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December 22, 2003

Reduce and reassemble

One thing that sometimes annoys me is that humans have a tendency (and something I have to resist it myself) to have a "vitalistic" conception of things, that traits have some mystical holistic residence in human nature. To clarify, I will bring up something that often comes up in the message boards.

When we post on attractiveness, the fact that many people seem to be most attracted to "their own kind" is noted. Some people (mostly explicit racialists) will assert that this is "natural" and "inborne," but don't elaborate a model. Rather, it is as if each human being has a vital essence of "whiteness" or "brownness" that attracts the essences of other beings who are like.

Let us ignore the impact of the broader culture and what not. There is a string of logic that I think can illustrate why people have an "inborne" attraction to their own race, without implying a metaphysical "race soul."

1) People are attracted to their opposite sex parent
2) People tend to have parents of the same race
3) If you parents have of the same race, you will be of their race
4) Your opposite sex parent is your own race, ergo, you will tend to be attracted to your own race.

The following assertions are open to dispute (I can think of plenty of other factors that contribute to this tendency, mostly to do with the past history of sexual selection within one's lineage), but I wanted to be explicit in showing how we don't need to appeal to mystical vitalism, like Steve Sailer's definition of race, we can construct the chain of reasoning and evidence behind trends and patterns we see without too much mental taxation.

Posted by razib at 04:19 PM