Re: In case anyone had forgotton...

Joel and Lynn Gazis-Sax (
Mon, 12 Aug 1996 16:29:43 -0800

I confess to seeing both sides of this. Eric Brunner, speaking as a student
of culture, has seen the gross misuse and overextension of the meaning of
racial differences. He is also a witness to the vagueness of the boundaries
(where does genetic Europe end and genetic Africa begin for certain?)

On the other hand, Phillip is pointing to the usefulness of labels in
making sense of this whole big picture.

What I think is that we're in a stage of transition from the classification-
oriented Science of the past to /something else/. There can be one of
three outcomes of the current situation:

* The reascendant triumph of classificatory Science, together with all
its inherent problems of biases due to personal prejudice and the
inflexibility of category-based systems.
* A descent into chaos. Lots of bickering with no clear directions.
* The emergence of a new Science, beyond classifications, one which
will fairly address the problems of classification while preserving
for its users a utility for helping us understand the world. In doing
so, this Science will take us far beyond the limits of the current
Science, with its Liannaen deadlock on our comprehension of what
is actually out there.


Joel GAzis-SAx

Philip Deitiker wrote:
> (Eric Brunner) wrote:
> >The answer is an unequivocal "yes", and the question was whether or not a
> >pseudo-scientific "racial" construct (amerind, negroid, mongoloid, ...)
> >is offensive. One need not even necessarily be non-caucasiod to arrive at
> >this conclusion.
> while the construct is a little awkward it has some scientific
> functionality. For example, in other areas of science temporary names
> are given to groupings until more insightful designations can be
> given. In as much amerind falls into this catagory and is not meant to
> dimishes amerinds, but as a means of breifly 'tagging' a tentative
> grouping of precolumbian 'americans'. I suppose if you been reading
> the popular scientific literature you might have gather that there is
> much debate over how many major native american groups exist by
> language or by genetic studies and the current answers leave alot of
> uncertainty, and I think as long as the term amerind is not used in
> offensive matter it should be used until the other issues resolve
> themselves. I know that for certain groups such as eskimo/inuit and
> some other north american tribes being group in with the body of other
> native americans may not be fair considering the most probable
> relationships of endemic peoples in the asia and the americas, but
> from a scientific point of view I think the 'method' is to allow
> longstanging designations remain until more appropriate designations
> firmly found themselves. Many (including myself) could argue this has
> not occured yet.
> Philip

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/\ _|_ /\ Joel and Lynn GAzis-SAx
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\ \ \/|\/ / / "If we try to flee from our human condition into
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