Science Starts To Prove That Human Races Really Are A Thing

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It’s terrible outre to go around insisting that there is any basis to the idea of races within the human population. Various insistences blend into each other to make it most unfashionable to even think that race might exist as a useful concept. Except, of course, when complaining about who is being oppressed.

One is that variation within the so called races is larger than that between the differentiated populations so it’s not all that useful a concept. Which is true, even if not all that useful – female variation in height is larger than the average difference between male and female height yet we can still meaningfully refer to average differences in male and female height.

Another is rather more true and useful. Leave the religion part out of this but we’re all God’s little creatures and so are entirely equal in moral value and so should be treated the same. Indeed we are and should.

The sciencey bit tries to tell us that as we’re all the same species there just isn’t this thing called race. There’s not even any specific dividing line we can refer to, any differences are a smear across whatever line anyone tries to draw. Again, true, even if not entirely useful – we can still make a stab at determining ancestral background through blood types and varied other genetic accomplishments. Sickle cell anaemia really is linked, very strongly, to West African ancestry for example. So much so that it can be used in the US as evidence of how much mixing there was between the populations despite whatever colour bar there had been historically.

Now along comes science to show us that this concept of race does in fact have some meaning in human populations:

“In the west Africans we looked at, all have ancestry from this unknown archaic population,” said Sriram Sankararaman, a computational biologist who led the research at the University of California in Los Angeles.

Unlike today, the world was once home to many related species or subspecies of human. And when they stumbled upon one another, mating was not out of the question. As a result, modern Europeans carry a smattering of Neanderthal genes, while indigenous Australians, Polynesians and Melanesians carry genes from Denisovans, another group of archaic humans.

These archaic populations. They’re not different species, the proof is in the very claim of interbreeding. They’re not simply clan or tribe, the differences being claimed are larger than that. Sure, it’s polite to say subspecies these days but race is only another word for that.

None of which makes any difference to that truth of equal moral value and the right to equal treatment. But it is fun to see how often science does come up and bop fashionable social nostrums on the nose, isn’t it?

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Boganboy
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Boganboy

So we didn’t fight the neanderthals, we fucked them instead. Does sound a more sensible approach.

Phoenix44
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Phoenix44

You suspect that we did what stone age groups always did/do – kill the males, abduct the females.

Phoenix44
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Phoenix44

Interbreeding is not a hard and fast rule for the definition of a species. The usual definition is that the offspring of such breeding is infertile, as with donkeys and horses. However, even that is not a hard and fast rule, and not all offspring are infertile in such breedings. Neanderthals were a separate species as they had a number of genes that are not present in modern humans. Of interest is that no Neanderthal Y chromosome has ever been found in modern humans, which suggests that male offspring of cross-breeding may have not been viable or were infertile.

jgh
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jgh

Species definition is one of those negative non-complementary ones. If two samples can’t interbreed then they are different species. Full stop. There is no implication or inference that if they can interbreed they are the same species. They are just two different individuals that can interbreed. They may be the same species, they may be different species that can interbreed, they may be something in between.

Barks
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Barks

Dance around it all you like, Tim. You have the IQ to know why science (particularly in the US) has been studiously uninterested in racial differences.

Snarkus
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Snarkus

Tim, perhaps, but “race” has become a loaded word, thus less clear in what it means, depending on the biases of the hearer. Since all human tribes/variations can and do interbreed with fertile offspring, humans are one species by usual definition. As for article saying there are differences, perhaps that defines tribes. A superfamily of common descent, inbred enough to have a distinct genetic imprint.