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May 09, 2003

Defining Race

Dienekes has been looking for just the right way to define 'race' in an on-going series of posts over at his blog. I know people have a lot of uncertainty with this topic, so I would recommend leaving comments, concerns and questions for him if you have them.

The new PBS series "Race - The Power of an Illusion" motivated him into searching for a new clean and precise way of communicating the biological phenomenon, and determining when and how it should (and shouldn't) be applied.

Is Race for Real? The arguments against the reality of race are based on (a) an extreme view of what the race concept actually meant to most people historically, (b) a misrepresentation of modern scientific facts, (c) social consequences of the race concept, which have nothing to do with its biological reality. I plan to write a series of blog entries on the arguments presented in the PBS Series.

I have not personally seen the program, b/c I don't own a TV (yeah, yeah. Now I'm that guy... I really have nothing against TV, I just don't happen to presently own one), but looking through their website it's clear to me that their message is much more related in substance to American politics than it is to biology.

Dienekes posts so far:

*PBS and "Is Race for Real?"
*Definition of Race
*Definition of Race (II)
*More on the Definition of Race
*Potential Problems with the Definition of Race

Posted by Jason Malloy at 12:42 AM




I saw the first episode. It was lame.

More generally, while I wish Dienekes well in his attempt to come up with his attempt to come up with a top-down way to divide up the world into a few big races with legalistic accuracy, I think it's safe to say that all such attempts have failed in the past.

I've found that it's much more productive to begin from the bottom up with extended families. What converts them into small "r" racial groups (I try to avoid talking about big "R" Races) is partial inbreeding (i.e., non-panmixia). This is hugely more productive intellectually.

Posted by: Steve Sailer at May 9, 2003 01:39 PM


let me begin by saying that I haven't seen the show, but I have seen a fraction of the site and it looks frightening. Looking at their pop-quis right now I see this question:

If you see a person's skin color, what can you predidct about them?

(A)Their blood type
(B)Their height
(C)The likelihood they will get certain inherited diseases
(D)Whether or not they have musical talent.
(E)None of the above.


The "correct" [italics mine] answer is (E) None of the above.

Most traits are governed by different genes, so they're inherited indpendently. The presence of one trait doesn't necesssarily signal the presence of another trait. We think people come packaged into groups, even - as anthropologist Jon Marks jokes "color-coded for out convience" - but they don't. Visual traits - skin color, for example - tell us nothing about internal differences or abilities.

In America the idea of regarding race as having predictive value is scoffed at by leftists as "judging people by the color of their skin", even though skin color is but one racial characteristic. The leftists know this (They grouse and whinge about black underachievement, not "dark-skinned" underachievement.), but leftists have no scruples about mis-characterising the views of their opponents.

Nevertheless, even if we did attempt to predict things strictly from someone's skin colour we would not come up empty. We could simply compute averages and use them to make predictions. The leftists are essentially trying to tell us that averages have no predictive value. I'll believe that when I believe that two plus two equals five.

Anyone remember this?
Nobel Laureate Links Skin color and Sex Drive

If you click on that link you will see that the co-discoverer of DNA believes something which directly contradicts PBS propaganda.

What exactly is supposed to be meant by "Most traits are governed by different genes, so they are inherited independently?" This stuff is un*$^@ingbelievable. Sure I have a lot of different genes governing different traits, but they sure as hell were NOT inherited independently. I know the Marxists in the USSR were trying to abolish the institution of marriage (replacing it with the institution of group marriages), but even they couldn't figure out a way to create a human being with genes randomly selected from multiple parents.

I don't think that anti-scientific ideas should have any place on public television, but accepting that they do, its too bad that they can't even give people with contrary views so much as a look-in.

Posted by: Sporon at May 9, 2003 08:53 PM


It's hard to tell the difference between inconsistancy and purposeful deception. Certainly, in the creepy leftist fantasy world there are no racial distinctions. Most leftists are so submerged in the fantasy that they have become blind to reality. Likewise it's quite conceivable that some leftists, who harbour secret malice, see clearly, but intend that the masses dwell in the fantasy.

Posted by: Sporon at May 9, 2003 11:23 PM