Races - from a _scientific_ point of view 
Author Message
 Races - from a _scientific_ point of view
Firstly: I'm not in the least interested in vitriolic discussions about
superiority/inferiority diverse races/skin colors.

But I do have a _serious_ question that I believe belongs in this newsgroup.
I'd like to know more about the genealogy of the human races - or maybe
the right term is 'taxonomy'. I'd prefer it to be a little more advanced
than 'negroes are black, chinese are yellow, injuns are red'.

Thanks for any help.



Fri, 31 Jul 1998 03:00:00 GMT
 Races - from a _scientific_ point of view

|> Firstly: I'm not in the least interested in vitriolic discussions about
|> superiority/inferiority diverse races/skin colors.

Agreed. superiority and inferiority are subjective, contextual
judgements which have no place in a discussion of the scientific,
factual basis of race.

|> But I do have a _serious_ question that I believe belongs in this newsgroup.
|> I'd like to know more about the genealogy of the human races - or maybe
|> the right term is 'taxonomy'. I'd prefer it to be a little more advanced
|> than 'negroes are black, chinese are yellow, injuns are red'.

A taxonomy of human races would be a very useful tool for
understanding our evolutionary history, and someday we should have
that sorted-out. At this point, however, all we can do is make some
educated guesses.

The thread on "patrilineality, paternity, and male parental
investment" has recently touched-on a very interesting and
little-known aspect of racial differentiation: the role of *culture*
in the formation of race. This could potentially be one of the best
arguments in favor of the position that race is largely superficial.
If racial distinctions are caused more by local endogamy mandated by
kinship rules, rather than adaptation, then the visual distinctions
between races would be expected to have less _functional_ correlation.
From a gene's-eye view, the benefit of such differentiation lies
purely in the creation of visual distinction, rather than in some kind
of physiological/cognitive adaptation. For those who are
philosophically committed to the position that race is entirely
superficial, this may be an attractive viewpoint.

Of course, it must still be understood that race is genetically
determined, the result of breeding isolation. Human subspecies
("races") are entirely analogous to those seen in other animal
species. We can argue about the magnitude of the differences between
races, but those who pretend that race exists only as a social
construct or political tool are missing a major component of the
phenomenon, the formative component at that.

Here is one useful datum which relates to your original question (this
is from mcevedy, _atlas of african history_, and repeats my discussion
of race in the *last* brouhaha, about a year ago): there are generally
though tto be 5 main african races, the bushmen, pygmies, negroes,
nilo-saharan, and abbysinian. It is a common error to view all
sub-saharan africans as negroes, when they are just one component of
the diverse man-scape of africa. If the rest of the human population
were classified to a similar level of differentiation, how many total
races would we have? I'm not sure. 10? 25? 100? It's a judgement call.
Many isolated populations which never numbered more than a few
thousand could plausibly be counted as a race in themselves, though
that taxonomic dilemma is fading as they are assimilated or destroyed.

--
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Disclaimer claims dat de claims claimed in dis are de claims of meself,
me, and me alone, so sue us god. I won't tell Bill & Dave if you won't.



Mon, 03 Aug 1998 03:00:00 GMT
 Races - from a _scientific_ point of view
Quote:


> |> ...
> |> But I do have a _serious_ question that I believe belongs in this newsgroup.
> |> I'd like to know more about the genealogy of the human races - or maybe
> |> the right term is 'taxonomy'. I'd prefer it to be a little more advanced
> |> than 'negroes are black, chinese are yellow, injuns are red'.

> A taxonomy of human races would be a very useful tool for
> understanding our evolutionary history, and someday we should have
> that sorted-out. At this point, however, all we can do is make some
> educated guesses.
> ...The taxonomy you want is mirrored closely by the taxonomy of human

languages.  There have been several very good "general reader" level
articles published on this subject in Scientific American.  The
cladogram of human kinship which, basically, seems to be what you're
looking for, constructed from mitochondrial DNA and the linguistic
cladogram are in incredibly good agreement.

--

-----------------------------
"We can disagree without being disagreeable."
(Sis. Mickey Eaton, a southern Pentecostal)



Sun, 09 Aug 1998 03:00:00 GMT
 Races - from a _scientific_ point of view

|> > A taxonomy of human races would be a very useful tool for
|> > understanding our evolutionary history, and someday we should have
|> > that sorted-out. At this point, however, all we can do is make some
|> > educated guesses.

Quote:
> ...The taxonomy you want is mirrored closely by the taxonomy of human

|> languages.  There have been several very good "general reader" level
|> articles published on this subject in Scientific American.  The
|> cladogram of human kinship which, basically, seems to be what you're
|> looking for, constructed from mitochondrial DNA and the linguistic
|> cladogram are in incredibly good agreement.

It certainly stands to reason that linguistic and genetic cladograms
*should* be in agreement, but there are some obvious exceptions. The
african pygmies have all adopted bantu languages, as have the
"negrito" races of asia, with the sole exception of the andamanese.
The andamans were so geographically isolated that there was no contact
with other peoples.

Analogous processes have occurred throughout the recent history of
cultural homogenozation. Consider china, where hude numbers of
distinct cultures were subsumed under chinese hegemony; to what extent
were the indigenous people absorbed, versus being extirminated? We
don't really know. The linguistic map gives some clues, but a
quantitative genetic analysis will be required before that question
will be answered.
--
-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
Disclaimer claims dat de claims claimed in dis are de claims of meself,
me, and me alone, so sue us god. I won't tell Bill & Dave if you won't.



Tue, 11 Aug 1998 03:00:00 GMT
 
 [ 4 post ] 

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