Talk:Race (human categorization)/Archive 17

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Words edited out make total structure go wonky

Jalnet2 had:

Frank Miele and Vincent Sarich (authors of Race: The Reality of Human Differences) argue that races are indeed valid and have the logical status of fuzzy sets.

That statement was in a context that stated that most people now argue that [races] are useless ways of categorizing people.

Eric deleted the words "are indeed valid", observing in the edit summary that "Hispanic" is pretty stupid as a category (my words, not his). He is right about that, of course, but the fact remains (and at least Jalnet2 has given us authors if not full citations to check) that those people have gone all out to make the claim that [races] are valid if the categories are viewed as fuzzy sets. If they are reputable researchers, then I think it is fair and appropriate to give their views equal billing. Besides that, what they are saying is just another way of stating what Rikurzhen has been educating us about for months now. (So, anticlimax, I put the removed words back. Let's hash this question out on the discussion page before handling it in some less collegial way.) P0M 16:33, 23 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I agree with POM's comment here. I only add that the specific mention of this book and its authors should go in the body of the article. Slrubenstein 16:46, 23 Jan 2005 (UTC)

If you know something about fuzzy set theory anything could be defined as a fuzzy set as well as an euclidian set : {Pierre, Paul and Jacques} is an Euclidian set defined by enumeration. It exists as any other random set can be defined but what sense would it have ? Like anybody I could design people as White, Black or Asian as well as well as blond-haired, brown-haired or red-haired or small or tall. All these are could be viewed in mathematics as fuzzy sets.

Reference material :


Ericd 16:51, 23 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I didn't revert because of mention of fuzzy sets. (Not all sets are fuzzy, no? But I'm going off point again.) I reverted because the paragraph was of the general form:
Some people say race is a very problematical way to categorize humans
Some people say [race] is a useful way to categorize humans -- if you treat [races] as fuzzy sets.
Your edit disturbed that balanced structure.

P0M 17:45, 23 Jan 2005 (UTC)

The article doesn't say races equate to fuzzy sets. It says Sarich and Miele say they equate to fuzzy sets. Jalnet2 16:56, 23 Jan 2005 (UTC)
I'm a little lost here. I understand what you are saying, but whose critique are you directing your words against? I quoted your version, Slrubenstein agreed it was structurally better, but wanted the scholarly apparatus moved down in the article. Then Ericd said something that I don't quite get, but it didn't assert that the article says that races equate to fuzzy sets, does it? Or did I get up too early after going to sleep too late? P0M 17:49, 23 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Well I was schocked by the "indeed valid". You can define fuzzy sets about anything. For instance I can define fuzzy sets of "attractive girls", of "boring people", "left wing extremists". This doesn't add any objectivity to the concept it's still subjective. And my fuzzy set of "attractive girls" can be very different from yours. I don't see in wich way fuzzy sets theory could validate the concept of race.
Ericd 01:29, 24 Jan 2005 (UTC)
The statement was: "Frank Miele and Vincent Sarich (authors of Race: The Reality of Human Differences) argue that races are indeed valid and have the logical status of fuzzy sets," right? I don't think that Miele and Sarich were trying to say that fuzzy logic somehow validates an idea about race. I think what they were saying was that even though people have pounded the "essentialist" idea of races to the point that it doesn't appear to be valid, that doesn't mean that there is nothing out there that can be usefully categorized. If you will follow back through the earlier discussions on this "talk" page, I think you will probably conclude that this is the kind of idea that Rikurzhen has been championing. I'm not saying that he's right. (See the quotation I give of something Cavalli-Sforza says, below.) But they do have another way of organizing data about human genetic connections that depends on "data clustering" (I hope I've remembered the right technical term.) One of the characteristics of that kind of data organization is that it can tell you what average values you will get for a given population (assuming that you've got some kind of baseline data to work from), but it will not tell you with anything other than a statistical likelihood what you will find in the case of an individual. So, back up a minute. Miele and Sarich say that there is some kind of coherent data that can be strained out of genetic or other studies of the characteristics of a population, but that the sets of data so constituted do not have sharp edges. So they're not going from fuzzy sets to fuzzy groups of people. They are finding fuzzy groups of people and letting the form of categories they make be fuzzy in order better to fit with reality. They aren't saying that the theory of fuzzy sets could validate the concept of race. P0M 06:00, 24 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I reverted this for two reasons:

  • Where is the Wikipedia policy that says names should go in the body, not the intro? Wikipedia:Neutral point of view says to attribute opinions; I can't find any provision that says they only need to be attributed in certain sections of the article.
It is not a rule. It is my judgement as an editor. If you do not see the logic in my judgement, let me explain it to you. If you provide citations, I will start providing citations for competing views. In order to explain what these sources claim, we need to add descriptions. The consequence will be an introduction that is overly complicated. I am not saying your contributions should be cut from the article. Put them in the body, where you can explain them fully. Slrubenstein
I agree both that we need citations and we need to avoid bloating the introduction. Therefore I propose that the best and most mutually agreeable solution would be to move the information, with citations, to the body of the article. But leaving it in the intro without citations is unacceptable since entering opinions without attributing them is far from encyclopedic and against Wikipedia policy. Jalnet2 17:55, 23 Jan 2005 (UTC)
  • Why say "evolutionary biologists" support X, yet also say "some scientists" support Y? To be fair, we need to use the word some either on both sides of the argument or neither. Jalnet2 16:53, 23 Jan 2005 (UTC)
"Scientists" is more inclusive. When I wrote "evolutionary biologists" it is because I am not sure to what extent other scientists shared this view. When I wrote scientists, it is because I know scientists from a variety of fields share this view. Slrubenstein 17:03, 23 Jan 2005 (UTC)
I'm not disputing the change from "scientists" to "evolutionary biologists". I'm disputing the use of the word "some" in one case but not the other. Jalnet2 17:55, 23 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Some oppose to most when they are a minority and a majority. Ericd 17:16, 23 Jan 2005 (UTC)

But nobody has yet proven which view is held by the majority and which by the minority. Jalnet2 17:55, 23 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Slr, is there any other way to handle this? It does give the appearance of trying to weigh one side more than the other, even though that is not the intent. P0M

If the problem is "some" versus "many" versus "most" I suggest changing them all to "many" which will provide the parity that Jalnet2 seems most concerned with. I still, however, feel strongly about not naming authors in the intro. I agree with Jalnest that we should provide sources. But there is simply no need to provide them in the introduction. We are working on an entire article, the articel should have a structure. The introduction introduces the positions, but it is in the body that these positions are explained, and that is the place to provide citations. This is common style. Slrubenstein 18:14, 23 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I still, however, feel strongly about not naming authors in the intro.

On what basis do you feel this way? As I have already stated, Wikipedia policy is to attribute opinions, and I cannot find any exemption for opinions that are stated in the article lead.
If you're worried about bloating the introduction, then I have two proposals to make:
  1. Move the paragraph in question to the body of the article
  2. Slim down other parts of the paragraph besides the citations. For example, we could slim down the actual viewpoints of the scientists involved in the argument. Presenting lengthy and unattributed opinions is not an option as long as it is against the Wikipedia policy stated at Wikipedia:Neutral point of view Jalnet2 19:22, 23 Jan 2005 (UTC)

But I do not believe that many scientists still use race. Jalnet2, what stats to you have on numbers? I have yet to meet a biologist or physical anthropologist who believes that most of them still believe in race. POM, what is your experience in this matter? Slrubenstein 18:18, 23 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I have yet to meet a biologist or physical anthropologist who believes that most of them still believe in race.
But do you actually have proof that most don't believe in race? We need to avoid generalizations like "most scientists" and "many scientists" until we get proof.Jalnet2 19:22, 23 Jan 2005 (UTC)
In answer to Slrubenstein's question to me immediately above: I would be able to offer only an opinion on the percentages for what various people state in public that they believe. Such an answer would not give an objective measure of actual beliefs. We probably cannot get proof unless qualified individuals have taken great care in designing and executing a polling strategy to get such information, and have published that data somewhere.P0M 21:21, 23 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Race -> Human races

Was this move discussed? Did I miss the discussion? Not saying it's a bad thing necessarily, but isn't this a pretty major page to move without consultation? Guettarda 19:00, 23 Jan 2005 (UTC)

It was also made without fixing broken redirects and in violation of our naming conventions. So I moved it back. --mav 20:48, 24 Jan 2005 (UTC)

The Grand Paper Chase

I have found one quotation that may at least give us an answer from authority on what people then and now have believed about [race].

History and Geography of Human Genes, Cavalli-Sforza et al., p. 17f:

The American anthropologist Franz Boas (1858-1942) was among the first to throw considerable doubt on the evolutionary stability of quantitative phenotypic variations like stature, limb measurements, and in general most anthropometric traits.... In any case, confidence in anthropometry remained unshaken for a long time and may still be strong in the most conservative quarters."

Ibid., p. 19:

"The classification into races has proved to be a futile exercise for reasons that were already clear to Darwin. Human races are still extremely unstable entitities in the hands of modern taxonomists, who define them from 3 to 60 or more races."

Ibid., p. 19:

"By means of painstaking multivariate analysis, we can identify 'clusters' of populations and order them in a hierarchy that we believe represents the history of fissions in the expansion of the whole world of anatomically modern humans. At no level can clusters be identified with races, since every level of clustering would determine a different partition and there is no biological reason to prefer a particular one. The successive levels of clustering follow each other in a regular sequence, and there is no discontinuity that might tempt us to consider a certain level as a reasonable, though arbitrary, threshold for race distinction."

Jal's edits

I am surprised to see Jal order me to explain my changes in the talk section, when I have been doing just that. Be that as it may, I kept his removal of the scare quotes (they were not intended to scare) but have restored the paragraph in question to the introduction. It belongs in the introduction for two reasons. First, it is an important element of the article's NPOV because it lays out the major different views; without it, all that is left is the view that races are real. Second, it suggests to the reader what is to come in the body, which is indeed the function of introductions. Jal's major concern has to do with the proportions of people holding these views. Until we can get adequate sources, I am sure we can word this section appropriately. Finally, I restored useful content J deleted. J. deleted it because there was no source. J., you are quite right to ask for a source. But you are quite wrong to delete it before giving someone a chance to provide a source. I have restored it and have added a source. Tomorrow I should be able to add other sources. Learn to work with others. Slrubenstein 01:02, 24 Jan 2005 (UTC)

My problem was not that you moved it to the intro. I disagree that it should be in the intro, but I will not object if it is moved into the intro. The reason why I reverted this is that that edit removed some of the attributions at the same time it moved the paragraph up. It was the removal of the attribution that I objected to. Jalnet2 01:06, 24 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I really would like to achieve a compromise. I will not revert again, but I beg you to consider my objection to the sources. I understand that the policy of citing sources and verifiability is very important to you. I hope you understand that it is equally important to me. I just think that you are being overzealous in your desire to follow the policy. I believe as I am sure you do that all of the major claims in the article should come from a cited source. I simply believe that the citations need not be placed every time a point is made. The points made in the introduction are (or should be) more fully explained in the body. It seems to me that providing sources there -- or (to follow the style of most encyclopedias, and many article here at wikipedia) providing a brief citation linked to the list of sources at the end of the article, fully satisfies our policy of citing sources. I know of very few -- in any -- articles that provides sources in the introductory section. And this is not because the introductions are void of content. It is simply that the sources are placed at the end. The "cite sources" policy does not require that sources be placed everywhere. I ask others to chime in. Slrubenstein 01:17, 24 Jan 2005 (UTC)

It is very explicitly stated at Wikipedia:Neutral point of view that opinions should be attributed. I agree that not everything needs a citation; obvious, non-controversial, and well-known facts probably do not need them. Without attributions, the paragraph in question is not listing facts. It is listing opinions. Jalnet2 01:27, 24 Jan 2005 (UTC)

You are flat-out wrong that a sentence that is not followed by an attribution is not a fact, it is an opinion. Facts remain facts whether you provide attributions or not.

But you continue to miss my point. Don't you see, I am agreeing with you! Yes, every view (not the same thing as opinion, by the way) must be attributed in the article. This does not mean they ahve to be attributed in this paragraph. This paragraph lists facts. The attributions must be included in the article. But they should not be in the introduction.

Please do not respond by telling me that without attribution the are not facts, because I have said over and over and over again that these claims should be attributed to a source. Whatever we are disagreeing about, it is not what you keep saying it is. Slrubenstein 01:37, 24 Jan 2005 (UTC)

You are flat-out wrong that a sentence that is not followed by an attribution is not a fact, it is an opinion.

I did not say that.

Yes, every view (not the same thing as opinion, by the way) must be attributed in the article. This does not mean they ahve to be attributed in this paragraph.

Where is the Wikipedia policy that says this?

because I have said over and over and over again that these claims should be attributed to a source

Fine, then let's keep the attributions and stop arguing about it. Jalnet2 01:47, 24 Jan 2005 (UTC)
I'd like to add my view here that I fully support the citing of sources, but it's standard scholarly and journalistic (and, I believe, encyclopedic) practice to leave sources out of the intro, unless you're actually quoting. An intro is usually a general glance over the subject matter, telling the reader what s/he can expect to read more about in the body of the article, where sources should be cited. To have sources cited so far up front looks, somehow, unprofessional and rushed. SlimVirgin 08:47, Jan 24, 2005 (UTC)
If you want to mention the most prominent people to kick off the race-doesn't-exist (or at least race-isn't-taxonomically-useful) school of thought, I have no problem with saying "Many scientists, most notably Franz Boas, began to question the...", but citing works that don't warrant independent mention in the intro is taking Wikipedia:Cite your sources too far. Some people might be noteworthy for the intro, but I don't think any specific books are. -- Schaefer 12:11, 24 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Let me point out the crucial issue: Jalnet2's so-called sources are not at all sources for the sentences in question, they are examples but do not themselves serve as sources for the claims being made. Slrubenstein 16:50, 24 Jan 2005 (UTC)

What I hope is an uncontroversial question

The article currently has one sentence that bugs me when I try to think about where one would go to find a citation to bolster it. "Since the 1970s, there has been increased skepticism about "taxonomic" and "population" understandings of race." I think that this sentence is wrong because nobody that I can think of has ever said anything to the effect that the right way to think about [races] is to equate them to populations. On the other hand, I'm pretty sure that a population is not an understanding (or a close synonym) for a [race]. A Mendelian population is one comprised of individuals who mate freely with one-another. One finds such a population (and frequently it is convenient to take a geographically bounded region like Sumatra) and then studies a valid statistical sample of that population (or all of that population if you've got lots of money) to learn what it is possible to learn about the genetic composition of its members. (C-S, p. 20ff) But maybe I'm wrong and somebody can help my feeble mind and save me from the sin of thinking for myself by pointing to a place in the literature of the field where somebody says something that starts out something like, "The way to understand what race really means is to learn what studies of populations tell us, which is....."

A case in point where population is used as I would expect it to be used appears in Race to the Finish: Identity and Governance in an Age of Genomics by Jenny Reardon: "Dobzhansky, would continue to find race useful (Provine, et al. 1981). 'Races,' he argued in his classic Genetics and the Origin of Species, 'may be defined as Mendelian populations of a species which differ in the frequencies of one or more genetic variants, gene alleles, or chromosomal structures.'" (emphasis added) [1] -- Patrick0Moran

Re:: I also think that race (as was definied by human biologists in the 20th century) and population is not the same thing. In human biology, race was definied as subspecies. Since humans are not dogs, horses or chimpanzees, the very concept of subspecies is wrong. Clines or populations are not exclusive or discrete and therefore are valid concepts for describing human biological diversity. What genomic tests have proved about human beings is that our biodiversity is patterned and not expressed by discrete types. [2] -- Orionix 14:45, 24 Jan 2005 (UTC)

What on earth is Slrubenstein doing?

I want to let people know that for the next half hour or so I am going to be doing a lot of work on the article. I do not believe that any of this should be contentious. Much of what I am doing involves reorganization -- I am moving all the historical material up front. I also want to put the sections on anthropology and population genetics, and biology, closer together. Most of all, I want to respond to Jalnet's insistance on sources. I plan on developing some of the claims he and I have been arguing over, and I will add citations (to be clear, my goal is not to prove Jalnet2 wrong; my goal is to comply with his requests). I know that many people have been working very hard on this article for some time. I promise, I plan on being very respectful of people's work and will cut material only if it is clearly redundant, and only if doing so won't damage the flow or clarity of the article. Slrubenstein 17:45, 24 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Let us know when you're done. --Rikurzhen 19:07, Jan 24, 2005 (UTC)

I am almost done. I certainly am at the point where you can go over what I have done and comment. I have cut very little. I got rid of headings that distinguish between biological and anthropological approaches, because biologists and physical anthropologists do talk to one another, read one another's journals, and cite one another. I have tried to organize the material more or less historically, because debates today very much come out of research in the past, and research in the past was reacting against earlier views. I have put the stuff on ethics and politics together. I have also added much more detail on how scientists came to reject race, with many citations already put in the bibliography (this largely to comply with Jalnet2's point, which was quite valid).

There is one section left to write, and it gets at yesterday's issue of contention: trends in the way scientists use terms. I have some statistics. Although I feel good about the reorganizing I just did, I am honestly not sure where to put this new section. So I will just put it in, and if you/others feel it belongs elsewhere in the article just go ahead and move it. 10 more minutes, Slrubenstein 19:31, 24 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Okay, I am done for now. I still want to add some more material on debates concerning race and human evolution, but I am sure no one will object to that and it fits easily into the article. I am not sure when I will get to it, so this concludes my intense work on the article. Thanks, Slrubenstein 19:48, 24 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I wasn't going to suggest this, but it seems like it might be needed after all... We probably need to make it crystal clear that the debate isn't about whether human races "exist" (in the loosest sense) but whether races are in some biological way valid. Even if they are not biologically valid categories, I don't know of anyone who says they aren't cultural important categories; for example in the context of racism. --Rikurzhen 21:33, Jan 24, 2005 (UTC)

Page name

Since User:Maveric149 chose to move this page back to Race, can we, in the interest of sanity, have a proper discussion about what the page should be named? I didn't like the unilateral move to Human races, but nor am I too thrilled with another unilateral move back here. Aren't page moved supposed to follow discussion?

Since we're here, for the purpose of discussion, can I propose that the page be moved to Human races? Guettarda 20:51, 24 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I second that motion. P0M 08:56, 25 Jan 2005 (UTC)
I'm a newcomer to this article, so I don't know what's already been discussed, but I'd say "Human Races" implies that the concept of race has been accepted, and here's some information about the different races, whereas "Race" suggests that the concept will be discussed and has not necessarily been accepted, as does "Human Race". SlimVirgin 20:59, Jan 24, 2005 (UTC)
I wish that you were right about that optimistic picture. I have been brought up short many times by the reactions of people who appear to have some reason for insisting on upholding the validity of racial classifications. Saying "the human races" would certain imply that the races are out there just waiting to be found and properly described. Saying "the human race" indicates that we have Homo sapiens sapiens and that's it. But saying, "Now we're going to discuss race," and following it with something like, "Humans are divided among 3 races," also hypostatizes these classificatory schemes. My understanding is that the objective information we have available to us pertains first to individuals. Beyond that, all we have is that information as massaged in various ways into various conceptual cubbyholes. You can't talk about classification of individuals with talking about classifying them into two or more groups. So, requirements about official article names aside, our real need is to talk about individuals on one hand, various competing systems of classification on the other hand, and then the various groups of people that result when the several systems of classification are employed. Then we need to talk about the utility of these groupings and the drawbacks implicit in them.P0M 08:56, 25 Jan 2005 (UTC)
I don't think there is any doubt about the existence of the concept of races; rather the debate surrounding human races is whether races are valid biological categories for the human species or whether they are socially constructed. --Rikurzhen 21:43, Jan 24, 2005 (UTC)
They are clearly constructed, all of them. The question remains whether any of them have practical utility (validity?=grounded on evidence). Whether we divide a group into two halves or into a thousand different categories that shade more gradually the one into the other, we have constructed the fences we put between them. There is nothing wrong with that unless we forget that we put up the poles and wires ourself and start imaging that the fences were put there by God and therefore are never to be taken down or moved. What people really need to be cautioned about when discussing some of these ideas like "race," is that a system of categorization can have utility in one context (e.g., medicine) and yet have nothing to say in another context (e.g., moral rectification) P0M 08:56, 25 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I personally think it should be "race" because physical anthropologists and biologists see human beings as animals and the general conceptual framework of evolutionary biology and population genetics should apply equally to humans and dogs and cockroaches. I recognize that some zoologists, biologists, and anthropologists might use "race" differently; this article should cover that. Also, Mav has been around a long time and knows quite a bit of biology, and although I have disagreed with him in the past, I always assume he has a good reason for what he does. I wouldn't change this back to "human races" until whoever thinks we should do that has heard him out. Slrubenstein 21:36, 24 Jan 2005 (UTC)

The article is mostly now about human races, so the move makes some sense. On the other hand, I'm pretty sure most people only think of human races in association with the word "race". Since there is already a subspecies article, the move to human races seems to be unneccessary. --Rikurzhen 21:43, Jan 24, 2005 (UTC)

Just as a thought experiment, what would your reaction be if the authorities decided we must entitle the article "Human Races"? P0M 08:56, 25 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Keep the title Race. It's consistent with the Wikipedia naming convention on the use of singular nouns, and most wikilinks that point here are going to do so through the word race, so might as well have the article right there instead of having it go through a redirect from Race to Human races. -- Schaefer 04:21, 25 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Is there an article on "gear tooth"? Some things can be considered as individuals, and some things only have meaning in conjunction with other things.

Who is Ashley Montagu?

Why is he so important that he needs mention in the intro? Wasn't Franz Boas more influential? --Rikurzhen 03:04, Jan 25, 2005 (UTC)

It's still a problem to equate race and population

I raised this question above, and most people seem to have chosen to ignore it. The present text states:

By the 1960s, data and models from population genetics called into question taxonomicunderstandings (sic) of race, and many have turned to the concepts of populations and clines instead.

Saying it this way makes "population" a virtual synonym for "race". It isn't.

The variation in a species is often grouped according to geographical region....A group of individuals who are potentially interbreeding, who occupy a local area, and who make up a basic breeding unit of our species is called a breeding population or sometimes a deme. It is the unit that evolution acts on, and its genetic composition is the result of several interacting factors in the environment which tend to limit variability to a specific range. (p. 37)
To me, as to many others, it seems that the only useful way of grouping individuals for anthropological analysis is to group together the people participating within the same circle of matings. (Hiernaux (1964:32) quoted on p. 114 (Emphasis added.)
Formulating things this way makes a population a very low-baggage "target" for analysis of characteristics. Nothing is assumed about the population on the grounds of prior belief. The black people are not first sorted out as "the blacks," and the white people are not first sorted out as "the whites." All that one studies is some group such as "humans who reside in Madagascar." So population is not race, it's what scientists have used in order to avoid talking about race, i.e., in order to select a subset of humanity to study that relates the people studied to their natural environment.P0M

-- Races, Types, and Ethnic Groups, Stephen Molnar, Prentice-Hall, 1975. P0M 09:58, 25 Jan 2005 (UTC)

POM, you misunderstand. The point is not that populations are races; the point is that many scientists do equate race with population. Many don't. Both points of view have to be discussed in the article. The article does indeed represent both views. Slrubenstein 14:57, 25 Jan 2005 (UTC)

As far as race is a Social built concept that can't be defined on a genetic basis this a weak concept from scientific POV. This one of the reason why I clain that the studies about race are intelligence are biased at start as they ask a bad question from an epistemologic and methodologic POV. Instead of using a Social built concept that need to be operationnalized it's more rigourous to start from something less conceptual and more objective like "people whose parents where born in Asia". Ericd 13:13, 25 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Again, it doesn't matter what you think. Many people do see race as a social construction, and their view must be represented in the article. This is our NPOV policy. Slrubenstein 14:57, 25 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Many people do see race as a social construction, including me, and their view must of course be represented in the article. What I think is not the matter. My English is limited to deal with some subject. If races are social built this makes races a human creation instead of something that exist in nature. Let me give a sample the concept "flying saucers" exist and could be viewed as a human built. This doesn't mean that flying saucers exist (as well as it doesn't deny their existence). But making research on the concept of flying isn't the same thing as having a real flying saucer to dismantle it's engine. "People whose parents where born in Asia" exists and agreement on the definition is easy to find : it's already operational for a researcher. If you make research on race and especialy if race is a explicative variable in your analysis you use something that has the nearly same status as a "flying saucers" for the large majority of scientists.
Ericd 18:52, 25 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Maybe P0M and Ericd are saying that we've failed to represent the "race is a social construction" POV correctly. I'm not certain, but I think the article gets it correct. Just as an example, if you want to study racism, the subject of your study can be how people deal with "the social construct called race", and yet you don't have to think you're studying a fiction. Or are the researchers that take the "race is a social construction" POV actually divided over that issue? How do they treat the statement "blacks receive poorer medical care than whites in the US". Is it like, "unicorns have longer horns than minotaurs"? That wasn't my impression. --Rikurzhen 19:15, Jan 25, 2005 (UTC)

Exactly my POV, at least in the begining. If you study the "belief in the existence of flying saucers around the world" there's no need that flying saucers exists. If you study "the influence of flying saucers on Earth climate" it has some senses only if they exists. If you study the difference of income between Black and White you don't need to believe that races have a biological existence. That's were I find some logical fallacy if not bad faith in "Race and intelligence" studies : it suggest some biological determism. However most of relate self proclaimed race with IQ a concept that is (short version) considered as valid because it has a strong predictive value of carreer success. To be a bit excessive the author claim that "Whites are more intelligent than Blacks" but what he demonstrate is that "People who considers themselves as White have more chances to get higher income than People who considers themselves as Blacks". Ericd 19:42, 25 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I agree with Rikhurzen that the article represents the social construction view fairly. Aside from providing an account of how evolutionary science led many to take the social constructionist view, the article provides two case studies on the social construction of race. My impression of POM and Ericd's point is different from Rikurzhen -- but if I am wrong I hope EricD or POM will correct me. But my interpretation is that they reject the NPOV policy. They observe that the claim that races are biologically real, and the view that they are social constructions, are in conflict (some philosophers would say that they are not, but that should be taken up in the article on social construction. Let us say that POM and Ericd are correct that they are perhaps even mutually exclusive. It sounds to me like they are saying that if race is socially constructed, then it cannot be biological, and therefore to claim that it is biological is wrong, and so the claim should not be in the article. But as I have said before to POM, even if POM or Ericd have convincing arguments that this claim (or if you prefer, the claim that populations cannot also be races -- it doesn't matter) is wrong -- and even if they can provide books that say that it is wrong, that in no way means that the biological view must be removed from the article. Nor do any of us have a right to editorialize and insert into the article that our own view is wrong. Our opinions of the studies cited in the article are simply irrelevant, as long as those studies come from credible sources. Period. Any other stance is a violation of our policy. Slrubenstein 00:58, 26 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I am not discussing about my opinion on the study I am discussing about our understanding of these studies. My understanding is that those who consider race as a social construction are denying (or at least are neutral about) the existence of race from a biological POV. I don't think it's pure opinion or original research :

You can also read Social construction it provide sources about the concept of social construction.

Ericd 10:35, 26 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Thank you for clearing things up. I think you are right. But so what? The article makes this very clear, that people turned to viewing race as a social construction after rejecting it as a biological concept. It's in the article. Shouldn't we move on? Slrubenstein 15:42, 26 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Also, saying in the intro that many have turned from race to population "instead" does not at all mean that these scietists equate race with population. The sentence says in a very straightorward and direct way that they turned from race to population -- clearly these are different concepts and the article explains why. Slrubenstein 18:13, 26 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I've just reverted Cheesedreams' latest edit. Wikipedia is being very slow for me today, so I wasn't able to check out all the previous versions to decide which I ought to revert to. I therefore reverted to Slrubenstein's last version, as I know he's a long-term, major contributer to this page. SlimVirgin 22:45, Feb 11, 2005 (UTC)

recent edits

I made three recent edits. First, I removed Ashley Montagu's name from the intro. Although I admire him, if we put in his name we need to put in many others -- and his name is already prominent in the body.

Second, I change "minority" and "majority" to "many" in both cases; the specifics are in the body and it is actually more complicated than majority and minority.

But now we have a study to back up the claim. If you want to remove the words minority and majority, then refute the study that
See below Slrubenstein 17:49, 25 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Third, I removed a redundancy in the section on "lack of consensus." It makes it clear that scientists are divided, and then it says, "moreover, most laypeople ..." and someone put in "and scientists..." -- this is illogical and poor style. If you already talk about scientists in detail and then have a paragraph on laypeople you shouldn't repeat the point about scientists. Slrubenstein 15:02, 25 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Doesn't Lieberman 1992 show that the majority of scientists believe in the concept of race? How can we say most laypeople believe in race, without any studies to back up that claim, yet we can't say most scientists also believe in race, even when we do have a study to back up that claim?
The study shows that physical anthropologists, who are the preeminent scholars of population genetics and race, are actually split. It just makes sense to be general in the introduction and go into the specifics in the body. You know you are starting to sound like someone who has read only the first couple of paragraphs. I know that you haven't, but that is what this sounds like. Slrubenstein 17:49, 25 Jan 2005 (UTC)
If find it weird that you have insisted on saying things like Since the 1940s, most evolutionary biologists have made a wholesale rejection of the "essentialist" understandings of the term "race", even without anything to back up the claim "most", but now that that we actually have a study to show that the reverse is true, you insist on deleting the claims. Jalnet2 17:36, 25 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Are you serious or are you mocking me? The Leiberman material makes it clear that the kind of definition of race was not specified. But you are now suggesting that IF a majority of scientists use race, THEN they mostly believe in the essentialist definition of race? Thius is neither logical nor supported by any evidence. At least, none that you have shared. Why do I make the claim that there has been a wholesale rejection of essentialist definition of race? Because in all the literature I have read since the 1940s I have found not a single evolutionary scientist who has promoted the essentialist definition of race. Let me know what evolutionary scientist embraces this approach and we can cite it. Good luck looking. Slrubenstein 17:45, 25 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Also, you reinserted this: "Nevertheless, the belief that human races exist remains almost universal amongst lay audiences and the majority of scientists (Lieberman 1992)" Why? Don't you see how stupid it sounds to say "A majority of scientists use race. Physical anthropologists are evenly split. Textbooks are declining" and THEN "Nevertheless ... a majority of scientists ..." Why repeat the very first claim of the section? It is redundant. And why use the word "nevertheless," which suggests a contrast? You can't say "a majority of scientists use ... nevertheless, a majority of scientists use ..." It just sounds -- ridiculous! What possible point are you trying to make -- aside from disrespecting the English language? Slrubenstein 17:49, 25 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Hmmm.. I don't know if the joke works in English... But they are some opinions that I share with myself. Ericd 20:05, 25 Jan 2005 (UTC)

You are acting in bad faith

Jalnet, it is insulting that you revert my edits with a note demanding I answer your arguments in the talk section. I have always explained my edits in the talk section. Instead of falsely claiming that I do not, why don't you take the time to read and, if possible, think about my explanations. Slrubenstein 18:19, 25 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Slr, you can ramble and BS all you want. I only want to comply with Wikipedia policy. I find your assault on the truth quite disgusting, frankly. Jalnet2 18:25, 25 Jan 2005 (UTC)

You should read Wikipedia policy. Your views (and mine) of the truth are not relevant here. Our task is to write well-researched, NPOV articles. It is evident that I have done considerable research as I have added much content and many citations to this article. I have no problem saying that you have worked as much on the article as I have, in terms of number of edits. But tell me, have you ever done research? Have you ever added any substance to this article? Have you added citations? What, really, have you done, except constantly push your own point of view? As a look through the history of the article will show, I have added material on various points of view, all based on credible sources. I have explained my changes in a logical and reasonable way. I have invited you to back up your own claims. And your response -- is to be obnoxious. I am not impressed. Slrubenstein 18:42, 25 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Comment: The NPOV policy is a problem and i would say it prevents wikipedia from representing the most acceptable theories. Fact is, however, that the vast majority of scientists do not equate race with population. -- Orionix 14:59, 27 Jan 2005 (UTC)

A 1985 survey (Lieberman et. al. 1992)

Was the survey conducted on a US sample or international sample ? Can't find anything on how this survey was conducted. Ericd 19:09, 25 Jan 2005 (UTC)

US, I think. I will check, and then put in the info. Good point! Slrubenstein
I didn't match how perverse was the question "Do you disagree...". Scientists are prudents this means that a lot those who have no opinion may have answered No. Ericd 21:39, 27 Jan 2005 (UTC)

how many SNPs in humans?

During a talk today the speaker mentioned that humans have SNPs at 1 in 200 nucleotides. They are without a doubt an expert, but this conflicts with the source on that number (1 in 1000) I used for the text in the article. To add to the confusion, I've read elsewhere that humans have around 10 million SNPs on average, which is closer to 1 in 200 than 1 in 1000. If the 1 in 200 number is true, the whole paragraph about chimps versus humans is suspect. How should this be handled? Should we just cut the whole paragraph? --Rikurzhen 01:38, Jan 26, 2005 (UTC)

Wilson and Brown

The text says: Zoologists Edward O. Wilson and W. Brown then challenged the concept from the perspective of general animal systematics, and further rejected the claim that "subspecies" were equivalent to "races"" (Wilson and Brown 1953).

Should that be?: Zoologists Edward O. Wilson and W. Brown then challenged the concept from the perspective of general animal systematics, and further rejected the claim that "races" were equivalent to "subspecies" (Wilson and Brown 1953).

Not sure if that makes a difference. --Rikurzhen 23:02, Jan 26, 2005 (UTC)

Uh, well, maybe it doesn't make a difference, but I think your phrasing is better --I have to run can you make the change? Slrubenstein 23:05, 26 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Done. --Rikurzhen 23:12, Jan 26, 2005 (UTC)

Size limits and Sub-articles

After the restructuring of the article, the total size is again > 32kb. The policy suggestion is to create sub-articles. However, we seem to have done so much integrating of material that the existing sub-articles race in biomedicine and (especially) validity of human races have mostly been covered in the main article. Any suggestions on what to do? --Rikurzhen 01:38, Jan 27, 2005 (UTC)

In this instance, I strongly hesitate to create sub-pages (which policy used to oppose -- oh how the winds shift!). Race is such a controversial topic, and I think many people have worked very hard to achieve NPOV, I fear that any spinning off would really wreck the article. The only possibility I see would be an article that consists solely of the intro and the section on the lack of consensus; spin off every other section, and put in the links here instructing people that for an NPOV account of race they would have to read each sub-article. I would find this acceptable -- but not ideal. Slrubenstein 17:00, 27 Jan 2005 (UTC)
The 32K rule made sense at one point in recent history. It was not a limit set arbitrarily by anybody in the Wikipedia world. It reflected a fact of life in the computer world of the early years of Wikipedia -- older computers running older web browsers could not download, edit, and upload more than 32K at a time. I believe we were almost past that problem a couple years ago. (I was running Netscape 4.2, and it couldn't go over 32K.) If anybody is still using this older equipment they should upgrade to a more recent browser if possible. Failing that they could e-mail me or anybody else involved with this article whose e-mail address is available, and we could re-open the length question. P0M 03:54, 29 Jan 2005 (UTC)

totally disputed?

Can someone explain in what way the article is "totally disputed?" What is inaccurate? What POV is being argued here? Slrubenstein 19:04, 27 Jan 2005 (UTC)

First of all, the accuracy of the claim "Since the 1940s, evolutionary scientists rejected the view of race according to which a number of finite lists of essential characteristics could be used to determine a like number of races.", is disputed, because without quantification, the implication is all evolutionary scientists, and this is clearly false.

Second the neutrality of this entire article is disputed since it gives too much credence to, and spends too much space explaining the claim that race does not exist - a fringe belief which is being pressed by P.C. pseudoscience radicals and which is rejected most scientists. (Lieberman 1992). I don't believe the 20th century argument that race does not exist is important enough, or has enough credence among serious academics and intellectuals to even warrant a mention in the introductory paragraph. Yet the introduction spends 139 words explaining "race does not exist" arguments and 27 words explaining the mainstream view. If explanation of anti-race ideas is confined to a single section in the body of the article, as it was several days ago, I will consider retracting my dispute as to the neutrality of this article.

The numerous objections and concerns I have raised in the preceding paragraphs are also rationale behind the dispute header.

Slrubenstein, I don't care how much meaningless ramble and BS you write back, as I am not removing the dispute header until the article is edited into a mutually agreeable version. This mutually agreeable version states only verified facts and spends an amount of space in the article on each argument proportional to the credence each argument has among academia. Jalnet2 19:53, 27 Jan 2005 (UTC)

First, you do not understand English grammar. The sentence does not suggest "all;" you would have to include the word "all" to mean that. Slrubenstein 20:50, 27 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Second, even if the sentence said "All..." I think it iaccurate. Please provide an example of an evolutionary scientist from the post war period who advocates an essentialist view of race. Slrubenstein 20:50, 27 Jan 2005 (UTC)
The article represents all views. Your claim that the view that races do not exist is a distortion of the article. I don't think any view expressed in the article claims that races aren't real. It does provide the view, held by at least half of all physical anthropologists if not more, that race is not a useful concept in studying human evolution or variation -- and this is NOT at all a fringe theory; the clinal and population views of human variation are founded in established, mainstream science. Also, it provides the view that races are not biologically real, but are socially real. This too is a widely held view in social science and the humanities, not fringe. Slrubenstein 20:50, 27 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Your own ignorance and prejudice have poisoned you. The opening section does not devote 27 words to the mainstream view and 139 to an opposing view. It devotes 27 words to a concept that is simple to describe, and 139 words describing something that is more complicated. Slrubenstein 20:50, 27 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Let's see what others think -- I will step back. But don't think I will ever cave into the bullying of a science-hating ideologue. I said earlier that I have never seen any edit of yours that reflected solid research. Spread your ignorance on a blog or something. Here, we have standards. Slrubenstein 20:50, 27 Jan 2005 (UTC)
I would have to take issue with the use of Lieberman et al. as anything other than a historical source. They present data collected 20 years ago (1984, mostly). Twenty years before that segregation was still in place. More importantly, they present data from a time when the idea of regional continuity was still generally accepted - that Homo sapiens had evolved from Homo erectus across its range. Things have changed in the last 20 years. At the time no serious scientist would have given much credence to the idea that humans could trace a common ancestor 100,000 years ago...most thought that there had been somewhere closer to 1,000,000 years - lots of time for serious divergence. It was a bitter battle, but once the Out of Africa hypothesis won, people adapted their beliefs. In addition there has been a wealth of genetic studies which have undermined the idea of race, that show that there is no biological basis for "race". Scientific opinion is not frozen. I would be deeply disappointed by my colleagues if I were to learn that more than a handful of them believed that race (in humans) was a biologically valid distinction.
Additionally, I might take issue with Lieberman et al.'s question (as presented in their paper). Most people use the word "race" to designate different ends of a cline, espceially when they come back into contact (like in the Americas). And there has to be a biological basis for differences - different levels of melanin, for example, are biologically (biochemically) based. To ask if there is a biological basis for "race" could easily be interpreted as asking if there is any biological basis for the categories called "race". That is very different from asking if there is enough difference among human populations to separate them into races. I don't know the full context of the questionaire that they used, I can't speak about potential biases within it. But I have no evidence whatsoever to consider that the "mainstream view" among scientists is that which Lieberman et al. published (and, incidentally, published in a science teaching journal; you have to ask why it ended up there and not is a "real" journal). Guettarda 21:19, 27 Jan 2005 (UTC)
I agree with all of your comments including you dissatisfaction with Lieberman et. al. When I put that information into the article I tried to make clear what the limitations of the data are. Still, it is the most recent survey I know of. If you know of any published, citable source that is better or at least more recent, by all means add it. Slrubenstein 21:45, 27 Jan 2005 (UTC)
I'm not saying it shouldn't be there, I'm just saying it's not enough to hang a whole {{totallydisputed}} tag Guettarda 21:47, 27 Jan 2005 (UTC)
sorry, I didn't mean to sound defensive. I really agree with you, and know you weren't calling to delete it. But I also know it isn't ideal. I was just asking if you knew of anything more recent we could add, usefully? Slrubenstein 22:23, 27 Jan 2005 (UTC)

As of today the mainstream scientific view is that there's is no scientific way to identify biological races. Scientists may believe something else but the belief of scientists is not science. For instance if 90 % of scientists believe in God this doesn't this is not a scientific evidence of the existence of God. The current disagreeement show that there's no widely acknoledged theory of biological races. Ericd 21:55, 27 Jan 2005 (UTC)

"At PhD. granting departments, the figure for physical anthropologists was slightly higher

   * agree - 50%
   * disagree - 42%"

Even if the survey was unbiased (what I doubt). 42% isn't especially marginal. They are 42% of pseudoscience radicals in PhD. granting departments ?

Ericd 22:10, 27 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I may be misunderstanding you, but I think you miss the point. First, professors were surveyed in four different departments at a varieto of institutes of higher education. A majority agreed with the sentence, although the percentage of people who disagreed was still significant. Second, they analyzed the data for a more limited group that they took to be the elite (physical anthropologists at PhD. granting institutions). There point is not that more still aree with the sentence than disagree; their point is that the percentage in this select group that disagree is much higher than the percentage that aggregates scholars from all different departments and institutions. They aren't just contrasting people who disagree and agree; they are contrasting specialists at the top schools with a broader more open pool. Slrubenstein 22:23, 27 Jan 2005 (UTC)
My expression in English may lack some midtones. But I think this time you missed the point. This was in response to Jalnet2. Jalnet2 stated that those who disagreed (the 42%) where "pseudoscience radicals". Its OK to me that the opinion of top level scholars appears constrasting with the global sample.
Ericd 22:47, 27 Jan 2005 (UTC)

My apologies -- thanks for setting me straight. Maybe I need to pay more attention to J27's prattle. This may be the only patriotic thing I will ever say here, but the idea that 42% of the physical anthropologists at PhD. granting universities in the US are "pseudoscientists" is just so overwhelmingly absurdly arrogant and, well, pathetic. Slrubenstein 23:37, 27 Jan 2005 (UTC)

NPOV dispute - call for a vote

What is the consensus? How many agree that this article deserves the label, and how many do not? Please read Jalnet2's comments and slrubenstein's replies. (Obviously my opinion is that the tag is undeserved). Guettarda 21:24, 27 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Explanation: (from Wikipedia:Dispute resolution)

  1. First resort: talk to the other parties involved
  2. Discuss with third parties
  3. Conduct a survey
  4. Mediation
  5. Requesting an advocate
  6. Last resort: Arbitration

I'd say this issue has reached the third point, hence the poll. Guettarda 22:27, 27 Jan 2005 (UTC)

That process applies to disputes themselves, not the dispute tag. Jalnet2 23:08, 27 Jan 2005 (UTC)

This article doesn't deserve the label. Ericd 21:43, 27 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Since when can a vote be used to determine the appropriateness of a dispute tag? Jalnet2 21:49, 27 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Since when is Jalnet2 the dictator of Wikipedia? If you are the only one who challenges it's NPOV and accuracy, maybe we need to create a new warning, "Jalnet2 does not approve of this article." Slrubenstein 22:09, 27 Jan 2005 (UTC)
If that's the way you want to do things, we might as well preface the current article with a header that reads "This article represents the opinion of Slrubenstein". Jalnet2 22:12, 27 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I have tried to have a reasonable conversation about this with Jalnet2 over, and over, and over again, explaining my changes each time. He has never had a substantive response to any of my objections to his edits, or explanations for my own. All he can do when confronted with well-informed and well-reasoned explanations is to call it "rambling BS." So I am happy to see what the results of a poll are. That said, if anyone else takes real issue with the edits I made I will be glad to give my reasons, if they so request. Slrubenstein 22:35, 27 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I agree that the tag should be removed. SlimVirgin 21:53, Jan 27, 2005 (UTC)

It's ridiculous that now you want to argue over the dispute tag itself. Historically, dispute tags have been used on Wikipedia when at least one person has a serious and good faith dispute with an article and lists his or her reasons for the dispute. Considering that 84% of biologists share my opinion (Lieberman 1992), I think that my dispute is most certainly reasonable and in good faith. I refuse to be forced to further justify and argue over the dispute tag. If you want to get rid of it, edit the article into a mutually agreeable version. Jalnet2 23:08, 27 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Dude, I bet you didn't even know about this study until I posted it. Have you read it? Do you understand it's analysis? And here is the real zinger -- you are accusing an article of being biased, and you use a statement from the article itself as an example of a view that is not represented in the article? If you learned this statistic from the article, I am sure others will too which is exactly why the article is not POV. Sheesh -- how can anyone claim a point is not represented, and then tell us that he knows his point is right because the article itself says makes the point? Slrubenstein 23:42, 27 Jan 2005 (UTC)
You just made a Freudian slip when you said the article isn't NPOV. Jalnet2 00:06, 28 Jan 2005 (UTC)
You are entitled to insert the tag, although I don't think it meets the criterion of if there are more than 5 dubious statements listed for the {{disputed}} tag (Wikipedia:Accuracy dispute), let alone the {{totallydisputed}} tag you added.
Twenty years ago 73% of the animal behviourists sampled agreed with assertion that there was a biological basis for race. That is not the That is a historical datum based on a small survey conducted before a wealth of new information came from molecular methods. Ten years ago many people agreed with Wolpoff, but as the data solidified his position (which does not even necessitate an acceptance of race) became a minority one. If you want the article to say that most scientists accept that race is a valid concept, I am afraid the onus should be on you to justify that statement. It may be one that people hold in private, but I don't see it discussed in the literature. I may be mistaken, I realise that it is possible that my colleagues harbour this view and simply do not talk about it, or that I have a confirmation bias and interpret what is said in the context of my own beliefs. But those beliefs were formed on the basis of data. It's hard to hold a view that race is biologically valid unless you ignore the molecular data. That is not to say that it isn't a useful way of categorising disparate groups - like black and white Americans. But I very much doubt that the forensic scientists who can (usually) identify race from a skeleton would have an easy time if they were working in Algeria or Morocco. More to the point, if the variation within groups exceeds the variation between groups, what objective basis can you use to separate the groups?
As I explained above, I am just trying to follow the steps outlined for dispute resultion. Steps 1 and 2 are no longer relevant. So the third step is to conduct a survey. That isn't ridiculous, it's policy. Guettarda 23:47, 27 Jan 2005 (UTC)

US versus world

I've made this observation in the past, and I see Guettarda just made it again, so I think I'll bring it up for discussion. If you consider the studies of genetics/population structure and race, the findings seem to fall into a pattern: for studies of the US population, racial groups are seemingly confirmed by genetic clustering and for the global population the number of difficult to classify individuals is significant enough to cause some to argue against the biological validity of racial classification. I think it is worth nothing this difference -- prominently -- providing this doesn't count as original research. --Rikurzhen 00:18, Jan 28, 2005 (UTC)

I think there are two separate issues here. One of them has to do with whether you can identify different populations genetically. I have seen studies (can't recall where, can't provide refs) that can identify the German-French language boundary genetically, or the England-Wales boundary. There is enough genetic differentiation among populations to pick up once you select the right microsats. So it's no surprise that you can pick up differences between populations with distinctive ancestries like the "races" in the US. But that doesn't mean that there is some real biological separation in the human species.
Tang et al. were able to distinguish a Hispanic "race". I don't see anyone arguing that such an entity exists - not when it can include anything from Argentines of pure German heritage, half-Lebanese like Shakira and pure-blooded Mayans. Nonetheless, they sampled people who called themselves Hispanic and were able to distinguish them from other groups (although, if you look at their data these are Mexicans - 411 of their 412 Hispanics came from Starr County, Texas).
The paper showed that you can distinguish groups. They make the (seemingly obvious) statement: Thus, for example, Hawaiian Chinese bear much more genetic resemblance to Chinese from Stanford, CA, and from Taiwan than they do to Hawaiian Japanese..
The America vs the world idea is valid because you are not comparing populations with a history of contact. Just because you can distinguish people from different "races" doesn't mean that "race" is real. You would get the same effect if you sampled the ancestral populations along the cline that produced them. Sample Nigeria, England and China and you will find large differences, and your MDS will separate out different groups. They correspond to your definitions of race and voila, race is real. Sample every kilometre from London to Beijing and you will conclude that there is no such thing as race. You will find some sharp boundaries, but I'm guessing that the people on either side of the boundary will still be more similar to one another than they are to other people 200 km away on their own side of the boundary.
Race works in America (or France, or Japan) because the populations sampled have geographically distinct origins and (with the exception of African Americans and white Americans) have little history of interbreeding. And since an awful lot of white Americans have only been there a few generations, even that interbreeding is unlikely to show up.
For race to work you need sharp boundaries. In populations with a history of contact, these boundaries don't exist. If you can't draw a line, or even define a "hybrid zone", then what objective criteria do you have to define races? If you can draw sharp lines, as you can in America, you still can't call race "real" because you have transplanted people from their native range and thrown them all together. The fact that people thrown together can mix to the point where you can't define race any more (like many Brazilians, Trinidadians, South Africans) strengthens the point that there is no such thing as race, only clinal variation. IMHO, of course ;) Guettarda 00:57, 28 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Okay. Questions of interpretation aside (i.e. does this count as race or not). It seems like this would help the average reader greatly if they knew that answers could vary depending on whether you consider the US population or the global population. --Rikurzhen 01:49, Jan 28, 2005 (UTC)
Oh, yes, absolutely. I agree. It would be very helpful to people to understand why something that anyone can see just by looking around them is rejected by (many/most/some) scientists. Guettarda 15:12, 28 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I agree, but conditionally. It seems to me that it is not a matter of global versus US but rather global versus local; that is, in any number of places if you are limiting yourself to a relatively small (I only mean in comparison to the global population) group that has some degree of social boundaries (I think in the past five hundred years this has become at least as important as geographic boundaries), you may be able to identify discrete lineages (I still think it is another question as to whether scientists choose to call these discrete lineages "races").

I think, though, that there is one other thing that should be noted: I think the answers depend on who is asking the question and for what purpose. Evolutionary scientists argue over whether it is meaningful or useful to use the word race. But police and physicians are not evolutionary scientists. They are not seeking to understand complex patterns in the distribution of genetic differences among humans, or trying to reconstruct human evolutionary history. Cops just want some superficial and popularly widespread way to identify people, and physicians want to assess risk relative to the local population. For cops and physicians, I can see how "race" could be very useful even if it is "scientifically wrong". Slrubenstein 16:48, 28 Jan 2005 (UTC)

It's not that obvious that anyone can see I'm of French/Swiss and Italian origin, however I was often believed to be a Tunisian in Tunisia. I suppose I could be mistaken as hispanic in the USA. In Tahiti a lot of tahitians looks White while other looks more like Asian. And I have met a pseudo-tahitian that was from Algiers working as a guide. In fact a lot of non physical signs : language, clothing, behaviour have a role in people perception. Ericd 01:11, 29 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I think your case proves Rikurzhen's and my point, that "race" continues to be useful only in relatively limited ways. If Rikurzhen is right about the difference between local and global scales, it is not only not surprising, it is even predictable that when someone from one country (e.g. Switzerland or Italy) moves to another country, people in the second country will either have trouble fitting him into their schema, or just make mistakes. So I think you are just making the same point, it is local. Slrubenstein 17:50, 29 Jan 2005 (UTC)

[Race] may less utility in the U.S. as compared to its utility in, e.g., Africa or even Africa and Europe. The question is, in what percentage of cases will ideas of [race] cause us to draw false conclusions? The fact that there are no nice clinal slides from one color to another in a large American population (the city of Philadelphia, for instance) does not actually indicate that there is a small number of genetically discrete sub-populations in America that approximate traditional ideas of [race]. You would do better to find such a situation as Rikurzhen imagines if you would artificially select equal numbers of "typical" people from darkest Africa, lightest N. Europe, and farthest Far East, and dump them on an island somewhere. P0M

The sub-populations in present-day America are not nearly so discrete as in the imaginary situation I just sketched, as our article has already documented. When one sees a black-colored person in Philadelphia, the chances are actually less that the individual will match well with the genetics of the average genetic compositition of a population defined by the country of Malawi in Africa than that an equally dark person chosen somewhere near the mouth of the Nile will match the Malawi profile pretty well. The reasons are (1) hybridization, which has been going on for hundreds of years in the U.S. and is drawing us toward a new genetic equilibrium, and (2) the possibility that, although dark, the individual in Philadelphia and his ancestors are not from Africa at all. (You might find an individual from good old Sri Lanka stock in Nairobi, but your chances are better to find people from all over the world in a major U.S. port city.) P0M

Eric, as he describes himself, does not fit into the superficial scheme by which many peoples segregate themselves and others. Some might treat him as a Tunisian, some might take him to be Hispanic -- just as some take Tiger Woods to be "black" and might assign others to inappropriate [racial] groups on the basis of supposed "marker" characteristics. If anybody treats Eric according to the "profile" of one of these groups that he doesn't belong to, they misperceive who he is while they are prescribing medication, checking dangerous levels of blood pressure (what if his group tolerates a higher blood pressure very much better than the group that he is misidentified as belonging to? Or vice-versa), etc., then they are treating him in a prejudicial (pre-judgment) way. P0M

Assuming that all black-skinned individuals in Philadelphia are of African descent may have utility for public health officials concerned with mass outcomes. But if Derrick looks "black" and gets treated as though he were of African descent and therefore "has" to fit that profile, that may be very bad for Derrick. P0M

We must be very careful in formulating statements to avoid implying "all people" when we really are justified only in saying "some people" or, at most, "most people." People who look different, in the mass, may actually be different when their characteristics are averaged and a group profile is created. But some individual people who look different may be essentially the same, and some individuals who look the same may be very much different, and the likelihood of finding these unexpected surprises to our assumptions is greater in a cosmopolitan population than it is in a settled (in equilibrium) population. P0M 22:55, 29 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Dispute tag

Jalnet, as you put the tag back up, you should probably provide some evidence for your view that a majority of evolutionary scientists do not reject "the view of race according to which a number of finite lists of essential characteristics could be used to determine a like number of races," which is one of the points you object to and which you feel the intro implies. Can you therefore provide the names of evolutionary scientists who do not reject this view? Also, could you give us some idea of which academic discipline you come from yourself, so that we have an idea what your background is regarding this topic? Finally, I have a concern about this edit you made [3] where you deleted the word "pseudo-scientific" from a sentence about Hitler's views on racial purity, calling it POV. It would be helpful to explain why you did that i.e. whether you believe Hitler's views on race were based on legitimate science. I'm asking these questions because I see you've been objecting to this article's contents for months, and I'm wondering whether explaining your own position, rather than objecting to other people's, might help to resolve the dispute. SlimVirgin 04:34, Jan 28, 2005 (UTC)

I don't believe any article should support or oppose any political faction. I only want to write a neutral article that is in compliance with Wikipedia policy. As I have stated numerous times already, a neutral article lists only verified facts and devotes an amount of space explaining arguments proportional the credence each argument has among academia. This article will be disputed until it meets those basic requirements. As for proof that the majority of scientists do not reject race, see Lieberman 1992. Additionally, if you wish to insert a statement, the onus of proof is on you to prove it, not for others to disprove it. Jalnet2 01:52, 29 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Could you give a citation sufficient that someone who is not familiar with the subject can look it up? I have no idea what "Lieberman 1992" refers to. --Carnildo 02:51, 29 Jan 2005 (UTC)
See the references section of the article. Jalnet2 04:28, 30 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Jalnet, I think the burden of proof shifts to you as you're the one who wants the disputed tag. You only give one reference and don't say what it says. Can you give us a quote from it or synopsis of it that would back up your case, and do you have any references apart from this one paper? SlimVirgin 03:03, Jan 29, 2005 (UTC)
I already showed the article is not neutral by showing that it spent more words on anti-race arguments than pro-race arguments, when according to Lieberman 1992, most scientists believe race is a valid concept. According to Wikipedia:NPOV dispute, this is sufficient to warrant a dispute header. Jalnet2 04:28, 30 Jan 2005 (UTC)

First, the argument you ae referring to is not an argument, and it is not about race "pro or con." Second, word counts do not demonstrate bias. Slrubenstein 19:10, 30 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Three revert rule

Whatever the merits of the current food fight, Jalnet has reverted the page 5x in 20 hours. Isn't there some rule in Wikipedia about that? Guettarda 02:02, 29 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Yes, it's a violation of 3RR. I've just left a note on his/her Talk page. I've also made a query with an admin about whether it applies to the tag, or just content. SlimVirgin 02:07, Jan 29, 2005 (UTC)
User:Jalnet2 has reverted the article again despite warning and was blocked for 24 hours for violating the 3RR rule -- Chris 73 Talk 02:47, Jan 29, 2005 (UTC)

A question of consistency

I have been looking over the whole article, which looks very good to me so far. Personally, I do not believe it to be reflecting one POV or another, but to be describing POVs and doing so in context of the available empirical information. While I was going through everything I noticed the following paragraph: P0M

The most important element of this model for theories of race is that it allows a million years for the evolution of Homo sapiens around the world; this is more than enough time for the evolution of different races. Leiberman and Jackson (1995), however, have noted that this model makes several assumptions relevant to race: marked morphological contrasts exist between the center and edge of Middle Pleistocene Homo; many features emerge at the edge of the range before they develop at the center; these features exhibit great tenacity through time. Regional variations in these features can thus be taken as evidence of different races. (emphasis added)

Did the writer presumably intend "Homo sapiens" to be understood where just "Homo" is written, or should be expanded to "the genus Homo". If memory serves, there has been considerable discussion about the route(s) of emergence of Homo sapiens sapiens from earlier members of the genus Homo and/or the hybridization of Homo sapiens sapiens populations with other subspecies of Homo sapiens. Australopithecus was still around in the early Pleistocene, around a couple of million years ago. Homo erectus developed next, and early Homo sapiens appeared between 100,000 and 200,000 years ago. but the modern form of Homo sapiens did not emerge until around 75,000 years ago. The Pleistocene did not end until about 8,000 years ago, so "mid Pleistocene" would be around a million years ago, so are members of Homo erectus intended to be included in this discussion? P0M

Genus Homo (which began evolving around 2.3-2.4 mya) Slrubenstein 17:58, 29 Jan 2005 (UTC)

What is meant by "center and edge of Middle Pleistocene"? The center geographically? or temporally? If the writer means temporally, what is presumed to have been going on at the temporally remote "edge" of the Middle Pleistocene? If the writer means geographically, what is being assumed to be the "center"? P0M

My understanding of the article is "geographic." The center is where the mutation/adaptation presumably started (because of the earliest appearance of fossil evidence, or the highest concentration of this trait). Slrubenstein 17:58, 29 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I think the last sentence is a non sequiter. It may be true that someone takes regional variations of characteristics during the time period mentioned as evidence for different races, but the reasoning is not stated in this paragraph, so the "thus" is gratuitous. I could hazard a guess at what the writer is trying to get across but I'd rather have him/her clarify it. P0M 04:44, 29 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Well, I think this is precisely Lieberman and Jackson's point, that the Wolpoff model is circulat. Of course Wolpoff disagrees, but you'd have to ask him yourself why. Slrubenstein 17:58, 29 Jan 2005 (UTC)

A question of neutrality of point of view

Near the bottom of the article it says:

The clash between science and politics is evident in debates over human intelligence, and biomedicine.

Is the intention to assert that science always has the right take on issues and politics always has the wrong take on issues? P0M 07:55, 29 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I do not see how you get that from the sentence. I think the intention (by the way, I don't think I wrote it) is to observe that science and politics often clash. If there is any problem with this statement, it is that it doesn't say that many times politics and science do not at all clash (it would violate NPOV to say that in some cases, like Nazis, this is bad, and in other cases it is good). Slrubenstein 18:03, 29 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Biologists and Fuzzy Sets

I have recently made two minor edits to this article that in my opinion repair some of its major issues with NPOV and accuracy. If we can agree to keep and not wholesale revert these edits, I will stop disputing this article. Jalnet2 04:08, 30 Jan 2005 (UTC)

To be fair, Jalnet2's latest edits seem fine to me. Peak reverted them. I don't see why we can't resolve the conflict by including a line summarizing the Sarich & Meile POV in the intro. --Rikurzhen 07:47, Jan 30, 2005 (UTC)

I don't feel any need for this sentence. Where's the clash ? Ericd 21:49, 30 Jan 2005 (UTC)

These are the additions Jalnet2 made --Rikurzhen 22:29, Jan 30, 2005 (UTC)

However, most biologists hold that race is a valid concept among humans¹. Some scientists argue that races have the logical status of fuzzy sets and that movements to discredit human racial classifications are often motivated more by political than scientific reasons.

Well, I don't think we should mention any names in the intro; the rest of the article is rich enough with citations. As to the quote above, I have no objection to adding that some have argued that race is valid understood as a fuzzy set. The second clause of that sentence however is already in the introduction. Slrubenstein 23:26, 30 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Yup, I think the other part of his/her text could be accounted for by saying something about lack of consensus or by saying that opinions differ substantially between academic disciplines. --Rikurzhen 23:35, Jan 30, 2005 (UTC)

Since this isn't an article about any particular researcher, I don't see the need to drop names in the intro either. I've made the change I suggested above -- Does that resolve the neutrality dispute? --Rikurzhen 23:39, Jan 30, 2005 (UTC)

I have to saw, I am awfully pleased by the article now. Are you going to write a linked sub-page specifically on the "lineage" approach to race (it is the only major concept in the intro that is unlinked). Also, do we want to revisit photos depicting human phenotypic variation for the top of the article, again? I am not at all opposed to it as long as they aren't mugshots, and as long as they, well, illustrate several different clinal variations. Slrubenstein 00:42, 31 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I guess I could. I don't know what to call it. Lineage (race)? Race as lineage? Evolutionary lineage? --Rikurzhen 01:56, Jan 31, 2005 (UTC)
I decided on Lineage (evolution) which is a more general topic, and included a sub-section on race as lineage. --Rikurzhen 04:43, Feb 1, 2005 (UTC)
Also, what's wrong with clusters and extended families. Those appear to be common terms in addition to fuzzy sets. --Rikurzhen 00:42, Jan 31, 2005 (UTC)
I've re-writen that line to make it clear that those terms are essentially synonymous, rather than competing theories. --Rikurzhen 01:39, Jan 31, 2005 (UTC)

Also, I noticed that there is a very helpful Views of Creationists and mainstream scientists compared article which we could probably emulate to compare the various views covered in this article? Perhaps Major views on race compared? --Rikurzhen 01:56, Jan 31, 2005 (UTC)


I got rid of the word "merely." Atomic bombs and organized religion are social constructions; many argue heterosexuality is socially constructed -- none of these things are "mere" Slrubenstein 00:31, 31 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Right. But I was under the impression that race is called a social construction as to mean it a social construction and nothing more. For example, holidays and tenure are merely social constructs. I was under the impression that that's what they mean by calling it out. --Rikurzhen 00:34, Jan 31, 2005 (UTC)
No. See below. P0M

Okay. Logically, you could just as well say "merely biological." As in "the inherited ability to taste phenylthiocarbamide" is merely biological, as it has no social significance. But I take it you don't object to the deletion. Slrubenstein 00:39, 31 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I just want us to be as precise as possible because knowing something is a social construct doesn't tell you much, but knowing it's merely a social construct seems to tell you something. I think they mean the latter. --Rikurzhen 00:42, Jan 31, 2005 (UTC)

Something that were purely a "construct" would be a fantasy. A "construct" is another name for "a construction put on a set of facts." "If you put that construction on the evidence, Jones is surely guilty, but there is another way to interpret what the pure facts are..." Everything I know of that is called a "social construct" depends on some things that most everybody knows (the sky is blue, rocks dropped from airplanes hit the ground quicker than do people using parachutes, etc.), to which get added other ideas that may seem plausible to people because they are part of the folk lore of that society or for other reasons that blind people to the actual unproven state of the conclusions offered as fact. The kind of [race] ideas that get called social constructs are rarely if ever about "the race of purple men and women who eat sun rays and dwindle to next to nothing in the dark." Instead they are about people of a certain color (which is "real" even if fuzzy when you try to do accurate measurements and draw lines), maybe a certain characteristic of hair, etc., etc. Those are real characteristics, and I am pretty sure that somewhere in the archives of this page there is at least one statement by somebody who said something to the effect that 'e knew there were races because he could see them plain as day. P0M 06:03, 31 Jan 2005 (UTC)

three theories - on social construction

this author [4] presents three theories on race. My concern about "merely" is motivated by the desire that we get them straght if they are really positions people hold: --Rikurzhen 01:44, Jan 31, 2005 (UTC)

Among race theorists, the view that race is a social construction is widespread. While the term ‘social construction’ is sometimes intended to mean merely that race does not (as once believed) constitute a robust, biological natural kind, it often labels the stronger position that race is real, but not a biological kind. For example, Charles Mills (1998) writes that, “the task of those working on race is to put race in quotes, ‘race,’ while still insisting that nevertheless, it exists (and moves people).”(xiv, italics his). It is to “make a plausible social ontology neither essentialist, innate, nor transhistorical, but real enough for all that” (xiv). Racial constructionism, thus conceived, is a metaphysical position that contrasts both with the traditional view race is an important biological kind (racial naturalism) and with the more recent claim that race does not exist (racial skepticism).

Okay, I see where you are getting this. Alas, the paper you are relying on isn't very good. In describing the position "races do not exist," the author slips from the descriptive (races do not exist) immediately to the pescriptive (races should not be real). Why? My guess is that he couldn't find a single source for the claim "races do not exist. Why? Because this author has invented this position. First, "races do not exist" is not a social-constructivist claim at all, since social construcion is a way of talking about things that do exist. Second, all claims (that I know of) that races aren't real mean "in the biological taxanomic essentialist" sense. They do not mean "in the social political or economic sense." Personally, this guy seems like a mediocre philosopher. Social construction is definitely not a metaphysical claim. Slrubenstein 15:12, 31 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Hmm. The current sentence reads "They further maintain that race is best understood as a social construct." Do they mean that "racial concepts are social constructs", "racial differences are a social construct", both, or something else? --Rikurzhen 18:21, Jan 31, 2005 (UTC)

I'd say both. The very concept race (at least, what most laypeople mean when they say "race") is socially constructed. But so are racial differences. Most people identify the "race" of others based on certain phenotypic traits. In the process they exclude many phenotypic traits. The two case studies in the article illustrate how this process of including/excluding the traits that make different races different, are socially constructed. Slrubenstein 18:44, 31 Jan 2005 (UTC)

I'm in the process of reading the Mallon paper. It is indeed not very well written, and ordinarily I would have give up on it very early on because it is so difficult to see what the author is doing. For instance, he leaves crucial words out of sentences in a way that make them meaningless until the reader patches them somehow. But he is trying to do something fairly interesting, and I think he is at least thrashing out some issues for himself. He is trying to examine a position that other people have put forth, that between the naive acceptance of [race] as "something that is really out there," and the flat denial that [race] might be anything other than another kind of bogey man, there is another position that says that [race] is "really" neither of the above, but something that is quasi-real ("real enough"). It doesn't help that he is dealing with other people whose thinking is fuzzy but not warm. ("[Their attempt] is to 'make a plausible social ontology neither essentialist, innate, nor transhistorical, but real enough for all that.'” Get that: "real enough"!)Partway down in the article he finally says something that may be clear enough to be either right or wrong:

But what, exactly, does it mean for race to be socially constructed? In recent years, a variety of philosophers including Robert Gooding-Williams (1998), Mills, Adrian Piper (1992), Michael Root (2000), and Iris Marion Young (1989) have turned their attention to this metaphysical question.[3] In what follows, I argue that despite the progress these accounts represent, they nonetheless fail to arrive at an adequate constructionist account of race.

More later, if... P0M 08:43, 1 Feb 2005 (UTC)

A ways down in his article he says something else:

Alternatively, we could say that races did not exist in the past, but now they do as some sort of social construction.

I think that is like saying that the Mugwump Group did not exist until somebody created the rules for assigning people to the group called "mugwumps". Now we know whom to put in the mugwump category, and so having done so with X number of individuals, then when an independent observer examines the same population we examined he will find that the category "mugwump" actually contains X members. He concludes that the Mugwump Group is real.... Balderdash. What he determines is that the Mugwump Group is not an empty set. (We could easily make an empty set by listing the same characteristics as those created for the mugwumps and then add one more requirement, e.g., that the oxygen-carrying component of their blood should be a copper compound, not an iron compound. Vulcans aside, we should find no members of that set. Do we say that the "Mugwump Plus Group" does not exist? It's a question of language, and a question of how to use language correctly and productively.)

Short answer: Sets do not exist nor do they not exist. Set definitions exist, but sets either are empty or have at least one member. P0M 09:51, 1 Feb 2005 (UTC)


Obvious Jalnet2 refuses compromise. After perhaps a week or two of arguing over the introduction, we reached a version that includes most of the material he considered most important (the introduction includes the "fuzzy set" view, and the claim that those who reject race are doing so for political and not scientific purposes). Nevertheless, he keeps inserting more arguments for race.

Jalnet2, the introduction is not the place for any arguments. It is the place to set out as simply as possible the various views that will be discussed in the body of the article. Moreover, this is not "Crossfire;" it is a caracature of science to think that scientists sit around saying "you are wrong" "no you are wrong." If you have information from a credible scientific source presenting important data or analysis, there is surely a place within the body of the article in which you can add that material. The article already represents diverse views; what we need now is to flesh out each view with the most current science possible. Help us -- or go away. But don't keep wasting our time because as long as you try to use the introductory paragraphs as a place to argue, I will revert you. Slrubenstein 17:10, 1 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Disruptive self-identity research result

A Stanford University Medical Center study, by far the largest of its kind, has come to the disruptive conclusion that "people's self-identified race/ethnicity is a nearly perfect indicator of their genetic background". SUMC studied "3,636 people who all identified themselves as either white, African-American, East Asian or Hispanic. Of these, only five individuals had DNA that matched an ethnic group different than the box they checked at the beginning of the study. That's an error rate of 0.14 percent." This is particularly suprising since "African-American" and especially "Hispanic" groups are widely considered to be exemplars of the irrelevance of genes to ethnic self-identity.

This obviously challenges beliefs cherished by some of the more active Wikipedians but it is a strong and disruptive academic result that must be somehow incorporated as more than a mere footnote. Jim Bowery 17:15, 1 Feb 2005 (UTC)

I certainly agree. I believe that this material is clearly appropriate for the section on "Race in Biomedicine." Would you put a summary into that section, please? Slrubenstein 17:22, 1 Feb 2005 (UTC)
The problem is deeper than just the distinction between biomedical and other areas of research since the claim that there is no objective natural basis for self-identification is not limited to biomedical opponents of the use of self-identity. Indeed, this proposition informs most of the social sciences. The fact that the research was conducted under biomedical auspices is incidental. It could have been conducted under the auspices of social or political science departments. Jim Bowery 17:32, 1 Feb 2005 (UTC)
You are just wrong, here. First of all, it seems that the study was constructed precisely to inform medical practice in the US, which is exactly what the biomedical section is. Second, please tell me where in this article it states that "there is no objective natural basis for self-identification?" Indeed, I doubt you could find any social science article or book that claims, and defends the claim, that there is no objective natural basis for self-identification. You seriously misunderstand the social construction view (or you are deliberately misrepresenting it to make it easier to criticize). Third, all social constructionists I know of accept the populationist/clinal view of genetic variation as described in this article, and I do not see anything in this press release that suggests that the study contradicts that view. Finally, the construction of this study makes it very clear that its findings are relevant only to the US, not to humankind globally distributed. I would bet that if they tried to reproduce the exact same study (I mean, the methods) in the Dominican Republic, or Brazil, they would come up with very different results.
From the section The rejection of race and the rise of "population" and "cline": In the face of this rejection of race by evolutionary scientists, many social scientists have replaced the word race with the word "ethnicity" to refer to self-identifying groups based on beliefs in shared religion, nationality, or race. Moreover, they understood these shared beliefs to mean that religion, nationality, and race itself are social constructs and have no objective basis in the supernatural or natural realm (Gordon 1964).
This might be spun to say something other than what it most clearly does but the fact of the matter is most college students who graduate with degrees in sociology, anthropology and political science are required to adopt the view presented by the paraphrase of (Gordon 1964).Jim Bowery 21:20, 1 Feb 2005 (UTC)
I have to ammend what I wrote -- I see your link is to a press release, which is not a very good source. Don't you have a copy of the study? If it is online, please provide the link. The press release doesn't go into enough detail. Slrubenstein 17:24, 1 Feb 2005 (UTC)

I added this to the "arguments for races as lineages" section a couple days ago. Here is what I wrote: --Rikurzhen 18:02, Feb 1, 2005 (UTC)

Nevertheless, recent research indicates that self-described race is a near-perfect indicator of an individual's genetic profile. Using 326 genetic markers, Tang et al. (2005) identified 4 genetic clusters among 3,636 individuals sampled from 15 locations in the United States, and were able to correctly assign individuals to groups that correspond with their self-described race (white, African American, East Asian, or Hispanic) for all but 5 individuals (an error rate of 0.14%). They conclude that ancient ancestry, which correlates tightly with self-described race, and not current residence, is the major determinant of genetic structure in the US population.

§ At the top of this section it mentions the "disruptive conclusion that "people's self-identified race/ethnicity is a nearly perfect indicator of their genetic background". Why is this considered "disruptive"? What this finding shows is that the vast majority of people know where their ancestors came from. Actually, most of them appear to be doing better than I, because I am not sure even of the surnames of all of my great-grandparents. But, in general, people do care. If [race] is a matter of heredity (which appears to be the view espoused by the article, then all that is proven is that not many people have incorrect (or "tidied up") information about their family background. P0M 18:17, 1 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Actually this is a matter of misleading press releases. This is the Tang et al. study. And their study did not find that Of these, only five individuals had DNA that matched an ethnic group different than the box they checked at the beginning of the study - only 5 individuals were not placed into the "correct" ethnic group by an MDS analysis of microsat's. All it says is that people who identify themselves as belonging to a certain race share more common ancestry than people who belong to different races, and had incredibly profound statements like: Thus, for example, Hawaiian Chinese bear much more genetic resemblance to Chinese from Stanford, CA, and from Taiwan than they do to Hawaiian Japanese. Guettarda 18:47, 1 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Your attitudes are classic. Let's take for example a situation in which the application of racial distinctions in medicine was resulting in large numbers of deaths because it just didn't work but there were lots of academic researchers in evolutionary biology whose jobs and funding depended on adhering to a racist government. Lets say further some guy like Lewontin or Gould came along and provided evidence that things were a lot closer to a Hardy Weinberg equilibrium than the state-funded evolutionary biologists claimed. Would this not be "disruptive"? Well, yes and no. From a scientific standpoint it would be but from the standpoint of the powers that be all they'd need to say is something like "All Lewontin and Gould are saying is that there has been some interbreeding between races which of course we all acknowledge." They could then delete the results by Lewontin and Gould as "redundant" or "insignificant" and proceed to separate any discussion of the concept of "race" from the increasing difficulties the medical profession was having with killing huge numbers of people they were supposed to be saving. After all -- we all know that what is relevant is the opinion of authorized specialists rather than nitty gritty details, like people dying, resulting from the application of their theories. You guys may well be committing just such an attrocity. Jim Bowery 20:28, 5 Feb 2005 (UTC)

You completely miss the point. First, if you want to save lives you should understand the biological processes underlying disease or risk for disease. If "race" falsely creates boundaries where, genetically, there are none, or lump together genetically heterogenous populations, race will only get in the way of saving lives. Second, if in some countries there is enough isomorphism between self-identified ethnicity and the genetic population so that people can use the word ract to no harm, then yes, of course doctors will use "race" But simple honesty dictates that they understand that their use of race is justified for specific purposes and in a specific country and that their racial categories may not apply elsewhere. These points are made clearly in the article, which explains that the validity and use of "race" is different at the global level from the local level, and that scientists and practicioners/technicians, like police and physicians, will use "race" differently for different purposes. Slrubenstein 21:24, 5 Feb 2005 (UTC)
I understand the point quite well and that's the problem. Perhaps I should not have gone out of my way to state the problem from your perspective since you seem unable to draw the analogy. Let me clarify. Harry Harpending, NAS population geneticist has admitted that many of the "genome jocks" are behaving quite unscientifically in the mode of advocacy when it comes to "race denial" due to pressure from their funding sources. Harpending isn't alone but he is among a rare few who are willing to stick their heads up and speak the truth in an environment where their funding could be curtailed if not cut off entirely due to current political fashion. It should be unsurprising that this sort of political slant on government funded population genetics would emerge with the particular outcome of WW II with all the issues at stake. Stanford U Medical School are now having to admit that cherished beliefs (that racial self-identity are mere atavisms) are highly questonable. By looking at the biomedical data in conjuction with the sociological research, there is reason to believe we may be witnessing the mirror imag of what might have occurred under a post WW II world in which Nazi ideology held sway over funding scientific research. The point here is that insulating the article about 'race' from the practical results of of that debate by relegating those practical results to another article (biomedical race), or even isolating them to a section of the current article, is a way of denying the consequences of the political millieu within which academic research is funded. That is something being done to the field of human knowledge by this article as it presently stands.Jim Bowery 23:26, 5 Feb 2005 (UTC)

I must admit I have no idea what you are trying to say, then. Are you critical of the way physicians rely on racial categories? That is the implication of this sentence:

They could then delete the results by Lewontin and Gould as "redundant" or "insignificant" and proceed to separate any discussion of the concept of "race" from the increasing difficulties the medical profession was having with killing huge numbers of people they were supposed to be saving.

Or are you critical of work by Lewenton and Gould that challenges conventional understandings of race? That is the implication ot this sentence:

After all -- we all know that what is relevant is the opinion of authorized specialists rather than nitty gritty details, like people dying, resulting from the application of their theories.

Perhaps you are trying to make a more subtle point, but it is not being expressed clearly. This sentence,

By looking at the biomedical data in conjuction with the sociological research, there is reason to believe we may be witnessing the mirror imag of what might have occurred under a post WW II world in which Nazi ideology held sway over funding scientific research.

Is utterly unclear. Are you using "mirror image" to mean "likeness?" Is the "mirror image" a situation in which racist ideologies are dictating medical practice in the US? What are these ideologies, and what is your evidenct? Or, are you using the "mirror image" to mean "the opposite" (which is how it is most commonly used in the US). Well, what is the "mirror image?" Do you mean the opposite which is "political ideologies having no sway over funding scientific research?" Or do you mean "Left-wing ideologies having sway over funding scientific research?"

I ask you these questions in order to be constructive. I am sure that you want to make an important point, but when you move from one observation to some vague generalization to claims that people are dying, it is not at all clear what you think is responsibel for so many people dying. Als, what is your evidence? Slrubenstein 02:43, 6 Feb 2005 (UTC)

I think I read Jim Bowery's comments a little differently than slrubenstein did, so forgive me if I misread you. It seems to me that you have not understood, or not read, Tang et al. If you can't get a copy give me an email address and I will send you one. That paper cannot be taken as evidence in support of the statement Stanford U Medical School are now having to admit that cherished beliefs (that racial self-identity are mere atavisms) are highly questonable.' The paper demonstrated, quite effectively, that people who identify as belonging to a certain race share more common ancentry with other people who identify as being of that race than they do with other people in the same locality who identify themselves as being of different races. This is different from what you would find in places like Italy, where Cavalli-Sforza found that people were most similar genetically to other people in the same village.
The assertion that there is some great conspiracy by the government to suppress evidence in support of "race" strikes me as a little far fetched. Sure, I am not in that field, so I don't know the politics of it. But there is more non-government funding in the biomedical sciences than anywhere else - and there would be a big payoff if someone could demonstrate that everyone else was toe-ing this line for NIH funding. Bit too conspiracy theory for me. The press release that you linked to was misleading, intentionally, I suspect. If there is any evidence of an attempt to promote a position which contradicts the evidence it is in that press release.
As for Your attitudes are classic and You guys may well be committing just such an attrocity - those are rather offensive personal attacks. As they say, once you bring comparisons to Naziism into a debate you are no longer interested in debating.
You have also said After all -- we all know that what is relevant is the opinion of authorized specialists rather than nitty gritty details, like people dying, resulting from the application of their theories. That is simply not true. The data are out there, free for anyone to peruse. My opinion on the non-existence of race comes from data, not expert opinion. I started off believing that race was a valid idea. When I learned that there was just too little genetic variability in human populations, I still resisted the idea that I should disbelieve in what I could see. I remember listening to Wolpoff argue very convincingly for multi-regional evolution. I remember Templeton pointing out the flaws in Stoneking et al's work. They made very convincing arguments, certainly they knew a lot more about the topic than I did...but with time they were proven wrong by the data. Given how short the time back to common female and male ancestors, given the low level of genetic variation in the species as a whole, what good cause is there to argue for race?
It gets even better if I consider the tools available to me as a community ecologist. I am unaware of any study which has shown divergence into races among humans, as opposed to clinal variation. Picking the most divergent populations and using multi-dimensional scaling is not scientifically, statistically or logically valid. If you can't separate people through any objective means, how can you justify the distinction?
Sure, there is evidence the different "races" in immigrant societies like the US differ. Nonetheless, some of the oldest "racial differences" are fatally flawed. Sickle cell anaemia was often used as an example, a marker for African ancestry. What it is, of course, is a marker for malaria - sickle cell exists through the Middle East, Mediterranean and into India. Worked in the US because coincidentally the "whites" had (for the most part) come from non-malarial areas while the "blacks" for the most part had...and there were few enough "others" to justify the separation. Where I come from diabetes is very much an Indian problem - not true in India, but either through founder effects or environmental effects, it's a huge issue.
Using race for biomedicine can actually be very misleading, even in the US. Certain generalisations about "Asians" don't hold for Indians. If you use the standard blood test for prostate cancer, almost every Jamaican has the disease. If you teach doctors "race" and they treated an Afro-Jamaican like an African-American, you would probably end up with a worse prognosis than if you did not use "race", but taught doctors the real differences. Or better yet, figured out what the drivers of these things are. I saw a great diet book the other day - "Eat Right for your Blood Type" or something such. Told people with a certain blood group that they should eat a diet high in dairy. yep, so lactose intolerance does not exist in people with that blood group? Yeah, sure. Using any blunt instrument like this is likely to cause a whole set of additional problems. If you teach people that race is a valid generalisation you are going to cause a whole set of new problems. Not saying that race and biomedicine isn't an important aspect of research, but it only works if implicit in the work is an understanding that race is a fiction. Without it, you are likely to create new problems. I list myself as "Asian"...I am half German and half Indian. The system still asks people for a single race. My niece is German-Corsican-Carib-Indian-African-Spanish (and the cutest, smartest baby in the world). People like this will be more common in the future. Even if there were such a thing as race, it's something of the past, not of the future. Guettarda 03:45, 6 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Settle down everyone. I'll suggest again that this sort of misunderstanding needs to be addressed by some sort of Q&A subsection or subarticle that describe different POVs in practical detail about the current debate about race. If I have another block of free time, I'll try to start one if no one else does. Reading what you (all) have written charitably, there is a great deal of truth in all of it.

Jim is right that there is a great deal of political motivation behind the commentary about race that comes some researchers, especially the genome sequencing folks. It's good political cover to claim that race doesn't exist so that you can be left alone to study the genetics of racial differences. Such claims can be made with a straight face by tricks of semantics. For an example, check out Keita et al. (2004) Conceptualizing human variation Nat Genet 36, S17-20 [5]. They start by defining biological races as subspecies and then go on to show that human "races" (popularly understood) are not subspecies. Eventually, they conclude by discussing how you go about studying "racial" differences in biomedicine.

If I'm reading Jim's comments correctly, I think he is arguing that the historical structure of this article gives undo credence to out-dated research on race. I am sensitive to this position, although I think the encyclopedia should include both the history of the debate and it's current condition.
I didn't see anything wrong with the Tang et al press release or the paper. Their conclusions about "Hispanics" are pretty clearly limited to "Mexicans" which admixture analyses suggest are mostly Native American in ancestry. That's the primary criticism I can see with the paper. --Rikurzhen 07:33, Feb 6, 2005 (UTC)

Rikurzhen, I think you are misconstruing the Keita article. Their use of language is entirely consistent with a major view held by evolutionary scientists, which is that there is no reason to use a politically dangerous word like race, when what you are talking about is "populations." This view is represented in the article, by the way. I do not think the "population" view is outdated or politically disingenuous. It may be true that in the United States the boundaries of a population largely coincide with the boundaries of a racial group, because of social segregation (i.e. the customary antipathy to miscegenation in American culture). But the fact remains that what they aare looking at are populations.

I do think there is another issue that has to be raised here. There is no doubt that many evolutionary scientists avoid the word "race" for political reasons. But I do not think any of them see politics as a sufficient reason not to use the word; it is a factor only because there are other, scientifically acceptable, alternatives. Moreover, what they mean by "politics" is not what you mean by politics, I think. I think you are using politics in a Mchiavellian way, meaning manipulating social relations in order to get what you want. What they mean by politics is closer to "ethics." What they mean is that scientific research has political effects, and among these political effects have been genocide and discrimination. Good scientific research is research that is cognizant of its broader effects and takes appropriate responsibility for them. I see nothing at all wrong with this, as long as it is combined with a committment to the "truth" (meaning, really, a committment to scientific methods and their results). Slrubenstein 15:15, 6 Feb 2005 (UTC)

AH. I believe that you believe this, and I can believe that the authors may genuinely believe this POV as well. I'm not really trying to debate the legitimacy of their POV, as much as I'm trying to make it clear that a substantial fraction of scientists disagree with them for good reasons. The alternative view, to which I subscribe, is that:
  • the no-race scientists are permitting the goal of race denial to affect their scientific judgments, and thus they have tarnished their scholarship and the truth
  • that the substitution of populations for races is both incorrect and damaging; that it will reduce the explanatory power and efficiency of scientific research and ultimately cause medical harm to people; that these are the most salient ethical points, and that they have the virtue of being true
Also, I think your global mindset, although laudable, is not appropriate in the case of commentary by genome scientists. They truly are writing for and about the US populations. Admixture is South American may be salient to the question of race globally, but what they really want to argue is that scientists should stop talking about race in the US. And it seems highly unlikely that they do this merely for a desire to help others, because the plausible end result will be the protection of their public image and their funding plus the reduction in quality of medicine for minorities. Unfortunately, as people in positions of influence, they are difficult to ignore and will no doubt have an effect on how research is preformed, also their insistence on defining race our of existence leaves us without a needed and proper discussion on what to actually do about race in research. --Rikurzhen 18:53, Feb 6, 2005 (UTC)
The NY Times gave the Nature Genetics issue and the genome science debate some coverage; check this archive of the NYT article [6]. --Rikurzhen 07:10, Feb 7, 2005 (UTC)

Okay, I certainly believe your view should be represented in the article. I am sure you are equally committed to representing the view I have described in the article as well, yes? As to my invokation of the global/local distinction, I intended to invoke, and believed I was invoking, a distinction you had introduced to the article.

I cannot comment on those studying the genome who use the data to argue against race. But we both know that if the article includes an account of those who are critical of this argument, we also have to explain why the genome scientists two whom you refer believe they are doing good science. In any event, the point of my invocation of the global local distinction is that one can reasonably understand why researchers and physicians think they have good reason to use racial caegories in the United States while at the same time understanding why scientists reject the concept of race when talking about human evolution and world-wide human variation. Slrubenstein 17:34, 7 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Sure, and the main constructive point I was trying to make is that the existence and seriousness of this debate is somewhat obscured in the current article; such that anyone that comes to this article looking for information on the debate will be disappointed. --Rikurzhen 21:48, Feb 7, 2005 (UTC)

Well, I see no problem in adding a few more sentences, as long as they comply with our NPOV policy. But this article -- which I really do think exemplifies what Wikipedia can do -- is already too long. What would you think of a new article that focuses specifically on the debate concerning the US. Genome project and race, linked of course to this article and the one on genome? Slrubenstein 21:53, 7 Feb 2005 (UTC)

I think that particular topic could be accommodated in the race in biomedicine article, which I've tried to beef up in details. But I also think that this topic is sufficiently controversial and complex to warrant some kind of issue breakdown comparison article like the ones that were created for intelligent design, to describe the details of how the various POVs differ and how they are similar. That could be linked prominently at the top of the page or as a side box of related articles. My suggestion for the title is Major views on race compared. --Rikurzhen 05:47, Feb 8, 2005 (UTC)


First of all, even if you were right about Rushton and Jensen, that is just two people. Instead of changing "Evolutionary scientists" to "Some evolutionary scientists," you should change it to "Virtually all evolutionary scientists." Second, Rushton are not evolutionary scientists. They were not trained as evolutionary scientists, nor have they ever done any original research in evolutionary science. They are psychologists. Their claims about race are widely rejected by actual scientists, but even their work on race does not make claims about evolution. Finally, I wouldn't be much surprised, but I seriously doubt that they hold the view you claim for them, which would make them creationists. Slrubenstein 20:14, 1 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Would the word "most" suffice? Or "the great majority of"? --Dante Alighieri | Talk 20:39, Feb 1, 2005 (UTC)
He's just broken the 3RR rule as you can see on the history page. I was blocked for a 3RR violation on this page, so it's only fair that he is blocked too. Jalnet2 20:42, 1 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Please don't spam this everywhere, Jalnet2. You posted it on the Admin noticeboard and it was taken care of promptly. You've both violated the 3RR today so you've both been blocked for 12 hours. --Dante Alighieri | Talk 20:54, Feb 1, 2005 (UTC)

The term "essential" is unfortunate, as it brings up the almost impossible to decipher debate surrounding the problem of universals -- the Wikipedia page on which does not even begin to scratch the contemporary debate. However, I think a charitable reading of the essentiatlist definition is something that most educated people would reject in favor of one of the newer definitions -- at least I would. I don't know if Jensen or Rushton have been quoted on their personal understanding on race, but I see no contradiction between rejecting the essentialist definition and yet being a "realist" about race -- or race "naturalism". On that point, I'll suggest again that this topic is so complex and confusing that we might want to develop an explanatory FAQ of some kind to answer specific questions on how the various POVs differ. --Rikurzhen 21:44, Feb 1, 2005 (UTC)

In fact, Jensen's 1998 g Factor, chapter 12, begins with a discussion of race:

  • "not as discrete, or Platonic, cateogries"
  • "breeding populations"
  • "differ statistically in the relative frequencies of many polymorphic genes"
  • "genetic distance ... continuous variable that can be measured in terms of difference in gene frequencies"

So he seems to describe parts of all of the biological theories we list in the article, but singles out the essentialst definition for discredit. --Rikurzhen 01:36, Feb 2, 2005 (UTC)

So, the claim that people have rejected the essentialist view stands. By the way, I do think that what ever reservations we have about the article on essentialism, we have to mention the essentialist view -- it really was the view of race widely held before Darwin, and widely held by many laypeople today. Slrubenstein 16:09, 2 Feb 2005 (UTC)