How did Darwin define race?

Discussion in 'Biology & Genetics' started by Medium Dave, Feb 8, 2017.

  1. Medium Dave Registered Member

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    What utter nonsense. The classification scheme is defined by ancestry or morphology. You then beg the question by assuming ladybirds are defined by morphology.
     
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  3. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    You are now talking about the definition of the classification scheme, not the definition of the organism.

    And yes, I think probably any entomologist will look first at morphology to define the species - you do after all need a definition that enables fellow workers in the field to recognise one without doing DNA analysis. Later, it will be fitted into a genealogical system.

    I think that would have been true of Darwin and varieties of the human race, too. Go back to my list of racial types used by the US immigration dept for US landing cards. How do you think they are defined? It's not by genealogy, is it?
     
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  5. rpenner Fully Wired Staff Member

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    It is against forum rules to quote material without indicating where you quote it from.

    http://sciforums.com/threads/sciforums-site-rules.142880/ (See A4, A5, E13, E14, E15, E16, F5, H11, I6, I7, I15, I17)
    Also: http://sciforums.com/threads/exclus...from-posting-in-the-science-subforums.144700/

    From the copied reference to an editor-added footnote, it appears that Darwin's October 3, 1857 letter from this source
    https://books.google.com/books?id=pE2pSPtPC4wC&lpg=PA462&ots=Oc18ghLbHr&pg=PA462
    is a candidate. Such a citation predates publication of Origin of Species.

    Actually, he is proposing a model of common descent with modification. The question of race is left to those who wish to establish a classification system. He is proposing that given such a classification system, one based on perfect knowledge of genealogy is going to avoid the types of mistakes one gets when one looks only at morphology. This nowhere establishes any scientific utility to the notion of human "races" which Victorians were predisposed to imagine had reality and value.

    The immigrant-fueled success of Silicon Valley goes a long way to refute such antique notions.

    Also, your incomprehension of Darwin's argument is compounded when you don't read his September 26 letter and T.X. Huxley's reply.

    Only an anti-scientific troll refers to common decent with modification as "Darwinism". It's not a belief system, it's a empirically vetted model that explains the diversity of life. Typological models are based on the belief system of essentialism applied to biology — the claim that a banana is essentially different than a human so all that needs to be done is to identify some finite number of types and know that those definitions apply throughout all time and space. Typology is refuted by data which shows that not only are there no boxes around "kinds" but that the population of banana trees and the population of humans had in the distant past a common ancestral population, utterly defeating the notion that hard classification schemes work.

    They "kind of" work at temporal snapshots at macroscales because the way populations change over time is hidden by taking a brief snapshot and the branching of the tree of life has left populations well-separated by morphology at the Family level. But the notion of a species is generally where the classification system breaks down as the goal of species is to find the finest hard-box classification that works when hard-box models are known not to work.

    Since human "races" are finer divisions yet, they are without merit in science. In medicine, it makes more sense to treat the individual than some population grouped by ancestry or collection of morphological traits.

    Only hard-box classifications are doomed to fail. That doesn't mean classification of populations in time and morphological space is without merit.

    I'm flattered that you would confuse me with Ernst Mayr, but we are distinct individuals.

    Modern taxonomy is well-aware that their hard-box model is doomed to fail over time as populations continue to diverge and doomed to have only a finite resolution. The purpose of classification is to put names on a map of the tree of life and just like geographic names have limited utility over geologic time as rivers and plates shift, those names serve the purpose of identifying their subject matter.

    That's not my opinion, that's your misunderstanding of “humans are remarkably homogeneous genetically, so all humans are only one biological race.” That's "biological race" = variety. So if humans consisted of more than one species, (say after a small population colonized a distant star system and these branches of humanity re-met 500ka in the future), then there would necessarily be more than one biological race of humans. If genetic engineering bred humans to live under the sea, those would a population of humans who carry such extreme niche survival traits that hybrids with the ancestral population would not be well-adapted to survive in either environment. That would be an example of a variety below the species level. If Earth is enslaved by aliens and they start competitively culling and breeding us on a massive scale, they might create temporary domesticated varieties which would tend to return to ancestral trait statistics should the enforced culling end. Those are all counterfactual examples of how you get and maintain populations of "humans" which are distinct. Even famously self-selected inbred groups like European nobility and isolated Pacific islanders failed to make the cut as they were not that isolated and not inbred long enough — they are still enough like the rest of us to merit the question of can one of them as an individual do a particular human job. They all can live in the desert, in a mountain pass, on a tropical island, in Buckingham palace. So there is just on "biological race" of humans.

    You have misunderstood the term. Shared ancestry is an empirical fact which refutes typological assumptions.


    Again you violate the rules. This quote appears to be from the 1859 first edition of Origin of Species, in the introduction of Chapter 13.
    http://darwin-online.org.uk/content/frameset?itemID=F373&viewtype=text&pageseq=429

    It thoroughly refutes typology while explaining the pattern of classification systems in terms of shared ancestry in a tree of common descent with modification. Why do you bother to quote what you have not read and understood?
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2017
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  7. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    Got it! I think. I see some of the creationist sites are terribly keen to blame the Nazi genocide on Darwin.

    I bet this is what our hot-tempered friend is driving at, without wanting to tip his hand. And I bet he called me "dishonest" because he thought I had sussed him and was mounting a desperate rearguard action to defend Darwin from this charge. (In fact, I've only just worked it out - durrh!)

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  8. Medium Dave Registered Member

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    • Please don't miseducate in the main science forums. Please don't insult other members.
    Dear God. I don't think I've ever come across such a litany of nonsense. I'll respond to this, but not this evening.
     
  9. Medium Dave Registered Member

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    Your speculation about my motivation, which I won't dignify by addressing, is an embarrassment to a supposed scientific discussion board.
     
  10. Medium Dave Registered Member

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    I was always talking about the definition of the classification scheme. It was you that claimed that wasn't a definition. You are a liar. The division of that is arbitrary. It scales to any level.
     
  11. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

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    You mean once again, we have someone else with a not so hidden agenda, or baggage. Not the first time, won't be the last!

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  12. Medium Dave Registered Member

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    Disgraceful ad hominem slander. Total speculation. Total irrelevance.

    I've reported both posts. Unless it is clear such nonsense isn't acceptable I'll gladly post elsewhere.
     
  13. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    So who are you - in other words why are you here wondering about an arcane and historically long-buried triviality of semantics in the 19th Century English prose of Charles Darwin?

    He doesn't define "race" at all. He uses many English words defined by their usage in the public with which he was communicating.
     
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  14. Medium Dave Registered Member

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    So just to clarify, the posters who called me a "creationist" will not be responded to, and I will not post here unless it is made clear ad hominem slander is not acceptable on this board.
     
  15. Medium Dave Registered Member

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    Your post contains false assumptions. Why is some anonymous internet poster asking who I am?
     
  16. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    Because your question has no answer (except something like rpenner's, which you refused to read or consider) unless we have some notion of its context, its motivation. You might as well ask how Darwin defined "location".
     
  17. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

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    And you also make false assumptions.
    I agreed with another comment suggesting you may have an agenda.......Everyone has an agenda of sorts, some agendas though are more acceptable and appropriate then others.
    You seem to reflect what others I have crossed swords with in the past, a "false indignation"at anyone that dares question any possible undesired traits.
    My agenda? Sure, its science in general and cosmology in particular, although I'm only a lay person at both.
     
  18. Medium Dave Registered Member

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    Your "agenda" posts are all being reported. You're a complete embarrassment.
     
  19. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    Well I'm entitled to speculate a bit, since you have as yet failed to answer my quite reasonable question as to why you accused me of dishonesty. Believe me, I'd love to think better of you, but your general approach here has been to fly off the handle without provocation and to keep strangely silent about your motive for posting. It is only natural to wonder what it is that motivates you.

    A simple explanation of the reason for your interest in this obscure passage in Darwin's writings could settle things down immeasurably, don't you agree? Then, perhaps, we could all have a civilised discussion about the science.
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2017
  20. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    You could set an example by apologising for accusing me of dishonesty, then, or at the least explaining why you think I am dishonest.
     
  21. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    No, you spoke initially about the definition of race, not of the classification of it.

    I quote you: " What? Darwin explicitly defines human race by genealogy in that quote and you write "There is nothing about definition of "race" here."

    Even if I have misunderstood you, that does not make me a liar. Why do you feel the need to be so egregiously rude? Are you a Trump voter or something?
     
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  22. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

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    He often viewed them as sub-species. And the concept wasn't viewed the same way even between naturalists in Darwin's time. Darwin himself used the term race in different ways depending on the context. They had no access to DNA, so their classifications were based on appearance.

    Darwin's birthday is this Sunday, so let's celebrate!
     
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  23. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    On the contrary. We get plenty of trolls here, including regular drive-by visits from creationists who need to earn points on whatever wanky course they are following by "witnessing" to their faith by attacking science sites. Generally they last for about 24hrs and bugger off, never to be seen again.

    You appear, out of nowhere, with a obscure post about Darwin, an aggressive attitude and an undisclosed agenda of some sort and start slagging people off right, left and centre for no apparent reason. What are we supposed to think? Eh?
     
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