Human evolution News

Does “race” exist?

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From Steve Novella at Neurologica:

The scientific question of whether or not race exists is, in my opinion, not completely objectively answerable. It depends. Is Pluto a planet or dwarf planet? Astronomers can reasonably disagree about where to draw the line. More.

If only people would just shut up after that, a lot of social problems would dissipate.

I have never heard a good argument for the view that there has ever been more than one human race. I’ve seen plenty of damage done by the opposite view.

See also: What we know about human evolution.

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4 Replies to “Does “race” exist?

  1. 1
    Robert Byers says:

    AHA. Evolutiondom does have a problem with race. Its not good enough to say there is one race of humans. Humans are clearly biologically different in great segregated groups.
    So there must of been mechanisms/influence that acted on these segregated populations in the past.
    That is what we see and is clear. A settled fact surely.
    Since its confined in segregated reproductive populations then why not use the word race? In fact race originally meant any population that was reproductively isolated regardless of how much, even perfect, they looked like neighbours.

    The answer is that its true that segregated populations only reproducing amongst themselves did biologically change relative to the parent population.
    Yet these traits are not a trail back to the parent group. Unrelated groups would equally change with like results.
    Like creatures in the arctic all become white though bunnies, bears, seals, fixes etc.
    As the bible implies not all black people are the same original group. There was hamitic and semitic blacks. Likewise european whites were segregated before moving to europe. Then all of them became white.
    Race is wrong if its describing populations based on reproduction heritage. its right if it means reproductive segregated populations.
    So race is a wrong concept because it always means reproductive lineage.

  2. 2
    mahuna says:

    Aw, come on. For any number of cultural and historic reasons, it is useful to differentiate what Asiatics did before the arrival of steamships and telegraphs from what American Indians did.

    Even the most basic DNA analyses identify the race of living (or dead), and if we exile “race” as a word used in adult conversation then we must IMMEDIATELY invent a substitute that uses different letters to MEAN the same thing.

    There are, for example, several different Races of Sub-Saharan Africans. Where exactly should we classify the Pygmies or the Bushmen? They’re certainly not Bantus, and they would undoubtedly be insulted if you insisted they are (as would the Bantus). In the same way Finns are distinguishable from the late-arriving Indo-Europeans, and for many sociological studies of language and culture it is important to make such distinctions. Quite literally, you cannot discuss human history (right through the 19th century) without discussing how the advance or decline of different Races made History. The fact that the Chinese and Japanese are more racist than any Europeans is generally ignored in the stampede to condemn European racism. I don’t think ANYONE except self-conscious Europeans is anxious to eliminate distinctions by Race.

    Most of humanity has been separated from the races that remained in Africa for 75,000 years or so, and this is immediately apparent in the DNA of Asiatics, Australians, Polynesians, Amerindians, Eskimos, Indo-Europeans, and native Europeans (also called “Atlanteans”, dwellers of the coast of the Atlantic). To insist that there is no difference when there are OBVIOUS differences is yet another idiotic sacrifice to Political Correctness. I don’t think that the Hutu considered the Tutsi they massacred in Rwanda to to be the same race as themselves. Race is a part of human identity. Deal with it.

  3. 3
    Mung says:

    Race must exist else humans could not have evolved and cannot evolve.

  4. 4
    PaintedTurtle says:

    “Preservation of Favoured Races” was a phrase that was part of the title of Darwin’s book as it was originally published. Today, even claimed reprints of the first edition often “forget” this part of the title. Or perhaps only include it on the inside title page and not the cover.

    But if races don’t exist, then Darwin’s theory has a problem…..

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