Bearcat (
Sat, 4 Feb 1995 23:05:54 GMT wrote:
: (Phil Nicholls) wrote:

: > The "guesses" are based on superfical phenotypic traits, not on
: > any information about ancestry.

: Only when there is no such information available. Whatever
: the guesses are based on, they are *about* ancestry. If, for
: example, someone were to identify me as black, and then discovered
: that I was in fact a dark-pigmented Hindu, I'd expect him to
: admit his error. "Black" means "African-American".

To throw sociology into the mess, in England "Black" can mean

: > If you want a biologically meaningful
: > concept of race you need to find a pattern of descent for those
: > characteristics and deal with them within the context of population
: > biology.

: This is another topic entirely. Ancestry is not entirely a
: biological question. For example, many cultures have rituals
: for the adoption of someone into a family or clan.

Talk about another topic. This is a totally specious detour.

: I'd say
: it is as false to claim that race is meant to be a category
: "meaningful" to biological research, as it is to claim that "hot"
: is meant to be a category that is meaningful to research in
: statistical thermodynamics. The meaningfulness is uni-directional,
: i.e., discoveries in thermodynamics can be used to draw certain
: conclusions about some hot things, and biological discoveries can
: be used to draw certain conclusions about some races.

The only conclusions that may be drawn WRT race from the
field of biology is that there is no taxonomic definition
that is accepted, and that there are roughly between 3 and 60
different conclusions that have been proposed for the purpose
of typing different populations.

: > Please give me one example of someone who uses the concept of
: > race in a non-typological way.

: See "Hindu isn't black" example above.

You have not understood what Mr.Nicholls is saying if you think
this statement an example.

: > >It's not quite just to charge him with that. An albino black man
: > >is still black, despite having light skin, so the word "black"
: > >should not be considered a description of a superficial
: > >feature.
: >
: > What is "black" describing?

: It's not describing anything.

I'm glad you see this.

: It's like "club", which used to
: describe one of the suits of a card deck (Spanish decks still
: have actual clubs), but now simply designates it.

: > How does calling someone black because
: > of hair texture or nose shape rather than melanin content differ
: > from using melanin content.

: It doesn't. I wasn't implying that we do this.

Then upon what, Jerrybro, do you base your statement that
an albino is "Black?"

: > All are superficial, all are examples
: > of typological thinking, something biology as a whole has tried
: > to leave behind.

: Fine. Two points. First, you're dead wrong about the nature of the
: category of "blacks".

Give us *your* definition of the "nature of the category of blacks."

: I think you're taking out-of-date
: "scientific" approaches to race, and projecting their errors onto
: society in general.

The reason for this is simple: the only scientific definitions
of "race" are from out-of-date treatises in physical anthropology.
Anthropology, the field that brought us the concept of race that
we all know and love, has completely eschewed "race" as a viable
scientific issue, based in large measure on the complete failure
to arrive at any difinitive taxonomy.

: Second, whether the category of "black" is
: useful to biologists is irrelevant. Society is not trying to help
: biologists, but is trying to deal with day to day realities.

I take it this means that you realize that the concept of
having "One race more intelligent than another due to the
heritability (genetics) of intelligence" is completely
unscientific and therefore absurd?

- Bearcat