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 Post subject: Shutting this 'race' BS down
PostPosted: Thu Oct 20, 2016 9:08 am 
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OK, let's get this over with. We need to lance this boil before it festers.

First off, what do we mean by the word 'race'? Well, it doesn't mean what you think - or rather, it has been used to mean so many things in so many different context that it can mean almost anything, which pretty much makes it mean, well, nothing, at least not without some sort of context.

So, what definition do we use? If we are discussing genetics, then the only meaningful definition is to equate it with 'sub-species', but that term is a pretty nebulous one itself - and strictly speaking, doesn't apply to humans at all, as the most consistent definition, "a sub-group of a species with a discernible morphological phenotype which is genotypically distinct from another sub-group but which retains the ability to interbreed in a stable fashion", fails as there are no significant morphological differences of this type in humans - while there are minor variations in morphology (the presence or absence of an epicanthic fold, for example), there is more genetic variation within the groups which possess them than between the groups that do and do not have them, rendering it useful only as a genetic marker, not a sub-species differentiation.

Why? Because, according to the genetic evidence developed over the past twenty years, all modern humans are descended from a single Great Rift Valley tribe that were the sole survivors of a genetic bottleneck some 70,000 years ago. The cause of the bottleneck is speculated to be the eruption of the Toba supervolcano that occurred at the same time, but whatever the cause, the worldwide hominid population dropped from about 400,000 in 75000 BC to an estimated 2500, of whom 1500 were H. sapiens (a relatively minor species at the time, though well established across Africa and Eurasia) living in a single group of families in the allopatric range (the Great Rift Valley in Africa, which is where all but three known hominid species are thought to have evolved - the only possible hominin species thought to have arisen elsewhere, H. floriensis, is of questionable status as a separate species), and all the remaining populations non-hominins - 'hominin' being the species in the genus Homo, as opposed to related Hominid species of other genus such as the australopithicines - went extinct.

All modern hominins have mitochondrial DNA which, if we check the rate of gene drift (random mutations in non-expressed genes, of which the nuclear DNA has a great abundance and even mitochondrial DNA has a detectable amount), appear to have common female ancestor from that 70000 YA period. If we take a very conservative figure of 20 years per generation (the usual figure is given as 25-30), this gives us a maximal interbreeding distance of approximately 3500 generations. It is unlikely that this figure actually applied to any pair of humans anywhere on the planet, not just because the generation time figure is so low, but also because most groups have interbred heavily unless they were geographically isolated - in other words, the only ones who come close to that are the Afro-Australasian and Polynesian groups in in Australia and the southern Pacific islands, who were separated from regular contact for about 50000 years (and even then there was some contact, even if European explorers of the 18th century were unaware of it).

By 50000 YA, H. sapiens was on an upswing, having edged out one of the two other surviving hominins (H. hiedelbergensis) and spreading to every continent except North America and Antarctica (though the group that colonized South America is today only represented by a relict population on Tierra del Feugo, having been overrun and assimilated by the Amerindian group about 15000 YA).

Now, evolution is a continuous process but not a smoothly developing one; for significant changes to occur, there have to be significant adaptational pressures. However, the human brain - which has no significant genetic variation across different groups, modulo some genetic diseases which are found in different proportions in all groups - tends to adapt far faster than the human body, so technology was already replacing evolutionary change even at the time the hominins split from the other hominids 2.5 MYA. This means that most of the differences we see are either adaptations to local extremes, or else expressions of gene drift.

The only significant adaptation, one which is a minor change in expression, is skin color. This adaptation appears to have occurred exactly once, in central Asia, probably around 20000 BC or so during the last major glacial period, and was due solely to the fact that at those latitudes, during the ice ages, the groups in that area had to keep their skin covered most of the year, reducing exposure to UV and lowering the production of vitamin D. In other words, white people (including East Asians and Amerinds, who seem to have split from Caucasians after this happened) are white because of clothing.

The rest? Epicanthic folds are arguable, but things like straight, wavy or curly hair, eye and hair color, and the rest of those 'racial characteristics', are pure gene drift. They changed not because they were significant, but because they weren't, so small inbred groups could become dominated by some otherwise rare recessives that only expressed themselves infrequently elsewhere (which is shown by the existence of blue and green eyes in ethnic Africans and Afro-australasians, something that occurs rarely but is not unknown - the genes already existed when the Eurasian groups split from them, but were almost never expressed because they were recessives in a multi-gene complex).

As for more finely dividing groups, well, all the 'Caucasian' ethnic groups - Celts, Latins, Dorians, Germanics, Semites, Aryans (which refers to Persians, Afghans, and northern Indians, BTW, not Germans), Turko-Ugarics, and ironically enough in light of classical race categorization, Mongols - only left their allopatric range of central Asia (roughly from the Himalayas to modern Mongolia, and including modern Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan) about 12,000 YA, and were never very genetically diverse compared to Africans (85% of all genetic diversity in humans is found only in the Great Rift Valley even today).

In other words, Muazzam, you are of the exact same race as me, Brendan, and Solar, despite the geographical distances, cultural differences and variety in appearances - there is likely to be less genetic difference between the four of us than between four different Kenyans from the same city. Satisfied?

Finally, regarding intelligence, as I said, human brains are pretty uniform across the species - most of the variation in apparent intellectual capacity is environmental and developmental, not genetic. In any case, we can't even really define what 'intelligence' means in a consistent manner - things like IQ tests have long since been abandoned by psychologists and anthropologists (though sadly, not school administrators) as measuring only the ability to take that particular test, and don't reflect anything that is useful in the real world. Even if we did, it has little bearing on things like performance in a given field, which is more a matter of individual psychology than anything else (e.g., the difference between, say, me and Brendan is mostly due to me being older than Brendan, on the one hand, and suffering from life-long depression, on the other), with some cultural factors mixed in. Genetics is the least significant part of 'intelligence'.

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Last edited by Schol-R-LEA on Mon Oct 31, 2016 8:38 am, edited 10 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Shutting this 'race' BS down
PostPosted: Thu Oct 20, 2016 9:09 am 
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Please, please.

Don't encourage this sort of behaviour. Just let it be.


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 Post subject: Re: Shutting this 'race' BS down
PostPosted: Thu Oct 20, 2016 9:18 am 
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IME, that doesn't work - you need to explain to someone who is spouting BS why it is BS, and even then it rarely works because people tend to cling to beliefs irrationally. My intent was to make a definitive statement as to why the whole topic is absurd - I don't expect it to stop Muazzam, but it will at least give everyone else ammunition against it and immunization from it, I hope.

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Lisp programmers tend to seem very odd to outsiders, just like anyone else who has had a religious experience they can't quite explain to others.


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 Post subject: Re: Shutting this 'race' BS down
PostPosted: Thu Oct 20, 2016 9:21 am 
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I am firmly of the belief that arguing with racists gives credence to their views. They do not deserve rational argument and should just be ignored.


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 Post subject: Re: Shutting this 'race' BS down
PostPosted: Thu Oct 20, 2016 9:25 am 
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iansjack wrote:
I am firmly of the belief that arguing with racists gives credence to their views. They do not deserve rational argument and should just be ignored.


As I said, I am not really arguing with Muazzam - he isn't going to listen - but rather arming the rest of the posters against his ideas.

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 Post subject: Re: Shutting this 'race' BS down
PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2016 3:12 am 
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I didn't notice this thread, somehow, for many days. Well, I'm not knowledgeable enough to argue or try to prove how it's genetic or not.

Your post was thought-provoking but you didn't tackle some issues like why some groups of people we call "races" are less inclined scientifically and technologically even in unrelated cultures. Why some groups of people we call "races" have been dominating others for more than 2000 years? Why do these differences have a clear pattern attached with "race" but not so much with culture?

IQ is, at least, a partial explanation of intelligence and it clearly varies with races. You may say it's because of quality of life, good food, etc. but countries like Qatar vs. Yemen don't vary a lot, even if they've a tremendous difference in wealth.

Also, people have no problem with accepting height, color, etc. as genetic but they're horrified at even the idea of intelligence being genetic. Is it because of political correctness?

P.S. By the way, you sounded a bit like implying that I'm the only person who believes in racial differences, that is far, far from the truth.

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 Post subject: Re: Shutting this 'race' BS down
PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2016 4:37 am 
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Muazzam wrote:
Also, people have no problem with accepting height, color, etc. as genetic but they're horrified at even the idea of intelligence being genetic. Is it because of political correctness?


You could say the same about beauty.

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/sep/08/artificial-intelligence-beauty-contest-doesnt-like-black-people

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 Post subject: Re: Shutting this 'race' BS down
PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2016 5:31 am 
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zenzizenzicube wrote:
Muazzam wrote:
Also, people have no problem with accepting height, color, etc. as genetic but they're horrified at even the idea of intelligence being genetic. Is it because of political correctness?


You could say the same about beauty.

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/sep/08/artificial-intelligence-beauty-contest-doesnt-like-black-people

Of course, but beauty is largely subjective. People find their own race attractive. Had the AI been written by an African, the result would be the opposite.

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 Post subject: Re: Shutting this 'race' BS down
PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2016 6:07 am 
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Muazzam wrote:
Your post was thought-provoking but you didn't tackle some issues like why some groups of people we call "races" are less inclined scientifically and technologically even in unrelated cultures. Why some groups of people we call "races" have been dominating others for more than 2000 years? Why do these differences have a clear pattern attached with "race" but not so much with culture?

First, you're talking about "groups of people we call 'races'", which implies that we have a common understanding of what this even means. I doubt we do. Can you define what exactly makes a "race" for you?

And then, how do you then explain that during the past centuries there have indeed been times that science and technology were dominated by Europeans, but also times where not much has happened there, but the Chinese or Arabs were leading? The Latin alphabet of the Romans is widely used today, but even more widespread is the use of the numeral system that is commonly called Arabic (because that's who taught it to "us") and that originally comes from India apparently. And there have been other great cultures with scientific or technological achievements before, like the Babylonians or Egytians, just to name some examples.

It looks to me as if the right political and cultural circumstances were way more important for getting an advanced society than any concept related to "race", whatever that may be.

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 Post subject: Re: Shutting this 'race' BS down
PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2016 7:16 am 
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Kevin wrote:
Muazzam wrote:
Your post was thought-provoking but you didn't tackle some issues like why some groups of people we call "races" are less inclined scientifically and technologically even in unrelated cultures. Why some groups of people we call "races" have been dominating others for more than 2000 years? Why do these differences have a clear pattern attached with "race" but not so much with culture?

First, you're talking about "groups of people we call 'races'", which implies that we have a common understanding of what this even means. I doubt we do. Can you define what exactly makes a "race" for you?

I don't think of human races as distinct entities. But as an approximate way of classifying human genetic differences across considerably geographically isolated groups. I believe that there's no single way of "scientifically" classifying distinct races and it somewhat depends on culture.

But I do believe that race influences intelligence and personality, I don't know whether fully or partly, just like it determines physical differences like height, life expectancy, color, voice pitch, etc. After all, it's not difficult to hypothesize an environment in which, for example, scarcity of food that could've caused the brain to shrink in size to become more energy efficient in operation.

Quote:
And then, how do you then explain that during the past centuries there have indeed been times that science and technology were dominated by Europeans, but also times where not much has happened there, but the Chinese or Arabs were leading? The Latin alphabet of the Romans is widely used today, but even more widespread is the use of the numeral system that is commonly called Arabic (because that's who taught it to "us") and that originally comes from India apparently. And there have been other great cultures with scientific or technological achievements before, like the Babylonians or Egytians, just to name some examples.

Yeah, I forgot about that, I'd say.

The White race may have been intellectually inactive for many centuries, because of cultural reasons, but they've almost always been as strong and advanced as they're today, like in the case of the Roman Empire and the ancient Greeks. The same for the Chinese. There are also some races, you know, have never been very successful in the history.


I'd be looking forward to some kind of study about adopted children of different race and how they performed in intelligence tests and how successful they've been.

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 Post subject: Re: Shutting this 'race' BS down
PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2016 7:27 am 
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I'd be happy to be proven wrong. After all, I'd not like to imagine the people of my country suffering for eternity. If I'm proven right, there's still a hope in "race mixing" and technologies like genome editing.

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 Post subject: Re: Shutting this 'race' BS down
PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2016 9:33 am 
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Muazzam wrote:
I'd not like to imagine the people of my country suffering for eternity.

As long as you persist with your persecution complex you will believe that you are being persecuted. Any effect that this has on you life is your responsibility alone.


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 Post subject: Re: Shutting this 'race' BS down
PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2016 7:27 pm 
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Muazzam wrote:
I'd be happy to be proven wrong. After all, I'd not like to imagine the people of my country suffering for eternity.


You are from Pakistan, correct? If I recall correctly, that is where the Mughals - who were head and shoulders above Europeans in the 14th and 15th centuries - came from (technically they were originally Turco-Mongol and Turco-Uighur, but Pakistan, Afghanistan and northern India are so much the crossroads of the region that anyone who settles for any length of time is going to have ancestors from several ethnicities), as well as being closely associated with Kwarzarim (who were the center of world learning until a local magistrate decided it would be funny to humiliate Genghis Khan's emissary) and the Sassanid Persians (and going even further back, IIRC it was the original homeland of the Achamaenid Persians, before they were forced into modern-day Iran by your ancestors around 800 BCE). Unlike the rest of what was then considered part of India by the Europeans, your country wasn't getting pushed around by the British until Clive invaded Sind in the 18th century, and was never exactly under the same tight foreign control as, say, Goa, or Gujarat.

I would hardly call that a sign of any inherent inferiority.

I get the impression that what you are really looking for is an explanation for the rise of European (and especially Anglo-American) domination of most of the world since the mid-16th century onwards, but the problem is, the real answer is 'happenstance'. The Black Death and subsequent plagues left Europe with a lot of unclaimed wealth and land lying around just as the population was dropping, and then the Portuguese happened to need a source of wealth to combat Spain after they got their independence, so they started exploring for a sea lane to bypass the Turks and the Genoese (who between them had a monopoly on trade for spices and silk in the Western part of the Eurasia continent). When they found one, Spain decided to get a jump on them by backing this weirdo from Venice who thought the world was smaller than previously assuming and that you could sail west to China instead of East. We all know what he actually found instead.

All this happened to be occurring as several major empires - the Mughals, the Ming, the Aztecs, the Mississippians - were either declining or collapsing due to forces unrelated to what was going on in Europe. If the Spanish had arrived even one hundred years earlier, they would have routed by the Inca and Aztecs.

China was turning inward just as the Spanish and Portuguese were turning outward. The Japanese welcomed the traders at first (and in the late 16th century were actually exporting high-quality muskets to Europe), but when the Warring States era gave way to the Tokugawa Shogunate, they shut the doors and stuck their fingers in their ears.The later Mughal emperors (quite unlike the earlier ones, who were more fair) had so stomped on the more southern and eastern Indian states that they saw the British as saviors at first (chew on the irony of that for a moment).

So: Western Europe is increasingly prosperous and expanding at a time when no one else is, and are adding to their store of shared knowledge as others are losing theirs due to war and decay. Guess who got to be the bullies for the next four hundred years?

(And before you ask why I am so willing to say this: one group of my own ancestors went from the rulers of the largest kingdom in central Europe to being target practice for the Germans and the Russians as they were slowly crushed between them, while another group went from ruling the rising British Empire to having their entire culture torn apart by the English, and were then forced to relocate a rugged spit of land on the coast of Canada. The fact that still other ancestors of mine were from all three of the groups doing the oppression just makes it more poignant to me.)

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Lisp programmers tend to seem very odd to outsiders, just like anyone else who has had a religious experience they can't quite explain to others.


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 Post subject: Re: Shutting this 'race' BS down
PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2016 9:15 pm 
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First off, what do we mean by the word 'race'? Well, it doesn't mean what you think - or rather, it has been used to mean so many things in so many different context that it can mean almost anything, which pretty much makes it mean, well, nothing, at least not without some sort of context.

Of course, but the same is true of most words within the English language, as well as every other human language. Then it must be a wonder that people manage to communicate at all? Not really. We all, without even thinking about it, use context to infer the intended meaning when listening to one another. So if you put two normal, reasonable people in a room, chances are that they will be able to use the word 'race' in a sentence and convey their meaning perfectly clearly. It is a silly endeavour to try to disprove all arguments concerning 'race' by attempting, with the aid of word trickery, to show that 'race' in itself is a meaningless concept. Yes, there are many words like that - when you dislodge them from their sentence, they lose most of their meaning. If you think race is an absurd concept, it probably just means you are using the word incorrectly.

It is as if I am trying to tell you a story - "Last week, I was on my way to work when…" - then you immediately interrupt: "Hold on," you say. "There is no such thing as 'way'. It is a nonsense word, it doesn't mean anything at all. Wayists irrationally use the word to describe a supposed 'manner' of doing things. However, it has been scientifically shown that being polite or not has nothing to do with how we conduct our daily business. Therefore, it is clearly impossible that you could have been on your 'way' anywhere at all!" Very clever, and completely unhelpful. The next time someone mentions 'race' in a way you don't understand, is it not more constructive to simply ask: "I am sorry, but I don't understand. Can you explain what you mean exactly?" - or something to that effect?

Now, when you try to argue against a point, you need to make sure you're actually talking about the same thing, or you are just playing with words. In the other thread, someone made the objection that variations across races supposedly are dwarfed by variations across individuals. For me, that sentence made no sense - the poster was clearly using the term 'race' with a new, different meaning from what I had meant, and with a quantitative statement like that, you indeed do need to define exactly what you mean by 'race' (as well as 'variations', and 'dwarfed'). That doesn't make race, variations or dwarfed into meaningless words.

Anyway, I find many of your scientific claims dubious. How about giving references so that we can examine the evidence in more detail?


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 Post subject: Re: Shutting this 'race' BS down
PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2016 9:53 pm 
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Schol-R-LEA wrote:
Muazzam wrote:
I'd be happy to be proven wrong. After all, I'd not like to imagine the people of my country suffering for eternity.


You are from Pakistan, correct? If I recall correctly, that is where the Mughals - who were head and shoulders above Europeans in the 14th and 15th centuries - came from (technically they were originally Turco-Mongol and Turco-Uighur, but Pakistan, Afghanistan and northern India are so much the crossroads of the region that anyone who settles for any length of time is going to have ancestors from several ethnicities), as well as being closely associated with Kwarzarim (who were the center of world learning until a local magistrate decided it would be funny to humiliate Genghis Khan's emissary) and the Sassanid Persians (and going even further back, IIRC it was the original homeland of the Achamaenid Persians, before they were forced into modern-day Iran by your ancestors around 800 BCE). Unlike the rest of what was then considered part of India by the Europeans, your country wasn't getting pushed around by the British until Clive invaded Sind in the 18th century, and was never exactly under the same tight foreign control as, say, Goa, or Gujarat.

I would hardly call that a sign of any inherent inferiority.

I get the impression that what you are really looking for is an explanation for the rise of European (and especially Anglo-American) domination of most of the world since the mid-16th century onwards, but the problem is, the real answer is 'happenstance'. The Black Death and subsequent plagues left Europe with a lot of unclaimed wealth and land lying around just as the population was dropping, and then the Portuguese happened to need a source of wealth to combat Spain after they got their independence, so they started exploring for a sea lane to bypass the Turks and the Genoese (who between them had a monopoly on trade for spices and silk in the Western part of the Eurasia continent). When they found one, Spain decided to get a jump on them by backing this weirdo from Venice who thought the world was smaller than previously assuming and that you could sail west to China instead of East. We all know what he actually found instead.

All this happened to be occurring as several major empires - the Mughals, the Ming, the Aztecs, the Mississippians - were either declining or collapsing due to forces unrelated to what was going on in Europe. If the Spanish had arrived even one hundred years earlier, they would have routed by the Inca and Aztecs.

China was turning inward just as the Spanish and Portuguese were turning outward. The Japanese welcomed the traders at first (and in the late 16th century were actually exporting high-quality muskets to Europe), but when the Warring States era gave way to the Tokugawa Shogunate, they shut the doors and stuck their fingers in their ears.The later Mughal emperors (quite unlike the earlier ones, who were more fair) had so stomped on the more southern and eastern Indian states that they saw the British as saviors at first (chew on the irony of that for a moment).

So: Western Europe is increasingly prosperous and expanding at a time when no one else is, and are adding to their store of shared knowledge as others are losing theirs due to war and decay. Guess who got to be the bullies for the next four hundred years?

(And before you ask why I am so willing to say this: one group of my own ancestors went from the rulers of the largest kingdom in central Europe to being target practice for the Germans and the Russians as they were slowly crushed between them, while another group went from ruling the rising British Empire to having their entire culture torn apart by the English, and were then forced to relocate a rugged spit of land on the coast of Canada. The fact that still other ancestors of mine were from all three of the groups doing the oppression just makes it more poignant to me.)

That was a good explanation. As a side note, your sentence structure is a bit hard to follow, though I could understand most of what you wrote. :)

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