Rod Hagen (
Wed, 25 Jan 1995 13:06:26 +1000

In article <3g1ti5$>,
<> wrote:

> "Race" is a taxonomic concept. Taxonomists classify
> subspecies; I don't see why it is illegitimate to talk about race.

The trouble however, is that "sub species" as defined by biologists are
generally seen as comparatively loose, somewhat arbitrary groupings,
merging into each other in genetic terms. When people start talking about
"race" in human terms, they tend to start operating as if the divisions
are cast in iron, associated with all sorts of epiphenomena. They also
start rationalising all sorts of obviously cultural differences as
biologically determined ones.

The reality, in biological terms, is that there is very, very little
difference in the genomes of even the "ideal types" of different human
populations, and that the variation within these populations means that
the definitions of human "sub-species" are arbitrary in the extreme.
Couple this with substantial mobility between the populations and the
concepts of race and sub-species cease to have utility for explaining
human behaviour. Despite this, "explaining" human behaviour seems to be
the thing that those committed to biologically determinist views seem to
spend most of their time on.

If it wasn't for the political implications of their activities, we would
probably simply regard them as a bunch of researchers who are simply
heading down an obviously dead end tunnel, with very little chance of
discovering anything very illuminating. The populist appeal of theories
that re-inforce jingoism and xenophobia however, together with the
opportunism of those who can gain political advantage by supporting them
however, means that we simply can't afford to ignore them.

Rod Hagen