Michael Andrew Turton (
31 Jan 1995 23:29:09 GMT

In article <>,
George Boggs <> wrote:
>In article <3gllb4$>, (S.
>LaBonne) wrote:
>> And suppose some other readily assayed trait- say, blood-group proteins-
>> gave a totally different classification? This is often the case, though
>> I don't know about the specific example of Swedes and Norwegians. _Then_
>> who looks silly, eh?
>I would say that no one looked silly. Yet. Assuming that there are
>canonical human "groups" over which anthropometrics, blood groups, and
>whatever else you may wish to measure would agree or even strongly
>correlate might be silly, though.
>It is the *purpose* of classifying, and the *result* of classifying, not
>classification per se, that should be at issue here. However vociferously
>Mr. Turton exclaims that there are no differences between human subgroups
>that can be detected "scientifically", he just looks silly because even Mr.
>Turton would be able to detect the difference between a Zulu and a Japanese
>in the vast, vast, vast majority of cases. If Mr. Turton, in his zeal to

But of course -- you have this weird idea in your head that I
am maintaining that differences between humans do not exist. That is
a simpleminded caricature of what I have said, consistently, for the
last three months. I can't help it if you are straining at some
leftist bogeyman you've created to be smug at, George. But don't
confuse that with me. All I've ever maintained is that concepts for sorting
people which North Americans define as "races" are so shifting, cultural
in origin and undefinable that they cannot be used for assertions
about inheritance. This is common knowledge in anthropology, where
"race" was given up as a taxonomic concept decades ago. Take a stroll
through Marvin Harris' _Concepts of Race in the Americas_ for an
example of the ever-shifting nature of "race". Why is it that psychometry
si still obsessed with "race" when the scientists who actually study
groups of people gave it up decades ago?

Getting back to Zulus and Japanese......if you put me in a room
with two people I'd probably be able to nail the Zulu and the Japanese
every time, simply because your concept of what passes for Zulu and
Japanese in the real world is so narrow that I could easily distinguish
it. But all I'd be seeing is the stereotypes which live in the mind of
the person who created the (useless) room experiment.
But having actually been to Africa (and Japan, incidently)
dollars to donuts I could find you many japanese and zulus (actually a
group of peoples) whom you simply couldn't tell apart. One of the teachers
at my school, a local, had MUCH lighter skin then I did. Not being stupid like
we are, the locals never regarded him as anything other than one of their
own. The people we label "black" have an enormous range of color, origin,
language and genetic background. So are "East Asians", a "race" even more
asinine than "black."
The room analogy is simpleminded and has no application in
the real world. Not even the most raving lunatic racist regards the
the "zulus" as a race of their own -- though the same cannot be said about
the Japanese. Are they two different races, George? How is "race" to
be defined so that inheritance can be discussed? What races are present
in the world today?

>erase differences, had not enlarged the debate from "is the difference
>between American whites and blacks basic and large enough to affect
>something like native intelligence" to "there are no differences that can
>scientifically [in Mr. Turtons' scientific armamentarium, I suppose] be
>detected", this debate would not have reached its current level of
>absurdity. One poster even postulated that the statistical differences and
>similarities between humans necessarily result in either one group or five
>billion. If the poster weren't serious, that would have been amusing.
>Disambiguating between anthropometric subpopulations can have many
>benefits. With respect to human factors engineering, it makes cars more
>comfortable for various groups and complex process control systems safer to
>operate. With respect to medicine, it can make screening and preventative
>medicine more effective.

I'm delighted to see at last that you've come over to my way of
thinking, George. Never have I maintained that anthropometric subpopulations
do not exist. Only that they are not "races". Are "blacks" an anthropometric
subpopulation? Are "whites"? If so, how do you distinguish between them?
Are short chubby people a race?
>I agree that there may be no canonical set of "races" or "groups" whose
>differences are so basic that something like blood group proteins could
>distinguish them.
>Or, perhaps blood protein analysis and anthropometric analysis and skin
>albedo analysis all give different classifications. But I also say, so
>what? Does the value of distinguishing between or classifying human groups
>thereby evaporate? Of course not.
>G. Boggs
> my opinions alone, thank you

Why no, the value of classifying people for certain projects,
goals etc still remains. We have never disputed that during the entire
length of this thread, George. The dispute is over whether "race"
is a meaningful concept when inheritance is being discussed. We are
disputing only certain classifications used to group people, not the
whole process of classification.

Mike Turton