Talk:Race/Archive 1

From Citizendium, the Citizens' Compendium
Jump to: navigation, search


CZ:Neutrality Policy

This article takes a position and is thus problematic in its current form on neutrality grounds. It does throughout and builds to, "The race concept remains fruitful for the study of historical events." It is lacking discussion that the concept of "race" itself is a serious contention among biological and other anthropologists; that "race" is widely held as a mere social construct and that historically the concept of "race" developed alongside racism. And so forth. ---Stephen Ewen 13:09, 9 May 2007 (CDT)

The article shows bias, but it also just doesn't read like an article about race per se, but an essay on the interaction of race, class, and ethnicity in regard to United States government policy. --Eric Winesett 13:22, 9 May 2007 (CDT)
The article really does read like an essay, but that's not apparently the sin here that it is on Wikipedia. It's obvious that racial differences have driven historical events (try to explain the history of slavery in the U.S. without reference to race), but the article does almost nothing to explain how, or why, which would be necessary if the article is to be meaningful.
"Race" is a difficult topic to address, because it has been misused by pseudoscientists and their followers, but there is a scientific basis for the belief that there are, among humans, genetically distinct population clusters which do correspond to geographic ancestry and to popular conceptions of race. See, for example:
Slightly less technical explanation at
An article on race should explain that the history of racism has made many people uncomfortable with examining race in a scientific manner, and that some political bodies of social scientists have made the (unsupported) assertion that "race is a purely social construct", but it should also explain that genetic science is showing that there are distinct (and distinguishable) population groups within the human species, and that these groups show patterns of variation in a variety of genetic measures, though not necessarily along the lines most racists have stereotyped. Anthony Argyriou 18:13, 9 May 2007 (CDT)

To Anthony Argyriou, Stephen Ewen, and Eric Winesett: I apologize, because the first two sentences on the page are apparently unclear.

The first sentence says, "Race in social science.... etc." This is because the intent of the page is to explain how "race" is used the social sciences. That is, to explain how term is used in the fields of history, sociology, political science, and the like. Nothing more. I plan to expand the stub, but only in that direction.

The second sentence says, "For an explanation of race in biology see bio-race." This is because my intent is that readers follow the link for an explanation of the term's usage in biology. In other words, the definition and methodological criteria for identifying the biologically synonymous concepts: "race", "breed", "variety", and "subspecies" should be located on a page under the purview of the biology workgroup. I encourage all of you to post your opinions and arguments regarding the usefulness (or not) of identifying biological races, breeds, variety, and subspecies of H. sapiens on that subspecies page or its talk page.

Alternatively, if anyone would like to use this present article page (or this talk page) to describe arguments for and against identifying biological races, breeds, variety, and subspecies of the human species (again, under the purview of the biology workgroup), I would be glad to withdraw my text and start a new page to explain how "race" is used the social sciences--that is, how term is used in the fields of history, sociology, political science, and the like. Frank W Sweet 08:01, 10 May 2007 (CDT)

It would help if the article began with a definition of race. Also useful would be (1) the social uses, i.e., classification of people by race into "good" and "inferior" (after Bacon's Rebellion?) and (2) principled objections to this classification - including scholary attempts to eliminate the concept altogether.
I hope I'm not being too pedantic in my language. I'm not really an intellectual. ;-) --Ed Poor 08:50, 10 May 2007 (CDT)
Regarding begining with a definition, the first sentence already is: "Race in social science, from the Latin for root, means a group delineated by society as sharing a common biological ancestry, clan, or lineage." This was taken, nearly verbatim, from Whitehall, Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language (Cleveland, 1959) p. 1197. Other definitions that I have found relate to biology, and I intend that the word's many changing and controversial biological usages be on a separate page. I would be grateful if you could suggest a better or more comprehensive definition that does not assume an accepted biological taxonomy.
Regarding the mistreatment or perceived inferiority of people because of their "race," this is "racism." Although I plan to introduce the concept of "racism" in this article, it will get its own article in order give it a fuller explanation. Yes, in that article, I do plan to mention the late 17th century historical origins of U.S. "racism" with focus on the world's first statute against Afro-Euro intermarriage (VA 1691) as well as that law's motive force (Bacon's Rebellion 1676). Bear in mind however, that the roots of Iberian and Hindu "racism" trace to different origins. Another reason that I want to give "racism" its own page is to compare/contrast it with colorism, ethnocentrism, and the like. Frank W Sweet 11:21, 10 May 2007 (CDT)
Defining race: I really like the definition which Steve Sailer uses: "A racial group is merely an extremely extended family that inbreeds to some extent." (He expands on it at ) He claims that he can't find a precedent for that definition in the literature, though it seems to be useful enough that someone should have used it by now. Anthony Argyriou 11:37, 10 May 2007 (CDT)
That is why I used a dictionary definition that did not require a biological assumption. The suggestion that a racial group is merely an extremely extended family that inbreeds to some extent is valuable and well worth discussing in the proposed bio-race page. Unfortunately, it fails as a definition for socio-historical usage. It is too inclusive and it is also too exclusive. Here is why it is too inclusive. Following that very definition, the greatest craniofacial anthropometrist of the 20th century, Carelton S. Coon demonstrated the presence of over twenty races in Europe alone. Indeed, every Swiss valley was a separate race. And yet, no one would consider those inbred extended families or populations to be “races” in the socio-historical sense (in the sense of racism, slavery, Jim Crow, lynchings, civil rights, affirmative action, etc.) And here is why it is too exclusive. Some of the most famous African-Americans in U.S. history were genetically European. Walter White feared being lynched in the south if it were discovered that he was a blonde, blue-eyed, utterly Nordic-looking man who was “really Black.” Among the most dedicated African-American activists today who fight for the Black community are Gregory Williams, Adrienne Piper, and David Matthews, who have no visible African ancestry at all. No serious socio-historical account would exclude such people and thousands like them from the social definition of the “African-American race.” Indeed, based on random sampling, about five percent of the Black community have no detectable subsaharan genetic admixture and about one-third of White Americans do. There is no question, of course, that Americans rationalize their racialism as grounded in biological difference. The problem is that reality does not match rhetoric. The mismatch between counterfactual rhetoric and demonstrable reality is important and will be explained in the article, but we cannot start with a definition that falsely assumes that the counterfactual rhetoric is accurate. Frank W Sweet 19:25, 10 May 2007 (CDT)
"Race", in the context of humans, definitely does not normally mean exactly the same thing as "race" when it is applied by biologists to other organisms; i.e., it is not a synonym for subspecies. However, this does not prove that "race" is purely social concept.
The problem with beginning the article with a definition of race is ... which definition? I don't know of a widely accepted consensus definition.—Nat Krause 18:27, 10 May 2007 (CDT)
Whether “race” and “subspecies” are synonymous in biology should be discussed on the bio-race page, not here. Also, I have no intention of “proving” or “disproving” whether race is a "purely social concept.” Indeed, I would not know how to start defining the terms (proof, purely). Again, if such proving is desirable, it should be addressed on the bio-race page. This page is for “race” as a social phenomenon. No one doubts that the perception of “race” is a social phenomenon. Specifically, no one doubts that historical events can be illuminated by considering how people aligned themselves within different perceived “races.” And explaining race as a social phenomenon is my sole goal for this page.Frank W Sweet 19:25, 10 May 2007 (CDT)
Well, what is your justification for deciding that this page should be for “race” as a social phenomenon?
I did not intend to discuss whether or not the terms "race" and "subspecies" are used as synonyms by biologists; I thought they were, but it doesn't matter. My point is that this instance of jargon is irrelevant to normal use of the term "race" when discussing human variation. It's a different sense of the same word. I've never heard the expression "bio-race" before, so I can't comment on what it means; Citizendium does not have an article with this title, though—instead, this article links to subspecies.—Nat Krause 20:07, 10 May 2007 (CDT)
My justification for deciding that this page should be for “race” as a social phenomenon and not as a biological phenomenon is that I choose to write an article on the social-phenomenon aspects of the “race” notion and I choose not to write an article on the biological aspects. I would be happy explain in more detail why I choose to write about my professional specialty, rather than about something else, if you wish. There is no point in discussing this however, until the constable’s threat to delete the entire page is resolved. Frank W Sweet 01:26, 11 May 2007 (CDT)

Threatened Deletion

The article is still an essay and as such it is not allowable on Citizendium. Any constable at any time may delete it per CZ:What_Citizendium_articles_are_not. I hope this turns into an article very soon. Stephen Ewen 21:12, 10 May 2007 (CDT)

Any constable at any time may delete it? Really?
It was NOT copied from Wikipedia or some other online source (where it can now be read) over one week ago, and no one has made any substantive revisions to it then or since then, regardless of whether it was marked "CZ Live" or not;
It was NOT drafted solely by a contributor and then blanked by that contributor;
It DOES NOT consists of two sentences or less, or 50 words or less, which have been left on the wiki for more than two hours;
It IS NOT obvious and uncontroversial to virtually all constables that the article is merely an instance of self-promotion.
It NOT is primarily (and thus presumably could be entirely) the result of a copyright violation.
The only possible legitimate grounds that you could have for deleting it are (1) that it is for some reason evidently worthless, as in the case of vandalism or (2) that it would be obvious and uncontroversial to virtually all constables that it is not an encyclopedia article. If you honestly believe that one of these reasons are the case, despite its merely being a starting stub, and its not having even been examined by an editor yet, please do so immediately and save us both wasted time. Otherwise, your threat makes no sense. It certainly does not encourage me to put any more work into it or to participate in CZ. Frank W Sweet 22:19, 10 May 2007 (CDT)

Frank, please don't take my prodding too hard. It is just that an essay that advocates positions (e.g., the conclusion, "the race concept remains fruitful for the study of historical events") is not an encyclopedia article--yet. I have just been saying it needs to get moving along to not being an essay. Stephen Ewen 02:42, 11 May 2007 (CDT)

No. What you said was, "Any constable at any time may delete it per CZ:What_Citizendium_articles_are_not." Was that an accurate statement of how CZ works? Is it true that "Any constable at any time may delete it per CZ:What_Citizendium_articles_are_not"? Mr. Ewen, please do not take my concern personally. Try to understand that it would be senseless to work on something that any one of a fourteen individuals could legitimately destroy at any time without even consulting with the workgroups. If what you wrote is true, I want no part of CZ. If it is not true, I would like to hear it from Ruth Ifcher or someone else on the Executive Committee. Frank W Sweet 08:19, 11 May 2007 (CDT)
Frank, let me be real clear. I have been saying that the article in its current form appears to me as within a certain class--an essay that advances a position--that makes it deletable by constables. It seems you are taking my words to mean that constables can run around a delete whatever they want! Nothing could be further from the truth. There are only certain items on Citizendium that constables are empowered to delete on their own recognizance, per CZ:Article Deletion Policy. You can ask whoever you want whether that page exist. You might look at that list and ask yourself what it might be like at CZ if it were not so. Stephen Ewen 12:53, 11 May 2007 (CDT)

proposed revised introduction

This introduction is offered an outline of relatively non-contentious factual material about the subject of race. Almost every sentence could be expanded to multiple paragraphs. Alternatively, each paragraph could be expanded into a separate sub-article, and a two-paragraph summary left behind in this article.
-- Anthony Argyriou 22:41, 10 May 2007 (CDT)

A race is a subdivision of humans who are related to each other in a way which they are not related to other humans. The nature of the relationship is dependent on the use of the term; in popular use in the United States, the relationship is mostly about skin color and some other visible features, while geneticists use the term to refer to clusters of populations which have similar population distributions of specific genes.

It has often been claimed that "race is a social construct". Given the widely divergent definitions of "race" which have been in common and specialist use, it is true that there is some amount of arbitrariness in the definitions. The question of whether the socially-defined category of race corresponds to a biological reality is hotly disputed.

Categorizing people into different races flows naturally from the human urge to categorize and the realization that there are "people like us" and "people not like us". Historically, differences condisered to be "racial" have patterned with differences in skin color and facial features.

Broadly, the races among humans which have been recognized include the sub-Saharan African (also called Black, from their skin color), European/Caucasian (also called white), East Asian (sometimes called "yellow"), and Native American. Some racial classifications have separated southeast Asians and Pacific Islanders as a "Malay" race distinct from the East Asian group, while others have included Native Americans as a subset of East Asians. People of South Asian origin have typically been seen as "European" or "Caucasian", but often not considered "white", especially as immigrant communities in England, due to their significantly darker coloring.

Folk classifications have evolved over time, and have not always matched scientific or pseudoscientific classifications. In the mid to late 19th century in the United States, immigrants from southern and eastern Europe were not considered "white", though the distinction between europeans on the one hand and blacks on the other, and economic advancement and intermarriage between various European groups eventually led to the acceptance of most or all Europeans as "white", even if some discrimination against "Latins" persisted.

Anthropologists of the 19th century performed a great deal of research into racial classification, but absent a knowledge of genetics, many of their conclusions have not held up. However, the broad divisions into four races have been confirmed by modern genetic research.

Racial distinctions have often been a source of conflict where distinctive racial groups have settled in the same area, even when religious and linguistic differences have been minimized. In support of these conflicts, many anthropologists and pseudoscientists made claims about racial differences which have been proven untrue, or which confused the results of cultural and economic conditions with hereditary characteristics. Quite often, such claims included claims of racial "superiority", usually for the superiority of White/European people over people of other races; these claims often included claims of moral justification for racial segregation and racial discrimination.

Through the 1920s and 1930s, many countries maintained policies which aimed at "improving the race", usually referring to the politically dominant race in the country. Such policies usually forbade marriage or sexual relations between people of different races, and also often included eugenic policies to discourage persons considered "unfit" from having children. Eugenic policies reached a climax in Nazi Germany, where "pure" Germans were encouraged to have many children, people with various handicaps were forcibly sterilized or killed, and members of "lower races" were murdered by the millions.

After the defeat of the Nazis, movements to guarantee equal legal rights for members of all races gained significant ground, and led to laws and social attitudes turning against racial discrimination, and accepting of racial mixing. Explicit eugenic concerns became taboo, and most laws discouraging certain people from having children were repealed.

That is an excellent outline, and I would be happy to work with it, once we correct the factual errors in paragraphs 1, 2, 4, and 6. There is no point in even discussing it however, until the constable’s threat to delete the entire page is resolved. Frank W Sweet 01:29, 11 May 2007 (CDT)
The topic is not at issue but the content as a biased essay has been. The above revision is clearly an article, not a biased essay. No constable would even so much as think to delete something like it. Stephen Ewen 01:48, 11 May 2007 (CDT)
Frank, I'd be interested to know what you consider the factual errors in the outline I presented.
Stephen, I think you have come down on Frank a little too hard. The article he wrote is not so much a biased essay as a essay-like article on one aspect of the subject. If it had been put up under the title Race in historical analysis (or something similar), it would be considerd a good start, if possessing some evident flaws.
Anthony Argyriou 12:24, 11 May 2007 (CDT)
Perhaps. In that case I would ask Frank for understanding that we are all learning around here. For everyone's benefit, I have asked all constables to look at this article to see if they do or do not view it as within a certain narrow class of articles, essays (and one that advances a position), which are deletable to constables on their own recognizance. Stephen Ewen 12:33, 11 May 2007 (CDT)

Hi all, Steve is right in that one of the constable's jobs is to clean out the unacceptable articles. Having said that, I don't necessarily see that this should one of them. I would say that since this article is being attended by learned authors (that should probably apply for editorships) and it is only two days old, it needs some time to develop. This doesn't have to be a contentious article if we keep it professional and be sure to work toward neutrality. Frank seems to know what he is talking about and so do others. I personally like the narrative format so I won't comment there. It might be misnamed, but that is also not my choice. Ultimately, I am looking forward to seeing what you come up with as a final product. --Matt Innis (Talk) 14:15, 11 May 2007 (CDT)

Definitions in scholarly research

Perhaps it would be wise to start with some clear definitions drawing upon academic sources. How have leading thinkers sought to define race? How have these definitions been defined and contested over time? Otherwise, it comes across as one's own reflections (aka original research) and not at a university level. I would think would be the last topic we'd want to touch if we aren't familiar with and using the current academic literature. (So maybe before definitions, perhaps just start with the resources/bibliography list.) David Hoffman 13:57, 11 May 2007 (CDT)

That seems like a good idea. I am withdrawing from CZ for obvious reasons, but I have posted a short annotated bibliography below, in case anyone is interested in serious peer-reviewed sources on the subject. Frank W Sweet 12:40, 12 May 2007 (CDT)
Much more important is how people in general have seen race, as that's what causes racial conflict, which has been a pretty important part of history. Scientific and pseudo-scientific theories of race are less important (especially the pseudo-scientific ones) except as they affected popular attitudes and historical racial conflicts. Anthony Argyriou 15:36, 11 May 2007 (CDT)

The article before blanking

Race in social science, from the Latin for root, means a group delineated by society as sharing a common biological ancestry, clan, or lineage. (For an explanation of race in biology see bio-race.)

The "race" concept is one of three fruitful ways of interpreting historical causes. Past events can become clearer when seen as the result of conflict and cooperation among competing social groups. Race is one way of dividing a society into groups for this purpose; the other two ways are by ethnicity and by class.

In contrast to class divisions, which are usually delineated by differences in power (meaning income or wealth, in capitalist societies), race is most often seen as independent of socio-economic status. In the United States for example, an African-American millionaire is seen as being of the same race as an African-American pauper, but not of the same class.

In contrast to ethnic differences, which are usually seen as voluntary, race is often considered involuntary. In the United States for example, a person of half-Irish and half-Italian ethnicity can usually choose to self-identity as Italian, Irish, both, or neither, as desired on any given day. But a U.S. resident whose ancestry is half Black and half non-Black is usually not given such a choice, but assigned to the Black race like it or not.

Although the difference between race and class is seldom debated (the exception being in disputes over race-based U.S. federal entitlements that are rhetorically justified as aimed at reducing class inequality), the difference between ethnicity and race is less sharp.

There are three reasons for the blurring between race and ethnicity. First, some minorities that today are seen as voluntary ethnic groups, such as Irish-Americans and Jews, were seen as involuntary hereditary races a century ago.

Second, U.S. usage treats the African-American or Black community as either ethnicity or race, depending on context. When discussing differences between African Americans and Jamaicans, Barbadians, Trinidadians, or recent immigrants from Africa, the term denotes a voluntary ethnicity. But when discussing the U.S. endogamous Black/non-Black color line, any English-speaking U.S. resident of distinctly visible sub-Saharan ancestry is usually considered involuntarily "Black."

Finally, conflicting voter understanding as to how many races exist produce conflicting definitions in government regulations. For example, U.S. Census Bureau regulations do not consider Hispanics to be a race, demand that Hispanics filling out census choose a race among Black, White, Native American, or several categories of Asian, and forbid them from checking off "other" and writing in "Hispanic." On the other hand, EEOC regulations consider Hispanics to be a distinct "race" and forbid employers from reporting Hispanics as White, Black, or Native American.

Nevertheless, despite the slight overlap between race and class, and the increasingly blurred distinction between race and ethnicity, the race concept remains fruitful for the study of historical events.

Editor-in-chief action

I know it will be difficult for those involved to avoid getting emotional on this topic and about any article about it, but it is extremely important that whatever article we have on this topic be unbiased. So I would like to assure you, if I can, that I mean absolutely no disrespect toward anyone involved in the above discussion, or to the author of the article.

The article as it stands at present clearly advances just one view, omitting others, about race. Whether or not the article can be worked into something better, it should not be included in the Citizendium main article space until it is consistent with our Neutrality Policy. Much of the above discussion focused on whether the article is an "essay" or not. I think this is a red herring. The point is that it presents one contentious interpretation of its topic, and we are committed to neutrality.

Just to be clear, I want to emphasize that the point of view articulated in the article is obviously important, common among scholars, and needs to be stated well in the final article.

The article as started by Anthony Argyriou might be a better initial framework in which to proceed, simply because it is more neutral.

--Larry Sanger 08:39, 12 May 2007 (CDT)

I also like Anthony's version. I've spent a lot of time at Wikipedia over the years on Race and also on Race and intelligence. Clear definitions of terminology are essential, but sorely missed.
If there are competing definitions of what a "race" is, then perhaps we should list them all (at least the major ones). Surely there is more than the one which is most familiar to me: skin color. There is also nationality or ethnicity. "The French race", Hutus & Tutsi (one race in two tribes? or two races?).
There are also those who object to any use discussion or mention of "race", on various grounds: (1) It's unfair to classify people by race, because it supports prejudice and discrimination (see racism - currently a red link). (2) It's a "social construct", so we should banish it as a meaningless term (reminds me of how Newspeak would delete words from its vocabulary - see also politically correct speech - oops, another red link).
Let's not "take a stand" on either the concept (good or bad) or the term (meaningful or meaningless). Rather, let us apply "neutrality policy" and describe what various major scholars have said. --Ed Poor 09:18, 12 May 2007 (CDT)

Recommended further reading (annotated)

What follows is a short list of the most useful sources on the "race" notion in the United States and Latin America. Each has a short annotation to help the reader choose items within his/her own interests. Frank W Sweet 12:40, 12 May 2007 (CDT)

Talk:Race/Readings (Moved since it ended up quadrupling the size of this talk page)

Uploaded Anthony's article

I have gone ahead and uploaded Anthony's article, since Frank appears to have left us; if anyone has an objection to my doing so, feel free to re-blank and we can discuss some more. --Larry Sanger 13:33, 12 May 2007 (CDT)

Biological reality

"The question of whether the socially-defined category of race corresponds to a biological reality is hotly disputed." -- this sentence is erroneous. There is, so far as I know, no biological meaning whatsoever of "race" -- it's a human construct, a collocation of phenotypes, and does not even necessarily correlate with region or origin. If this claim of "hotly disputed" cannot be referenced in legitimate biological literature, it should be deleted.Russell Potter 21:34, 31 May 2007 (CDT)

Well, Merriam-Webster defines "race" as "a family, tribe, people, or nation belonging to the same stock", and it defines "stock" as "the descendants of one individual : family, lineage <of European stock>". Now, certainly, just because the dictionary says something, doesn't make it true, but it seems hard to credit the assertion that there is not, at least, a controversy on the subject.—Nat Krause 22:10, 31 May 2007 (CDT)
The dictionary -- Mirriam Webster's or any other -- is not an authority on biology. What would be needed here would be to show that there is a controversy between biologists about whether race is or is not a "biological reality". The term "stock", for instance, is certainly dated -- what edition of Mirriam-Webster's is this? I would suspect one published before 1970.
One authoritative body in this area is the American Anthropological Association, which makes it quite clear that "Given what we know about the capacity of normal humans to achieve and function within any culture, we conclude that present-day inequalities between so-called "racial" groups are not consequences of their biological inheritance but products of historical and contemporary social, economic, educational, and political circumstances." See their complete statement here. Russell Potter 23:12, 31 May 2007 (CDT)
There is currently an traveling museum exhibit by the American Anthropological Association that reaffirms the above statement. The website for that exhibit might be a good resource on this issue. This page in particular should help. --Joe Quick (Talk) 01:48, 1 June 2007 (CDT)
I absolutely agree with what Russell and Joe are stating above. "Race" is a social construct, constructed on the heels of emerging Darwinism during colonial times, to help justify the whole system. Best evidence suggests "race" is a biologically meaningless category. People of what appear as different "races" more often share more in common genetically than those with differing external "racial" appearance. This view needs serious incorporation here. The view that, although that may be true, race is a useful category also incorporation. As well, the view of the minority that disagrees that it is biologically meaningless needs incorporation. The Mismeasure of Man by Gould and The Bell Curve by Herrnstein would be two opposing works. Stephen Ewen 03:02, 1 June 2007 (CDT)
I'll find references later - I'll be pretty busy over the next few days, but genetics research is showing that there are large-scale human populations which share important genetic similarities (which are not externally visible), and that these population groups correspond fairly well to the races described in pre-1960s anthropology. The view that there is no biological basis for race is a shibboleth of late-20th-century pieties, and the view that "race" was constructed after Darwin to justify colonialism is particularly ahistorical. Anthony Argyriou 11:19, 1 June 2007 (CDT)
This is absolutely false and incorrect. Once again, scientific expertise and published research need to be our sources here; I will quote again from the official webpage of the American Anthropological Association: "Evidence from the analysis of genetics (e.g., DNA) indicates that most physical variation, about 94%, lies within so-called racial groups. Conventional geographic "racial" groupings differ from one another only in about 6% of their genes. This means that there is greater variation within "racial" groups than between them." I am certain that any Editor in the Biology workgroup would confirm this; it is well-documented in genetics journals and research studies. Russell Potter 12:06, 1 June 2007 (CDT)
Everyone, please just bear in mind that we are committed to Neutrality Policy. If it is the view of the American Anthro. Assoc. that there are no genetic concomitants to the ordinary notions of race, but other researchers disagree, then it is incumbent upon us not to take a position on the question, but to report the different views. And in that case, it would be inappropriate to argue which view is correct here on the talk page, but to make sure that the views are fully and fairly represented. --Larry Sanger 13:08, 1 June 2007 (CDT)
Also, I hate to say it, but look at the Wikipedia article, and that should bring home the fact that there is ultimately no simple question and no simple answer to the question, "Are the human races biological realities?" --Larry Sanger 13:19, 1 June 2007 (CDT)
Larry, that's incorrect. I'm a bit bemused to see you cite WP as evidence of -- well, evidence of anything. There is a process going on here (as in other articles) whereby partisans set up a seemingly serious straw-man argument, then use the crowbar of CZs neutrality polciy to insist that for CZ to report the facts is for it to be partisan. We must be cautious enough not to assume that every matter about which people get worked up necessarily has two sides within the experts in the field. I'm going to post the rest of my thoughts on this to the Forums, to avoid extending an already-over-extended Talk page. Russell Potter 14:39, 1 June 2007 (CDT)
Anyone who is interested, I have started a form posting here Russell Potter 17:04, 1 June 2007 (CDT)

(outdent)It's all very nice what the anthropological association says, but biologists and geneticists say otherwise:

  • Genetic Structure, Self-Identified Race/Ethnicity, and Confounding in Case-Control Association Studies Am J Hum Genet. 2005 February; 76(2): 268–275. "Thus, ancient geographic ancestry, which is highly correlated with self-identified race/ethnicity—as opposed to current residence—is the major determinant of genetic structure in the U.S. population."
  • The Importance of Race and Ethnic Background in Biomedical Research and Clinical Practice
  • Genetic structure of human populations. "Nevertheless, without using prior information about the origins of individuals, we identified six main genetic clusters, five of which correspond to major geographic regions, and subclusters that often correspond to individual populations."
  • Support from the relationship of genetic and geographic distance in human populations for a serial founder effect originating in Africa. "Equilibrium models of isolation by distance predict an increase in genetic differentiation with geographic distance. Here we find a linear relationship between genetic and geographic distance in a worldwide sample of human populations, with major deviations from the fitted line explicable by admixture or extreme isolation. ... simulation shows that the geographic pattern of heterozygosities in this data set is consistent with a model of a serial founder effect starting at a single origin."
  • Clines, Clusters, and the Effect of Study Design on the Inference of Human Population Structure "Examination of the relationship between genetic and geographic distance supports a view in which the clusters arise not as an artifact of the sampling scheme, but from small discontinuous jumps in genetic distance for most population pairs on opposite sides of geographic barriers, in comparison with genetic distance for pairs on the same side. Thus, analysis of the 993-locus dataset corroborates our earlier results: if enough markers are used with a sufficiently large worldwide sample, individuals can be partitioned into genetic clusters that match major geographic subdivisions of the globe, with some individuals from intermediate geographic locations having mixed membership in the clusters that correspond to neighboring regions."
  • Ethnic-affiliation estimation by use of population-specific DNA markers. "Through a search of the literature and of unpublished data on allele frequencies we have identified a panel of population-specific genetic markers that enable robust ethnic-affiliation estimation for major U.S. resident populations."
  • Does Race Exist?" "Other studies have produced comparable results. Noah A. Rosenberg and Jonathan K. Pritchard, geneticists formerly in the laboratory of Marcus W. Feldman of Stanford University, assayed approximately 375 polymorphisms called short tandem repeats in more than 1,000 people from 52 ethnic groups in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas. By looking at the varying frequencies of these polymorphisms, they were able to distinguish five different groups of people whose ancestors were typically isolated by oceans, deserts or mountains: sub-Saharan Africans; Europeans and Asians west of the Himalayas; East Asians; inhabitants of New Guinea and Melanesia; and Native Americans. They were also able to identify subgroups within each region that usually corresponded with each member's self-reported ethnicity."
  • The biology of race and the concept of equality. by Ernst Mayr. " There is a widespread feeling that the word "race" indicates something undesirable and that it should be left out of all discussions. This leads to such statements as "there are no human races." Those who subscribe to this opinion are obviously ignorant of modern biology."
  • Genes, Medicine, and the New Race Debate MIT Technology Review June 2003.

Anthony Argyriou 13:39, 1 June 2007 (CDT)

Well, these appear to be legitimate -- but how are we to say? The literature in this area is large; we need an expert in the field to help us sort it out. These studies may represent a vocal minority, a growing consensus, or an uncertain fringe -- only experts who are well-read in the literature of this area are really equipped to say. If indeed the gist of the entries is as you say, then it's contrary to everything I have read in recent books on the subject, articles in Scientific American, and other general sources. Russell Potter 14:29, 1 June 2007 (CDT)
Just having read one article you cited above -- from Scientific American as it happens -- I again see the nearly the identical facts expressed by the Anthrolpological Association. To quote the SA article:
"Over the past few years, scientists have collected data about the genetic constitution of populations around the world in an effort to probe the link between ancestry and patterns of disease. These data are now providing answers to several highly emotional and contentious questions: Can genetic information be used to distinguish human groups having a common heritage and to assign individuals to particular ones? Do such groups correspond well to predefined descriptions now widely used to specify race? And, more practically, does dividing people by familiar racial definitions or by genetic similarities say anything useful about how members of those groups experience disease or respond to drug treatment?
In general, we would answer the first question yes, the second no, and offer a qualified yes to the third. Our answers rest on several generalizations about race and genetics. Some groups do differ genetically from others, but how groups are divided depends on which genes are examined; simplistically put, you might fit into one group based on your skin-color genes but another based on a different characteristic. Many studies have demonstrated that roughly 90 percent of human genetic variation occurs within a population living on a given continent, whereas about 10 percent of the variation distinguishes continental populations. In other words, individuals from different populations are, on average, just slightly more different from one another than are individuals from the same population. Human populations are very similar, but they often can be distinguished."

None of that seems to support the idea that commonly-used historical categories of human "races," based on phenotype, have any solid basis in biology. Russell Potter 14:35, 1 June 2007 (CDT)

I recognize the point of view that Anthony Argyriou is describing as being one major view amongst geneticists. Neil Risch is perhaps the most prominent proponent.[1] ctrl+F "genetic basis for race" --Eric A. Evans 20:40, 4 June 2007 (CDT)


This article's title is problematic, since "race" means something different in biology (or so I thought). Can someone boldly solve this problem? --Larry Sanger 13:08, 1 June 2007 (CDT)

Larry, how about "Variations in Human Biology", or even "Differences in Genetic Makeup within Humanity" or "Variances in Humanity"--Robert W King 13:32, 1 June 2007 (CDT)

No, the article is about human "races"--with all the unfortunate baggage the word "race" contains. --Larry Sanger 13:35, 1 June 2007 (CDT)

The problem is that biologists and geneticists try hard to avoid using the word "race" for several reasons. One is that they prefer to discuss "populations", because sometimes they are discussing very small groups, and sometimes they are discussing very large groups, and the word "populations" fits both, while "race" does not. Another is that "race" is (mostly) only used for humans; other animals have "sub-species" or "varieties". The third is that racists have pretty thoroughly tarnished the idea of studying "race". See, for example, this discussion:
When I see threads like this [0], I'm snapped back to the realization that the term "race" means something very different to certain groups of people than it does to me. First, a digression.
  1. When I think of "race", I think of clusters in genome space that correlate with geographic ancestry. I think of Cavalli Sforza and population genetics. This definition is predicated on the fuzzy, statistical nature of racial classifications, but also accomodates the reality of sharp (but not entirely impenetrable) genetic "walls" like the Sahara Desert and the Himalayas.
  2. When some leftists think of "race", they think of the boxes that you check on a government application. Such boxes group together non-Spanish Europeans and Middle Easterners as "white", Spanish speakers as "Hispanic", and all of Asia east of Iran as "Asian". They think of people on the fuzzy edge of racial boundaries. They think of people in Hawaii, Brazil, Macau, and Nepal. Despite this internal semi-consensus that racial classifications are "arbitrary", race is still central to the political worldview of the far left.
  3. When some far right-wingers think of "race", they think of essential, canonical types. Yet this provokes endless discussions on "who is white", as well as a lot of pseudoscientific Carleton-Coon-ology on racial "subtypes" like Alpines, Nordics, Meditteranids, etcetera. [1] Such arguments are frequent at neo-Nazi sites like Stormfront. As Razib observed, Godwin's law is inverted here, for obvious reasons.
Intriguingly, both the "canonical type" right and the "race-does-not-exist" left exhibit features of dogmatic essentialism when it comes to the topic of ancestry. In their view, you are part of your group , and thoughts of what is best for the group should never be far from your consciousness.
Anthony Argyriou 13:40, 1 June 2007 (CDT)

Pre-Hitler many biologists talked about race, and argued there were biological differences. Now it is unclear, altogether. I can hedge. have not read this article- only the bottom of the talk page. I can speak about race in medicine, and from the perspective of a person familiar with biology that reads a lot, and has had professional interactions with individuals who have been considered experts on race in medicine- but from a cultural standpoint, meaning caring for patients. It is true that there are no racial markers genetically that are now known. I don't know what that means, for example,- and forgive me my comparisons to animals, I mean no direspect to people when comparing them to animals (or- Samuel Clemmens might have added, to the animals in comparing them to people) -for example, there do not seem to be any known genetic differences so far between breeds of dogs- but not only that- also between all dogs, wolves, and coyotes. The DNA is said to be the same. In fact - all breeds of dogs can mate and have fertile offspring, but so can dogs and wolves, coyotes and wolves, etc. Yet, despite that, there are useful generalizations that can be made about the appearance and behavior of dogs as opposed to wolves as opposed to coyotes. So, what I'm trying to say is that Russel is right - at far as it goes, the DNA is the same, it's not as though there are distinct differences according to race, as there are according to Gender. On the other hand, even without those differences there are physical characteristics that are inherited- that typify subgroups.That gets you back to how do you define subgroups when it comes to race? For example, a good plastic surgeon knows the ethnicity -race- whatever you want to call it- of his or her patients, because -with individual variation, of course, skin thickness, scarring, these things can be generalized in a useful way according to race/ethnic group. On the other hand, the individual variations in the group, as Russell says, are still so important that strict generalizations are not useful without qualification. In other words, there is caucasian and negro, as old-fashioned races, and generally caucasian skin is thinner - but really the comparisons are more useful with smaller subtypes- like, say a Norwegian blonde v a Congo black, and even more useful down to families. meaning that -again with individual variation, a family history in medicine is important the same way an ethnic or racial history can be -as a general guide of what to expect. Yet, within that guide, even within families, absolute predictions can rarely be made. So, in summary-I'm saying there are -depending on how race is defined- some biological differences on average and in general that can be attributed to races - depending on exactly how "race" is defined and - even if it is defined narrowly, like members of the pygmy tribe from central Africa- there are still characteristics that vary a lot between individuals. When it comes to the classic 3 or 4 races, then it's down to whether the hair is straight or curly or wavy - that kind of thing that can be said is one way for Asians by and large, and abnopther way for African sub-saharan negroes- by and large. But those features are really superficial. Remember too, that some people define races more like ethnic groups or tribes- the European and American literature before WW II divides people into lots of races, I'd have to dig out my old books but...slavic, teutonic on and on. Now - no matter about the biology, the social definition of race is very real, especiall when people are treated according to which race they are perceived as being members of, and are then either held extra accountable or given extra slack, or separated into a different culture. So in summary, I'd say that thereare certain physical differences that are more common in one race v. another- no mystery there -hair texture, color, body type etc. But these vary a lot and are most alike when people are closely related and don't intermarry out of the tribe or region. When people are defined socially by race according to say- skin color- like in the USA, where the ancestors were likely from all over the place -West Africa-Northern Europe etc, then who knows what it means? It certainly means something social, your experience in 1920 in Alabama would be very different depending on whether you were considered white or black, but you might have not only almost all the same genes, you could even have had a lot of the same relatives, both ways. I better stop now, because I could ramble on for pages. I should have just said- I don't know. Nancy Sculerati 13:48, 1 June 2007 (CDT)

Good thoughts. Perhaps a better title might be "History of Race" or "Race and Raciology"? There is no reason why this entry couldn't reasonably discuss the history of racialized thought in biology, anthropology, and sociology; Stephen Jay Gould and others would be great sources. Buffon, one of the earliest internationally recognized authorities in anrthopology, freely blended rumor, conjecture, and his own notions of racial superiority to produce claims such as this:
"The women of Greenland are very short; but their bodies are well proportioned. Their hair is blacker, and their skin softer than those of the Samoiede females. Their breasts are so long and pliable, that they can suckle their children over their shoulders. Their nipples are black as jet, and their skin is of a very deep olive colour. Some travellers alledge that these women have no hair but upon their heads, and they are not subject to the menstrual evacuation. Their visage is large; their eyes small, but black and lively; and their feet and hands are short. In every other respect, they resemble the Samoiede females. The savages north of the Esquimaux, and even in the northern parts of the island of Newfoundland, have a great resemblance to the Greenlanders. Like them, their stature is small, their faces broad, and their noses flat; but their eyes are larger than those of the Laplander. These people not only resemble each other in deformity, in smallness of stature, and in the colour of their eyes and hair, but also in the dispositions and manners: They are all equally gross, superstitious, and stupid."
Seeing -- fully, clearly, and without flinching -- the extraordinary lengths to which supposed scientists once went to bend science to support prejudice, makes an excellent cautionary tale. The same could be said of the supposed science of "Eugenics," which was quite widely embraced here in the United States, so much so that the German defense lawyer in 1961's Judgment at Nuremburg makes some powerful inroads defending the Nazis racialist and eugenicist view by quoting similar claims from US medical and legal sources from the 1930's, with the argument that these ideas were widely embraced in America, not just in Nazi Germany.
Let anyone who thinks race is not a social construct look at some of these same sources. Groups which we today do not think of as "races" at all -- the Irish Race, the Anglo-Saxon Race, the Nordic Race, the Poles -- are talked about as though they were the most commonsense categories of the human species, all ranked hierarchically on a scale that happily put the "Northern European Races" at its pinnacle.
We should also explain some basic terms here: the difference between phenotype and genotype, with the former being in fact an extraordinarily poor correlative to human population history; we should look at human population studies (I especially reccommend The Great Human Diasporas: The History of Diversity and Evolution (Helix Books) by Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza and Francesco Cavalli-Sforza , which demonstrate how mixed, how interconnected, the history of the human genome is, and how especially foolish, quaint if they were not still clung to my the misinformed, are the 19th- and early 20th-century notions of "race." I wish we had someone here at CZ who was a geneticist, or an evolutionary biologist, or someone in this area. We should not dodge this controversy, but take it as a challenge to write a clear, neutral, factual account of exactly why these notions of race are as exploded as the belief in phlogiston or aether. Russell Potter 14:23, 1 June 2007 (CDT)

We do have those people, but their expertise in genetics and evolutionary biology is not in human, or even vertebrate genetics and evolutionary biology- so there you go. Nancy Sculerati 14:36, 1 June 2007 (CDT)

I hereby stipulate, as editor-in-chief of CZ, that it is not the official position of CZ that "race is merely a social construct." It is required by Neutrality Policy, more generally, that CZ not take official positions on controversial questions.

Can we, please, use this page actually to work on the article, rather than trying to persuade other people of your views on a subject? I'd like everyone to focus the discussion by addressing relatively clear, practical questions: does "race" now mean (in any informed person's mouth) anything other than human race? Or will we want to have an article about the biological concept of race? (Is there such a concept anymore?) If "race" means mainly "human races," then we should have a message at the top of the article: "See race (biology) for the biological concept of races (of any species). The following article concerns the notion of human races." --Larry Sanger 14:44, 1 June 2007 (CDT)

Well, the debate has been educational here -- I'm posting some thoughts to the Foums -- I'm going to take a breather and go work on other things, but to my mind, the best way to uphold the original vision on Citizendium would be to not have any entry on a controversial topic unless a qualified expert in the specific field is on hand to guide the work. Otherwise, the list of articles that will bog us down as has this one will be very long indeed. And Larry, while I sympathize with the urge to cut the gordian knot in the manner of Alexander, I do not think that you, or the Editorial Board, or anyone should state -- or should need to state -- that something is not an official position. We're committed to CZ not having any official positions on any subject, of cours,e we all signed on to that at the start, but then who determines, in a given field, which positions are settled and which controversial? To have "no position" on something that is settled science, to my mind, is as bad as to take a position on something that isn't settled science; either one distorts any notion of neutrality. Russell Potter 14:56, 1 June 2007 (CDT)

Maybe we should write History of race first. We'll avoid taking a position in the current debate by writing about what others have said in the past, and then we can come back to this article after we've had a chance to recruit an editor who can oversee the development of this article. --Joe Quick (Talk) 15:14, 1 June 2007 (CDT)

Joe, I think that's a great idea -- I second the motion. Russell Potter 15:23, 1 June 2007 (CDT)

I think that's a great idea too.--As to the "no official position" question, Russell, surely you aren't suggesting, that no one disagrees with you on whether race is merely a social construct? I would be amazed if you took that view. If that were the case, then why would you insist on it so strongly? --Larry Sanger 15:46, 1 June 2007 (CDT)

It's not a matter of my view, Larry. Before I became an English major, I was a Biology major -- and in all my studies, at Case Western Reserve University, Syracuse University, and Brown University, including lectures by eminent biologists such as Anne Fausto-Sterling and cultural historians such as Terry Eagleton, I have always understood that it is the universal consensus among educated persons that "race" is a human construct, and that the matter was settled science, settled history, and settled sociological teaching. Now, perhaps new data, or new ways of studying the known data, have emerged -- this would be for biologists in this field to inform us -- I'm emphatically not an expert in this field. But I would not be one to set up my personl view with such energies, unless it was based on extensive reading of the histories and researches of people who have studied the matter, over thirty years (I grew up in a house where Scientific American and Stephen Jay Gould's books were on the coffee table). I am open to learn more, from those who are qualified -- but that's not what I see happening here. Russell Potter 16:04, 1 June 2007 (CDT)

I'm no expert either, of course. But it beggars belief that you really think that "it is the universal consensus among educated persons that 'race' is a human construct." It's certainly a very common view, but there's a huge difference between "a very common view" and "the universal consensus." I think Martin can give us more insight on this. For my part, I would point to doctors, who sometimes appear to use the concept of race as a biological concept--basing medical decisions (in some cases) on racial information and presumably not on information about a human construct. --Larry Sanger 01:02, 2 June 2007 (CDT)

It's a common view, in this particular case, because it is accurate. I heartily agree with Martin here, when he states below that "secondly, there is no room for people's opinions in this article: the social science literature is almost unanimous in its conclusion that race is socially constructed. This does not mean that the role of genetic differences is zero, and this point needs to be explained clearly." I don't want to split hairs between "almost unanimous' and "universal consensus" -- he notes, and I agree, that there are biological factors in certain areas which indeed do need to be explained in more detail -- but if the social sciences are to have their say here, there the matter is clear. For a physician to 'take into account' a racial factor -- such as sickle-cell trait -- is far different from what has been erroneously claimed on this page, that somehow modern biology vindicates some broader notion of "race" as anything other than an all-too-human social construction. Russell Potter 01:13, 2 June 2007 (CDT)
Larry, the point here is that there is no such thing as a concept of what constitutes "race" for humans. Yes, doctors use the self-perceived race of their patient for decisions, because it often correlates with certain markers. But if we take "race", for example, to mean "subspecies" or something akin to "breed", then "often" is not enough. These markers are more a factor of recent ancestral origin, frequency of intermarriage and a bunch of other factors. What's worse, depending on what type of analysis you perform, you could well conclude of it that all humans are part of subgroups of the african "race" -not surprisingly, since that is the common geographic origin. For the type of concept most commonly attributed to "race" in the general population, having a bunch of genetic markers in common is NOT enough -especially not if it achieves an accurate prediction on "race" only 9 times out of 10 (or something similar). If consistent races existed, then the markers would have to be consistent, too -and they would exhibit consistent differences towards other such groups. There is a huge difference between stating "If I look at this set of markers, I can see some kind of correlation" and stating "we have distinct subpopulations here". But again, there is no concept of "race" that these markers could prove -merely some statistical commonality between groups of similar recent geographic origin. But this all too often gives more questions than answers. For example, australian aborigines have some traits in common both with east coast Africans as well as some Indian groups. However, this simply puts them into the same migration arc as a lot of other groups throughout far eastern Russia, Japan and even North America. Is it sensible to throw those together because they share common genetic traits??? These markers in my eyes are useful for a)reconstructing the migration of a people and b)predicting propensity for some diseases and effectivity of some drugs. No more, no less. Both the homogeneity within a group and the consistent distinction vs. other groups simply isn't there. We cannot just use the configuration of a bunch of markers since that would suggest that someone who just happens to have those markers always belongs to a certain "race" -even if he neither perceives himself as such nor has any outward physiognomy suggesting that. We're talking about statistical issues here, not clear-cut borders. They're useful looking at populations, but rather meaningless when looking at an individual. At least that's what I gather, and I have been dealing with the differences in disease propensity in different ethnic groups when I did prostate cancer research. --Oliver Hauss 06:56, 2 June 2007 (CDT)

You gentlemen are arguing a point that I neither know enough to argue about, nor intended to argue. My point was simple. Russell made the claim that it is universally acknowledged that "race is a social construct," full stop. Well, of course it is not universally acknowledged, as Russell himself says. I've looked at some essays from some prominent biologists, and--it seems quite clear to me that they disagree that it is a social construct. Consequently, I reiterate--and this is all I want to say--that CZ will not take the position that race is a social construct, because to do so would be to violate CZ:Neutrality Policy. Note that I could say all of what I've just said and agree with you about the question whether race is a social construct. The only issue that I am concerned with here is whether we will force our views upon those who disagree with them. The official CZ position on that question is No. --Larry Sanger 11:33, 2 June 2007 (CDT)

I'd like to just reiterate that we are still talking about two different concepts as though they are one. Social scientists do generally agree that race is a social construct only because they are talking about socially and culturally constructed categories of people that change over time. Membership in those groups can change simply based on the region where one lives or the language one speaks. Many individuals actually change races in the course of one lifetime. These races have no biological reality.
Biologists, on the other hand, talk about race in terms of populations that share genetic markers. These are real but they do not correlate with socially constructed races. If a biologist says that races really do exist, then s/he is either promoting a personal belief or referring to biological races, not to social races. Let's be careful to keep these separate and it will save everyone a lot of stress. --Joe Quick (Talk) 11:57, 2 June 2007 (CDT)
You know, I wonder about that. The SciAm article mentions that a procedure which finds genetic markers shows that only 70% of Americans who describe themselves as "white" have more than 90% European ancestry—which means that, for more than two thirds of "white" Americans, perceived race and genetics correlate pretty well. Incidentally, I wonder what proportion the balance are Latinos with 10 to 30% (or more) American Indian ancestry.—Nat Krause 22:53, 2 June 2007 (CDT)
I'd bet that most of the Irish immigrants to the US in the late 19th century had 90% or more European ancestry, but they weren't considered white. In much of Latin America, and particularly in the area that I've studied in Guatemala, people can change their race by simply changing their clothes or speaking a different language. These races have nothing to do with biology. --Joe Quick (Talk) 02:56, 3 June 2007 (CDT)
The point is that "very well" illustrates nothing -except for the fact that these markers do NOT correlate with issues of "race" completely. They correlate with recent geographic origin, and the more time passes in a mixed population, the more homogeneous the marker distribution will be. With a whole lot of white people having emigrated to the US within the last 150 years, there has been very little time for mixing. What's more, the logic of this argument could be said to boil down to "racism proves races exist" because social stigmatization of intermarriage slows intermixing of markers. I read these texts quite differently than Larry does. In fact, several authors note the arbitrariness of delimitations and specifically point out the geographic character of these parameters. They in fact state nothing about culture, way of life etc. The fact that they coincide with "perceived race" -which IS a social construct, since it is something that is developed by the individual person in exchange with his environment- only illustrates historically fairly recent geographic segregation. However, the most problematic issue about these articles is that many of them are an exercise in circular logic -they start "well, there is no clear definition of race, but if for the arguments sake, we define it as XYZ" they then go to prove that XYZ is given. None of this shows that "race" is in fact an accepted and defined concept when it comes to humans. What these articles show is that you can tell recent geographic origin and migration patterns from genetic markers. If one chooses to call this fact "race", you should be well aware that you're using a loaded term unnecessarily, because the data observed in fact do not show what is commonly attributed to the term by the general audience. --Oliver Hauss 04:12, 3 June 2007 (CDT)

Biological discussions of race should be placed on the Talk page of Race (biology) which is being constructed. The synthesis of biological evidence and social science interpretation of "race" will be made on this page at a later date, and I would prefer that people did not begin that debate prematurely. See 1 Plan for this article, above. --Martin Baldwin-Edwards 06:03, 3 June 2007 (CDT)

Phenotype versus genotype

I see that "Race (biology)" has just been created. I think this is a good move.

Russell hit on something very important above, which is that there is an important distinction between phenotypes and genotypes. The term "race" has been used to refer to both. The discussion above has not clearly separated the two concepts with the result that we've been talking past each other to some extent. Instead, we've conflated the two and tried to settle the issue on both fronts at once. Oddly enough, it is the conflation of phenotypes and genotypes as "races" that social scientists are really talking about when they say that race doesn't exist.

Let's leave genotypes for "Race (biology)," and perhaps create "Race (anthropology)" or something similar to discuss phenotypes. "History of race" will cover the historic conflation of the two. "Race" can be for horses, cars and people who strain for the finish line. --Joe Quick ( Talk) 17:46, 1 June 2007 (CDT)

Joe, exellent points. I think we can have a History of race article that will deal with these issues far more clearly! I don't have time to whip up such a major entry yet, but have started the ball rolling with a newly-written and illustrated entry for Eugenics. This could be part of, or cross-referenced with, History of Race. Russell Potter 17:57, 1 June 2007 (CDT)

Let's delete this version, please

Well, I have not seen this article before. It is a mess. I cannot claim to be an international authority on race, but I think my level of expertise is sufficient to handle these issues. First, the biological evidence about "race" is dealt with in the article Race (biology)and this scientific position should be a central part of the analysis. Secondly, there is no room for people's opinions in this article: the social science literature is almost unanimous in its conclusion that race is socially constructed. This does not mean that the role of genetic differences is zero, and this point needs to be explained clearly. Thirdly, thst there are dissenters [flat earthers, if you like]: by all means let's reference them, but don't pretend that anyone takes these people very seriously. Finally, the whole history of race and racism has to be put into historical, national and regional contexts. The current version of the article -- in para. 3 for example -- gives analysis which I have never read and which is unreferenced. This is clearly unnacceptable.

Overall, the article is stating as "facts" things which are apparently someone's personal opinion. We have to delete it entirely and start with a clear structure within which common positions, standard analyses and minority positions can be located. It should also be linked with other articles on ethnicity, racism, etc to make a coherent approach. The most central point out of all of this is the complete lack of scholarship in the current version. --Martin Baldwin-Edwards 18:03, 1 June 2007 (CDT)

Martin, I am glad to see your calm and clear reflections here. Having had a look at your credentials on your home page, I believe that your background would be ideal to oversee this entry, the more so as Race (biology) is now underway, and can provide clarity and support for a fresh start while enabling a more socially, historically, informed version of this issue. Russell Potter 20:49, 1 June 2007 (CDT)
Reply to Martin:
  1. The article Race (biology) is still mostly a stub, and has just started to scratch the surface of the issue.
  2. The social science literature is meaningless in the face of evidence from genetic research that race actually exists. Social science can tell us how people have socially constructed the concept of race, but cannot show that there is no biological reality underlying those social conceptions; only the biological sciences can. To claim otherwise is to fall prey to the worst excesses of postmodernism. No amount of transformative hermeneutics will make the genetic research go away; only other genetic research can.
  3. Calling people who cite scientific research "flat-earthers" is rather closed-minded.
  4. By all means, there's a huge history to how people have perceived, and used, race. If you think that paragraph three is wrong, please write a sourced alternative to it, and replace it.
Anthony Argyriou 18:21, 1 June 2007 (CDT)

Anthony: let me correct some misunderstandings. First, I do not propose to modify a defective structure: it should be demolished. Secondly, the social science literature tells us how we think human beings behave. It also tells us what people think the word "race" means, which biologists do not do. Thirdly, I already explained that there is some role of genetic difference, and this has to be taken into account. Genetic research is covered in the Race (biology) article and I suggest that you take it up with the Editor there. I have no intention of disputing the content of that article, which will form the scientific component of this article. Finally, I presume that you are one of the authors of this article. Might I ask you to show some respect for a social scientist who has been working in this field for 20 years? --Martin Baldwin-Edwards 18:37, 1 June 2007 (CDT)

I appreciate this as a good example of the system we have created here working. Stephen Ewen 01:39, 3 June 2007 (CDT)