Re: Identifying Race

Gary Goodman (sap@TANK.RGS.UKY.EDU)
Wed, 21 Aug 1996 18:30:10 EDT

Ralph L Holloway <rlh2@COLUMBIA.EDU> graciously points out:

RL>I don't want to enter into a useless harangue with Mr. Goodman on the
RL>matter of "race". My main objection (aside from matters of subspecies,
RL>etc) was to his statement regarding the triviality of most phenotypic
RL>characters used to delimit breeding groups, demes, or whatever. I don't
RL>kbnow wha is trivial and what isn't. I would have thought PSA's levels in
RL>the blood would be "trivial" but it turns out that if you use "white"
RL>standards you may not detect alarming and dangerous levels of these
RL>antigens from "black" prostate glands, the implication being that "blacks"
RL>are at an increased risk. I gather the same sort of applies to levels of
RL>the "new" "Bad" cholesterol that appears to be about twice as high in
RL>blacks than whites.

RL> It was my impression that Mr. Goodman was advocating the rejection of
RL>"trivial" phenotypic characteristics, indeed, anything biological, as a
RL>basis for studying human variation. If I got it wrong, my apologies.

RL>Ralph Holloway

That's okay. I was advocating that these phenotypes be used extremely
carefully for medical and anthropological purposes. And that we bear in
mind that they ARE in a VERY general sense "trivial" in classification
across the race in terms of sociocultural aspects, and many heretofore
"accepted" characteristics like character and intelligence. There seems
to have been a lot of "folk" genetics passing for science until quite

I have to wonder a bit on that PSA research though. I checked with a
friend in medical genetics and it is his knowledgable opinion the levels
had been set too high in the first study, and that the means of
determining "race" in the latter study are questionable also.

So who knows? Could be sloppy research trying to correct even sloppier.

Alas, real research, as I have lamented before, into human genetics
has been very much been hampered by the falsehoods of racialists and the
over-zealousness of well-intentioned anti-racists.

>From earlier remarks (though Jesse will probably say otherwise) I think
we are in agreement that this is a great shame. But is something we
cannot address without being very careful how we use such *snarl* words
as "race."

Finally, I feel that the human critter is a storehouse of variability,
and one of, or perhaps, THE greatest strength of the SPECIES H. sapiens
is that very variability and phenotypic ability to adapt to different
conditions. That and our technology has allowed the human race to spread
into a huge number of climes. Even space (forget not we DO have people
living there).

We should not let our greatest assent be used to divide us!

Right Professor Holloway?

Right Jesse (fingers crossed)?

Gary D. Goodman

Pentad Communications
McDaniels/Hardinsburg, KY


"The greatest historical enemy of evolution has been the Platonic
tendency -- so cognenial to logic, morals, and mathematics -- to regard
the universe as a fixed order, in which realities remain persipiciously
what they are while the mind thinks about them."
-- William Irvine, Apes, Angels, and Victorians, 1955