Re: What Are the Race Deniers Denying?

Philip Deitiker (
Sun, 03 Nov 1996 06:42:41 GMT () wrote:

>In article <55b2s9$>,
>Philip Deitiker <> wrote:
>> (Gerold Firl) wrote:
>>>C-S seems to be saying that we can classify the species into an
>>>arbitrary number of races, depending on what level of clustering we
>>>choose to establish demarcations, and hence race is "unstable". I
>>>guess that's a fair statement, but it shouldn't be interpreted to mean
>>>that race has no basis in biology. The genetic clusters do exist, and
>>>they do correspond to the standard processes of adaptation and drift
>>>which always create geographic variation in any species.
>>I don't think any geneticist will argue this point, every population
>>is going to have variation to the extent it can't be made identical to
>>another population. The issue really revolves around who should, and
>>under what circumstances population based genetic distinctions be
>>made. There are some people in the medical fields who have tried to
>>equate intelligence with 'race' and these types of assertions are
>>founded on intelligence tests not genetics test. The reason I bring
>>this up is that I know folks who are involved in the study of genetics
>>of human intelligence, and the pathways which are unknown outnumber
>>the known pathways by magnitudes of ten. How can someone ascribe
>>intelligence without defining the relative weakness or strengths of
>>the points in the pathways which govern intelligence (not withstanding
>>the environmentally derived input in to intelligence). In modern age
>>when one ascribes intelligence to any form of inheritance pattern on
>>is obligated to provide the genetics (linkage at minimum for the
>>traits). This has been done for a whole host of disorders, but has
>>never been equated with tripartite genetic separation.

>No, no, no! It is desirable, of course, and may eventually happens, but it
>is extremely common for nonobservables to be given theoretical status long
>before the thing being postulated is found. The best case in point here is
>the gene itself! No one saw one until the 1950s (I think that's the
>decade) when we finally developed microscopes that were good enough. And
>there are other entities, like quarks, that may never be seen. You are
>invoking what is called "operationalism," which had its uses in its day in
>chasing out spooks like "elan vital," "entelechy," "ether," and so on, but
>is now a dead philosophy, for not being in accordance with actual
>scientific practice.

There is a reason that 'gene' is set aside for a kind of placemaker
function. Even today, geneticist, find a trait which they neither have
knowledge of the sequence or the gene product. And example might be
Unc-15 which ascribes it as the fifteenth deteected uncoordinated
movement mutant, later with more studies the defective or missing
protein may be uncovered and it can get a biochemical name, such as
paramyosin. What about the physical map, localization on the physical
map might gives the designation Vq.12.345. How are all these things

Vq.12.345 is a cryptic physical mapping unit
Unc-15 is a semi-informative genetic map label system accurate to
about (+/- 10 to 100 genes)
paramyosin describes a proteins function

There is also a reason geneticist use an intraspecies catagorization
other than race, but just to humor you lets look at how the tripartite
race systems compares to even the early gene work.

Very early in gentics, say 80 years ago, it was possible for
geneticists to define things called linkage groups (also known as
chromosomes). In linear chomosomes it was possible to define whether a
gene is on the short or long arm and physically mapped, most genes
were mapped fairly quickly (within four or five years after discovery)
to about 1 to 10 map units (About 500Kbp to 100 Mbp depending on the
species). All of this was done without anyknowledge of how
inheritiance was encoded.

Now lets see what race has to offer as a fuzzy holder.
Three races (African, Caucasion, Asian) and sub groups within each

Step 1.
Genetic studies show us that 'african' has subgroups that are much
more varient from one another than caucasion vary from east asians
so to rearrange the system we immediately get:
African1,2,3,4,......,and Non Africans. A fairly large descrepancy
between the usage and the described.

Step 2. Next take the subgroup Non-Africans (which contains 2 races)
and look at these:
Even without genetics it is apparent that many world groups do
not fit snuggly into any one racial catagory. One group clearly
separates from the others, the autralo-aborigines and solomon
islanders (And BTW by comparing caucasions with east asians means that
both australo oborigines and solomon islanders will get there own
group.) The genetics demonstrated that these groups have remained
pretty much isolated for about the last 45 KY. In a genetic based
system this group might get a middle tier

such as

Solomon Islanders
<space for other islandic asiatic groups not yet resolved>
Continental Euarasions and Precolmbian Americans

In addition other groups such as amerinds, mediterranians, dravidians,
etc, etc, will also need separate groups. Each of these groups appears
to have had at least some genetic exchange with adjacent groups. A
late exception would be the southern amerinds which separated
themselves rather significantly about 12 or more KBP.

Continental Eurasions and Precolumbian americans
etc . . . .

Step 3.
Going back to africa, while major groupings can be made, so little of
african genetics has been studied that its near impossible to place
subgroups. So getting back to the old deifinition.....

Current widely used defintion of race is:


Now try to overlay this with the following structure:

African 1
<leaving space here for 2 tier and third tier groupings>
African 2
African 3
. . . . .
African N
Non African
Islandic asiatic group 1
" " 2
" " N
Continental Eurasions and Precolumbian americans
Amerind group 1
Amerind group 2
Amerind 3 and proximal siberians

The question I ask is with almost no correlation between objective
structure and the structure called 'race', how do you intend to
resolve the inaccuracies of the 'race' without creating a great deal
of confusion for the those who are going to use the designation? One
racial catagory contains all but one first tier group. A second
catagory contains all but one or two of a large number
of third tier representatives, two or more second tier catagories go
completely unrepresented. An unknown number of secondd and third tier
catagories are piled together into 4 or more 1tier catagories.

If we are to equate cuacasion with a major grouping in a
catagorization system known as 'race', then about 20 or more
equivilenty or more distinct groups are commonly missing from the
catagorization (never minding the aukwardness of the flattening out
several heirarchal levels). That would be like drosphila geneticist
missing 20 major chromosomes for 80 or so years or study. Likewise
current scinetific publications on a species with 30 chromosomes where
the authors ignore 10 to 28 chromosomes depending on where the map is
published for political or cultural reasons. Tell you what, go to a
conferance and show a map of the human chromosome missing say 12
chromosome and describe it as the complete map, see how receptive the
audiance will be...go anywhere in the world, see how it flies. Thats
how racial distinctions fly with people who work with human genetics.

So you still think 'race' is an equivilantly good holder for
describing the variations of the human population. Even using your
example of the 'gene' and the evolution of its progess toward
'absolute' mapping, the 'race' catagorization now functions about as
well as the usage 'gene' did in the early 1920s and hasn't really
change in a couple hundred years. For those who are working on the
race problem, sounds to me like progress is rather slow, maybe too
slow to be scientifically useful, don't you think?

In the mean time, with this large unresolved inaccuracy in the
catagorization system, political agencies have adopted and concreted
such a system in to active use (a problem the geneticist ever had to
face) so that it becomes increasing difficult for science to come back
and modify the usage (which can easily be done for many other
technical terminiologies) and have that usage catch on. They tried to
change the measurement system in the US first by suggestion and then
by coercion but the new measurement system never took. The same fate
awaits any similar modification in the way 'race' is percieved, it has
been concretized in various places in the world into the
social/political systems and is not amicable to change.


BTW, the chromosomes basic structure was not idenitified by a
microscopic observation, but by using helical transfomation of X-ray
crystallographic images (through a mathematical process known as
fourier transformation). I think you can find the original paper in
the journal Nature circa 1955 to 1959 (see Watson and Crick). It
turns out that this structure is an idealization of functional
chromosomal stuctures and many variant structures have henceforth been
uncovered, many of which are critical to the way genes _function_.