race vs. species

Discussion in 'Human Science' started by ukub311, May 3, 2011.

  1. Skeptical Registered Senior Member


    Point accepted.

    However, this thread is about 'race', and I just wanted to point out that a very large number of Egyptians (and many other nationalities) do not fit into any classification of 'race'.
  2. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  3. Hercules Rockefeller Beatings will continue until morale improves. Moderator


    It’s not PC nonsense, it’s genetics.

    Human genetic variation is certainly geographically structured, in accord with historical patterns of gene flow and genetic drift. It’s this clustering of individuals correlated with geographic origin or ancestry that you, and many others, are confusing with the cultural concept of ‘race’.

    In this era of genomics we know that humans are genetically homogeneous and that genetic variation tends to be shared widely among populations. Yes, genetic variation is (broadly) geographically structured; this is expected from the partial isolation of human populations during much of their history. However, human populations are seldom demarcated by precise genetic boundaries. Substantial overlap can therefore occur between populations, invalidating the concept that populations (or races) are discrete genetic types.

    Sometimes the correlations are informative, especially when applied to biomedical settings, but the correlations are imperfect (sometimes greatly) because genetic variation is distributed in a continuous, overlapping fashion among populations. There is simply no consistent genetic basis to the cultural and geographical concepts of 'race'.
    Last edited: May 5, 2011
  4. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  5. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

    Into anyone else's classification of race, or are you saying that they don't have their own racial classifications, operating in their own society? I'd dispute the latter. As to the former, one shouldn't generally expect that kind of consistency. Systems of racial classification only really have to work inside the context of the society that maintains them, and frequently do not fit well elsewhere. For an example that gets back to madanth's conflation of race and continental origin, you'll also find that people in Europe exhibit many different ideas about who is "white," most of which would not match the American definitions.
  6. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  7. Skeptical Registered Senior Member

    The thing is, quad, that there is no classification system for human 'races' that is accepted by anthropologists or other scientists. Lots of people have tried to design such systems. None stand up to scientific scrutiny. It would appear extremely unlikely that any future scheme will, either.

    People who believe in the concept of human 'races' usually place dark skinned Africans in one racial group and light skinned Europeans in another. I was pointing out in relation to Egyptians, that many do not fit in either grouping.
  8. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

    I could agree with that if you'd included some qualifier about a biological basis for human races. But plenty of social scientists - including anthropologists - have no problem accepting that race exists as a social construct. Race is quite readily amenable to scientific scrutiny, provided one approaches it from the appropriate scientific perspective (social science and not biology).

    Sure, but it hardly matters. A system of racial classification doesn't need to operate on a global level, just within the context of whatever society is maintaining it. If you were to transport those Egyptians to, say, the USA, Americans would have no trouble fitting them into our scheme of racial classifications (some would be called "black," others "white" and others "Arab"). That these categories would probably not correspond to how Egyptians in Egypt categorize themselves - both in terms of the classification itself, the connotations associated with each race, and the weight of racial classification generally - is neither here nor there. American racial classification isn't answerable to the Egyptian version, nor vice-versa.
  9. Skeptical Registered Senior Member


    My comments on race are based on science. Basically on genetics.

    Culture is another matter. There are many distinct cultural groups among humankind.
  10. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

    There's more to "science" than "genetics." There's social science, specifically.

    And that is a scientific statement, no?

    Race is amenable to scientific analysis. Just not genetic analysis.
  11. Skeptical Registered Senior Member


    Dealing with social science, where do you draw the line between 'race; and culture? What is a 'racial' group, and what is a cultural group?

    To me, the concept of 'race' is a genetic one. People claim that different 'races' are genetically different groups.

    However, there are many cultural groups. The Ndbele of Zimbabwe are culturally different from the Shona, who dominate the ruling group. However, genetically, they are almost identical. So they are the same 'race', but different cultures.
  12. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

    There is no one "line." It varies from society to society. Races are systems of sub-identification that societies set up for their own purposes.

    Those people are wrong, as we've seen in this thread.

    That laypeople have screwy ideas about how genetics figures into race, does not have any bearing on the scientific definition of race. It just means that said laypeople's ideas are screwy and unscientific.

    That's up to them, it seems to me. Since there is no particular genetic basis for race, societies are free to come up with racial divisions however they see fit, without paying any heed to genes or any other society's ideas about the matter. Nobody does a DNA analysis on a stranger before deciding what race they're in, after all. Nor do they consult the various other race schemes around the world to ensure their designation is consistent with them.
  13. Big Chiller Registered Senior Member

    Re: OP

    The human race is genetically very similar especially considering the population bottleneck 60,000 - 90,000 years ago.

  14. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    The word goes back to around 1500. It's derived from Italian razza, whose origin is unknown. It carries so much political baggage that it's hard to track down a decent scholarly article on it. But yes, "the human race" is a term for all humans. A hundred years ago it was unfashionable in many circles (and illegal in a few) to acknowledge that we are simply one species of animal, so people spoke of the human race rather than the human species.
    You probably mean a brown bear; the polar bear speciated from brown bears roughly 100,000 years ago. The difference between a brown bear and a polar bear is substantial: they cannot live in each other's milieu. The differences among the various "races" of humans is considerably less: a Scandinavian needs long sleeves and a wide-brim hat to avoid getting skin cancer in the tropics, whereas a Nigerian needs to eat a lot of fish to provide adequate vitamin D in the Arctic.
    These are two of the six or eight subspecies of Panthera tigris.
    There are still common contexts in which humans are deliberately distinguished from all other animals. Many buildings have signs saying "No animals allowed except service dogs." Yet if you walk inside you don't find a recreational facility for off-duty police dogs, mobility dogs and seeing-eye dogs; the place is full of humans. Probably quite a few arthropods too.

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    The whole world needs smarter people to help it out. But do they listen?
    He meant brown bears, not grizzlies. I'm not so sure you could convince them to mate but they can be hybridized by AI. But in the wild their habitats don't overlap so it's unlikely to happen naturally. Perhaps around a garbage dump, since even polar bears will scavenge if they're hungry enough.
    That's not the definition of "species." It's closer to the definition of "genus." In many cases, if not most, individuals of different species within a genus can have viable offspring, and the offspring are often fertile. As an aviculturist I have seen third and even fourth-generation hybrid macaws. The blue-and-gold macaw and the hyacinthine macaw are not even within the same genus, and they have been successfully hybridized. The same is true of the domestic cat and the ocelot--the offspring of which are fertile.
    I repeat, that is not part of the definition of "species." If it were, then lions and tigers would be one species, as would domestic cattle and bison.
    Dogs/wolves (two subspecies of Canis lupus) can also readily hybridize with coyotes and jackals.

    Once again now, all together: "Ability or inability to interbreed does not correlate with speciation."
    No. The definition simply has nothing to do with the ability to hybridize.

    One more time, this time everybody: "Ability or inability to interbreed does not correlate with speciation."
    A clade is a group of species that include all the descendants of an ancestral species, as well as the ancestral species itself. Since the availability of fast and affordable DNA analysis, this has prompted a major cleanup of Linnaean taxonomy. The goal is for every taxonomic group--species, genus, family, order, and all the in-between classifications like infraorder, tribe, etc.--to be a clade.

    As far as I know (and I'm not a real biologist) the term "clade" can also be used below the species level. So a subspecies would presumably have to include all the descendants of the group of individuals which wandered off to establish it. If the same is true of a population, then that, too becomes a clade.
    There is very little genetic diversity among humans. Two cats who live in your house may have more variance in their DNA than a human from Iceland and one from Borneo.
    Last edited: May 9, 2011
  15. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

    "Grizzly bear" means "North American brown bear." It's a sub-species of brown bear - works just as well for his questions as "brown bear."

    It does indeed happen naturally:


    Although they do live in different ecological niches, their territories are not so far apart that this is unexpected. They are adjacent, after all.

    Don't be silly - said correlation is actually rather high. It's just not 100% - there are exceptions, but the overall correlation is striking. High enough for such to serve as the basis of the most widely-used biology textbook definition.

    Quite frankly, I'd suggest that its innapplicability to organisms that do not reproduce sexually is a bigger strike against it, than these various exceptions you can find here and there. There are entire classes of organisms that it has no applicability to whatsoever.

    There is no definitive definition that can reasonably lay claim to being "the" definition of "species."
  16. kriminal99 Registered Senior Member

    No, species means they can reproduce together.

    Race is a term we use because it's our species and we want to dissect it further to take advantage of correlations between easily recognizable groupings based on skin color with things like susceptibility to sunburn, average IQ, predisposition towards certain behaviors etc.

Share This Page