True and yet not true

As we harvest ever more human genomes one fact remains unshakeable: race does not exist

True in one definition. There’s different populations, with slightly different preponderances of different genes and that’s about it.

Barely a week goes by without some dispiriting tale of racism seeping into the public consciousness:

But in this modern world race as above and racism aren’t the same thing at all. At one end of the spectrum of what today defines as “racism” is the simple identification into ingroup and outgroup, which is a mark of pretty much all societies, not just human ones. At the other end we’ve got Galton’s nonsense.

At least part of the explanation for why racism exists is because we define to to exist, and given that that definition no longer relies upon genes and genes alone then obviously pointing out that the genetic explanation carries no water isn’t going to change the perception of that other form of “racism”.

41 thoughts on “True and yet not true”

  1. bloke (not) in spain

    “We now know that the way we talk about race has no scientific validity. There is no genetic basis that corresponds with any particular group of people, no essentialist DNA for black people or white people or anyone.”

    How’d you get black people & white people & white people then?

    “Sickle-cell anaemia affects people of all skin colours because it has evolved where malaria is common. ”
    But anyone who’s been involved with SCA knows there’s about a dozen different SCA’s. SCA Association used to produce an informative information pack. African populations don’t have the same SCA as Mediterranean populations. And I seem to recall there’s two Med ones. it seems to be an individual adaptation to malaria.

    So there are DNA differences between races.
    Seems to depend on how fine you want to set the filter whether or not these constitute “race”. You set the filter coarse enough, you could probably abolish species altogether..Let alone race.

  2. So Much for Subtlety

    It is not remotely true. Racial differences exist and are real. To the point that in the US a speck of blood is enough for the scientists to provide a likely sketch.

    “Darwin was not a racist.”

    He probably was, actually. Saint Darwin has become an icon for people who pretty entirely reject his scientific views and so therefore he can’t be a racist. But he said some interesting things.

    “He wrote that the Chinese were a race of geniuses, that “Negroes” were vastly inferior, that “Hindoos” were inferior in “strength and business habits” and that the “Arab is little more than an eater up of other men’s produce; he is a destroyer”.”

    So basically he observed the real world and was prepared to be both honest about it and say nice things about non-White people. That doesn’t make him a horror. Or even a racist. I mean he was, but thinking the Chinese are smart doesn’t make you a racist unless you think there is a racial cause.

    “Galton is a problem figure, simultaneously a great scientist and a horror.”

    Someone has a very low threshold for horror. What precisely makes his views horrific? Someone needs a fainting couch.

    “Even today, important figures from its history – notably James Watson, co-discoverer of the double helix – express unsupportable racist views.”

    So …. anyone going to ask why such a prominent scientist should believe what he believes?

    “A dreadful book published last year by former New York Times science writer Nicholas Wade espoused views about racial differences seemingly backed by genetics.”

    So we get it, he is not politically correct – even though he wrote for the New York Times. So everything he says, boo! Sucks!! But I notice no one actually explains what he said that was wrong.

    “As with Watson, the reaction from geneticists was uniformly dismissive, that he had failed to understand the field, and misrepresented their work.”

    Notice this is not a refutation. It is ignoring what he said.

    “We now know that the way we talk about race has no scientific validity. There is no genetic basis that corresponds with any particular group of people, no essentialist DNA for black people or white people or anyone.”

    This is simply not true. This is Lewontin’s Fallacy wrote large. Lewontin looked at a very small number of sites for comparison. In fact anyone who looks at more than 17 will notice racial differences. Again – to the point you can identify the race of a drop of blood.

    “Tibetans are genetically adapted to high altitude, rendering Chinese residents of Beijing more similar to Europeans than their superficially similar neighbours.”

    Ummm, no. Tibetans are genetically distinct – nice to completely reject the argument there are not genetically distinct populations. Which is odd because they have not been in Tibet for all that long. But that doesn’t mean that the people of Beijing are closer to Europeans. Obviously.

    “Tay-Sachs disease, once thought to be a “Jewish disease”, is as common in French Canadians and Cajuns. And so it goes on.”

    French Canadians and especially Cajuns are small deeply inbred populations. With some degree of Jewish mixture. Why is it a surprise that they should get a genetic disease? The fact is that Tay-Sachs is vastly more common in Ashkenazi Jews and Cajuns than anyone else:

    Ashkenazi Jews have a high incidence of Tay–Sachs and other lipid storage diseases. In the United States, about 1 in 27 to 1 in 30 Ashkenazi Jews are a recessive carrier. The disease incidence is about 1 in every 3,500 newborn among Ashkenazi Jews.[31] French Canadians and the Cajun community of Louisiana have an occurrence similar to the Ashkenazi Jews. Irish Americans have a 1 in 50 chance of being a carrier.[citation needed] In the general population, the incidence of carriers as heterozygotes is about 1 in 300.[3] The incidence is approximately 1 in 320,000 newborns in the general population in United States

    Notice no figure is given for Cajuns.

    “We are too horny and mobile to have stuck to our own kind for very long.”

    And yet the major racial groups were separated by large geographical barriers that clearly prevented any significant population movement before the modern period. Blacks simply did not cross the Sahara in large numbers until the Muslim slave trade.

    “Race doesn’t exist”

    And yet it does.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/24/science/building-face-and-a-case-on-dna.html

    Pious wishful thinking is not going to change that either.

  3. So Much for Subtlety

    At one end of the spectrum of what today defines as “racism” is the simple identification into ingroup and outgroup, which is a mark of pretty much all societies, not just human ones. At the other end we’ve got Galton’s nonsense.

    What did Galton say that was nonsense? The identification of an in-group and an out-group is only racist if White people do it. It is part of the attempt to shame White people out of existence. We are supposed to accept unlimited immigration because Racism. It is fine if Africans want an Africa for Africans. It is fine if racial consciousness is growing in Ecuador. It is only wrong if White people do it.

    “that definition no longer relies upon genes and genes alone then obviously pointing out that the genetic explanation carries no water isn’t going to change the perception of that other form of “racism”.”

    Except that definition does reflect a genetic difference. There is no point saying the historic White population is not genetically distinct from the historic Black population when any competent scientist will tell you they are.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_Genetic_Diversity:_Lewontin%27s_Fallacy

    We simply should not be endorsing any part of the Marxist war on Western society. Lewontin was not motivated by science so much as his politics.

  4. It’s true that there is currently no discernible genetic difference, on average, between Chelsea supporters and the rest of the english population.

    But given assortative mating we would expect some differences to turn up in due course.

  5. To administer medicine to the dead, population genetics ain’t the same as the genetics of the individual. You could, given enough time, breed white people out of black people. Anyone who disagrees needs to explain the existence of white people. The difference between “races” is only ever one of degree – of frequencies of alleles at actually rather few loci.

    Watson’s comments are wrong because of irrelevance, not because the observation is incorrect. Phenotypic differences between populations are a consequence of the environmental pressures on those populations, extent of reproductive isolation from other populations, and how small that population got when. But you have no “white gene”, no “black gene” and so on. The genetic diversity to produce pretty much any phenotype is there in any population you care to look at, and if it isn’t it’s never more than one half-caste away. Focusing on observations that support a simplistic stereotype (black people are all thick thugs with big dicks) doesn’t help much, especially as we are getting towards Tim’s correctly observed boundary between a “scientific” race and race in the popular imagination. So, even if one population really does have a higher proportion of thick thugs with big dicks than some other population, it doesn’t mean that there are none in the other population, or non-thick non-thugs with small dicks in the first.

    What’s expressed today that differentiates one population from another is nothing more than the species required to survive in the environment of a few thousand years ago.

  6. So Much for Subtlety

    Bloke in Germany – “The difference between “races” is only ever one of degree – of frequencies of alleles at actually rather few loci.”

    Well if we are in agreement that the difference exists, we are in agreement. The question is whether the difference is significant. That it exists is beyond argument.

    “Watson’s comments are wrong because of irrelevance, not because the observation is incorrect.”

    He is reported in the Independent to have said:

    Dr Watson told The Sunday Times that he was “inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa” because “all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours – whereas all the testing says not really”. He said there was a natural desire that all human beings should be equal but “people who have to deal with black employees find this not true”.

    His views are also reflected in a book published next week, in which he writes: “There is no firm reason to anticipate that the intellectual capacities of peoples geographically separated in their evolution should prove to have evolved identically. Our wanting to reserve equal powers of reason as some universal heritage of humanity will not be enough to make it so.”

    Exactly how any of that could be called irrelevant escapes me. Development in Africa is a big deal. It is an issue. And yet IQ testing consistently turns up a problem. Watson pointed this out. I tend to think it is cultural. I guess Watson thinks it is genetic. It is a big deal if it is genetic. Every single policy needs to be re-thought if it turns out that there are significant genetic differences between the races.

    “Focusing on observations that support a simplistic stereotype (black people are all thick thugs with big dicks) doesn’t help much”

    Well, I cannot help your interest in thugs with big dicks. Still, each to their own. But if the simplistic stereotype is true and Blacks are consistently more violent and less intelligent than Whites, that is kind of a big frickin’ deal. Does not help in what sense?

    “So, even if one population really does have a higher proportion of thick thugs with big dicks than some other population, it doesn’t mean that there are none in the other population, or non-thick non-thugs with small dicks in the first.”

    No it doesn’t. But we might want to re-think our immigration policies anyway.

    “What’s expressed today that differentiates one population from another is nothing more than the species required to survive in the environment of a few thousand years ago.”

    Indeed. We are all stuck with the genetic legacy of the past. We should not be bullied out of asking what that legacy is or how it is distributed.

    Also that genetic legacy may still be important. See African immigrants who have children with rickets.

  7. Race can be accurately determined by identifying AIMs ie segments of DNA known as Ancestral Informative Markers, a constellation of alleles present in different proportions in different populations in addition to where sections of genetic code are repeated, the number of repeats is characteristic of people coming from a particular part of the world. This is most distinctive at a continental level. In medical studies SNPs are used(single nucleotide polymorphism), these can distinguish French from Italians, northern Han Chinese from southern.
    Denying the biology of race is a political obstacle to research.
    See Nicholas Wade “A Troublesome Inheritance”

  8. African immigrants who have children with rickets.”

    Well they’ve only got themselves to blame as health visitors are trained to train and trained to spot this risk.

    On variation of IQ.

    The peak of the IQ bell curve is a little bit higher in females. Average female IQ is (at a guess / from memory) 101, compared to males at 99. Also there are more average females, another way of saying that male IQ has a fat tail distribution.

    Now it’s fairly common in statistics to cut off the outliers. (Faults in the testing, record keeping, whatever.) If this is done for African IQ (I’ve no idea) you may find that you’ve ignored an even fatter tailed distribution than Caucasian males. It would be a pity to label Africans as thick when in fact there might be more of them at genius level than white males. And it’s geniuses we need to ensure continued progress of the human race.

  9. “But if the simplistic stereotype is true and Blacks are consistently more violent and less intelligent than Whites, that is kind of a big frickin’ deal.”

    You see what you did there? You deploy population data against individuals, which is what those who want to discriminate on racial grounds always do. “The mean for the out group is different from my group on Scale X, the incidence of Y in the out group is greater than in my group. Therefore I win! Fuck Yeah!”

    It would actually be more pertinent to say that 90% of murders are committed by men (source: US Department of Justice), therefore we should stop men immigrating. The correlation is much stronger, and both murder and sex are very easy to measure (both being dichotomous), whereas both intelligence and race are pretty hard to measure.

    So you, being one of the group most prone to commit murder, should be discriminated against. It’s only fair.

  10. The spirit of Lysenko is alive and well.

    As we harvest ever more human genomes one fact remains unshakeable: race does not exist

    Must be a crazy coincidence that white people tend to have white children, black people tend to have black children, and the French tend to be cunts.

    In other news, as we harvest ever more global temperature data showing that the world hasn’t warmed in two decades, one fact remains unshakeable: global warming is real, you guys!

  11. “You see what you did there? You deploy population data against individuals, which is what those who want to discriminate on racial grounds always do. “The mean for the out group is different from my group on Scale X, the incidence of Y in the out group is greater than in my group. Therefore I win! Fuck Yeah!”

    But this is how government policy works. Governments don’t legislate for individuals, they legislate across society. (e.g. the tax system) So if for example, a small proportion of Muslims are cunts, unless you can exactly weed them out, you stop Muslim immigration.

    And why is pointing out the IQ differences between whites and blacks so controversial when looking at the NBA, NFL or the world swimming championships certainly highlight other non-equal distributions of characteristics?

  12. “There’s different populations, with slightly different preponderances of different genes and that’s about it.” Balls, oh Timothy. It’s the correlations among the differences that’s the big deal. Only if they were all uncorrelated could anyone honestly support the “no such thing as race” doctrine.

    P.S. Of course Darwin was racist. Everyone is racist.

  13. Some people seem to think that because different races belong to the same species, race does not exist. That is like saying a greyhound is the same as a Pekingese.

  14. I always find the race argument strangely religious. Either humans can be selectively bred to accentuate certain characteristics just like any other creature or they are made in God’s image and are exempt.

  15. Is it because somebody here either can’t read or, being kind, just can’t write?
    An ugly individual is quoted in a newspaper article and then one comment on this post implies the quotes are Darwin’s.
    That level of reasonimg might be fit for purpose on ‘Meet the Ukippers’ but should embarrass us on this blog.

  16. Re the original point, viz: As we harvest ever more human genomes one fact remains unshakeable: race does not exist.
    Bollocks – my genome harvesters say I’m 99.9% European (71.9% British and Irish, 5.5% German and French, 3.7% Scandinavian, 16.7% Broadly Northern European, 1.1% Southern European, and 1% Broadly European).

  17. JeremyT – Bollocks – my genome harvesters say I’m 99.9% European (71.9% British and Irish, 5.5% German and French, 3.7% Scandinavian, 16.7% Broadly Northern European, 1.1% Southern European, and 1% Broadly European).

    Yar, but if you’re a scientist working in human genetics, you’d better say race doesn’t exist, or you’ll be run out of town faster than a global warming “denier”.

    From the article:

    There is no genetic basis that corresponds with any particular group of people, no essentialist DNA for black people or white people or anyone. This is not a hippy ideal, it’s a fact.

    Utter shite. Obviously there is a genetic basis for race, or babies would be born with skin colour and other physical features at random. Two pale, freckled redheads would have a good chance of conceiving a Chinese child. Eskimo children would be playing in the streets of Mombasa.

    The only quasi-logical way to claim “race doesn’t exist” is to first define “race” in a way that no sensible, literate, adult human being actually defines it, and then bravely set about demolishing that straw man:

    There are genetic characteristics that associate with certain populations, but none of these is exclusive, nor correspond uniquely with any one group that might fit a racial epithet.

    To my knowledge nobody in the modern era who isn’t an ignorant loon actually claims that there is a unique “black guy” gene or an “Englishman” gene, but there you go. He sure showed that straw man!

    Extending his quasi logic: red shades into orange, and green shades into yellow, therefore colour doesn’t exist and it’s all a social construct invented by bigoted artists and the Big Paint lobby!

    We share about 60% of our DNA with fruit flies, and 50% of our DNA with bananas, therefore biological taxonomy is a hateful lie and we should give drosophila the vote, or something!

    Of course race is real, that’s why racism exists. It wasn’t invented out of boredom.

  18. Is there anything anybody has written or read on this post that could help them in any way at all in forming a judgement on or interacting at all with any single individual on the planet?

  19. If there is no race then by the same token there is no beauty.
    Yet any yokel can tell either with a glance. And this has a very practical ;purpose.

  20. So Much for Subtlety

    Bloke in Germany – “You see what you did there? You deploy population data against individuals, which is what those who want to discriminate on racial grounds always do. “The mean for the out group is different from my group on Scale X, the incidence of Y in the out group is greater than in my group. Therefore I win! Fuck Yeah!””

    Do you see what you did there? You don’t like discrimination against individuals and so you endorsed Lysenkoism. Notice I did not deploy any data against any individual. I did not even make some inferences about population groups as a whole. No individuals were harmed in the making of these posts. You just don’t like the potential consequences (and as usual with the Left, think that Whites cannot be trusted with the truth and so they have to be lied to or they will lynch people or something). So you want to prohibit the discussion. Well, we will get consequences anyway.

    “It would actually be more pertinent to say that 90% of murders are committed by men (source: US Department of Justice), therefore we should stop men immigrating.”

    It would certainly be sensible for the police to focus on men in murder cases. Obviously. Discrimination against men is one of these things that we are all fairly happy about – especially if they are White. That is why there are so few male primary school teachers. Is that wrong? Do you seriously think we need quotas for primary schools?

    “So you, being one of the group most prone to commit murder, should be discriminated against. It’s only fair.”

    I am. Every day of my life. So frickin’ what? Even if I objected to being discriminated against, which I do in a mild way, that would not justify lying about the statistics.

    Neither race or intelligence is hard to measure. People like you just don’t like the implications of either and so try to ban it, and when that does not work, you obfuscate. IQ tests are excellent predictors of future success at school, university and your career. Whatever they are testing, they are testing well.

  21. So Much for Subtlety

    Ironman – “An ugly individual is quoted in a newspaper article and then one comment on this post implies the quotes are Darwin’s.”

    Sorry but you are calling Watson ugly? On what basis? Who made the comment that implied Darwin said a damn thing?

    “That level of reasonimg might be fit for purpose on ‘Meet the Ukippers’ but should embarrass us on this blog.”

    Feel free to raise the level of the debate. Any time you like.

    Ironman – “Is there anything anybody has written or read on this post that could help them in any way at all in forming a judgement on or interacting at all with any single individual on the planet?”

    So we have to stop discussing race because Ironman thinks it might make a child cry? Yes, as it happens, there probably is. Now we all know discrimination against Gingers is not fair.

  22. So Much for Subtlety

    Matthew L – “In this thread: Total ignorance and “but what about sportsmen”. If you want to know why sporting prowess is totally irrelevant to this discussion”

    You know, I can’t seem to find anyone talking about sporting prowess except you. Odd that isn’t it? That article is, as usual, crap:

    If race were more than just a social construct, the genetics of race should show differences strongly associated with the definitions of race.

    Would it? Why is it impossible for a real biological difference to exist and yet have a mild influence? By the way, in various ways the genetics of race do show strong differences.

    Historically race has been described as overlapping with ethnicity and whatever is convenient to differentiate between us and the various categories of them.

    Black Americans and White Americans, to all intents and purposes, belong to the same cultural group. So it depends on what they mean by “overlapping”. Race only became important when people started moving out of the areas where they had lived for a long time and the basic differences became so apparent we needed words to express the difference.

    “Research does show that, with enough genetic information (i.e. more than 1000 genetic loci), it is possible to quite accurately identify the geographic origin of a sampled person, but only when the chosen regions are quite distinct”

    So basically race exists. But we don’t like it. So boo yah to you all coz you be racists.

    What is interesting is that last year Barack Obama’s holiday reading list included a book which openly discussed racial differences in sporting performance. Which proves the rule – race is fine when it makes White people look bad, it is not acceptable when it makes White people look good or non-White look bad.

  23. So Much for Subtlety

    bloke in france – “It would be a pity to label Africans as thick when in fact there might be more of them at genius level than white males. And it’s geniuses we need to ensure continued progress of the human race.”

    It would be. But it is odd that so few of them have turned up. Maybe it is the education system’s fault. Racist teachers or something. I mean, sure, we have tried every possible type of education known to mankind. We have tried Afrocentric education. Early intervention. More Black role models. Entirely Black hierarchies in the US – systems that have mainly Black teachers answering to entirely Black principals who answer to entirely Black administrators who answer to mainly Black city councils with Black mayors tend to do not only worse but spectacularly worse than systems run by Whites in places like Texas. If there is a way to teach Black children, it has been tried. Early intervention has some small benefit until, roughly, puberty hits. Nothing else works.

    Which is why Jamaica can shed the shackles of White racism and still struggle with basic literacy. If we are overlooking Black geniuses, they are hiding fairly effectively.

    In the meantime I note, again, the success of the Gramscian march through the institutions. Racists might be unpleasant people with unpleasant habits, but they are not the enemy. Lewontin and his fellow Marxists are. I also note that the response here from the CiF tendency has not been to argue the science. It has been to say that it is not politically convenient, that we shouldn’t talk about it, that it hurts people’s feelings. I take it that is pretty good evidence the science is indisputable. Yet again the Left’s Flat Earth tendency rejects the science they do not like.

  24. So somebody really can’t write, and can’t follow the thread of his own comment. Less is more maybe? Especially for.a Thick.Racist.Prick

  25. So Much for Subtlety

    Ironman – “So somebody really can’t write, and can’t follow the thread of his own comment. Less is more maybe? Especially for.a Thick.Racist.Prick”

    So it is my fault you are unable to tell which quote referred to Darwin and which referred to Galton?

    Interesting.

  26. Ironman invokes the rule: he who is losing the argument resorts to personal abuse.

    One of the issues is how well do we truly understand the genome ? A bare 5 years or so ago to have even suggested that some form of inheritance of acquired characteristics was possible (broadly speaking, Lysenkoism) would have got one drummed out almost every research institute around. Now it’s a hot research area along with the epigenome generally. Huge swathes of DNA consigned to “junk” status…..ah, no, it looks like a good deal of it does have function in varying ways.

    The short summary, we’re still so ignorant of the total genomic mechanism that pronunciations from on high like “race doesn’t exist” are both profoundly unscientific AND stupid. Pronouncers just don’t know what they think they do, this is a purely political argument not really a scientific one at all.

    It is also worth recalling, the same research that *suggests* that black IQs are genetic and lower than “white” IQs also suggests that “yellow” IQs are the same distance above “white”. It maybe cultural, I would be very surprised if at least some wasn’t cultural, but there may be something genetic. Feel any better now Ironman, being “white” ain’t top dog so can we all plan the yellows now ?

  27. “You know, I can’t seem to find anyone talking about sporting prowess except you.”

    Are you illiterate? Look at the comment directly above mine.

  28. So I ask again: what prectical difference will any of this make? When interacting with individuals what difference does this make to you?

    P.S. You think Thick.Racist.Prick is personal abuse? D’ya think? It’s also true.

  29. I always find it amusing when scientists do this. They start with a concept that everyone understands and that has existed for millenia. Then they apply a brand new scientific definition to it. Then they discover a total lack of evidence for their new definition that they’ve come up with. Then they conclude from that lack of evidence that the original concept is a fiction.

    All you’ve done here is get your definition wrong, you twonks.

    It’s particularly funny because, after centuries of history’s cleverest people working hard at the problem, no-one has managed to satisfactorily define a “person”. The philosopher’s conclusion is that we need to keep working at the definition. The scientist’s is apparently that people don’t exist.

  30. So nobody can say what the significance is? A lot of words have been spilt proving that there are different races. Now, why will nobody say what the point if all that was? What use is it to us in our lives to know that some people are of a different race?

  31. > What use is it to us in our lives to know that some people are of a different race?

    It’s sod-all use to me. Ironically, it is extremely useful to the people who claim race doesn’t exist.

  32. No. But by dint if the sheer weight of time and effort it must be valuable information to someone here.

  33. No not really. SE of the comments have been extremely long, very vigorously argued. And some people have very heated with each other. And yet nobody seems able to say why it matters to them in the slightest to know or to have proven that people are of a different race. And certainly nobody seems prepared to say if they believe it makes any difference when dealing with individuals of a different race.
    Let me be direct; is this cowardice? Do people not wish to say what they think directly?

  34. I see using the pseudonym ‘Room with a View’ has absolutely done the trick for.me. My genuine apologies to Squander Two, but the silence from certain others has been wonderfully deafening.

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