"Categorizing humanity by 'race' as has been happening for all these centuries is simply not a scientifically valid proposition"

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Alex Guggenheim's picture

From the comment section this quote about sums up, for the most part (minus the evolution reference), an appropriate response to this non-scientific article that cited zero, yes zero, pieces of scientific data to back it up:

 

This is obvious nonsense. Is Mr. Oatis seriously suggesting that skin color has nothing to do with DNA? If so, what does he think it *is* determined by? Doesn't it seem rather an odd coincidence, then, that white and black people always seem to have babies whose skin matches their own?

We seem comfortable enough with the heritability of parental traits such as looks, musical talent, athletic ability, temperament, and so on -- and indeed if the collection of traits that offspring end up with were as much a crapshoot as Mr. Oatis would have us believe, there would be no such thing as animal husbandry, and indeed no coherent basis for the theory of evolution itself. Separated breeding populations develop distinct collections of traits; ultimately this is the basis of speciation.

Humans have also formed distinct breeding populations for thousands of generations, and this has resulted in obvious morphological differences between these groups. (If you mixed up an assortment of Swedes, Han Chinese, and Australian aborigines, even Mr. Oatis would have no difficulty sorting them out.)

There is also only one species of domesticated dogs on the planet, too: canis familiaris. We are perfectly comfortable, though, speaking of differences of all sorts between the many breeds of dogs: differences in talents, temperament, and even intelligence.

 

JobK's picture

It is impossible to devise one. The people who overlook this fact do so because they are only interested in one racial group (their own) or at most two (their own plus the one that they have the least desire to have anything to do with).

Consider the category "Asian" for example, or worse "Asian/Pacific Islander." It includes a gigantic number of people groups, nations, tribes, ethnicities etc. over a vast geographic area that have just as many "obvious morphological differences" with each other as they do with people considered to be members of different races. Continuing to classify them all as Asian means having a definition of race with no scientific merit whatsoever. So, in the interests of legitimate science, one would have to come up with dozens of new racial definitions.

It is possible, I guess, but why bother? What purpose would it serve? Maybe going about doing so would be less useless than building particle accelerators and atom smashers looking for the Higgs boson, but not by a whole lot. Which is why no one is demanding it. And the people who have no use for or need to be scientifically categorized includes the Asian/Pacific Islanders, who aren't exactly petitioning for geneticists and anthropologists to come put in the work on their behalf. 

So, we are left with our current thoroughly unscientific racial categories (that, for example defines Native Americans to be Asian but many Hispanics to be Caucasian despite the fact that many Hispanics have Native American in their lineage, and also defines Australian aborigines as Negro or black despite the fact that some full-blooded aborigines have blond hair, an "obvious morphological difference") that no one with any legitimate interest in science should want to maintain. So if the current racial categories are, for lack of a better term, a lie, what is the purpose or reason for continuing to love a lie? 

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Andrew K.'s picture

So, we are left with our current thoroughly unscientific racial categories (that, for example defines Native Americans to be Asian but many Hispanics to be Caucasian despite the fact that many Hispanics have Native American in their lineage, and also defines Australian aborigines as Negro or black despite the fact that some full-blooded aborigines have blond hair, an "obvious morphological difference") that no one with any legitimate interest in science should want to maintain. So if the current racial categories are, for lack of a better term, a lie, what is the purpose or reason for continuing to love a lie?

To say nothing of transitional people groups that lie between traditionally defined "racial" regions. Take a look at these photos of Uighur people from Xinjiang, West China (scroll to the bottom): http://pastmists.wordpress.com/2010/05/12/xinjiang/

Are they Caucasian? East Asian? Even their genetics aren't so clear, from what I've read. And yes, I've met some and they make good noodles and flatbread.

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JD Miller's picture

I was in a store checkout line and a mother with her little boy was right ahead of me.  That little boy looked enough like my nephew that they could've easily passed as brothers- I actually took a double take.  The main difference between them is that this little boy was black and my nephew is white.

I wish that we could stop focusing so much on color and instead have discussions on cultural values.   People who are black, yellow, red, and white fall into a variety of cultural values and I believe in this country that has much more of an impact on their position in society than does the color of their skin.