Tim Benham (
Thu, 26 Jan 1995 01:43:11 GMT

Rod Hagen ( wrote:
>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.

I respectfully submit that our knowledge of human genetics is
inadequate to determine a priori that it is impossible for the genetic
differences between 'races' (as used by Murray and Herrnstein) to have
behavioural consequents. Rather than rejecting their racial
classification as worthless it would be more open-minded and
scientific to evaluate its explanatory power on the basis of objective
statistical evidence. 'Political implications' has no place as an
argument in scientific debate.

>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.

People who like this sort of thing
will find this the sort of thing they like.
Tim J.Benham