Re: Homo Sapiens needs to be classified in sub species.

Scott Sellers (
Wed, 13 Sep 1995 03:45:57 GMT

In article <>, says...
>In article <428o9d$> (Allan Dunn) writes:
>> I wonder why it would be useful at all? If anyone has insight on
>>this I would like to know.
>To me, the most useful information which could be gained by a thorough
>understanding of human races (where race is synonomous with biological
>subspecies) is the resulting insight into our evolutionary past. The
>current pattern of human races (muddied as it is by massive mixing) is a
>map of both gene flow and the movement of peoples. In trying to piece
>together our history, this is vital data.

It seems odd to speak of "our" evolutionary past while at the same time attempting to
divide humans along evolutionary lines. If the focus is upon the differentiation of
human subspecies, wouldn't differentiated terms be more appropriate? Of course, that
would be part of the task. And can we really speak of "our" history if we are divided
into unmuddied (pure?) races? How about, say, "our" history and "their" history.

>It's good that people have a social conscience, and are concerned about the
>possible misuse of knowledge. But I think that attempting to claim that
>race among humans is purely a social fiction is an absurd over-reaction.

I agree. Race is not "purely" a social fiction. However, I'd say the preponderance of
the uses of "race" as a category in human history, past AND present, have been, and
are, social fiction.

>Anyone with any knowledge of evolutionary biology can clearly see that
>there are human subspecies.

So can anyone with any racist theory.

>Attempting to enforce an ideological gag-order
>on such people is orwellian doublethink. On the other hand, telling
>xenophobic racists that their mania has no scientific basis is equally
>futile; anyone who uses race as a primary classification tool for their
>interactions with other individuals will not be concerned about getting
>their science straight.

Again, I agree. Right-thinking xenophobic racists' usually rely directly upon the Word
of God to back their positions. Not that they will pass on the odd bit of science,
psuedo or otherwise. Hitler claimed a sound scientific basis for his racial theories.
Even if your "pure science" approach arrives at a conclusion that is value neutral
regarding the various "subspecies," just think how certain scholars will misinterpret,
amplify, or flat out misrepresent it.

>I suppose this ideological campaign is really aimed at the people in the
>middle, those who don't have enough evolutionary biology to understand what
>a subspecies is, and who are not mired in an ideology which depends on
>racist notions of superiority/inferiority.

I'd say most people would not limit their conception of human subspecies to the hard
biological science you might come up with. Probably enough people to make a plurality
in, say, the U.S.A. today. And while the "people in the middle" may not currently be
"mired" in racist ideology, I wouldn't consider them unsusceptible to such. See
Germany, 1930's-40's, or the Deep South, Slavery era, or the former Yugoslavia today.

>But however noble your goal may
>be, using disinformation to sway the debate will be counterproductive in
>the long run. Race does exist, but that doesn't mean we have to be racist.
>The sooner we can drain the emotional rancor from ths debate, the sooner we
>can get back to the more pleasant task of pursueing the science of man.

Noble? I'd say pragmatic. I wish I shared your faith that science will somehow out in
the "long run." I don't. I think that people are profoundly ideological animals,
science be hanged. The theory you espouse, while perhaps having some value in the
pursuit of truth, would, I'm afraid, be far more significant as fodder for ideologies
which reach far beyond the scope of science, into the realm of politics and power.
But, go ahead. Tack up your thesis. Just watch out who yanks it down and runs with
it. But, I guess that's not really your concern. Here's to pleasant pursuits.

>Disclaimer claims dat de claims claimed in dis are de claims of meself,
>me, and me alone, so sue us god. I won't tell Bill & Dave if you won't.
>=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=---- Gerold Firl @ ..hplabs!hp-sdd!geroldf

Scott Sellers