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Does Race exist?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by haroon, May 8, 2019.

  1. Manfred Belheim

    Manfred Belheim Warlord

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    Depends on what you think "the races" are and where the dividing lines are doesn't it. For the most part it's going to be done by visual appearance isn't it. I don't really see what's interesting about this question.

    I think you have the cart before the horse here. But anyway, as I've said, I think "race" is just an attempt at recognising and classifying actual real observable differences. Humans like to classify things. If the real differences are there (which they are) then that's reason enough for classifications to exist. There doesn't have to be any benefit.

    Well people don't generally go around measuring other people, so that's perfectly understandable, hence my answer to the first question. I'm sure if someone with 50% Polynesian ancestry essentially looks "white" then that's probably how most people are going to see them, at least initially. I don't know about you though, but if they were then to tell me that they are actually 50% Polynesian, I wouldn't ignore it and insist they were white.

    I just mean that in your example you were talking about (apparently) someone of 50/50 mixed race, yet said "but that one drop of blood". I was just saying that it sounded like more than one drop of blood. Unless you think that people only have two drops of blood in them I suppose. It wasn't an important point however.

    Well as I said, I can see why someone like Obama tends to be seen as "black" in a majority white country, for obvious reasons. I don't know if that holds true universally however, and I also think most people are able to comprehend that he is mixed race. I certainly don't think that someone of white/black mixed race is more black than someone of white/Polynesian mixed race is Polynesian though. Hope that helps.

    I don't really know what you're asking me here, if anything.

    Edit: I'm sure I haven't really answered you properly, so sorry for that, but I doubt this is going to actually go anywhere as it never does. And 6 pages have popped up in the few hours I've been away which I can't be bothered to read so I think I'm just going to leave it here. If you want to ask me more feel free to PM me but I probably won't see it if you ask in this thread.
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2019
  2. Truthy

    Truthy Titular character

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    I'll concede I was lazy in finding a good source earlier and was, I think, somewhat wrong and somewhat right. But I'm more in it out of curiosity at this point than proving myself right :p. A little preliminary digging turned up two decent resources, especially the second one.

    This one is highly-cited, but too old. I included it anyway since I put in the effort to skim it, so might as well. “Genetic Structure of Human Populations” (2002, link) analyzes 377 loci from ~1000 people from ~50 populations with a Markov chain/monte carlo Bayesian program called structure. It appears to be a well-established algorithm, with 1260 citations on Google Scholar, but it is not robust if you have uneven samples. They create clusters for varying k. For k = 2, they get a cluster anchored in Africa and one in the Americas. For k = 5, they get clusters roughly corresponding to Africa, Europe/Middle East/Central/South Asia, East Asia, Oceania, and the Americas. Interestingly, for k = 6, the new cluster is basically Turkic Central Asians. The clustering of most Central and Western Eurasians I think pretty much makes sense (on the ancient history of India; Reich is one of the authors), though sort of contradicts what I said earlier, as I wasn't being careful enough.

    This one is a lot better and from the 1000 Genomes Project: “A global reference for human genetic variation” (2015, link). The structure method is a maximum likelihood algorithm called ADMIXTURE (2215 citations). Figure 2 and extended data figure 5 are mainly what I looked at. They make it a little difficult to read because the fonts are small and I had to look up the meanings of the Haplogroup codes in the supplementary materials. But the 8-cluster population structure they show in figure 2 I think is about what you’d expect. The extended figure 5 for k = 5 shows clusters anchored around East Asia, South Asia, Europe, and two anchors in Africa - roughly Gambia and Kenya. The Americas show up as mixtures of Europeans, Africans, and East Asians (which makes sense). A limitation is that the supplementary materials show the haplogroups they start with were from the Americas, Africa, East Asia, South Asia, and Europe. So it doesn’t look like they had any Middle Easterners or Central Asians.

    My guess is these aren't extreme outliers in the population of population structure papers. The general impression behind my earlier post was that population structures aren't generally crazy counter-intuitive.
     
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  3. BornInCantaloup

    BornInCantaloup A Shadow for the Warrior

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    Of course, it would be racist. Basing an argument/distinction on the idea of race is racism. Doesn't say it has to be malevolent.
    I can very well ignore history and grant you that. In essence, there is no necessity that racism should be morally wrong. Just because they'd be part of some other race doesn't mean we'd have to burn 'em all.

    Still, going from some shared traits or attributes to establishing races is a step. An arbitrary step.
    Distinguishing between people is what we do all the time and we can also use statistics to produce any sort of arbitrary meaning. Big nose, flaccid belly, red foot, and it's genetics ? That's gotta be a race. What about those mountain inbreds who lived without salt for hundreds of years ? Another race.
    Distinguishing between the Congolese Pygmy and the Alaskan Tlingit is fair game. They would also distinguish between themselves, right ?
    It's also fair game to distinguish between you and your neighbour.

    The thing is : what sort of distinction is meaningful ? I think these distinctions are meaningful if they are constituent of our identity.
    If race is a meaningful constituent of some person's identity, well... :dunno:
    I find it different when this meaning is applied from the outside, which is indicative of a position of power. e.g. : "Let me tell you what your real race is, for I have the power of God and science by my side. Don't let doubt trouble you, child, I shall solve your problems for you, find you a suitable place in the world, etc."

    Peoples, populations, nations, ethnies, inhabitants, communities, tribes, indigenous, gangs, the accounting service...
     
  4. Perfection

    Perfection The Great Head.

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    Race was a categorization system imposed by imperialists ignored ethnic and cultural considerations, it was basically "the exploitable people in this giant swath of the world are called X", racial identity was established by racist ideology. Ethnicity is much more natural because people of shared ethnic groups share things like language and folklore and customs. Race is not a higher level lumping of ethnicities, it is the marginalization of it.

    I'd thus say it is factually wrong to think of racial identity as anything other than the effect of imperialist categorization systems. Assigning it more value gives it undeserved power that marginalizes more natural identity groupings and plays in to the hands of racists.

    Of course, I don't consider you any sort of a bad person for this, you don't know that this is wrong, and society doesn't do that good a job of explaining why it's wrong. The use of racial categorization has also taken on a life beyond the end its use as a legal category of discrimination which muddies everything up too.

    In general we have to be careful though, as factually incorrect and morally incorrect often go hand-in-hand. Someone might believe people of a certain race are less cognitively capable and thus should not be in positions of power. That statement is wrong, but it's not nakedly illogical, and it stands to reason that a generally virtuous person could buy into this terrible belief. Thus while it is important to identify and eradicate these bad beliefs it is also important to not rush to the conclusion that someone with racist beliefs is knowingly acting in a morally wrong manner.
     
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  5. haroon

    haroon Chieftain

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    The definition shouldn't depend on what I think races are, as I already mentioned earlier and also as other people in this discussion also note the most earliest is perfection, modern concept of race is a classification concept that totally arbitrary that doesn't bear any reference in reality.

    Like I already mentioned to you before, people's ethnicity was not determined by genetic genealogy, let me quote my previous comment to you:


    you mean like the magnum opus over here?



    This is the utmost important aspect of the discussion.

    Nope, if we entertained your idea that human love to classify other human by appearance hence race as a concept appeared, not only the concept itself is highly questionable if it has any possible positive contribution to society, in the other hand it is definitely emitted racism that responsible for many horrible event, then why should we used such concept?

    This is not about cart and horse here, both have function, this is about I'm saying to not jump off the cliff.

    Alright man thank you so much for the contribution also, you lit up the discussion.
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2019
  6. Modder_Mode

    Modder_Mode Chieftain

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    This forum in particular is utterly obsessed with race, it doesn't matter what the thread topic is; it could be a discussion about "which particular grass grows well in cooler climates", then somehow the thread turns into some discussion about race and how some particular race has been somehow oppressed by another race or something along those lines. I'm trying to put my finger on why this obsession is, because it's unhealthy....
     
  7. haroon

    haroon Chieftain

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    I don't think this is because our forum obsession toward racism, look for instance between the two group of people that discussing in this thread, I believe none of them are individually racist or obsess with such thing. I think it is because many of the event that we discuss are somewhat related with the term race, racist or racism, while there are people who believe race is a reality based concept, and there is the people who argued such concept is a myth, this fundamental definition disagreement caused a debate.
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2019
  8. Samson

    Samson Chieftain

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    I have not managed to keep up with this thread, but I did find an interesting paper on it. One way of looking at the human lineage, based only on one feature (100 Alu insertion polymorphisms):

    Using that same locus, along with a few others (60 STR polymorphisms and 30 restriction site polymorphisms) the inheritance pattern looks simple:

    However if you do the same thing with a different locus (polymorphisms in the 14.4-kb gene AGT) you get a much more complicated picture:
     
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  9. red_elk

    red_elk Warlord

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    I see your point, all this is probably true for the definition of race commonly used in America. Like, considering Hispanic people as non-whites and white race as some sort of WASP-only privileged club. This is definitely racist and serves no other purpose except discrimination.

    I was taught a bit different things. Essentially, it was something like "People are different by skin color, but all are equal. There are African, Asian, European people and a few other races. Non-European people are often mistreated and segregated in capitalist countries."

    In my opinion, race is still convenient categorization of people, which can be useful in some cases. For example, there is nothing racist in sticker "Black male teenager went missing last week. If you saw him, please call NNN." Or in the article "People of African-American descent have different prevalence for disease YYY and may require different screening (vaccination) scheme".
     
  10. Lexicus

    Lexicus Warlord

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    If this is a correct summary of Reich's perspective on this then he is a scientific racist, there isn't much more to say.

    I suggest reading this for an overview of the problems with that NYT piece. Specifically addressing the sickle-cell mutation:
    Please don't encourage him :crazyeye:
     
  11. Manfred Belheim

    Manfred Belheim Warlord

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    Well, other than "African-American" being silly of course :) unless there's something specifically about being black in America that would influence the disease.
     
  12. Manfred Belheim

    Manfred Belheim Warlord

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    You mean like this amazing example?
     
  13. red_elk

    red_elk Warlord

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    It's just commonly used names for test groups in US-based studies, "Caucasians", "African-Americans", etc.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5403065/
     
  14. Lexicus

    Lexicus Warlord

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    Couldn't be the sweeping racial disparities in virtually every outcome from health to education to the job market to the criminal justice system...could it?
     
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  15. haroon

    haroon Chieftain

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    This issue shouldn't be just sweep below the carpet or worst ridiculed
     
  16. Manfred Belheim

    Manfred Belheim Warlord

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    Yeah I know I know. Still silly though. Becomes amusing when the label is applied to black people who've never been anywhere near America.
     
  17. Owen Glyndwr

    Owen Glyndwr La Femme Moderne

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    Don’t forget global socioeconomics, both today and historically.
     
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  18. AdamCrock

    AdamCrock Master of Darkness

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    This looks very interesting, can You please translate what it says not using scientific terms like "STR" , "AGT", "site polymorphisms" and "14.4-kb gene" ? (tbh. it's all greek to me) If I gather those pictures correctly we are all descendants from the black people of Africa right ? And Asians are the most evolved representants of our species ?
     
  19. Truthy

    Truthy Titular character

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    For one, I'm curious if the articles I mentioned earlier were consistent with what you say you've seen. Two, this is interesting, but we're mostly all aware that any particular locus won't usually follow a clean pattern of ancestral geographic distribution. Using many loci provides more clear geographic distributions. Also, from the abstract:
    It's increasingly seeming like no one is really disputing this, no? This doesn't seem to be particularly controversial within genetics and it seems to be pretty similar to Reich's view. It only seems to become controversial outside of genetics.
    I said: "This isn't really refuting the central claim that meaningful genetic differences exist between, say, ethnic English and Native Americans." Then you said: "No one is actually disputing that claim. What we are disputing is concluding from those genetic differences that therefore English and Native Americans are members of different "races."" Then I explain he isn't defining races or saying anyone is a member of a different race. Apparently this is a subtle but important point. He's saying meaningful genetic variation exists based on geographic distribution of their ancestry. And the genetic implications of this fact are reflected at the level granularity of most people's racial self-identifications.

    I am trying to be clear. This is not the same thing as positing a biological definition of race, that populations are discrete, that race isn't a social construct, that most alleles cannot be found in every population, or that finer levels of granularity wouldn't be more appropriate in some contexts.

    Thank you, this was interesting.

    With respect to sickle cell anemia: for one, this isn't actually an example he uses in the NYT column, though he does mention it in the book and it's a well-known example, so I guess it's fair game. Reich is well aware that the HbS variant is an adaptation to malaria that has arisen independently in multiple populations. He even points out it has arisen independently just within sub-Saharan Africa. Everyone knows that any particular variant will likely be found in multiple human populations. But this is missing the point: he isn't starting from variants and shoehorning them into racial categories. He's starting with people's identifications and saying they provide meaningful information with respect to a number of medically relevant traits. If he says "self-identified African Americans are more likely to have the HbS variant", that doesn't mean he's also saying saying "no Arabs have the HbS variant." Plus, as we aggregate more loci, we get more geographic correlations.

    Also, yes, HbS is somewhat prevalent on the Arabian Peninsula and India. But the frequency actually is quite a lot higher in Sub-Saharan Africa.

    Moreover, a single loci typically doesn't provide enough information for clustering algorithms. In the case of HbS, one loci actually might be sufficient for decent clusters. But that's not the really the point. There is more of geographic correlation as you use more loci because loci variations within a population are correlated.

    I'm expecting a rebuttal of basically this claim from the paper Samson just posted: "ancestry, or even race, may in some cases prove useful in the biomedical setting." This is very similar to Reich's view. Wringing your hands and expressing petty and trivial objections is not sufficient.

    This is a misunderstanding. Reich is not creating a biological definition of race or mapping people into biological races. This is what everyone seems to be misunderstanding. He is saying that self-reported racial identifications do correlate somewhat well with genetically distinguishable populations. If we redefined our racial landscape to be based on Yankees vs Redsox support, Reich's position would not be the same.

    Everyone seems to be in agreement there are correlations between self-identification and genetically identifiable populations and that when many loci are analyzed, meaningful correlations emerge. These people are claiming the correlations are somewhat less important than what Reich is saying. But even Reich isn't saying the correlations are super important, just that they do exist and we should be able to acknowledge that without creating an uproar.

    The insinuation is that Reich and others are p-hacking, whether they realize it or not. He is not. The fact this is even included in the article suggests they are grasping at straws and have diminished levels of statistical maturity. This paragraph is not profound, interesting, or relevant.

    If they think he is p-hacking, they should comb through the actual paper (373 citations) in question and raise their objections there.

    They are lecturing Reich on things he already does and says in abundance.

    Overall, I don't think this was a very good rebuttal. Some of the points were reasonable, many others were based on misunderstandings or truisms that change nothing about the discussion. The collection of signatories do not seem to be uniformly impressive. Many (most?) are not biologists or geneticists. A lot appear to be post docs. By and large, they are the humanities crowd Reich was arguing against to begin with.
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2019
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  20. Manfred Belheim

    Manfred Belheim Warlord

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    Well the question was how do we decide which people belong in which boxes. I would think the answer to that definitely does depend on how we define the boxes. I don't see how it couldn't depend on that.

    I strongly disagree that it's totally arbitrary and doesn't bear any reference in reality. Also not sure what you mean by "modern concept of race". Whenever it comes up in these discussions it's usually assumed to refer to 19th century (at the latest) thinking.

    Is it? If the disagreement is about how the boxes should be defined, how many there are, what implications putting people in the boxes has, or whether the boxes should even exist at all, then taking all that as read and just asking how we work out which person belongs in which of those boxes seems to be focusing on the wrong area. Kind of like asking how you get the lid off each box or something.

    I'm not a defender of gun rights, but if someone claims that guns literally don't exist I would disagree with them. To reply to me with arguments about how bad guns are would be talking past me. To my mind this is similar. It's not that I'm dismissing your question as being of no importance, just that it's not really a response to what I was saying, and also not something I think it's possible to just "stop using" since I don't really agree that it's made up in the first place. Or at least the underlying differences that "race" tries to describe, which do exist and do matter to people, are not made up.

    What I meant by cart before the horse is that you seem to be saying that racism only exists because the concept of race exists, and that if we eradicate the latter that suddenly everyone will live together in peace and harmony like it's a hippie commune. Whereas I would argue that tribalism and the recognition of the in-group and out-group are rather fundamental to the human condition (at least on the "lizard brain" level, I'm not saying it's not something that intelligence can't overcome) and this is what leads to the categorisation of "races", and racist (and other discriminatory) behaviours, not the other way round.
     

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