Re: >apartheid and transhumanists

Timothy Bates (
Wed, 18 Nov 1998 15:04:24 +1100

BilLee Miller says:

> I've explained it before. I'll explain it again. There is
>absolutely no biological basis for the conceptual distinction of race.

That is not an explanation: it is a claim.

>We're just as likely to be more genetically similar to a person of a
>different "race" as we are to a member of the same "race."

That is irrelevant to the claim that races are as meaningful a grouping of humans as they are of other species.

I could use the same logic to say that there is no such thing as birth order by noting that I am as likely to have a personality more similar to someone of another birth order as I am to someone who shares my birth order. The critical question is not do the distirbutions overlap at all, but does aggregating across (putative) members leave reliable differences and secondarily, can these differences be attributed to gene frequencies within the mating population? If there are no differences, they will disappear in the aggregation. If there are, they will shine forth. The fact is that are reliable aggregate differences which have meaningful social outcomes.

>Literally a
>racist is a person who believes in the existence.

Oh i see: you need no proof that what someone might say is wrong: that they say it is proof that it is wrong: how handy for you.

This is structurally identical to Dworkin's claim that women have no need to prove that pornography is harmful or even to define pornography. Pornography is whatever a powerless person says it is, no one can meaningfully dispute this, and the mere claim that it is pornographic is proof that it is harmful.

This is mind-rotting nonsense.

> I think Richard Dawkins
>provided a strong argument group selection in _The Selfish Gene_ for most
>of us to reason that any major distinctions into massive human groups
>are probably memetic rather genetic.

Umm. I guess it is just an editing slip up, but Dawkins is virulently opposed to group selection. Anyhow, could you supply a citation from "the selfish gene" to the effect that it has been empirically demonstrated that there are not now, and never have been, any human groups distinguished by statistically significant differences in gene frequency?

To my mind, race is like the use of the term type in the Myers Briggs personality scale: it would only be appropriate if significant bi-modality or higher order multi modal peaks were found in the gene frequencies when mapped out against dimensions known to underlie speciation: dimensions such as geographical location. In the case of personality, type claims are not supported by the evidence. It si a similar matter of empirical investigation whether this is the case for race.

  1. All members of a species have the same gene loci.
  2. Individuals have one and only one allele at each locus on each strand of DNA.
  3. If those gene frequencies were randomly distributed geographically and on all other dimensions affecting mate choice, then there could be no justification for the term race.

If, however, we find that certain alleles differ significantly in frequency between groups distrubuted on these dimensions which underlie speication, then the term race has utility (meaning):it describes this inhomogeneity in gene frequency.

It is a scientific question: either gene frequencies are distributed non-normally, or they are not. Either groups of hominids were reproductively (relatively) isolated for considerable periods of time or they were not. If they were, racial differences will evolve. They must because it is exactly these differences which drive speciation and we have species. Or don't you believe in species either?


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