William Tyler (
Fri, 27 Jan 1995 19:02:48 GMT

In article <3gabqq$> (David A. Johns) writes:
>In article <> (William Tyler) writes:
># In article <3g7se3$>
># (David A. Johns) writes:
># >
># >If you want to talk about human variation, that's fine. If you
># >want to sort people into categories, you've got trouble.
># Why? What you seem to be saying is somewhat equivalent to the
># following:
># String comes in various lengths. The variation in length is
># continuous. Therefore it's meaningless to describe a piece
># of string as long or short.
># That's just nonsense.
>Of course it's nonsense. But it's your nonsense, not mine.

The analogy is exact, and you make it more so below in your 'walking'

># Because no matter how much you say race is ill-defined, it is
># something that all (or nearly all) people recognize in others. It
>I nominate this as The Argument that Would Not Die.

Maybe because it's valid?

>The purpose of racial classification is not to be able to label
>distinct populations living thousands of miles apart.

Who said anything about the PURPOSE of racial classification? Not me.
I don't have a purpose for it, any more than I have a purpose in
classifying people as having blond or black hair. And incidentally,
just because there's a wide range of shades in between doesn't mean
that hair color doesn't exist.

>And while you can easily distinguish
>Japanese from Arabs (or Swedes from Nigerians, etc., as previous
>victims of this argument have suggested), you could walk and row from
>Riyadh to Tokyo and see one type gradually turn into the other along
>the way.

Right. Just as I can see a piece of string go from short at 1/16 of an
inch to long at 10 miles, but I can't say when it changed from one to
the other. You're making my argument.

>Furthermore, since "races" consist of a lot of individual
>characteristics, and these characteristics don't have the same
>geographical limits, you couldn't even find a place to make an
>arbitrary division.

Huh? I can ALWAYS find a place to make an ARBITRARY division.

>Race is a folk concept, nothing more.

If you really believe this, then what do you call the thing or things
that allow you to figure out, of the two people you have just met,
who is most likely from Nigeria and who from Sweden? (You did say
you could do this.)

Bill Tyler Adobe is not responsible for my opinions.