

Since it's likely that you need any and all material you can find on the philosophy of science, adding my feeble efforts to your curriculum would be a positive step, Winston.

1:48 PM  
Blogger Dark Avenger said...

(a) nothing in any of that refutes my clear and oft-repeated position (many racial distinctions are real, many are not + overall, racial distinctions aren't that important biologically

In other words, race does not exist, at least in the biological sense.

Ask any biologist at your institution of higher learning for more guidance on this question.

1:52 PM  
Anonymous rotgut said...

It's a good rule of thumb that if you need an example of bad reasoning, just find the AAA's position on something.

2:26 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

[1]
Your latest quote:

(A) "In other words, race does not exist, at least in the biological sense."

Your earlier quote:

(B) "Conventional geographic "racial" groupings differ from one another only in about 6% of their genes."

(A) refutes (B).

(A) is right--biological racial differences are not terribly significant. "Not terribly significant" = part of what I've been saying all along and != fictitious / non-existent / "socially constructed."


[2]

"Ask any biologist at your institution of higher learning for more guidance on this question."

Unbecoming, DA... Looks like biologists--if they believe (B)--actually need instruction from philosophers on this one...

But this is not a particularly philosophical point... There is a vast difference indeed between "x is responsible for only about 5% of the difference between y and z" and "x is a fiction."

Look, I do understand what you hope for here.

It would be a kind of godsend if it turned out that race was some kind of a fiction.

However:

(i) It didn't turn out that way, and that was a long shot anyway.

(ii) Nothing about liberalism depends on race being a fiction.

(iii) Allowing your political commitments to spin your biological theory = Lysenkoism.

That is, almost certainly, what biologists and anthropologists who are jumping on the "race is unreal" bandwagon are doing (well...that and bad philosophy...)

I've talked to anthropologist who just roll their eyes at that stuff. It's a weird, unnecessary, unscientific kind of wishful thinking on the part of some anthropologists.

2:46 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Thought I'd go ahead and make what should be obvious even more so. Take DA's first quote:

"This is something that a great many scientists have recognized for decades. In fact, it is the position of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) that "present-day inequalities between so-called "racial" groups are not consequences of their biological inheritance but products of historical and contemporary social, economic, educational, and political circumstances." In other words, race does not exist, at least in the biological sense."

But you'll note that this is massively confused, especially as a contribution to this discussion.

First:
"present-day inequalities between so-called "racial" groups are not consequences of their biological inheritance"
This isn't relevant. I'm not making any claims abut inequalities, nor their causes. The topic is the reality of race, not inequality nor discrimination nor any such thing.

Second:
The main point of the above is laughable. It can be summarized like so:

"Inequality is not due to lesser abilities of some races, therefore race is not real."

That is a nonsequitur of Biblical proportions... Obviously "race is not real" in no way follows from the premise. Compare: "inequality between males and females is not caused by females being inferior to males; therefore sex is not real."

Total, complete fail. Absolutely terrible argument.

In fact, an argument that terrible is usually driven by politics. Almost no one would make such an awful argument if they weren't desperately trying to bolster a political point.

8:41 AM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

Yeah, D.A., I'm afraid the aggression with which you attempted to force allegiance to an incoherent argument here has practically maximized your embarrassment.

The question now is: are you man enough to admit the failure and adjust your position, or are you destined to dance in the moonlight with that hobgoblin of little minds?

12:43 PM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

Also, WS, I believe you messed up your A and B references in your second-to-last comment above. (B) refutes (A), and it is (B) which correctly points out that biological differences are not terribly significant, not (A).

Later on, the biologists need instruction from philosophers if they believe (A), not (B), as you have written.

12:48 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

"It's a good rule of thumb that if you need an example of bad reasoning, just find the AAA's position on something."

R--

Is this pure snark, or are you at all serious about this? I don't know much about the AAA...

11:59 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

M,

I think you're being a little hard on DA...IMO, anyway...

11:59 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

But I left out:

"Moreover, the concept of race formed in what can politely be described as an unenlightened time."

This is the textbook fallacy of which I spoke: the genetic fallacy, akin to an ad hominem.

12:00 PM  
Anonymous rotgut said...

"Is this pure snark, or are you at all serious about this? I don't know much about the AAA..."

Mostly snark. The 1947 AAA statement on Human Rights is a particularly clear example of every bad argument for moral relativism. Don't really know what else they've made statements about, but I'm inclined to not take them seriously.

2:15 PM  

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