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FireGarden
1st March 2003, 08:22 AM
This topic could have gone in science or politics, but I'd like to find out what the people who read CSSMariner's thread think, so I posted it under Philosophy.

From the other thread, I think it would be fair to say that everyone agrees that humanity can be divided into groups (we can call these races), but that there is no agreement on whether these divisions serve any useful purpose, whether they are objective or arbitrary etc. The plaudit of "scientific" was being argued over. I hope that this thread will clarify matters by comparing possible methods of division.

Sure,
people have different shaped eyes and skin of different shades of brown, but where does dividing along that criteria get anyone?

Why not divide along whether or not people can touch their nose with their tongue? Or whether or not they are colour blind? (Physical ability)

Or on whether or not people have inherited the genes for cystic fibrosis? (Health characteristics - which the insurance companies may want to use, especially if genes associated with cancer/heart disease risks are found.)

Republican/Democrat?
Maybe you think dividing by territory is enough.

Anyway,
have a vote, post your opinion.

Plutarck
1st March 2003, 10:28 AM
I'm for "Why bother?"

Ultimately the usefulness of a measurement can only be judged relative to what one is trying to achieve; to divide humanity just for the sake of doing it, one may just as well pick any way of doing it and be equally justified.

First one must define the goals - only then can one create the proper measurements, which themselves are only a guide in service of directing actions to help achieve the stated goals.

I le'rn'd thata from thu Theory O' Constraints, ayup ;)

Christian
1st March 2003, 10:32 AM
The answer depends on why you want to divide (classify?).

If you want to divide into the group of five in order of arrival to serve dinner, this is good.

If you want to divide into group of three in order of height to shoot them, that is bad.

First answer why do you want to divide, then I will answer if it useful and objective.

FireGarden
1st March 2003, 11:11 AM
Well,
The "why bother" option is off to a flying start.

I'm happy.
Four other people are happy.
Eventually someone will come along and explain why the concept of race hasn't been abandoned.

Christian,
I gave one reason on behalf of insurance companies. Not one I like, but there it is.

World cup football teams....
Haves and have-nots....
Breeding "super-humans"...

I don't have a reason to divide into races.
Obviously, I can see why schools are divided according to age, but I'm not aware of anyone calling this division "race" (Nobody inherits their age, of course, so that's a bad example)

2nd March 2003, 08:09 PM
It seems to me that the vast majority of people find ways of dividing themselves into groups.

Nova Land
2nd March 2003, 10:58 PM
There are 2 very useful tools for critical thinking. One is the ability to see that 2 things are essentially the same in some respect. The other is the ability to see that 2 things are essentially different in some respect.

Knowing which tool to apply when is important.

There are people who only draw distinctions, never see samenesses. This makes it harder for them to empathize with others -- makes them argumentative.

And there are people who hate drawing distinctions, feel it is divisive, want to consider everything the same. (I see this among a lot of New Age types.) This makes it harder for them to make good judgments.

I think the ability to draw meaningful distinctions is one of the most important tools we have for advancing as a civilization.

fishbob
3rd March 2003, 12:06 AM
How best to divide Humanity I voted for "Why Bother" as the next best choice to "It would be best not to". Dividing up Humanity leads to a lot of Us vs. Them which leads to lots of inhumanity.

3rd March 2003, 02:20 AM
Let them join up and post on this forum it has got pretty good at dividing people if you feel the need for such.:(

Sorry humanity is one large family why should it be divided?:( We are all humans we should look after each other, and not look for ways to divide it into the them and us:(

I will not divided humanity into categories, that goes against my nature and heart. Color, creed, sexual orientation, beliefs, wealth, age, etc etc etc... sorry under all of that you are still human and part of humanity. There is no need for division.:(

stamenflicker
3rd March 2003, 04:00 AM
I selected "Other." I say let the Genome Project finish, then let a computer pick the natural kinds. I suspect we would see some interesting groupings.

Flick

FireGarden
3rd March 2003, 12:55 PM
Nova Land,
Re: "There are 2 very useful tools for critical thinking.... Knowing which tool to apply when is important. "

You may be right, but you've dodged the question. So I'll ask you a specific question.

Insurance companies may well feel inclined to divide people along lines of health risks. They are seeing an "essential difference". Would you be willing to deny a group of people medical insurance because they are at greater risk of developing diabetes/Alzheimer's/whatever? (And raising prices isn't an escape, you'll still be denying some people access) Or would you be motivated by seeing an "essential sameness" and decide that everyone needs access to medical insurance?

Insurance companies already split by age, male/female and past record when setting premiums for driving insurance. Are you in favour of something similar for medical insurance?

Flick,
The problem is that so far there does not seem to be any "natural kind"

How many genes have to be unique to a group before it qualifies as a "kind"? What if the groupings end up being family sized?

And (most importantly) are you grouping OBL with the muppets?

DanishDynamite
3rd March 2003, 02:36 PM
Your question is biased, so I haven't voted.

A better question would be:

"Given the definition of subspecies/race, which of the geographically varying characteristics of the human species would you find most useful as the basis for a classification scheme?"

3rd March 2003, 02:38 PM
Bilaterally.

arcticpenguin
3rd March 2003, 02:42 PM
I would divide humanity based on two criteria: sex and sexual preference. Then I would ignore the other three groups and concentrate my attention on the heterosexual females.

3rd March 2003, 02:46 PM
I have decided I am selecting a strong hold of the strongest males, a few women(saves inbreeding and I need girly time occasionally) and I am chucking every body I don't want out of the whole of America, Canada, Mexico basically that half of the world and New Zealand as I like the place and re-naming it Pie's own Island. :D

The rest of the world and it's population can go live on the other bit.:p

There you go divided, so start packing unless you recieve a note under your pillow from me.:D

Plutarck
3rd March 2003, 04:34 PM
Originally posted by GoodPropaganda

Insurance companies may well feel inclined to divide people along lines of health risks. They are seeing an "essential difference". Would you be willing to deny a group of people medical insurance because they are at greater risk of developing diabetes/Alzheimer's/whatever? (And raising prices isn't an escape, you'll still be denying some people access) Or would you be motivated by seeing an "essential sameness" and decide that everyone needs access to medical insurance?

Insurance companies already split by age, male/female and past record when setting premiums for driving insurance. Are you in favour of something similar for medical insurance?

I'll take the question upon myself, too.

Sure, I have no problem with what insurance companies do (specifically what is mentioned above) - so long as it is a judgement based on reality, and not mere folk discrimination.

Insurance companies have a simple motive in this regard: sell risk-reducing products at a profit. Fact is, you can't make a profit selling to an AIDS patient. Sorry, but if the premium is affordable for them then it is highly, highly unlikely that you could ever make money at doing it. To that extent, those with a high risk of becomining an AIDS patient are equally undesirable for the selling of insurance, as you are increasingly likely to loose money on them too. They could do it, but to keep both the employees and the investors happy they would have to raise rates on everyone else - and "everyone else" might not be ok with that, either.

Thus the question of "shouldn't everyone have health insurance" is a question not for private companies, but for government (at least to some considerable extent, anyway); or, even more desirable from a capitalistic standpoint, it is a question for the market as a whole. Would you actually buy a health insurance plan which is more expensive than others, yet provides health insurance to certain "high risk" or "loss leader" people? If you would then that's fine, and if a company can keep/make their investors and employees happy then more power to them!

However, I have yet to hear an insurance adjusters say, "I'm sorry, but according to the statistics it would not be likely that insuring you would be profitable, therefore, I can't go to dinner with you." This shows the point I said earlier: a given measurement can only be judged relative to a purpose or goal.

Thus insurance rate tables are a valid, good measurement in relation to the goals of running an insurance business, but not a valid or good measure in relation to the goals of deciding whether or not to go to dinner with someone (unless you have something strange in mind...).

There is no good, valid measurement of humanity as a whole relative to some non-specific all-inclusive purpose or goal. There are simply too many conflicting goals which must be weighted against each other to permit it.

3rd March 2003, 04:48 PM
There are two types of people in this world: those who will let you smoke their weed without charging you, and everyone else.

Nova Land
3rd March 2003, 05:22 PM
Originally posted by GoodPropaganda

You may be right, but you've dodged the question. So I'll ask you a specific question.
You're right. Sorry, it wasn't an intentional evasion. I was skimming the thread quickly, and what caught my eye was people saying division wasn't good, so I wrote a quick post in defense of drawing divisions.

Your question about which divisions of humanity make sense is a good one. I agree with Plutarck, though -- I don't know what divisions would make sense unless I know what the situation is that makes us consider drawing distinctions. Sometimes the division into female and male makes sense, sometimes it doesn't. Dividing people by blood type can be a good idea -- as the past weeks sad events show.

Unfortunately the example you ask me to respond to -- insurance companies -- is one I can't answer well. I deliberately don't have any insurance because I don't approve of the way the for-profit insurance industry works.

(The idea of people in a society setting up a system to share risks and help each other out when unexpected hardships strike individual members is a good one. The for-profit system which exists, however, pays excessive salaries to a few while not adequately meeting the needs of those contributing to the system. Until an adequate not-for-profit system exists, I'd prefer to keep the money use it for my own needs, giving what I can spare to help out others. Fortunately I'm disgustingly healthy; my average annual medical expenses, not counting veterinarians, is \$0.00.)

Since I don't really approve of insurance companies as they are set up, it's hard for me to think of which divisions I'd approve of them using. Could you give me a different example to respond to?

3rd March 2003, 05:24 PM
Two kinds: Those who are holding and those who are not.

stamenflicker
3rd March 2003, 05:49 PM
Good Props,

How many genes have to be unique to a group before it qualifies as a "kind"? What if the groupings end up being family sized?

More than 6. Which is currently the number of genes that determines skin color. I don't think that would be too hard for a CPU once the project is completed.

Flick

O yeah.. edit...
And (most importantly) are you grouping OBL with the muppets?

Evil bert rules.

FireGarden
4th March 2003, 12:03 PM
DanishDynamite: "Your question is biased, so I haven't voted."
OK, I put in a joke option and a "why bother".
Did this put off all but 2 people from voting for the first 3 categories?

You're going by characteristics that have grown up due to territorial barriers. Barriers which are being broken today. How many more generations will your definition of race last (assuming that it works to begin with)? Not long, unless it's backed up by some other kind of division that prevents interbreeding.

Plutarck,
To that extent, those with a high risk of becomining an AIDS patient are equally undesirable for the selling of insurance, as you are increasingly likely to loose money on them too.

[...]
Thus the question of "shouldn't everyone have health insurance" is a question not for private companies, but for government (at least to some considerable extent, anyway)
But if the government provides adequate health care, what need is there for private medical insurance? And remember that AIDS is the disease of today. Wouldn't you want universal coverage today (even if it meant paying more to help cover the cost of the high risk groups - eg: haemophiliacs) so that you in turn would be covered if you happened to be in tomorrow's high risk groups?

Nova Land,
It's a habit of mine to put words into people's mouths and wait for them to tell me that's not what they meant. At least I phrased the insurance example as a question.

You seem to be saying that you'd use different divisions in different circumstances. That makes sense, and I'd agree in principle (the blood group example is a good one). But such "in context" divisions don't seem to match the general concept of race.

Flick,
Surely there has to be more than 6 genes different between me and my own mother!!

DanishDynamite
4th March 2003, 12:55 PM
GoodPropaganda:OK, I put in a joke option and a "why bother". True, but I didn't agree with those options either.
You're going by characteristics that have grown up due to territorial barriers. Barriers which are being broken today. How many more generations will your definition of race last (assuming that it works to begin with)? Not long, unless it's backed up by some other kind of division that prevents interbreeding. In a previous thread I said that the term "race", applied to the human species, would probably become meaningless within the next few hundred years.

What I find irritating is the PC-crowd who wish to solve racial tensions by simply claiming that races don't exist. Ostrich, head, sand.

stamenflicker
4th March 2003, 03:32 PM
Surely there has to be more than 6 genes different between me and my own mother!!

For sure. But only six genes (maybe 8) determined your skin color. Yet skin color is the way people are categorized and divided in the world. It might have been a good way (or easy way) in the past, but I don't see how it can continue and claim to be scientific.

Flick

FireGarden
4th March 2003, 04:50 PM
Flick,
So when you say "more than 6 unique genes to qualify as a natural kind", you mean "a lot more than 6".

DanishDynamite
In a previous thread I said that the term "race", applied to the human species, would probably become meaningless within the next few hundred years.
And how will you know when that moment arrives?
Will you or your descendants be sat there with your "Gene-o-meter" saying, "The lines are blurring... The lines are blurring... They're gone!!"

Because if you can't recognise that moment, then you don't know what you mean by "race".

stamenflicker
4th March 2003, 05:54 PM
So when you say "more than 6 unique genes to qualify as a natural kind", you mean "a lot more than 6".

At this point it could be any six... I find the fact that we choose the six for skin color to be our classification system to be problematic.

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,43298,00.html

Flick

DanishDynamite
5th March 2003, 04:42 PM
GoodPropaganda:And how will you know when that moment arrives?
Will you or your descendants be sat there with your "Gene-o-meter" saying, "The lines are blurring... The lines are blurring... They're gone!!"

Because if you can't recognise that moment, then you don't know what you mean by "race". Bollocks.

Can we agree that there are subspecies among dogs? Good. Now suppose you gathered all members of each subspecies and placed them in a distinct geographic area. Say, all Great Danes in Denmark, all German Shephards in north Germany, all Collies in south Germany, etc, etc. Now let them breed as they wish. Can you tell me at what point these subspecies can no longer be said to exist? If not, does that mean the subspecies did not exist to begin with?

Starfall
5th March 2003, 08:27 PM
Here we go...

Originally posted by DanishDynamite
GoodPropaganda: Bollocks.

Can we agree that there are subspecies among dogs? Good. Now suppose you gathered all members of each subspecies and placed them in a distinct geographic area. Say, all Great Danes in Denmark, all German Shephards in north Germany, all Collies in south Germany, etc, etc. Now let them breed as they wish. Can you tell me at what point these subspecies can no longer be said to exist? If not, does that mean the subspecies did not exist to begin with?

Your "dogs example" presupposes that there are analogous human subspecies, or "races". Even geneticists and anthropologists can't agree on this, so on what basis do you assert that there are human "races"?

).

I assumed that you didn't answer me because you were either busy or just not interested in the topic anymore, so I let it go. Does your reply here mean that your have both the time and the desire to engage the topic again, either here or in the other thread? ;)

FireGarden
6th March 2003, 07:45 AM
DanishDynamite,
One of us is misunderstanding the other.
To say that "you don't know what you mean by race" is not the same as saying that "race/dog breeds etc do no exist" I'm quite happy to agree that divisions can be made. I'm just wondering about the usefulness and the consistency of these divisions.

Let's say that there are two races: African/Caucasian.
You cannot define the conditions under which this classification becomes meaningless. I say that is because you do not know what it is that seperates the two groups at the moment.

Is the seperation:
Africans have genes XxYyZz but not AaBbCc
and Caucasians have genes AaBbCc but not XxYyZz
Which may well beome meaningless, because through interbreeding some unclassifyable people may arise.

Or is it that
Africans have more genes from XxYyZz than from AaBbCc eg:XxYbZc
and Caucasians have more genes from AaBbCc than from XxYyZz eg:XABBCz
Starting with XxYxZz and AaBbCc, eventually the population may include many different variations, including XxYbCC - which doesn't fit into the classification.

Or is it that races don't become fewer, they become more numerous (Possibly meaninglessly numerous)

Or does mixed race become a race in itself and all others become extinct?
Or do you base race on mitochondrial DNA [which you only inherit from your mother] or on the Y-chromosome [which you only inherit from you father (if you're a son)] These races won't mix. Everyone is the "mitochondrial-race" of their mother, except for those where a mutation occurs. (Somebody traced back this DNA to seven different "Eves", but I'm not sure why they chose seven instead of any other number).

If the different breeds of dog inter-breed (I don't know why you seperated them geographically), then the current classifications would become meaningless and new classifications would have to be invented. This will always be possible. But it implies that the classifications are fluid, they are not set in stone. Descendants of collies and hounds (currently different breeds) may find themselves in the same future classification. Whereas, other descendants of two collies (currently the same breed) may find themselves in different future classifications.

Look up above at the second definition of African/Caucasian.
Two Africans (XxYbZc and XAYYZc) can give birth to a Caucasian (XAbYcc)
That could be further indication that the system is flawed. I, however, am willing to accept that a child may not be the same race as its biological parents. After all, we are only classifying people in one of many possible ways.

So, do you know which of the possible classification systems you are supporting? I'll repeat (hoping that you'll now understand):

If you do not know when your classification breaks down (becomes meaningless), then you do not know what you mean by "race".

DanishDynamite
6th March 2003, 11:42 AM
Starfall,

I assumed that you didn't answer me because you were either busy or just not interested in the topic anymore, so I let it go. Does your reply here mean that your have both the time and the desire to engage the topic again, either here or in the other thread? I admit it, I was getting bored. There were several reasons for this. Firstly, the thread was mostly reduced to you and me, and since we were rarely on-line simultanously, most of a day would pass between point and counterpoint. The thread would often disappear off page 1. Secondly, I felt we had reached an impasse.

In regard to my willingness to continue, well....why not. For a while at least. And lets continue here, since we seem to have at least one other participant, GoodPropaganda.

Anyway, nice to see you're still around. :)
Your "dogs example" presupposes that there are analogous human subspecies, or "races". Even geneticists and anthropologists can't agree on this, so on what basis do you assert that there are human "races"?On the same basis that other subspecies are catagorized. I've already given reasons why the categorization within humans is not consensual. I'll repost them from the other thread:

1. First and foremost is the pollution of Political Correctness. Race, among humans, is a very touchy subject, for historical reasons.
2. The term "subspecies/race" is not the best defined taxonomic term.
3. The fact that the human species has spread to all corners of the world and that some interbreeding takes place along the boundaries.

GoodPropaganda:
One of us is misunderstanding the other.
To say that "you don't know what you mean by race" is not the same as saying that "race/dog breeds etc do no exist" I'm quite happy to agree that divisions can be made. I'm just wondering about the usefulness and the consistency of these divisions. Fair enough.
Let's say that there are two races: African/Caucasian.
You cannot define the conditions under which this classification becomes meaningless. I say that is because you do not know what it is that seperates the two groups at the moment. I certainly don't know what seperates them because you haven't defined them.
Is the seperation:
Africans have genes XxYyZz but not AaBbCc
and Caucasians have genes AaBbCc but not XxYyZz
Which may well beome meaningless, because through interbreeding some unclassifyable people may arise.

Or is it that
Africans have more genes from XxYyZz than from AaBbCc eg:XxYbZc
and Caucasians have more genes from AaBbCc than from XxYyZz eg:XABBCz
Starting with XxYxZz and AaBbCc, eventually the population may include many different variations, including XxYbCC - which doesn't fit into the classification.

Or is it that races don't become fewer, they become more numerous (Possibly meaninglessly numerous)

Or does mixed race become a race in itself and all others become extinct?
Or do you base race on mitochondrial DNA [which you only inherit from your mother] or on the Y-chromosome [which you only inherit from you father (if you're a son)] These races won't mix. Everyone is the "mitochondrial-race" of their mother, except for those where a mutation occurs. (Somebody traced back this DNA to seven different "Eves", but I'm not sure why they chose seven instead of any other number). I would base race on the scientific definition of the term. I'll grant you that this definition leaves some wiggle room. That doesn't mean it isn't useful.
If the different breeds of dog inter-breed (I don't know why you seperated them geographically),... I seperated them geographically for two reasons. Firstly because that makes them (to a large extent) reproductively isolated, which is part of the definition of races. And secondly, because it would mirror the geographically varying characteristics of the human species.
...then the current classifications would become meaningless and new classifications would have to be invented. This will always be possible. But it implies that the classifications are fluid, they are not set in stone. Descendants of collies and hounds (currently different breeds) may find themselves in the same future classification. Whereas, other descendants of two collies (currently the same breed) may find themselves in different future classifications.Perhaps.I suspect that after sufficient interbreeding, the term "race" would loose all meaning.
Look up above at the second definition of African/Caucasian.
Two Africans (XxYbZc and XAYYZc) can give birth to a Caucasian (XAbYcc)Which underscores why this particular classification scheme of yours isn't very usefull.
That could be further indication that the system is flawed. I, however, am willing to accept that a child may not be the same race as its biological parents. After all, we are only classifying people in one of many possible ways.Let's try to stick to the scientific definition. If subspecies A would have a good chance of being born to two subspecies B parents, the classification scheme wouldn't be very useful.
So, do you know which of the possible classification systems you are supporting? I support a classification scheme which is in line with the scientific definition and is usefull.
I'll repeat (hoping that you'll now understand):

If you do not know when your classification breaks down (becomes meaningless), then you do not know what you mean by "race".And I'll repeat that this is a meaningles contention. In the other thread, referenced by Starfall, I mentioned the two subspecies of the White Rhino: the northern and the southern. I also mentioned that apart from their geographic seperation, the only distinction was some light behavioural differences. If you now remove the geographic seperation and thus let the two subspecies interbreed, at what point will the two subspecies no longer exist? I don't know. Do you? Does this fact mean that the seperation into subspecies was meaningless?

FireGarden
6th March 2003, 03:21 PM
DanishDynamite
I mentioned the two subspecies of the White Rhino: the northern and the southern. I also mentioned that apart from their geographic seperation, the only distinction was some light behavioural differences. If you now remove the geographic seperation and thus let the two subspecies interbreed, at what point will the two subspecies no longer exist? I don't know. Do you? Does this fact mean that the seperation into subspecies was meaningless?
I don't know at what point the two subspecies no longer exist.
This does make the two subspecies meaningless to me. It may not be meaningless to an expert on rhinos. But to me it is, because I don't know what the reasoning behind the division is. That is the point that I'm trying to get across.

I gave a range of options for how people can be divided genetically. I showed how, whilst the divisions could make sense to begin with, they inevitably fall apart when interbreeding occurs. Even so, the divisions would make sense because I know what their shortfalls are and thus when to abandon them.

You on the other hand know nothing about the divisions of race except that they are scientific and based on geographical location (probably up to about 1400 AD). That is why you don't know when they fall apart. Some scientists think that they already have.
Many individuals can be classified into more than one race or into none. Races are defined in terms of membership in populations; they represent persons with the same pool of ancestors. Except for brothers and sisters, however, virtually no individuals have precisely the same ancestors. It is impossible to divide all humans into a small number of discrete social, biological, or geographic groups in such a way that everybody belongs to one and only one.

Starfall
6th March 2003, 05:11 PM
Originally posted by DanishDynamite
Anyway, nice to see you're still around. :)

You, too. I don't post much, but I usually lurk fairly often, and try to contribute occasionally. Thanks for responding..

Originally posted by DanishDynamite
I've already given reasons why the categorization within humans is not consensual. I'll repost them from the other thread:

1. First and foremost is the pollution of Political Correctness. Race, among humans, is a very touchy subject, for historical reasons.
2. The term "subspecies/race" is not the best defined taxonomic term.
3. The fact that the human species has spread to all corners of the world and that some interbreeding takes place along the boundaries.

Actually, your latest responses to me and GoodPropaganda kind of dovetail with my last post in the other thread. So, in the interests of closure on that other thread, I'll re-post my last response from there and then we can continue...

Originally posted by DanishDynamite
I almost hate to mention the various subspecies of dogs again, but please tell me how their classification isn't based on "arbitrary groupings of physical attributes". And if you don't feel the use of subspecies among dogs is relevant, consider the subspecies of the Northern White Rhino and the Southern White Rhino. The only difference between these two subspecies (aside from their geographical seperation) is a slight behavioural difference.

...

The taxonomic term "subspecies/race" is, to my knowledge, widely accepted within the scientific world. Ask any rhino expert whether they feel the classification of White Rhinos into a northern and southern type is generally accepted.

Yes, there is widespread agreement among scientists about using current dog breeds, the Harvard Spectral Classification Scheme, Rhino subspecies, etc. But these particular arbitrary taxonomies are considered scientific only because scientists overwhelmingly agree to use them.

Unlike dogs and rhinos, etc., there is no consensus about subspecies as applied to humans. Some scientists think that the concept doesn't apply to humans. Others think that it applies but can't agree on how, which is why you see different racial taxonomies being proposed. Clearly, scientists do not overwhelmingly agree on "race", so "race" cannot be considered scientific by consensus.

Now, you can advocate that human "racial" groups should be adopted by everyone, but on what basis, given that the scientists themselves cannot agree on this? You can explain away the lack of consensus by blaming "Political Correctness", but this presupposes that there is some compelling reason for scientists to all agree on "race" in the first place. What is that reason?

DanishDynamite
6th March 2003, 05:33 PM
GoodPropaganda:I don't know at what point the two subspecies no longer exist.
This does make the two subspecies meaningless to me. It may not be meaningless to an expert on rhinos. But to me it is, because I don't know what the reasoning behind the division is. That is the point that I'm trying to get across.I understand your confusion. I and (I pressume) you are not taxonomists/biologists/anthropologists. We are, however, intelligent people who have the ability to use google and think logically. :)

The fact that you find the widely accepted division of White Rhinos into two subspecies meaningless, is however itself meaningless, unless it is because you disagree with the scientific definition of subspecies. And I have previously shown (in the other thread) that subspecies and race mean the same thing.
I gave a range of options for how people can be divided genetically. I showed how, whilst the divisions could make sense to begin with, they inevitably fall apart when interbreeding occurs. Even so, the divisions would make sense because I know what their shortfalls are and thus when to abandon them. Yes you did. However, as I am not a taxonomist, I am not qualified to discern which (if any) of your proposed schemes would be the most usefull scheme to use.

Besides, do people generally (or taxonomists, for that matter) use genetics to determine what race a particular dog is?
You on the other hand know nothing about the divisions of race except that they are scientific and based on geographical location (probably up to about 1400 AD). What do you mean by "probably up to about 1400 AD"? Did the definition of subspecies change at this point?
That is why you don't know when they fall apart. As you likewise did not know when the dog races no longer existed. What is your point?
Some scientists think that they already have.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Many individuals can be classified into more than one race or into none. Races are defined in terms of membership in populations; they represent persons with the same pool of ancestors. Except for brothers and sisters, however, virtually no individuals have precisely the same ancestors. It is impossible to divide all humans into a small number of discrete social, biological, or geographic groups in such a way that everybody belongs to one and only one.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Is the above quote from an encyclopedia? What scietific relevance does that have? Nevermind, it doesn't matter. The bottom line, as I have mentioned many times in the other thread, is that given the scientific definition of races, they clearly exist in the human species, they are a useful classification scheme, and it is about time that the PC crowd are put in their place such that science can get on with its business.

neutrino_cannon
6th March 2003, 06:20 PM
I understand your confusion. I and (I pressume) you are not taxonomists/biologists/anthropologists. We are, however, intelligent people who have the ability to use google and think logically.

As much as I hate to admit it... Yes, I love the google.

I still fail to grasp why race is a valid concept beyond social impressed constructs.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/1998/02/23/MN94378.DTL

FireGarden
7th March 2003, 02:04 PM
DanishDynamite,
We're going to have to agree to differ (and perhaps not by much).
You seem to be saying that there is a meaningful, scientific reason for race but that you don't know exactly what it is. That's the only admission I'm trying to get out of you.

The advice of experts also leads you to say that race will eventually become meaningless, but you won't know when that happens until the experts tell you. Some experts already say we've reached that point. The expert I quoted was from Encarta98 (as it said in my original post).

And that's also where I got the date of 1400.
The races were divided into Mongolian, Caucasian, American, Ethiopian and Malayan based on the geographical locations of people at that time. Some of the labels have changed, but pretty much nothing else has. In spite of 600 years of various degrees of mixing.

Of course many people disagree with that system of five labels.
Do we divide Caucasian into Semitic/non-Semitic, Semitic in Jews and Arabs, both of those into how many divisions? And why choose those lines? It's arbitrary.

You have to know why you're divding if you want to know whether or not you have a good system of division. And not all things are equally easy to divide up. I'd expect that aliens will pretty much have the periodic table the same as us, gas/liquid/solid the same as us, integer/rational/real/complex numbers the same as us. Not every one of those is a certainty, but none would be a huge surprise. Would they divide subjects up into art/science? Who knows? I'm not saying that the last one is a meaningless division, but the division means different things to different people. Just like race.

DanishDynamite
7th March 2003, 02:58 PM
Starfall:Actually, your latest responses to me and GoodPropaganda kind of dovetail with my last post in the other thread. So, in the interests of closure on that other thread, I'll re-post my last response from there and then we can continue... Fair enough.
Yes, there is widespread agreement among scientists about using current dog breeds, the Harvard Spectral Classification Scheme, Rhino subspecies, etc. But these particular arbitrary taxonomies are considered scientific only because scientists overwhelmingly agree to use them. I suspect your contention here regarding when a classification can be considered scientific, is worthy of its own thread. Nevertheless, if the definition is widely agreed upon, why can't it be used on our own species?
Unlike dogs and rhinos, etc., there is no consensus about subspecies as applied to humans. Some scientists think that the concept doesn't apply to humans. Others think that it applies but can't agree on how, which is why you see different racial taxonomies being proposed. Clearly, scientists do not overwhelmingly agree on "race", so "race" cannot be considered scientific by consensus.Scientists do overwhelmingly agree on race. You just admitted as much in your previous post. What is not agreed upon, is how this definition is to be applied to the human species.
Now, you can advocate that human "racial" groups should be adopted by everyone, but on what basis, given that the scientists themselves cannot agree on this? I have previously stated that I am not an expert in this field. However, in my opinion, races in the human species could be usefully delineated by their historic reproductive isolation. I would thus categorize the Pygmies, the Aboriginies, and the Inuits as seperate races.
You can explain away the lack of consensus by blaming "Political Correctness", but this presupposes that there is some compelling reason for scientists to all agree on "race" in the first place. What is that reason?I think I've already answered this. The reason is that it is scientifically useful.

Your wish to see the human species as a heterogenous mass where all genetic distinctions are just meaningless minute variations which shouldn't be classified, is anti-science, in my view. It is a willful negation of reality. Reality is that humans, across the globe, have adapted to their local environments and that these adaptations would be obvious, in my opinion, to any independent observer. Epicanthal folds are present is certain geographically distinct populations of humans, and not in others. Several hair types exist, which are also geographically distinct. Melanin levels at birth are geographically distinct. There is a multitude of geographic distinctions.

Why not classify these?

DanishDynamite
7th March 2003, 03:17 PM
GoodPropaganda:We're going to have to agree to differ (and perhaps not by much). You seem to be saying that there is a meaningful, scientific reason for race but that you don't know exactly what it is. That's the only admission I'm trying to get out of you. I'm saying that local varients of the human species are obvious. I'm also sying that I don't have the background for classifying these varients according to the scientific definition. However, even without this background it is clear to me that a refusal to perform such a classification, is not grounded in science.
The advice of experts also leads you to say that race will eventually become meaningless, but you won't know when that happens until the experts tell you. Some experts already say we've reached that point. The expert I quoted was from Encarta98 (as it said in my original post).It is not the advice of experts which leads me to conclude that race will probably soon be a meaningless concept within the human species. It is the fact that the geographic origin of birth has an ever decreasing effect on which member of the human species you breed with.
And that's also where I got the date of 1400.
The races were divided into Mongolian, Caucasian, American, Ethiopian and Malayan based on the geographical locations of people at that time. Some of the labels have changed, but pretty much nothing else has. In spite of 600 years of various degrees of mixing. I'm curious why you think the term "race" was coined, if not for the fact that obvious physical differences existed.
Of course many people disagree with that system of five labels.
Do we divide Caucasian into Semitic/non-Semitic, Semitic in Jews and Arabs, both of those into how many divisions? And why choose those lines? It's arbitrary. I agree that in some areas of the world, interbreeding has occured to a great degree, making classification difficult.
You have to know why you're divding if you want to know whether or not you have a good system of division. And not all things are equally easy to divide up. I'd expect that aliens will pretty much have the periodic table the same as us, gas/liquid/solid the same as us, integer/rational/real/complex numbers the same as us. Not every one of those is a certainty, but none would be a huge surprise. Would they divide subjects up into art/science? Who knows? I'm not saying that the last one is a meaningless division, but the division means different things to different people. Just like race.I've already agreed that the taxonomic term "subspecies/race" is not the most well-defined. Nevertheless, it is a term widely accepted within the scientific community. Why is it widely accepted, if it is indeed meaningless?

FireGarden
7th March 2003, 04:04 PM
DanishDynamite
Reality is that humans, across the globe, have adapted to their local environments and that these adaptations would be obvious, in my opinion, to any independent observer. Epicanthal folds are present is certain geographically distinct populations of humans, and not in others. Several hair types exist, which are also geographically distinct. Melanin levels at birth are geographically distinct. There is a multitude of geographic distinctions.

Why not classify these?
But eyes aren't all "this shape" or "that shape".
Hair is not either straight or curly. Mine's kind of inbetween.
Skin is not black or white.

Of course there are differences, but the ones you list are more "analogue" than "digital". The lines between different groups aren't clear cut. Unless you make the criteria more exact you'll always be left having to judge which group to classify some people as. Or count them as unclassifiable.

I can understand what Starfall means by there not being any agreement on a scientific definition of race. It's like classifing music. Sure Metallica are different to Mozart, but where do you draw the line between metal and rock, between rock and folk, between folk and jazz, between ...... Do you eventually get to Mozart having crossed nothing but blurry lines?

Starfall
7th March 2003, 10:10 PM
Originally posted by DanishDynamite
I suspect your contention here regarding when a classification can be considered scientific, is worthy of its own thread. Nevertheless, if the definition is widely agreed upon, why can't it be used on our own species?

Scientists apparently agree on the definition of subspecies, and they appear to agree that the concept applies to dogs and rhinos, among others. Scientists do not agree that there are human subspecies. Note that there are other species of animals with no subspecies. This does not mean that all of the animals within these species are genetically identical to each other, but that the variations are clinal (change smoothly across a population) at best, and do not follow any meaningful or clear boundaries.

Originally posted by DanishDynamite
Scientists do overwhelmingly agree on race. You just admitted as much in your previous post. What is not agreed upon, is how this definition is to be applied to the human species.

Scientists do not agree on how or even whether "race" is applicable to humans. Are you asserting that because scientists agree that there are dog breeds, they must also agree that there are human "races"?

Originally posted by DanishDynamite
I have previously stated that I am not an expert in this field. However, in my opinion, races in the human species could be usefully delineated by their historic reproductive isolation. I would thus categorize the Pygmies, the Aboriginies, and the Inuits as seperate races.

OK. Well, in my opinion, humans could be usefully and simultaneously delineated according to their susceptibilities to heart disease, diabetes, and cancers. Add schizophrenia, depression, and alcoholism into the mix and you'd potentially have many groupings that show little relation to geographic origins. There are many other potential and independent ways to classify people.

Originally posted by DanishDynamite
Your wish to see the human species as a heterogenous mass where all genetic distinctions are just meaningless minute variations which shouldn't be classified, is anti-science, in my view. It is a willful negation of reality.

I've never said that all human genetic distinctions are "meaningless minute variations", nor do I believe that. I suspect that you assume this because doing so makes it much easier for you to dismiss my position. To repeat what I've already stated more than once in the other thread, there are all sorts of genetic variations among humans. Unlike dogs and rhinos, however, scientists have not established any way to meaningfully group these variations into human subspecies.

Originally posted by DanishDynamite
Reality is that humans, across the globe, have adapted to their local environments and that these adaptations would be obvious, in my opinion, to any independent observer.

I've never disagreed with this. However, there don't appear to be any obvious natural boundaries as a result of these adaptations. You've already admitted that you agree with this, and that any racial taxonomy would be arbitrary. So, your argument seems to be: "Races exist because if scientists all agreed on an arbitrary group of races, it would then be like the Harvard Classification Scheme, which is scientifically useful."

Originally posted by DanishDynamite
Epicanthal folds are present is certain geographically distinct populations of humans, and not in others. Several hair types exist, which are also geographically distinct. Melanin levels at birth are geographically distinct. There is a multitude of geographic distinctions.

Why not classify these?

I think we should classify all genetic differences, regardless of whether or not they are based on geographical, mostly clinal, variation. Scientists cannot agree which groupings of these genetic differences are most meaningful, or even whether these groupings are meaningful enough to be considered "subspecies".

Why are you so convinced that there must be human subspecies, and that these subspecies must be based on geographically based genetic variance?