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

Gerold Firl (
13 Sep 1995 12:42:09 -0700

In article <> (Scott Sellers) writes:
>In article <>, says...

>>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.

If you are contrasting the divergant evolutionary paths which led to the
evolution of different subspecies, then you might speak of "their"
history and "our" history, though such terminology is generally
considered bad form; more suited to an ideological diatribe than to
scienctific analysis. To get a true perspective on race, it is best to
use a *human* perspective, which views the various races not from
within the perspective of one of them, but from outside all of them.

But of course, that wasn't really your question, was it? You were
suggesting that merely by acknowledging the existance of race, we
automatically build barriers between people, creating opposed camps of
us and them; again, I must disagree. I acknowledge no-such
inevitability. I enjoy the diversity of man. I revel in our diversity.
I believe that our existance is enriched by our differences.

> 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.

Thats ok; they can be proven wrong. That's the beauty of science - it's
based on data, on fact. False science can be disproven. People who try
and misuse science for their own ends can only succeed with ignorant
people; another reason to try and educate people. Knowledge is an
innoculation against demogoguery.

>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.

I understand what you're saying, and I even think I understand why you
feel that way, but I believe you are mistaken about the willingness, or
even desire, to hold racist views. Racism is very unfashionable now, at
least in western culture. So unfashionable, in fact, that people get
downright silly about the issue of race in any form.

Also, I can not take the specter of dangerous racists using the
scientific basis of race for socially destructive ends very seriously.
As I mentioned earlier, racists operate on the basis of irrational
belief, not scientific fact.

Your argument is often used to oppose knowledge which conflicts with
ideology. It was said that the copernican theory, while perhaps ok for
astronomers, was injurious to public morals and hence must be
suppressed. The same was said of evolution. And while such ideas did
lead to changes in the way we look at things, and did contribute to the
erosion of the traditional order, I can not view that as a bad thing.

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