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Author Topic: What is race?  (Read 6730 times)

Scavenger

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What is race?
« on: 20 Nov 2016, 11:54 »
(This discussion was split off from here: http://www.adventuregamestudio.co.uk/forums/index.php?topic=54140.msg636548400#msg636548400 —Moderator)

What? That is literally how human genetics works. There are clear phenotypic and genetic differences between humans which we can classify as races relative to one another. If there weren't we would all be homogenous. These differences are biological, not cultural.

The concept of "whiteness" or "blackness" is a cultural and plastic phenomenon that changes depending on who gets to be the in-crowd, and generally trends towards what colour your skin is - which is something that means absolutely nothing apart from how much melanin is in your skin. You are no more likely to be anything in particular personality or temperment-wise if your skin is a particular colour.

Races don't exist biologically, it's a meaningless concept invented mostly to divide people and give an excuse to enslave them. It would be identical to classifying people by eye colour, or blood type. Yes, it differs between people but means absolutely nothing at all except by the imprinting of cultural significance onto it.
« Last Edit: 20 Nov 2016, 14:03 by Snarky »

Re: What is race?
« Reply #1 on: 20 Nov 2016, 12:10 »
I agree with this:

[race] means absolutely nothing at all except by the imprinting of cultural significance onto it.

But I do not agree with this:

Races don't exist biologically

Skin colour is determined by alleles which in turn determine how much melanin you produce. Many East Asians experience alcohol flush because of a genetic metabolic deficiency. And there are countless other phenotypic differences between large groups of people (races). You cannot deny that it is possible to classify people into groups whether physiologically or genetically. The methodology of that of course defines what we may call a race.

Edit: I think you're both falling into a trap of thinking: race doesn't 'mean' anything outside of culture; therefore scientifically race does not exist either. No, that's wrong.
« Last Edit: 20 Nov 2016, 12:14 by Atelier »

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Re: What is race?
« Reply #2 on: 20 Nov 2016, 12:37 »
Err...Atelier, scientifically, race DOESN'T mean anything. And this isn't some fancy new "SJW" "Politically correct" opinion.
I don't know how more simply I could explain this. There simply is no set of markers you could use to show "This person is of X race". Such a concept simply doesn't exist.
A bit silly, but go ahead and have a read of Race (human categorisation), and check up the references just to be sure :D.

Here are some highlights just from the beginning:
Quote
"Modern human biological variation is not structured into phylogenetic subspecies ('races'), nor are the taxa of the standard anthropological 'racial' classifications breeding populations. The 'racial taxa' do not meet the phylogenetic criteria. 'Race' denotes socially constructed units as a function of the incorrect usage of the term.""
Quote
"The genetic differences that exist among populations are characterized by gradual changes across geographic regions, not sharp, categorical distinctions. Groups of people across the globe have varying frequencies of polymorphic genes, which are genes with any of several differing nucleotide sequences. There is no such thing as a set of genes that belongs exclusively to one group and not to another. The clinal, gradually changing nature of geographic genetic difference is complicated further by the migration and mixing that human groups have engaged in since prehistory. Human beings do not fit the zoological definition of race. A mountain of evidence assembled by historians, anthropologists, and biologists proves that race is not and cannot be a natural division of human beings."
Quote
"Race is a poor empirical description of the patterns of difference that we encounter within our species. The billions of humans alive today simply do not fit into neat and tidy biological boxes called races. Science has proven this conclusively. The concept of race (...) is not scientific and goes against what is known about our ever-changing and complex biological diversity."
Quote
"For example, 'Evidence from the analysis of genetics (e.g., DNA) indicates that most physical variation, about 94%, lies within so-called racial groups. Conventional geographic 'racial' groupings differ from one another only in about 6% of their genes. This means that there is greater variation within 'racial' groups than between them.'"
« Last Edit: 20 Nov 2016, 12:38 by Babar »
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Re: What is race?
« Reply #3 on: 20 Nov 2016, 12:47 »
And this isn't some fancy new "SJW" "Politically correct" opinion.

I was going to give you a reasoned reply to what you said, as I have been doing all along, but you know what? Comments like this make it almost not worth opening your mouth on this forums these days. Say one tiny thing and people impute all sorts of meanings into what you have said.

Suppose I should take the advice and just 'fuck off', because I can't actually be bothered.

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Re: What is race?
« Reply #4 on: 20 Nov 2016, 13:32 »
I see nothing wrong or offensive in Babar's comment, but he raises some good points. Science has abandoned the term 'race' for humans decades ago, and not just for ideological reasons.

Re: What is race?
« Reply #5 on: 20 Nov 2016, 13:51 »
It's ok, spoken to Babar in PM. Just took objection to the fact that I used the term SJW multiple pages ago and it keeps cropping up as insinuating I have some kind of anti-liberal worldview.

The problem with race is that there are methodological problems in defining it. As I said in my earlier post it depends which characteristics we use to define it. From what I understand there is no biological definition of race because as we are one species, the parameters for categorisation are necessarily arbitrary. If one defined race by frequency of a certain allele for example, you make an arbitrary quantification of the frequency needed (as W Boyd says). And this leads to the logical conclusion that theoretically there can be equal races to people, if you set the parameters so.

Edit: I think the observation "that there is greater variation within 'racial' groups than between them" is somewhat pithy, considering we share 98% of our genes with chimpanzees.

I actually think the issues with defining race is parallel to that of cultures that we spoke of earlier. Again it tends to the problem of reductionism, because you will inevitably make wrong assumptions about some of the individuals you classify in order to reach a coherent treatment of the whole. Now in theory you couldn't make wrong assumptions using a genetic yardstick, allele frequency, because that is observable biologically. But then it brings us back to the problem of mathematical arbitrariness…

What I'm trying to get at is that although it may be impossible to define race biologically, you are still able to observe clear differences in human populations, differences which are genetic. One can sort white men from black men by looking at them, as you can sort red apples from green apples.
« Last Edit: 20 Nov 2016, 13:55 by Atelier »

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Re: What is race?
« Reply #6 on: 20 Nov 2016, 13:56 »
What I'm trying to get at is that it is impossible to define race biologically, you are still able to observe clear differences in human populations, differences which are genetic. One can sort white men from black men by looking at them, as you can sort red apples from green apples.
Atelier, is this a white man, or a black man?
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Re: What is race?
« Reply #7 on: 20 Nov 2016, 14:01 »
Babar you're demonstrating exactly what I mean about making assumptions in order to reach a coherent whole, so I'll happily play along: let's categorise him as black.

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Re: What is race?
« Reply #8 on: 20 Nov 2016, 14:03 »
Atelier, is this a white man, or a black man?


In South Africa, that's a "coloured" man, a mix between black and white.

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Re: What is race?
« Reply #9 on: 20 Nov 2016, 14:08 »
In South Africa, that's a "coloured" man, a mix between black and white.
Is "coloured" a separate race? Is it a scientific designation?
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Re: What is race?
« Reply #10 on: 20 Nov 2016, 14:32 »
One government that tried for a long time to classify people based on race was the Apartheid government of South Africa.

Predictably this classification ran into immediate problems as soon as people of "mixed race" had to be taken into account. If one parent is "white" and the other is "black", what should the child be called? More confusingly, if one parent is "3/8 white, 2/8 black, 3/8 mixed" and other other is "1/8 white, 4/8 black, 3/8 mixed", how on earth do you classify the children?

And then, South Africa became an interesting target for Asian investors. It took the government some time to figure this out, but eventually they put up the law that all Japanese people count as "white" whereas all Chinese count as "black". How utterly ridiculous is that?

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Re: What is race?
« Reply #11 on: 20 Nov 2016, 14:36 »
Err...Atelier, scientifically, race DOESN'T mean anything. And this isn't some fancy new "SJW" "Politically correct" opinion.
I don't know how more simply I could explain this. There simply is no set of markers you could use to show "This person is of X race". Such a concept simply doesn't exist.

I agree that it's important to understand the extent to which "race" is culturally constructed and biologically problematic, in part to recognize that there's no clear distinction between racism and "cultural discrimination".

At the same time, I think the objections overstate the case. There are genetic differences between different human populations, and specific DNA markers that are closely associated with particular ethnicities, to the point where you can run DNA analyses of individuals to figure out the composition of their ancestry (though the results are pretty rough). Just because races aren't neat boxes in reality doesn't mean they're not "real".

You could presumably run a DNA analysis on Obama and figure out that his ancestry is about half European (mix of mostly English, with some German and other British contributions) and half Luo (probably with other African ethnicities mixed in). Based on that, you could assign him a racial identity, whether that's "black" (US), "colored" (South Africa), "mulatto" (Europe and its colonies in past times) or "mixed-race" (US again), "white" (Dominican Republic, perhaps) or something else, depending on local cultural convention.

So race is a social construct built on top of real (though mostly superficial) biological differences.
« Last Edit: 20 Nov 2016, 14:43 by Snarky »

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Re: What is race?
« Reply #12 on: 20 Nov 2016, 15:12 »
Is "coloured" a separate race? Is it a scientific designation?

It depends on your definition. If you ask coloured people they would probably loudly proclaim "Yes!". There's even a distinction between first generation black/white mixed people and children of coloured parents. Admittedly I've only seen this distinction used so that they can be racist to each other.

To me, I would say yes, they are a separate race, since in aggregate some of their behaviour differs from both white and black people and other races (in aggregate). For example, they have a singular ability to come up with and say incredibly (intentionally) funny things.

This is technically racist of me to say, but I think it's exactly these differences that make races unique and valuable. I think it's a disservice to this uniqueness to suggest that race is a non-existent concept and that we all are and act the same.

Re: What is race?
« Reply #13 on: 20 Nov 2016, 15:27 »
So race is a social construct built on top of real (though mostly superficial) biological differences.

Exactly. If there were no such broad biological differences, the cultural concept of different races would not come to exist.

Now, this helps us to think more deeply about the differences between racism and cultural discrimination. The difference between them arises because race has its roots in biology whereas culture does not. Culture is counterfactual. I don't have time to expand now but I might come back to it later.

since in aggregate some of their behaviour differs from both white and black people and other races (in aggregate). For example, they have a singular ability to come up with and say incredibly (intentionally) funny things.

This is exactly what I mean about people not severing race and culture. Scientifically it is ridiculous to attribute a subjective cultural concept like humour to one race or the other. I'm glad you agree that biologically distinctions can be drawn between groups of people, but those biological differences cannot be claimed to be causing the cultural differences. As I said, historically humans have developed cultures which appear to be almost inseparable from a certain ethnic group, but this does not mean that the two are contingent.

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Re: What is race?
« Reply #14 on: 20 Nov 2016, 15:40 »
Can we all agree that a cat, a dog and a human are different races? (nod) Good! (at least I hope you agree with that (roll) )

Now, the tricky part:
Is a German Shepard, a Collie or a Labrador different races?
Is a Main Coon, a Siamese and a "common cat" different races?
How about black, white, yellow or red different races?

Or are they just a variation inside a race?
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Babar

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Re: What is race?
« Reply #15 on: 20 Nov 2016, 15:51 »
You could presumably run a DNA analysis on Obama and figure out that his ancestry is about half European (mix of mostly English, with some German and other British contributions) and half Luo (probably with other African ethnicities mixed in). Based on that, you could assign him a racial identity, whether that's "black" (US), "colored" (South Africa), "mulatto" (Europe and its colonies in past times) or "mixed-race" (US again), "white" (Dominican Republic, perhaps) or something else, depending on local cultural convention.

So race is a social construct built on top of real (though mostly superficial) biological differences.
I did one of those DNA things once! After digging up the results, I find that I'm 61.7% European, 31.5% Asian, 3.4% Middle Eastern/North African, 0.2% Sub-Saharan African, and 3.2% unassigned. What "race" does that make me? Unless they've been living on an isolated hobbit island the last ten thousand years, I'm pretty sure anyone who got that test would have similar mixed up results. So what biological markers would you use? If you do something like "skin colour", then even the child of several generations of white or black/white unions (i.e. their test would show them to be majority "European") would still be called "black", which is pretty silly, and certainly not scientific.

This is technically racist of me to say, but I think it's exactly these differences that make races unique and valuable. I think it's a disservice to this uniqueness to suggest that race is a non-existent concept and that we all are and act the same.
Oh, I absolutely wouldn't say that race is a non-existent concept. I was simply saying it wasn't a scientific one.

Cassie brings to my mind an interesting point: The concept of "race" (as in a subspecies within a species) DOES exist in biology, but is NOT applicable to the human "races".
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Re: What is race?
« Reply #16 on: 20 Nov 2016, 15:56 »
What I'm trying to get at is that it is impossible to define race biologically, you are still able to observe clear differences in human populations, differences which are genetic. One can sort white men from black men by looking at them, as you can sort red apples from green apples.
Atelier, is this a white man, or a black man?


Atelier, is this a white man, a black man, or an orange man?
« Last Edit: 20 Nov 2016, 15:59 by Adeel »

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Re: What is race?
« Reply #17 on: 20 Nov 2016, 16:01 »
Can we all agree that a cat, a dog and a human are different races? (nod) Good! (at least I hope you agree with that (roll) )

Sorry, but... no :-D Biologically they are different species, even in completely different families, so wouldn't call them races.

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Re: What is race?
« Reply #18 on: 20 Nov 2016, 16:12 »
This is exactly what I mean about people not severing race and culture. Scientifically it is ridiculous to attribute a subjective cultural concept like humour to one race or the other.

You're probably right, but I would not be so quick to assume it has to be of a cultural origin. Don't you think it's possible that genetics can predispose some people's brains to be more adept at certain things (such as humour)?

Dogs and cats are different species, not races. I'm not sure about the science, but my definition of race (a useful one) would be the difference between Dobermans and Rottweilers. They are most assuredly different, even though they share many mixed genes from wolves and wild dogs which overlap in most cases. They have different temperaments and different habits.

I would say that the scientific definition of race becomes useless once they decided that it doesn't exist. A different mix of the same basic building blocks absolutely results in a noticeably different result, with each its own unique characteristics.

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Re: What is race?
« Reply #19 on: 20 Nov 2016, 16:24 »
Oh, right sorry, forgot about the word species... :-[
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Re: What is race?
« Reply #20 on: 20 Nov 2016, 16:30 »
I'm not sure about the science, but my definition of race (a useful one) would be the difference between Dobermans and Rottweilers. They are most assuredly different, even though they share many mixed genes from wolves and wild dogs which overlap in most cases. They have different temperaments and different habits.

I would say that the scientific definition of race becomes useless once they decided that it doesn't exist. A different mix of the same basic building blocks absolutely results in a noticeably different result, with each its own unique characteristics.
Dog breeds are an interesting analogy, because most of the "direction" these breeds have taken are man-made (less so in the case of crossbreeding between wild dogs or dogs who escaped their owners) and specifically engineered as such. With dog breeds, I think the number is 30% genetic diversity between breeds: enough to correctly assign a breed just by looking at the DNA.
If we take geographic groupings (which seems to have been established in this thread as how we want to define "race" scientifically), for humans, the differences account for only 6% between the different groupings, and nowhere near as certain an applied label (and you'd still get mishmashes like my result).
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Re: What is race?
« Reply #21 on: 20 Nov 2016, 17:26 »
If it's a matter of percentage, then aren't we the same race as chimpanzees (or some great apes)?

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Re: What is race?
« Reply #22 on: 20 Nov 2016, 17:32 »
If it's a matter of percentage, then aren't we the same race as chimpanzees (or some great apes)?
It is a matter that any percentages we decide to apply would be totally arbitrary.
But in the case of chimpanzees and great apes, we aren't the same race, or even the same species, because we cannot reproduce with them.
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Re: What is race?
« Reply #23 on: 20 Nov 2016, 18:02 »
You could presumably run a DNA analysis on Obama and figure out that his ancestry is about half European (mix of mostly English, with some German and other British contributions) and half Luo (probably with other African ethnicities mixed in). Based on that, you could assign him a racial identity, whether that's "black" (US), "colored" (South Africa), "mulatto" (Europe and its colonies in past times) or "mixed-race" (US again), "white" (Dominican Republic, perhaps) or something else, depending on local cultural convention.

So race is a social construct built on top of real (though mostly superficial) biological differences.
I did one of those DNA things once! After digging up the results, I find that I'm 61.7% European, 31.5% Asian, 3.4% Middle Eastern/North African, 0.2% Sub-Saharan African, and 3.2% unassigned. What "race" does that make me?

There's not really enough detail to say (most of these DNA tests are pretty sloppy and have high margins of error; I'm sure with a better analysis you could get better accuracy). 2/3 European, 1/3 Asian could have a number of explanations: you could be European ("white") and the Asian reading could be a test error, you could be "mixed-race", or you could be from a population at the intersection of "European" and "Asian" genetic influences (perhaps somewhere between the Caucasus and Central Asia, or Iran). And as mentioned, assigning a racial label is something that depends on local convention, anyway. But clearly you're not black, for example.

Quote
Unless they've been living on an isolated hobbit island the last ten thousand years, I'm pretty sure anyone who got that test would have similar mixed up results.

I don't think that's true, if the test is accurate. When you're looking at population genetics, it seems like e.g. the bulk of the "English" genome, something like 80-90%, is either prehistoric, various Celtic, or Germanic. So if you're a white Englishman whose grandparents were all English, your DNA should, most likely, show up as overwhelmingly European. The same (mutatis mutandis) is probably true if you're Han Chinese, or belong to one of the other major, long-established ethnic groups of the world.

Of course, there's increasing mixing between people from various parts of the world, so assuming that continues, there will be more and more people for whom it's not so simple.

Quote
So what biological markers would you use? If you do something like "skin colour", then even the child of several generations of white or black/white unions (i.e. their test would show them to be majority "European") would still be called "black", which is pretty silly, and certainly not scientific.

That depends on what skin shades you consider "black", doesn't it? Nor is it contrary to science to proclaim that even with just – let's say – 1/4 Native American blood you are Native American.

If it's a matter of percentage, then aren't we the same race as chimpanzees (or some great apes)?

Though I freely admit that I don't grasp the technical details, I'm pretty sure that the measures for genetic similarity between humans and apes are not the same as between different people, or groups of people.

Re: What is race?
« Reply #24 on: 20 Nov 2016, 18:17 »
Quote from: Adeel
Atelier, is this a white man, a black man, or an orange man?

(laugh)(laugh)

You're probably right, but I would not be so quick to assume it has to be of a cultural origin. Don't you think it's possible that genetics can predispose some people's brains to be more adept at certain things (such as humour)?

Correct, it is certainly possible, but an absolute scientific nightmare to prove. In fact, showing a discrete biological, evolutionary component for cultural behaviour is almost certainly impossible. For example, some chimpanzees 'dance' just before or during rain. These behaviours are non-adaptive and do not appear to have any functional relevance, so for all intents and purposes it is likely a learnt behaviour. A cultural behaviour even. As good scientists we cannot rule out that there is a genetic component behind these behaviours, but to prove this we would need a full pedigree of all chimpanzees over many many generations to get anything close to something scientifically rigorous. Even in mice we have not been able to study such non-adaptive behaviours.

Edit: basically there is a crucial distinction to be drawn between assuming post-hoc that cultural evolution has taken place (ie, a species has evolved the capacity for cultural behaviour), which is what we can do, but cannot prove; and attributing specific behaviours to a certain genetic component.

I think that the example of humour is not a good example to use in any case, because there is no objective reality of 'most funny', ' moderately funny', 'least funny'; so judging whether one race has more of this attribute over another is a non-starter.

Quote from: Snarky
Though I freely admit that I don't grasp the technical details, I'm pretty sure that the measures for genetic similarity between humans and apes are not the same as between different people, or groups of people.

Yes, the most common method is to extract the DNA from the nucleus of a cell; fragment it with enzymes; the fragments organise themselves; and you can read off the order of the bases to get the genetic sequence of the individual. You then compare certain loci to determine how similar the two things are. I am not certain either but I see no reason why this cannot also be done to compare two human individuals.
« Last Edit: 20 Nov 2016, 18:33 by Atelier »

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Re: What is race?
« Reply #25 on: 20 Nov 2016, 18:42 »
The test does go into more detail, which honestly just makes things vaguer and more confusing. I just skipped that stuff. I mean it has subcategories within the categories I mentioned, and categories further than that too (Northwestern European, Broadly Northwestern European, British & Irish, Scandinavian, Southern European, Broadly Southern European, Iberian, East Asian, Broadly East Asian & Native American, Yakut, etc. etc.). I get the feeling that they have it like that because it isn't all that easy to assign a race from DNA evidence, even if you have- simply having that information isn't really enough to assign a "race".
I would be pretty curious about other people who have taken similar tests, though. Somehow, barring some odd circumstances, I doubt anyone would be more than 80% on specific category. People think geographic intermingling is a recent thing, but it's probably gone back tens or hundreds of thousands of years.
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Re: What is race?
« Reply #26 on: 21 Nov 2016, 11:40 »
The problem is that English speakers use the word "race" for pretty much anything (including humans!) whereas in every other languages this word is only for pets or farm animals.
Race is not used in other languages because it doesn't mean anything scientifically.

Race is not a thing. Seriously.

Race. Is. Not. A. Thing.

the closest thing to a "race" in the scientific world is a species. And all human are the same species because genetic differences are tiny, tiny, tiny.
Therefore, this debate "what is a race" is doomed from the beginning. Stahp it. Stahp.
« Last Edit: 21 Nov 2016, 11:43 by Monsieur OUXX »
 

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Re: What is race?
« Reply #27 on: 21 Nov 2016, 11:49 »
The problem is that English speakers use the word "race" for pretty much anything
Therefore, this debate "what is a race" is doomed from the beginning.
So this thread is basically the equivalent of a thread titled "What is love?"
Only with a lot less singing in it. (laugh)

Re: What is race?
« Reply #28 on: 21 Nov 2016, 12:47 »
The problem is that English speakers use the word "race" for pretty much anything (including humans!) whereas in every other languages this word is only for pets or farm animals.

Wat?
In Russian language, at least informal one, "race" is only applied to humans and never to animals.
Are there translation issues too? :confused:

« Last Edit: 21 Nov 2016, 13:45 by Crimson Wizard »

Re: What is race?
« Reply #29 on: 21 Nov 2016, 12:49 »
The problem is that English speakers use the word "race" for pretty much anything (including humans!) whereas in every other languages this word is only for pets or farm animals. Race is not used in other languages because it doesn't mean anything scientifically.

The non-existence of a word in another language is not proof that something doesn't exist; this argument is fallacious. Secondly, I'd like to see a full index of all languages, past and present, to back up the claim that it doesn't exist in any other.

Quote
the closest thing to a "race" in the scientific world is a species.

Nope, the closest thing is a subspecies. These are at least two organisms within a species that can produce fertile offspring, but in reality do not. For example the Asian lion and African lion would not mate because they are allopatric (do not meet naturally in the same habitat), although they can produce fertile offspring when introduced by a candle-lit dinner. Now granted there are clearly no subspecies of humans by this definition.

Quote
And all human are the same species because genetic differences are tiny, tiny, tiny.

It is not the genetic difference that defines a species. Species are defined by how they propagate their genes, in a closed manner between generations, whether that be replicating, swapping, or fusing genetic material sexually. I would not put too much weight on the fact that genetic differences are statistically very small. Genetically there's only 4% difference between you and a chimpanzee, and given that the genome length of both animals is very substantial, this is not a lot at all, even when we compare different species.

Quote
Therefore, this debate "what is a race" is doomed from the beginning. Stahp it. Stahp.

No, I think it's an interesting and important one to have. As has been said, you cannot define a race scientifically because any method would use arbitrary quantifications. However, this doesn't mean that the cultural notion of race is not based on biological, phenotypic principles.

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Re: What is race?
« Reply #30 on: 21 Nov 2016, 13:43 »
Now granted there are clearly no subspecies of humans by this definition.
What about Aboriginals?
I remember hearing in a documentary once, that they were apparently a little more different than any other humans on Earth.

Which reminds me, I remember hearing that the skulls of people around the world, are all slightly different in shape. And I don't mean in the racist bigger brain way. I mean that there are apparently actual subtle differences.

I never really got people's fascination with bigger brains being smarter anyway. If that was true, elephants would be ruling the earth. (laugh)

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Re: What is race?
« Reply #31 on: 21 Nov 2016, 16:10 »
No, I think it's an interesting and important one to have. As has been said, you cannot define a race scientifically because any method would use arbitrary quantifications. However, this doesn't mean that the cultural notion of race is not based on biological, phenotypic principles.
Well, yes. That is what initially started this discussion on my end- I wanted to point out that there was no scientific basis for races. And yeah, sure, the cultural notion of race is based off phenotypic principles, like "This person's skin is darker than mine, so they are black". I don't think that is very meaningful, outside a purely cultural context.

Also, Danvzare, Aborigines are not a human subspecies. There is no living homo sapiens subspecies except us.
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Re: What is race?
« Reply #32 on: 21 Nov 2016, 17:17 »
Also, Danvzare, Aborigines are not a human subspecies. There is no living homo sapiens subspecies except us.
Ok, thanks for correcting me. :-D

I really have nothing to add to this thread now that I think about it.

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Re: What is race?
« Reply #33 on: 22 Nov 2016, 07:57 »
The problem is that English speakers use the word "race" for pretty much anything (including humans!) whereas in every other languages this word is only for pets or farm animals. Race is not used in other languages because it doesn't mean anything scientifically.

The "every other language" -part is false.

Finnish has the word "Rotu" which is used both ways. In some context we refer to "mankind" as the "ihmisrotu" ie. "human race" as a whole. However, in many textbooks and in the common parlance we use the same word to denote different subraces such as whites, african blacks, asians etc. or just as readily some more narrow ethnic groupings such as scandinavians, russians, romanians etc. In practice, mixing nationality with race in our language.

Just as elsewhere, the word is used loosely and mostly on cultural basis, not so much scientific.

The Finnish wikipedia page notes that the use of the word "race" in categorizing the origins and cultures of different groups of people has diminished greatly due to the fact that the term is seen as "politically incorrect", so (in my opinion) it would seem this is yet another case where useful terminology is being self-censored in order to avoid hurting someone's feelings out there, and thus trying to avoid causing a scene that would lead attention and resources away from doing actual science.

Also on Wikipedia (curiously the wording in the english wiki, unlike the finnish one, constantly brings up the American cultural viewpoint):
"In clinical settings, race has sometimes been considered in the diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. Doctors have noted that some medical conditions are more prevalent in certain racial or ethnic groups than in others, without being sure of the cause of those differences."

The finnish version is more direct in stating that race, in the context of different subraces of human, is used to identify trends in the spread of diseases as well as in evaluating methods of care. However it also notes that many scientists have raised the issue that the term "race" should be avoided whenever possible due to it's nebulous nature and culturally questionable uses, though there is no word on what term might be used in its stead.
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Re: What is race?
« Reply #34 on: 22 Nov 2016, 08:20 »
The problem is that English speakers use the word "race" for pretty much anything (including humans!) whereas in every other languages this word is only for pets or farm animals. Race is not used in other languages because it doesn't mean anything scientifically.

The "every other language" -part is false.

It's not even true of Monsieur OUXX's own French.

Re: What is race?
« Reply #35 on: 22 Nov 2016, 08:21 »
The problem is that English speakers use the word "race" for pretty much anything (including humans!) whereas in every other languages this word is only for pets or farm animals.
In Swedish language there is a word for race, and it has been used to describe humans, but it stopped some time after WWII.
The word race in association in humans were too closely associated with the ideas of eugenics and the abuse of Sami and Romani people in Sweden, as well as the crimes committed by Nazi-Germany. Today, using the word race in Sweden is considered, well, racist, and most people instead differentiate groups of people by country of origin, culture or ethnicity in these contexts instead. Race is pretty much only used to describe different breeds of domesticated animals.
So the word race have different connotations in Swedish than in English I'd say.


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Re: What is race?
« Reply #36 on: 22 Nov 2016, 14:16 »
The non-existence of a word in another language is not proof that something doesn't exist;
No, but the fact that the scientists also say it is evidence.
Let it go, man. Races are not a thing.

Quote
Races exist in my language, in every language, therefore you're wrong
No, people, that's not true. Yes, the word exists, but in 95% of languages, this word is used only by racists, and cannot be used to describe humans (except by loonies) since the end of WWII.
Only in English (and maybe a tiny minority of languages) is it used for everyday use, as a generic word for "ethnic group".
« Last Edit: 22 Nov 2016, 14:19 by Monsieur OUXX »
 

Re: What is race?
« Reply #37 on: 22 Nov 2016, 23:40 »
Monsieur, why do you think races are not a thing? Do you mean scientifically? Culturally?

So far you've just said that races don't exist, because only in English it's used as a generic word for ethnic group. This is a nonsense argument.

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Re: What is race?
« Reply #38 on: 24 Nov 2016, 13:48 »
Sort of backing up Atelier's last comment here:

I believe the conversation on "what is a race" is mostly pointless anyway, since it focuses on the word "race". Yes, as Monsieur OUXX says, nearly all cultures have moved away from using the term "race" to divide people into categories, so instead we have moved on to using other terms for the same purpose, since the old term is now considered "racist". As time goes on, any and all such new terms will come to be used by racists, and thus those terms, too, will become tainted by culture, eroding any scientific merit they may hold. Whether an individual thinks that human beings can or cannot be divided into "races" or "ethnic groups" or whatever is irrelevant, as there is proven scientific credit to the fact that different types of humans have different physiological, biological and psychological and cultural traits.

We can look into other areas for examples of this happening. Take, for instance, the word "retard", a term describing simply a person who's mental development could be measured as, quite literally and in the true meaning of the word; retarded. When it was coined, it was an accepted scientific term. Later on it spread into popular culture, became a slur and it's scientific usage declined until it was replaced by a new term, which merely began the cycle anew. Scientists have already noticed this and are making the terminology they use increasingly complex and unwieldly in an attempt to establish more permanent and credible terminology that is more difficult to co-opt into slurs and insults by us common folk.

(Small remotely related side note: symbols, just like words, also have a habit of being associated with the negative, forgetting any and all other uses. Take the ol' classic: swastika. The symbol has a rich history and has been used all over the world, including in Finland as a military insignia with long (considering Finland is less than 100 years old as an independent country, #ThanksRussia, #ThanksSweden) traditions from times well before the Germans used it. Then came the Reich, they adopted the symbol and now nobody can use the symbol for fear of being considered a neo-nazi.)

The word used is pointless and meaningless, it is the idea that word represents in the mind of the speaker that needs to be understood and considered. In order to understand what someone means by the word "race", you must engage that individual and learn what they actually believe and what that belief is based on and only then can you judge if their use of the term is warranted or not. Establish context before judging someone as racist and afford everyone the benefit of a doubt no matter which side of the argument they stand on.
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