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A Way Forward

¤ Here is a map that is just a mock-up of what I think would be helpful in understanding the issue of subspecies as it applies to bees. I have included examples of the sub-Saharan bee (that was released in S. America and has caused problems after hybridizing with local bees), the Saharan bee, a very robust and very gentle bee (apparently living in oases in the Sahara Desert means that you don't need to act tough all the time), the totally black bees of Morocco, the bees of Cyprus that are noted for their extreme willingness to sting, The Italians that are the most widely accepted bees for commercial production, the Carniolians (which I forgot to label) in Slovenia, the German "black" bees that were the first ones to make it to the U.S. and which form a sizeable part of the population living their lives in hollow trees and other such places, and a population of bees that lives between the Italians and Carniolians and the German Black Bees that has intermediary qualities. I have left out lots of areas just because I'm at this point only trying to see how one might present, visibly and compellingly, the information generally found only in dry charts.

See the half-tone dots.

Each kind/variety/subspecies/race (it's hard to know what to call these groups because except for the Cyprians, and maybe the Saharans, none of these bees seem to meet the formal requirements needed to be distinguished as subspecies. The Cyprians are isolated by the Mediterranean. The Saharans are isolated by the desert. Perhaps sub-Saharan bees as a group constitute a subspecies since there may be no easy way for bees to make it across the desert.

¤ I made this map by first making a tic-tac-toe grid within a circle for each kind of bee. The "5" spot in the middle represents the tendency of the bees to coat everything inside the hive with a resin they collect. It is colored something my drawing program calls "asparagus." Propolis (the resin) is made up of whatever resins the bees can find, so its color is variable. On the map, darker means a greater tendency to paint the house and the cover over the babies' cribs. The quarter circle at the top (I decided to amalgamate several "cells" because I didnt have many colors and a single cell made almost no visual impact on the final map) ranges from yellow to black, and denotes the color of the bees. The quarter circle on the bottom represents temperament in shades of red. Cyprians get a full, bright, red, the German bees get a duller red, the Sub-Saharan bees also have a prominent red. The Carniolians and the Italians get a very delicate pink, and other subspecies get intermediate colors. The other two "quarters" were supposed to represent (1) honey expended to maintain the colony over the winter (there are two strategies for survival, cut population and live on less honey, or keep a big population over winter -- that's the main difference between the Italians and the Carniolians), and (2) how nervous the bees are when the hive is opened. (The Saharans don't sting, but they are very upset when their hive lid is taken off, and they mill about on the comb which makes finding the queen difficult and impedes other tasks the beekeeper might like to perform.) I didn't have real data at hand, so these values are faked.

¤ I am missing the ability in all my modern software to do a job that is easy with an early 90s product for the Mac called "LightningPaint" -- it lets you copy one image and drop it on another image. The parts that were white in the copied portion do not get transferred onto the new location of the thing you are moving, so if you copy a picture of a red star onto a black background you dont get a black background, a square of white, and a red star. Unfortunately LightningPain does only black-and-white images, so I am stuck. Lots of programs let you make "transparent" images for web pages, but in practice I haven't found any way to make them stay transparent when they are pasted into another image, even if I save my desired-move to a gif file and then open and copy it that way.

¤ Anyway, the image above can be viewed at different sizes, giving at first the impression of a solid this-color and a solid that-color, just the way the old comic book halftones work.

¤ Cavelli-Sforza has a series of maps of the main genetic groupings that can be used to distinguish human populations by their genetic differences. If those are the things that make people belong to different [races], then the same person, providing he was at the right point on the map, might belong to a different [race] each way, i.e., he would be allied to people north of him but not east or west of him in one way, but he would be allied to people west of him but not north or south of him by another standard. These maps are very compelling if you can read and interpret them, but they may not make a hit with the average well-informed reader. P0M 04:25, 2 Jan 2005 (UTC)

How much effort needs to be dedicated to an analysis of the older definitions of race? Consider which definitions from the table above are subject to this kind of analysis. --Rikurzhen 14:00, Jan 2, 2005 (UTC)
That's an interesting question, which I should take some time to think about. But in the meantime:
Which kind of "analysis" do you mean? What I am trying to do with the mock-up above is to show that there is much more variability on the ground than there is in our heads. The synthetic and creative activities of the human mind create the [races]. It occurs to me that one way of measuring the [racial] natures of various populations would be to construct a list of all the the genetic characteristics considered salient, determine the frequency of each of them, and then, without regard to what individuals happen to possess each measured characteristic, see how many individuals of [race] A one could assemble, how many of [race] B. and so forth. Suppose that a bee breeder bought 10 colonies of the pure black bees of Morocco, 10 colonies of pure yellow bees (if there is such a thing) from somewhere else, induced each colony to produce virgin queens, and bred each queen to a drone of the other [race]. The resultant bees would be neither black nor yellow, but if you sorted out their genetic constitutions you would find that you still had a 50-50 [racial] mix. We could look at some isolated population in, e.g., Borneo, and determine how many typically Chinese individuals we could fabricate by snagging the gene[s] for shovel-shaped incisors from this individual, the gene[s] for epicanthic folds from that individual, etc. We would probably learn very quickly that there would be one or two genes that are in very low supply, and that by counting their presence in the total population we could know we could assemble no more Chinese than that despite the ample presence of, say, some factor that leads to lactose intolerance early in adolescence if not before.
To me, the diagram does not match up very well with what is to be observed in reality. Part of the problem is just needing a zoom capability on the user's computer screen. The other problem is how to create an image. I think I could do what I want with map pins and a piece of window screen. I could count the number of red pins needed for a Cyprian population of "hot" bees, the number of yellow and black pins needed to represent their coloration, etc., and then throw them all in a shaker and spill them out on the screen, but then, I'd still have to stick the pins in one by one and then photograph them. Another problem, which I discovered when I tried to respond to Slrubenstein's remark above, is that it is not easy on my computer to produce a smooth gradient from one color to another -- at least in the context of the complex curves that show up on the skin color maps. I can blur the edges, but I can't blur them into a smooth gradient from one edge to the next edge. Somehow, by accident I produced a map of Cyprus that "disassembled" the tic-tac-toe images into something like pixels. That image (blow it up to see what I mean) is the least artificial-looking, the most like what I see in my mind's eye. I tried using the pre-built patterns in my several kinds of software, but they turn out to be too small in scale to work well. It looks like writing a computer program to fill the screen with dots of appropriate colors in the proper order might acturally turn out to be the easy way to go. That would be a fun program to write. I'm getting tempted. But if I were going to make that effort I would like to have some real numbers to work with. Maybe I could do something with glitter flakes and acryllic that would be a portrait of the [races] of bees but would not be a photograph or an exact likeness. What do you think? Would it be useful? P0M 18:48, 2 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Validity vs utility?

I have suggested above that the validity question has to be aimed at a particular definition, and perhaps even to a particular population (e.g. all the people of the US; or all the people of the world). Let me also suggest that the question of validity may or may not need to be disambiguated from the question of utility. Races may be informative (valid) but only for meaningless distinctions (no utility). Races may not be valid at a global level, but have utility for US doctors. Races may be social constructs that are highly useful. And so on. --Rikurzhen 14:08, Jan 2, 2005 (UTC)

I have no problems with anything you have said above. (I'm rereading after reading your posting of 2 January.)P0M 08:36, 3 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Good points. Obviously I feel there is some objective validity to sub-specific grouping, but on some level it must be at least partially abstract and so partially a social construct. The idea of a perception/semantics-influenced construct grounded in at least a few solid empirical facts being highly useful is, well, highly useful. Some expansion of this in the article or a sub-article would be nice.JDG 17:41, 2 Jan 2005 (UTC)
I think the division into [races] of Italian bees from Carniolian bees would be explainable according to definitions 1 and 3 above. I'm unable to tell what 2 is actually intended to convey. Is there an alternative definition somewhere else? One of the things that came as a surprise to me, when I looked at those definitions with bees in mind, is that most of them tend to apply to aggregates but not to the individuals who constitute those aggregates. They say, in effect, "O.K., Kazuo, you say you're Japanese. In that case, the people whom you see around you are most likely to be around height x, weight y, have straight black hair... What's that, you say you have naturally curly hair? Look, I am just talking about what you are most likely to see, what you will see on average around you. I say nothing about individuals."
Pick any point in space and time, and those who have the appropriate empirical knowledge can tell you nothing about the weight of the next individual. "But he's a sumo wrestler!" Even if it's Hanida airport terminal on July 23 2005, they are going to be able to tell you the average of the characteristics of all of the people within that time period -- providing that they've done their homework. The same applies for Manhattan Island in 2005 or in 1005, but the numbers are going to be radically different. In 1005 you might find one shipwrecked Portugese cook, but his presence would not greatly affect the average measurements.
Why is this? Part of the answer lies in heredity. Part of the answer lies in history. Who resides at some small area of the earth at one period in time depends on the people who live and reproduce in the surrounding area but also on who is moving through the area.
Looking at it this way, [race] turns out not to be something "out there," but various ways that humans handle the data pertinent to what is now there. I agree with JDG that "The idea of a perception/semantics-influenced construct grounded in at least a few solid empirical facts being highly useful is, well, highly useful." Even the resultant competing groupings of humans into [races] can be helpful -- as long as people are aware of what is what. The medical uses of [race] is useful if it says, "Target public awareness advertising dollars mostly toward skin cancer in the mass media and the markets that will most likely reach whites, and tarket those dollars toward high blood pressure and hidden heart disease in the mass media and the markets frequented by blacks. But don't automatically rule out hidden heart disease in whites and don't automatically rule out skin cancer in the case of blacks." The social problem comes when some Chinese guy is attacked for being "non-Chinese" because he has curly hair. The problem disappears if everybody understands what it means to be Chinese, and the guy who is getting attacked says, "The definition of a Chinese population includes 0.7% who have curly hair. In our neighborhood, joker, I am that 0.7%." From a public mental health perspective, what seems most needed is for the average citizen to be aware that [races] are not things. They are groupings of things done by various people for various reasons. P0M 19:47, 2 Jan 2005 (UTC)
P0M, sorry -- I wasn't listing those three as definitions, but as example possible positions on the validity vs utility distinction. By definitions, I mean the four I listed in the table many sections above. [1] To the second point, keep in mind that summary statistics include both measures of averages and variances. Also, biomedical research is necessarily done with samples of people, not whole populations. For practical purposes any informative marker could be useful if it were predictive in medical diagnosis. Economic scarcity drives doctors to use whatever means available to diagnose; and "race" has been useful and cheap for some diseases for US doctors. The example of 2 is actually one possibility that I personally believe may turn out to be correct.[2] It may be that at a global level human genetic variation -- even with whole genome comparisions -- is clinal, but that the peopling of the US by immigrant populations has created a mixed population of people that are sufficiently different to make race a useful and valid for most people living here. [3] That position would seem to resolve the paradox from the data I've read.[4] --Rikurzhen 03:09, Jan 3, 2005 (UTC)
[1] I'm a little confused about which 3 and which 4 you are talking about. I was trying to deal with the material in the boxes above. So we had the same thing in mind, but now I'm confused as to which 3 you are talking about.
[2] You may be clear about what definition 3 means, because you have read it in context. I can`t make head or tail of it.
[3] That's an interesting idea, which would put the racists into a frenzy.
[4] Which paradox?
I am pretty sure that we are not in disagreement, but our language differences are playing hobb with my mind right now. Maybe I'll see things more clearly in the morning.

I've replaced the mock-up with a somewhat more successful one. I'm finding it easier to do the art side. Now I need some more specific maps and data to work with. (The bees seem simpler than the humans. At least nobody wants to kill you if you call them a Carniolian. ;-) P0M 08:36, 3 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Oops, we've confused each other. I think my basic point was that it would help the article if we were more precise as we discuss facets of race (e.g. defintions, populations where it might apply, and the criteria being considered -- utility vs validity). --Rikurzhen 23:22, Jan 4, 2005 (UTC)


Part 1

A major problem with this article is the failure to use NPOV writing. The recent additions by Deeceevoice -- I don't mean to pick on any one person -- reflect this failing. For example

"The goal of such racial designations was to concentrate power, wealth, privilege and land in the hands of a specific ethnic population in a society of White hegemony and White privilege."

Might be written:

Some historians believe that the goal of such racial designations was to concentrate power, wealth, privilege and land in the hands of a specific ethnic population in a society of White hegemony and White privilege."

I'm not a historian and I don't know if they think that or not -- just an example. --Rikurzhen 23:22, Jan 4, 2005 (UTC)

¤How much of the following is a quotation? Is enough being copied here to break their copyright? P0M 00:19, 13 Jan 2005 (UTC)

RE: Yes it is a copied work. Therefore i will remove it. We are not allowed to use copyrighted work without permission. -- Orionix 01:43, 15 Jan 2005 (UTC)

¤ I'm not sure, actually. It would be wrong to use that much in an article -- especially without quotation marks and citation -- but working with it paragraph by paragraph in a discussion format such as this one is probably within the "fair use" rule. P0M 04:45, 16 Jan 2005 (UTC)

One correction regarding A.W.F. EdwardsÕ work, he manifestly does not argue that race exists. What he is talking about is how genetic combinations can give rise to effects that are quite radical and not previsible from genetic make-up alone. Edwards is talking about the existence of patterned biodiversity using the clinatic model. He even mentions Cavalli-Sforza's "treeness" theory, which has been a root theory for clinatic studies. All Edwards is trying to do is show that we can, indeed, descry some larger patterns to human biodiversity. No modern anthro or reasonable scientist I know would deny this. What is denied is that these patterns correspond to races: i.e., stable, genetically discreet subspecies that are objectively verifiable by one and all. Races were never defined as statistical correlations between one or another characteristic: they were quite clearly defined as stable and discrete genetic packages.

¤ What if someone argues statistical correlations among a fairly large number of "marker" character- istic give us a "useful fiction", i.e., a construct that everybody realizes is just a construct, but something that gives us statistically useful information in some field such as public health. The presence of X% of these markers assigns him/her to group one, and knowing that s/he is in group one gives us statistically reliable grounds for not trying medication X (which s/he will likely be allergic to) but for trying medication Y first (which usually works and rarely has bad effects). That kind of fuzzy knowledge would be better than shooting in the dark. Whether one wants to call the group to which this individual is "fictioned" to belong a "race" or not is a matter of rhetoric as far as I can see. I'd like to scrap the word "race" because it has about as many definitions as there are speakers who use the word. P0M 04:45, 16 Jan 2005 (UTC)

You can follow the study [1] -- Orionix 21:04, 11 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Here again the problem is what definition of race are you referring to -- and for what population. Your last sentence seems to say that the taxonomic and population definitions fail to hold, but that the lineage definition is fine. Whereas the Britannica article says that races do not exist in "any biological sense". It is also incorrect to say -- as Britannica does -- that genetic indicators cannot divide "races" -- as we've documented in the wikipedia article they can do so approximately. The Britannic article is wrong because it states conclusions that are not supported by the data -- it goes too far. --Rikurzhen 22:55, Jan 11, 2005 (UTC)
¤ I am not sure that I follow Rikurzhen's presentation above. Orionix appeared to me to be talking about how people typically use the word "race," but the trouble with what he said is that, while that might have been what people had in mind, they very quickly weaseled their way out of it when real-world problem were pointed out. According to whoever the researchers were, Orionix asserts that races "were quite clearly defined as stable and discrete genetic packages." I think that is exactly what lots of people who like the idea of "race" imagine to exist in the world. They want to be able to say, "Mr. X belongs to race Y, therefore we can know without any further investigation that he has characteristics a, b, c..." Then objectivity spoils this picture by showing that 'genetic indicators can divide "races" but only approximately.' (I paraphrase what Rikurzhen says above.) What that really means, I think, is that we cannot make a set of categories such that people can reliably be assigned to them one the basis of a relatively small set of markers and yet be assured that the individuals so assigned will reliably possess the characteristics we have not ascertained by objective means. What we can do is some kind of categorization that is statistically meaningful. That, in turn, means that we can speak reliably about the percentages of group X who have characteristic S. We can know, statistically, the characteristics of the groups. What we cannot know are the characteristics of the individual. P0M 04:45, 16 Jan 2005 (UTC)

RE: Rekurzhen, i think you are misinterpreting the data. Race as referring to human sub-species, as was definied in the 1900s, does not exist in any physical sense. There are no genetically stable human sub-species or exclusively distinct human types. This is the basic message Britannica is trying to pass off. Human Biology is too complex to be divided into 3-9 discreet genetic packages called races.

¤ I don't think that is what Rikurzhen meant. He is trying to "save the phenomena" by diluting the very kind of claim you say he is making. To put the matter in simple terms, if you know someone is Chinese and you are a betting individual you will make money (if you can find the right mark) by betting that the individual's face will flush after a single shot of whiskey. You'll lose part of the time, but, as with slot machines, if the customers keep coming you will make a reliable "take" over the length of time you can survive before your clientelle wises up. If somebody wanted you to photograph a person's face flushing after taking one drink of whiskey, your best strategy would not be to start with people from Malawi. P0M 04:45, 16 Jan 2005 (UTC)

One basic fallacy i have to correct: the claim that race is a social construct is not to say that it has no meaning. Race has tremendous historical and political meaning.

¤ Right. It is always valuable to stay clear on whether we are talking about the phenomena or about the "fiction" that is being used to make predictions regarding the phenomena. P0M 04:45, 16 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Also race is in no way universal, it's culturally constructed. Therefore race is contextual and not a fixed universal formula as was thought of in the 1900s. Edwards is talking about patterned or clinal human biodiversity. What he writes is in no way proof for race physical existence.

¤ "Race" across cultures is another interesting study. Different cultures (and different languages) have different ways to categorize people. These ways are all methods of categorizing humans. Now, to talk about, e.g., Japanese ideas of "race," we have to make up scheme for categorizing systems of categorization. So we have fictions that account for the production and maintenance of fictions. Let's see, we have a fiction and a meta-fiction. Shall we try for a meta-meta-wiki-fiction? Just kidding, bad idea. Any time a human sees "patterns" that human is making up a fiction. That's how we earn our daily bread. That is the active function of the human mind that makes us the "rational animals." Even dogs seem to do this kind of thing to some extent. One of my dogs came from a rescue home for abused dogs. When I got her she would be friendly with any female human who came around, but she was apprehensive around me and downright uncivil to any male human who came around the place. (She's getting better as the years roll on.) P0M 04:45, 16 Jan 2005 (UTC)

E.g, Forensic Anthropologists are able to judge a person's race with a high degree of probability because they are working within an a priori agreed upon system of classification, wherein every forensicist looks only at certain physical data, ignoring everything else. When one does this, one can easily create internally logical racial classifications. This logic is not objective, however, in the same way that, say, the periodic table is objective. The reason is because as soon as one steps away from what is agreed upon as relevant, new racial systems can be - and are - easily constructed. Depending upon whom you ask, there are anywhere between three and thousands of human racial groups in the world. The number varies in direct proportion to the number of traits one tries to classify for. If one classifies for skin color alone, one gets about 4 or 5 groups. Skin color, hair form, facial features? Then we're talking more than a dozen. Add in blood type? Another half-dozen more. The number of races one gets is thus a direct function of the number of physical characteristics one chooses to measure as relevant for constructing race. This thus means that race is logically a function built into the eye of the classifier and expressed by his choice of ÒrelevantÓ traits to measure. It is not defined by mother nature. Even the most famous of the forensic raciologists, Dr. Gill, admits that it is philosophy that determines races, not the worldÕs natural order. He simply thinks that, for most cases which forensicists have to deal with, common-sense racial categories are good enough to get the job done. He is correct to believe this.

¤ Interesting. Is the periodic table a fiction? I think so, but it has proven to be a remarkably stable and useful fiction. It doesn't say anything about fusion or fission, however. There is something out there, and humans have managed to label it with labels that stick pretty well. But the labels did not come sewn to the elements.
¤ There are real-world characteristics that (to take an extreme case) frequently mean that identical twins will be virtually indistinguishable in any non-learned characteristic. But with multiplication comes diversity. Then humans come along and start bifurcating everything. When that isn't enough we go from "light people" and "dark people" to "4 or 5" colors. But why stop there. The skin color map this article uses originally had 8 colors, and those 8 were derived from measurements by eyeball that compared human skin colors with (I think it was) 32 colored tiles. If you make enough divisions you get to the point that the human eye cannot distinguish between, e.g., pink 32 and pink 33 on a graded scale of 100 pink tiles. Then we are back to something close to what mother nature provided us with, a continuum.
¤ The forensic assignent of discovered skulls to this [race] or that [race] are useful because they tell us not what the person was but what s/he probably looked like. "Did anybody around here disappear suddenly about 10 years ago? We have found the body of what appears to be a white male, about 5' 10" tall, maybe weighed about 150 pounds, had broken his left lower leg... Know anybody that fit that description that left the area without paying bills or telling anybody?" P0M 04:45, 16 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Modern biology and genetics recognizes that patterns do indeed occur in human biology and that these patterns are very relevant and often linked to other traits. What does not occur are races as these have been defined up to now in biology. Race theory presumes the existence of relatively stable, discreet human genetic packages; recognizable, stable sub-species. This does not occur with human beings. Just because one has a certain skin color does not mean that one must have a certain hair form or facial structure, etc., etc. Human biology is better conceived of as a series of interrelated but mutually separate genetic clines, not as discrete little racial packages.

No responsible anthro argues that we are all one race simply because we carry 99.9 percent of the same genetic content. The argument is entirely and exclusively regarding that .1 precent left over. That difference does not express itself in stable, discreet genetic patterns among humans. If it did, it wouldnÕt mean a damn that humans are 99.9 percent genetically homogenous. The way human genetics work, however, a black man might actually be genetically more similar to a white man than he is to another black man and this has been proven on several occasions.

Rosenberg and PritchardÕs found out that there are general patterns to human biology which can be perceived by the untrained eye and which are incorrectly codified as race. They were very clear about the fact that genetic variation within each one of those macro groups was as high as between them. They themselves do not see their work as ÒproofÓ that races exist. Their work is a proof that discrete human subspecies are indeed nonexistent. Clinactic theory amply accounts for the patterns observed by Rosenberg and Pritchard Ð a fact they well recognize Ð while racial theory cannot account for any number of observable phenomena.

¤ I'm only guessing at what you mean by "clinactic theory," but the words at least seem to fit my awareness of how one supposed [race] (Italian bees or Italian humans, doesn't matter) shades over into individuals that, if you go far enough, eventually start looking pretty different from what you started with (Swedes, for instance, or the "grey" bees of the Carnic Alps). I think that the attempt to "save the phenomena" mentioned above asserts the usefulness of the statistical profile that can be made of Carniolian bees (or humans, for that matter). Beekeepers know that Italian bees are not like "killer bees." On a good day in June you can often open up a colony of Italians that you've just gotten started by buying 3 pounds of bees, a queen, and a hive, and you will be perfectly sting-free even without gloves or veil. You can be pretty sure that if you get anywhere near colonies of certain other kinds of bees you will not do so with such impunity. But you never know when you will find a colony of Italians that will treat you as it would a marauding bear. Genetic characteristics vary from hive to hive, and behavior depends on lots of environmental factors like availability of nectar that bees of slightly different ancestry may react to differently. Still, if you are going to buy queen bees it's better to go to a reliable breeder of some of the gentler kinds. I think that is basically what Rikurzhen is trying to say about [race]. Humans are much more complicated than bees, of course. P0M 04:45, 16 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Take note that a study of 1000 people that comes up with 375 different observable polymorphisms is in itself a very good indication that human biodiversity is a hell of a lot more complex than racial theory can deal with. Furthermore, the ability to use genetic assays to indicate where some few of a personÕs many ancestors may have originated is not at all proof of biologically stable subspecies among humans.

¤ I don't see why such a study would pertain to any particular individual ancestors. At least once you get back to the generation of one's grandparents the task of sorting out which characteristics came from which grandparent would be monumental. That's because pairs of chromosomes, after then pull apart a little ways, can twine around each other and swap ends. So you may get the head of the chromosome that came from great great grandpa and the tail of the same chromosome may come from great great grandma. The possibility that I find interesting is that one individual migrates from somewhere in Saudi Arabia at the time of King Arthur, has a bunch of children all of whom are, I don't know, resistant to the plague. The tail end of that one chromosome that contains the protective allele means a healthy child for all who get it, and even though the other characteristics get washed out in the long run, this one characteristic persists. There was mention earlier in our discussion of the "earliest common ancestor". Although the math and the exact workings of the thing remain murky to me, it suggested to me that you would not have to go back very far in human history to find a trait that was present then and that got passed down to all humans. But right now I'm just seeing possibilities. P0M 04:45, 16 Jan 2005 (UTC)

A new study published in Nature Genetics [2] is a further proof that human beings are relatively biologically unified. If the racial thesis was correct, one would expect the exact opposite, but that isnÕt the case. Note the quotation marks. Note their correlation of ÒraceÓ to ÒethnicÓ groups. They are quite clearly talking about socially constructed groups here which is why they use the term Òethnic groupsÓ. Races can be constructed and perceived. It is no responsible scientist's argument that they don't exist. They are socially constructed, however. The Nature study could also have said that the effects of these variants were consistent across zodiac signs. Such a statement would be true. It would not, however, be proof that our basic human typologies are written in the stars. -- Orionix 01:54, 12 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I'll have to read it more carefully, but based on the N&V that study doesn't directly address the question of whether races exist.
¤ What exists, exists. [Race] is a fiction. It may be a useful fiction, if constructed in an appropriate way and kept "civilized" by frequently pruning off connotations and side-growths, but it is still a fiction. What this fiction tries to describe is real. It is the similarity amidst diversity that at least makes humans a species. It's functionally very useful to be able to distinguish humans from chimpanzees -- otherwise there might be more unofficial and unintentional hybridization experiments. But even in the case of humans and yeast cells there are family connections. They are rather remote, but knowing about them is useful too.
¤ I really think it is a mistake to argue about whether [races] exist. To do so is to confuse word and object P0M 04:45, 16 Jan 2005 (UTC)

RE: I don't understand. All genetic studies make it very clear that humans cannot be typologized neither into 3-5 nor 6-9 stable and distinct sub-species or races. -- Orionix 05:26, 12 Jan 2005 (UTC)

If you substitute genetic clade for race, then you actually can place people into arbitrarily as many groups as you wish. The terms "stable" and "distinct" are the sticky points that make it an open question as to whether those clades are truly "races". see [3]
¤ Yes, exactly. And I think you and Orionix are actually saying the same thing. Diversity is real. Genetic connections are real. Heredity is real. But the concepts that we use to talk about these things are the products of the active operation of the human mind. The concepts are things that we humans impose upon the real world to make it easier for us to "rule nature by obeying her." P0M 04:45, 16 Jan 2005 (UTC)

--Rikurzhen 05:49, Jan 12, 2005 (UTC)

I am beginning to wonder whether the main point of what Orionix and I are saying is being ignored and blown off. The article, as it stands, is wrong because it hypostatizes race. To draw a homely analogy: Stars are real. Constellations are not real. They are human constructs imposed on real things. Stars can be organized into many different groupings that are more useful, perhaps, than the constellations, but that fact does not change the basic truth that the groupings are done by humans. P0M 07:22, 18 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Part 2

The expectation if 85% of all genetic variation is found within each population is that the majority of disease causing alleles are found in each population. Like the Fst discussion, that doesn't shed light on population structure. -- But I'll have to read the paper more carefully. --Rikurzhen 03:51, Jan 12, 2005 (UTC)

RE: Take any population (or race) on earth, as you wish to define it, and the genetic variation will be 85-90% among each one. Now if we use genetic clines as 'races' we will find that there are basically infinite 'races' out there. -- Orionix 05:26, 12 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I understand your point; the question -- as the race article states -- is whether in fact global genetic variation is clinal or not. That is a mostly unresolved question. But depending on the level of difference you decide is a proper cutoff, you could have anywhere from 1 race total to one race for each person (except twins). The question is whether the structure of genetic variation warrants the notion of race -- i.e., countably few groups. --Rikurzhen 05:49, Jan 12, 2005 (UTC)
¤ Coming back to this statement long after I wrote what is below, do you really believe that there are any instances where global genetic variation is not clinal? To imagine such a case you have to take a very restrictive view of humans over time. By that I mean that if you look at the most remote and most thoroughly cut off of all the human groups (before recent centuries at least) you probably would be looking at the native population of Australia. They apparently lived relatively unmolested for 80,000 years or so. Everything that they originally had came presumably came with a "clinal tail" connecting them with whatever other humans were moving across the globe just behind them (or maybe they accelerated through some groups that go ahead of them in the migration across Eurasia). At some point they got to Australia. They have presumably changed somewhat in adapting to that environment. Do we know that they have a single relevant characteristic that they did not carry with them? If Atlantis emerges pristine from the sea and we seed it with a single species of finch, how much diversification will be due to different microenvironments or ecological niches favoring different characteristics that were carried there among the million or so finches we boxed up and moved to that island, and how long will it take for benefitial mutations to emerge? How big and how beneficial a mutation will we have to have before we call them a different subspecies? (Remember, we also have to embargo the island so no foreign finches get on and no "native" finches get off.) Most of the characteristics that distinguish subspecies of animals are relatively superficial things like color.
¤ To come back to reality a bit, is there a single known characteristic of the aboriginal population of Australia that is unique? If there is I imagine that people would be talking about it. White skin was apparently a big beneficial mutation in Europe 20,000 or so years ago, but there is no "narrow hybridization band" surrounding Europe that I know of. P0M 04:45, 16 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Most likely there are a number of alleles that are private to the aboriginal population of Australia, or were before contact with Europeans. --Rikurzhen 09:11, Jan 16, 2005


¤ It would be great to have some facts. One of the articles that Rikurzhen posted on 17 Jan. says: "There are no gene variants that are present in all individuals of one population group and in no individuals of another. No sharp genetic boundaries can be drawn between human

population groups. However, frequencies of genetic variants and haplotypes differ across the world. --http://www.apa.org/journals/releases/amp6019.pdf" -- Not quite as definitive as I would like, but very close. It indicates that some gene variants may be present in some individuals of one population group and in no individuals of another. (Some individuals in the North American population group have blue skin, but not all individuals have this characteristic, and no individuals in the Japanese population group have this characteristic.)P0M 07:36, 18 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I guess I will have to temporarily deal with this word "clinal" even though it was semantically still-born as far as I can tell. (It should have been stifled, at the very least.) The question you mention is whether variation does or does not occur in distinct (i.e., genetically and characterologically clearly divided) classes of phenomena. If there is non-clinal variation, then on one some side of some line people all fail to have characteristic W but have characteristic X, and on the other side of that line no people have characteristic W and all people do not have characteristic X. But Rikurzhen moves us onto subjective ground with the remark: "But depending on the level of difference you decide is a proper cutoff, you could have...." Does something become "non-clinal" just because you or I say it is? That's the question that has made the biologists who have to deal with questions of whether two populations of some organism constitute two subspecies or one become convinced that "subspecies" is only useful as a handy rule of thumb. To determine the presence of two subspecies, one look for the "clear margin" or "narrow margin of hybridization" that is supposed to mark the boundary between two subspecies, who gets to say how broad a band of hybridization can be and still count as narrow? It is useful in the sale of queen bees to identify this one as an Italian and that one as a Carniolian, but if you find a colony somewhere on the outskirts of Venice, then it what it gets called may well depend entirely on who is doing the calling. Is the question really "whether the structure of genetic variation warrants the notion of race"? I think that, in itself (without deliberate analysis), genetic variation studies will show us what characteristics are there, but will not show us whether genetically determined characteristics actually cluster in the way that our commonsense ideas of race say that they will. What would you conclude if close analysis showed that in a given place and at a given time characteristic X is associated with characteristic Y 87% of the time -- but that viewed over the course of a thousand years characteristic X has been thriving and increasing in a diagonal band across India from NE to SW while while characteristic Y has been increasing and thriving in a different diagonal band from NW to SE -- and what you are actually look at is the diamond-shaped area of intersection of these two diagonal bands? Characterists X and Y appear to cluster very strongly in that limited population, but not because the two of them are linked on one chromosome or in some other "glued-together" way. Their appearance together is based on a historical contingency. Change the environment to continue favoring X but to make Y maladaptive and the "link" will weaken and disappear. P0M 03:30, 13 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Orionix, I'm familiar with everything you've written here -- and it is a very good argument for the low validity of older biological theories of race. However, it does not address the more recent notion that "races" are cladistic groups defined by "lineage" (i.e. extended families) as obsreved from multi-locus genetic profiling.
When one divides humans into cladistic groups, when one traces out their "true" lineage, you use the creative powers of the human mind to make another kind of constellation. It necessarily selectively disattends to certain elements to make a simplified picture which is easier to deal with than would be the real picture. In other words, it involves clustering. Which form of clustering provides the most useful of several competing forms of clustering may depend on what various users want to do with the data. The idea that some clustering exists before humans get at the data is Platonic and about 3000 years out of date. P0M 07:36, 18 Jan 2005 (UTC)
I believe you are factually mistaken here. Clustering is a mathematical process that groups like things together. What emerges from a clustering analysis is not subject to prior expectations about the data -- unless you've selectively collected data, which is one argument against the current results in favor of "lineage". The cluster analyses of human genotypes are revealing because they group similar genotypes, which is reflective of more recent common ancestry. These groups happen to correspond -- after you go back and put labels on the genotypes -- with continent of ancestry -- although this did not have to be the case. Instead, it could have clustered people randomly so that there was no meaningful high level organization, and we would have concluded that continental labels were not objective. --Rikurzhen 19:07, Jan 18, 2005 (UTC)

Part 3

RE: You realized that almost all present studies put 'race' under quotation marks. Race has very little standing in modern biology as a taxonomic concept. Instead the concept of race has been replaced by the clinatic theory which deals with geographically patterned human physical diversity. -- Orionix 05:26, 12 Jan 2005 (UTC)

the theory that human genetic variation is clinal is as yet un-confirmed; it is an open question. if the answers were as easy and clear-cut as you imply, why would we still have conference and whole issues of nature genetic dedicated to the question? --Rikurzhen 05:49, Jan 12, 2005 (UTC)
¤ Seriously? Are they arguing about really sharp cut-offs or just about how many degrees of slope counts as vertical? P0M 04:45, 16 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Are you famaliar with the concept of data clustering? If you cluster human genotypes, the high level branches of the cluster correspond to continental groups. This is most likely because people from the same continent share a more recent common ancestor. The strength of this effect and its applicability to all people is not yet clear because we haven't genotyped enough people in enough places. --Rikurzhen 09:11, Jan 16, 2005 (UTC)
¤ Just a reality check here. An example of clustering, as I understand it, would be to take the northern Chinese (Han) group and cluster them with the southern Chinese (Han) group on the grounds that they are relatively "close" to each other as compared, e.g., to the distance of either group to the Japanese. I don't have any problem with the utility of such groupings. In fact, it seems to me to be a rather elegant way of constructing something that otherwise might be handled by constructing (constituting, to use phenomenologist-babble) the northern Han as one group, the southern Han as another group, and constituting an even more fuzzy third group called "those in the band of hybridization between northern and southern Han".

That is the presently open question: clines or clades for human biodiversity. An added complication to answering that question is the scope of the inquiry (e.g. the whole world or just the United States). This open question cannot possibly be answered yet because no one has done enough re-squencing of the human genome on a global scale to know the answer.

¤ Clines and clades come down to the same thing if you believe that characteristics are inherited, no? Are you (whichever one of us you are) maintaining that there are populations in the U.S. with sharp boundaries? Of course it is impossible to prove a negative. Even if there is currently no sharply-bounded breeding community, we may find a group of green people tomorrow that is very clannish and that nobody else wants to breed with either. Of all the groups that I can think of, blacks and whites in the old south, or Ainu and Japanese in Hokaido, would seem to be the most likely to have maintained sharp boundaries. If not skin color and other superficial and therefore easily identifiable characteristics, then what could be used by these groups to keep themselves apart? Religion? Check out the charts that show the relations of Jewish people and Arabian people genetically. Those who are closest together physically (over the long run) are closest together genetically. P0M 04:45, 16 Jan 2005 (UTC)
If a population is slightly endogamous, as I suspect most are, then most people will share more of their alleles with each parent than if mating were random/assortive. With genetic clusters, the idea of "boundaries" is different than with phenotypes. I imagine most people in the US have most of their 6-8th generation ancestors their ancestors from the same continent. That should be enough to create a boundary that is distinguishable by genotying. --Rikurzhen 09:11, Jan 16, 2005 (UTC)
¤ That way of dividing people up will sometimes put numbers to our general perception that, e.g., African-Americans are different from Euro-Americans. (And sometimes it may, I suppose, divide things up in ways we wouldn't have thought of. Which reminds me: Some years back I was pretty deeply involved, time-wise at least, in C programming. People were developing computer programs to create computer programs in C to handle some messy, complicated stuff. The programs that the computers were creating were "correct" in the sense that they got the right answers and did so in frequently efficient ways, but the professional programmers who studied the resultant programs were interested to note that the structures that emerged were not like the structures that emerge when humans go at it. That, in turn, reminds me that Feinmann was able to do some of the work on the atomic bomb, and solve problems that others were having trouble with, because he used some odd-ball ways of doing calculus that the others were unfamiliar with. Different structures can get to the same result, but some structures are tidy, fast, and easily followed, while others are convoluted, time consuming, and by the time you're done you're not sure exactly what you've done.) Finding ways of putting the individual into a group that has group characteristics of medical import can be very useful. Finding ways of putting individuals into groups that have medical or other utility but that we wouldn't have just stumbled upon by looking at random characteristics with a subjective eye ("Moist, sticky ear wax! Yuck! Tastes bad, too.") will most likely have important payoffs in the world of medicine and perhaps elsewhere.

RE: Almost all of the human Genomic content was already sequenced. The project was completed on 21 October 2004. Project goals were to:

A) identify all the approximately 20,000-25,000 genes in human DNA,

B) determine the sequences of the 3 billion chemical base pairs that make up human DNA,

C) store this information in databases,

D) improve tools for data analysis,

E) transfer related technologies to the private sector, and address the ethical, legal, and social issues (ELSI) that may arise from the project,

F) address the ethical, legal, and social issues (ELSI) that may arise from the project. -- Orionix 05:26, 12 Jan 2005 (UTC)

You missed my point -- the current project is re-sequencing of people. We've got one consensus genome sequence now, but we don't know what variation exists and how that variation is distributed. --Rikurzhen 05:49, Jan 12, 2005 (UTC)
¤ I think what Rikurzhen says above is correct. We know what the genes are (in terms of their chemical compositions). What we haven't done is examine the genes for alleles and then try to find out whether those alleles correlate to anything somebody would like to call "race." P0M 04:45, 16 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Under the lineage defition, the pattern of the alleles themselves can be used to delineate "races". --Rikurzhen 09:11, Jan 16, 2005 (UTC)
¤ An article on "Race" should include that information as one of the systems of categorization that humans can use to divvy themselves up. Whether people will accept that kind of division as useful and/or meaningful is one question. Whether people will generally accept that kind of division as "the true meaning of race" is another question. But we should avoid hypostatizing these schemes of division into entities. [Race], however you define it, is not something that is just "out there" with a label sewn to its lapel. P0M 19:50, 16 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Part 4

(Although we are doing separate hap-maps for each continential population, which will be a starting point for such a study.) So anyone who claims to know with certainty that races in the lineage sense do not exist must be over-interpreting the existing data.

So the summarize... there are multiple distinctions that must be made when discussing the validity of race as we are trying to do with this article: (1) social versus biological; (2) various biological definitions; (3) global versus US; (4) and also validity versus utility.
On those point, here is my understanding:
(1) everyone seems to accept that the demarcation of races in the typological ("essentialist") sense are partially socially constructed
¤ Everything is a fiction = everything is socially constructed. The question is how much objective information is arranged by a "fiction" and how much stuff is just written in ad lib.
(2) older biological definitions have low validity on a global scale, but the lineage (extended family) definition is still plausible
¤ Surprisingly, to me, I don't understand what you mean. Maybe you mean that somebody just listed out "races" on a a priori basis? (I think there are five races. Yes, that's about the right number. Let's see now...) If you believe in hereditary, and if you think that mutations are rare and successful mutations are even rarer, then it seems that you have to explain differences in observed characteristic that are not instances of damage (broken leg, poked out eye, etc.) in terms of heredity, extended families. The problem for ideologues is that families are really extended and a white President of the U.S. ends up having black descendants. Turn that telescope around and it means that probably all of us have some unexpected ancestors back a few generations (either that or we come from extremely unimaginative stock ;-) P0M
I think the misunderstanding is that the lineage-genotype scheme need not entail all of the hypotheses associated with older definitions (e.g., there's no "one-drop" rule). Some people describe ancestry as fractional, and plot it on a graph that shows the distance of a person's genotype from the cluster majority. Most "whites" have non-trivial African ancestry for example, yet their genotypes are still strongly reflective of European ancestry. --Rikurzhen 19:16, Jan 18, 2005 (UTC)
¤ Plausibility is not a valid justification for belief in the existence of something. The demarcation of races in the cladistic sense is "partially socially constructed" as well. You happen to like the mixture of objective observation and human simplification and systematization of the observations that is present in the cladistic account of [race]. But your liking some fiction does not make it a fact. The cladistic account of how humans are related to each other and how their characteristics are related to each other is a fiction, albeit a relatively useful one. P0M 08:13, 18 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Here I'm very confused by your meanging of fiction. I get the constellation example -- an arbitrary subset of stars, which as viewed from Earth forms a shape, and we call it an object -- but high level groupings of genotypes by similarity seem much more objective than abitrarily drawing lines between people. Indeed, it is the pattern of human ancestry that determines the existing pattern of genetic variation -- and human ancestry seems fairly non-fictional to me. I just don't see how a grouping of genotypes by mathematical similarlity can be called socially constructed -- whereas I see perfectly how the one-drop rule is a purely social construct. Maybe are you are arguging that race isn't a property of any individual person, but an emergent property of a group of people? Although I would think of sex as an analogy and ask if that is a property of a person or of a group -- maybe both. --Rikurzhen 19:27, Jan 18, 2005 (UTC)
¤ The use of the term "fiction" goes back to the Vienna Circle, a group of philosophers who were instrumental in facilitating the development of physics in the 20th century. Think of it in terms of the root meaning of the word "fiction," "to form, to mold. to devise." There are very serious problems involved in how we know something is true. One of the reasons that Einstein was able to make so much progress in physics was that he was able to keep his eye on that particular ball. So there is great practical utility in this seemingly vacuous, irrelevant noodling done by would-be philosopher kings.
¤ Humans started out thinking that everything is perfectly obvious, but that certainty didn't stay with those humans who are honest and inquisitive. The study finally gets very technical in setting out the ways that we ground our knowledge. Fortunately, evolution has made getting things at least approximately right a practical necessity, and humans do a better job than other creatures (generally speaking) in at least not seeing things that aren't there. But sometimes we do see things that aren't there, or at least aren't there for other humans. That brings us to the first level of objectivity that is generally accepted as a basis for scientific knowledge.
¤ For science, it is not enough that I see ball lightning come into my living room, sit on a plastic stool, and tell me the secrets of the universe. I am convinced of it, but others are dubious because they didn't see it and they've never seen anything very much like it. Most people haven't even seen ball lightning, let alone sentient ball lightning. So, for something to be an object of study within the realm of science, it has to be something that, in principle at least, everybody can see or otherwise perceive. (Not everybody has a cloud chamber sitting idle in the hall closet, but any of us could buy one, make one, or gain access to one.) At that level, something "exists" if we all can see it, and we all can agree on some kind of consensus description. (It was about half a meter tall, give or take a cm. or so. She weighed it out as 25.0 kg., I weighed it out as 25.1 kg., ... and when we averaged the measures out we got 25.05. Given the kind of scales we are using, that's about as precise an answer as we're ever going to get.)
¤ Science demands that we have an "intersubjective object" in our sights before we can make any further determinations. We can all perceive this thing, measure and describe it, etc., and we can be reasonably sure that even after more precise measurements become possible we won't greatly change the original description. That way of grounding science in experience is generally accepted.
¤ Let's go back to the stars; they're "real." We've been watching them for thousands of years already, and with such intensity that we can identify novas that occured hundreds of years ago. We classify stars. Our nearest star, Sol, is a relatively hot star of the "main sequence" pattern development in a class that is named "g." Astronomers are more interested in the fact that there are lots of stars that fit the same general description as Sol, and not much interested in whether Sol has a "twin" somewhere. Similarly, we are interested in wolves more than (as scientists, anyway) we are interested in the individuating characteristics of any particular wolf. If you're going to be in daily contact on a friendly basis with wolves, it pays to know the general rules, e.g., "Don't step over the alpha male." The stars are as "real" as we are ever going to get. They sit there patiently, allowing us to take their mug shots over and over again.
¤ As soon as we group stars... Reread that last sentence. I didn't start out with the intent of getting to this sentence, but I read what I had just written. Focus on "we group stars". That's a clear statement to the effect that humans do something (form, mold, devise) to create the groups. To say that, e.g., the list of g class stars is a "fiction" is not to say that the list doesn't exist. (Well, actually, there are lists that different people keep and add things to on their own initiative.) Nor is it to say that the list contains stars that don't exist. It's just that it is a list that somebody made, just as your "all stars of 20th century soccer" list and my list of the "same" group may exist. Whether a certain individual goes on or stays off the list is a decision that may be obvious or it may involve marginal individuals that go on my list but are excluded from yours.
¤ Some ways of grouping phenomena may have great utility, and some ways may have lesser utility in understanding most situations but may still be the best way in special cases.
¤ There are some "social constructs" that add unsubstantiated opinion to observable fact. But as far as I know all social constructs contain some components of objective information. Rikurzhen said that "high level groupings of genotypes by similarity seem much more objective than abitrarily drawing lines between people. Indeed, it is the pattern of human ancestry that determines the existing pattern of genetic variation -- and human ancestry seems fairly non-fictional to me." The key phrase here is "more objective." It should probably be "closer to the objective" instead. The patterns are patterns that we pull out from the entire background, and the "pattern of human ancestry" is a simplified pattern that we pull out from the tapestry of real connections.
So is your point as simple as: adherents of logical positivism claim that race is a fiction? Or is it stronger, perhaps: adherents of scientific realism should nonetheless question the reality of races because the criteria for distinguishing groups and allocating people into groups is observer dependent? If so, I would suggest a more neutral statement like: a study by "Whomever" found that using X markers could determine ancestry with a false positive rate of Y; and thus a substantial fraction of individuals cannot be readily allocated into groups that correspond with their self-reported ancestry. --Rikurzhen 00:12, Jan 19, 2005 (UTC)
¤ My point is as simple as this: There are individuals out there that can be grouped in various ways (sometimes in competing ways I suppose) on the basis of what are generally regarded as real characteristics. The individuals are real. The constellations into which we organize them are not features of the real world, they are ways by means of which we organize real things. We say that something exists when you can find it at coordinates x, y, z, t. You cannot find a [race] the way you can find an individual bee. P0M 01:41, 19 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Ah. That philosophy is a subset of a loose group of philosophies called anti-realism. For example, you can be anti-realist about universals. Although the kind of anti-realism you are describing is common place among some thinkers, it is certinaly not something that can be merely taken for granted; so you'll have to find the right NPOV way of describing that POV. --Rikurzhen 02:56, Jan 19, 2005 (UTC)
¤ The article, as it stands, implicitly asserts the existence of races, just as an article about dairy cows assumes the existence of cows. An article on "domestic animals of the Martians" would assert the existence of both Martians and their domestic animals. Then people might start asking for substantiation, no? P0M 05:29, 19 Jan 2005 (UTC)
P0M, a gaseous igloo is a like a married bachelor, it is an analytic contradiction. I think you don't mean that race is a logical contradiction. Based on everything you've said so far, do you mean that the article should start, "people divide humans into races" rather than "A race is a distinct population of humans"? I'm not sure that is fitting with other articles; even unicorn doesn't start with "Some people have an idea about a legendary animal called a unicorn", but rather "The unicorn is a legendary creature shaped like a horse" -- yet I don't think this language implies that unicorns actually exist. Can you think of a NPOV way to make the change you're trying to get at or an example of an article that does? --Rikurzhen 06:02, Jan 19, 2005 (UTC)
(3) on the global scale many suggest that human genetic variation is clinal, but no one seriously suggests that genetic variation among the disparate non-random immigrant groups that comprise the US population are clinal -- opening the possibility that race is valid for populations like the US, but not for those like Brazil or the entire globe
¤ I guess this means that if we look at recent Chinese immigrants we are likely to find a low percentage of non-stereotypical Chinese genetic characteristics... Wait a minute, one of my Chinese friends in Taiwan had naturally curly hair. I wonder where 'e got that.
¤ I think you are using language in a way that is inappropriate to the historical situation. We recognize clinal (on a slope) variation when things have grown into a place and have come to an equilibrium. If we mix liquids immiscible liquids of various specific gravities in a tall cylindrical container, they will sort themselves out into a sort of "clinal" array. That's the equilibrium situation, and it tell us something about how the various substances relate to each other. If you look at humans spread out over the road from Sweden to Malaysia you'll see a clinal series of colors with no sudden breaks -- except where large numbers of people have move in and taken over. The presence of a white spot on the island of Hong Kong does not tell us anything about how populations adapt to UV levels and other environmental factors. It tells us something about the power of the British navy, the desire for empire, etc., etc. The situation in the U.S. with regard to non-Amerind populations does not tell us anything about characteristics of people adapted to a region. It tell us about populations in sudden disequilibrium with their environments. Race/lace, the question is how one should best make a system of categorization that tell us something helpful about individuals found in the U.S. If Joe Zhou could be predicted with a certain degree of statistical reliability to have certain characteristics when he lived in Hang Zhou, then he can be predicted to have the same characteristics to the same degree of statistically reliability when he is in the U.S. If there is any problem it is that a doctor examining Joe in Hang Zhou is more likely to estimate his genetic cohort than is a doctor examining Joe in NYC if the doctor doesn't inquire where he is from. Maybe the doctor will assume he is Japanese. That's partially a function of the disequilibrium situation he has been found in. But why is the utility or the validity of his [racial] identification increased when he comes to the U.S.? It seems to me that the utility is equal at best (if the doctor knows as much about that population as does the medicos in Hang Zhou) and get less useful as the spread of clustering or stereotyping increases or the specificity of the identification of his "true group" decreases due to unfamiliarity of the U.S. doctors with his actual cohort. P0M 08:13, 18 Jan 2005 (UTC)

P0M 04:45, 16 Jan 2005 (UTC)

(4) race may have medical and other utility even if it is biologically meaningless; or even if it were highly biologically meaningful, it might not have utility for many facets of human life
--Rikurzhen 03:51, Jan 12, 2005 (UTC)
¤ I take it you mean to say that some system of categorization that somebody chose to call "race" might have utility. So far so good. But, as I have said at numbing length elsewhere, such a system of categorization tells us nothing for sure about the individual. It just tries to be statistically reliable with regard to what marker characteristics go with what harder-to-determine characteristics. But, wait a minute, now you suggest that there might be a category somebody calls "race" and yet that characteristic could be non-biological? So not related to heredity? And still useful? Does that mean something like, "He is a member of the race of singers, he sings all time, so there's a betting man's chance that he can productively be employed to do act? Give the guy a screen test!"? Or does it mean something like, "He's a blanco. Must have lots of money."? I truly do not understand what you have in mind, so I'm just guessing. P0M 04:45, 16 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Most markers used to distinguish lineage are non-functional, and so it is possible that the majority of functional alleles are equally distributed between lineage-races. Although, I think that hypothesis has been tested and falsified. --Rikurzhen 09:11, Jan 16, 2005 (UTC)
¤ An example of a major functional allele that isn't equally distributed would be helpful. I'd be even more interested in a major functional allele that isn't present in some population. P0M 08:13, 18 Jan 2005 (UTC)
¤ I wouldn't expect to find equal distribution as I doubt that (on the analogy of a teaspoon of spice dropped onto the stew pot at 3 o'clock (geographically speaking that is), another at 6 o'clock, etc.) there has not been sufficient time for the characteristics even to have spread everywhere, much less to have equilibriated with respect to environmental suitability. Suppose a mutation occurs in a temperate clime. The mutation is not particularly useful there, nor is it anywhere close to lethal. But once it finds its way to India it proves a real boon. So it will spread there rapidly. Then it will have to creep around the edges of the Indian Sea at higher lattitudes (where it will not particularly prosper) and finally it will make its way to Africa (and Malaysia and other tropical areas as well). Curly hair may be functional in some way. The kinky hair in the 60s Afro haircut looked to me like it might be extremely functional in any clime where the sun was intense, temperatures were hot, and a head without any artificial covering on it would both get UV burns and also be overheated. But by the time the curliness factor got to China it may have been out of step both with the times (since the very widely used bamboo hat may very well go back to the time when people learned to weave fish traps and other such artifacts) and with the milder environment). I'm more interested in the fact that even though most people would say it, it is not true that all Han Chinese have straight hair. (Nor is it all perfectly black, for that matter.) P0M 21:35, 16 Jan 2005 (UTC)

This sounds awfully speculative. I don't see how it contributes to the article. What's the point? Slrubenstein 22:05, 16 Jan 2005 (UTC)

By "this" do you mean the assertion of the possibility that "the majority of functional alleles are equally distributed between lineage-races"? P0M 02:40, 17 Jan 2005 (UTC)

By "this" I am referring to the above examples of a mutation that makes its way to India, and the example of curly hair and bamboo hats. Is this original research, or do you have a citation? Slrubenstein 02:45, 17 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I was interested in the possibility of equal distribution of functional alleles mentioned by Rikurzhen because if is turns out to be true then almost all the differences that divide people when they recognize somebody as belonging to "that other race" would be truly insignificant, and the significant few might turn out to all be things like range of skin colors. I don't know whether anything like that would need to go into the article if it turned out to be true, but I've been trying to make sure that I understand what Rikurzhen has been saying and in what ways the things that Orionix has to say may open up new areas of understanding or correct old errors. If all of the alleles that make someone a member of what the average person (in the U.S. for instance) regards as one race are also found to occur in all other races (even though at lower levels), then that would face readers with the need to square their beliefs on [race] with the facts of human diversity. I think that even if we do not exactly enjoy going over these issues time and again as new editors join the process, it is still something that we will need to do. And, of course, I will be interested to hear of any research that might move what Rikurzhen brought up as a possibility either way. Knowing what to look for can sometimes be a useful kind of knowledge. P0M 03:21, 17 Jan 2005 (UTC)