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Unread April 9th, 2005, 05:20 PM
Fred H. Fred H. is offline
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 483
Default Re: differences

No, I don't see any evidence yet that these two perspectives [correlated genetic variation versus unique genetic markers] are meaningfully different.
Then reread the Leroi NYT article.

why are they [genetic group differences] so important to you?
To me? Todd, is that a trick question? On your second reading of the Leroi article, perhaps you’ll comprehend better why such things may be “important” to Leroi, me, and/or anyone else that has an interest in science/reality/truth . . . as opposed to misguided Anthropology 101 PC.

And no Todd, there are no “liberal political conspiracies,” just arrogant and irrational old white guys suffering from angst and illusions of “slippery slopes,” convinced that they know what’s best.

Call me silly, but some of us just believe that objective knowledge is more “important,” and more useful, than PC based ideology.

Last edited by Fred H.; April 10th, 2005 at 10:12 AM.
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Unread April 12th, 2005, 01:19 AM
ToddStark ToddStark is offline
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 174
Post Two arguments ...

Personally, I would wonder about the usefulness of objectivity if it always seemed to be on my side as it seems to be on yours.

Ok, back to business. Here's what I see as the two basic arguments. Neither of them denies the reality of biological group differences, though they differ on its significance. I'll offer sources providing the evidence for my argument, and I'd appreciate the same from someone who so clearly appreciates the value of reasoning objectively from evidence.

Argument A: Different ancestry makes people different, so groups that share ancestry differ in permanent, pervasive, and important ways relevant to social and political judgments as well as medical treatment. Therefore we care about race because of real and important group differences that are due to shared ancestry. We may also care about other kinds of group differences, but race is particularly important because it divides us so fundamentally on a biological level.

Argument B: People evolved in social groups where the symbolic marking of group boundaries were important. People tend to think of human groups in essentialist ways, as if they were different species, even though this view is universally considered inaccurate in both biology and anthropology. Racial differences can and do easily become symbolic markers of group boundaries, even if they are relatively superficial features. Because the general mechanism is symbolic; religion, nationalism, and other cultural boundaries can inspire the same responses as racial differences. Shared ancestry therefore often becomes a subset of a more general mechanism of identity by which we mark group boundaries.

I'm arguing for B, and it is possible that both arguments are sound, but I am arguing that A goes beyond the existing evidence. I suspect that the power of argument A in our thinking results from an essentialist cognitive bias in the way we think about human groups, and that the same mechanism that leads us to divide ourselves by race also divides us by nationalism and religion. I suggest that this reveals itself in two lines of evidence: (1) patterns of ethnic conflict which include but go beyond racial boundaries, and (2) laboratory experiments revealing cognitive biases in social categorization.

As a start:

The hypothesis that people respond to symbolic markers of group membership is tested experimentally by Henri Tajfel, Social identity and intergroup relations, Cambridge Press, 1982.

The hypothesis that people tend have a bias to see group differences as essentialist categories is tested by Francisco Gil-White, "Are ethnic groups biological species to the human brain? Essentialism in our cognition of some social categories." Current Anthropology, 42:515-554.

The evidence for symbolic group marking in general is reviewed by:

Glazer, Moynihan, and Schelling, (1975). Ethnicity: Theory and experience, Cambridge.


Levine and Campbell, (1972). "Ethnocentricism: Theories of conflict, ethnic attitudes, and group behavior." Wiley.
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Unread April 12th, 2005, 09:30 AM
Fred H. Fred H. is offline
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 483
Default Re: Arguments

Undoubtedly, white guys don’t do well as NBA players. However, as I myself have noted in times past, history indicates that within group mass slaughter is far more prevalent than between group mass slaughter—Europeans slaughter Europeans, Africans slaughter Africans, etc. Nevertheless, gang membership in prison (and it’d seem elsewhere) is certainly along racial lines. And then of course there’re all those unpleasant statistics regarding g factor differences….

So where does all this leave us? Well, I think the Beatles may have said it best:
As we live a life of ease,
Everyone of us has all we need,
Sky of blue and sea of green,
In our yellow submarine.
We all live in a yellow submarine,
Yellow submarine, yellow submarine,
We all live in a yellow submarine,
Yellow submarine, yellow submarine.
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Unread April 14th, 2005, 10:43 PM
ToddStark ToddStark is offline
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Posts: 174
Smile Re: Shocking: NYT—Races clearly do exist!

Thank you for the song, Fred. I was beginning to feel like Maxwell's Silver Hammer was coming down upon my head.

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Unread April 18th, 2005, 10:39 AM
James Brody James Brody is offline
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Location: Philadelphia area
Posts: 1,143
Default Re: Shocking: NYT?Races clearly do exist!

"Identifying someone's ancestry is not racism, discriminating against them on that basis is racism." TS

There's a trivial rule in PA law: mental health records cannot be used as a protection for you but not a sword against you. That is, if you're gonna admit evidence, either side can use it.

I raise the question, "what about discriminating FOR someone on the basis of pigmentation (blacks) or gonads (women in math)

Minorities already embrace differences and genetics in matters of physical health. We even conduct studies that should improve female longevity even though women routinely live 6 years longer than men and for obscure reasons that do not reduce to the idiot things that guys do to impress women (and each other).

Dean Erdel (sp?) remarked the other morning, there is no need for research on women's illnesses until we males live just as long!!!

It seems that a traditional gambit appears in these negotiations: what's mine is mine and what's yours is mine, too. Medicines and genetics are fine if they increase my opportunities but not my responsibilities. And genes and medical research MUST not erode my opportunities to bitch and beg.

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Unread April 19th, 2005, 09:49 AM
ToddStark ToddStark is offline
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 174
Thumbs up race and standards of fairness

I think your point is perfectly valid, discriminating in favor of someone on the basis of race is just as unfair as discriminating against them in principle, especially if you assume a zero-sum game.

Other than some measure of good faith, I'm not sure there's an objective answer to the question of whether groups can 'repair' the damages done to previous generations, which is the rationale usually used for tipping the balance in this way. It probably depends on whether we perceive current problems to be due to past mistreatment, an assumption that people tend to be very divided about.

One group being made slaves or being slaughtered mercilessly by another has always been part of human heritage, and the response of the group on the losing end varies widely. In some places for example, people make being perceived as victims part of their culture and sometimes have made a relatively positive motivation out of it I think, while in other places people adapted more by establishing a culture of revenge or exploitation, and may even come to see revenge and exploitation as a positive motivation in some sense (although personally I find the thought of this more than a little creepy).

We have a predisposition to seek justice for wrongs, but we also have the intelligence (at least as individuals) to realize that moralistic punishment tends to become a self-perpetuating cycle. The point of objective standards of fairness is not to eliminate or circumvent our desire for moralistic punishment and the righting of wrongs, but to constrain it to prevent it from turning into warfare or institutionalized oppression. I think that's the measure against which we should think of fairness. Not whether it is logical, but whether it is reasonable and whether it is wise, a much more difficult standard.

kind regards,

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