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To be wildly politically incorrect about race


An animal charity has claimed police subjected a cat to “psychological trauma” after it was seized on suspicion of being an endangered species.

The kitten, which was given the name Finlay, was suspected of being a Scottish wildcat when it was taken from an address in Conwy, North Wales.

The result?

Investigators assessed its features and found it may have a low proportion of wildcat genes but not enough to consider it a Scottish wildcat.


four-and-a-half months

The British state acting with its usual efficiency there.

However. Most of the small cats can interbreed – or at least can with the domestic cat. The bobcat can, the Iberian lynx can, there are cross breeds of most of the jungle cats and so on. With the big cats tigers can breed with lions and so on. Within tigers the Siberian can breed with the Bengal and so on. The further away from each other the starting points are the less likely fertility in the offspring is but that’s just how it works.

But there’s a very loud insistence that these are all indeed different species. We must also work v hard to make sure that they remain so, do not cross breed and so wipe out the uniqueness.

When we turn to human of course yes, we can all cross breed. Well, we’ve got to start by getting the XX and XY part right which modern society seems to have some trouble with. But Polynesians and N Europeans are not any less mutually fertile than Swedes themselves.

We’ve also got a very loud insistence that there’s no such thing as race in humans. A bit of genetic variation, yes, but nothing important.

But – to the casual eye at least – the variance between Khoi San and Swede looks at least as large as between Bengal and Siberian tiger. And yet we’ve this loud insistence that the one must be pure bred only (or one pair rather) while to even assume that there’s some significant genetic difference between the other two is to be cast out of polite society.

One answer to this could be that the Sib and the Ben truly are much further apart than any two groups of humans are. That would entirely solve the dichotomy. The other is that some significant proportion of humans are hypocrites on the issue.

Do note that this isn’t about whether we should breed tigers true or not, nor humans or distinguish between humans in any other way. It ends up as a question. Are we, in this, treating similar differences in very different ways. If so, why?

20 thoughts on “To be wildly politically incorrect about race”

  1. Interndreed. Is that something that interns at the ASI are expected to do? Or maybe they ross breed.

  2. I remember a TV program in which the biologist Steve Jones said that there’s more genetic differences between two snails of one species of Pyrenean snail found in two adjacent valleys than there is between the most superficially divergent humans (I think he used Swedes and Australian Aborigines as examples). So yes, most animals are vastly more diverse genetically than humans.

    The only exception I know are cheetahs, which are believed to have gone through a couple of severe population bottlenecks. Apparently their genetic diversity is so low they will accept skin grafts from completely unrelated cheetahs without rejection, even though they reject grafts from other cats.

  3. Ah… The fun question …. Now to figure out how to give an answer that’s scientifically sound and not 20-odd pages..

  4. skin grafts from completely unrelated cheetahs without rejection, even though they reject grafts from other cats.

    Leopards changing their spots.

  5. We’ve also got a very loud insistence that there’s no such thing as race in humans. A bit of genetic variation, yes, but nothing important.

    Naturally all the, very limited, genetic variation that does exist is below the neck…

  6. Theophrastus 2066

    Arthur the Cat
    I wouldn’t trust a leftist like Steve Jones on such matters.

    If something can’t be summarised in a few English sentences, it’s probably meaningless.

  7. Arthur the cat — could be talking about Ring distribution species…. a phenomenon where ostensibly 2 different species and phenotypes can’t interbreed and they’re geographically separate, but the near neighbor only slightly different can…the further the go the incremental differences add up..until you get to the full opposite — happens with herring gulls and black backed gulls with the whole of the hemisphere. Also a salamander in USA (in a single valley)
    – been dipping into Richard Dawkins audio books.

  8. “there’s no such thing as race in humans”: given the diversity of meanings of “race” in English (and presumably many other languages) that statement is necessarily poppycock.

    What I think it means is ‘I declare there is only one permissible meaning of “race” and I have carefully selected it so that I can say that there is no such thing as race in humans’. With the implicit message ‘Do as you are bloody well told.’

    The widest meaning of “race” I know is the human race. Thereafter I’ve met, for instance, European/white (with its antique and entertaining US variant Caucasian), then, say, Northern or Western European, then German; then Bavarian, then …

    I once read about recruits to the Met Police in the 19th century: many, apparently came from the East Highlands. I saw a remark to the effect that people of that “race” were taller, more intelligent (and better educated) than the population they were policing.

    In Florence once I noticed that the locals were policed by obviously different people – darker and squatter – who presumably came from the Sicily and the South. They were conspicuously draped with ammunition. I suppose that’s a good idea if you are policing people bigger and brighter than you are.

  9. “The kitten, which was given the name Finlay, was suspected of being a Scottish wildcat”

    Our cat is called Dolezal. She terrorises all the other cats, barks, and chases sticks.

  10. Scottish wildcats are a scam for the Jocks. I saw one at an animal park, and I’m fairly sure they just put a domestic kitty into a cage with a sign saying “beware of the leopard”. It’s like when North Korea had a Yorkie on display in their zoo.

  11. “There’s no such thing as race in humans” if you’re a strict cladist, the same people who state that “there’s no such thing as a fish” because the word ‘fish’ in normal use includes bony fish and non-bony (rays and sharks), and the earliest common ancestor of land animals and bony fish came later than the earliest common ancestor of ‘fish’. So if you insist on ‘fish’ being a single genetic grouping, it must include all land animals as well, as I’m more closely related to a cod than the cod is to a dogfish.

    All very interesting if you’re a geneticist, like Steve Jones, but irrelevant if you’re searching for something to serve with chips. Similarly, you can’t make a simple genetic distinction between Caucasian and Mongoloid races, but that doesn’t mean the terms aren’t useful in the real world.

  12. “With the big cats tigers can breed with lions”

    Producing either Tigons or Ligers depending on who the dad was.

    Bloody huge Ligers. Something about growth hormones.

  13. “Scottish wildcats are a scam for the Jocks.”

    They are generally a bit bigger and stockier than domestic cats. And not at all friendly. But that’s exactly what you’d expect from domestic animals gone feral in a grim, unforgiving wilderness. Getting all misty-eyed about them is a bit like boasting about the rats in your basement.

  14. Theophrastus (2066)

    Race is real. By comparing the frequency of different alleles at an individual locus, we can classify individuals into different racial groups with an accuracy that approaches 100% when we take into account the frequency of the alleles at several loci at the same time.

  15. Sara Vara
    Funny that. Our dog is called Markle. She stays out all night, occasionally purrs before scratching your balls.

  16. Human beings are all the same species for reasons of political correctness.
    Take a look at the diagram on here.
    If scientists were being objective, they classify some humans as a different species, or at least a different sub-species.

  17. our host asks a Question…

    the depressing question is….

    I could publish,but would anyone listen?

    and I’m talking about Darwin Finches. and why, and no-one ever listens to even the most famous of…
    But it stopped being about actuual science centuries ago, innit?

  18. Let me add to the Madness…..

    Darwin never asked the finches,
    Nowadays…. after deliberation…..

    Oh wait… I cannot possibly know anything… because “Interested” has not published a ……relevant…. Youtube video , or…

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