Re: Identifying Race

Gary Goodman (sap@TANK.RGS.UKY.EDU)
Wed, 21 Aug 1996 17:38:00 EDT

<<<continued from previous message>>

>>Just that certain characteristics of
>>the human variety of phenotypes have been given far too much weight in
>>the pigeonholers' need for subdivisions of the subspecies we call us.

JC>Oh! Are you one of those who think we are a subspecies? What is your basis
JC>for thinking so?

Gosh I don't know -- general consensus perhaps? <g> Let me turn that
around and ask the list -- how many think modern man is NOT a subspecies
(though the sole suviving one) of the primate species Homo sapiens? That
archaic Homo sapiens differs enough to qualify as a subspecies? But
Neanderthal does not enough to be a separate species? Not that numbers
would prove anything...

Hey, even the Homo neanderthalis gang seem to generally think we are Homo
sapiens sapiens! I am following the lead of Richard Leakey and Don
Johanson among most other hominid experts I am aware. At least those
outside England, France and Harvard. (g>

The question really should be -- why you do not?

Or demand we follow you mein fuhrer?

>>Perhaps also that culture has to some extent superceded strictly
>>biological evolutionary parameters. That cultural selective pressures
>>are possibly becoming paramount in evolution for humans. Any
>>disagreement with that possibility Ralph?
>>>> At best, since there is biologically but a single human race, we must
>>>> drop down below a variety, into terms of little generally accepted
>>>> meaning with regard to humans especially, to place the classifications
>>>> generally termed "human races." This is an infraspecial taxonomic
>>>> classification not quite officially recognized: the Sub-variety (or
>>>> perhaps a "microspecies" or Jordanon): signifying populations with minor
>>>> regularly recurring variations within an isolate that can be generally
>>>> passed along, only within selected and separate interbreeding groups of
>>>> that isolate due to physical (or in the case of humans -- cultural) barr
>>RL>Another way of looking at this is to get rid of the notion that we are o
>>RL>"race". We are one "species", and we pattern into exactly the sorts of
>>RL>smaller units you discuss above. The point I am suggesting is that there
>>RL>are hundreds if not thousands of them, so why bother cataloguing them?
>>RL>Especially since their frequencies fluctuate with each generation.
>>EXACTLY my point Ralph -- why are we arguing on this? Or are we?

JC>You've got to be kidding: EXACTLY your point? As he pointed out, we should
JC>not say that "there is biologically but a single human race" as you did.

Well since there is but ONE living member-group of Homo sapiens around
nowadays, this *is* a somewhat "trivial" point. Depends on whether as a
classifier one is a splitter or a lumper (need I explain THAT?). You
seemed to have completely missed the key point we did agree upon. That
in present day terms -- whether or not you choose to believe we are H.
sapiens or H. sapiens sapiens -- to divide humans much beyond that point
into "races," except for strictly scientific convenience, seems destined
to cause more trouble than it is worth.

Once again you keep missing the real point. Hope you don't hunt Jesse.
Else you must have put a LOT of lead into the ecosystem!

Besides, in a earlier and much longer version of this post (err... did
you catch that I was REPOSTING this Jesse?), I *had* gone into this very
point, as I KNEW that Ralph was aware (or should have been). That the
division of so-called "races" can go from one extreme (the 'bushpeople,'
most African supertribes, and EVERYONE ELSE) to another (the hundreds of
"races" some have "found" in Africa alone).

>And, any resemblance between your gobbledegook and what Ralph said is purely
>coincidental. What "is an infraspecial taxonomic classification" anyway?
>And what does it mean to be "not quite officially recognized"?

Okay, there you have a (tiny) point, but this came from a book I had
around and should have been "intraspecific" anyway. (Danged! thought I
got that typo out of the file!) Meaning within a species -- in any good
scientific dictionary. And am I wrong that classification below the
variety level (for that matter below the SPECIES) level is a very fluid
area? That there is a difference between what ecologists would accept
(such as microspecies) and what might past muster in another disciple's
lab? Are taxa REALLY that clear-cut, especially with cladistics
upsetting the Linnean order (as transposons do the species)?

Am I wrong about the below species disorder?

Care to do a Nexis on this?

>>I think that "race" needs to be taken away as far as possible from its
>>"biological" aspects. Or perhaps more accurately "pseudo-biological"
>>aspects. But this will be a slow process; because of the common usage,
>>cultural reinforcement, dated texts, and the enshrinement into sociocultural
>>mind sets the re-definition will be resisted, as it has been here.

JC>What "has been resisted here"? And what or who does "here" refer to?

I suggest you re-read past posts HERE on the list. What more can I say
and not waste bandwidth?

JC>How do you propose to take "race" "away as far as possible from its
JC>'bilogical' aspects"? How do you propose to redefine it?

Modify the word with adjectives to clarify how it is being used THIS
time (look up "race" in a good unabridged sometime why don't ya?). And
since it has so many associations with racism, use it very carefully
among ourselves and seek to get this practiced elsewhere (as I had
pointed out).

No "redefinition" is needed. Just clarity in usage.

>>Not to mention mandated governmental policies to be overcome

JC>What "mandated governmental policies" did you have in mind?

You living on a desert isle? Affirmative Action ring a bell? Racial
quotas? Bussing? The whole sorry mess.

Once again -- sheesh!!

>>without tossing
>>the babies out with the bathwater (though "Welfare Reform" seems to have
>>done just that!).

JC>Ah, now we are into political punditry.

Nope. Have you actually READ the new bill? Anyone really believe
separate but equal via the states (yeah, they are certainly immune to
political graft and special interest influence all right!) will not
create great inequalities in nationwide aid to children?

If so -- do you believe in little blue men also?

JC>>Here is a task that Anthropologists (including us budding ones) need to

JC>You mean you are not an anthropologist yet?

You really don't pay much attention to anyone but yourself do you Jesse?
I thought EVERYONE that had been on the list awhile knew I was (slowly
as I am tied up in TWO court battles and a forced auction, and unable
to attend the classes I'd planned upon -- missed a great workshop in
forenstic anthro in Indiana dammit!) moving over from clinic and social
psychology into anthropology, but that I had always tried to keep up as
best I could as it was simply the fact my school had a better psychology
department than anthropological that got me into *that* field.

To find my heart was over here...

I'd certainly mentioned my "amateur" and transitional status pretty
regularly -- have I not -- everyone else? Ever made *any* claims to
being a "professional"? But a student from an allied field?


And is that supposed to prove much of anything? Hmmm?

JC>>But if people realized [cut] That natural
JC>>selection is NOT the glacially slow process short-sighted evolutionists
JC>>in the early part of the century managed to get firmly fixed into our
JC>>textbooks. And as a result too many of us who really should know

JC>For a "budding" anthropologist, you are pretty cocky. You really should
JC>know better. That debate has been raging among those who *do* know better
JC>ever since Eldrege and Gould published their paper on "Punctuated
JC>Equalibria" in 1972. And the debate has by no means been settled.

Oh grow up Jesse. Are you *actually* trying to convince anyone by this
childishness? I been following the rate debate since well before that
(Endler's Geographic Variation, and his guppy work springs to mind). Did
a paper on this right at the time (A-). BOY! the bull sessions on this!
Was working on illustrating and editing a friend's book on evolution and
the rate debate when he died in 1988, much drawn *from* _Time Frames_. I
remember quite well that debate and the fuss the centennial republishing
of Darwin's original _Descent of Man_ caused about the neglected aspect
of sexual selection the year before in 71. But I have also seen reasons
to think that it has not really sunk into a lot of people's subconscious
yet, whatever their lip-service.

Anyone else think there is still considerable out-of-date thought across
the human sciences on this? That more than a few not directly involved
in evolution seem rather unaware that natural selection is now
well-proved by experimentation and sound long-term research?

(I bet quite a few here agree with me)

You are not REALLY attempting "Argumentum ad verecundiam" here are you?

I certainly hope not...

Plus, I would advise you see how this is handled in K-12 school texts
(where it appears at all), popular texts and references. The old SLOW
EVOLUTION mindset still prevails. And how well this is driven out in
college can be debated. The word about the solid evidence of natural
selection and evolution research does NOT seem to be getting out there!

Most recent evolution texts seem to mention this problem, or so it
seems, miss THAT too Jesse?

And Niles spells his name Eldredge (turnabout is fair play).

>>I suspect we agree on most of this Ralph, but I really want to hear your
>>thoughts and the others here. Even you Jesse (if you get them
>>cockleburrs from under yer saddle).

JC>I'm afraid the "cockleburrs" are still there, or hadn't you noticed?

Oh yes... Are you PROUD of this?

"Verr-rity strannggee!" said the little man in the German helmet behind
the potted plant.

Gary D. Goodman

Pentad Communications
McDaniels/Hardinsburg, KY


"That much of the rectilinearity of evolution is the product of the
minds of scientists to move in straight lines than a tendency of nature
to do so."
--G. G. Simpson (anyone remember which book that's from? MEANING?)