Re: What Are the Race Deniers Denying?

17 Nov 1996 16:18:29 GMT

A Consolidated Reply to My Friendly Critics
(I hope I haven't ignored anyone.)

From: "Peter Nosko" <>
Date: 10 Nov 96 02:33:10 GMT wrote in article <5629u0$>...
> Ron Kephart ( wrote:
> : ("Duncan R. MacMillan") wrote:
> : >I get the impression that a lot of people who rubbish "The Bell
> : >Curve" seem to think that IQ was used to assign the subjects to their
> : >racial groups, instead of the other way round.
> :
> : No, that's not the problem. The problem with the Bell Curve and other
> : pseudo scientific attempts to correlate "race" and "IQ" is that people
> : are assigned to "races" based on the US folk racial taxonomy, and then
> : differences (real or otherwise) between these groups are projected
> : onto their biology. The groups are NOT biological, but CULTURAL
> : constructs, and thus the conclusion that differences in "IQ" reflect
> : differences in genetics is wrong, wrong, wrong.
> We seem to be getting no closer in finding out what the race deniers
> are denying than before. But even if we do find out, folk races differ
> from one another genetically, even if they do not precisely correspond to
> races, whatever they are, as biologists might define them. If we were to
> define the race of Evens as those who have even Social Security numbers
> and Odds with Social Security numbers, these races would indeed have
> nothing to do with genetics. And the average IQs would not differ
> significantly either.
> I do wish you would answer the basic question of what it is that the race
> deniers are denying *before* you make the denial!

Frank, you either haven't been paying enough attention to the thread or
joined it late. Ron did in fact already answer "the basic question" back
on 10/21. For your benefit, here it is again.

It was I who started the thread in the first place! I replied to Ron, too.

Ron Kephart <> wrote in article
> (Toby Cockcroft) wrote:
> > What are the race deniers denying is your question and the answer is
> > the whole notion of 'race'.
> Let me come in here with one important qualification to the above.
> We, as anthropologists, are denying that it is possible to
> organize the present world-wide population of Homo sapiens sapiens
> into discrete "racial" categories in any scientific and biologically
> meaningful way. For us a much more interesting and biologically
> meaningful question is "In what ways does this world-wide population
> vary, and what are the adaptive advantages for that variation, if
> any?"

The operative words are "scientifically and biologically meaningful
way." *This* is what I want elucidated.

[Ron-- not that you aren't capable of handling this; you are one of the few
involved in this thread making good use of the bandwidth. I just happened
to have your prior post handy.]


From: (cynthia gage)
Date: Sun, 10 Nov 1996 11:17:19 -0500
In article <5629u0$>, () wrote:
> Ron Kephart ( wrote:
> : Of course, there is also a problem with the whole concept of "IQ" and
> : the notion that it represents anything more than performance on a test
> : which happens to be called an "IQ Test."
> May I ask you why anyone would administer these tests if they had
> *nothing* to do with anything beyond the tests themselves?
Because we like to split people into meaningless little categories?
Because the people that decides to administer the tests in the first place
enjoyed the idea of creating a limited time "test" that could easily turn
individuals with creative abilities into numbers on a scale based on their
ability to answer highly specific and ethnocentric questions?

FRANK NOW (again, actually, since I addressed this
before): Splitting people, or anything, into
categories is nothing less than forming concepts. Of
course, we form concepts all the time that have no
reference to reality (e.g., god), but those who do
certainly do not think they are doing something
meaningless, unless you suppose there is some sort of
innate drive to form concepts that is so strong that
it overrides any consideration that the the concepts
are meaningless. (You might be right, at that!) To
keep the topic on thread, I'll should ask why race,
rather than IQ, is meaningless, and of course I want
to know what it is that is meaningless.

Regards your second question: I see nothing wrong with
trying to assign numbers per se, or (on the thread's
topic, to subdivide mankind in to partially
overlapping races), though whether intelligence is
one-dimensional is certainly of great interest, as is
giving limited time tests. But as for ethnocentricity,
this needs to be empirically examined and measured.
Until this is done, all we'll have is half-educated
guesses as to whether it is major or minor. But this
is really for another thread, unless it can be tied in
to the *concept* of race.


From: Laura Finsten <>
Date: 10 Nov 1996 19:44:07 GMT

Well, I posted this weeks ago, and it was a response to your
excitement when I posted a list of names of people who are
tenured universities.

This was not addressed to me and had to do with those
who openly espouse the view that there are biological
races in man and that they differ in important and
innate psychological factors, such as temperament and
intelligence. (I need no quotes from Rushton here, but
I would like to see them for Gordon and Gottfredson.)

I'd like to get a list of the names of such professors
who have *recently* granted tenure with such publicly
stated positions.

From: Messiah <>
Date: Tue, 12 Nov 1996 14:29:35 -0800

Quite true, race is determined but mutliple atributes, but it's

FRANK NOW: That's a strong word, "completely."

arbitary which attributes are considered. Anthroplogists
claiisfy East Indians has white, but I've seen Dravidians as black as

FRANK NOW: I know of no biologist who divides a species into
subspecies on the basis of one characteristic alone. And I
refer not just to man.

I am certain the average white person doesn't think of
Dravidians as white. Anthropologist say that because they have straight
hair and thin lips they're white, but one can find Africans with thin
lips and noses.

FRANK NOW: If there were no overlap, there would be no races. The
groups would be different species, according to what is called "genetic
species," meaning groups that do not in fact interbreed, even
though they can. Lions and tigers constitute an example: they
rarely, if ever, interbreed in the wild.

People will belive what they want to, theuir opinions
have been shaped by pasty experiences. Depeneding on who the taxonimst
is, their are between one(the human race)race, to three races(white,
black and oriental) to three hundred races or more. You can find
multiple differences between Nigerians and Ethiopians, does that mean
tha tthey are in different races? You can find multiple differecnes
between Irish and Ukranians, does that mean they're different races? You
can finf multiple differeces between Mogolians and Japanese, does that
meaan their different races? You can always find something different
about people.

FRANK NOW: This is true of subspecies generally, and not just in
man. Is a race denier one who denies that the very notion of a
subspecies is invalid?

I consider Jews white, but some people don't. Some
historians condier todays Jews the descendants of Europeans who
converted to Judaism, which makes Judaism a religion, not a faith.


I think you don't mean what you said. In any case, you
might be refering to the Khazar hypothesis, that say
that the Askenazi Jews descend, not from the children
of Israel, but from a group of people in the Caucasus
Mountains who converted to Judaism and who fled to
Eastern Europe after the Russians came south and
disrupted them. No one doubts that that this happened:
the argument is over how many there were in proportion
to the Askenazi Jews as a whole. The best-known
proponent of the Khazar hypothesis is Arthur Koestler,
_The Thirteenth Tribe_. If you're interested in this
subject, the Tuesday science section of the _New York
Times_ on October 29 featured an article about
linguistic evidence that Yiddish is not primarily
Germanic as mainstream opinion holds.

are black Jews, some Ethiopians, who like their European counterparts,
converted to Judaism) So this means there isn't a Jewish race, but to
some people there is. Different peple see things differently. This
means, that Jews, share the same ancestry as other whites(actually, all
humans share the same ancestry, if we go back far enough).

From: Messiah <>
Date: Thu, 14 Nov 1996 12:52:12 -0800


And, as I sad, melanin is just one chemical, different groups of humans
have difderent chemical similiarites, such as the hering tribes like the
masai of Knya and the Northern Europeans, both of whom produce the
enzyme lactase do digest milk, while other populations like the Southern
Europeans, Most Other Africans, and American Indians do not produce this
enzyme. it makes as much since to classfy people into lactase producing
and non lactase producing populations as it does to classify according
to skin color, or hair type, and as it was pointed out in the earlier
post, even that is arbitrary, it depends on which country that it's in.

FRANK NOW (and then he'll shut up):
Ever since Darwin, biologists strive to classify on
the basis of evolutionary descent, not on the basis of
the properties of individuals in the groups being
classified. (This raises serious problems with Ayn
Rand's notion of definition. I can repost some pieces
on this.) As it happens, very often we have only very
partial evidence, esp. in fossils where there is no
DNA evidence. Biologists then are forced to classify
on the basis of properties, which leaves major room
for error, esp. if there has been convergent or
backward evolution. On the other hand, using DNA
evidence has its own problems, and this I have at last
figured out (I haven't read it anywhere) is because

Now, biologists reading this pay close attention
please and tell me if I am wrong:

The general bias most of us have is to look at things
as though *we* were designing them. If I were to build
an animal, I would almost certainly build it so that
each gene or small group of genes would do some
specific thing (or small set of things) *I* intended
the animal to do. And indeed we go about looking for
"the" gene that causes "this" behavior. We find them
sometimes but usually, I think, when something goes

What happens in the course of biological evolution is
that parts of lots of functions are done by parts of
lots of genes. Each tiny evolutionary step has to have
survival value, so that the organisms acquiring that
step increase their population relatively to the
others. It's tinkering, as opposed to design. And so
speciation can take place with not all that much
tinkering. We share something like 98 1/2 percent of
our genes with the chimps, and I recently read in a
report about the Human Genome Project that there are
stretches in our DNA that look just like stretches in
yeast. This is fascinating stuff. I should think that
the difference between us and the chimps was far
smaller at the time the speciation took place than it
is now and we may have been 99.9% related to the
chimps at that time. And this means that a small
change in just one gene that partly controls a great
many things, can have large changes in the organism.

The moral is that, if speciation is superficial, so
even more is raciation. So if the race deniers are
denying that racial differences are profound, I don't
think they are denying much.

At any rate, grouping on the basis of some single
characteristic, such as possessing lactase, may have
some uses, but not, as far as I know, toward
classifying groups of men by evolutionary descent.

Frank Forman
"It is a far, far better thing to be firmly
anchored in nonsense than to put out on the
troubled seas of thought" - John Kenneth Galbraith