Talk:Race (human categorization)/Archive 13

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Ridiculously False Assumptions

I haven't read the entire article -- not nearly. In fact, I've barely skimmed it. However, it seems clear that certain long-held misperceptions regarding who belongs to what "race" persist. The U.S. practice of characterizing indio-Latinos as "white" is absurd. They are as Asian as Native Americans; they simply were subjugated/colonized by white folks who spoke Spanish and Portuguese, rather than English. What sense does THAT make?

And the notion of classifying East Indians, Bangladeshis and Pakistanis as "Caucasian" is equally absurd. They're as black as Australian aborigines and New Guineans -- some in the south of India and in Bangladesh even with blue-black skin and nappy/frizzy hair. This ridiculous notion is more emblematic of the racism of European pseudo-scientists who refused to admit that anyone other than Caucasians was capable of buiding a high civilization. This is the same thinking that produced the schools of thought that some wandering white tribe built Timbuktu, and that the earliest dynastic Egyptians were anything and everything other than blue-black Africans with nappy hair. They want us to continue to believe the lie that Nubians were little more than slaves of white (or nearly white) Egyptian pharaohs. It's time to join the twenty-first century, people! If you didn't know any of this before, didn't ANYONE see the Spencer Wells documentary on the "Journey of Man" that aired on PBS earlier this year (or last?) in which, using DNA evidence, he traced the earliest out-migration of the San bushmen to India and Australia -- and then to points beyond? deeceevoice 19:10, 26 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Maybe YOU should check your facts - your link led to info about Spencer Wells saying that he found that ALL people migrated out from Africa ~40,000 years ago, instead of 100K - Europeans AND Indians AND Chinese.

As to the idea that Indians are NOT "Caucasians" - it only goes the show the weakness of the whole idea of race. There is no major discontinuity of language family or of "racial" characteristics from Hyderabad to Dublin. The only reason NOT to call Indians (and Iranians, and Greeks) 'Caucasian' is that they don't fit the "Nordic" ideal that Aryan suspremacists go for. Sure, there is significant admixture of other genes, and a sudden change is language family as you move into southern India - but again, no sudden discontinuity in the people. The tribals in India definitely represent some different lineage - which I would say is probably related to the Australians, but that doesn't have to be closely related. Ironically, the people of the Caucasus (the only real Caucasians) are called 'black' by the Russians.

As for Egyptians - I can only speak from illustrations I have seen, but they drew themselves as lighter skinned than 'Nubians', but darker skinned than Semites. 'Blue-black' Africans would strike me as rather out of place in Nile valley, since most of the really dark skinned people are further to the south and west. What evidence is there that they were blacker than say, Ethiopians or Sudanese?

Sure, the Euro-centric ideas of the Victorians were in no way connected with reality, but the Afro-centric revisionism of history is sometimes no less chauvinistic...Africa populated the world, yes, but the descendents of those Africans include ALL humans. IF people choose to classify according to race, and they use the old Caucasoid/Mongoloid/Negroid/Australoid classes, there is no logical reason to put Indians anywhere other than Caucasoid. Sure, Indian tribals, like the 'Negritos' of the Philipines, disappear in that classification system. But to place someone outside of the 'white' race because they have one drop of non-white blood is ridiculous. I am half Indian and half European. I consider myself non-white. But I would get laughed at if I tried to place myself in any of those categories EXCEPT 'Caucasoid'. As for my Indian-Chinese-European-African-Amerindian cousins, the idea of having to 'choose one" (like many American surveys of race ask) is ridiculous. I know my Indian-African-European-Amerindian brother-in-law would be deeply insulted by having to choose a race - even a broad category. Guettarda 22:58, 26 Oct 2004 (UTC) ---

Guettarda, what can I say? If what you got from reading the info at the web link I provided is that Europeans, Indians and Chinese migrated out of Africa as fully formed, distinct ethnic/"racial" groups, then let me suggest YOU should return and seek another understanding. That notion is patently ridiculous! deeceevoice 12:49, 28 Oct 2004 (UTC)
I'm still crunching deadlines -- and haven't read the entirety of your comments, Guettarda. But here's a link you might find interesting. I'd bookmarked some sites w/interesting photographs. (It's amazing to me this is still being debated.)
Another photo:
And of COURSE "race" is a fiction. But here we are discussing it.
As far Wells' research, I saw the documentary and skimmed some articles online about it afterwards. No time right now, but will return to that subject, as well. YOu say you'd get "laughed at" if you attempted to place yourself in any category but Caucasoid. Hm-mm. Laughed at by whom? A bunch of Indians who've been brainwashed to reject dark skin and wavy hair? Plenty of folks I've known from India and Bangladesh reject the Caucasian classification as ridiculous; they consider themselves black folks. deeceevoice 00:41, 27 Oct 2004 (UTC)


Caucasian is a bone structure and shape. It has nothing to do with skin, hair and eye coloring. Just like a green apple is still an apple even though it is not red in color, it is shaped like an apple and has apple DNA, therefore it is still an apple even though it is not red. A green bananna and a green apple are the same color, but NOT the same Race. Because the shape/features are different and of course the DNA is completely different too. Caucasians are basically all Indo-Europeans from India to England. Of course their coloring, body-type is different. Race and color are two different things. Now as for the Negro parts of Asia, there's a negro element in India's natives, more the Ethiopian-type. But this can be proven by the flat noses and big lips, more of an East Asian + Negro mix. But the upper-castes of India are of Iranian, Turk and Greek blood. So they're tall, strong, and look "White", even if they're darker, they do have the Anglo-Saxon features and body type, just darker skin, hair and eyes. Many are rather fair and even white-skinned too. But the Caucasian continuum basically is evident from much of India to England: The noses are straight, the faces are oval, the height is medium to tall to some very tall (over 6'3") Caucasoid-types. Just the coloring varies, even super-dark skinned India people, seem to have no Oriental and Negro features, all Caucasian features. But if the features were different there are also many negroid types, then sure they're not Caucasian. But all civilization was built first by the non-Caucasians, the point made about how Westerners (even though they got their science and math from non-Caucasoids from the ancient times), thought no one but Caucasoids were able to build anything, is completely absurd. It's not so much Races, but skilled engineers and scientists accomplishments throughout all Races, that the Westerners (who are merchants not really scientists/engineers) have compiled and gathered into their own made-up "white system" to serve their own Western Elite self-interest. I'm a Mechanical Engineer, if it weren't for all the Races on Earth's discoveries and findings throughout time and history, no one would have anything today. It was all of the Races of the Earth who got together at one time and compiled the fundamentals in nature, science, mathematics and reasoning for making theories which might be proven into facts/constants. But in terms of Race, it's the features more than anything.

§ Not only are we back to debating the existence of [race], but we are presented with an article that makes [race] a photographable reality and breaks humans into black and white divisions. P0M 02:09, 27 Oct 2004 (UTC) ---

Coming back to skim again, I note your question, Guettarda, "What evidence is there that they were blacker than, say, Ethiopians or Sudanese?" Curious. Since northern Sudan and ancient Nubia are one and the same. Have you SEEN many Sudanese people? lol (Or Ethiopians, for that matter -- especially those who've been less assimilated over time from the south?) Oh. Here's another quote for you from the Internet: "Northeast Sudan, called Nubia in ancient times, was colonized by Egypt about 2000 BC and was ruled by the Cush kingdom from the 8th cent."
Does anyone have any reasonable rationale as to how/why the U.S. ineplicably classifies Indio-Latinos as "white," when they are clearly the same people "racially" as Native Americans, who are classified as Mongoloid? How silly is that? Latinos themselves distinguish among Euro-Latinos (blancos), pre African-incursion indigenous folks (indios) and Afro-Latinos (negros/morenos). No WONDER that when the legions of brainwashed, brown-skinned Afro-Latinos -- most notably Puertoriquenos -- who've persisted in calling themselves "white" arrive in the States, they receive such a rude awakening. Not only are "racial" classifications ridiculous and based on largely unreliable phenotypical metrics, they're not even remotely consistent. deeceevoice 07:03, 27 Oct 2004 (UTC)


Because of the way "Talk" comments appear on my screen, I'm skimming backwards (bottom to top). And I see another interesting comment. Indigenous Indians have more than "one drop" of black/African blood. Before the Persian incursions, you must know that Indians -- most particularly at Mohenjo Daro were black (skinned) folks. The San DNA found by Wells was in a man in Tamil (ring a bell?). They are the very, very dark-skinned, much-despised Tamil/Dahlit people, the women of whom are subjected to the most reprehensible treatment -- all because they are black. (Don't guess the parents of the protagonist in the film "Bend it like Beckham" would've approved of her marrying anyone from Tamil, as they would be likely darker than the average black Britain or African-American their daughter might consort with. :-p) Let's see *searching the Internet once again* ...:
The sad fact is India is still a nation sharply divided by color and caste --which -- surprise! -- is based on skin color. People would like to think the caste system no longer exists; but, in fact, it most certainly does. The Indians who are the result of Persian-African/black unions, who are lighter skinned with straighter hair, are of higher status than the blacker ones. Consider if all the thousands of African-Americans who have a skin tone approximating that of, say, Beyonce Knowles and lighter segregated themselves into a nation, along with all other African-Americans and then proceeded to call themselves and their blacker-skinned compatriots "white," all the while relegating the darker-skinned folks to an inferior status, relative to their gradations of skin tone. Absurd? Well, that's India in a nutshell. deeceevoice 07:16, 27 Oct 2004 (UTC)


I happened across this article only a couple of days before it was featured on Wikipedia and made a note to myself to come back to it later. It needed lots of work. I don't know if the change was made before it was featured, but I happened to notice the use of "morphological" to describe physical differences among the "races." Well, that stuck out like a sore thumb. I scanned the page briefly (in a matter of seconds) to see if it was still there, but didn't see it. But if it hasn't been corrected, someone ought to. There ARE no "morphological" differences in humankind; there are phenotypical (contrasted with genotypical) ones. deeceevoice 07:23, 27 Oct 2004 (UTC)

What is your definition of morphological? From my understanding, any two random people exhibit "morphological" differences such as height, build, facial features, etc. --Rikurzhen 07:44, Oct 27, 2004 (UTC)
I see what you are getting at. I think that may be a difference in how different disciplines use the word morphological. Your definition of morphologcial is the difference in form between species. Another defintion is any difference in form. In the article, I think the second definition is being applied. That's the meaning I got from reading it. --Rikurzhen 22:08, Oct 30, 2004 (UTC)
Rikurzhen, I meant to get back to this earlier, but got distracted by other issues (and work). My apologies for passing your comments by -- but you seem a bright fellow interested in objectivity and well-versed in this subject to a more than average degree (more than I). So, I figured you'd get my point. :-p In a discussion such as this, IMO, the more accurate the terminology, the better. "Genotype" and "phenotype" are common terms in discussions of "racial" classification. "Morphology," while in the general neighborhood, can be misconstrued and has more accurate and useful applications elsewhere. deeceevoice 16:32, 8 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Yes, I'm still playing hooky from various deadlines -- but not for long. Another tidbit from the Internet regarding black Indians and the Buddha, who was also -- yes -- black. One must note the comment below that Indians came from Ethiopia. This is doubtful, especially given Wells' research. Certainly, the earliest Indians did not originate in Ethiopia, proper. However, it is possible that subsequent migrations from other regions of the African continent occurred. Surely, there are those of us who've seen statues of the Buddha with stylistically coiled, nappy hair! Didja ever at least WONDER?  :-p

One of the world’s most prolific philosophical and religious leaders was the great sage called the Buddha. At different stages of his development he was also referred to as Sakyamuni, Siddartha and Siddartha Gautama. The Buddha’s origin is traced back to India, yet his philosophical doctrines spread throughout Southeast Asia, Tibet, China and Japan. India had an indigenous black population which found its way into the subcontinent about 50,000 years ago from Ethiopia, ultimately establishing a great empire known as the Indus Valley civilization. "There were two Ethiopias, one to the east of the Red Sea, and the other to the west of it, and a very great nation of Blacks from India, did rule over almost all Asia in a very remote era, in fact beyond the reach of histroy or any of our records," says Godfrey Higgins, British archaeologist, author and historian. In 1500 B.C. this great empire was invaded by a tribe of barbarians from the north of India, igniting a series of wars upon the Indian subcontinent which lasted nearly a thousand years. (The Rig Veda, the most ancient of India’s sacred works, describes this confrontation.) The conclusion of these classic battles ushered in India’s first historical golden age, the age in which the Buddha was born ( 563 B.C.). Through cultural and racial assimilation, the face of India and the face of Buddha began to change. Yet the Buddha in his most original appearance, with flattened nose, powerful lips, and the curling hair falling in locks, can still be found. Godfrey Higgins states in his classic text The Anacalipsis, "The religion of Buddha, of India, is well known to have been very ancient. In the most ancient temples scattered throughout Asia, where his worship is yet continued, he is found black as jet, with the flat face, thick lips and curly hair of the Negro." The photo depicted here is characteristic of the many splendid black Buddhas found throughout Indochina. Without a doubt, the Buddha was the most influential spiritual force in the east. After his death in 473 B.C., the religion he inspired, Buddhism, spread throughout Asia."

If you'd like to see the photograph of the Buddha offered in the document above, visit:

deeceevoice 07:53, 27 Oct 2004 (UTC) ---

I keep thinking of other things to add. (Besides, work this a.m. is boring!) Check out this link from the Discovery program on Nefertiti. See what modern-day forensic scientists have come up with as the face of Nefertiti:

And here's another interactive photo -- of a Discovery Channel forensic reconstruction of the face of King Tutankhamun:

Booyah! :-p deeceevoice 09:00, 27 Oct 2004 (UTC) ---

More black Buddhas. Japan: This is the (or one of the) oldest Buddhas in Japan. Its features have been changed to reflect those of Buddhism's Asian adherents -- but note the tightly coiled, curly/nappy hair: .

Here's an interesting "Buddha" photo montage -- some clearly Buddhas, others not so clear:

There are other ancient Buddhist shrines in Japan and elsewhere -- also with nappy hair, some with even more African-looking features -- fuller lips, faces quite wide across the cheekbones. Here's another example of another happy, nappy Buddha.

(If you're denied direct access to any of the above links, simply cut and paste them into your web browser.)

Just happened to come across a postcard of the Daibutsu (giant Buddha) in Kobe, Japan. Note not only the kinky hair, but the broad nose: - deeceevoice 05:25, 20 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Kinky hair is not a widely recognized trait of the Japanese, or of other Asians (or any ethnic/"racial" group other than "Negroes." Nor is there any record of there ever having been a tradition of curling one's hair into tight coils in Japanese culture. These Buddhas hadn't been to the beauty salon and nail parlor for the latest 'do. So, where did the kinky hair come from? Hm-m-mmm?  :-p Pop-quiz-think-fast: The oldest Buddhist artifacts ever found were excavated in what part of India? Answer: Tamil -- where Wells found his modern-day descendent of the San bushmen through DNA testing. This is consonant with recent findings that Gautama Buddha likely was born (contrary to conventional wisdom, which has him being born in Nepal) in Kapileshwar, Orissa, in India -- up the coast from Tamil Province. Buddha was a black/African/"Negroid" East Indian. deeceevoice 10:59, 27 Oct 2004 (UTC) Pre Persian-incursion India was heavily black African, with the darkest and curliest/nappiest of them residing -- as they do, still, today -- in the south, where many Tamils have mahogany (and some even blue-black) skin. Internalized white supremacist notions of white superiority and black inferiority were institutionalized and codified in the caste system of India, which still exists. Among African-Americans, there's a term for someone who suffers from internalized racism, resulting in a distinct preference/longing for lighter skin. It's called being "color-struck." :-p deeceevoice 11:15, 27 Oct 2004 (UTC)


A little something more from the Internet (doncha just love cyberspace? :-p) about Indian history, verbatim from "Chapter 6 - RAVANA: A NON VIOLENT "GANA-NAYAKA", (CHIEF OF REPUBLICS) CONTEMPORARY WITH THE BUDDHA." (link is provided at the end):

Sidhartha Gautam Buddha and Ravana were contemporary....
Mahatma Ravana was a great world renowned hero of the Raksha Gana.... Mahatma Ravana was black and very handsome, smiling, humorous and brave hero full of power and enthusiasm. Walmiki has himself described Ravana as a great scholar, great saint, a lenient and kind hearted savour of the people, a powerful warrior, was full of piety to others, very truthful and supporter of justice, equality and non violence.

Later, under a subheading:

Ramayana, the struggle of Whites against Blacks
By the participation of brown colour of Wanaras it seems that the Rishis had civilized the wanaras. Master Purnalangam Pillai observes:
"They were in colour and complexion black opposed to the Aryans, who were bright or fair in colour and features. It (the Ramayana) represents the Rakshas as black of hue, and compares them with black cloudier and masses of black collyrium, it attributes to them curly wooly hair and thick lips [emphasis added], it depicts them as Loaded with chains, collars and girdle of gold and the other bright ornaments which their race has always loved and in which the kindred races of the southern still delight." [p.9-10, "Ravana: King of Lanka"]

[Note: If you'd like to know what "black collyrium" looks like, it's the same as kohl, used by Eygptians to line the eyes. For a photo of black collyrium (also referred to as "jet-black collyrium," visit: . It is the very blackest pigment around the eyes of the individuals in the photographs.] deeceevoice

Fraser believes that there existed in Lanka, even before the Rakshasas, a culture of Black people. Some scholars believe that Rama had destroyed the culture of Black people in Indian Ocean. [5.63,"Siteyacha Parityag" by Arvind Kumar]
All the Ganas in Raksha culture of Ravana were black and had a black flag....
The people who influenced Ravana were also Black, like (1) the Buddha who showed him way of Nirvana, so was His father Shuddhodana, (2) Alar Kalam, who taught Sankhya to Buddha. (3) Shiva, whose disciple Ravana was, was also Black. Shiva was a Buddha before Gautama, the Buddha [emphasis added]. (4) All relatives of Ravana were Black like Kumbhakrna, Meghnad, Shurpanakha, Mandodari, Tadika, Maricha, Bali, Shambuka Shabari, Subahu were all black.
There was a culture of black people in India and they had importance in Buddhist and Raksha culture. Siva, Charwaka, Buddha, Alar Kalam, Ravana, all considered black as a sign of success [emphasis added].
Rama went to forest for 14 years to destroy the Adivasis. He had preferred killing of Adivasis to the pleasures of king's palace. All those killed in Ramayana war were black Rakshasas and Vanaras, and not a single white Aryan was killed.
Killings were because of black colour
Bali, Matang, Shabari, Maricha, Lawanasaur, Tadka and Thadamai, Shambuk were all Black. All this proves that the struggle depicted in Ramayana was a struggle between White coloured Aryans crusading against the Black Adivasis and in the real sense was a struggle between Blacks and Whites....

These excerpts are from an account of Indian history on the Dalit e-Forum website. For those interested in readnig further, visit:

Okay. I'm done with the documentation of blacks/Africans in India. The excerpts here should give you a glimpse into the violence with which the Persian/Asian/black miscegenated folks of northern India sought to obliterate the black presence in southern India. Fortunately, clear evidence of a powerful, indigenous, pervasive African presence in India remains (though attenuated the further north one travels): in ancient texts, scholarship untainted by white supremacist lies or presumptions, in artifacts and art, in the faces of the Tamil people themselves (and, to a lesser degree, their lighter Hindu "cousins" to the north) -- and in the hearts and minds of a generation of Indians who have begun to seek the truth of their own collective history and culture.deeceevoice 15:59, 28 Oct 2004 (UTC)

I don't know man, but it all sounds really afrocentric to me. Are you talking about sub-saharan africans in India? Wareware 06:59, 29 Oct 2004 (UTC)
There is nothing new about that idea, and there seems to be no warfare among pop-gen types over that issue either. The people in India had to come from someplace, no? The map in Cavalli-Sforza's History and Geography of Human Genes, p. 69, is not the most recent work, but even that work (going back to the 1960s) already had demonstrated a migration path from Africa directly to India. The more recent work discussed a day or two ago on this Talk page indicates that the first wave of migration out of Africa went by a route that stayed close to the shores of the ocean from Africa to India and from there on to the Malay Peninsula and Indonesia and then made a sea jaunt somehow that brought them to Australia. The second wave of migration was the one that populated Central Asia and then forked and sent one arm back into Europe and another arm into the Far East and on to the Americas. Those people who hugged the tropics and sub-tropics would have had no evolutionary reason to shed their dark skin color. Most of us are just more-or-less bleached Africans anyway. 'Twas God's way of telling us Irish people to stay out of low lattitudes and high altitudes that he bleached us. I broke both rules and got skin cancer. ;-) P0M 07:27, 29 Oct 2004 (UTC)

--- @ Wareware: "Afrocentric"? What? As opposed to "Eurocentric"? How about simply "factual"? The photos weren't doctored. And Wells' DNA evidence is irrefutable.

I think you're pushing the date of migration out of africa later than a coupla tens of thousands of years. Sure, we all originated from Africa, but it seems to me that you're suggesting that black africans developed indian civilization. As far as I know the stock from Africa migrated to India (whether they evolved their distinctive Indian morphological characteristics before or after arrival is still subject to debate), and then developed civilization a long time after that. Plus I find the article on black buddhas really perplexing. It reminds me of an article on how the earliest Japanese samurai class was composed of african blacks, written by an afrocentrist. And afrocentrist in this case is not in the context of eurocentric. Rather, it's how some people propose that every great civilization in the world gotta have some influence from ethnic africans. Wareware 08:43, 29 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Wareware, you've got me crackin' up! So, Eurocentrism is somehow NOT invalid, but "Afrocentrism" is? How is one "not in the [same] context [or sense] as the other? LOL And, no. I'm not an Afrocentrist. I'm a student of history. Like I said, the photos are there. And what? Now (white, British) Higgins is an Afrocentrist? What about (white, British) Basil Davidson, who wrote the truth about Timbuktu? Or what about the folks in Tibet and Japan centuries ago, who constructed those black Buddhas with black skin and nappy hair? (Did you click the link? Tell me, what do you make of it?) Or, how 'bout all those white, Afrocentrist historians and documentarians controlling the Discovery Channel? (They did a documentary dealing w/Nubia, too -- and it wasn't about a culture of slaves! AND they had the nerve to show Egyptian pharaohs in their huge Afro wigs, too! Oh, the scandal of it all!) There oughta be a law! LOL Thanks, Wareware. You've made my morning. Aw, damn *hanging head*. Time to get to work. :-Ddeeceevoice 12:39, 29 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Humans moved out of africa around 400,000-250,000 years ago, no matter how you put it there couldn't have been a black buddha or a black samurai class in those places in the ethnic sense. As I said you seem to push the date of human migration to very recently so to include the notion that buddha and indians were black. Tell me, was Confucius also black, because I've also heard that argument before. How about the Black Madonna? Also, I find it very ridiculous to read that some folks in Japan and Tibet were ethnic blacks. And I'm not an eurocentric, as it would be equally asbsurd to claim the above mentioned as caucasians, but you're a classic afrocentrist. Wareware 19:21, 29 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Wrong again, Wareware. And you're as repetitious as your tag. Following the historical evidence and reaching conclusions contrary to Eurocentric lies/myths is not being "Afrocentric." It's called "research." Ever hear of it? I first heard about Gautama Buddha being black many years ago and, of course, had often photos the wooly-haired statues at shrines several times. But I never really gave the comments much thought until this discussion. But, no, I hadn't heard about black Samurai. But it's plausible/possible. Being the first people, it wouldn't surprise me that we've shown up in all kinds of places. It's a generally known fact that aboriginal black populations can be found throughout Asia -- isolated pockets of humanity likely descendants of the earliest migrants to those areas on their trek from Africa outward. I haven't put a date on anything anywhere in my comments, so I have no idea where you got any of that.
Wareware, you never answered my question about what you made of the oldest shrines to Buddha depicting him with nappy hair. But never mind. I will say that one of the interesting things about Wikipedia (and the Internet, in general) is that it leads me -- because I'm curious/interested, intelligent and resourceful -- to all kinds of places and all kinds of information. Cyberspace can be a wonderful tool in the pursuit of knowledge/truth -- if one has a hunger for knowledge and an open mind. You should try it sometime.
Another thing: I happen to believe that human history is an endlessly fascinating phenomenon, full of surprises and twists and turns. Each and every ethnicity on the planet has made its own contributions to the tapestry of human civilization and world culture -- enough to stand on its own record. Mindless appropriation of the achievements (or failures) of others is wholly unnecessary -- not to mention dishonorable/disingenuous. Unfortunately, Europeans long have done so in the name of white supremacist notions and in the service of white political hegemony. When true scholars across ethnicities come to the fore with purportedly carefully resarched and documented facts and new knowledge that challenge the old lies, I listen. As a person whose ancestors (including my Irish great-grandfather) are members of ethnic groups whose members were told they were subhuman, savage, inferior intellectually, depraved and fit only to serve others, when I and the darker members of my "kind" view world history with different eyes, we have come to different conclusions -- because we do not come from acceptance of certain racist, Eurocentric presumptions that have been used to justify our subjugation and oppression. The fact that people of color may question accepted versions of world history more than, perhaps, the average white person should be expected. We would be mad not to. But that does not, ipso facto, mean we are incapable of objective and scholarly discernment or predisposed to self-serving fabrications. The point, after all, is to forge ahead and do precisely the opposite of those who have come before us -- to discover the truth. And let the chips fall where they may. deeceevoice 15:42, 30 Oct 2004 (UTC)
As I've asked, do you really believe that humans migrated out of africa only a few thousands of years ago, still in their african forms, and established civilization elsewhere? Instead they moved out appox. 400K years ago and settled in their respective places and then developed civilization, while being distinctly east asian, european, or indian. I've seen the stuff afrocentrism spews around (or as Karenga puts it, "Afrocentricity") and it just doesn't cut it. Sure, buddha may or may not be ethnic black, but where's the evidence? Where's the concrete proof other than a few statues? Chinese-looking and ancient Semitic-looking statuettes have been unearthed in south america, but does that give concrete proof that they've been there before? In the same vein you must think that Indians must have had very poor imagination that they can't make sculptures of facial features other than their own. And by the same token, the Aztecs often described their ancient gods as white-skinned, red-haired beings, exactly like the Spaniards. But do you think the Spaniards arrived there before the so-called first contact? And I found the comment that as first peoples, blacks are likely to be found anywhere patently ridiculous. Again, you're confusing the date of migration (40K-25K yrs ago) and date of recordable civilization (6K-7K yrs ago). Sure, the Peking Man might have had the morphology similar to a black person, but the first Chinese civilization, most reliably the Xia Dynasty in a couple thousands years BC, is decidely Chinese. And I don't give a crap about Indians being white, because they're neither black nor white, but Indians. I'm just sick and tired of every afrocentrist that says buddha, the Virgin Mary, Confucius, Beethoven, Egyptians, and Indians have to be black. And tell me, do you believe Aristotle was black and that Plato stole Greek philosophy from black people? I'm not european so you can't talk crap about eurocentric about me, you just can't do that with me. But I think you're gonna label me "sinocentric" instead. I'll tell you this, instead of relying on spurius records and books like "Stolen Legacy," why don't you try something like Mary Lefkowitz's "Not Out of Africa - How Afrocentrism Became an Excuse to Teach Myth as History," or do you think it's just too racist simply by reading the book title? Wareware 19:33, 30 Oct 2004 (UTC)
I've provided some convenient web sources already related to the black-Africanness of Buddha, one link written by an indigenous Indian, a Tamil; another, a reference to Higgins, a well-respected white, British historian; another, another Tamil website discussing ancient Indian history. There are other sources on the web, so if that's not sufficient, then I suggest you do your own search. I've actually read "Not out of Africa" (it's in my personal library) and was, in fact, convinced for a time that Nefertiti was not black, but Greek. I've since, however, changed my mind and believe her to have been -- just as the documentarians who put together the documentary on Nefertiti -- black/"Negroid." And as I've said, I've never written anything here or elsewhere about when Africans migrated out of Africa. As to Plato, Aristotle, etc., etc., those are other discussions and, in the framework in which you've posed your question, related to the transfer of knowledge -- not about "racial" designations and, therefore, not, IMO, germane to this discussion. Further, it doesn't matter to me a whit what your ethnicity is. "Eurocentrism," as a fundamental perspective from which one views the world, is not exclusive to Europeans. There are plenty of intellectuals of every color who believe European civilization to be the be all and end all of everything, or see nothing wrong with courses on world literature and world civilization, such as those to which I was subjected while in school, that begin with ancient Greece and conveniently leave out anything and anyone darker than, say, the Chinese. The fact of the matter remains that clear traces of "negroid" aboriginals can be found throughout Africa, Asia, India, Melanesia and points beyond -- along with their contributions to the civilizations/cultures, advanced and otherwise, they've helped build. Like it or not, that's the truth of it. :-p deeceevoice 19:53, 30 Oct 2004 (UTC)

@POM: And, no. There's nothing new about any of this. Always intensely interested in history, I remember asking my 4th grade social studies teacher, "Weren't the ancient Egyptians 'Negroes'?" (the fashionable term then, in the late '50s) -- to which the (white) teacher responded with the conventional wisdom of the time in much the way Guettarda has responded herein. Some nonsense like, "No. That's just the pigment they used in their paintings." (I didn't believe him.) Then two years later, the Aswan dam was brought online, flooding the treasures of ancient Nubia -- and Jr. Scholastic showed pages of full-color photos of towering statues of the obviously black pharoahs at Abu-Simbel. "Mr. Hudson" (who was a racist son-of-a-gun, anyway)must've had a rude awakening. lol I learned about the Africa-India connection about 35 years ago, when I realized some Ceylonese (Sri Lankan/Lanka) schoolmates looked just like "American Negroes." I'm just bringing these things up for the countless many who still believe the Eurocentric historiography, the centuries of lies -- which, despite true scholarship that has been well known in some circles even outside academia for at least a century or more, remain pervasive and persistent. Depictions of not just light-skinned, but white-skinned Egyptians with European features remain the norm on all sorts of TV "documentaries" and cinematic releases, and the only black folks you see are slaves. And, yes, East Indians are still classified as "Caucasian" in defiance of the true -- and clear -- historical record. Certainly, the population of India taken as a whole is more African/black/"Negroid" than Mongoloid and far more black African than Caucasoid. I bring these things up because, IMO, putting "racial" classifications in the context of true human history helps show how absurd they are, how self-serving vis-a-vis "scholars" who were so confident in their ass-umptions about the inherent inferiority of "Negroes," for them there was no way possible the high civilizations of ancient Egypt and India could have been wrought by black hearts, minds and hands. And then, of course, there were many who knew/understood, but just flat-out lied, anyway. And, yes, most of us are, indeed, just "bleached-out Africans." The only ones of us who aren't are dark-skinned Africans!" :-D (By the way, how do I respond to your note, when there's no direct link to your "talk" page on your user page? I'm still a relative newbie and have been too busy/impatient to read the how-to manual.) deeceevoice 08:01, 29 Oct 2004 (UTC)

White Supremacy

And all of this brings me back to my original point (in "Ridiculously False Assumptions") -- that "racial" classification is far more political and economic than scientific. The motivation for white-washing history to make Egyptians non-African, taking Egypt out of Africa and placing it in some middle-Earth, "Middle East" context, and of designating East Indians Caucasoids was strictly about preserving the lies of white supremacy and its corollary, anti-black racism -- the deeply entrenched dogma (shored up by centuries of lies and obfuscation and endless pseudo "scholarship" -- historiography and pseudo-science) of the inherent inferiority of blacks/"Negroes" relative to other "racial" groups. deeceevoice 21:30, 27 Oct 2004 (UTC)

actually, I think somebody wrote that it's some liberals' attempt to erase the notion of race (or human variation, whatever people call it these days) so everyone would appear to be equal. By putting south asians into the same group as caucasians, they're actually reducing racism since it makes indian-paki-bashing unacceptable. There would be less racism if there's no concept of race to make poeple form into ethnic groups. After reading this wiki article I still haven't an idea what to call the difference between different groups of people. Breeds? Wareware 05:10, 28 Oct 2004 (UTC)
For what it's worth, in the 4-group classification scheme (European, African, East Asian, Native American), west, central, and south Asians tend to cluster nearer to the Europeans than East Asians. This is a reflection of population history -- shared common ancestry. --Rikurzhen 05:32, Oct 28, 2004 (UTC)
I would not like "breeds". If I could choose for others I'd maybe have us all say klados (Greek for "branch of a tree or other plant") as that would suggest the idea of "very extended family with all sorts of far-out relatives" that is needed. The problem is that humans are Homo sapiens sapiens, which means that Homo sapiens whatever-else having died out there is only one "subspecies" of humans and we are all in that subspecies. The biologists are aware that it is difficult to make clear subspecies boundaries (check out honeybees, for instance) and therefore they are smart enough not to give themselves additional trouble by subdividing their subspecies. But, without being able to say clearly what the real differences in innate characteristics are, humans insist in subdividing themselves. I've tried and tried to get anyone to tell me what the characteristics of [races] are that are things we wouldn't know from just looking at the guy. I think what people actually respond to most of the time, aside from skin color and other super-ficial traits, are actually learned behaviors that make people from another group seem very different from people in our group. "What is going on with those people?!? They get so close to each other and talk so loud when they are being friendly?" "What is wrong with those guys?!!? They stand ten miles apart from each other and practically whisper and yet they look like they are friends?!?" When a Chinese guy from Canton Province can be mistaken as an Indian by a group of Navahos you've got to wonder about how real any of this stuff is. Take a Shan tribal lady and put her on the streets of NYC and she's "African-American" despite the fact the she and many dozens of her ancestors roamed the area in the northern part of Thailand and thereabout. Why? Because she is just as dark or darker than the average African-American. P0M 10:22, 28 Oct 2004 (UTC)


Re: Ware's comment that putting East Indians into the Caucasian category is somehow "liberals' attempt to erase the notion of race...." East Indians have been categorized as "Caucasians" for a very, very long time -- long before egalitarianism was the fashion. In fact, quite the contrary. The appropriation of ancient black, undeniably advanced civilizations and whitewashing them had a sinister motive -- as I stated, the perpetuation of the myth of white supremacy. Because it was impossible with India to nearly completely whitewash its inhabitants (as many historians have, unfortunately, fairly successfully have been able to do with ancient Egypt), it was sufficient to focus on the largely assimilated Hindu culture (African, Persian and Asian) and claim that India's inhabitants were somehow "Caucasoid" -- a wholly ridiculous assertion. But because East Indians by and large have for centuries wholeheartedly adopted a throughly racist, highly color-conscious approach to the darker elements in their own nation (Gandhi himself had no problem with the caste system), happily accepting the "Caucasian" designation, this fallacy largely has gone unquestioned until fairly recently. British historian and scholar Basil Davidson had it right. Such tortured, distorted "racial" designations strictly were about shoring up notions of white supremacy. I am reminded of the defense's arguments in the Rodney King incident: "Are you going to believe what you see (on videotape), or are you going to believe us?" Unfortunately, Simi Valley style, the common "wisdom" is crap. deeceevoice 09:45, 28 Oct 2004 (UTC)

The problem is that caste system developed long time before anyone told Indians that they are Caucasians Szopen 12:47, 28 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Not a problem at all. The Indian caste system wasn't a result of the Caucasoid designation -- which, indeed, did come later -- but of rampant color bias transmitted by Persian invaders and subsequent centuries of that and other outside influences. The notion of black untouchability is not an indigenous one. In ancient texts, Indians actually gloried in their blackness. It is no accident that Indians become blacker and nappier the further south one goes. Persian incursions came from the north and didn't reach deep into the south, where the Dalit/Tamils -- not surprisingly -- rejected the caste system and, as a result, became outcasts. deeceevoice 13:00, 28 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Assuming the Conclusion in the Premise

I very much appreciate the new addition, Race in biomedicine, but reading it my hackles rise at one point, and that is the unqualified use of the word "race." There must be a better way to write about [race] than to use the word as though it has a real referent. If the New York Times had an article on its front page saying that Senator Joseph Biden had introduced a bill for the imposition of landing fees on flying saucers, it would definitely get some bemused attention because it would strongly imply that both the NYT and Senator Biden believed in the existence of flying saucers. If Senator Biden was actually talking about something that didn't exist but was thought to exist because of the real existence of the planet Venus, the real existence of weather balloons, etc., etc., and he was actually introducing a bill to arrange for payments of fees for services involved in collecting downed weather balloons and the like, then the NYT would had done better to be more careful of its language. P0M

Funny you should mention the NY Times. If you're interested in reading more about the subject, look for an internet cache of a now expired NY Times Magazine story [1] titled "The Genome in Black and White (and Gray)". (Or pick up next month's Nature Reviews Genetics, which is slated to include a lot of discussion of this topic.) When I (or anyone else) get some more time, BiDil would make a good example. --Rikurzhen 18:43, Oct 28, 2004 (UTC)

Having an article on [race] and heading it up with pictures of members of "U.S. Government Inspected" [racial] categories is horrendously inappropriate. P0M

As one recent contributor has pointed out, labeling the third group as "white (Hispanic)" is particularly inappropriate. There is no way of our knowing what the real genetic heritage of either of the individuals pictured in that category may be, but surely their parents were not Ola and Bessie from Olso. The group for which they stand as representatives does not have even a majority of its ancestry coming from Spain, nor does it have a majority of its ancestry from Spain and Germany, nor even does it have a majority of its ancestry from anywhere in Europe. O.k., perhaps I am wrong. I don't have the genetic information of that group sitting on my bookshelf. But should we perpetuate as "fact" the rule-of-thumb category whomped up by the FBI? (What are we going to call people from S. America who predominantly speak Spanish or Portugese, and who don't look much like people with a genetic heritage from Europe? Well, since there is a presumption of there being some of the conquorer's genetic heritage in most of them, and since most of them can operate in Spanish or Portugese, we'll call them "white and Hispanic") I don't think so. If we are going to call them "white (Hispanic)" -- by implication, literally, by folding in the FBI characterization -- we should have statistical proof based on genetic studies. Good luck on getting such proof, and I mean that sarcastically.P0M

What would seem fair to me is a map tesselated by faces of representative inhabitants of those places. That way we could say, "Look, this is really what is out there. People draw lines here, here, here, and here. The people on the left side of that line are called 'white,' and the people on the right side of that line are called 'black,' and then... And if you pulled the lady next to the left side of that line over next to to the right side of that line, nobody could tell the difference." P0M 09:48, 28 Oct 2004 (UTC) ---

Precisely. I agree. I am an African-American. There is NO question of that. Like many African-Americans, my ancestry includes white (Irish) and Native American (Cado and Cherokee) progenitors. There is no question of my ethnic/"racial" identity -- until I speak Spanish, which I learned as a second language (not fluently, but well enough and without a "gringo" accent), or until I am seen with some of my Bangladeshi friends. Most recently, I was traveling alone on a bus, my head covered with a simple, cotton scarf (nothing culture-specific), and a man from Bangladesh approached me, because he thought I was from his homeland. I am CLEARLY and unmistakably African-American in certain contexts -- yet I've been thought to be Egyptian, Ethiopian, Latina, Bangladeshi, East Indian, etc. The article needs to be rewritten (I think it's awful) and, I think, better photos used -- and ANALYZED, not simply presented without comment. Sorry, but the sister looks wupped! Besides, her hair is straightened (kind of), and the brother hasn't any? Where's the natural, nappy hair? Gotta have it if we're talking about "racial" phenotypes. (Besides, since when did law enforcement in the U.S. have a particularly enlightened, intelligent take on "race"/ethnicity, anyway?) Simply astounding. deeceevoice 10:28, 28 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Although I agree with much of what both of you write, I think you miss the point about the photos currently on the article page. They do not illustrate biologically real races, they illustrate how the US government constructs classifications of people. If I recall correctly, whoever originally posted the photos had the Latinos identified as "Hispanic Mestizo." One problem is, "Hispanic" (or "Latino") is not a race -- it refers to a geographic and linguistic group (indeed, that the US census asks people to identify themselves as White, Black, Hispanic, etc. just shows how confused our society's notions of classification are, since the categories are not analytically equivalent but rather mix up "race" with country of origin/home language. Second, I checked the source of the photos (I think the FBI) and saw that these people were identified as White. To repeat: the point is not that the captions are wrong and should be changed, the point is that the captions illustrate how the US government constructs such identities in a way that so obviously shows how constructed they are. I agree completely that we should use other photos -- if you look at my contributions in the original discussion on the mug-shots (above) I think I made my own view very clear. I was the one who most recently restored these photos to the article, but only because I object even more strongly to the computer-generated photos. I think we need two different kinds of photos -- some photos that illustrate not races, but populations (e.g., photos of Africans who belong to different populations and look different; photos of Europeans who belong to different populations and look different, etc.) and photos that illustrate how people in different societies construct "race" differently (e.g., Blacks and Whites from Haiti vs. the Dominical Republic). Slrubenstein

I'm not missing the point. My point -- and that, I think, of others -- is that to present examples of "racial" classifications that have the imprimatur of the U.S. government (or an agency thereof), without subjecting such ridiculously arbitrary classifications to objective scrutiny, is to abdicate the responsibility of examining the notion of "race" as a construct and gives the impression that such classifications are valid. Hell, we might as well use Chris' tongue-in-cheek photos of "Ferengis," "Vulcans" and "Hobbits." There does not appear to be a rigorous examination of the sociological, historical, economic and political forces/motives which have shaped "racial" phenotypes and the subsequent classification of ethnic groups -- which is my whole point in my discussion of the equally silly, but also nefarious, classification of East Indians as "Caucasoid." IMO, without addressing such issues, the article is deeply flawed and potentially tragically misleading. deeceevoice 17:56, 28 Oct 2004 (UTC)
§ I agree. We need a map of faces with [race] boundaries drawn on it, or, better, a bunch of maps with the same faces and different [race] boundaries drawn on it. And we need an explanation for who put these lines there and why. Any other features we could include? Body types would be an obvious factor so maybe we want whole body shots. Anything else? Hair color? Hair texture? The sad thing is that humans hang so damned much baggage on color and maybe one or two other superficial factors. P0M 03:46, 29 Oct 2004 (UTC)

I believe that the article has extensive critique of the concept of race, although I certainly wouldn't object to more. And I agree that if the article uses these photos, it needs to provide a specific account of how these specific racial categories were constructed. But as I said, I would rather there be different photos. Slrubenstein

More on Photos

§ Sam Spade has made his objections to the photographs he deleted somewhat clearer. Among other things he thought they were too small. (Not my fault. He or anyone could have made them larger.) I was aiming at what Slrubenstein asked for just above. The photos have not disappeared from this earth. They are real people and in each case I know with a reasonable degree of certainty where those people and most if not all of their ancestors hail from. What we need, then, is more photos. We would need most particularly "first nation" people of Australia, Tamils, First Nation people in the U.S., Canada, South America, and also Hawaiians, Melanesians... If I can come up with three or four population samples, surely some of the rest of you are cosmopolitan enough to have friends among some of these other groups. All my samples were male, primarily because I took the guys from Malawi, Japan, and China from martial arts classes I have participated in. They should ideally be matched with female humans. I would like to have a photo for each terminus on the new pop-gen map. I'd also like clarification on why it is different from the one immediately preceding it. Some of its paths look like they might be mistaken, and there are none of the very useful YBP dates that the somewhat earlier one had. P0M 03:27, 29 Oct 2004 (UTC)

§ I just archived about 100k of older stuff and this "page" is still over 32k. I may cut some more back after people have absorbed the shock of the major amputation. Don't worry, all earlier contributions have just been moved to enable people with older browsers to have some chance of editing this document. P0M 04:02, 29 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Opening paragraphs

Rik:Based on memory, it seems to me that the opening paragraphs have been changed -- for the worse. If I'm mistaken, then they are nonetheless innaccurate. The paragraph below is especially vague/incorrect. It seems to be mixing the social and biological meanings of race inappropriately.

Based on careful analysis of genetic variation within and among human populations, there is an emerging consensus among biologists that strict racial categories cannot be justified in a biological sense; conversely only a handful of biologists continue to assert that we may usefully divide Homo sapiens into distinct races. Thus, race is best regarded as a non-biological term that often could and should be replaced by the term population. Interestingly, frequencies of some alleles do vary among populations as a consequence of lineage histories; however, variation within populations typically exceeds variation among populations. In recognition of the empirical evidence presented by population geneticists, social scientists are coming to view race as a social construct, and have sought to understand it as such, as explained later in this article.
Whose posting is this? Please sign things. P0M 16:00, 29 Oct 2004 (UTC)
  • Rik: There is no biological evidence that race is not biological. Unless this is a statement that biology cannot substantiate the particulars of the social definitions of race; in which case it's not a very revealing statement.
§This statement assumes the validity of [race], "race" is a word without a consistent definition, so what the above means is up in the air. It isn't even wrong. P0M 16:00, 29 Oct 2004 (UTC)
P0M, you have it exactly correct, but I don't think you understand what I mean -- it's unnecessarily vague. My experience reading up on the race in biomedicine has led me to believe that people have at least two sets of definitions of race, and that much of the misunderstanding on this subject comes from confusing the two. For argument's sake, call the first S-race, the race that is defined by social custom, and thus has a vague and arbitrary meaning. The other race is B-race, the idea of biological sub-groups, which may be defined in a variety of ways, but people agree on a few good ways of doing it, such as genetic clusters, continent of origin, etc. The failures of S-race to have biological meaning as a category has little to do with B-race. S-race fails on its own. This paragraph confuses the two general definitions unnecessarily. We can say different things about the different meanings. --Rikurzhen 16:27, Oct 29, 2004 (UTC)
One more thing... the 2nd paragraph starts by talking about B-race in general. Then this, the 3rd paragraph, shifts abruptly to S-race without any warning. The juxtoposition alone is totally confusing. I think it would be too much to go around adding B's and S's to all the instances of race in the article, but in the 1st paragraph we start out recognizing many definitions and by the 3rd we throw that out the window. --Rikurzhen 17:00, Oct 29, 2004 (UTC)
  • Rik: The among/within genetic variation argument is well recognized as a circular reasoning fallacy.
  • Rik: I'm pretty sure that social scientists figured out that much of the social particulars of "race" are a social construct without the help of population geneticists.

This paragraph conflates the tortured social definitions of race with the different but related idea of races as biological subgroups. These are two separate issues. --Rikurzhen 08:37, Oct 29, 2004 (UTC)

Can anyone explain to me how there tends to be more variation within a population than among populations? Wareware 09:36, 29 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Because the vast majority of our DNA doesn't do anything, and so can vary like crazy, and does. Among markers which have phenotypic effects, however, the intraracial variation is much lower. VeryVerily 09:47, 29 Oct 2004 (UTC)
§ Maybe an semi-made-up example will help. The range of "normal" weights among adult whites goes from 80 or 90 pounds or so to over 300 pounds. I just saw a news item that said that proportionally there are even more obese people in China than in the U.S. Suppose that the average weight of American adults is 190 and the average weight of Chinese adults is 200. If you did a scatter graph of weights and heights of both Americans and Chinese you might find that the areas covered by the two scatter graphs didn't fail to match over very much of the covered areas. But the variation among individuals from short and skinny to tall and obese could be large. P0M 16:00, 29 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Both of you are correct. The argument says there is less between than among variation and thus there is no taxonomic basis for race. The specific fallacy is that the question of whether races have taxonomic meaning depends on whether the smaller but non-zero between group variation has any correlation structure. Do the set of DNA segments that vary between races do so randomly, or is there a pattern such that if you look at multiple segments you can classify groups? The arguments assumes that there is no correlation and then concludes there is no taxonomic basis for race, and thus it is a circular argument. Today it is known as Lewontin's fallacy for the geneticist who first made the mistake. The emprical answer about correlation is pretty well known to be that you can classify people by genetic clusters into major groups. --Rikurzhen 16:36, Oct 29, 2004 (UTC)


Here is my suggestion for a replacement paragraph. --Rikurzhen 01:06, Oct 31, 2004 (UTC)

The analyses of most social scientists conclude that the common social notions of race are social constructs. These defintions of race are derived from custom, vary between cultures, and are described as imprecise and fluid. Often these definitions rely on phenotypic characteristics or inferred ancestry. The analysis of human genetic variation also provides insight into human population history and structure. The recent spread of humans from Africa has created a situation where the majority of human genetic variation is found within each human population. However, as a result of physical and cultural isolation of human groups, a significant subset of genetic variation is found between human groups. This variation is highly structured and therefore useful for distingushing groups and placing individual into groups. Admixture and clinal variation between groups can be confounding to this kind of analysis of human variation. The relationship between social and genetic definitions of race is complex. Phenotypic racial classifications do not necessarily correspond with genotypical groups; some more than others. To the extent that ancestry corresponds to social definitions of race, groups identified by genetics will also correspond with these notions. Whether human population structure warrants the distinction of human 'races' is a matter of debate, with majority opinions varying between disciplines. Some biologists prefer the term population to race. Similar reasoning has lead some to describe races as (inbred) extended families.

Most recent common ancestor min. thousand years ago

That is ridiculous, the minimum is far too young. Andries 15:48, 29 Oct 2004 (UTC)

§ Sounds wrong, but I don't know what passage you are referring to. P0M 16:00, 29 Oct 2004 (UTC)
POM read this. Thanks for your quick response. May be I misunderstand something.
``In fact, enough such gene flow has occurred throughout human history that the most recent common ancestor of all humans alive today has been estimated as living as recently as 1,000 to 5,000 years ago, although this does not necessarily constitute significant gene flow. ´´
Andries 15:55, 29 Oct 2004 (UTC)
this must be a christian-creationist "calculation". See Human migration and Image:Human mtDNA migration.png. I understand the point about gene flow, and maybe within 100 years the most recent common ancestor (mrca) of all humans alive *then* will have lived 500 years ago... It is inconceivable, however, for today where there are still virtually undisturbed aboriginal populations. It must be understood that the age of the mrca increases in a phase of expansion, and it decreases when the species moves towards extinction. For the last human alive, the mrca will be he himself (or she herself) dab 16:27, 29 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Yeah, the model is spoiled if there are any older isolated aboriginal populations. --Rikurzhen 17:42, Oct 29, 2004 (UTC)
Well it assumes there are lots of "throttles" but none that completely isolate, which may or may not be true. The 1,000 lower bound, however, is ridiculous; that was based on their most naive model, which they fully concede is of little reliability. VeryVerily 23:45, 30 Oct 2004 (UTC)

This calculation comes from a very recent Nature paper -- see the see also section. It is based on a mathematical model of human migrations, etc. I argued with the poster that it was too soon to put that in because no time had passed for other researchers to refute the model, but he persisted. The result is surprising, but at the moment we don't have solid reasons to argue against it other than the criticisms that were published with the paper. Those criticisms are quite technical, so they would be hard to articulate in the article. --Rikurzhen 16:56, Oct 29, 2004 (UTC)

But how can anyone seriously believe that the mrca lived min 1000 years ago. I think the article need a factual accuracy warning. Andries 15:55, 29 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Agreed; see my comment above. VeryVerily 23:51, 30 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Maybe. Here's the reference. --Rikurzhen 17:40, Oct 29, 2004 (UTC)

There's a discusion of the paper here. --Rikurzhen 17:50, Oct 29, 2004 (UTC)

I put in an external link to the Nature paper right after the sentence, for the very purpose of avoiding confusion. What the hell happened to it? VeryVerily 23:41, 30 Oct 2004 (UTC)
How about this? --Rikurzhen 00:10, Oct 31, 2004 (UTC)
In fact, enough such gene flow has occurred throughout human history that the most recent common ancestor of all humans alive today has been estimated as living as recently as 3,500 years ago [2], although this does not necessarily constitute significant gene flow.
§ I think this is the answer to the question I asked about a year (?) ago -- how long would it take for an advantageous mutation to spread throughout the whole world. The article quoted would seem to be saying that each one of us shares some of the genetic contribution from somebody who lived 3500 years ago. In order for that idea to make sense one must keep in mind that a single individual can inherit genetic material from all four grandparents. The reason is that although one chromosome in a pair comes from one parent and the other chromosome comes from the other parent, the two chromosomes can twist together and swap "tails." The result is that each of the two chromosomes used in reproduction can contain genetic material from both parents. P0M 00:38, 31 Oct 2004 (UTC)
The question of gene history is a little more complicated than human ancestry. Recombination is finite, and DNA bases are discrete, so some of us probably did not inherit any genes directly from that common ancestor. From my understanding of it, each of our genes will have it's own ancestry tree. There is some discussion of this here. --Rikurzhen 01:00, Oct 31, 2004 (UTC)
§ Then how could that individual be called a "common" ancestor? P0M 05:51, 31 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Yeah, mrca is sort of a misleading idea. We all share him as an ancestor: he's a great*n-grandfather to everyone. But because of 1/2^n dillution and the limited number of recombiations per chromosome, each of us didn't necessarily get a copy of DNA from him -- although we coincidently will likely share 99.9% sequence similarity with him as we do with all contempoary humans. I didn't even realize how weird this was until I read the paper. Here's a quotation on the topic: --Rikurzhen 06:30, Oct 31, 2004 (UTC)
The fact that the number of ancestors in a pedigree increases exponentially, whereas the number of genetic ancestors increases much more slowly, has the consequence that not many generations ago (about six), members of our pedigree existed that did not contribute to us genetically. So being somebody's great-great-great-great grandparent is no guarantee of genetic relatedness.
Obviously (now that I think about it), if you have received some genetic components from each of your four grandparents then there are some genetic components from each of them that you have not received. P0M 17:30, 31 Oct 2004 (UTC)
obviously. but the most recent ancestor of whom you have no genes left is more than six generations removed. if you take the HGP estimate of 20.000 genes, it would be some 14 generations. (if you take the individual nucleotids, you get 22 generations; the actual number will somewhere in between, I guess). But note that from most, if not all of your 14-generations-removed ancestors, you will be descended by several paths. Otherwise, some 30 generations ago, the number of your ancestors alive at that time would exceed the actual world population! Therefore, the most recent ancestor of whom you have inherited nothing may be many millennia removed! The nature paper makes for an interesting thought experiment, helping clear up the concepts of mrca/'universal ancestor', 'identical ancestor', but the times calculated can not be taken seriously at all. The conditions of early migration are not nearly known well enough to allow the formulation of a realistic model. The only thing that will give us reliable numbers is the examination of actual genes of actual people. We already have a clear picture of mitochondrial Eve, Y-chromosomal Adam, and since 'Adam' is younger than 'Eve', Eve's age of ca 150.000 years is a good measure of the 'relatedness' of present day humanity. dab 13:13, 3 Nov 2004 (UTC)
§ This material is all very interesting, and it is exactly the kind of information that I was trying to get a line on about a year ago -- It makes much clearer how alleles of genes spread out and get shared. Now the question is how this information can be presented to the average well-informed reader in a way that s/he can most easily grasp the consequences. P0M 16:40, 3 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Nature Genetics Race Issue

Nature Genetics has published a full issue on race [3]. There are about a dozen articles on various topics. I hope that at least the abstracts are freely available. --Rikurzhen 18:50, Nov 1, 2004 (UTC)

skin color map

I think I remember that someone wanted to map of human skin color variation. I found one that we should be able to use. --Rikurzhen 23:13, Nov 8, 2004 (UTC)

very neat. it should have a date, though: Is it present-day distribution, or pre-colonial ('white America' suggests the former; it would be cool to have a pre-columbian map to campare it to.) besides, I am certainly not arguing that the Mercator projection is 'colonial POV', but since it has been accused of that, it would be a very good idea to use a different projection, for this particular subject matter, ideally a true-to-area one (because dark areas are close to the equator and are thus severely underrepresented in this projection). Yeah, I know it's not easy to just change the projection. dab 08:06, 9 Nov 2004 (UTC) Found out that it's pre-1940 indigenous population. Adding a legend. dab 19:12, 9 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Are human races biological, objective entities?

Have you ever wondered why SW Asians and North Africans are classified as Caucasoid? Also why are blacks restricted only to sub-Saharan Africa? Why in the last time i checked there were some 500 races?

Here is the real definition of race from britannica 2002 print set:

"Cultural concept based on the popular but mistaken notion that human beings can be divided into biologically distinct categories by means of particular physical features such as skin color, head shape, and other visible traits that are transmissible by descent. Genetic studies undertaken in the last decades of the 20th century confirm that "races" do not exist in any biological sense. See Racism."

I agree with britannica. We know that humans share 99.9% of all genes, except 0.1%. First of all, it should be noted that 0.1% is for the genes that ARE SPECIFIC TO HUMANS. All human biodiversity takes part in this 0.1% so it's a very small part of our genetic makeup.

Secondly, almost every gene one can find among one group of humans, one can find in a wildly differing group of humans. The handful of exceptions are found among biological groups too small to be considered as races in any way, shape or form. -- Orionix

Please sign your entries (you can do so by entering four tildes). Otherwise discussions become too crazy too quickly.
This article has been exceptionally controversial, and it is very difficult to find a compromise that will stick. For a responsible and generally level-headed view of the debates you might scan archived materials paying particular attention to the attempts of Slrubenstein to keep us on track. There is one strain (and I'm with you) that says that race is a fairy story. There is another strain that says that there are extended families of human beings -- geographically semi-isolated groups that have relatively few breeding inputs from abroad and mostly breeding inputs from nearby neighbors -- and that there are enough commonalities among members of these extended families to make them interesting. Then there are those who say that race is a reality because you can find genetic markers that indicate what we already knew, e.g., that the people who are adapted to the area around Malawi, for instance, are coal black. Unfortunately, even the NYT science writer has contributed as a member of that chorus. (I wrote to him and the Stanford professor he quoted, and neither one of them responded.)
What I think makes the most sense is to admit that [race] (I mark it this way to indicate that it is a concept that has not been successfully grounded, i.e., that it is about as substantial as "flying saucer people" or "witch".) is something people are interested in, and then to look at what it is in the real world they are trying to attach these ideas to. I have challenged people over and over again to tell me what are the differences between, e.g., Swedes and Australian aborigines, that I can't tell you just by looking at them, and the faint answer I get back is that some disease conditions are more prevalent in one group than in the other. And, to be honest, I'd have to admit that some people claim that there are intelligence differences. (Check out that article. I think it is much more questionable than this article.) Regardless, the differences among populations do not meet even the standard for subspecies. If you actually look at what are regarded as subspecies of honeybees you will find that in the area radiating out from somewhere around Turkey the "subspecies" are not at all clearly bounded and any colony of bees might be classified two ways by two researchers.
Rather than just saying that [race] is a fairy tale, it is probably better to make a map that shows the variations among individuals, point out that we arbitrarily draw lines here, here, and here (and that other people draw them other places), and that any individual standing near any boundary line could be moved to the other side of the line without anybody being the wiser.
Welcome to the fray. Please sign your postings. P0M 17:07, 19 Nov 2004 (UTC)
whether or not race is real is of course a matter of definition. race as a concept in everyday use is very real indeed and refers to precisely such things as skin colour etc.; the 99.9% genetic identity argument is a red herring. we have 98% identical genes with the chimps, who are a different species. In fact, variation among human genomes amounts to ca. 5% of the variation between humans and chimps. That still makes us all members of homo sapiens sapiens (i.e. not just the same species, but even the same subspecies), but a difference between races of ca. 1/20th of a difference between species seems real enough to me. These numbers mean that the distance to our most distant human relative (ca. 200.000 years) is about 20 times smaller than the distance to our closest non-human relative (4My, ok maybe also 8My, but the order of magnitude is about right). dab 17:22, 19 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Dbachman, the purpose of talk pages is to improve the article. Unless you can specify where in the article you think there is a need for improvement, please restrain yourself -- this is not a listserve or blog. The points you make are ones that are already in the talk page archives, having been made countless times before. The current article draft incorporates these views. If you are not satisfied and can see a specific place that needs to be changed, by all means suggest it or go ahead and make the change. Otherwise -- what is your point? Slrubenstein

replied to user's Talkpage (to avoid clutter here) dab 18:03, 19 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I think Slrubenstein's comments were/should have been directed at Orionix's edits. See below. --Rikurzhen 20:31, Nov 19, 2004 (UTC)

Orionix's new intro

Cultural concept based on the popular but mistaken notion that human beings can be divided into biologically distinct categories by means of particular physical features such as skin color, head shape, and other visible traits that are transmissible by descent. Genetic studies undertaken in the last decades of the 20th century confirm that "races" do not exist in any biological sense.[4][5]

User Orionix wants to add this text to the top of the article (actually he/she wanted to replace the intro with it at first). I believe it is (1) POV and (2) factually incorrect/misleading. I suggest that the existing intro already contains this idea but is presented in a more NPOV fashion. If this POV isn't adaquately represented in the article, then I suggest additional but NPOV-framed material on it. --Rikurzhen 20:22, Nov 19, 2004 (UTC)

Let me clarify, because I have actually misspoken here. The problem isn't that the addition expresses a particular POV, but that it isn't phrased in a NPOV manner. That is, the POV is presented as the only objective POV. Instead, it needs to be clear who believes what and that other POVs exist. I personally think that the current intro covers the major POVs, including the one Orionix is expressing. If it doesn't, then more work should be done... but I strongly suspect that work will involve refinement and subtlety, not short blanket statements. --Rikurzhen 03:48, Nov 20, 2004 (UTC)

Why do you think it's incorrect?

I think this article actually makes race dabatable. Today we know that race is a largely discredited classification system in science. Genetics have shown that race (Caucasoid, Mongoloid and Negroid) as used in early Anthropology is not definied in the biological sense. --Orionix 23:50, 19 Nov 2004 (UTC)

This is one view that is very widely held. I believe that the article makes it clear that this is one view that is very widely held. Believe it or not, others do hold other views. I think your issue with Rikurzhen is really about our NPOV policy, Slrubenstein

It's true. Many people think otherwise. However i believe that the purpose of any encyclopedia is to represent the most widely held opinions (by experts) to the public. --Orionix 23:50, 19 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Consider this segment from the intro. I've clipped it here to emphasize that there is evidence contrary to your POV. I wrote it, and I believe it represents the current opinion of geneticists ... if you add back the qualifiers I removed. --Rikurzhen 04:04, Nov 20, 2004 (UTC)
as a result of physical and cultural isolation of human groups, a significant subset of genetic variation is found between human groups. This variation is highly structured and therefore useful for distinguishing groups and placing individual into groups ... To the extent that ancestry corresponds to social definitions of race, groups identified by genetics will also correspond with these notions
So? That is what you think. But if you plan on working at Wikipedia you will have to adhere to our NPOV policy. Otherwise, people will continue to revert your work. Slrubenstein

Race is a problematic issue since many people believe in race, disregarding its scientific validity. However a racist is a person who believes that humanity is really devided into biological, objective entities -- Orionix 01:06, 20 Nov 2004 (UTC)

§ 0. (This point actually was written after points 1, 2... because Orionix beat me to the draw edit. I don't think that last remark was justified. There is no point in starting to imply that people who are not accepting your ideas are racists. P0M 01:31, 20 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I know that many people believe in race. I personally don't. I think race is in the eye of the beholder, not engraved in mother nature. As i understood the point behind NPOV makes it so that all people would agree with the arcticle.

§ Why do you define race one way and then indicate that people who accept the idea that "humanity is divided into biological, objective entities" are racists? That is very inflammatory language, and it is uncalled for if you aimed it at Slrubenstein as the context you placed your remark in would seem to suggest.
§ 1. One problem with the added paragraph is that it is ungrammatical. It lacks a subject and a verb.

It is taken from britannica 2002 print set. I think the paragraph is very grammatical. --Orionix 03:00, 20 Nov 2004 (UTC)

§ What you have starts out with: "Cultural concept based on the..." If that were: "Race is a cultural concept based on the..." then it would be a grammatically correct sentence. You can't just make a sentence out of something like: "The largest state in the continental U.S."
Let's just quash this line of argument by saying that it is incorrect for Wikipedia style. That is, Wikipedia uses normal paragraph style, in which the first sentence should be complete. Britannica might use a different style, in which the above would be correct. - Nat Krause 09:30, 20 Nov 2004 (UTC)
§ 2. A second problem is the flat assertion that it is a "cultural concept". I don't know what the average well-informed reader will understand by this phrase, but I know for sure that I don't know what it is supposed to mean. Lest anybody misunderstand, I am not downing my own intelligence, I am asserting the view that the phrase is vague to the point of uselessness. And even if the assertion turns out to be true under some interpretation for some people, it is not in any way obvious that it is true for all people. Another way to say that would be to question whether the word "race" means the same thing for all people.

Ok, i will try to explain. The point by this phrase is that races actually exist but they aren't biological realities, they are social or cultural realities, a conduct of human history and culture. Probably the word "race" doesn't mean the same for all people but in the old mythology it was in reference to sub-species within the human species. --Orionix 03:00, 20 Nov 2004 (UTC)

§ I think you mean "a construct growing out of human history and culture." If you change your sentence slightly it would be a little tighter: "Races actually exist in a sense, but they aren't biological realities, they are social constructs." I would agree with that statement, and I think that is what the article says.
§ 3.The next problem lies in the assertion that this [cultural concept] is "based on the popular but mistaken notion...". This assertion seems plausible, but it assumes a factual basis in some kind of careful opinion survey. Does this evidence really exist? And in saying that it is a "mistaken notion" we announce a conclusion that we are then obligated to prove.

One can never prove a negative. Thus one can never prove the non-existence of race in the same way that one can't prove the non-existence of God. In science, we go by the best theory as proven by rigorous research. In the field of physical anthropology, regarding human race, the best, most well supported theory is that race is a social construct, not a physical one.

§ What you say does not correspond to the way science works. That's one problem with what you say. The second problem is that what you assert is irrelevant to what I said. I asked for an opinion survey that deals with the otherwise unsubstantiated opinion (yours) that says "most people have this mistaken notion," and you try to involve us in an irrelevant debate about what science says. If you actually make a good survey you will get a statistically significant sample of the general population, and you will count how many people's testimony supports your assertion and how many people have some other idea about it. That will give you some objective evidence. Right now you have no evidence about what what the "popular notion" is.

When one thinks of the huge expenditures that have gone into the scientific search for human race over the last century and a half, it's actually purely remarkable that what was once the alternative theory - that race doesn't exist - has today become as proven as anything ever is in the sciences. In fact, the theory that race is a social and not physical phenomenon gets most of its proof precisely FROM the long line of racist inspired research that has been able to turn up nothing at all. --Orionix 03:00, 20 Nov 2004 (UTC)

§ You say, "You can never prove a negative." That is true if you mean that you can never prove a statement like, "No swans are red." Just because you've already examined a few million swans and have never found a red one, there is no guarantee that the next one you find will not be red. Now you say, "Examine every group of humans and you will never find one that fits the criteria determined for races." For all I know, the Yetis may be either a race or even a subspecies of Homo sapiens. I'll let you know when I finally catch one. Even though I'm a betting man, I won't bet you that I'll even find a Yeti. On the other hand, I won't bet you very much money that somebody won't find a Yeti -- how long would I have to wait for my money?
§ To be a little more sober, and hopefully a little more helpful, let's look at what we would need to do to even know in one case whether Mr. Y and Ms. X are members of different races. First, we would have to have a single, agreed upon, mutually acceptable, definition of what a race is. Then we would have to examine these two individuals. If they fit the definition, then we would know that there are different races. If they didn't fit the definition, then pretty soon somebody would bring along two other individuals for examination. As was pointed out above, we would never know that the next individual tested would not be the one to belong to a second race. But we would get more and more confident that members of the second race must be as scarce as or more scarce than hen's teeth. Sound reasonable?
§ The real problem comes with the definition of race. That's the problem that has bedeviled this discussion as long as I've been involved in it. Tannin wanted to say that "race" means "subspecies." If that's the true definition of "race", then there would not be much argument about whether there are races of human beings since nobody seems inclined to argue that there are extant subspecies of human beings. Other people have argued that "race" means groups that are grouped by language, religion... all sorts of non-biological characteristics. I suppose that means that I have changed my race at least once, if they have the "correct" definition of race. Still other people argue that it makes sense to divide humans on a genetic basis that is less exclusive (fuzzier) than the division called subspecies.
§ The real problem is that there is no end to contending definitions of race. That means that the only coherent and persuasive way to handle this discussion is to say, with maps and scatter-charts and whatever else might be helpful, here is what people are looking at when they reach out with the creative powers of their minds and sort these billions of individuals into groups they call races. And here are some samples of ways that humans have categorized themselves. Now observe that regardless of where you draw the lines between putative groups you will find people on one side of the line who could be moved to the other side of the line with nobody being the wiser. Also observe that one account of race divides this continent into three races and another account divides it into five races, and by one account some people are in the same group that are in different groups by the other account.

§ 4. Here is the notion that we have to disprove: "human beings can be divided into biologically distinct categories by means of particular physical features such as skin color, head shape, and other visible traits that are transmissible by descent".

The races we construct are arbitrary. For example why are blacks limited only to sub-Saharan Africa? Why are North Africans classified as white? Many of them have dark skin and curly hair.

§ Exactly my point. "Blacks", by one system of catagorization, can include some Africans, some residents of southern India, Shan tribesmen from the Golden Triangle, Australian aborigines...

The biological variations between humans are clinal or happen to follow geographic patterns.

§ That's my point, given immediately below.

§ The kicker in this case is the undefined term "biologically distinct." How distinct is distinct? Species are defined by the fact that cross-species breedings produce, at best, progeny that cannot in turn reproduce themselves. Subspecies are defined by less rigorous distinctions, and at least the resident Wikipedia spider expert guy finds them problematical. A major criterion is that there be sufficiently great barriers of one kind or another so that consequently the subspecies hardly ever interbreed. The next questions are whether there are less rigorous subcategories that are yet useful, and whether, if there are, those subcategories correspond to what some people call "races."

Clines, populations or ethnic groups are valid categories. Clines and races are mutually exclussive of course. --Orionix 03:00, 20 Nov 2004 (UTC)

§ As far as I know, "cline" is not a word. It is a root, found in words like "recline," "decline," etc. and it derives from the Latin word clinare that means "to lean". So it's the idea of a slope. If you could associate a group of people by "cline", that would be as near a continuum of individuals as possible that are sorted according to the variation of some single characteristic. For instance, a "shade cline" would include individuals from the whitest of far northern Europeans shading on down to the Africans whose irises are so black that you can't distinguish their pupils.
§ Anyway, are you suggesting populations and ethnic groups as "less rigorous subcategories that some people call races"? Otherwise, I don't get your point.
§ Can human being not be divided into useful categories by means of skin color? Look at the skin color map. It is both clear that there is no sharp boundary line anywhere (and in fact drawing isocline lines on the map creates a false impression), and that given a lattitude and a longitude one could easily predict the average skin shade to be found at that point. It should also be easy to learn how to predict the lightest and darkest skin colors present in statistically meaningful numbers at that point on the map. From a pragmatic standpoint, this grouping of people has utility. For one thing, it gives a way of predicting the incidence of skin cancer at a given rate of incident UV radiation.
§ In short, Irish guys whose skin pigment is so sparse that you can see their blood through their skin will be much more likely to get skin cancer in Malawi than will the average citizen of that country. Would the average person who makes judgements about who fits into what race put all people who are in the darkest regions of that map into the [black race]? If they did and if all they made of that [racial] assignment was that those people would be the least likely to suffer skin cancer at a given rate of UV radiation, would they be wrong?

Given an A PRIORI definition of what human race consists of, then sure enough, we can measure a certain trait (like skin color) and create a genetic division of humanity accordingly. Skin color changes geographically, not racially. Also no one has the same amount of skin pigmentation. --Orionix 03:04, 20 Nov 2004 (UTC)

§ You can't very well use "race" as you have in the above paragraph unless you accept some definition of it. Have you ever stated a definition? You say that skin color changes geographically. Do you imply that it does not change because of genetic characteristics? People moved from a place where and a time when they needed heavy pigmentation to survive. They moved to some places where their original characteristics were still quite adaptive, e.g., Ceylon. They moved to other places where they couldn't survive well during wintertime if they were heavily pigmented, and by that time they had clothing that protected them from the heavy UV of the summer as well as from the cold of the winter. So that population evolved to people who have very little pigmentation. Those color traits are influenced by geography, but not absolutely determined by geography because you can find places where the isometric color line runs north and south. On one side are darker people and on the other side are lighter people. The reason for the difference in colors is not geography but migration. Anyway, on the basis of some arbitrary scale of skin shades we could divide people into groups. The fact that some people would be right on the line wouldn't matter since there is in this case no assertion that these are discrete groups. There would be a division into groups, and it would be by a biological (genetically determined) characteristic, and it would be useful.
§ The major problem with categorization by [race], of course, is that people make assumptions on the basis of one "marker" characteristic about other characteristics for which they have no real evidence. Even medical judgments regarding the likelihood of a member of one [race] suffering some disease can be problematical when the doctor goes from the observation of some marker characteristic to the assumption that the individual is genetically similar enough to some known group to be statistically likely to have some genetic predisposition to a disease, or, for the same reason, that s/he is so unlikely to have the disease that there is no need to screen for it. Being Nigerian from a long line of Nigerians doesn't mean that you can't have skin cancer. P0M 01:27, 20 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Yes exactly. Race is actually the distribution of numerous physical traits that people perceive as being the most important, like skin color, hair form, etc. Such traits are geographically patterned more or less the way popular western prejudice holds them to be. --Orionix 03:00, 20 Nov 2004 (UTC)

§ Now you are the one who is treating [race] like a reality. [Race] assignments are actually a bewildering aggregation of competing standards for categorizing human beings. [Race] doesn't correspond to anything "out there," it consists of the lines that different people draw on their maps.
§ What a useful article on [race] needs to do is first to depict what is really out there, clinal variations of many characteristics that do not ever (as far as I can determine) exactly overlap on the map. (Skin color isometric lines do not correspond to hair texture isometric lines, etc., etc.) Then that useful article needs to demonstrate diversity of characteristics to people who have never seen, e.g., white people enculturated as Chinese, and do not realize that the naive ideas they have about [racial] groups do not correspond to what is out there. Language and "what everybody knows" tells people that there are brown skinned people with "slanty" eyes in China, Japan, Korea, etc., and red skinned people in the Americas who have tall cheek bones and hatchet noses, and black skinned people with kinky hair in Africa, and Aryans in Europe and maybe in India (but they start getting confused because of those Indian movies), and that's it. If they ever saw somebody from the Khirgiz Steppe, or a member of some Turkic group from Central ASia, they wouldn't know what to do. They need to be presented with the information to facilitate their own realization that their ideas are wrong, not just an "authoritative" statement that tells them they are wrong. They need to see the same symbolic representation (map or scatter-chart or whatever) with their idea of races drawn in, but also with competing systems of [racial] division also sketched in. The natural question then becomes, what justifies the presence of a line here and not there?
§ There are a few people who have contributed to editing this article who seem to me to believe in the reality of [race], i.e., whose opinions are in direct opposition to yours. Rikurzhen seems to me to be the strongest advocate for a position that says that there are genetic commonalities among certain groups that are useful enough to deserve some kind of name. I would want to call such a group a klados (from the Greek word for branch), rather than race just to ditch all the claptrap that goes along with those words. Slrubenstein probably is the most catholic (in the non-religious sense of the word) participant, and wants to represent all ideas about what race is. Peak has argued strongly against accepting anything that suggests what some might call "scientific racism" (i.e., race ideas disguised in the language of science). I think, Orionix, that you are talking to those who believe in a naive view of [race] ("I know a member of another race when I see one.") P0M 07:12, 20 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Hi SLR, POM and Peak. You (and Rikhurzen) have been doing a great job on this article. I decided to bow out of the ongoing editing a while back so I could apply my limited energy elsewhere. Glad to see you pounced on Orionix's bald declarations so quickly and decisively. JDG 08:56, 21 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Human tree

in reply to 'is race biologically real?' (and if so, what is it?) above, I drew a new 'tree' image to replace Image:Human-nj-tree.png:

  • numbers on the lower border are genetic difference (0.1%.....2%), numbeers on the upper border are the approximately corresponding age of phylogenetice separation (present............>4.000.000 years ago)
  • the "gaps" of the former image are avoided, allowing quantitative comparison of the concepts of
    • genera
    • species
    • subspecies
    • "races"
  • the vertical dimension has again no meaning, but I avoided the annoying custom of placing the Africans next to the Chimps.

I suggest that the lengthy caption of Human-nj-tree.png is worked into a paragraph of its own explaining this image. dab 11:27, 20 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Looks good, I changed human mrca to first humans b/c of the recent Nature paper suggesting a recent mrca b/c of gene flow between human populations. --Rikurzhen 18:35, Nov 20, 2004 (UTC)

Alternative to mugshots?

There hasn't been any movement on my suggestion to replace the mugshots with computer generated faces. Would the skin color map make a suitable replacement? --Rikurzhen 18:53, Nov 20, 2004 (UTC)

§ I would definitely be in favor of that change. The effect of the mug shots is to hypostatize the idea of [race] into "realities" typified by some rather unattractive specimens. I'd like to download the image to my Macintosh and use some software I have to improve the colors. Depending on which kind of computer you use, and maybe depending on what browser you use, you can get different degrees of clarity and attractiveness. P0M 19:25, 20 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I like the skin color map. I still like the UN picture of the kids around the globe, too, Slrubenstein

Maybe someone should double check the original page [6] and [7] to make certain this image is either pubilc domain or fair use. It isn't clear to me. --Rikurzhen 19:33, Nov 20, 2004 (UTC)

I am totally opposed to computer generated faces (what, 6 billion people are not good enough, we need to show artifiially generated races? that would indeed make the concept seem entirely abstract) dab 11:23, 21 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Migrations map

§ It would be great if we could key attractive images to a map, e.g., the migration map. What happened to that map, by the way. The previous one had dates of arrival at various destinations that made it very useful. The newer image is more attractive in some ways, but the paths seem not to have been drawn with sufficient accuracy. P0M 19:38, 20 Nov 2004 (UTC)

The article on human migration has a map with more accurate routes and dates. --Rikurzhen 23:13, Nov 20, 2004 (UTC)
I replaced the unlabeled map with the one from human migration. Whomever has the original images might want to update the numbers for Europe-North America in light of the latest reports about earlier migrations. --Rikurzhen 23:20, Nov 20, 2004 (UTC)
no. the dates are based on mitochondrial genetics. the recent reports were archaeological. we do not want to mix the two. dab 11:29, 21 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Re-do of map showing skin shades

§ I've improved the gamma and the coloring of the skin color map. I'm not sure what fiddling with it this much does to make it a "new" work of art, but it is at least as fair to use it as it was to use the original. I hope it looks as much better on Windows computers as it does on my Mac. Now you can see the lighter skin tones as something other than white. I see that I missed one spot. More improvements later if it looks to other like it may be worth it. P0M 09:43, 21 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Skin shade map.png

It's hard to see the difference between 12-26 with Windows. Does this .png image work better on Mac? --Rikurzhen 10:27, Nov 21, 2004 (UTC)

Not at all, unfortunately.
Does it help to have a blue background? Rikurzhen
File:Map of skin color distribut.png
Global human skin color distribution for native populations collected by Renato Biasutti prior to 1940. Water is colored blue. Regions without data are colored red.

I'm sorry, but you made a mess of the image :-\ you would just need to adjust the rgb curves. Instead it looks like you used area-fill. the baltic sea is brown now, and the areas are all fuzzy now. Anyway, I suggest somebody takes a Plate Carrée Projection map and manually copies the coloured areas to adress my "projection concerns" above, as well as concerns of copyvio. dab 11:27, 21 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I agree that we need to change the projection. Manually copying the colored areas will not be a simple thing to do, so I thought it would be worthwhile to experiment with the colors first. The image in its original for was "indexed", which is something I had not experimented with before. I can try your suggestion to see whether we could come up with a better solution, or, if you have an easy way to fiddle with the RGB curves you might try that. To do the curves right would require some way of identifying latitude and longitude figures on the Mercator projection and then plotting them on the other projection and finally drawing short straight lines between them. One could do that manually, but even an approximation would not be easy. Maybe there is morphing software that could take the original map and morph it into a better projection? P0M 19:03, 21 Nov 2004 (UTC)
  • rgb curves: you just need to convert the image to rgb first, e.g. with the image->mode->rgb option on the gimp.
change projection: I would just manually try to reproduce the "iso-chromes" on the continents. the map does not have a fine resolution anyway.
dab 19:17, 21 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Is the point of the projection change to properly scale land areas? If so, is Greenland the biggest problem? I ask because Greenland is not in the dataset. Some of the white colored areas like Greenland and Arctic Canada are empty not "1-12." We could even cut off the top of the map if that would be easier than morphing the projection. Rikurzhen

yes, we'd ideally want a true-to-area projection. we can cut off greenland, but this will mean we will also cut off northern siberia, which is not "empty". I'd rather have a decent projection of the entire globe, and the "empty" space in some separate colour (but not screaming red, please ;) dab 21:29, 21 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I've updated the image to be a closer approximation of equal area, until someone does a true transformation. --Rikurzhen 23:09, Nov 21, 2004 (UTC)
While you were doing that I was fixing the colors on my Macintosh. I think I have a version now that lets people see the several areas regardless of which platform them are on. It has been difficult to get the light shades to show up without turning the next to the darkest into something that looks as black as the black areas unless there is a black next to it to contrast with. The image I just posted needs a little work. I would retype the captions. But if you could take that image and morph it the way you did the other one, that would look really great and we could use it to replace those poster children for crime. Actually, I shouldn't say that. One of the problems is that we know the FBI was after them. We don't know whether they were convicted. P0M 23:48, 21 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I notice that your colors are hard to differentiate. For instance Canada looks like it is filled with northern Europeans. On my IBM the first two colors look the same to me.
I have to take that back. There is actually a kind of optical illusion going on in my mind. It depends on what I have been looking at before I try to look at N. America. on your map. More color contrast would still be better. I haven't gone back to see what your new map looks like on my Mac, but with the two lightest shades that close I'm pretty sure they would look entirely the same on the Mac. Probably if we had all started with "Internet-safe" colors we wouldn't be having this problem. P0M 00:06, 22 Nov 2004 (UTC)

P0M 23:54, 21 Nov 2004 (UTC)

What I'll try to do is copy your colors into my transformed map ... the transformation was pretty hard to accomplish the first time. Rikurzhen
It's unfortunate that the web safe colors don't mimic human skin tones very well. Rikurzhen

§ If it's hard for you to re-do your map then maybe I can take that map and put it through my wringer. But your map seems to have lost one color distinction. Maybe it is there and can still be brought out by digital manipulation. P0M 08:16, 22 Nov 2004 (UTC)


end of archived materials

More things to archive

Why is race considered biological to some people?

Geographical variations in human skin color do not make biological races.

In the old mythologies race was in reference to subspecies within the human species or to a human group (like sub-Saharan Africans) who differs stably and objectively from the other group (Europeans) in all their physical characteristics. Of course this is reffering to classical racist times (see Carleton Coon for additional information).

§ I think you mean that was the way people talked about something they thought to be [race] back in those times. Wby "all" their physical characteristics? Do you seriously maintain that anybody thought they could tell an African retina from a Norwegian retina?

In the past physical Anthropolgists believed that race is 'bone deep'. This means that they could tell who is Negroid (black) or Cacausoid (white) by the skull and other body measurments. Of course this was not an objective measurment. Today race is rejected by most Anthropologists as a physical reality.

For example if they would have looked at height, weight, muscles, fatness, ear size etc, genetically inherited physical traits which are not indicative of race they would have a problem. -- Orionix 21:12, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC)

This classifying function is performed by the scientist himself, not mother nature. If he were to choose 3 or 4 different traits for his classifying purposes, he'd get a significantly different population he'd have to look at. -- Orionix 21:12, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC)

§ A "population" is just what it says. If you take all the people in Ceylon you'll get a few Anglo types. If you take Manhattan people as a population you'll get all sorts of obviously different-looking people. But your basic point is correct and what I have probably said more than once already. What is out there is virtually infinite diversity.

Exactly but many people believe in race like they believe in God or astrological signs. Like all human classificatory systems - totemism, astrology - it refernces to a physically observable universe but it is not implied by that physically observable universe. -- Orionix 21:24, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC)

People reach out with the organizing capabilities of their minds and set up groupings that have greater or lesser utility in helping us navigate the world. It makes sense to distinguish zebras from horses, even though they are members of the same genera, because even though they look pretty much alike they are behaviorally different enough that almost nobody keep a zebra to ride. But it doesn't make sense to distinguish green canaries from yellow canaries (except for color preference) because the color of their feathers is the only distinguishing difference. And most humans will be surprised to learn that house sparrows and canaries are genetically close enough that a house sparrow will foster a lost canary fledgling.

I absolutely agree. However all physical characteristics are genetically inherited by parents to offspring. However the amount of genes we do not share is only 1/1000 of our genetic make-up. We are the same but predominantly the same. -- Orionix 21:12, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Rigorous genetic studies undertaken in the last decade (see Human Genome Project) confirm that races (Caucasoid, Mongoloid and Negroid) are not determined in our genes. This means that you cannot tell who is Caucasoid (white) and who is Negroid (black) by looking in his/her DNA. -- Orionix 21:19, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC)

§ Actually, that is not exactly correct. White people are white because they have alleles of certain genes that code for skin color. If you find those genetic characteristics then you know that the person has white skin even if you only have a hair follicle to go on. The shovel shaped incisors that characterize many Chinese people are inherited genetically. The tightly curled hair that is characteristic of Africans is also genetically determined. So if a forensic pathologist finds enough of a trace of a body (some blood, hair, and scalp in the trunk of a car perhaps), s/he can tell if the person had certain physical characteristics that would help identify him/her. Many of the characteristics that people go by to categorize by the social construct called "race" are genetically determined. (Some, such as language, customs, etc., are learned.) If the forensic pathologist finds genetic evidence of the main characteristics that people would use to visually identify a person, and comes up with the description: red hair, wavy hair, blue eyes, etc., etc., then the pathologist can tell the police officers to look for somebody that the neighbors might have identified as Irish or perhaps some other Celtic group.

It's correct. However we choose 3 or 4 genetically inherited physical traits which account for our physically distinct human types while ignoring others like height, weight, ear size, budy hair. This physical traits are not indicative of race.

Although race is a used is forensic science pathologists can identify people individually (DNA, blood type and enzymes). -- Orionix 21:19, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC)

§ The trouble comes when the genetic evidence indicates someone who does not have shovel-shaped incisors, who has wavy hair, who has black hair, and who has brown skin. That description will suggest that the person is not Chinese, although some Chinese people will fit that description.

There are physical differences which are geographically structured or patterned. However there are no stable, objectively descrete human types called races.

The fallacy that human beings "evolved" in dfiferent environments is properly called "poligenecism" and it was quite thoroughly debunked in the early 20th century. In biological, evolutionary terms, we evolved in the same environment and the changes that have come after we left Africa are quite few and superficial. Furthermore, they are not linked together in genetic packages.

For example, there is nothing about black skin, say, that implies that one will have curly hair, thick lips, or what have you. Take any given human physcial attribute you like - skin color, hair form, whatever. You will find, if you classify people based on this attribute, that all others vary around it. Racial classification only makes sense relative to other groups likewise classified. -- Orionix 21:10, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC)

So what the genetic evidence can do is suggest the likelihood that somebody is a member of one group or another, but because we are not even divided into subspecies there is so much genetic mixing that Europeans can have shovel-shaped incisors, for instance. The real question is, "How much like the statistically average Chinese/Finn/Native American does somebody have to be in order to be included in that group?" I have some friends whose children are of mixed European and Chinese genetic heritage. They tell me that Chinese people tell them their kids look more like Americans than like Chinese, and that American people tell them that their kids look more Chinese than American. It looks like there is a common "they don't look like us" function being exhibited here.

Genetic clines do exist. The varation between human populations is clinal or is distributed by geographic origin. A cline is a gradient of morphological or physiological change in a group of related organisms usually along a line of environmental or geographical transition. However objectible, stable, true-breeding human races do not. -- Orionix 21:10, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC)

§ I think you are perfectly correct in what you say.

Every human being is unique so you'd have to create a race for every single person. There's scientific evidence that race as defined in the 19th century leads to false misconception. There's no genetical evidence for it either.

§ Every human being is unique, and most human being look a lot like their parents. When John Kennedy was President he went to Ireland and visited with members of the Kennedy family. It was surprising to me that despite not even being cousins (if I remember correctly) they still looked like a family. So every human being (except for identical twins) is genetically different from other humans, and every human being shares a lot with other human beings. The question for medicine is whether it makes sense to ask me whether my parents suffered from diabetes, whether either of them died of a heart attack, etc. Because the mother's side of my family has a long history of diabetes (my grandmother, her brother, my mother...) the doctors like to check out my blood sugar once in a while. For some reason, African-Americans have some higher instance of blood pressure problems. If researchers can discover a genetic basis for this higher instance of high blood pressure, they might be able to find a preventative treatment. So it makes sense to look for certain family connections beyond the level of the immediate family. No matter how many trunks the tree has, no matter how many branches, no matter how many twigs, they all go down to the same root, and so we share more things than we possess things that distinguish us. It's just that the tree analogy is not a very good one because in the human "tree" branches cross and graft onto each other. If such a tree was like a 5-variety apple tree, you'd have one branch for Jonathan apples, one branch for Granny Smiths, etc. But then you'd find that where a Jonathan branch impinged on a Granny Smith branch thre would be a new little branch that would produce an apple with characteristics of both Jonathans and Granny Smith apples. So if you see one of those mixed up apples you may be deceived by the peel into believing that it will have a certain flavor or texture.

I do not believe in human races as an objective, biological phenomenon. Saying that race exists as a social and historical phenomenon is different from saying it does not exist. -- Orionix 05:51, 22 Nov 2004 (UTC).

"This means that you cannot tell who is Caucasoid (white) and who is Negroid (black) by looking in his/her DNA." I'm no expert on this stuff, but isn't this false? Doesn't forensic science try to do exactly this? What about the widely-reported story a while back about African-Americans getting tested to find information about their ancestry? - Nat Krause 06:17, 22 Nov 2004 (UTC)
§ If the guy who was on Public Television last summer with the story of his trailing the genes on the Y chromosome is correct, then you might well find the same color-specific alleles in an Australian aborigine as in an African. Some of us were hoping that researchers would find the sickle-cell trait in some prominent American racist (a particular individual was mentioned by one of my biologist friends, but I won't rat on him). If you had a good tissue sample and traced out the DNA found in a killer's car trunk, then you could say that the guy was a male, had straight black hair, had brown eyes, etc. Blood characteristics might indicate that he was more likely to have been Asian than Native American, or vice-versa. But you would have a very good chance of finding some discordant characteristics, i.e., most characteristics might argue for his being Asian and some characteristics might argue for his being Native American. If you ever found and identified the body, you might then learn from the individual's family history that he had 3 Asian grandparents and one Native American grandparent. On the other hand you might discover a long history of mixing of genetic heritages that went back several generations but that for some reason had long involved a mixture of Asian and Native Americans. (Maybe one of Zheng Cheng'gong's ships got shipwrected on an island off the coast of California, who knows.)
§ Does anyone know the name of that researcher? P0M 08:27, 22 Nov 2004 (UTC)
Orionix has been thoroughly indoctrinated somewhere, most likely in university social anthropology courses. There are literally tens of thousands of population-specific genetic markers. It's true that in polyglot nations like the U.S., Brazil and many others it is often impossible to identify "race" by genes, but this is due to widepread "racial" admixture. The test subjects themselves simply do not belong to one group exclusively. But if you were to run the tests on, say, someone with a long unbroken line of Swedish ancestry and compare to someone with a long line of unbroken sub-saharan African ancestry, the results would be quite unambiguous. These differences are not covered by the "cline" argument. Vast areas of the continents are still inhabited by people with these very distinguishable constellations of alleles. The regions of relative homogeneity still dwarf the clinal regions, although that will eventually change. These large, fundamental groups exist and no amount of well-meaning pedagogy will make them disappear. JDG 06:46, 22 Nov 2004 (UTC)
§ If you pick your subjects carefully, and if you eliminate subjects who turn out not to support your hypotheis, then that's what you might find some evidence for. If, on the other hand, you pick somebody from Khazakstan, you will most likely find somebody whose genetic constitution looks about as mixed as his appearance does -- vaguely Chinese, but going "off-specifications" in many small ways and probably somebody who looks almost European to Chinese natives. P0M 08:27, 22 Nov 2004 (UTC)

§ It looks like the skin shade maps have been improved again. Now the one with the better projection looks almost as good as mine on my Macintosh. On neither one of them is it terribly easy to see the distinctions among the very lightest of colors, but it's much better now than it was before -- when the lightest 3 or 4 bands looked almost exactly the same. So even if I can't coax a little more contrast out of the lastest version I think we should replace the mug shots ASAP. P0M 08:38, 22 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Sounds like a plan. I'm surprised they're still there. Too bad they were up when this page was featured on the main page. - Nat Krause 09:03, 22 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I do not believe in human races as an objective, biological phenomenon — yeah, well, in as far as they are objective, you don't have to believe in them, they will still be there if you don't. Skin colour is misleading, but it is not unrelated. As it says right in the article (this is like slashdot, rtfa;) the 'white' races are a phylogenetic subtree of the 'african races'. skin colour (and other physical attributes) are still a handy 'label' or 'tag' that refer to a whole collection of genetic variations (always, within the very narrow, sub-subspecies genetic variation of <0.1%. we would not bother with such minute differences for most species. that we do bother is not an objective phenomenon, of course, but that doesn't make the small phenomenon we bother with any less objective) dab 09:25, 22 Nov 2004 (UTC)
That basically agrees with my reading of the genetics literature on race. The differences are real (genetic differences are structured by ancestry), but small (~15%). So, for example, it's still an open question as to what extent they will be useful for biomedical research -- what portion of inherited diseases will break down along racial lines? Also, don't forget that admixture analysis seems to work even in America -- matching admixed people against non-admixed population standards. As an example, it's possible to break the Latino population down into sub-groups of mostly Native American or mostly Eurpopean or mostly African ancestry. Likewise, admixture analysis suggests that most "African" Americans have significant European ancestry. Concordently, most "European" Americans have significant African ancestry. --Rikurzhen 17:48, Nov 22, 2004 (UTC)

New User 200nnn


§ Please create a log-in identity for yourself. It will make it easier to communicate. (You don't have to reveal anything about yourself. But if somebody else with the same numerical identification creates problems you could attract negative attention. It's happened before.) Also, when you make comments it is always helpful to preserve other people's indentations, and to indent your own comments appropriately so that it will be more clear whether you are commenting on speaker 1 or speaker 2's remarks. E.G.

Speaker 1: I think Splavendorst is completely wrong on this subject.
Speaker 2: Well, I think Splavendorst is exactly right.

I agree entirely. [User:Digger-O'Dell]

§ So with whom is the friendly undertaker agreeing? 1? or 2?

§ Sometimes things have gotten so bad that I have written an angry retort to something that I myself said. ;-) That's why I start my paragraphs with "§" -- and then if somebody splits up a paragraph that I wrote I go back and re-identify what I have written before I forget that it's my own stuff.P0M 07:49, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC)

§ See new skin shade map above P0M 17:20, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC)

§ I see another set of comparisons has been created above. The new projection in nice, but the four or five lightest shades all come out as white on my Mac. The colors I supplied (farther up on this page) look o.k. on the Mac. P0M 22:48, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC)