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January 15, 2003

The Reality of Race (?)

This article from Scientific American titled "The Reality of Race" is very Zen. Read and see if you agree.

Posted by razib at 12:21 PM

Godless once promised a FAQ but he never delivered so I'm still somehat nebulous
on the exact concepts and definitions
bandied about here, e.g. -most importantly,
exactly how many races exist and what
are the specific genetic markers of each?
That said, Scientific American's appalling treatment of Lomborg has earned it my undying
disrespect, although this article seems rational
enough. Duster's points seem antithetical to the GNXP crowds'-especially the one about a greater
diversity of intraracial (whatever that means)
genetics. In the world of the future, maybe every single person will be considered their own race.

Posted by: martin at January 15, 2003 03:20 PM

so what if his points are antithetical? anyway, have a broad perspective of views on HBD-jason is probably the least convinced, while some of us (jason & myself) perhaps the most. BUT-what we all agree is that the topic should be mooted. it was kind of an interesting article-that was the point i'm trying to make.

also-i will work on an FAQ at some point. godless had so many things going on he never got around to it.

e-mail me with FAQ questions at

Posted by: razib at January 15, 2003 04:07 PM

Chill on the offense uptake bro'-I've always been pro GNXP and have no problem discussing these issues. I have no idea where the truth lies, but my feeling-yes-feeling-has always been that you and Godless were always running ahead of the evidence. I have no idea what you mean by calling the article "zen"? From what I can see Duster would disagree with many things you and Godless have asserted on this website, although you, Razib, are always less dogmatic on these things. I think I side with Duster based on that article, but again I'm still looking for an objective definition of "race" and some data to work with, namely how many are there and what their genetic boundaries and markers.

Posted by: martin at January 15, 2003 04:24 PM

i wasn't offended. problem with the internet is tone is hard to impart-i tend to take very little seriously in real life.

in any case-duster seems to be saying that race is sociologically constructed, so it is real, while it is biologically insignificant, but there are things it is significant in (forensic evidence).

the problem with race is that it is statistical and fuzzy, so your point of reference effects criteria. for instance, the term "caucasoid" always uses europeans as the point of reference, so indians are "dark-skinned caucosoids," but generally whites are not called "light-skinned caucasoids" (i've had people tell me "indians are just white people who's skin was darkened by thousands of years in the tropics," to which i humorously respond, "white people are just indians who's skins were bleached by lack of sun during the ice age"-this gets a laugh, but people get what i'm trying to say). that being said, most people would not deny that genetically indians are probably closer to europeans than than they are to say the japanese (this depends on the group of indians you use of course-especially true for high-caste or indians from the north & west of india, less so for low-caste and those from the south and east).

Posted by: razib at January 15, 2003 04:55 PM

Razib:jason is probably the least convinced, while some of us (jason & myself) perhaps the most

now that there are 2 jasons on this board you will have to distinguish between us. we are not all the same you know:)

Posted by: Jason Soon at January 15, 2003 05:37 PM

jason soon = house culturalist
jason malloy = follower of the dark side :)

Posted by: razib at January 15, 2003 06:06 PM

"At a National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) meeting five years ago ... sociologist Troy Duster pulled a forensics paper out of his briefcase. It claimed that criminologists could find out whether a suspect was Caucasian, Afro-Caribbean or Asian Indian merely by analyzing three sections of DNA. 'It was chilling,' recalls Francis S. Collins, director of the institute. He had not been aware of DNA sequences that could identify race, and it shocked him that the information can be used to investigate crimes. 'It stopped the conversation in its tracks.' "

What's chilling, on the contrary, is the degree to which this man's -- Collins' -- adherence to PC made him actually put things as basic as that, IN HIS OWN DISCIPLINE, out of his mind, sort of hypnotizing himself into believing he hadn't been aware of them. How PC can do that even to experts in their field is a mystery. Is he actually going to pretend that in the year 1997 or 1998 he, the Director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, had no idea that DNA analysis could distinguish among the races?

Posted by: Cognassier at January 15, 2003 06:46 PM

Razib: jason malloy = follower of the dark side :)

dark side??!!"dark" side???!!! racist! racist! racist! racist! cross burner! cross burner! cross burner! white hood man! white hood man! white hood man!

Posted by: Richard Head at January 15, 2003 08:14 PM

Troy Duster, who is black, has long been a pretty open-minded guy for a sociologist.

Posted by: Steve Sailer at January 16, 2003 04:38 AM

somebody asks for a good definition of "race"?

Well, look this FAQ:


Enjoy it

Posted by: Juan ascaŮo at January 16, 2003 08:06 AM

Thanks Juan-interesting FAQ. From the conclusion:

"While FST values for neutral variation are not negligible from a population genetics point of view, itís significant that the overwhelming majority of genetic variation is found within populations, reaffirming the importance of treating people as individuals. Itís also significant that the FST value for the most prominent racial trait - skin color - has been estimated to be about 0.60 which means that the visible variation between races greatly exaggerates overall genetic differences. Admixture in some populations further clouds the picture. The average European contribution to the gene pool of American blacks has been found to be about 20% and admixture between the major races in some other regions is substantially higher."

Does anyone on GNXP dispute these conclusions? It seems to offer little hope for the premise that useful predictive value lies in traditional racial classifications. Race heritage seems like a mutual fund-past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Posted by: martin at January 16, 2003 08:25 AM

Martin, the fact that mongrels exist in the dog world means to you that there's no genetic or phenotypical difference between mastiffs and chihuahuas? I believe you've trotted this argument out before. Did a mastiff get the way he is purely by his upbringing? Did a chihuahua?

Posted by: Cognassier at January 16, 2003 10:14 AM