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JohnD
2008-Feb-29, 08:56 AM
All,
Several times on this board, people have asked for good arguments with which to confront or to answer creationists and IDers. This week's issue of New Scientist provides TEN such answers, extracted from a recent book, "Evolution: What the fossils say and why it matters" by Donald Prothero, Pub. Columbia U.press. Online preview here: http://www.newscientist.com/channel/life/mg19726451.700-evolution-what-missing-link.html

The examples include lineages from 'primitive' creatures like velvet worms that mark the division from nematodes towards arthropods, to mammals in the rather complete lineage from a common ancestor to horses, tapirs and rhinos. Of course, they will not convince someone who falls back on the argument that fossils were created to test our faith, but - you wanted arguments; here they are!

John
(No connection with author or publisher)

closetgeek
2008-Mar-01, 02:24 PM
Of course, they will not convince someone who falls back on the argument that fossils were created to test our faith

It, at least in my case, tends to start with that which is sufficient enough cause to not even bother. I just answer that I failed the test and change to topic.

novaderrik
2008-Mar-01, 06:01 PM
i wonder what the people at that museum that says the world is 6,000 years old that has the 40,000 year old mastodon skull for sale would have to say about this..

closetgeek
2008-Mar-04, 04:13 PM
i wonder what the people at that museum that says the world is 6,000 years old that has the 40,000 year old mastodon skull for sale would have to say about this..

Duh! dating objects is not really as acurate as science wants you to think :wall:

parallaxicality
2008-Mar-04, 04:46 PM
I found this interesting comment by a creationist over on Amazon; thought I'd practice on it:


These evolutionists make me laugh believing their myth of rocks turning into man. (Where do you think the primordial soup came from?)

Evolution does not, and never did, raise the question of life's emergence. It begins after life started.


Evolution is a religion because you must have faith to believe it, there is no proof. Show me ONE missing link?

There are ten listed up above. And they're not missing. They're very much there.


Show me ONE mutation that has EVER added something new--you cannot, there are none.

People dying from variant strains of HIV would probably disagree with you there.


Sure radiation can make a fruit fly blind or have deformed wings, but it is never going to cause the little guy to get better in anyway.

Mutations seldom do much in an instant; natural selection gradually shapes those changes over time. And animals do not get "better" as they change; they become more or less suited to the environment they are currently in.


Evolutionists, do yourself a favor and stop having a blind faith in evolution, instead, try some real thinking. Let me start: The age of rocks in the geological column is based on the fossil remains found in that level, and the age of the fossils are determined by which level of the geological column they are found in...sounds like round robin reasoning to me,

This makes no sense. The age of the geological column is determined by radiometric dating. The ORDER of the geological column is often determined by the fossils.


oh and, the only place you can find a geological column is in a text book.... it occurs nowhere in the real world. Can you believe that there has never been a dig that has found each layer (Pre-Cambrian to Cenozoic) in order, in fact there has never been a dig that has been close to finding the layers in the evolutionary order of simpler creatures to more complex.

That's because plate tectonics constantly shifts and warps the Earth's crust so that the various locations appear out of order. Also different parts of the Earth's surface age at different rates. Some remain desert for longer than others, some remain jungle for a short period and then shift to desert.


Pepper moths never changed, there were always lighter and darker ones and there still are.

This shows a fundamental misunderstanding of what evolution is and how it works. Pepper moths always had the black mutation, but the black mutation increased in proportion to the pepper variant over the course of a few hundred years because it was better suited to an urban landscape.


How does an evolutionist who blindly believes that Tyrannosaurus rex lived 70 million years ago explain the recent T-rex fossil found in 2005 (by an evolutionist) that had actual soft tissue-still stretchy, inside the leg bone? Perhaps it didn't live 70 million years ago, maybe it died 1000 years ago?

In which case there would be historical records of dinos wandering around. I mean seriously, 1000 years ago? People knew how to write back then. If you're going to claim that dinos lived with people, have the sense to keep them out of historical times. Anyway, soft tissue preservation is rare but it does happen, even over the course of 70 million years (may need the mechanism here)


Many ancient sightings of dinosaurs exist but they were called dragons. The word dinosaur was only coined in recent history, before that, they were called dragons and they were hunted to extinction. Julius Caesar wrote that his army killed a terrifying dragon and later he had coins made depicting dragons, including one that shows an elephant trampling the head and neck of what looks like a Brachiosaurus. St. George killed a dragon.

An elephant trampling a brachiosaurus? Which was about twenty times larger? Don't you think if these terrifying creatures were in the historical record, they would have made more of an impact? That we'd have more accurate descriptions than just "dragons"?


There are ancient legends of dragons from all around the world; also ancient drawings--from Argentina to China to Australia, and amazing these stories and drawings are very similar.

But evolutionist would rather close their eyes to the evidence and continue believe blindly what has been hammered into their heads--without any evidence, from kindergarten to college to BBC documentaries to causual comments made my other uninformed evolutionist... and imagine that dinosaurs somehow, magically turned into chickens.

Nothing magical about it. Many dinosaurs had feathers.

Professor Mayhem
2008-Mar-04, 05:42 PM
The cardinal mistake most people make when engaging a creationist is assuming that they care at all about objective evidence.

They don't.

novaderrik
2008-Mar-04, 07:42 PM
The cardinal mistake most people make when engaging a creationist is assuming that they care at all about objective evidence.

They don't.
the funny thing is, that's exactly what a creationist might say about an evolutionist..
i mean, come on- it's in a book- the universe was created in 7 days and all that. how can you argue with that?.

Professor Mayhem
2008-Mar-04, 08:48 PM
Hence my use of the term "objective evidence." Or perhaps I should have said "scientific" or "empirical" evidence, despite the apparent inability of your average creationist to tell the difference between scientific evidence and anecdotal horse****.

parallaxicality
2008-Mar-04, 09:05 PM
I just found out Ben Stein is a creationist. How depressing.

George
2008-Mar-04, 09:54 PM
When pressed, most religious people will not leap from their rock of faith onto science, no matter how logical that next step looks. Faith trumps objective science, in their view.

The real error rests in their interpretation of the scriptures. It was true regarding Geocentricty, and it is true today with evolution and time. Showing a literal interpretation alternative seems to be of little interest to them, regretably.

At least in Galileo's day, the religious scholars quickly found and adopted an alternative: the Tychonian model. It too was abandoned with both improved scientific evidence and a better exegesis of the few passages regarding Geocentrcity.

YEC is stuck on having a child-like mind approach to Genesis, when the Bible only recommends a child-like heart, as well as, a wise mind accumulating great understanding.

At least, they represent only a small minority.

JohnD
2008-Mar-04, 09:59 PM
paralaxicality,
More arguments, lots of them!
Good work.
What did the Amazon creationist reply?

John

Gillianren
2008-Mar-05, 04:34 AM
When pressed, most religious people will not leap from their rock of faith onto science, no matter how logical that next step looks.

Most religious people accept the evidence for evolution.

Ronald Brak
2008-Mar-05, 04:50 AM
How many people in the U.S. accept the evidence for evolution? Is it most?

Bearded One
2008-Mar-05, 05:06 AM
How many people in the U.S. accept the evidence for evolution? Is it most?Evolution Less Accepted in U.S. Than Other Western Countries, Study Finds (http://news.nationalgeographic.com:80/news/bigphotos/21329204.html)

Ronald Brak
2008-Mar-05, 05:39 AM
Thanks for that, Bearded One. So it looks like we can't say that most people in the U.S. accept the evidence for evolution, and I'm guessing that means we can't say that most religious people in the U.S. accept the evidence for evolution.

Gillianren
2008-Mar-05, 06:11 AM
Thanks for that, Bearded One. So it looks like we can't say that most people in the U.S. accept the evidence for evolution, and I'm guessing that means we can't say that most religious people in the U.S. accept the evidence for evolution.

However, the statement wasn't "in the US." The statement was pretty generic. I think that, if you add in most countries with equivalent educational systems (ie, where the average person would know anything at all on the subject, so not, like, rural Africa or whatever), a majority of religious people do accept evolution. It may be a slim one, but I think the statistics back me up on this one.

Ronald Brak
2008-Mar-05, 11:18 AM
However, the statement wasn't "in the US." The statement was pretty generic. I think that, if you add in most countries with equivalent educational systems (ie, where the average person would know anything at all on the subject, so not, like, rural Africa or whatever), a majority of religious people do accept evolution. It may be a slim one, but I think the statistics back me up on this one.

Other developed countries are certainly much better at accepting the scientific evidence on evolution than the U.S. However, these nations are also less religious than the U.S. and I'm not sure just how you'd go about defining who's religious or not. For example, while many Australians self identify as members of a religion, very few regularly attend religious functions. In Adelaide, Australia's "city of churches" converting religious buildings into nightclubs and other venus is quite common due to lack of demand for religious services. So I'm sure you're right if you include people in developed nations who self identify as belonging to a religion, but I'm not sure how you'd go for people who actually engage in frequent religious activity.

Ivan Viehoff
2008-Mar-05, 01:15 PM
I often wonder what young earth creationists make of light coming from stars thousands and millions of light years away. Is there something very wrong with the generally acknowledged physics of light and mapping of proximate areas of the universe (Milky Way has diameter 100,000 ly), then, let alone more distant areas? Or are they asserting that it is just the earth that was popped into existence and the universe was there for longer?

There's a stuffed dragon hanging in the town hall at Brno in the Czech Republic. http://www.brno.cz/index.php?nav01=2222&nav02=5&lan=en&nav03=86&nav04=146 When I saw it, I thought it looked just like a crocodile, but what do I know. Then there are those dragons living on some islands in Indonesia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Komodo_dragon As well as dragons, early authors also described sphinxes http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sphinx (lions with human heads) blemmyes http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blemmyes (headless men with faces on their stomachs), skiapods http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monopod_%28creature%29 (a race of naturally one-legged men), sheep that grew on trees, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vegetable_Lamb_of_Tartary, etc, none of whose fossils have been found.

To me, a young earth creationist position is equivalent to someone who sees a line of footprints with the animal or person who is printing them at one end, and then asserts a different explanation for the more remote footprints beyond an arbitrary point. Long term processes - plate tectonics, volcanoes, erosion mountain-building, light from distant stars, dynamics of human populations - and their present effects are all about us, here and on other objects in the universe.

Neverfly
2008-Mar-05, 01:28 PM
(snip)skiapods http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monopod_%28creature%29 (a race of naturally one-legged men), (snippity)

Wonder where these things poop from?http://us.i1.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/i/mesg/emoticons7/40.gif

NEOWatcher
2008-Mar-05, 01:46 PM
To me, a young earth creationist position is equivalent to someone who sees a line of footprints with the animal or person who is printing them at one end, and then asserts a different explanation for the more remote footprints beyond an arbitrary point.
Or...
Gee, the footprints skip at the creek...they can't be from the same creature.
Or...
There's bear tracks crossing the prints. How could that animal survived that encounter?

Neverfly
2008-Mar-05, 01:49 PM
Or...
Gee, the footprints skip at the creek...they can't be from the same creature.
Or...
There's bear tracks crossing the prints. How could that animal survived that encounter?

All this reminds me of the Paluxy Valley, in which there are no dinosaur and human footprints roaming side by side.
Yet, young Earth creationist sites till claim that is the case. I think it was debunked completely back in the 70's.

jlhredshift
2008-Mar-05, 02:03 PM
I say "Good for you. Have a nice day.":silenced:

Gillianren
2008-Mar-05, 05:45 PM
I often wonder what young earth creationists make of light coming from stars thousands and millions of light years away. Is there something very wrong with the generally acknowledged physics of light and mapping of proximate areas of the universe (Milky Way has diameter 100,000 ly), then, let alone more distant areas? Or are they asserting that it is just the earth that was popped into existence and the universe was there for longer?

Neither. Your choices seem to be "changing speed of light" and "God made the universe with the light already reaching us."

Ronald, I'm simply willing to take people's words about it, actually. I don't participate in a lot of ceremonies, myself; it's harder for me, naturally, because I'm on my own and don't have a church to visit. But I don't think it's attending the ceremony that makes a person religious in the first place.

loglo
2008-Mar-09, 12:42 AM
Wonder where these things poop from?http://us.i1.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/i/mesg/emoticons7/40.gif

Maybe the same place the YEC's do? :whistle:

Visitingmoon
2008-Mar-10, 06:48 AM
I cannot offer all supporting data from reputable sources (insofar as I can ascertain their legitimacy and the authenticity of their work; I am not after all a scientist--but I do have a mentor, my first cousin, literally a genius, and known as such in scientific communities around the globe).I unreservedly concur with those who now repudiate the Darwinian view that all life is derived from one common ancestor--those who still hold to this belief (usu. liberals--oh I mean progressive whatever they call themselves now--for any tinkering with classic Darwinian thought might open Pandora's door (sic) and admit the Specter of Some Intelligent and Purposeful First Cause.Why the notion of a Creator has become so abhorrent to this elite renegade brand of self-appointed intellectuals (whose empty rhetoric mesmerizes a significant number of our population who for one or another reason find thought repugnant) can be variously explained. I will not, for the sake of brevity, do the multiple choice thing, but offer only this: true religious belief--I mean of the genuinely spiritual kind--involves standards. And the essence of liberal thought today is to tolerate everything, well not everything--the tendency is to exalt that which is perverse and those cultures essentially lacking in civility and/or meritorious achievement. Hence the obnoxious bigotted Christopher C. was really quite barbaric,far lesser a man than any one of the Caribbs he encountered on those magnificent island civilizations,that he and the Europeans that followed, managed to eradicate--including the most sacred of their rituals--cannibalism. The point is- to tolerate everything is to have no standards at
all--I need not elaborate on the moral, social, and even judicial standards of the JUdaic-Christian tradition, which served more than any other movement or event to humanize the Western world. Now to take up the point of all this (I guess).
Darwin's contention that all life is derived from one ancestor has resulted in a so-far futile quest for the "missing link." The earliest of human fossils found to date do present a picture more physically akin to an ape than to a modern-day human being. But the DNA of this early human being has the DNA of a human being. And no ape fossil has been found that has DNa other than that of his kind. Presumably, if ape evolved to human, the DNa would contain some aspects of both (now I know my language is inaccurate; a geneticist would put the case differently). What paleo-archeology does reveal is the evolutionary process at work within each individual species...
I have gone on too long. Whatever I have left out, I will save for another day--perhaps.

absael
2008-Mar-10, 07:17 AM
I cannot offer all supporting data from reputable sources (insofar as I can ascertain their legitimacy and the authenticity of their work; I am not after all a scientist--but I do have a mentor, my first cousin, literally a genius, and known as such in scientific communities around the globe).I unreservedly concur with those who now repudiate the Darwinian view that all life is derived from one common ancestor--those who still hold to this belief (usu. liberals--oh I mean progressive whatever they call themselves now--for any tinkering with classic Darwinian thought might open Pandora's door (sic) and admit the Specter of Some Intelligent and Purposeful First Cause.Why the notion of a Creator has become so abhorrent to this elite renegade brand of self-appointed intellectuals (whose empty rhetoric mesmerizes a significant number of our population who for one or another reason find thought repugnant) can be variously explained. I will not, for the sake of brevity, do the multiple choice thing, but offer only this: true religious belief--I mean of the genuinely spiritual kind--involves standards. And the essence of liberal thought today is to tolerate everything, well not everything--the tendency is to exalt that which is perverse and those cultures essentially lacking in civility and/or meritorious achievement. Hence the obnoxious bigotted Christopher C. was really quite barbaric,far lesser a man than any one of the Caribbs he encountered on those magnificent island civilizations,that he and the Europeans that followed, managed to eradicate--including the most sacred of their rituals--cannibalism. The point is- to tolerate everything is to have no standards at
all--I need not elaborate on the moral, social, and even judicial standards of the JUdaic-Christian tradition, which served more than any other movement or event to humanize the Western world. Now to take up the point of all this (I guess).
Darwin's contention that all life is derived from one ancestor has resulted in a so-far futile quest for the "missing link." The earliest of human fossils found to date do present a picture more physically akin to an ape than to a modern-day human being. But the DNA of this early human being has the DNA of a human being. And no ape fossil has been found that has DNa other than that of his kind. Presumably, if ape evolved to human, the DNa would contain some aspects of both (now I know my language is inaccurate; a geneticist would put the case differently). What paleo-archeology does reveal is the evolutionary process at work within each individual species...
I have gone on too long. Whatever I have left out, I will save for another day--perhaps.
Erm, I'm not quite sure where to start here... for one thing, although I'm not a geneticist either, I do know that your language regarding the DNA of apes and humans is indeed inaccurate; so much so as to be meaningless. Both apes and humans do have "some DNA of both;" if an ape had the DNA of a human being it would, in fact, be a human being and not an ape.

I also don't understand the relevance of the rant about liberals exalting perversity to the theory of evolution, but confusing politics with science is hardly the surest path to intellectual advancement.

I'll bite my tongue and decline to respond to your comments regarding religion out of respect for the rules of the forum.

Regarding the OP, thanks for posting the link. I've found that many creationists have a vast knowledge of pseudoscience and that it's helpful to have a reference for debunking those claims that aren't transparently bogus to lay people.

Gillianren
2008-Mar-10, 08:01 AM
Erm, I'm not quite sure where to start here... for one thing, although I'm not a geneticist either, I do know that your language regarding the DNA of apes and humans is indeed inaccurate; so much so as to be meaningless. Both apes and humans do have "some DNA of both;" if an ape had the DNA of a human being it would, in fact, be a human being and not an ape.

Oh, it's even better than that. Humans are apes.

astromark
2008-Mar-10, 08:14 AM
The above post from Visatingmoon does not paint a clear image. As is often the case for the funder mentalist extremists. They can not be wrong.
Well i am tempted to say sorry, but you are. Wrong.
Who said that the homo-sapian descended from apes? It did not. Just as apes and chimpanzees are there own species so is Man. We have evolved into the diverse species we are from a more primitive upright Neanderthal Man. To sagest we can not have evolved because we do not share DNA is nonsense. A bird does not look like a fish., and is not one.
Thank you JOHN D. I will read that. But we are wasting our time and energy here. No amount of discussion will sway those with faith that some of what they have been told is rubbish. Without wishing to offend it is apparent that this subject is just going to cost to much.

parallaxicality
2008-Mar-10, 12:15 PM
I cannot offer all supporting data from reputable sources (insofar as I can ascertain their legitimacy and the authenticity of their work; I am not after all a scientist--but I do have a mentor, my first cousin, literally a genius, and known as such in scientific communities around the globe).I unreservedly concur with those who now repudiate the Darwinian view that all life is derived from one common ancestor--those who still hold to this belief (usu. liberals--oh I mean progressive whatever they call themselves now--for any tinkering with classic Darwinian thought might open Pandora's door (sic) and admit the Specter of Some Intelligent and Purposeful First Cause.Why the notion of a Creator has become so abhorrent to this elite renegade brand of self-appointed intellectuals (whose empty rhetoric mesmerizes a significant number of our population who for one or another reason find thought repugnant) can be variously explained. I will not, for the sake of brevity, do the multiple choice thing, but offer only this: true religious belief--I mean of the genuinely spiritual kind--involves standards. And the essence of liberal thought today is to tolerate everything, well not everything--the tendency is to exalt that which is perverse and those cultures essentially lacking in civility and/or meritorious achievement.

This is not a politics board. Science has nothing to do with politics. Science is about experimentation. The same experimental results should apply whether you are a liberal or a conservative. Many conservatives also believe in evolution; the only people who don't are creationists.


Hence the obnoxious bigoted Christopher C. was really quite barbaric,far lesser a man than any one of the Caribs he encountered on those magnificent island civilizations,that he and the Europeans that followed, managed to eradicate--including the most sacred of their rituals--cannibalism. The point is- to tolerate everything is to have no standards at
all--I need not elaborate on the moral, social, and even judicial standards of the JUdaic-Christian tradition, which served more than any other movement or event to humanize the Western world.

Well, since all the Caribs are now exterminated, they cannot answer for their cultural misdoings, if such they were. Whether burning someone at the stake, enslaving, raping and pillaging entire populations, or drawing and quartering, all of which were practiced by Europeans of the day, were in fact less barbaric than cannibalism or the human sacrifices of the native American populations is a moral debate too wide to discuss here.


Now to take up the point of all this (I guess).
Darwin's contention that all life is derived from one ancestor has resulted in a so-far futile quest for the "missing link."

This is quite possibly the most stubborn comment I have ever read. Did you not read the link at the top of this thread? There are dozens, hundreds of "missing links" throughout the fossil record. Some of them are still alive today. They are not, in fact, missing, so to describe them as missing links is inappropriate. The creationist contention that "there are no transitional fossils" is at best an act of self-delusion and at worst a deliberate lie.


The earliest of human fossils found to date do present a picture more physically akin to an ape than to a modern-day human being. But the DNA of this early human being has the DNA of a human being.

Googling "Australopithicus DNA" produces no reference to any traces of australopithicus DNA being found, but I may be wrong there. Regardless, given their massive phenotypical difference to modern humans, I doubt very much that their DNA would be identical to ours. We have located traces of Neanderthal DNA, and their DNA was substantially different from ours. so much so that any human/Neanderthal offspring would probably have been sterile, like a mule. Can you say such a creature was a true human?


And no ape fossil has been found that has DNA other than that of his kind. Presumably, if ape evolved to human, the DNA would contain some aspects of both

What does this mean? Chimpanzee DNA differs from human DNA by less than 2 percent; chimps and gorillas have more DNA in common with us than they do with orangutans. If that does not imply that "some aspects of both" exist for chimps, gorillas and us, I don't know what does.

mugaliens
2008-Mar-12, 08:25 PM
The examples include lineages from 'primitive' creatures like velvet worms that mark the division from nematodes towards arthropods, to mammals in the rather complete lineage from a common ancestor to horses, tapirs and rhinos. Of course, they will not convince someone who falls back on the argument that fossils were created to test our faith, but - you wanted arguments; here they are!

John
(No connection with author or publisher)

Anyone "who falls back on the argument that fossils were created to test our faith" is ignoring science.

I'm not saying that science is perfect. However, it is science, and we generally do a good job correcting our mistakes, when presented with enough evidence to do so. I think more scientists are more interested in discovering the truth than in perpetuating a non-scientific principle/idea (hey, some are - we're not all perfect, not even me).

But we do try to be.

I do think, however, that some of the best science along these lines has to do with genetics and the sequencing of genomes. It's clear genetic evidences which far outweighs skull measurements and has very clearly disproven several assumptions of the Leakey's. Don't get me wrong - they were clearly after the truth, but during an era when they simply didn't have the most modern tools.

I believe genetic science will continue to discover more about our origens, the various lineages, splits in the trails, if you will, than anything else.

Why? Because it's indeniably related to one thing - it's how we breed. "Sorry, Sir, but that marker there says you're descended from Ghengis Kahn."

The genes don't lie, and we can't make them (at least not yet). The good news is that we can't change them so that samples up to this day and age are invaluable in telling the story of everyone on the face of our planet.

The only downside (and I really don't know much about the human genetics side of it, just the computer side of it) is that it's so complex it'll take a while to firm up the picture.

And that's a picture I, for one, would really be interested in seeing!

drainbread
2008-Mar-13, 02:27 AM
religion vs science

Religion can be inconsistant and self contradicting, religion, chrisianity in particular can never grow:
Rev 22:18-19 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.


Science can never be inconsistant or self contradicting, if one or the other does happen then science is corrected... science grows.

Michael Noonan
2008-Mar-13, 03:36 AM
religion vs science

Religion can be inconsistant and self contradicting, religion, chrisianity in particular can never grow:
Rev 22:18-19 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.


Science can never be inconsistant or self contradicting, if one or the other does happen then science is corrected... science grows.

Well thanks bucket loads, that is like writing up the curse found in nearly every tomb that reads abandon all hope ye who enter. No I do not write in that book and nor do I rip pages from it. So that settles that.

Now creationists with intelligent design versus science with evolution and you are both wrong. First when the cane toad was introduced it could have been bred selectively and neutered so that it could simply perform its task and be done with if unsuccessful. That is intelligent design.

There is one creature more poisonous and destructive to its environment and strangely although some of the species claim evolution and others claim intelligent design they both fail to realise that they are not central or important in any way to the universe. To the evolutionists the progress of the species to successfully adapt to its environment is abysmal and any sign of progress in that direction is yet to be seen ... why else build doomsday vaults. To the creationists same argument, to this date the design has not shown any innate intelligence of its own other than survival which is something that even a virus can do. The debate is ongoing as to whether a virus is a living thing yet so don't get your hopes up.

But an intelligent design, yes there may just be something in that ... let Sir Issac Newton have the last words:-
"Truth is ever to be found in simplicity, and not in the multiplicity and confusion of things." and finally

"In the absence of any other proof, the thumb alone would convince me of God's existence." Sir Issac Newton

Ronald Brak
2008-Mar-13, 03:48 AM
drainbread, I think you've crossed from discussing Intelligent Design, which is fair game as its supporters claim it is "science," to discussing actual religion, which is against forum rules. For example I think Rev 22:18-19 is a quote from a holy book of a Middle-Eastern religion and so counts as religious discussion.

drainbread
2008-Mar-13, 03:58 AM
drainbread, I think you've crossed from discussing Intelligent Design, which is fair game as its supporters claim it is "science," to discussing actual religion, which is against forum rules. For example I think Rev 22:18-19 is a quote from a holy book of a Middle-Eastern religion and so counts as religious discussion.

No, it was meant to show that the structure of religion cannot be changed as new evidence is presented, I used christianity as my example because of the vastness of sub-sects.

I could go on about the fallacy of the bible canon though.

Ronald Brak
2008-Mar-13, 04:04 AM
No, it was meant to show that the structure of religion cannot be changed as new evidence is presented, I used christianity as my example because of the vastness of sub-sects.

I could go on about the fallacy of the bible canon though.

I'm not a moderator, but I do think it's possible they would consider quoting passages from religious books as religious discussion and shut the thread.

drainbread
2008-Mar-13, 04:22 AM
It's nearly impossible to separate ID from religion for somebody like me who was raised in a strict religious household...

For me it's beyond pseudoscience.

Ronald Brak
2008-Mar-13, 04:34 AM
It's nearly impossible to separate ID from religion for somebody like me who was raised in a strict religious household...

For me it's beyond psudeoscience.

Yes, Intelligent Design is obviously an attempt to introduce religion into education through manipulation and lies. But unlike Australia, most people in the U.S. still feel strongly about religion. This is hard for me to understand, but as a result we have to be very careful about what is said to avoid upsetting people. I try to avoid mentioning any religion by name unless I have to.

Michael Noonan
2008-Mar-13, 07:25 AM
It's nearly impossible to separate ID from religion for somebody like me who was raised in a strict religious household...

For me it's beyond pseudoscience.

Yes, Intelligent Design is obviously an attempt to introduce religion into education through manipulation and lies. But unlike Australia, most people in the U.S. still feel strongly about religion. This is hard for me to understand, but as a result we have to be very careful about what is said to avoid upsetting people. I try to avoid mentioning any religion by name unless I have to.

I am very much on the side of Ronald Brak when it comes to actual content drainbread, you see there are many who interpret quite within the rules of their beliefs without changing the words. This forum does need to separate pseudoscience from the religion to enable a logical debate. To describe motion you could use s=ut+1/2at^2, or as I prefer metaphysics it is just as easy to simply toss a ball in the air.

So to the metaphysics of humans taking on the slight daily risk of a world destroying chain reaction to discover a bit more of the puzzle. One day they will succeed ... either find the puzzle piece or destroy the world. The most powerful meta minds in my humble opinion are not those at ease contemplating the world but those tortured and in regular meditation each day and as such the greatest potential for survival of group mind if humanity is to produce a gestalt through a world destroying electrical or energy driven device.

Sadly I rate our most obvious human successor as little chance behind those more electrically adapted primitive predators the shark and so the ultimate intelligent design may well be an eating machine. The shark I rate well behind artificial intelligence of which there is enough of in this world to form a significant gestalt and given the number of computer generated realms the human race would be given a great run for its money in the final turkey hunt.

But as I said in my previous post it may not be a point worth considering for as adaptive as a program may be when it fails it fails. The ultimate life form for this planet may be the humble virus and that is the irony ... is a virus alive?

drainbread
2008-Mar-13, 08:58 AM
I am very much on the side of Ronald Brak when it comes to actual content drainbread, you see there are many who interpret quite within the rules of their beliefs without changing the words. This forum does need to separate pseudoscience from the religion to enable a logical debate. To describe motion you could use s=ut+1/2at^2, or as I prefer metaphysics it is just as easy to simply toss a ball in the air.

So to the metaphysics of humans taking on the slight daily risk of a world destroying chain reaction to discover a bit more of the puzzle. One day they will succeed ... either find the puzzle piece or destroy the world. The most powerful meta minds in my humble opinion are not those at ease contemplating the world but those tortured and in regular meditation each day and as such the greatest potential for survival of group mind if humanity is to produce a gestalt through a world destroying electrical or energy driven device.

Sadly I rate our most obvious human successor as little chance behind those more electrically adapted primitive predators the shark and so the ultimate intelligent design may well be an eating machine. The shark I rate well behind artificial intelligence of which there is enough of in this world to form a significant gestalt and given the number of computer generated realms the human race would be given a great run for its money in the final turkey hunt.

But as I said in my previous post it may not be a point worth considering for as adaptive as a program may be when it fails it fails. The ultimate life form for this planet may be the humble virus and that is the irony ... is a virus alive?


I understand what both of you are saying, I just have a different perspective from growning up in a near cult religion and no matter how hard I try... the crap gets back into my head, and that's after 15 years or so of "freedom".

And yes, a virus is a life form :P

clint
2008-Mar-13, 12:11 PM
This week's issue of New Scientist provides TEN such answers, extracted from a recent book, "Evolution: What the fossils say and why it matters" by Donald Prothero, Pub. Columbia U.press. Online preview here: http://www.newscientist.com/channel/life/mg19726451.700-evolution-what-missing-link.html


Great article, John, I just found the complete versión (http://mrnice.vox.com/library/post/evolution-what-missing-link.html)

clint
2008-Mar-13, 01:10 PM
i mean, come on- it's in a book- the universe was created in 7 days and all that. how can you argue with that?.

In theory, there is no point in arguing with somebody who blindly believes an ancient book.

However, I think that ultimately many do have doubts, that's only human.
That's why I'm not surprised, that many creationists (or blindly religious people in general) actually do look for evidence after all,
they have constant need for confirmation beyond the 'book'.

I think, many of the inconsistencies are getting through,
and some very religious people are deeply shaken by this
("if there is one inconsistency, maybe everything I believe in is wrong?")
They argue in such an emotional way, because it gets to the very core of their existence.

That's also a reason to keep up the debate in a respectful way.
Many do come around to questioning the more obvious inconsistencies of their faiths,
but it's a very tough and deeply disturbing process.

ToSeek
2008-Mar-13, 05:05 PM
I'm not a moderator, but I do think it's possible they would consider quoting passages from religious books as religious discussion and shut the thread.

I'm not going to shut thread - yet - but the explicit religious discussion has to stop now. Quoting from religious texts is potentially tolerable if it's directly and closely tied to a scientific issue, but not otherwise.

ToSeek
BAUT Forum moderator

JohnD
2008-Mar-13, 08:51 PM
Thanks, Clint!
Gosh, has someone taken the trouble to type that all in?

TS,
Please! drainbread was quoting Revelations in support of the consistency of Science, and contrasting it with the inablity of religion (small r) to abide argument. Although others seem to have misunderstood his stance - fighting against deeply ingrained prejudice (tell me if I'm wrong db) - this has been a polite debate. No need for a shut down - yet!

Argue nicely, please folks. You are being watched.

John

clint
2008-Mar-14, 04:04 PM
Gosh, has someone taken the trouble to type that all in?


Probably just somebody who does have a subscription for New Scientist.
Good old copy/paste... ;)

I love the article, by the way, thanks again for posting it!!!

John Mendenhall
2008-Mar-14, 04:56 PM
In general it is a waste of time to argue with those whose supposedly scientific conclusions are faith based. Instead, try some illogic. Ask "Which is the greater creator? One who creates on a whim 10,000 years ago, or one who sets things in motion 14.3 billion years ago and has them come out right today? Personally, I can't get tomorrow to come out right."

I can guarantee you from experience, this will result in some stricken looks. Make them think, that's the experience they're missing.

Noclevername
2008-Mar-14, 08:39 PM
My usual argument consists of "Why would anyone want to worship a being who deceives them by planting a whole universe of false evidence? That sounds more like something the other side would do."

astromark
2008-Mar-14, 09:14 PM
The answer to this perplexing question is never going to please all. We have divergent view points and a tolerance of other than your own programed thinking is difficult to except.

... Try harder ...

My stance is this. 'I can not except that some omni present super being created all of what we see just for us.' That just does not make any logical sense at all.

BUT.

That is only my view. Who do I think I am to sagest you should think as I. Please do not. There is just room enough for the one of me.:) It matters not that some doctrines implant what I perceive as false truths. Those who seek the truth will find it. That is all that I see as important in this discussion. Tolerance and understanding of each others different cultural upbringings is a courtesy I like to encourage.

The facts as I see them might not be as you do. I can live with that.
The question for me is clear; Science over religion.
For those with a faith of conviction I find admirable. Never stop asking questions.
The answers will bring clarity only after much and many. This universe is filled with organized confusion. I might call it random confusion. We only have a small window and the answers are waiting yet. We do not know all. I am a smaller person, and smaller steps work best.

EvilEye
2008-Mar-14, 09:27 PM
Anything regarding a creator of the universe is outside of science.

Anything a creator may have done since the very moment is subject to question and scientific inquiry whether you like it or not.

Bearded One
2008-Mar-15, 12:24 AM
Not sure if it's appropriate to post this here or not, I think it is since it is an attack on science - astronomy and astrophysics this time. The organization going by the name "Answers in Genesis" posted this on their site yesterday:

The Age of the Universe, Part 1 (http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/tba/age-of-the-universe-1)

The essence of the problem may lie with the following quote from the article:

"According to the big bang idea, the universe is nearly 14 billion years old; whereas the Bible indicates that the universe is about 6,000 years old. For those who claim to believe the Bible, this difference alone should be sufficient reason to reject the big bang."

There it is, since they feel the bible must be literally correct, the evidence discovered by science must be ignored. You can not have an open debate with people who, in advance, choose to close their minds.

clint
2008-Mar-15, 12:56 AM
There it is, since they feel the bible must be literally correct, the evidence discovered by science must be ignored. You can not have an open debate with people who, in advance, choose to close their minds.

It's a pity this creationist discussion has become so predominant in the US.
Over here in Europe, those literal interpretations of ancient texts have gone out of fashion long ago
(probably due to lots of pretty disastrous past experience with extremism)
Religion doesn't interfere much with science over here...

Noclevername
2008-Mar-15, 06:25 AM
It's a pity this creationist discussion has become so predominant in the US.
Over here in Europe, those literal interpretations of ancient texts have gone out of fashion long ago
(probably due to lots of pretty disastrous past experience with extremism)
Religion doesn't interfere much with science over here...

That's what happens when your first immigrants are Puritans. :(

JohnD
2008-Mar-15, 09:02 AM
That's what happens when your first immigrants are Puritans. :(

There is a debate about how they got there, but the 'first immigrants' to North America were the ancestors of the people that were already there when Europeans arrived. That the modern society of N.America is a product of European origin is undoubted, but enough of the 'first immigrants'!
John

Noclevername
2008-Mar-15, 09:06 AM
There is a debate about how they got there, but the 'first immigrants' to North America were the ancestors of the people that were already there when Europeans arrived. That the modern society of N.America is a product of European origin is undoubted, but enough of the 'first immigrants'!
John

I wasn't talking about the first immigrants to North America, but the first to the colonies that became the United States.

mugaliens
2008-Mar-15, 11:05 AM
It's nearly impossible to separate ID from religion for somebody like me...

I'm well aware of both worlds. Aside from the points where the beliefs from one world contradict the demonstrable and repeatable observations of the other, I don't see a lot of contradictions, or even much interaction.

Apples and oranges. Actually, more like water and fire.

Gillianren
2008-Mar-15, 05:38 PM
It's nearly impossible to separate ID from religion for somebody like me who was raised in a strict religious household...

It has nothing to do with the household you were raised in. ID is by its very nature a religious philosophy. Oh, they don't say "God," but for the big names--Behe, for example, when you press the issue, he'll admit that he comes to ID from a religious perspective. Of Pandas and People started out as a creationist text and only became an ID text when "creation science" was declared to be unconstitutional in the US public schools.

Jim
2008-Mar-20, 02:10 PM
The discussion here has taken a major diversion from the intent of the original thread. I have separated out those posts which seem to be related to CosmosGP's first post and started a new thread (http://www.bautforum.com/against-mainstream/71824-cosmosgps-take-yec.html). If anyone sees a post here that belongs with that thread, or there that belongs witrh this thread, let me know.

worzel
2008-Mar-20, 03:07 PM
One problem is that every previously missing link discovered just creates two more missing links for creationists to point at. "Where's the missing link between me and my Grandma? Don't expect me to just assume with no evidence that I have an intermediate mother, that's just blind faith that is".

Disinfo Agent
2008-Mar-20, 04:29 PM
It's Zeno's paradox all over again.

absael
2008-Mar-23, 09:11 PM
One problem is that every previously missing link discovered just creates two more missing links for creationists to point at. "Where's the missing link between me and my Grandma? Don't expect me to just assume with no evidence that I have an intermediate mother, that's just blind faith that is".
I've found that this tactic is not limited to fossil evidence; they grasp at every straw they can find to dispute evolution. They can't believe in evolution; they are too emotionally invested in their world view. They will accept blatantly faulty reasoning and Bad Astronomy, demand obviously unreasonable levels of proof, and refuse to look at the big picture. For example, an intellectually honest evaluation of the issue would require one to consider what scientific discoveries in other fields must be rejected if one rejects evolution. Try to get a creationist to debate that point... I've found it all but impossible.

blueshift
2008-Mar-23, 11:51 PM
Religion seeks an absolute and unquestioned truth while science seeks falsification to realize beliefs that are less false. Science makes measurements of the universe and does not care if there is some purpose to its existence.

EvilEye
2008-Mar-24, 02:27 AM
falsification falsification falsification falsification falsification falsification

sorry for the redundancy, but falsification falsification falsification falsification must be possible for any claim to be tested.

If it cannot be tested... it is NOT science.

Noclevername
2008-Mar-24, 03:18 AM
Religion seeks an absolute and unquestioned truth while science seeks falsification to realize beliefs that are less false. Science makes measurements of the universe and does not care if there is some purpose to its existence.

Science's job isn't to look for "purpose". Purpose is a non-testable philosophy, not a scientifically measureable quantity.

closetgeek
2008-Mar-25, 01:24 PM
My daughter and I were talking yesterday, after watching a piece of that movie Waterworld. I was curious about the answer, myself, as well as curious to know what she thought. Not exactly like the movie but, if humans began to spend more time in water than on land, whether by choice or circumstance, would there be subtle changes over a long period of time? I am not necessarily talking about growing gills but would we develop maybe heartslowing techniques like dolphins, deeper webbing on our hands and feet, possibly? The question still remains but I came across the link below and sure hope the use of the word objective referring to this definition:


3 a: expressing or dealing with facts or conditions as perceived without distortion by personal feelings, prejudices, or interpretations [http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/objective]

http://objectiveministries.org/creation/aquatic.html

NEOWatcher
2008-Mar-25, 01:34 PM
... if humans began to spend more time in water than on land, whether by choice or circumstance, would there be subtle changes over a long period of time?...

Exposure to a condition itself does not normally trigger evolutionary changes.
If that condition reduces the viability to produce offspring, then the population tends to magnify those lines that have a higher resistance to that condition.

In a water world, I would suppose it would happen when the "non-swimmers" tend to drown before reproducing.

Neverfly
2008-Mar-25, 01:35 PM
My daughter and I were talking yesterday, after watching a piece of that movie Waterworld. I was curious about the answer, myself, as well as curious to know what she thought. Not exactly like the movie but, if humans began to spend more time in water than on land, whether by choice or circumstance, would there be subtle changes over a long period of time? I am not necessarily talking about growing gills but would we develop maybe heartslowing techniques like dolphins, deeper webbing on our hands and feet, possibly? The question still remains but I came across the link below and sure hope the use of the word objective referring to this definition:



http://objectiveministries.org/creation/aquatic.html

Possibly if those mutations occurred successfully.

However, just being around water is not going to encourage specific mutations. They either will occur or not on land or water- it is just that when a water environment mutation occurs in a creature in a water environment, it gives them a slight advantage.

There are mutations today (And we are definitely land dwellers!) of webbed hands and feet.

The irony of Waterworld, is because of the human prejudices against mutants like the one played by Costner- helpful mutations that normally would be beneficial in breeding and survival in most animals, would be more likely to be weeded out by that culture.
So in the long run, the inhabitants of Waterworld were shooting their future generations in the unwebbed foot. Big time. If they were smart, they would have been throwing women at Costner like crazy.

ETA: By the way, I find it highly unlikely that a mammal would develop gills like that, much less fully functioning ones in just one generation.

EvilEye
2008-Mar-25, 01:40 PM
A Whole BUNCH of Evolutionist vs Creationist (IDer) mp3s.

http://www.math.dartmouth.edu/~aquishix/Hovind/

closetgeek
2008-Mar-25, 03:46 PM
Is there any way I can run a video link by a moderator just to make sure it is not inappropriate? I thought it was very amusing and pertains to this topic, but I am a bit unsure.

clint
2008-Mar-25, 09:38 PM
In a water world, I would suppose it would happen when the "non-swimmers" tend to drown before reproducing.

Also when the "swimmers" tend to be sexier than the rest...

Noclevername
2008-Mar-25, 11:23 PM
ETA: By the way, I find it highly unlikely that a mammal would develop gills like that, much less fully functioning ones in just one generation.

We do retain the DNA for gills. A human embryo develops functional gills for a brief time in the early stages of its development.

Grashtel
2008-Mar-26, 12:17 AM
We do retain the DNA for gills. A human embryo develops functional gills for a brief time in the early stages of its development.
I'm not sure if they are actually functional, and even if they are they rather swiftly become other parts of the body (IIRC the jaw and/or ear).

Also mamillian gills in general are problematic at best. Pumping enough water over them to extract sufficient oxygen would take a lot of energy, which combined with the need to overcome the loss of heat from them makes them just barely viable at best (ie just breathing uses as much as heavy exercise).

Neverfly
2008-Mar-26, 12:37 AM
I'm not sure if they are actually functional, and even if they are they rather swiftly become other parts of the body (IIRC the jaw and/or ear).

Also mamillian gills in general are problematic at best. Pumping enough water over them to extract sufficient oxygen would take a lot of energy, which combined with the need to overcome the loss of heat from them makes them just barely viable at best (ie just breathing uses as much as heavy exercise).

Well now... This makes me wonder why dolphins and whales don't retain and continue using them in conjunction with using lungs.

Noclevername
2008-Mar-26, 12:38 AM
I'm not sure if they are actually functional, and even if they are they rather swiftly become other parts of the body (IIRC the jaw and/or ear).

Also mamillian gills in general are problematic at best. Pumping enough water over them to extract sufficient oxygen would take a lot of energy, which combined with the need to overcome the loss of heat from them makes them just barely viable at best (ie just breathing uses as much as heavy exercise).

Assuming theye're used for long periods, yes. But IIRC, the Mariner merely used them to extend his dive times (oh, yeah, and to pull a "Splash" ripoff by magically producing air to kiss into Jeanne Tripplehorn's lungs-- lame!)

EvilEye
2008-Mar-26, 10:44 AM
Well now... This makes me wonder why dolphins and whales don't retain and continue using them in conjunction with using lungs.

Because they haven't been back in the water long enough for that evolutionary step to happen. Their nostrils moved to the top of their head and fused to make a blowhole. (I suppose it was just more efficient, seeing as their gill-slits become their jaw and earbones, and they still need those)

Neverfly
2008-Mar-26, 01:27 PM
Because they haven't been back in the water long enough for that evolutionary step to happen. Their nostrils moved to the top of their head and fused to make a blowhole. (I suppose it was just more efficient, seeing as their gill-slits become their jaw and earbones, and they still need those)

Good point. Evolution doesn't necessarily follow what we would expect- but whatever works.

JohnD
2008-Mar-26, 04:26 PM
The originator of this thread branch line did specify, NOT gills, but adaptations like those of marine mammals; improved diving reflex - we have that already! - or webbed digits - we have those too, occasionally! The latter are a matter of failure of apoptosis between the developing digits of the fetus, a simple change if there were any advantage to it..

IMHO, it could happen, but only if humans lost all technology and became subject to Darwin's Chainsaw. It's not just a matter of throwing sexual partners at the Waterworld lead character. Like George Bernard Shaw, invited by a famous beauty to make babies with her, so that they could inherit her looks and his brain, we should realise the probable disaster if they were the other way around.
At present, we are very protected and I doubt if any evolution is going on at all in humans.

John

blueshift
2008-Mar-26, 04:43 PM
falsification falsification falsification falsification falsification falsification

sorry for the redundancy, but falsification falsification falsification falsification must be possible for any claim to be tested.

If it cannot be tested... it is NOT science.Completely agreed.

blueshift
2008-Mar-26, 04:50 PM
Science's job isn't to look for "purpose". Purpose is a non-testable philosophy, not a scientifically measureable quantity.Purpose likely came from past observationalists who reasoned, without the knowledge of genetic science at their hands, that a seed grows into a flower or a infant grows into an adult because their purpose was to do so instead of becoming a bush or a rock. Therefore, they saw a two-way arrow to cause and effect at times where, in these such cases, effect (purpose) dictated the journey and blueprint that some cause woud build up to.

Grashtel
2008-Mar-26, 06:22 PM
Well now... This makes me wonder why dolphins and whales don't retain and continue using them in conjunction with using lungs.
Because gills are also effective heat exchangers and cetaceans already have enough trouble retaining body heat as it is.

Grashtel
2008-Mar-26, 06:33 PM
Assuming theye're used for long periods, yes. But IIRC, the Mariner merely used them to extend his dive times (oh, yeah, and to pull a "Splash" ripoff by magically producing air to kiss into Jeanne Tripplehorn's lungs-- lame!)
The problem is that sea water (or water in general under normal circumstances) just doesn't contain that much oxygen so in order to extract enough oxygen to be significant the Mariner would need to pass so much water over his gills (which are also heat exchangers due to the required large surface area with a big blood supply) that he would loose body heat very fast and raising his metabolism to compensate for the heat loss would use up almost all the extra oxygen.

Edit:
I suppose that some sort of molecular pump in the cells and/or doing funny stuff with the blood supply might work, but that adds complexity making it hard to evolve such a system, particularly not in the very short time available.

Noclevername
2008-Mar-26, 06:34 PM
At present, we are very protected and I doubt if any evolution is going on at all in humans.

Oh, there is, just very slowly, and adapting to man-made conditions. :)

EvilEye
2008-Mar-26, 06:39 PM
Human evolution is almost crawling right now because we adapt our surroundings to fit US, instead of adapting to our surroundings over time.

But I also think that genetic research can eventually lead to forced macro evolution in the near future.

Noclevername
2008-Mar-26, 06:41 PM
"Macro" is the only type of evolution. So-called "Microevolution" is a Creationist buzzword to differentiate supposed "natural" and "God-made" genetic changes.

EvilEye
2008-Mar-26, 06:49 PM
"Macro" is the only type of evolution. So-called "Microevolution" is a Creationist buzzword to differentiate supposed "natural" and "God-made" genetic changes.

I know. The word forced was the key-word. That's why I added "macro"...because even man-made evolution is still evolution.

Noclevername
2008-Mar-26, 07:51 PM
The problem is that sea water (or water in general under normal circumstances) just doesn't contain that much oxygen so in order to extract enough oxygen to be significant the Mariner would need to pass so much water over his gills (which are also heat exchangers due to the required large surface area with a big blood supply) that he would loose body heat very fast and raising his metabolism to compensate for the heat loss would use up almost all the extra oxygen.

Edit:
I suppose that some sort of molecular pump in the cells and/or doing funny stuff with the blood supply might work, but that adds complexity making it hard to evolve such a system, particularly not in the very short time available.

But that's the current sea conditions. A waterworld would have no outflow from land, and less incoming elements to oxidize, so it might have more free oxygen. A lot more shallow seas above the continents could mean more plant life, as well.

Nick Theodorakis
2008-Mar-26, 08:03 PM
But that's the current sea conditions. A waterworld would have no outflow from land, and less incoming elements to oxidize, so it might have more free oxygen. A lot more shallow seas above the continents could mean more plant life, as well.

There is still a limit to oxygen solubility in water (http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/oxygen-solubility-water-d_841.html) -- about a few hundred micomolar, depending on conditions (temp, pressure, salinity).

Nick

lbhloz
2008-Mar-26, 10:13 PM
How to convince a creationist of evolution (or anything that isn't in the bible for that matter) :

Creationist - "Don't you know that the eath is just 6000 years old and nothing has ever changed and fossils are just 'tests by god' / evidence of animals that lived in the past 6000 years but are now extinct / other wank excuse."

You - "You'll be dead one day and maybe, just maybe your grandchildren won't be so <> stupid."

Noclevername
2008-Mar-26, 10:24 PM
There is still a limit to oxygen solubility in water (http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/oxygen-solubility-water-d_841.html) -- about a few hundred micomolar, depending on conditions (temp, pressure, salinity).

Nick

Do current ocean conditions approach that limit? Do hypothetical waterworld conditions?

JohnD
2008-Mar-26, 10:55 PM
Enough with the gills, already!
Lots of other adaptations more likely, if you really wnat to discuss them.

Ncn,
"Oh, there is, just very slowly, and adapting to man-made conditions."
Get thee to Gehenna, thou lice-sucking son of Lysenko!
Animals Do Not Adapt.
Write that out one hundred times, that you should better understand evolution.
It was Lysenko that tried to show environmentally acquired inheritance, and failed to satisfy even Stalin.

Evolution means that unfavourable changes are eliminated, favourable ones survive. If they survive to reproduce the changes will be inherited. Nowadays, unfavourable changes are vigorously treated. Only in undeveloped countries is child mortality anything like the rate that could be driving evolution.

John

Noclevername
2008-Mar-26, 11:03 PM
Evolution means that unfavourable changes are eliminated, favourable ones survive. If they survive to reproduce the changes will be inherited. That is the biological definition of adaptation. You just described the mechanism I was talking about.
:wall:


Nowadays, unfavourable changes are vigorously treated.
Exactly, we have manmade conditions, which affect who survives and who doesn't. That's evolution.
ADDED: Thus those changes are no longer "unfavorable" for their present conditions, I.E., civilized society.

Only in undeveloped countries is child mortality anything like the rate that could be driving evolution.
No. Just flat-out wrong. Survival is as much part of evolution as death.

Grashtel
2008-Mar-26, 11:30 PM
Do current ocean conditions approach that limit? Do hypothetical waterworld conditions?
I would suspect not, but the tables at least give limits to consider. Working from the tables that Nick Theodorakis linked to and assuming that I haven't gone horribly wrong somewhere it seems that even under the best circumstances in one atmosphere water holds much less oxygen than air (if I am reading things right at 0oC fresh water holds only 14.6 mg/l of oxygen whereas air contains 240 mg/l of oxygen) making mammalian gills even less practical as not only would there be the problem of heat loss but also they would have to process much more water than air.

JohnD
2008-Mar-27, 08:47 AM
More 'missing links'.
Not that 'missing link' is a real concept (pace, Ncm!)
But another link in the chain.
New evidence of the ancient colonisation of Europe from Asia.
Remains of H.antecessor found in Spain are 1.1M years old

See Nature article: http://www.nature.com/news/2008/080326/full/news.2008.691.html
and a rather more fanciful facial reconstruction at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2008/mar/27/archaeology.dinosaurs

John

clint
2008-Mar-27, 09:21 AM
Human evolution is almost crawling right now...

At our time scales, did evolution ever do anything but crawl?

worzel
2008-Mar-27, 11:07 AM
Only in undeveloped countries is child mortality anything like the rate that could be driving evolution.
No. Just flat-out wrong. Survival is as much part of evolution as death.
But the key is differential survival (and reproduction). With modern medicine and our desire to have only a few children all of whom we can realistically expect to mature and reproduce, there is no (or very little) weeding out in the developed world.

Gillianren
2008-Mar-27, 05:31 PM
A, that's in the developed world, which a substantial percentage of the human population is not.

B, there's a certain amount of selection even there. Self-selection, for one. I have friends who have chosen not to have children because they don't want to pass down certain genes. Not everyone with those genes will make that choice. However, those that do still effect the frequency of that gene in the population.

Noclevername
2008-Mar-27, 05:54 PM
But the key is differential survival (and reproduction). With modern medicine and our desire to have only a few children all of whom we can realistically expect to mature and reproduce, there is no (or very little) weeding out in the developed world.

And that's the key misconception I'm talking about; that evolution is "weeding out". Evolution means that whatever can survive and pass on its genes under existing conditions does so. In our current circumstances, the condition of an increasing number of humans is that of a technological civilization, and that means those who can survive are often those who would not survive in a hunter-gatherer society or even a less-developed civilized society.

The so-often misunderstood concept "survival of the fittest" does not mean survival of the best and brightest. It means fitness in the original biological sense, who and what fits best into a given environment. Change the conditions, and you change the definition of who is "fit" to survive.

worzel
2008-Mar-27, 05:58 PM
A, that's in the developed world, which a substantial percentage of the human population is not.
Indeed. In fact, I think I even said in the developed world, didn't I? The percentage is as irrelevant to what I said as it is to what JohnD said about the undeveloped world (which I was supporting), so I don't know what your point is there.


B, there's a certain amount of selection even there. Self-selection, for one. I have friends who have chosen not to have children because they don't want to pass down certain genes. Not everyone with those genes will make that choice. However, those that do still effect the frequency of that gene in the population.
Yes, very true. And knowingly withholding genes aside, it would be quite remarkable if there was absolutely no change in gene frequency, or even no more than by pure drift.

But I think the point is that the real work of evolution mostly gets done when times are hard, when there's lots of death, and/or a few winners begetting all the gals, etc. And (for the most part) that's not the developed world. I can't speak for him, but I guess Gould would have said that humans (in the developed world, at least) are in a state of stasis.

Of course, in evolutionary terms modern technology is just a microscopic blip. Who knows what disasters await us. Maybe our little plateau will be completely insignificant to biologists in 100,000 years.

Disinfo Agent
2008-Mar-27, 06:14 PM
At our time scales, did evolution ever do anything but crawl?In shortlived organisms, observing evolution is feasible. See Observed instances of speciation (http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-speciation.html) at the Talk Origins archive.

worzel
2008-Mar-27, 06:17 PM
And that's the key misconception I'm talking about; that evolution is "weeding out". Evolution means that whatever can survive and pass on its genes under existing conditions does so. In our current circumstances, the condition of an increasing number of humans is that of a technological civilization, and that means those who can survive are often those who would not survive in a hunter-gatherer society.
If there is no "weeding out", if everyone survives and has the same number of offspring (failing to attract a mate can be considered "weeding out" too), then there is no differential propagation of genes with which to affect gene frequency. Surely that's tautological. If everyone survives and has 2.4 children then all our gene frequencies can do is drift randomly (mutations aside). Of course, that's not the real world (for a start, having 0.4 of viable child is a little tricky). But that's a lot closer to our developed world than the circumstances which are believed to have driven most of evolutionary adaptation.


The so-often misunderstood concept "survival of the fittest" does not mean survival of the best and brightest. It means fitness in the original biological sense, who and what fits best into a given environment. Change the conditions, and you change the definition of who is "fit" to survive.
Now you're just rehearsing your pet peeves to me. I never said anything about the best and brightest and never put any connotations on "survival of the fittest" beyond the original biological sense of differential survival rates. But look at what you've said right there. "who is fit to survive". What do you mean by that if not survive and reproduce where others didn't? Is that not just saying "differential survival (and reproduction)" in different words? Is the "where others didn't" not referring to those that natural selection "weeded out"?

Noclevername
2008-Mar-27, 06:25 PM
If there is no "weeding out", if everyone survives and has the same number of offspring (failing to attract a mate can be considered "weeding out" too), then there is no differential propagation of genes with which to affect gene frequency. Surely that's tautological. If everyone survives and has 2.4 children then all our gene frequencies can do is drift randomly (mutations aside). Of course, that's not the real world (for a start, having 0.4 of viable child is a little tricky). But that's a lot closer to our developed world than the circumstances which are believed to have driven most of evolutionary adaptation.

No, you're misunderstanding the term "weeding out", which implies a distinction between "weeds" (unwanted) and "flowers" (desired). Nature has no desires, and weeds are often hardy survivors.

Now you're just rehearsing your pet peeves to me. I never said anything about the best and brightest and never put any connotations on "survival of the fittest" beyond the original biological sense of differential survival rates.
See above, and I wasn't just responding to you alone, I was also resonding to JohnD and EvilEye, who did imply that definition of evolution. It's not all about you, y'know. ;)

Jim
2008-Mar-27, 06:40 PM
... Self-selection, for one. I have friends who have chosen not to have children because they don't want to pass down certain genes. Not everyone with those genes will make that choice. However, those that do still effect the frequency of that gene in the population.


I can't speak for him, but I guess Gould would have said that humans (in the developed world, at least) are in a state of stasis.

Then Gould would be wrong, precisely because of what Gillian points out.

Humans are engaged in directing their own evolution. Some couples will not have children to avoid passing along a "bad" gene. Some women will choose to have children from a specific father because of desirable traits (check your local sperm bank for details). Both of those are examples of evolution.

In fact, both of those are examples of (drumroll, please) intelligent design! (Note the use of lower case; I am not saying it's that Intelligent Design.)

Disinfo Agent
2008-Mar-27, 06:47 PM
I can't speak for him, but I guess Gould would have said that humans (in the developed world, at least) are in a state of stasis.Then you shouldn't guess, because I'm pretty sure you've guessed wrong. The notion of a species in stasis is incompatible with the theory of evolution. Even if the biological environmental pressures could be completely removed fom the picture -- which mankind has not done -- genetic drift and social pressures would remain. By the way, genetic drift, while random, is not static. Gould would know this.

P.S. This is worth quoting:


"If a population is finite in size (as all populations are) and if a given pair of parents have only a small number of offspring, then even in the absence of all selective forces, the frequency of a gene will not be exactly reproduced in the next generation because of sampling error. If in a population of 1000 individuals the frequency of "a" is 0.5 in one generation, then it may by chance be 0.493 or 0.0505 in the next generation because of the chance production of a few more or less progeny of each genotype. In the second generation, there is another sampling error based on the new gene frequency, so the frequency of "a" may go from 0.0505 to 0.501 or back to 0.498. This process of random fluctuation continues generation after generation, with no force pushing the frequency back to its initial state because the population has no "genetic memory" of its state many generations ago. Each generation is an independent event. The final result of this random change in allele frequency is that the population eventually drifts to p=1 or p=0. After this point, no further change is possible; the population has become homozygous." Suzuki, D.T., Griffiths, A.J.F., Miller, J.H. and Lewontin, R.C. in An Introduction to Genetic Analysis 4th ed. W.H. Freeman 1989 p.704) (quoted at the Talk Origins Archive - check it out, it's worth a read!) (http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/genetic-drift.html)

rucs_hack
2008-Mar-27, 07:03 PM
Beleiving that the human race has somehow stopped evolving is more likely to be an effort to reassure oneself and avoid the otherwise complex thoughts that might result.

Homo Sapiens (or Pan Narrans if you follow the Pratchett name, which sounds better to me), is absolutely not completely evolved.

We are generally living longer, but this is more a reflection of the availability of food and medicine then anything else. However, this aging reveals significant flaws that would be a major handicap to our species.

Arthritis for one thing. We have never evolved that particular major flaw out of our genes because it most often occurs after the breeding lifetime of female humans, indeed, until the last few thousand years, the majority of humans wouldn't even have lived long enough to experience it in the first place. As with most geriatric diseases, this is becoming more of a problem now that people can expect to still be active at an age when most would have been long dead many decades before.

Since geriatric diseases mostly appear when our species has ceased breeding activity, natural evolution is unlikely to solve these problems. That means it's most likely down to artificial manipulation.

It's going to be needed too, who wants to live to 200 if you're a cripple for 120 of those years? It's a fate many of us could expect.

Geriatric diseases aside, there isn't that much in the way of evolutionary pressure acting on our species right now, so any evolution is likely to be infinitesimally small. When we finally get out into space on a large scale, that will change.

Noclevername
2008-Mar-27, 07:08 PM
Homo Sapiens (or Pan Narrans if you follow the Pratchett name, which sounds better to me), is absolutely not completely evolved.


Nothing ever is.

Disinfo Agent
2008-Mar-27, 07:09 PM
Beleiving that the human race has somehow stopped evolving is more likely to be an effort to reassure oneself and avoid the otherwise complex thoughts that might result.People who worry that the human race might have stopped evolving seem to have romantic decline-and-fall fantasies about the virtues of a simpler, back-to-basics way of life (I'm not accusing anyone in this forum of harboring such ideas, but they may have been influenced by other people who do).


Geriatric diseases aside, there isn't that much in the way of evolutionary pressure acting on our species right now, so any evolution is likely to be infinitesimally small.What about all the other deseases?

Gillianren
2008-Mar-27, 11:54 PM
Arthritis for one thing. We have never evolved that particular major flaw out of our genes because it most often occurs after the breeding lifetime of female humans, indeed, until the last few thousand years, the majority of humans wouldn't even have lived long enough to experience it in the first place. As with most geriatric diseases, this is becoming more of a problem now that people can expect to still be active at an age when most would have been long dead many decades before.

I have to tell you that arthritis is not entirely a geriatric disease. How do I know? The horrible pain my knees are in, to start. One of my college friends hobbling around all the time before she even reached the age of consent. And so forth. It is true that most people don't start experiencing the symptoms of arthritis until they're pretty much beyond procreation (yes, I know men never technically reach that point, but there's an age beyond which most men don't procreate). However, given the number of medical professionals (and laymen) who've told me that I'm too young to have arthritis, I like to clear up that confusion right away.

rucs_hack
2008-Mar-28, 12:05 AM
I have to tell you that arthritis is not entirely a geriatric disease.

Having been a nurse for 12 years I am aware of this already. I certainly don't wish to diminish the seriousness of your own difficulty.

I was simple talking of the general case, as one usually must when commenting on a usually complex subject and not wishing to write an essay in place of an acceptably sized comment.

In fact many, if not all geriatric diseases also occur infrequently in younger people. Having worked with Alzheimers sufferers for most of my nursing career I've seen this happen several times. Watching someone experience one of the most destructive geriatric diseases whilst in their forties is no pleasant thing, I can assure you.

worzel
2008-Mar-28, 02:03 AM
No, you're misunderstanding the term "weeding out", which implies a distinction between "weeds" (unwanted) and "flowers" (desired). Nature has no desires, and weeds are often hardy survivors.
The language may have been a bit poetic for your taste, but to suggest I'm wrong in using the term "weed out" simply because nature has no desires while "weed" has the connotation of unwanted is ridiculous. I simply used the term to denote the effect of natural selection with no such connotation of nature's desires. You're hacking at a strawman.


See above, and I wasn't just responding to you alone, I was also resonding to JohnD and EvilEye, who did imply that definition of evolution. It's not all about you, y'know. ;)
You said it in a response to my post. I apologize if I egotistically mistook that for a response to me.

worzel
2008-Mar-28, 02:05 AM
Then Gould would be wrong, precisely because of what Gillian points out.

Humans are engaged in directing their own evolution. Some couples will not have children to avoid passing along a "bad" gene. Some women will choose to have children from a specific father because of desirable traits (check your local sperm bank for details). Both of those are examples of evolution.
Like I said--and you saw fit to not quote, it would be rather surprising if there were no change in gene frequency at all. But these examples you mention are not on the scale required by evolutionary theory to explain the diversity of life. Evolution does require far more death and differential propagation rates than is present in the developed world for that. So I'll concede that humans in the developed world are still evolving, but not at anywhere near the rate necessary to develop the sort of adaptations that spawned this discussion.

worzel
2008-Mar-28, 02:06 AM
Then you shouldn't guess, because I'm pretty sure you've guessed wrong. The notion of a species in stasis is incompatible with the theory of evolution. Even if the biological environmental pressures could be completely removed fom the picture -- which mankind has not done -- genetic drift and social pressures would remain. By the way, genetic drift, while random, is not static. Gould would know this.
Genetic drift and very slow evolution (at a rate unable to account for our biological history by itself) was part of Gould's model for stasis (i.e. not static) in his theory of punctuated equilibrium. I'm guessing that Gould would probably have known that.

My guess was whether or not humans in the developed world are within Gould's definition of stasis or not. Not that stasis equals static.

worzel
2008-Mar-28, 02:09 AM
Beleiving that the human race has somehow stopped evolving is more likely to be an effort to reassure oneself and avoid the otherwise complex thoughts that might result.
I wasn't aware of anyone in this thread claiming that humans had stopped evolving altogether and forever. Merely that humans in the developed world are, at present, evolving so slowly compared to random drift that they are more accurately to be considered not to be evolving: i.e. in stasis.


Homo Sapiens (or Pan Narrans if you follow the Pratchett name, which sounds better to me), is absolutely not completely evolved.
What on earth does "completely evolved" mean? Surely you don't think there's some ultimate goal to human evolution, or any other species.


We are generally living longer, but this is more a reflection of the availability of food and medicine then anything else. However, this aging reveals significant flaws that would be a major handicap to our species.
Not if you've successfully reproduced already it's not, from an evolutionary point of view (second order "grandparents lending a hand" not withstanding). But that's what you go on to say.


Geriatric diseases aside, there isn't that much in the way of evolutionary pressure acting on our species right now, so any evolution is likely to be infinitesimally small.
Exactly.


When we finally get out into space on a large scale, that will change.
Maybe not. If we have the technology to get into space maybe we'll decide to use our skills to make life easy for us, and not put ourselves under the sort of pressure that might drive significant evolution. Someone might have predicted the demise of the poorly sighted in the advent of a knowledge based society if they hadn't also predicted the invention of the spectacles.

Disinfo Agent
2008-Mar-28, 11:27 AM
Genetic drift and very slow evolution (at a rate unable to account for our biological history by itself) was part of Gould's model for stasis (i.e. not static) in his theory of punctuated equilibrium. I'm guessing that Gould would probably have known that.

My guess was whether or not humans in the developed world are within Gould's definition of stasis or not. Not that stasis equals static.My apologies, I didn't realise you were using the word 'stasis' in a technical sense!

worzel
2008-Mar-28, 11:50 AM
My apologies, I didn't realise you were using the word 'stasis' in a technical sense!
No worries. Probably my fault. I find it difficult when talking about evolution to be both to the point and accurate. For me It's a bit of a semantic minefield, with every useful metaphor needing to be drowned in caveats not to be taken to literally.

BioSci
2008-Mar-28, 08:37 PM
In contrast to the "common sense" idea that humans are now evolving at a slow rate, actual studies may indicate that human evolution is actually increasing (perhaps due to cultural effects):


"We found very many human genes undergoing selection," says anthropologist Gregory Cochran of the University of Utah, a member of the team that analyzed the 3.9 million DNA sequences* showing the most variation. "Most are very recent, so much so that the rate of human evolution over the past few thousand years is far greater than it has been over the past few million years."
http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=culture-speeds-up-human-evolution



Human evolution has been speeding up tremendously, a new study contends—so much, that the latest evolutionary changes seem to largely eclipse earlier ones that accompanied modern man’s “origin.”
http://www.world-science.net/exclusives/070326_evolution.htm

parallaxicality
2008-Mar-28, 11:55 PM
Wow. What traits are these pressures selecting for?

Delvo
2008-Mar-29, 12:17 AM
Various, and mostly unknown. Some of the genes and their actions have been identified but were sorto obvious anyway, like skin color (strong recent selection in pale races, not in the dark ones). Some are in the digestive and immune systems and even the brain, although the exact actions of some of the genes are not known in detail. But the functions of most of the hundreds of genes in question (the ones showing strong recent selection in at least some races) have not been determined. Presumably, that includes the genes for some of the phenotypic traits that we know have been changing lately (because they're different between the races or because, as the article described, our skeletons aren't the same as older skeletons) but don't know the genes for yet.

worzel
2008-Mar-29, 01:38 AM
Interesting. So my guess may have been completely wrong :o

But while finding the article rather surprising, I noticed that it is referring to the last few thousand years or so compared to the last hundred thousand years or so. My "common sense" guess, and the reasons for it, are really only about human evolution in the developed world over the last 100 years or less. Can their evidence tell us anything about that? Do they, or anyone else, claim that their logic applies there?

If so, how can that be made consistent with the fact that most people (in the recent developed world) have a few children each? Where's the selective pressure coming from? Or is that "fact" actually my misconception?

BioSci
2008-Mar-29, 04:15 AM
It is very difficult to measure "rate of evolution" in less than tens of generations so it is hard to estimate current rates.

But I think these articles bring up an important aspect of evolution - it happens all the time. But not just for the reasons that we typically visualize in terms of morbidity but, perhaps especially for humans, changes in gene frequencies may be more due to selective reproduction.

Evolution is simply unavoidable in any system that undergoes differential reproduction and has variable genetics.

EvilEye
2008-Mar-29, 04:42 AM
When I said that human evolution had slowed to a crawl, I thought I explained it, in that we as humans have figured out (we think) how to change our envirnoment instead of our environment dictating ourselves.

For example... we wear skins (clothing) to keep from getting cold, instead of evolving a genetic solution. We make Air Conditioning/Heating systems instead of evolving alternative solutions.... etc....

I didn't say our evolution has stopped. I'm saying that we have usurped the natural course of evolution to the point that we are now not diversifying, but combining.

worzel
2008-Mar-29, 11:05 AM
It is very difficult to measure "rate of evolution" in less than tens of generations so it is hard to estimate current rates.
Yeah, that's what I thought, which is why I was only ever guessing :)


But I think these articles bring up an important aspect of evolution - it happens all the time. But not just for the reasons that we typically visualize in terms of morbidity but, perhaps especially for humans, changes in gene frequencies may be more due to selective reproduction.
Yes, that's fair enough. But "survival" in evolutionary terms doesn't just mean not dieing too young, it means reproducing before death. When there is much infant mortality there great selective pressure for traits that just get you to reproductive age.

But my question is, is selective reproduction a significant enough factor in the modern developed countries to allow any evolutionary trends to be heard above the noise of drift?

Also, apart from the specific case of choosing not to breed due to your likelihood of passing on an undesirable trait (which would be quite rare, I would have thought), what evolutionary effect does selective reproduction have? If people are choosing the number of children they have (including none) due mainly to cultural reasons that have no or very little genetic determination (a big "if", maybe), then them doing so is only affecting gene frequencies randomly and is just a form of drift.

So just saying people choose to reproduce in different numbers isn't enough to support that there is meaningful evolution due to selective reproduction. Examples of genetically determined traits that are selected for this way need to be identified, don't they?


Evolution is simply unavoidable in any system that undergoes differential reproduction and has variable genetics.
Yes. But does that mean that evolution has always gone at roughly the same rate? Or do you agree with Gould (and Dawkins when you get down to what Gould really meant) that evolutionary rates vary greatly depending on circumstances, and that populations under little pressure can be in a state of such slow evolution that any "progress" is lost in the random drift, and that these periods of stasis are punctuated by much faster periods of evolution when disasters strike and or new opportunities present themselves?

EvilEye
2008-Mar-29, 12:26 PM
Reproductive ability HAS changed for humans over the centuries. Younger children are capable, and women into what was once considered "old-age" are able to safely bear children today.

Gillianren
2008-Mar-29, 06:14 PM
But my question is, is selective reproduction a significant enough factor in the modern developed countries to allow any evolutionary trends to be heard above the noise of drift?

If you take immigration into the mix? Probably. After all, those people from developing countries may well immigrate to a developed one. (The US's population, for example, would be decreasing were it not for the current rate of immigration.) The genes that they develop in their birth country are then spread into the new one. The rate at which that happens, of course, is anyone's guess.

worzel
2008-Mar-30, 12:08 AM
That's a good point Gillianren. As I was referring to the differences between the selective pressures in the developed and less developed countries I wasn't thinking about the effect of immigration. But even if my guess about the reasons for first world stasis were right, immigration might well thwart that.

EvilEye
2008-Mar-30, 05:30 AM
Immigration and mixing of races is diluting the gene pool. Socially, it is a good thing, but genetically, eventually (evolutionarily) there will be no more diversification.

(I am not a racist...I just welcomed a different race into my family as a son in law...I'm just speaking purely scientifically)

worzel
2008-Mar-30, 11:09 AM
I thought recent research showed that there was less genetic difference between populations considered to be different races than within them. I.e. that the concept of race is largely an illusion.

And I though the genome project showed that the small differences between races is largely that of omission, with every non-African race being a pretty much a genetic subset of the African race. So the diversification between races was probably largely due to initial isolation of small subsets than subsequent evolution. If that's true then mixing it all up again should reduce diversification.

Anyway, even if there were no differences at all at some point in time, and the developed world had very low selective pressure, immigration some time later from a place with high selective pressure would still affect gene frequencies.

Delvo
2008-Mar-30, 12:31 PM
Immigration and mixing of races is diluting the gene pool. Socially, it is a good thing, but genetically, eventually (evolutionarily) there will be no more diversification.I don't know what you mean by "diluting" and "no more diversification". The only real-world population-genetic phenomenon I can think of which corresponds to any interpretation of the word "diluting", would be the way a small population gradually mixes with a large population that it's exposed to, the end result of which is that the small one fades away with relatively little effect on the big one. For example, the average "black" American is really only 80-90 percent black, the rest usually white, but the average "white" American is not even 1 percent black (although not zero). In other words, the number of mixed individuals is a much greater fraction of the small population than it is of the large population. And, although the end result without immigration would be a total mixture into one population (with a lot more genes from one former group than from the other) so the two aren't separate anymore, that doesn't mean "no more diversification". The races in such a population wouldn't appear as "diverse" as before, but the same array of genes would still be present in them and would still be just as likely to mutate in new ways.[/QUOTE]


I thought recent research showed that there was less genetic difference between populations considered to be different races than within them. I.e. that the concept of race is largely an illusion.Race is pretty simple, obvious, and not in any doubt at all. Take a look at people from different regions of the world. They're different in undeniable and consistent ways. Those are races. There's no more to it than that. People who argue that there's no such thing might as well be claiming that the sky isn't blue, leaves aren't green, and water isn't wet. It's a PC fantasy and they're trying to depict the world as they wish it were instead of as it is.

And actually, the most "recent" research has been uncovering a list of hundreds of alleles that are unique or close to unique to each of the world's regional populations, so it's only made even clearer the fact that there are real genotypic distinctions between races, too, not just phenotypic.

Amount of genetic diversity alone doesn't mean anything because races, breeds, varieties, subspecies, and such are not defined as needing to have some minimum threshold amount of it.


And I though the genome project showed that the small differences between races is largely that of omission, with every non-African race being a pretty much a genetic subset of the African race.No, the other populations also have a bunch of alleles that aren't found in Africa or are only found there in very small numbers. They can result from new mutations occurring after emigration, or from alleles that they had already when they left but which those who stayed behind didn't have or eventually "lost".

EvilEye
2008-Mar-30, 05:13 PM
It isn't about feelings or emotions or political correctness. It is about the scientific fact that as we continue to spread our genes across the planet, we will eventually come to a point that we are not diversifying, but combining the traits of all the people into one.

That's all. It won't happen for probably thousands or millions of years, but it will eventually happen to humans. Animals GENERALLY stay within a migratory area. (unless of course we move them)

Gillianren
2008-Mar-30, 05:49 PM
Race is pretty simple, obvious, and not in any doubt at all. Take a look at people from different regions of the world. They're different in undeniable and consistent ways. Those are races. There's no more to it than that. People who argue that there's no such thing might as well be claiming that the sky isn't blue, leaves aren't green, and water isn't wet. It's a PC fantasy and they're trying to depict the world as they wish it were instead of as it is.

Um, no. In fact. The aforementioned "more variation within populations than between them" is, in fact, absolutely true. Race, according to both biologists and anthropologists, is a purely social structure. You can look at people and see differences, to be sure--though there are more differences in skin colour in Africa than in anywhere else in the world, and that's leaving out the Afrikaans--but biologically, there are so few distinctions as to be negiligible.

Yes, I know. You're going to accuse me of being PC. But I'm not. I'm being a student of biology and anthropology.

Disinfo Agent
2008-Mar-30, 05:52 PM
It is about the scientific fact that as we continue to spread our genes across the planet, we will eventually come to a point that we are not diversifying, but combining the traits of all the people into one.How is that a scientific fact? Which scientists have made such a claim, and with which arguments?

P.S. Thinking a little more about it, I suppose that when you imagine that "spreading our genes across the planet" (they're pretty well spread already, you know?) will reduce diversity, that's because to you "diversity" means "differences between large populations". But why should we focus on that sort of diversity? At first glance, diversity between random individuals within a population seems more important to me than diversity between populations. For example, if a deadly epidemic strikes a certain population, you want the individuals in that population to be diverse, so that some may resist the illness. It makes no difference whether another population on the other side of the globe is very different. If the affected population is too homogeneous, it risks getting wiped out.

EvilEye
2008-Mar-30, 06:00 PM
How is that a scientific fact? Which scientists have made such a claim, and with which arguments?


You've got me there. I apologize for making such a claim. I do not know of a study on this (though there may be one).

Take out the words "scientific fact" and put the words "common sense" in there.

You are correct. I was wrong on that.

I was trying to point out that biodiversity is what makes evolution work, and that by us humans being able to live ANYWHERE is closing that gap faster than we have time to diversify.

Delvo
2008-Mar-30, 08:02 PM
The aforementioned "more variation within populations than between them" is, in fact, absolutely true.Yes, but the claim that that fact (which I never denied) means there are no races is a lie in the form of a non-sequitor. "Race" does not mean "a population of a given species, within which there is less genetic variation than there is between that population and others of the same species". Division of a species into groups below the level of "species" has nothing to do with any measurement of amount of variation. It's about common ancestry and observed common traits. Those traits tend to depend on genes, of course, but that says nothing about how much variation there could be in the other genes that aren't linked to race/variety/breed. Using a single simple number for overall variation is, in this context and for this purpose, a case of abuse of statistics, like claiming that humans are hermaphroditic because of the statistical fact that the average human has one testicle and one ovary. It's true, but irrelevant because the single simple number blurs together some bits of information that don't quite belong together, at least not for the given context. For the genetics of race, the question is not how much variation is found overall in the whole genome including the parts that the races have in common along with what they don't, but whether or not any subset of genes/alleles is found at all that they don't: are some subsets of genes predominantly or exclusively found in one group of people and not in others, regardless of the variation of other genes that aren't distributed that way? And the answer in humans is: yes, there are several hundred such racially-distributed genes showing common ancestry of a few certain demographic/population clusters, grouped in just the way that you'd expect based on race (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/26/science/26human.html?_r=1&ex=1189224000&en=413288d517f209d0&ei=5070&oref=slogin).

I'm sure, out of all of the domesticated and wild plant and animals species we know of with varieties and breeds within those species, we could find others out there with more genetic variation within a variety/breed than between varieties/breeds. But of course that wouldn't mean that those varieties and breeds suddenly didn't exist anymore, and nobody would try to claim that it did; when you clear away human emotionalism from clouding the issue, what shines through is the fact that that "logic" is just too patently absurd and silly, like those folks who claim that time doesn't exist even though they know they're talking to people who certainly experience time in their own lives. Total amount of variation alone just isn't enough information to determine species subdivision, so a claim based on that alone just can't stand up on its own merits... even if it weren't contradicted by obvious phenotpyic proof to the contrary and genetic evidence to the contrary, which this one IS.


Race, according to both biologists and anthropologists, is a purely social structure. You can look at people and see differences, to be sureThese two sentences can't possibly both be true. If there's a physical difference built in to people's bodies that can be observed, then it isn't just social. If it's purely social, then there can't be any physical difference built in to people's bodies. This admission that there are indeed physical differences is a rather peculiar thing: an admission by someone who's trying to deny something, that (s)he knows the thing being denied is absolutely real!

As with any mutual contradiction, this gives us two or three other possibilities instead: either A is true and B is false, or A is false and B is true, or they're both false (also a mutual contradiction in some cases but not always). So an honest person has no choice but to either discard both (no such physical traits but still not a purely social construct either) or pick just one: either there really are such physical traits so it can't possibly be just social, or there aren't so it can.

Delvo
2008-Mar-30, 08:25 PM
It is about the scientific fact that as we continue to spread our genes across the planet, we will eventually come to a point that we are not diversifying, but combining the traits of all the people into one.What you're missing here is the difference between genotypic diversification and phenotypic diversification. Racial re-merging would take the same number of different kinds of alleles that there already are and put them together in some new or previously rare combinations. That tends to result in phenotypes converging toward an average, but all of the original genes/alleles are still in there, just balancing each other out in the phenotype.

But wait; genetic diversity is more complicated than just a count of how many versions of each gene there are. There are other ways to calculate "genetic diversity", using whole groups/clusters of genes together, and that's an aspect of diversity that would actually increase when you combine previously separate populations. The merging would create more and more new individuals carrying novel or previously rare combinations of one old population's alleles with the other's in the very same body.

So you'd get a decrease in diversity of phenotypes, but at the same time, a constant amount of one aspect of genetic diversity, and an increase in another aspect of genetic diversity...

Disinfo Agent
2008-Mar-30, 08:36 PM
As for the nature of race, this has been discussed before here in the forum. I suggest perusing this thread (http://www.bautforum.com/off-topic-babbling/40234-extinction-white-man.html). Most modern anthropological authorities will tell you that race is a social, not a biological phenomenon. However, as Thomas Kuhn might have said, here the paradigm shift isn't yet complete.

Gillianren
2008-Mar-31, 12:11 AM
These two sentences can't possibly both be true. If there's a physical difference built in to people's bodies that can be observed, then it isn't just social. If it's purely social, then there can't be any physical difference built in to people's bodies. This admission that there are indeed physical differences is a rather peculiar thing: an admission by someone who's trying to deny something, that (s)he knows the thing being denied is absolutely real!

You can see physical differences between me and my sisters, too. My point was that the things you observe are but a small fraction of the differences possible.


As with any mutual contradiction, this gives us two or three other possibilities instead: either A is true and B is false, or A is false and B is true, or they're both false (also a mutual contradiction in some cases but not always). So an honest person has no choice but to either discard both (no such physical traits but still not a purely social construct either) or pick just one: either there really are such physical traits so it can't possibly be just social, or there aren't so it can.

Or you're misunderstanding what I said. My older sister is notably taller and smaller-framed than I. She wears glasses and I don't. Our hair is different colours. There are a lot of visible differences between us. There are even more between me and my friend Shanti, and we're both of the socio-ethnic group called "white." You can see differences. We have chosen skin colour as the one that defines race, but it's hardly the most notable difference.

Jeff Root
2008-Mar-31, 06:11 PM
Um, no. In fact. The aforementioned "more variation within populations than between them" is, in fact, absolutely true. Race, according to both biologists and anthropologists, is a purely social structure. You can look at people and see differences, to be sure--though there are more differences in skin colour in Africa than in anywhere else in the world, and that's leaving out the Afrikaans--but biologically, there are so few distinctions as to be negiligible.
So the obvious differences between people of different races are purely
social? I don't see a way for that to make any sense.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

Disinfo Agent
2008-Mar-31, 06:18 PM
So the obvious differences between people of different races are purely
social? I don't see a way for that to make any sense.The way you have framed your question is misleading. It's the various concepts of race themselves which are purely social.

Perhaps it helps if I point out that people 'of different races' aren't necessarily different from each other. Yes, you read that well. What I mean is that the same person may be and often is placed into different races by different people and/or cultures.

There is rarely anything obvious about race.

Jeff Root
2008-Mar-31, 06:32 PM
You can see differences. We have chosen skin colour as the one that
defines race, but it's hardly the most notable difference.
Oh, my. If you think that skin color defines race, my guess is that
most people think so. Although I suppose I've got a lot of clues that
people think that, it never occurred to me before that anyone would
think skin color defined race. To me, it obviously does not. Skin color
is just one feature, an obvious one and the one most easily described,
which distinguishes one race from another, and because of that, it is
used to label or name the different races. I have certainly met
Asian Indians who have skin blacker than the vast majority of "black"
people in the USA. I could give many other examples.

It is very interesting that I cannot define the phenotypes which
define a racial "type", but I can almost always recognize them when I
see them. A notable exception is my best friend, whose race I was not
able to determine by looking at him because, as it turned out when I
finally met his parents, one was Norwegian and the other Japanese,
so unlike most people, he doesn't have a particular race.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

Jeff Root
2008-Mar-31, 06:43 PM
The way you have framed your question is misleading. It's the various
concepts of race themselves which are purely social.

Perhaps it helps if I point out that people 'of different races' aren't
necessarily different from each other. Yes, you read that well. What I
mean is that the same person may be and often is placed into different
races by different people and/or cultures.

There is rarely anything obvious about race.
I disagree with all of that.

I would bet that if you and I each tried to classify 10,000 people
randomly selected from around the world by race, more than 95% of
our classifications would agree. If the people we disagreed on were
removed from the sample, most anyone would classify the remaining
people with very close to 100% agreement.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

Disinfo Agent
2008-Mar-31, 07:07 PM
I disagree with all of that.It's pretty uncontroversial stuff.

For example, many Brazilian universities have recently adopted racial quotas for admission, inspired by U.S. policies. In order to qualify, you need to be classified as an Afrodescendent. Two gentlement independently applied. One had his submission approved, while the other had his refused.
Now for the kicker (scroll down to question 8): they are identical twins (http://www.pbs.org/wnet/wideangle/shows/brazil2/quiz.html). :lol:


I would bet that if you and I each tried to classify 10,000 people
randomly selected from around the world by race, more than 95% of
our classifications would agree.Let's put that hypothesis to the test, shall we? How many right answers do you get on this test (http://www.pbs.org/race/002_SortingPeople/002_01-sort.htm) (no cheating, please)?

P.S. If we're really going to start discussing race, we should probably move to a new thread.

Delvo
2008-Mar-31, 07:17 PM
So the obvious differences between people of different races are purely
social? I don't see a way for that to make any sense.See the next post she made after the one you quoted. She backed off from saying that biological races don't exist to saying that the social importance that's assigned to it is socially based and arbitrary.

(Disinfo Agent did once before too, in another thread (http://www.bautforum.com/general-science/35747-interesting-opinion-piece-evolution-4.html).)

Gillianren
2008-Mar-31, 07:55 PM
See the next post she made after the one you quoted. She backed off from saying that biological races don't exist to saying that the social importance that's assigned to it is socially based and arbitrary.

(Disinfo Agent did once before too, in another thread (http://www.bautforum.com/general-science/35747-interesting-opinion-piece-evolution-4.html).)

She backed off from nothing, thank you. She corrected your misunderstanding about what she was saying. What someone looks like is irrelevant. Biologically speaking, there is no such thing, and you will not get me saying any different. Because, you know, to say otherwise would be to ignore the last 50 or more years of science. My point was that the very concept of race is socially based and arbitrary. It has no biological basis, and your "but so-and-so looks different!" is unscientific.

Delvo
2008-Mar-31, 08:31 PM
What someone looks like is irrelevantIrrelevant to what? A race, breed (in other animals), or variety (in plants) is simply a subset of the species in which individuals have certain traits in common due to common ancestry, usually as a result of separation and/or different pressures of selection. For any question, the only information that could possibly answer it is, by definition, relevant to that question. So, for the issue of identifying races/breeds/varieties/subspecies, those distinctive traits are the opposite of irrelevant: they're the MOST relevant thing to the given subject, and the ONLY relevant thing. For the subspecies not to exist, there'd have to be no such traits. So calling those traits "irrelevant" must be in reference to their relevance to some other issue, not the subspecies' existence.

As nearly as I can guess at this point, you mean that social matters are the only reason why we would care to bother labeling the races. But that's still not the same thing as races not existing and doesn't mean that people wouldn't still have those same traits and ancestries if everyone were to quit caring, any more than apathy about cat and dog breeds would make cat and dog breeds not exist.


...to say otherwise would be to ignore the last 50 or more years of science.What scientific information are you saying has been available in the last 50 years that wasn't before?

Nick Theodorakis
2008-Mar-31, 08:33 PM
...
What scientific information are you saying has been available in the last 50 years that wasn't before?

Complete human genome sequences and extensive genetic comparisons among different people.

NIck

EvilEye
2008-Mar-31, 08:49 PM
What you're missing here is the difference between genotypic diversification and phenotypic diversification. Racial re-merging would take the same number of different kinds of alleles that there already are and put them together in some new or previously rare combinations. That tends to result in phenotypes converging toward an average, but all of the original genes/alleles are still in there, just balancing each other out in the phenotype.

But wait; genetic diversity is more complicated than just a count of how many versions of each gene there are. There are other ways to calculate "genetic diversity", using whole groups/clusters of genes together, and that's an aspect of diversity that would actually increase when you combine previously separate populations. The merging would create more and more new individuals carrying novel or previously rare combinations of one old population's alleles with the other's in the very same body.

So you'd get a decrease in diversity of phenotypes, but at the same time, a constant amount of one aspect of genetic diversity, and an increase in another aspect of genetic diversity...



That's above my head as a baby in science (even at 40) - but Thank you, because now I have a bit more understanding to move forward with in my learning.

Delvo
2008-Mar-31, 08:55 PM
Complete human genome sequences and extensive genetic comparisons among different people.And how does any of that show that people did not inherit the traits of their ancestral populations in different regions of the world... especially in light of the fact that those same genetic studies (as described in a link I gave earlier) have found that people did indeed inherit the traits of their ancestral populations in different regions of the world?

Disinfo Agent
2008-Mar-31, 09:05 PM
See the next post she made after the one you quoted. She backed off from saying that biological races don't exist to saying that the social importance that's assigned to it is socially based and arbitrary.

(Disinfo Agent did once before too, in another thread.)If there were any doubts about it, let me dispel them: I never have before, and do not now back off from saying biological races don't exist. Biological races don't exist.

Jeff Root
2008-Apr-01, 10:59 AM
I would bet that if you and I each tried to classify 10,000 people
randomly selected from around the world by race, more than 95% of
our classifications would agree.
Let's put that hypothesis to the test, shall we? How many right answers
do you get on this test (http://www.pbs.org/race/002_SortingPeople/002_01-sort.htm) (no cheating, please)?
Nifty. I've looked at the photos but haven't tried to classify the people
yet. My first impression is that a relatively large percentage of them are
among those I would consider to be difficult to impossible to classify.
So I suspect that the selection is less than thoroughly random.

The "Hispanic/Latino" category is interesting in that the group is largely a
mix of "White", "Black", and "American Indian". One particular woman I met
who was from Brazil, for example, was mostly black, while the Uruguayan
couple who lived across the hall from me for the last quarter of 2007 was
mostly white.

I'll try to sort them later this morning and let you know how I fare.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

Delvo
2008-Apr-01, 11:34 AM
It's a straw herring. The existence of people of mixed race, especially cherry-picked for a quiz where one of the categories is sort of a subset of another one, and another one is not a race at all, has nothing to do with races not being real, any more than my sister's Labrador Retriver & Poodle mixed-breed dog demonstrates the non-existence of dog breeds. At best, what it means is that in some far-off future time when those people were the rule rather than the exception, THEN race could seriously be said not to exist, just like there'd be no more dog breeds left if the world's population of dogs were entirely or even predominantly mutts.

That's the problem with this whole race denial thing: instead of showing arguments on the subject, they invariably show arguments about something else. The possibility of mixing disproves separation of SPECIES at best (and not necessarily always even that), not separation of some level BELOW species. A single number for genetic variation shows only something about how long it's been since the last common ancestors, not whether or not there are subsets with their own more recent common ancestors and split evolutionary paths leading to different traits. The existence of other traits that aren't race-linked means nothing because no species that's subdivided below that level completely lacks variation within the subdivisions and it's not required for the subdivisions to exist. How few or numerous the race-linked traits are means nothing because species can be subdivided according to a wide variety of different numbers of traits including just one, not to mention that we can now add to the one or more dozen phenotypic traits several hundred genetic ones, making the list of known human racial traits longer than it is for any other animal's breeds or any plant's varieties. "Look at genetics!" means nothing because it cites nothing specific, cites nothing with specific relevant implications, ignores the fact that genetics have never been a part of the definition of race/breed/variety/subspecies in the first place, and ignores the fact that specific studies have indeed shown the existence of separate regional ancestral lines which neatly match the established regional separations based on phenotypes.

They need to pull stunts like that because they know they truly can't argue against any of the actual elements of race: that people in different parts of the world with different evolutionary pressures (and/or mostly-disconnected paths of random genetic drift) ended up with observably different traits, just like poodles and Labrador retrievers like my sister's dog's mother and father have different traits derived from their separate ancestors' exposure to different selection pressures.

Every necessary element for what the word means is there, and can't really be argued with, which is why they appear to be "backing off" when they're confronted with that fact and don't argue on the relevant facts... right up until they decide they just don't like that position and throw another straw herring out. That kind of adhesion to a prescribed conclusion against all reality is the classic hallmark of counterscientific religious/political positions such as creationism and PC. And if they don't like that, all they've got to do to change my mind is do something they haven't yet: counter any of the actual elements of what race really means instead of countering other arguments I haven't made on other subjects we aren't talking about.

worzel
2008-Apr-01, 12:10 PM
I thought recent research showed that there was less genetic difference between populations considered to be different races than within them. I.e. that the concept of race is largely an illusion.
Race is pretty simple, obvious, and not in any doubt at all. Take a look at people from different regions of the world. They're different in undeniable and consistent ways. Those are races. There's no more to it than that. People who argue that there's no such thing might as well be claiming that the sky isn't blue, leaves aren't green, and water isn't wet. It's a PC fantasy and they're trying to depict the world as they wish it were instead of as it is.
I may have my facts wrong, but I can assure you that I am not a PC fantasist. You agreed with Gillianren that there is more variation within populations than between them, so you can only be disagreeing with my "that the concept of race is largely an illusion". Probably bad wording on my part. I don't mean that there is no such thing as race, but that the apparent similarity within populations as opposed to the apparently larger differences between them is illusionary.



And I though the genome project showed that the small differences between races is largely that of omission, with every non-African race being a pretty much a genetic subset of the African race.
No, the other populations also have a bunch of alleles that aren't found in Africa or are only found there in very small numbers. They can result from new mutations occurring after emigration, or from alleles that they had already when they left but which those who stayed behind didn't have or eventually "lost".
Of course we would expect there to be some new mutations that have prospered since isolation. Note that I said "largely", and "pretty much". What many people found surprising about the result was that for the most part non-African races were genetic subsets of the African race.

I am neither a PC fanatic nor a racist. But I (like many) found both the more variance within than between races and the all races are [ pretty much ] subsets of the African race quite surprising. To be clear, you're not claiming that either of those is wrong, are you?

clint
2008-Apr-01, 12:32 PM
There are obviously different subsets of our species (however you want to call them)
originating from different parts of the world, with clearly distinguishable traits.

And yes, one of them can be predominant skin color, so what?

If you want to argue against discrimination based on these differences,
that's great, but it doesn't help to pretend we are all the same.

clint
2008-Apr-01, 12:50 PM
...but that the apparent similarity within populations as opposed to the apparently larger differences between them is illusionary.

Really?

Try and send ten Scandinavians to Kenya,
and see if the locals can find anybody more different in the entire country.
Or even anybody who is able to distinguish between the ten of them...

Delvo
2008-Apr-01, 02:51 PM
You agreed with Gillianren that there is more variation within populations than between them, so you can only be disagreeing with my "that the concept of race is largely an illusion". Probably bad wording on my part. I don't mean that there is no such thing as race, but that the apparent similarity within populations as opposed to the apparently larger differences between them is illusionary.Or at least misleading. The relatively small amount of genetic difference between races (just like between dog breeds) can result in rather large-seeming phenotypic differences, which could mislead a superficial observer into presuming there's more underlying physiological difference than there really is. It's because we tend to be more conscious of the visible than of hidden things like the fact that we all have the same ion pumps in our cell membranes and all of our hearts had to form by the same funky process of twisting and dividing up of a few early fetal blood vessels.


What many people found surprising about the result was that for the most part non-African races were genetic subsets of the African race.Yes, there are a bunch more unique or nearly-unique alleles in Africa than elsewhere. Each emigrant group took only some of the existing alleles with them and could only develop new mutations from that narrower starting point, so they didn't develop as many. (It's a version of the "founder effect".)


I (like many) found both the more variance within than between races and the all races are [ pretty much ] subsets of the African race quite surprising. To be clear, you're not claiming that either of those is wrong, are you?The first is true, and the second is a bit of a matter of word & phrase interpretation that very easily can be interpreted in a way that is true.

worzel
2008-Apr-01, 02:59 PM
Have you even read the thread, clint? I haven't made any arguments for or against discrimination and have not pretended that all races are the same, and certainly not that they look the same to us .

The illusionary part is that we often see a greater difference between races than within them while genetically there is actually a smaller difference between than within.

Race came up as a result of EvilEye saying that the mixing of races is diluting the gene pool. I was merely pointing out there's more variation to mix within races than between them and that the "dilution" he predicts already [ pretty much ] exists in the African gene pool.

worzel
2008-Apr-01, 03:15 PM
Or at least misleading. The relatively small amount of genetic difference between races (just like between dog breeds) can result in rather large-seeming phenotypic differences, which could mislead a superficial observer into presuming there's more underlying physiological difference than there really is. It's because we tend to be more conscious of the visible than of hidden things like the fact that we all have the same ion pumps in our cell membranes and all of our hearts had to form by the same funky process of twisting and dividing up of a few early fetal blood vessels.
I.e. misleading one into thinking that what we're visibly conscious of is indicative of what we're not. That's what I meant by illusionary :)


Yes, there are a bunch more unique or nearly-unique alleles in Africa than elsewhere. Each emigrant group took only some of the existing alleles with them and could only develop new mutations from that narrower starting point, so they didn't develop as many. (It's a version of the "founder effect".)

The first is true, and the second is a bit of a matter of word & phrase interpretation that very easily can be interpreted in a way that is true.
Ah. Seems like I've got a too simplistic understanding of it. Would it be better to say that the gene pool from which each non-African race has evolved was once a subset of the gene pool from which the African race evolved? This then doesn't need the "mutations not withstanding" caveat, which may incorrectly downplay mutations since emigration. Is that what you're saying?

Disinfo Agent
2008-Apr-01, 05:02 PM
Nifty. I've looked at the photos but haven't tried to classify the people
yet. My first impression is that a relatively large percentage of them are
among those I would consider to be difficult to impossible to classify.
So I suspect that the selection is less than thoroughly random.Do they look especially different from the people you'll normally find on the subway of a large American city?

Anyway, whether the sample is random in some way or not is not crucial. The point is that there are millions of people like that. Perhaps most of mankind is like that. Is it their fault that they look "ambiguous," or is it perhaps that the criteria we're trying to use to classify them are inadequate? We've been conditioned to think that most human beings can be readily placed into one-and-only-one of three to five racial categories just by looking at them, when a closer look shows that that is often not the case.


I'll try to sort them later this morning and let you know how I fare.Please do, I'm curious about your results. :)

clint
2008-Apr-01, 06:38 PM
Have you even read the thread, clint? I haven't made any arguments for or against discrimination and have not pretended that all races are the same, and certainly not that they look the same to us .


I wasn't referring to your post in particular here, worzel, sorry if I gave that impression
(actually I hadn't read your post, you submitted it while I was writing - hence my second post)

There were several posts that seemed to argue against the existence of biological subsets in the human species,
or implied that the differences are more social in nature than biological.
That's what I was referring to: the biological/genetic differences are real
- the discrimination based upon them are a social phenomenon.

Neverfly
2008-Apr-01, 06:44 PM
That's what I was referring to: the biological/genetic differences are real
- the discrimination based upon them are a social phenomenon.

I think these two lines really nail it.

Noclevername
2008-Apr-01, 06:47 PM
There were several posts that seemed to argue against the existence of biological subsets in the human species,
or implied that the differences are more social in nature than biological.
That's what I was referring to: the biological/genetic differences are real
- the discrimination based upon them are a social phenomenon.

The subsets are not clearly defined, however, as genetic variation is generally much broader within a gene pool than phenotypic variation. Phenotypic groupings are also easier to observe and have been defined for a longer period, but are more subjective and therefore more subject to error; i.e., a Melanesian often looks very much like a black African, despite the genetic differences.

clint
2008-Apr-01, 06:52 PM
...or is it perhaps that the criteria we're trying to use to classify them are inadequate? We've been conditioned to think that most human beings can be readily placed into one-and-only-one of three to five racial categories just by looking at them, when a closer look shows that that is often not the case.

Exactly, what's completely inadequate is the simplistic 'race' classification often used in the US (and some other countries).
And I do agree, worzel, that there is a huge genetic variety within those categories,
(I doubt they could even be clearly defined by genetics)

Jeff Root
2008-Apr-01, 07:42 PM
I went through the set of pictures at
http://www.pbs.org/race/002_SortingPeople/002_01-sort.htm
and wrote down what I thought. I'm posting that before I complete
the test to find out which ones I got right and which I got wrong.

As Delvo indicated, The American Indian category is a subset of the
Asian category, and the Hispanic / Latino category is a combination of
the White, Black, and American Indian categories, in any proportions,
so includes all the other categories offered as choices!

Top row, left-to-right:

1) Either some relatively obscure group in northern India or surrounding
region, or White + American Indian. But I'll say Asian, to mean the
northern India group, even though that would be Caucasian (White).

2) Micronesian or some other tropical Pacific group, or Australian
Aborigine. Since those are not choices, I'll say Black.

3) White.

4) American Indian and White, or Hispanic / Latino (Mostly White).
I'll say American Indian.

5) Asian or American Indian. I'll say American Indian.

6) White.

7) Asian.

8) Hispanic / Latino (Mostly White) or American Indian (Mostly White).
I'll say Hispanic / Latino.

9) Hispanic / Latino (Mostly White).

10) White or Hispanic / Latino (Mostly White). I'll say Hispanic / Latino.

Bottom row, left-to-right:

1) Middle Eastern (Palestinian or that general region). I'll say Black.

2) American Indian.

3) Black. Probably has a significant amount of White, too, though.

4) White. Could be Hispanic / Latino, but almost entirely White if so.

5) White or Hispanic / Latino - Almost entirely White, or American
Indian and White. I'll say Hispanic / Latino.

6) Asian.

7) American Indian and White, or mostly White with significant Black, or
just White. I'll say American Indian.

8) White or almost entirely White.

9) This person appears to have albinism, in which case this selection
of people is definitely corrupt (non-randomly selected), ruining the test.
Mostly White or Black. I'll say Black.

10) Asian or almost entirely Asian.

My impression is very much that these photos were selected to favor
ambiguous individuals, and are not randomly selected.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

Delvo
2008-Apr-01, 07:44 PM
Race came up as a result of EvilEye saying that the mixing of races is diluting the gene pool.And that, in turn, came up because of a reference to a report that we're still evolving and have actually sped up in the last few thousand years instead of stopping as some would expect us to have done. The funny part about that is the fact that the explanation that's usually given for our continuing and accelerating evolution is agriculture and urbanization, which are cultural traits that aren't racially distributed. So the evolution we're undergoing right now, if it were to continue would have the effect of separating some of the established races into more: separating Asian farmers from Asian nomads, and African farmers from African nomads, for example. If that continued for enough millennia (which it probably won't because the cultural factors won't remain consistent for that long), it could either multiply the number of races we have, or just completely restart the game and replace one racial subdivision system with another one using different sets of traits from the ones that define the races now (based more on how people live than where).


Would it be better to say that the gene pool from which each non-African race has evolved was once a subset of the gene pool from which the African race evolved?Yes. Or to express it in the cladistic way, the "most recent common ancestor" population of all Africans is also a "common ancestor" population to all non-Africans, although presumably not their most recent one(s). Expressed that way, it remains true regardless of whether or not the last common ancestors of other races have any modern descendants in Africa and identified as members of (unmixed) African races.

Part of the reason for the wider genetic variation in Africa is not due to the "black" race alone, though. It's because they're not alone in Africa, not even south of the Sahara desert. There's one or two other races there. The African pygmies (the only genetic pygmies in the world according to Jared Diamond, as opposed to diet-induced pygmies) might be a part of the black race, but I'm not sure of it. Jared Diamond classifies them as separate from blacks based on not only size and cultural conventions but also other physical traits such as skin color and skull shape, but they haven't been included in genetic studies so far. But the Khoi and San ("Hottentots" and "Bushmen") are definitely another race, more distantly related to any other humans than all the rest of us are to each other, apparently having split off from the rest of us before the rest of us split up into the other races we're all familiar with. Their languages are the ones with the famous clicking that the other races' languages don't do (except a few Bantu languages that picked it up from them in "loan words"), and their physical traits include not only distinct skin color and hair texture and such but also a unique body fat distribution and epicanthic folds (an anomolously neotenic trait for a generally non-neotenic group). Thus, including them in any study immediately increases the genetic variation that the study will find and moves back the date of the last common ancestors a bit.


a Melanesian often looks very much like a black African, despite the genetic differences.Melanesians are of the same race as the Australian aborigines. That group's territory was presumably once larger, but they got replaced in the less isolated locations by more recent arrivals from Asia. A few remnant populations of that race can also be found near the southern coast of Asia from India eastward. Back when the races were named with words ending in "oid", they might have briefly been called "Negroid" at first, but their isolation from Africa and different physical traits such as heavier jaws and eyebrows led to the creation of a new category, "Australoid". Like the African pygmies, their genes aren't as thoroughly studied as some other populations' genes are.

Disinfo Agent
2008-Apr-01, 08:37 PM
9) This person appears to have albinism, in which case this selection
of people is definitely corrupt (non-randomly selected), ruining the test.
Mostly White or Black. I'll say Black.I was very surprised by this remark. Did you notice you can enlarge the pictures?

Gillianren
2008-Apr-01, 09:22 PM
They are of the same race as the Australian aborigines. That group's territory was presumably once larger, but they got replaced in the less isolated locations by more recent arrivals from Asia. A few remnant populations of that race can also be found near the southern coast of Asia from India eastward. Back when the races were named with words ending in "oid", they might have briefly been called "Negroid" at first, but their isolation from Africa and different physical traits such as heavier jaws and eyebrows led to the creation of a new category, "Australoid". Like the African pygmies, their genes aren't as thoroughly studied as some other populations' genes are.

That doesn't make any sense. How can black Africans be the same race as Australian aborigines if race is a genetic construct and the aborigines have been geographically isolated from other human populations for thousands--tens of thousands, isn't it?--of years?

Noclevername
2008-Apr-01, 09:26 PM
That doesn't make any sense. How can black Africans be the same race as Australian aborigines if race is a genetic construct and the aborigines have been geographically isolated from other human populations for thousands--tens of thousands, isn't it?--of years?

I think he meant the Melanesians are "the same race". I'd say Melanesians diverged from Australian Aborigines more recently than from Africans, anyway, but the same race? Depends, of course, on the definition of race used.

Delvo
2008-Apr-01, 09:37 PM
That doesn't make any sense. How can black Africans be the same race as Australian aborigines...The "they" in that sentence meant the Melanesians.

worzel
2008-Apr-02, 12:16 AM
I wasn't referring to your post in particular here, worzel, sorry if I gave that impression
(actually I hadn't read your post, you submitted it while I was writing - hence my second post)
Sorry. I'm getting all defensive :o

worzel
2008-Apr-02, 12:26 AM
And that, in turn, came up because of a reference to a report that we're still evolving and have actually sped up in the last few thousand years instead of stopping as some would expect us to have done.
I don't know about anyone else, but I would have expected evolution to have only slowed down dramatically in the last 100 or so in the developed countries (immigration not withstanding). I know that's way too small to be evolutionary significant in the long term, but I still think that it is basically true now however irrelevant it turns out to be: that there is no significant selective pressure in our modern western world. Would you agree with that?

I don't think anyone answered my point before. If we do predominantly choose how many children we have (including none) for cultural or social reasons that aren't genetically determined then even differential numbers of offspring in the modern developed world is no more than genetic drift. Do you agree with that?

Gillianren
2008-Apr-02, 01:15 AM
The "they" in that sentence meant the Melanesians.

Ah. In that case, you've missed the point, which is that they closely resemble black Africans, but you wouldn't consider them to be the same race.

clint
2008-Apr-02, 12:30 PM
I don't know about anyone else, but I would have expected evolution to have only slowed down dramatically in the last 100 or so in the developed countries (immigration not withstanding). I know that's way too small to be evolutionary significant in the long term, but I still think that it is basically true now however irrelevant it turns out to be: that there is no significant selective pressure in our modern western world. Would you agree with that?

Even if evolution had, for some reason, stopped completely in the developed world,
there's still the massive immigration from less developed countries to dilute this effect.
(immigrants have more children, and they also stir the gene pool by intermarrying with the 'locals')



I don't think anyone answered my point before. If we do predominantly choose how many children we have (including none) for cultural or social reasons that aren't genetically determined then even differential numbers of offspring in the modern developed world is no more than genetic drift. Do you agree with that?

You might have a point regarding higher evolutionary pressure in times of crisis or disaster.
When circumstances are extremely bad, obviously only the best-adapted survive.
When times are good, more individuals get a chance to survive and reproduce.

On the other hand, in good times,
the population should be more numerous and genetically more diverse,
which might lead to more random mutations, some of which - even if not necessary for survival - might still benefit reproductive success
and thus increase evolutionary pressure on the rest.

Maybe both are necessary:
crises from time to time, in order to 'level the board' and give recent arrivals an equal opportunity,
and good times to give diversity a chance to evolve.

In any case, I think 100 years are very short for any of this to be really significant.

Jim
2008-Apr-02, 12:58 PM
My impression is very much that these photos were selected to favor
ambiguous individuals, and are not randomly selected.

I think that's the point. Separating people by "race" is ambiguous.

Besides, you really mean ethnicity.

Oh, and let me say that I do not like being compared to a breed of dog. I find that particularly demeaning. To me and the dog.

But, along those lines, I have a question for all those defending the racial concept of humanity... Two, really.

If you have a dog whose mother is German shepherd and whose father is Chinese shar pei, what breed is the dog?

If you have a human whose mother is German and whose father is Chinese, what race is the human?

Delvo
2008-Apr-02, 01:01 PM
Mixed. Nobody who acknowledges the fact that races/breeds/whatever exist has ever said that isn't a possibility. I've even said that sufficient mixing could end the existence of races at some future time. Your continued pretense to the contrary is just another lie.

Jim
2008-Apr-02, 01:25 PM
But, the use of "mixed race" (or ethnicity) is a recent social construct, which came about because there were people who couldn't decide which box to check on a government form.

Heck, until the last few decades (if that) we had the old "one drop" rule to define certain races.

Also, if you can define race based on physical attributes, where does "mixed" fit? Are you saying you can't always divide people by "race" after all?

("Continued pretense?" When was my first? I'm not sure I like being called a liar.)

Jeff Root
2008-Apr-02, 03:12 PM
[quote=Jeff Root]
9) This person appears to have albinism, in which case this selection
of people is definitely corrupt (non-randomly selected), ruining the test.
Mostly White or Black. I'll say Black.
I was very surprised by this remark. Did you notice you can enlarge the pictures?
I looked at the enlarged pictures. What about my remark surprised you?

Notice that my first, best guess turned out to be the "correct" answer.
I categorized her as black rather than white because I was trying to
second-guess the intentions of the people who put the test together.
That didn't work at all.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

Disinfo Agent
2008-Apr-02, 03:17 PM
I looked at the enlarged pictures. What about my remark surprised you?The lady has dark hair and eyes. Is that normal in people with albinism?

I'm not going to challenge your classification, I just thought you might have missed the information that you could enhance the pictures. I did, the first time I did the test. :)

So, how well did you do overall?

worzel
2008-Apr-02, 03:20 PM
My impression is very much that these photos were selected to favor ambiguous individuals, and are not randomly selected.

I think that's the point. Separating people by "race" is ambiguous.
But it doesn't make that point if the sample was cherry picked to conform to the point being made. I'm not saying it was, but that was Jeff's point.


Besides, you really mean ethnicity.
As we're talking specifically about genes and not cultural traits surely we really mean race?


Oh, and let me say that I do not like being compared to a breed of dog. I find that particularly demeaning. To me and the dog.
The comparison was purely technical regarding gene distribution. How can that be demeaning? Should I feel demeaned when the inheritance of my eye color is explained by analogy with Mendel's peas?


But, along those lines, I have a question for all those defending the racial concept of humanity... Two, really.
It isn't a case of defending the concept, races obviously exists. The whole point was whether inter-races variation was biologically significant compared to intra-race variation.


If you have a dog whose mother is German shepherd and whose father is Chinese shar pei, what breed is the dog?

If you have a human whose mother is German and whose father is Chinese, what race is the human?
I would have thought the answer was pretty obvious seeing as how people have been discussing the possible effects on human evolution of the inevitable mixing of the races due to emigration.

JohnD
2008-Apr-02, 03:52 PM
I fear that as usual, you are all getting hung up on the word 'race', which has a loose, woolly meaning as do so many words in English.
The Free Online Dictionary offers the following:
race 1 (rs) n.
1. A local geographic or global human population distinguished as a more or less distinct group by genetically transmitted physical characteristics.
2. A group of people united or classified together on the basis of common history, nationality, or geographic distribution: the German race.
3. A genealogical line; a lineage.
4. Humans considered as a group.
5. Biology
a. An interbreeding, usually geographically isolated population of organisms differing from other populations of the same species in the frequency of hereditary traits. A race that has been given formal taxonomic recognition is known as a subspecies.
b. A breed or strain, as of domestic animals.
6. A distinguishing or characteristic quality, such as the flavor of a wine.

There are of course many other meanings of race, from contest to channel.
Of the above, 1,2,3 possibly 4 and 5/a could also be used for 'extended family'. Families have transmitted characteristics, a common history, a geealogy and are a group. The special characteristics that are shared by a 'race' are, as evolutionists we may presume, the result of 5/a.

So I conjecture, to use a mathematical form, that 'races' are extended families. Considering them as such leads to rather different thinking and like a mathematical conjecture, proof and disproof may be discussed.

John

Noclevername
2008-Apr-02, 04:17 PM
Humans don't have any clear, universally accepted "formal taxonomic recognition" regarding races. Therefore, by that definition, we have no races as such. We have a few, widely varying and largely scientifically debunked, broad phenotypic lay categories.

Jeff Root
2008-Apr-02, 04:57 PM
Nifty. I've looked at the photos but haven't tried to classify the people
yet. My first impression is that a relatively large percentage of them are
among those I would consider to be difficult to impossible to classify.
So I suspect that the selection is less than thoroughly random.
Do they look especially different from the people you'll normally find on
the subway of a large American city?
Yes.

The distribution of the sample is nothing at all like one would find in
any city or any country, or the world as a whole. It is much more like
the distribution one would find among panelists at a conference on
multiculturalism in the USA. The sample is utterly unrepresentative of
the world population. It is a selection of people just in the USA, and
almost all of them are of mixed ancestry.



Anyway, whether the sample is random in some way or not is not crucial.
It absolutely is crucial. I originally specified that it be random:


I would bet that if you and I each tried to classify 10,000 people
randomly selected from around the world by race, more than 95% of
our classifications would agree. If the people we disagreed on were
removed from the sample, most anyone would classify the remaining
people with very close to 100% agreement.
If you are going to present me with people who are predominantly in
that 5% who are difficult or impossible to classify because they are
of no particular race, then the whole exercise is pointless.

The question was "do races exist?" not "can every individual be
classified in this particular classification system?"



The point is that there are millions of people like that.
Obviously. It would never have occurred to me that this was in
question and needed pointing out.



Perhaps most of mankind is like that.
You've got to be kidding.



Is it their fault that they look "ambiguous,"
"Fault"??? Where did that come from? Did you think that I consider
being difficult to classify a fault?



or is it perhaps that the criteria we're trying to use to classify them are
inadequate?
That is completely dependant on what you are trying to accomplish.
I don't see anything inadequate, but then, I'm not trying to do anything!



We've been conditioned...
No more than we have been conditioned to distinguish rain from snow
or wood from plastic. I'm not against learning how to distinguish things.



We've been conditioned to think that most human beings can be readily
placed into one-and-only-one of three to five racial categories...
Most human beings can be so readily classified. A few percent
cannot, mainly because they have multiple races in their ancestry.



...just by looking at them,...
That is how we distinguish most things. Different species of ants,
different kinds of wood, different books on a bookshelf, different foods
in your refrigerator. It mostly works very well.



when a closer look shows that that is often not the case.
Not very often overall. For the entire world population, I'd say that
it is less than 5% of people. The USA population has a much larger
percentage of multi-race ancestry than the world as a whole. Big
cities have a far higher percentage than more rural areas.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

worzel
2008-Apr-02, 04:59 PM
On the other hand, in good times, the population should be more numerous and genetically more diverse, which might lead to more random mutations, some of which - even if not necessary for survival - might still benefit reproductive success and thus increase evolutionary pressure on the rest.
But how can a genetic trait benefit reproductive success if we use technology and medicine to ensure that most of us are able to choose how many children we have and we make that decision primarily on non-genetically determined factors? I just don't see where the selective pressure comes in. The only significant evolution possible without selective pressure that I can see is mutations that predispose one to want (or unwittingly have) more children than average.


Maybe both are necessary: crises from time to time, in order to 'level the board' and give recent arrivals an equal opportunity,and good times to give diversity a chance to evolve.
I think that was Gould's idea: that in times of stasis drift gives rise to variations not possible under extreme pressure, and then in times of extreme pressure that variation is whittled down or at least the extremes of specialization are then driven apart possibly causing a speciation event.


In any case, I think 100 years are very short for any of this to be really significant.
Indeed. But there's no harm in hypothesizing :) And we can hypothesize about a future where globalization and development lead to state where there are virtually no discernible remains of the historic races out of Africa and where everyone has precisely the number of children they desire for millennia to come.

worzel
2008-Apr-02, 05:07 PM
I fear that as usual, you are all getting hung up on the word 'race', which has a loose, woolly meaning as do so many words in English.
The Free Online Dictionary offers the following:
race 1 (rs) n.
1. A local geographic or global human population distinguished as a more or less distinct group by genetically transmitted physical characteristics.
2. A group of people united or classified together on the basis of common history, nationality, or geographic distribution: the German race.
3. A genealogical line; a lineage.
4. Humans considered as a group.
5. Biology
a. An interbreeding, usually geographically isolated population of organisms differing from other populations of the same species in the frequency of hereditary traits. A race that has been given formal taxonomic recognition is known as a subspecies.
b. A breed or strain, as of domestic animals.
6. A distinguishing or characteristic quality, such as the flavor of a wine.

There are of course many other meanings of race, from contest to channel.
Of the above, 1,2,3 possibly 4 and 5/a could also be used for 'extended family'. Families have transmitted characteristics, a common history, a geealogy and are a group. The special characteristics that are shared by a 'race' are, as evolutionists we may presume, the result of 5/a.
As we're talking about genetics I would have thought only definition 5a and 5b are of interest.


So I conjecture, to use a mathematical form, that 'races' are extended families. Considering them as such leads to rather different thinking and like a mathematical conjecture, proof and disproof may be discussed.
Why? When we're talking about genetics?

worzel
2008-Apr-02, 05:12 PM
Humans don't have any clear, universally accepted "formal taxonomic recognition" regarding races. Therefore, by that definition, we have no races as such. We have a few, widely varying and largely scientifically debunked, broad phenotypic lay categories.
There may not be very many racial purebreds left these days, but surely before Europeans discovered Australia the Aborigines were an isolated group of the human species who had been isolated long enough to be genetically and phenotypically dinstinguishable from the Europeans that went there. How can that be debunked?

Jeff Root
2008-Apr-02, 05:39 PM
I looked at the enlarged pictures. What about my remark surprised you?
The lady has dark hair and eyes. Is that normal in people with albinism?
I figured that her hair might be colored, but I must admit that I failed
to notice the dark eye color, totally obvious as it is. I was influenced
by the lipstick, colored glasses, and weird eyebrows. I don't know
whether I was subliminally influenced by thoughts of Michael Jackson.



So, how well did you do overall?
Only seven out of twenty matched the given classifications.

I've been struggling to write a post about it for over 24 hours, but have
had a hard time deciding how much detail to go into. Analyzing all 20
cases would be no fun for me or most readers. A big problem is that
the descriptions are on individual pages and cannot be copied.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

Disinfo Agent
2008-Apr-02, 05:57 PM
There may not be very many racial purebreds left these days, but surely before Europeans discovered Australia the Aborigines were an isolated group of the human species who had been isolated long enough to be genetically and phenotypically dinstinguishable from the Europeans that went there. How can that be debunked?I don't think it's true that the Australian aborigines were isolated from the rest of the human species for a long time. There was some migration into and out of Australia all along through the Torres Strait. I read something about this a long time ago, but unfortunately I can't recall where. Native Americans were probably more isolated than native Australians (though for less time).

P.S. Jeff, I see no point in going over each picture one by one. In this discussion, those people are not important for themselves. What matters is the overall pattern that emerges from our attempt to classify them. In one of your latest posts, you've basically tried to explain away your low rate of success (and before you ask: mine was low as well) by claiming that these individuals are somehow "exceptions", "atypical". While it is true that many of them apparently have exceptionaly diverse ancestries, I cannot agree that the phenotypes of most of them are in any way remarkable.

astromark
2008-Apr-02, 06:31 PM
Talk of ' Trojan Horsing 'a thread... well done and interesting as it is.
Just 500 years into our future and this pick the origins game might be impossible. We are becoming an increasingly mobile community. Those distinctions still obvious today will be smudged by mixed breading and population movements. The boundaries are falling apart.
I saggiest that evolution is at work here in respect to a global medium.. We are not there yet. The inevitability is certain.

Neverfly
2008-Apr-02, 06:56 PM
Talk of ' Trojan Horsing 'a thread... well done and interesting as it is.
Just 500 years into our future and this pick the origins game might be impossible. We are becoming an increasingly mobile community. Those distinctions still obvious today will be smudged by mixed breading and population movements. The boundaries are falling apart.
I saggiest that evolution is at work here in respect to a global medium.. We are not there yet. The inevitability is certain.

Excellently put.
I've been following the thread but didn't want to really jump into it. Reasons may be obvious...

But that is exactly how I perceive these questions as well- That there is no clear definition or answer- there is Just Us.

So now I'm left with only one Real Problem.
I pictured what a "saggiest" might look like in my mind and now I cannot shake the image.

Jim
2008-Apr-02, 07:59 PM
I fear that as usual, you are all getting hung up on the word 'race', which has a loose, woolly meaning as do so many words in English.
The Free Online Dictionary offers the following:
race 1 (rs) n.
1. A local geographic or global human population distinguished as a more or less distinct group by genetically transmitted physical characteristics.
2. A group of people united or classified together on the basis of common history, nationality, or geographic distribution: the German race.
3. A genealogical line; a lineage.

These are pretty much the meanings of ethnicity, too.

of or relating to large groups of people classed according to common racial, national, tribal, religious, linguistic, or cultural origin or background;
being a member of a specified ... group;
of, relating to, or characteristic of


5. Biology
a. An interbreeding, usually geographically isolated population of organisms differing from other populations of the same species in the frequency of hereditary traits. A race that has been given formal taxonomic recognition is known as a subspecies.
b. A breed or strain, as of domestic animals.

And this is why I don't like the comparison to dog breeds. There is too much implication of "breeding stock" and "pure bred" and "half breed" for me to enjoy it.

Jeff Root
2008-Apr-02, 08:16 PM
My impression is very much that these photos were selected to favor
ambiguous individuals, and are not randomly selected.

I think that's the point. Separating people by "race" is ambiguous.

Besides, you really mean ethnicity.
I was originally talking about "race" (the existing subject), but the quiz
with the photos introduced all kinds of other subsets and combinations.
Most noteably, American Indians, who are either a spinoff from Asians
or a combination of multiple spinoffs in the north and the south; and
Hispanic / Latino, which is always a combination of White and American
Indian, but often also includes Black in Brazil and the Caribbean.



Oh, and let me say that I do not like being compared to a breed of dog.
Me wonders what breed you was compared to.



If you have a dog whose mother is German shepherd and whose father is
Chinese shar pei, what breed is the dog?
A cross between German shepherd and Chinese shar pei, obviously.
Or if you don't care for that answer, then no breed at all.



If you have a human whose mother is German and whose father is
Chinese, what race is the human?
A cross between White (or European) and Asian, obviously. Or if you
don't like that answer, then no race at all. As I said earlier in the thread.

Or maybe Orange-Vanilla.

I don't know much about my ethnicity on my father's side because he
has never talked about it much, my grandmother never talked about
it much (the fact that her parents died when she was five might or
might not have been a factor in that), and my grandfather died when
I was two. While my mother's ancestors were in northern Europe, some
of my dad's ancestors may have been in southern Europe. Some were
Jewish, which I only found out at the age of 49.

So is my ethnicity all of the above or none of the above? It certainly
isn't any single ethnic group. But since I pretty obviously don't have
any recent (last few centuries) Black, Asian, American Indian, or
Australian ancestors, I hafta say my race is plain Vanilla.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

Jeff Root
2008-Apr-02, 08:38 PM
b. A breed or strain, as of domestic animals.
And this is why I don't like the comparison to dog breeds. There is too
much implication of "breeding stock" and "pure bred" and "half breed" for
me to enjoy it.
Since they are the same thing, I'd say you're stuck.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

Jeff Root
2008-Apr-02, 11:25 PM
What matters is the overall pattern that emerges from our attempt to
classify them. In one of your latest posts, you've basically tried to
explain away your low rate of success.
Yes. The photos obviously were selected partially on a basis of
being difficult to classify -- exactly the opposite of the random
selection I specified in the statement you challenged, making it
worthless as a test of the accuracy of that statement.



by claiming that these individuals are somehow "exceptions",
"atypical".
They are atypical of the world population as a whole. Counting all
Hispanics \ Latinos as mixed race, one could expect about six people
out of a random sample of twenty to be mixed race, while the test had
at least a dozen.



While it is true that many of them apparently have exceptionaly
diverse ancestries, I cannot agree that the phenotypes of most of
them are in any way remarkable.
I didn't claim that. Aside from the one who I thought might have
albinism, I don't notice any particularly remarkable phenotypes.
The combinations of phenotypes in several cases are remarkable
because they are rare enough that most people will never meet anyone
with a similar combination. But the distribution of combinations
of phenotypes is what is really remarkable. It is likely that
during my lifetime I would meet people with unusual combinations
of phenotypes similar to several of the people in the photos, but
extremely unlikely that I would ever meet people with combinations
similar to all twenty. And absurdly unlikely that a group of 20
would have similar combinations.

From reading the self-descriptions, it is clear that the sample
is overloaded with people of mixed ancestry. They were selected
from the USA population, not the world population as I specified.
Some of the self-descriptions are ambiguous, and some appear to be
cultural rather than physical. And of course they specify how
those people classify themselves, not necessarily what they are.
So this thing is worthless for the purpose of testing my original
statement. It is fine for showing the difficulty of classifying
people with complex ancestry.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

clint
2008-Apr-02, 11:56 PM
Just 500 years into our future ... Those distinctions still obvious today will be smudged by mixed breading and population movements.

So basically, the aim is to 'mix-breed' around until everybody looks the same :lol:
(I'm sure I heard that line in some movie...)

clint
2008-Apr-03, 12:31 AM
But how can a genetic trait benefit reproductive success if we use technology and medicine to ensure that most of us are able to choose how many children we have and we make that decision primarily on non-genetically determined factors?

Do we, really?
Whom we have children with is still hugely influenced by what the opposite sex finds attractive,
which is still mostly not based on an entirely intellectual decision process ;)

Attractive traits will tend to be more successful, however slightly, and thus spread in the long run.

By the way, our society is not the first to try birth control.
Several ancient civilization already knew and used contraception.
And even primitive stone age tribes tried to control reproduction rates, e.g. during food shortages or times of war
(they just killed any babies born during the crisis)

Gillianren
2008-Apr-03, 04:16 AM
Just to go back to, you know, the original topic--can we all agree never to use the word "evolutionist" again?

Jeff Root
2008-Apr-03, 04:27 AM
All us evolvers will certainly agree! The devolvers will probably degree.

-- Jeff, in eapolis

worzel
2008-Apr-03, 09:00 AM
Do we, really?
I did say "if". I am not sure that the reasons for us choosing how many children we have are not genetically determined. It's just that when people assert that evolution must be going on in the developed world now because of our differential reproductive rates then they must be tacitly assuming that these reasons are genetically determined, or that to a large extent we don't really have control over how many children we have.


Whom we have children with is still hugely influenced by what the opposite sex finds attractive,
which is still mostly not based on an entirely intellectual decision process ;)
Yeah... [ and if we're going to use "whom", shouldn't that be With whom we have children... :p ]


Attractive traits will tend to be more successful, however slightly, and thus spread in the long run.
...but, attractive people don't in general have more children, do they? Less attractive people don't fail to mate, they just mate with less attractive partners, in general.


By the way, our society is not the first to try birth control.
Several ancient civilization already knew and used contraception.
And even primitive stone age tribes tried to control reproduction rates, e.g. during food shortages or times of war
(they just killed any babies born during the crisis)
But there's never been a civilization like ours in the developed world before where we can expect virtually all of our children to survive and reproduce to the extent they wish (and this only works because we predominantly choose to have only a few children).

astromark
2008-Apr-03, 09:11 AM
So now I'm left with only one Real Problem.
I pictured what a "saggiest" might look like in my mind and now I cannot shake the image.

I would hope you do know I was NOT talking of the force of gravity's effect on my wifes mammalian protuberances. I was not.
It would seem that I do have a problem with this word. It would seem, and you could suggest that my ability to communicate appropriately is inhibited by my inability to spell correctly. :)

As has been said by Clint. Just whom we pick to propagate the species with has little to do with the survival of the fittest and most appropriate partner. That is a very long way from evolving into something other than the global race. The divergence of the gene pool is not assured. We have a wealth of resource and sameness is a very unlikely end result. Over very long periods of time the extreme differences will be breed out., but we will never all look the same. That does not disprove the notion that as a species we are evolving. Its just been interrupted by our ability to travel.

Disinfo Agent
2008-Apr-03, 11:20 AM
The photos obviously were selected partially on a basis of
being difficult to classify [...]

Aside from the one who I thought might have
albinism, I don't notice any particularly remarkable phenotypes.If the method of classification were so excellent and obvious, there would be no difficult classifications -- especially when the people to be classified have generally unremarkable looks. It's interesting to note that your results were no better than throwing a die.


[...] exactly the opposite of the random
selection I specified in the statement you challenged, making it
worthless as a test of the accuracy of that statement."Exactly the opposite"? A bit of hyperbole there.

My suggestion to do the test was a challenge to your preconceptions, not an attempt to satisfy your demands.


They are atypical of the world population as a whole.You sure seem to think you know a lot about the "world population as a whole". Based on which evidence, I wonder. I've also got the impression once or twice that when you write "world" you're really thinking of the United States. Not that the objections I and others have raised are any less valid for the U.S. You keep trying to convince yourself that your mistakes are just exceptions, but your argument about "combinations of phenotypes" (what on Earth is that supposed to mean?) makes little sense.

But enough with the Socratic pleasantries. Here's what science has to say about human races, today:


In the United States both scholars and the general public have been conditioned to viewing human races as natural and separate divisions within the human species based on visible physical differences. With the vast expansion of scientific knowledge in this century, however, it has become clear that human populations are not unambiguous, clearly demarcated, biologically distinct groups. [...]

Throughout history whenever different groups have come into contact, they have interbred. The continued sharing of genetic materials has maintained all of humankind as a single species.

[...] because physical traits are inherited independently of one another, knowing the range of one trait does not predict the presence of others. For example, skin color varies largely from light in the temperate areas in the north to dark in the tropical areas in the south; its intensity is not related to nose shape or hair texture.

[...] Historical research has shown that the idea of "race" has always carried more meanings than mere physical differences; indeed, physical variations in the human species have no meaning except the social ones that humans put on them. American Anthropological Association (http://www.aaanet.org/stmts/racepp.htm)

There is great genetic diversity within all human populations. Pure races, in the sense of genetically homogenous populations, do not exist in the human species today, nor is there any evidence that they have ever existed in the past. [...]

The geographic pattern of genetic variation within this array is complex, and presents no major discontinuity. Humanity cannot be classified into discrete geographic categories with absolute boundaries. Furthermore, the complexities of human history make it difficult to determine the position of certain groups in classifications. Multiplying subcategories cannot correct the inadequacies of these classifications. [...]

Mating between members of different human groups tends to diminish differences between groups, and has played a very important role in human history. Wherever different human populations have come in contact, such matings have taken place. Obstacles to such interaction have been social and cultural, not biological. American Association of Physical Anthropologists (http://www.physanth.org/positions/race.html)

worzel
2008-Apr-03, 01:37 PM
I think it is a moot point to say that there has never been an absolute way to classify people according to race. Jeff's position is that most people can be easily classified, not all. And I don't think anyone here is claiming that such a classification could have ever been complete, or that today people are not becoming increasingly difficult to classify, especially in America.

But surely no one is denying that historically there have been isolated (for the most part) groups of people that have evolved in such a way that we can easily recognize the stereotypical traits of those groups. Of course, those groups were just a snapshot of how things were when we were first able to get around the world rather more quickly when we did when the groups were originally isolated: they have no timeless intrinsic meaning. But we live in a time very shortly after that where many people can still be identified as being predominantly of one of those groups. That is not to say that it is a useful way of categorizing people, just that the notion is not non-existent, contrary to what a lot of people here seem to wish.

The interesting thing about the recent research for me is that there has always been much more variation within those groups than between them. I am pleased about that because it contradicts what a lot of racists would like to believe, not that I would need to rely on that sort of result to not be racist myself--women are typically shorter than men, but that's no good reason to reject a six foot tall girl from the school's basketball team (assuming they weren't segregated to start with).

I saw an interesting program here in England where people who considered themselves to be English through and through (whatever they personally took that to mean) were genetically analyzed and told what theiremake up is. It was surprising how mixed in origin everyone was, even those who looked completely white typically had recent African and/or Asian ancestry. So, as well as giving a satisfying slap in the face to some silly people, it did seem to suggest that we are polarized by our appearance far more than our ancestry would allow. But it did raise the question in my mind: how did they go about determining the ancestral races that they were determining. I quipped to my girlfriend that the whole thing was silly without them explaining that because they might as well just tell everyone they're 100% African, but I guess they were using something like the same snapshot I described above.

How could they have done this if there was no biologically justifiable* concept of race?

* that's completely different to saying that it is biologically justifiable to classify people predominantly by their race.

Disinfo Agent
2008-Apr-03, 02:06 PM
How could they have done this if there was no biologically justifiable* concept of race?

* that's completely different to saying that it is biologically justifiable to classify people predominantly by their race.I don't see what's the difference, or how such a difference might be relevant. But, anyway, it looks like you haven't been paying enough attention.


Historical research has shown that the idea of "race" has always carried more meanings than mere physical differences; indeed, physical variations in the human species have no meaning except the social ones that humans put on them. -- American Anthropological AssociationThis is a clear historical (and present) fact. Race has never been just about looks, or biology. People think that they're seeing race in an objective and biologically-grounded way, but they're not.


I saw an interesting program here in England where people who considered themselves to be English through and through (whatever they personally took that to mean) were genetically analyzed and told what theiremake up is. It was surprising how mixed in origin everyone was, even those who looked completely white typically had recent African and/or Asian ancestry. So, as well as giving a satisfying slap in the face to some silly people, it did seem to suggest that we are polarized by our appearance far more than our ancestry would allow. But it did raise the question in my mind: how did they go about determining the ancestral races that they were determining. I quipped to my girlfriend that the whole thing was silly without them explaining that because they might as well just tell everyone they're 100% African, but I guess they were using something like the same snapshot I described above.This is something where, unfortunately, genetics can bring more confusion than enlightenment. The explanation is simple, even though it may seem absurd at first glance:

1) What those tests measure is admixture, and admixture is not the same thing as race.

2) As you have already guessed, many of those genetic tests that purport to detect a person's "make-up" are actually based on very small portions of our DNA. This is partly because the vast majority of our DNA can be found in people from anywhere in the world (so they need to focus on the small fraction that does differentiate between geographic groups), but it's also because most methods they use only work with a small, special portion of our genome (like the Y chromosome, or mitochondrial DNA). Everything else in our genome is simply invisible to such tests.

P.S. There was also an interesting episode of 60 Minutes about this a while ago. I'll see if I can find it... Here it is. (http://www.cbsnews.com/sections/i_video/main500251.shtml?id=3643658n?source=search_video) The episode was called Roots.

Jeff Root
2008-Apr-03, 08:39 PM
The photos obviously were selected partially on a basis of
being difficult to classify [...]

Aside from the one who I thought might have
albinism, I don't notice any particularly remarkable phenotypes.
If the method of classification were so excellent and obvious,
there would be no difficult classifications ...
What I said about the quality and obviousness of the method
of classification was:


I would bet that if you and I each tried to classify 10,000 people
randomly selected from around the world by race, more than 95% of
our classifications would agree. If the people we disagreed on were
removed from the sample, most anyone would classify the remaining
people with very close to 100% agreement.
So you are saying that if it is at least 95% accurate, as I claimed,
there would be no difficult classifications.

Try again.



... especially when the people to be classified have generally
unremarkable looks. It's interesting to note that your results were
no better than throwing a die.
Yes, but my results in the test say almost nothing about how
accurately I could classify a random sample of the world population.




The photos obviously were selected partially on a basis of
being difficult to classify -- exactly the opposite of the random
selection I specified in the statement you challenged, making it
worthless as a test of the accuracy of that statement.
"Exactly the opposite"? A bit of hyperbole there.
No hyperbole. The sample could have been completely random.
It was not. It was selected. It could have been selected on the
basis of shoe size, or height, or alphabetically by the person's
first name, or the color of shirt they were wearing, or the day
of the week that the photo was taken. Any or all of those may
actually have been used. But it is certain that they were
selected in part on the basis of being difficult to classify by
race. And that is precisely what needs to be random in order to
be a useful test of my statement.



My suggestion to do the test was a challenge to your preconceptions,
not an attempt to satisfy your demands.
Wrong. You replied to my statement:



I would bet that if you and I each tried to classify 10,000 people
randomly selected from around the world by race, more than 95% of
our classifications would agree. If the people we disagreed on were
removed from the sample, most anyone would classify the remaining
people with very close to 100% agreement.
Let's put that hypothesis to the test, shall we?




They are atypical of the world population as a whole.
You sure seem to think you know a lot about the "world population
as a whole". Based on which evidence, I wonder. I've also got the
impression once or twice that when you write "world" you're really
thinking of the United States.
When I asserted that I could accurately classify people in a
random worldwide sample, you came back with a test having a
nonrandom sample of people in the USA. You mistook "USA"
for "world", and then suggest that I'm confused. You got
it backwards again.



Not that the objections I and others have raised are any less valid
for the U.S.
They obviously are more valid for the U.S. than for the world as
a whole.



You keep trying to convince yourself that your mistakes are just
exceptions,
I am not trying to convince myself of anything. I am trying to
convince you that what you are saying is nonsense.

I said nothing about "exceptions".

I said that I could classify at least 95% of a random sample of the
world population consistent with your classification. I didn't say
anything about being able to classify photographs of people selected
for being difficult to classify.

However, I retract the part of what I said about my classification
agreeing with yours. I no longer trust your judgement.



but your argument about "combinations of phenotypes" (what on Earth
is that supposed to mean?) makes little sense.
It means exactly what it says.

Did anyone else have trouble understanding it?

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

clint
2008-Apr-04, 10:14 AM
I did say "if". I am not sure that the reasons for us choosing how many children we have are not genetically determined. It's just that when people assert that evolution must be going on in the developed world now because of our differential reproductive rates then they must be tacitly assuming that these reasons are genetically determined, or that to a large extent we don't really have control over how many children we have.

By the way, attractive in this context can of course perfectly mean
driving a cool car or having a nice sun tan or being an expert with Playstation3
(so yes, I see your point that genes don't always have to be the decisive factor).

Unfortunately I don't know of many scientific studies/evidence pointing in one way or the other.

This one is interesting:
Darwin's children: Human evolution has speeded up over the past 80,000 years. That raises awkward questions about the concept of “race” (http://www.economist.com/science/displaystory.cfm?story_id=10283306)
(skip directly to the last chapter if in a hurry)

It doesn't have any conclusive data for very recent time spans, though.
Maybe somebody can help with references?

JohnD
2008-Apr-04, 01:47 PM
A while ago, DA said that calling different 'races' families was irrelevant, as the discussion was on genetics. I didn't follow that argument at all. The genetic differences between the Smiths and the McPhersons are no greater than between the Smiths and the Alfonsos, the Chongs or the Chandrasekhars, but they determine whether the children have black or red hair, blue or brown eyes.

But anyway, as I tried to point out before, talk of 'race', especially in terms of 'blood' or 'breed' is distasteful, inappropraite and unscientific, as they are undefinable. Please may we continue this discussion without them?

John

Disinfo Agent
2008-Apr-04, 02:10 PM
A while ago, DA said that calling different 'races' families was irrelevant, as the discussion was on genetics.I don't recall saying that. Can you post a link?

neilzero
2008-Apr-04, 04:03 PM
Clearly humans grow worse as well as better, as we increasingly keep mutants = defects alive until they can have children. There has likely been a net genetic decline in most first world countries for the past 200 years, perhaps longer. Neil

Gillianren
2008-Apr-04, 04:10 PM
Clearly humans grow worse as well as better, as we increasingly keep mutants = defects alive until they can have children. There has likely been a net genetic decline in most first world countries for the past 200 years, perhaps longer.

No such thing as a genetic decline. The current situation in developed countries is that more people are fit for their environment, not that the unfit are reproducing. The environment has just gotten easier.

JohnD
2008-Apr-04, 09:35 PM
I don't recall saying that. Can you post a link?

I'm sorry, DA, it was Worzel.
Your record file will be revised.

John

Disinfo Agent
2008-Apr-05, 12:42 PM
Now that you've drawn my attention to it, I can't resist commenting on your suggestion.


I fear that as usual, you are all getting hung up on the word 'race', which has a loose, woolly meaning as do so many words in English.
The Free Online Dictionary offers the following:
race 1 (rs) n.
1. A local geographic or global human population distinguished as a more or less distinct group by genetically transmitted physical characteristics.
2. A group of people united or classified together on the basis of common history, nationality, or geographic distribution: the German race.
3. A genealogical line; a lineage.
4. Humans considered as a group.
5. Biology
a. An interbreeding, usually geographically isolated population of organisms differing from other populations of the same species in the frequency of hereditary traits. A race that has been given formal taxonomic recognition is known as a subspecies.
b. A breed or strain, as of domestic animals.
6. A distinguishing or characteristic quality, such as the flavor of a wine.

There are of course many other meanings of race, from contest to channel.
Of the above, 1,2,3 possibly 4 and 5/a could also be used for 'extended family'. Families have transmitted characteristics, a common history, a geealogy and are a group. The special characteristics that are shared by a 'race' are, as evolutionists we may presume, the result of 5/a.

So I conjecture, to use a mathematical form, that 'races' are extended families. Considering them as such leads to rather different thinking and like a mathematical conjecture, proof and disproof may be discussed.I do not agree that human races, as they are commonly understood, can be described as extended families. You can belong to the Smith family on your father's side, and simultaneously to the Jones family on your mother's side. Families are not mutually exclusive; but races supposedly are.

Rather than race being an extension of the concept of family, I find that race and family are nearly opposites in some ways. Family multiplies relations, while race cuts them off.

Jeff Root
2008-Apr-05, 03:07 PM
I do not agree that human races, as they are commonly understood, can
be described as extended families. You can belong to the Smith family on
your father's side, and simultaneously to the Jones family on your mother's
side. Families are not mutually exclusive; but races supposedly are.
Who supposed that? The idea is new to me, and it makes no sense.
It is completely counterintuitive and contradicted by observation.

My best friend had one parent from Norway and the other from Japan.
He and his children are of no one race. They are a combination of two,
which is visibly evident.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

Disinfo Agent
2008-Apr-05, 03:33 PM
But you claim that such people are exceptions that prove the rule, do you not?

Delvo
2008-Apr-05, 03:36 PM
Families are not mutually exclusive; but races supposedly are.Who supposed that? The idea is new to me, and it makes no sense.
It is completely counterintuitive and contradicted by observation....and the opposite of what any of the people he's claiming think that have actually said here... and he already knows that but pretends we've said the exact opposite of what we've said anyway no matter how many times or how many different ways that gets debunked... I suggest rethinking whether or not it's worth the bother to continue when the person you're talking to is clearly not mistaken or misunderstanding but just lying; in the former two cases, people can be informed and/or convinced, but people doing the latter one almost never can be dissuaded from their mission, because they've already established that they don't mind doing what they're doing.

worzel
2008-Apr-06, 11:05 PM
How could they have done this if there was no biologically justifiable* concept of race?

* that's completely different to saying that it is biologically justifiable to classify people predominantly by their race.
I don't see what's the difference, or how such a difference might be relevant.
That's because you're trying to argue against the mutual exclusivity of races to argue that race is biologically unjustifiable.


This is a clear historical (and present) fact. Race has never been just about looks, or biology. People think that they're seeing race in an objective and biologically-grounded way, but they're not.
But we weren't discussing what connotations people attach to race, just whether or not the concept of race exists. Ironically, I started this by saying that the they are largely illusionary due to the greater differences within than between them. But just because some people don't believe that, and think that race is a good way to categorize people doesn't mean that the concept has no biological basis at all.

When I watch Heroes and note that all the Japanese characters have a characteristic Japanese look, what is it that I'm recognizing as Japanese looking? Is it just an illusion based on preconceived notions? In that case, if Brad Pitt were cast as Hiro, wouldn't my preconceptions cast the same illusion of Japanese decent upon him?

worzel
2008-Apr-06, 11:14 PM
A while ago, DA said that calling different 'races' families was irrelevant, as the discussion was on genetics. I didn't follow that argument at all. The genetic differences between the Smiths and the McPhersons are no greater than between the Smiths and the Alfonsos, the Chongs or the Chandrasekhars, but they determine whether the children have black or red hair, blue or brown eyes.
As you noted, you're referring to my comment. But I didn't make any argument, I asked why to your suggestion because I didn't know what you were getting at. Now that I see your reasoning I have no objection if you'd rather call them extended families. Unlike Disinfo, I see no difference in principle.


But anyway, as I tried to point out before, talk of 'race', especially in terms of 'blood' or 'breed' is distasteful, inappropraite and unscientific, as they are undefinable. Please may we continue this discussion without them?
That implies that your suggestion to say that 'races' are extended families cannot be done, or that your "extended families" is unscientific and undefinable.

Disinfo Agent
2008-Apr-06, 11:23 PM
When I watch Heroes and note that all the Japanese characters have a characteristic Japanese look, what is it that I'm recognizing as Japanese looking? Is it just an illusion based on preconceived notions? In that case, if Brad Pitt were cast as Hiro, wouldn't my preconceptions cast the same illusion of Japanese decent upon him?A 'Japanese look', whatever that means, does not a race make.

The rest of your post is difficult to understand for me. I don't believe it's accurate to say that I've been 'trying to argue against the mutual exclusivity of races to argue that race is biologically unjustifiable'. What I'm arguing is that if race were biologically justifiable, then races would be mutually exclusive, except for negligible subpopulations of 'hybrids'. And that's what most people believe. It's what Jeff Root has been claiming over and over again: that ambiguous-looking people make no difference, because they make up a statistically insignificant proportion of mankind.

This, to begin with, is false. Phenotypically speaking, and especially genetically speaking, 'ambiguous' people are the rule, not the exception. Hybrids are not a small, negligible, recent subpopulation, we are all hybrids in some way, because the physical traits we normally use to assess race (or rather, think we use) all vary continuously with geography (clinally, to be more precise), as do genetic characteristics.

But, apart from false, it is also beside the point, because real people in the real world do not assess race based on phenotype alone. Once again, race is not solely about phenotype; it never has been, historically.

worzel
2008-Apr-06, 11:55 PM
A 'Japanese look', whatever that means, does not a race make.
But where does that similarity in look come from? Or are you suggesting that there is no such similarity in look?


The rest of your post is difficult to understand for me. I don't believe it's accurate to say that I've been 'trying to argue against the mutual exclusivity of races to argue that race is biologically unjustifiable'. What I'm arguing is that if race were biologically justifiable, then races would be mutually exclusive, except for negligible subpopulations of 'hybrids'.
Que? That's just the same thing said the other way round.

But why do you argue that? Do extended families have to be mutually exclusive to be biologically justifiable? What about if a very extended family were largely isolated for a long period of time, would it still be biologically justifiable without the need for the exclusivity of extended families?


And that's what most people believe. It's what Jeff Root has been claiming over and over again: that ambiguous-looking people make no difference, because they make up a statistically insignificant proportion of mankind.
Well I wouldn't say insignificant, especially in places like America.


This, to begin with, is false. Phenotypically speaking, and especially genetically speaking, 'ambiguous' people are the rule, not the exception. Hybrids are not a small, negligible, recent subpopulation, we are all hybrids in some way, because the physical traits we normally use to assess race (or rather, think we use) all vary continuously with geography (clinally, to be more precise), as do genetic characteristics.
But you can't even define what it means to be racially ambiguous and cannot claim that hybrids are the rule without a definition for race to begin with. So your argument there is completely self defeating.


But, apart from false, it is also beside the point, because real people in the real world do not assess race based on phenotype alone. Once again, race is not solely about phenotype; it never has been, historically.
So what. I'm not talking about how people generally asses race or what they take it to mean. I'm talking about the biological justification for why historically (and to a lesser extent, now) people seem to share similarities in the way they look within different regions of the world. Do you deny that they do?

Delvo
2008-Apr-07, 12:21 AM
Well I wouldn't say insignificant, especially in places like America.Do an image search using a (preferably relatively common) human name, then see how many in the list of images are someone whose race is in doubt. Then try another name, and another...

Disinfo Agent
2008-Apr-07, 01:26 AM
That's just the same thing said the other way round.You're probably right about that.


But why do you argue that? Do extended families have to be mutually exclusive to be biologically justifiable?If one wishes to claim that extended families equal 'races', then yes they have to, because that's what races are like.


What about if a very extended family were largely isolated for a long period of time, would it still be biologically justifiable without the need for the exclusivity of extended families?If that were to happen, then the very isolation you speak of would bring about the exclusivity.

Of course, such as thing has never happened in the history of Homo sapiens.


Well I wouldn't say insignificant, especially in places like America.Tell that to Jeff. He's the one who believes in biological races, not me.


But you can't even define what it means to be racially ambiguous and cannot claim that hybrids are the rule without a definition for race to begin with. So your argument there is completely self defeating.Nonsense. For starters, the idea that some people are racially ambiguous is not mine. It's an excuse that Jeff came up with for his low rate of success in racial classification. All I did was name it.

If you want my opinion, the "ambiguity" is entirely in the mind of the person doing the classification.


I'm not talking about how people generally asses race or what they take it to mean.Then you are not talking about race.


I'm talking about the biological justification for why historically (and to a lesser extent, now) people seem to share similarities in the way they look within different regions of the world. Do you deny that they do?Do I deny that people seem to share similarities in the way they look within different regions of the world? Not at all. What I deny is that the way their similarities "seem" to form neat discrete groups roughly the size of continents, in the mind of many people, has any correspondence with biological reality.

I also deny that phenotypical similarities in a handful of physical traits, several of which are likely heavily influenced by environmental factors, such as skin tone, prove any deeper, broader similarity in the genome as a whole. In case I wasn't clear enough, I'm saying that similarities in skin tone, or whatever it is you use to define a 'Japanese look', are genetically -- and hence biologically -- superficial. As the saying goes, they are only skindeep.

Jeff Root
2008-Apr-07, 07:18 AM
I do not agree that human races, as they are commonly understood, can
be described as extended families. You can belong to the Smith family on
your father's side, and simultaneously to the Jones family on your mother's
side. Families are not mutually exclusive; but races supposedly are.
Who supposed that? The idea is new to me, and it makes no sense.
It is completely counterintuitive and contradicted by observation.

My best friend had one parent from Norway and the other from Japan.
He and his children are of no one race. They are a combination of two,
which is visibly evident.


But you claim that such people are exceptions that prove the rule, do you not?
The expression "exception that proves the rule" is just a witticism, not
anything to do with actual cause and effect.

I did make an error early on here in failing to think of "Hispanic/Latino"
(the classification used in the website test you linked to) as a mix of
two or more races. Obviously the Hispanic/Latino ethnic group is a
very sizeable fraction of the world population. The biological heritage
of Hispanic/Latino people is a mix of European and American Indian,
with a major input of Black heritage added in. Since American Indians
are probably a branch of the Asian group, and may come from Pacific
Islanders, Hispanics/Latinos could be intrinsically a mix of ALL races.

Some people who classify themselves as Hispanic/Latino might be
100% White biological heritage, or 100% American Indian, or 100%
Black, or 100% Asian, or 100% Zeta Reticulian. The website test left
unclear the extent to which people were classified by culture or by
biological heritage.

Even so, when I guessed that a person was White, the self-description
indicated that the person had White heritage, even when that person
was classified as Black or Hispanic/Latino. When I guessed that a
person was Asian, in two cases the classification was American Indian,
which probably actually is Asian, and in one case the classification was
Latino (Mexican), which means American Indian which again probably
actually is Asian. When I guessed that one person was Palestinian, but
Palestinian wasn't an option (and I thought I already had picked four in
the White category), I instead put him in the Black category. Of course
he turned out to be Palestinian. My first guess was exactly right but I
fouled up in trying to fit four people into each category.

So I can weasel out of most of my errors. I can weasel out of them
because that is how the test was designed. Weaseling out of my errors
would not be possible with a well-designed test intended to test my
assertion. But it was not designed for that purpose. It was designed
to demonstrate that some people are difficult to classify by appearance.
It demonstrates that fact well.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

Jeff Root
2008-Apr-07, 07:56 AM
What I'm arguing is that if race were biologically justifiable, then
races would be mutually exclusive, except for negligible subpopulations
of 'hybrids'. And that's what most people believe. It's what Jeff Root has
been claiming over and over again: that ambiguous-looking people make
no difference, because they make up a statistically insignificant proportion
of mankind.
I would not say "statistically insignificant". Before the test reminded
me that Hispanic/Latino people are a mixture of European and American
Indian (and, often, Black), I indicated that hard-to-classify people make
up less than 5% of mankind. Five percent of 6.8 billion is a lot of people.

Your "mutually exclusive" concept appears to me to be baseless. I have
not suggested or promoted any such notion.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

worzel
2008-Apr-07, 10:34 AM
Do an image search using a (preferably relatively common) human name, then see how many in the list of images are someone whose race is in doubt. Then try another name, and another...
To what end? I don't doubt that many people are not categorizable by a single race. My only point was that race is not a complete illusion just because it is over emphasized by many.

But it seems I have been trying to defend as biologically not non-existent a different concept of race to that which is being denied, so I've been a bit slow in getting the point being made (I think) that where the boundaries between races are drawn is pretty arbitrary.

Delvo
2008-Apr-07, 11:15 AM
To what end?For a sense of the distribution of the difficult (mixed) cases as compared to the simple and obvious cases, in a context that's as close to random as we can get here.


I don't doubt that many people are not categorizable by a single race.I didn't suggest that that would be the conclusion you'd draw from the method; I just suggested the method itself as an alternative to the obviously rigged and dishonest one that was linked to before. The conclusions would be up to the observers to draw because I didn't state them. But I knew perfectly well that anyone who did it honestly would find that by far the vast majority are indeed pretty easily classifiable, because that's just the way reality is. So if there was an argumentative "purpose", it was to demonstrate how neat and clean the distinctions usually are in real life (as we all already know but some don't admit and use rigged "tests" like the one that was linked to before to try to make it seem otherwise).


But it seems I have been trying to defend as biologically not non-existent a different concept of race to that which is being denied, so I've been a bit slow in getting the point being made (I think) that where the boundaries between races are drawn is pretty arbitrary.Even that isn't really the case. In the link I gave earlier, look at the little icons standing on different parts of the map. Most are a single solid color or have a secondary color that only extends up to the feet or ankles indicating the presence of some trace amount of a secondary racial genetic component in the population. Only two small populations in eastern-central Eurasia show a secondary color almost halfway up indicating combination of two races' genetic markers in significant proportions in the same population. The boundary zones between one race's territory and another's are where the mixing happens, and most of the world's land and people aren't in those boundary zones.

Gillianren
2008-Apr-07, 05:15 PM
I did make an error early on here in failing to think of "Hispanic/Latino" (the classification used in the website test you linked to) as a mix of two or more races. Obviously the Hispanic/Latino ethnic group is a very sizeable fraction of the world population. The biological heritage of Hispanic/Latino people is a mix of European and American Indian, with a major input of Black heritage added in. Since American Indians are probably a branch of the Asian group, and may come from Pacific Islanders, they could be intrinsically a mix of ALL races.

See, here's where the concept of comparing humans to breeds of dogs falls down. Yes, all right, there is the concept of the mutt. But I would venture that there are no "purebred" humans, even in insular communities--leaving out the aborigines, of course, which were geographically isolated for long enough that I might be willing to consider them distinct in some way. You see, it's possible to keep a dog away from all other dogs except the ones you intend it to breed with. That has, again except in the case of aborigines versus non-aborigines, never been possible with humans. I also find it interesting that "American Indian" is considered a race, despite the fact that it's a "race" that covers two entire continents. At that, I don't know how much interaction there was among different (tribes? family groups? I don't know what term they use, I'm afraid) of aborigines, and there's some speculation that's been advanced here that they did, indeed, have a certain amount of interaction with Melanesian islanders, which would mean even they must have done a certain amount of interbreeding.

So. All things considered, we are all mixed-breed, and race cannot have any biological meaning.

Disinfo Agent
2008-Apr-07, 06:16 PM
But it seems I have been trying to defend as biologically not non-existent a different concept of race to that which is being denied, so I've been a bit slow in getting the point being made (I think) that where the boundaries between races are drawn is pretty arbitrary.That is definitely one of my main points about race. Do you understand better now why people say that race is socially constructed?

Delvo
2008-Apr-07, 07:28 PM
race cannot have any biological meaning.The traits that are biologically inherited by members of one and not by members of the other ARE its biological "meaning". That's really all there is to it. For race not to exist, there'd have to be no such traits that distinguish the regional populations, so, to make a case that the races don't exist, you'd need to make the observed distinguishing traits go away (which you can't). It's that simple. Anything else is just not a part of what makes the races races.

There doesn't need to be any other source of "meaning" about it or any deep or significant biological consequences/importance to it. Those could exist/happen or not and it wouldn't matter to race, because those would be side issues that don't make races any more or less real because they're about something else, some other subject.


I would venture that there are no "purebred" humans, even in insular communitiesThis simply isn't the case, but even if it were, it wouldn't matter. Species subdivision has never required that the members of one subdivision have absolutely zero ancestors somewhere back in time that weren't of that same subdivision. In fact it's quite common, even between species (as long as their interfertility rate, however low it might be, is not quite zero), even enough so to have a word for it as something that routinely keeps happening: introgression. The descendants of the original "mutt" are simply counted as "mixed" for as long as they show the traits of both original groups, until they've been bred with members of one group long enough to show only that group's traits and not the other's anymore (at least not to a significant degree). Then they're members of group A with only a few distant ancestors of group B, and group A's gene pool can even thus come to include some few alleles that originated in group B. It doesn't magically make group A not be group A anymore or group B not be group B anymore.

It's another example of an argument for position X being brought up as if it were an argument for position Y. Every time the deniers of the EXISTENCE of races make a point, it's actually a point about about something ELSE ABOUT race instead. In this case, it's just another iteration of the "but they can interbreed!" argument, which is no big deal this time for the same reason it hasn't been in its previous incarnations: because race/breed/variety is not and never has been about a supposed lack of interbreeding. That's how we would discuss species, not subspecies, and nobody ever claimed what you're really countering (that the races are actually separate species).


leaving out the aborigines, of course, which were geographically isolated for long enough that I might be willing to consider them distinct in some way.That means acknowledging that races exist, just haggling over how many... and that race's isolation and biological divergence from others is not unique or even the most drastic, so the same standard you've just chosen which splits them off would also require making a few more splits too.


I also find it interesting that "American Indian" is considered a race, despite the fact that it's a "race" that covers two entire continents.How in the world could number of continents occupied possibly have anything to do with anything? Once again, it's some other issue, not actually about races themselves.

neilzero
2008-Apr-07, 07:58 PM
While it is traditional to think trates are passed from the father to the children, the female equally determines the genes. Most of us have two parents, 4 grand parents, 8 great grand parents etc, unless a pair of our ancestors were cousins. In 100 generations most of us have more than a million direct ancestors. Probability is high that one or more was oriental, one or more negro. There might even be an Autrailian aboriginy or a race which has totally melted into the gene pool and thus no longer exists, except for a few modern people who still carry one or more genes of that long forgotton race. Likely all of us are mongrels = mixed breed, even the decendents of Aaron. I hope that helps. Neil

Delvo
2008-Apr-07, 08:17 PM
Most of us have two parents, 4 grand parents, 8 great grand parents etc, unless a pair of our ancestors were cousins. In 100 generations most of us have more than a million direct ancestors.Actually, that point is reached in 20 generations. In 100, each of us has 1,267,650,600,228,229,401,496,703,205,376 positions on his/her ancestral tree, which is many times the number of humans that have ever lived.

The way this works is that the more generations back you look, the more cases you would see of the same individual appearing in different positions in your tree, so you're descended from each of them in more different ways than one apiece. This happens regardless of the size and the isolatedness or non-isolatedness of the population.


Probability is high that one or more was oriental, one or more negro.That's like saying that because 1 out of every 6 people in the world is Chinese, if you have 6 kids, one will be Chinese. Numbers just don't have that kind of effect. The only way to have ancestors from a place that you and the rest of your ancestors aren't from is if somebody traveled really far and reproduced with the locals (s)he found there, however far from home that was. It happens, but not with a frequency that can be calculated based on random chance, because how far people travel is not random (longer distances are much rarer) and their odds of getting to reproduce among foreigners are not as high.


Likely all of us are mongrels = mixed breed, even the decendents of Aaron.You've given no reason to expect interbreeding to be so common even hypothetically, nor an explanation for how our traits have managed to remain separate despite it, nor a definition of how much interbreeding or what proportions of mixing it would take to count. But there's no need to guess at the likelihood anyway, because geneticists have measured the extent to which that's happened, and it's turned out to be pretty low in most cases.

Jeff Root
2008-Apr-07, 09:37 PM
I did make an error early on here in failing to think of "Hispanic/Latino"
(the classification used in the website test you linked to) as a mix of two
or more races. Obviously the Hispanic/Latino ethnic group is a very sizeable
fraction of the world population. The biological heritage of Hispanic/Latino
people is a mix of European and American Indian, with a major input of Black
heritage added in. Since American Indians are probably a branch of the
Asian group, and may come from Pacific Islanders, they could be intrinsically
a mix of ALL races.
See, here's where the concept of comparing humans to breeds of dogs
falls down. Yes, all right, there is the concept of the mutt. But I would
venture that there are no "purebred" humans, even in insular communities--
leaving out the aborigines, of course, which were geographically isolated
for long enough that I might be willing to consider them distinct in some
way. You see, it's possible to keep a dog away from all other dogs except
the ones you intend it to breed with. That has, again except in the case
of aborigines versus non-aborigines, never been possible with humans.
I'd say that there was no mixing at all between (for example) American
Indians and Europeans or Africans for a period of 10,000 or even 50,000
years. No mixing at all between northern Europeans and central Africans
for a similar period. No mixing at all between Asians and central Africans.
People from Asia never traveled to central Africa and people from central
Africa never traveled to Asia.

Certainly there was mixing between the people of central Africa and the
people of northern Africa, between the people of northern Africa and the
people of southern Europe, and between the people of southern Europe
and the people of northern Europe. But northern Europe and central Africa
are so widely separated that there was essentially no mixing between them
over a period of many thousands of years. That is what made it possible
for people in different locations to evolve different "looks". If there had
been mixing, those different looks would not exist.



I also find it interesting that "American Indian" is considered a race,
despite the fact that it's a "race" that covers two entire continents.
I have no opinion about whether or not "American Indian" is or should
or should not be considered a race. As I think I've made clear, I don't
even know what the origin of the American Indians was: migration from
Siberia, migration from the Pacific islands, or both. Any way, American
Indians would appear to be a branch of the Asian group.

The fact that American Indians occupied two continents before the
Europeans invaded is irrelevent to the question of whether they should
be considered to be a race or any other grouping. Only the (apparent
but not certain to me) fact that they have a common origin and the
fact that they evolved in isolation from other groups are relevant.



So. All things considered, we are all mixed-breed, ...
If I have two genes from an ancestor 120 generations ago who was
Black, does that mean I am mixed-race? If you have five genes from
an ancestor 200 generations ago who was Black, does that mean you
are mixed-race?



... and race cannot have any biological meaning.
I don't know what "biological meaning" means. I'll assume that you
meant "biological basis" or "biological cause".

In that case, How does it follow from the putative fact that we are
all mixed-race that race has no basis in biology? I see no connection.
It is a non sequitur.

Some people are master chefs. Some people are registered architects.
Does the fact that some of the master chefs took some of the same
courses in school as some of the registered architects mean that the
apparent differences in knowledge between master chefs as a group
and registered architects as a group cannot have any basis in their
schooling?

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

Jeff Root
2008-Apr-07, 10:11 PM
Actually, that point is reached in 20 generations. In 100, each of us has
1,267,650,600,228,229,401,496,703,205,376 positions on his/her ancestral
tree, which is many times the number of humans that have ever lived.
Now, where have I seen that number before?

Two to the 100th Power: A Simple Question (http://www.freemars.org/jeff/2exp100/question.htm)
Go to the second and third pages. The link to the third page isn't very
prominent. It is near the bottom of the second page, and says, "a way
to visualize the powers of two".

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

EvilEye
2008-Apr-08, 04:16 AM
I've been offline for one week, and this thread exploded more than I ever imagined it would.

I was only ever saying that race could be more easily defined genetically the further back in time you went....until there was only one.

WE keep adding names, not races, to the game.

Mixing of all of the genetic pool is like throwing everything into the pot, and eventually we will have exactly the same recipe. We are no longer truly seperate peoples. We will eventually all be one again.... just like the world got smaller with the advent of the internet.

worzel
2008-Apr-09, 10:07 AM
That is definitely one of my main points about race. Do you understand better now why people say that race is socially constructed?
I do. But this discussion is largely one of semantics now (although I have learned a lot from it) because the socially constructed "race" that you are claiming has no biological basis is not the same "race" that me and Delvo say does.

Given the historic bigotries, still present connotations, and possibility to be misunderstood, I'll try to avoid the word "race" in the future. What word should I use to describe that very obvious characteristic look of,say, the Australian Aborigines? Or do you claim that that is just a social construct? That's what I find odd about this conversation: you seem to have taken the falsification of neatly partitioned races to mean that there isn't even any such thing as a typically Aboriginal look.

Disinfo Agent
2008-Apr-09, 11:09 AM
I do. But this discussion is largely one of semantics now (although I have learned a lot from it) because the socially constructed "race" that you are claiming has no biological basis is not the same "race" that me and Delvo say does.

Given the historic bigotries, still present connotations, and possibility to be misunderstood, I'll try to avoid the word "race" in the future.That's a sensible decision. Why use the name "race" for something that is not what most people in the world understand by the term? That would just generate confusion in an already pretty confused subject.


What word should I use to describe that very obvious characteristic look of,say, the Australian Aborigines? Or do you claim that that is just a social construct? [...]

That's what I find odd about this conversation: you seem to have taken the falsification of neatly partitioned races to mean that there isn't even any such thing as a typically Aboriginal look.I think our impression that there is an obvious and unique Australian aborigine look is what is a social construct. Often, it's also a construct of our ignorance. As westerners, we don't get to see many Australian aborigines in our day to day (well, I don't; I'm assuming you're not from Australia...), and so our image of them is based on crude stereotypes. If you actually met a couple of them, I'm sure you would quickly find that they're as physically diverse as any other human population you're familiar with. And let me turn your question around. You're living in London; if someone told you there's "an obvious and unique Londoner look", and that they could always tell a Londoner apart from a non-Londoner anywhere in the world, what would your reaction be? My guess is laughter...

I suppose there are some characteristics that are prevalent in Australian aborigines, like dark skin, but other unrelated populations also have dark skin. There is no immediate genetic relation between Australian aborigines, southern Indians, and central Africans, even though phenotypically all are characterised by having very dark skin. So, how much sense does it make to take the observation that "Australian aborigines tend to have dark skin", and turn it around to claim that "dark skin defines Australian aborigines" (or even "a genetically meaningful subset of mankind, of which aborigines are part")?

But perhaps the deepest objection I can think of is the following. It is true that people who live geographically close tend to be phenotypically and genetically more alike than people who live farther apart -- I don't wish to deny that. Families are an extreme example of this. At the other extreme you have continental populations, although in that case the "noise" very much drowns the similarities, as you noted earlier in this discussion. In this sense, the population of a continent can be seen as a very extended family.

But isn't this what JonD was suggesting earlier? I don't think so, for two reasons. First, what applies to "continental populations" will apply equally well to any arbitrary geographical area roughly the size of a continent. It doesn't matter where you draw the lines of your grid on the globe. And second, do you think this similarity-to-one's-neighbours works only at these two extremes, family and continent? No. It holds at all levels that come in between, even between cities in the same country. (See this exchange I had with Sam5 a while ago, and the discussion in the page I linked to.) (http://www.bautforum.com/off-topic-babbling/32744-bad-history-3.html#post575298) So where should we draw the line (because no one is going to claim that a regular family is a race)? Again, that's arbitrary.

worzel
2008-Apr-09, 12:09 PM
That's a sensible decision. Why use the name "race" for something that is not what most people in the world understand by the term? That would just generate confusion in an already pretty confused subject.
I didn't realize people on here would confuse what I thought was obvious by "race" with what they did. But as you're still denying the existence of the similarities that I would label racial I suppose I can't expect you to give me an alternative.


I think our impression that there is an obvious and unique Australian aborigine look is what is a social construct. Often, it's also a construct of our ignorance. As westerners, we don't get to see many Australian aborigines in our day to day (well, I don't; I'm assuming you're not from Australia...), and so our image of them is based on crude stereotypes. If you actually met a couple of them, I'm sure you would quickly find that they're as physically diverse as any other human population you're familiar with.
That right there is where I think you are just plain wrong. Australian aborigines have a very distinct look as far as I'm concerned. I grew up in New Zealand which has a very large Maori population and they too had there own distinctive look. Unlike the Australian aborigines, they and westerners have interbred to such an extent that there are no pure Maoris left0, yet still to my eye the hyrbrids (for want of a better word) have a distinctive Maori look--and yes, I'm sure to Maoris of the past the hybrids will have a distinctive Western look). This is also true, although probably to a lesser extent, of many New Zealanders who would consider themselves white.

I also new many Indians and Chinese back then and fully appreciate that once you get used to a race's distinctive features you soon see through them and see the real variation that is there and note far more similarities in looks, and everything else, between particular members of different races than between most individuals within a race. That's never been the issue in this thread. But still, for many I could easily tell who were of Chinese, Indian or Maori decent - and this was not just wishful thinking, the Chinese and Indians were typically second generation immigrants who still spoke their original language.


And let me turn your question around; you've living in London. If someone told you there's "an obvious and unique Londoner look", and that they could always tell a Londoner apart from a non-Londoner anywhere in the world, what would your reaction be? My guess is laughter...
I thought Kate Moss had the London look :) But seriously, it is very different here. Not only do I not have a clue what my racial background could be considered to be, given the constant to-ing and fro-ing of warring factions over Britain's past, but many of my non-white friends in London are even harder to classify. I know some first and second generation Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Pakistani, etc. who typically are identifiable as such by the way they look (and they typically still have the language and culture as well), but there are many others who are not so easily classified due to the melting pot that is London. I'd imagine that is true of much of America too.


I suppose there are some characteristics that are prevalent in Australian aborigines, like dark skin, but other unrelated populations also have dark skin. There is no immediate genetic relation between Australian aborigines, southern Indians, and central Africans, even though phenotypically all are characterised by having very dark skin. So, how much sense does it make to take the observation that "Australian aborigines tend to have dark skin", and turn it around to claim that "dark skin defines Australian aborigines" (or even "a genetically meaningful subset of mankind, of which aborigines are part")?
But you're just constructing a strawman to shoot down again. I never said Australian aborigines are identifiable simply by skin color. That would be one trait (for white people like me, at least) out of many that would register. I bet equally dark Africans (of whatever African race you like) would notice many of the traits that I do as being different from themselves as well, but not skin color, obviously.


But perhaps the deepest objection I can think of is the following. It is true that people who live geographically close tend to be phenotypically and genetically more alike than people who live farther apart -- I don't wish to deny that. Families are an extreme example of this. At the other extreme you have continental populations, although in that case the "noise" very much drowns the similarities, as you noted earlier in this discussion. In this sense, the population of a continent can be seen as a very extended family.

But isn't this what JonD was suggesting earlier? I don't think so, for two reasons. First, what applies to "continental populations" will apply equally well to any arbitrary geographical area roughly the size of a continent. It doesn't matter where you draw the lines of the grid on the globe. And second, do you think this similarity-to-one's-neighbours works only at these two extremes, family and continent? No. It holds at all levels that come in between, even between cities in the same country. (See this exchange I had with Sam5 a while ago, and the discussion in the page I linked to.) (http://www.bautforum.com/off-topic-babbling/32744-bad-history-3.html#post575298) So where should we draw the line (because no one is going to claim that a regular family is a race)? Again, that's arbitrary.
No, I think that's nonsense. The fact that Australia and New Zealand are separated from the rest of the world by thousands of miles of sea (even between them) means that there is a very non-arbitrary boundary around them both as far as migration is concerned. The Polynesian would-be-emigrants who became the NZ Maoris mostly died on the way. It was a very harsh one way trip that only a few managed. They did not commute regularly backwards and forwards over thousands of miles of sea in their canoes, nor did they visit Australia for there summer holidays. To claim that that sort of isolation is arbitrary is just silly, and flies in the face of common sense when we can all see the effect that such isolation has had (on language and culture too) if we'd just take off our PC-blinkers for a bit.

But equally, in place as large and diverse as Africa with much more emigratable borders I can see how much more arbitrary any attempt to classify racially would be. Certainly some people think of black Africans as one race, which is more along the lines of the social construct you're talking about, I think.

There are plenty of species that don't fit into our preconceived notions either, but that doesn't falsify the existence of species.

Disinfo Agent
2008-Apr-09, 02:16 PM
I didn't realize people on here would confuse what I thought was obvious by "race" with what they did. But as you're still denying the existence of the similarities that I would label racial I suppose I can't expect you to give me an alternative.I don't deny the physical similarities, what I deny is that they define a race as the word is commonly understood.


No, I think that's nonsense. The fact that Australia and New Zealand are separated from the rest of the world by thousands of miles of sea (even between them) means that there is a very non-arbitrary boundary around them both as far as migration is concerned. The Polynesian would-be-emigrants who became the NZ Maoris mostly died on the way. It was a very harsh one way trip that only a few managed. They did not commute regularly backwards and forwards over thousands of miles of sea in their canoes, nor did they visit Australia for there summer holidays. To claim that that sort of isolation is arbitrary is just silly, and flies in the face of common sense when we can all see the effect that such isolation has had (on language and culture too) if we'd just take off our PC-blinkers for a bit.It takes some time for an isolated population to diverge genetically from others from where it sprung. On an evolutionary scale, as you must know, the Maoris have not been in New Zealand for very long. The whole Polynesian expansion is quite recent (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maori) in human history. (The Australian aborigines have been in Australia for much longer than that, although, contrary to what some have claimed in this thread, even they were never fully isolated from other human populations.)
Furthermore, it's a bit fallacious to contrast Maoris with the descendants of people from the British Isles, as the population where the Maoris originated from lies not in northern Europe, but in southeastern Asia.


Not only do I not have a clue what my racial background could be considered to be, given the constant to-ing and fro-ing of warring factions over Britain's past, but many of my non-white friends in London are even harder to classify. I know some first and second generation Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Pakistani, etc. who typically are identifiable as such by the way they look (and they typically still have the language and culture as well), but there are many others who are not so easily classified due to the melting pot that is London. I'd imagine that is true of much of America too.Which is an irony, considering that many people in the U.S. and elsewhere are clearly under the illusion that northern European populations are homogeneous and "racially pure".


But you're just constructing a strawman to shoot down again. I never said Australian aborigines are identifiable simply by skin color. That would be one trait (for white people like me, at least) out of many that would register.Not a strawman, just a simplification. I used the example of skin colour because I believe it's the physical trait that people most associate with race. There are others, of course, but, contrary to what you say, all in all there are not "many" of them. They are in fact very few.

Ask yourself which traits you use to determine a person's race based on their looks. Skin tone, hair and eye colour, the shape of the eyes, nose, and mouth, and what else? When you add them all up, it's really very few physical features. We ignore all the physical features we can't see, such as blood type, sickle cell anemia, or susceptibility to Tay-Sachs. Well, I've got news for you: most of our genome codes for physical features we cannot see. And we also ignore many traits which are visible, but which we oddly tend to not deem "relevant", such as height or foot size.

So, when you classify a person using half a dozen easy-to-see physical traits, you're only looking at a minor fraction of what they "are", genetically. And you're doing it rather imperfectly, because phenotype and genotype are not the same. Skin tone, for example, is not just a consequence of one's genes, but also of one's exposure to sunlight, which is determined by the environment, not genetics. So why do we, arbitrarily, give so much weight to that half a dozen not-fully-genetic, easily observable physical traits, while neglecting the rest? Social reasons.

worzel
2008-Apr-09, 02:56 PM
I don't deny the physical similarities, what I deny is that they define a race as the word is commonly understood.
So why not answer my previous question, then?

What word should I use to describe that very obvious characteristic look of,say, the Australian Aborigines?

worzel
2008-Apr-09, 03:03 PM
Which is an irony, considering that many people in the U.S. and elsewhere are clearly under the illusion that northern European populations are homogeneous and "racially pure".

Is this another "simplification", not only is modern cosmopolitan London and historically isolated Australasia comparable, but now London and Northern Europe are equatable?

I don't see the irony, anyway, of people being wrong. I'm not making a case for what I believe others believe they mean when they say race. I've explained what I mean and justified the existence of race by that definition while admitting that by yours they don't exist.

Delvo
2008-Apr-09, 03:07 PM
it is very different here. Not only do I not have a clue what my racial background could be considered to be, given the constant to-ing and fro-ing of warring factions over Britain's past, but many of my non-white friends in London are even harder to classify. I know some first and second generation Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Pakistani, etc. who typically are identifiable as such by the way they look (and they typically still have the language and culture as well), but there are many others who are not so easily classified due to the melting pot that is London. I'd imagine that is true of much of America too.It depends on which question you're answering: the typical look of the people who live there now or the typical look of the natives who were there before any recent immigration of foreigners. The latter question is much easier to answer; Londoners would be white. Involving recent immigrants and their descendants within the first few generations is just distraction.

Gillianren
2008-Apr-09, 03:16 PM
I learned in my physical anthropology class (the same class where the teacher emphatically stated that race is a social construct, in fact) that, while those of European descent identify others by things like hair colour, Africans instead identify people more by height; other cultures have other differences that they focus on. Everybody, it seems, has some way of distinguishing the differences between themselves and others, and that's fine. Admittedly, I tend to use something of a combination, but my adult friends range in height between 4'11" and 6'6', so height is a bit of an identifier.

What becomes a problem is when an entire, equally varied, population becomes identifiable by its physical appearance. Both sides have acknowledged that there is more genetic variation within populations than between them. So how is race valid again?

Cougar
2008-Apr-09, 03:22 PM
Ask yourself which traits you use to determine a person's race based on their looks. Skin tone, hair and eye colour, the shape of the eyes, nose, and mouth, and what else?
I've lived in Africa, and I've lived in Japan. There are obvious physical differences between these populations, and the differences are there at birth. The question is, "So what?" What's this discussion about?


Skin tone, for example, is not just a consequence of one's genes, but also of one's exposure to sunlight, which is determined by the environment, not genetics.
Nevertheless, (Michael Jackson aside) skin color is very much a consequence of one's genes.


So why do we, arbitrarily, give so much weight to that half a dozen not-fully-genetic, easily observable physical traits, while neglecting the rest? Social reasons.
What weight? Unfortunately, some people are racists. They shouldn't be. I think we know better.

EvilEye
2008-Apr-09, 10:55 PM
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EvilEye
2008-Apr-09, 11:38 PM
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Delvo
2008-Apr-10, 02:44 AM
So how is race valid again?Aside from the multiple times the same basic explanation has already been given in this thread without a single actual refutation?... and aside from the fact that the word is routinely used by practically everybody and they all know what it means without any "question" of its reality ever occurring to them because it's just too obvious for there to be any more doubt than there is about the existence of cats or nails?... how about just the fact that nobody, no matter how vehemently they insist on its unreality, has provided a single actual reason to think that?

clint
2008-Apr-10, 09:48 AM
Now, where have I seen that number before?
Two to the 100th Power: A Simple Question (http://www.freemars.org/jeff/2exp100/question.htm)
Go to the second and third pages. The link to the third page isn't very
prominent. It is near the bottom of the second page, and says, "a way
to visualize the powers of two".

Nice link, Jeff!
I did that exercise once myself at high school (I think it was 2 to the 50th),
and I still remember the huge surprise when it turned out to go way beyond the moon... :)
(nobody in the classroom gave an initial estimate of more than a few meters)

What they got wrong on that site, though, is the distance to the farthest visible galaxies.
Taking inflation into account, at 13.4 billion light-years it would fall way short, right?

Jeff Root
2008-Apr-10, 10:59 AM
What they got wrong on that site, though, is the distance to the farthest
visible galaxies.
Taking inflation into account, at 13.4 billion light-years it would fall way
short, right?
I have learned some about cosmological distances that I didn't know
when I wrote that. However, the figure I used for the most distant
visible galaxy (13 billion light-years) is at least in the ballpark, if you
know what it is supposed to mean. What it is supposed to mean is the
distance the light traveled to reach us -- essentially, the distance from
us that the galaxy appears to be.

However, that 13 billion light-year figure is derived from a measured
redshift of 6.68, which doesn't seem to jibe with some redshift figures
I've seen more recently, so I do need to triple-check it.

-- Jeff, in Minneapolis

Disinfo Agent
2008-Apr-10, 12:22 PM
The question is, "So what?" What's this discussion about?There are two good reasons to discuss and debunk the race myth, a scientific one and a moral one:

1) For the same reason we debunk Moon Hoax conspiracy theories, Planet X apocalyptic predictions, or creationist lies: they are false.

2) The race myth is no innocent idea. It was created and promoted to support racism, and still does to this day (http://www.bautforum.com/off-topic-babbling/65999-dr-watson-racist.html).


So why not answer my previous question, then?

What word should I use to describe that very obvious characteristic look of,say, the Australian Aborigines?Which look is that? How has it been measured, and by which peer-reviewed anthropologists?

And why do you care so much, anyway? When you want to introduce a workmate to someone else in a party, do you normally describe him as "this aborigine right here"? Why not just use his name?

Finally, it's pretty funny to see you demand that the "characteristic look of Australian aborigines" be called a race, when just a while ago you admitted that you saw distinct differences between them and the Maoris. Well, I've got news for you: in the traditional racial classification system that everybody knows and loves so much, they're both called the same: black.


What weight?The fact that people like Worzel care so much about "racial" differences shows that we still give them disproportionate weight. I bet he doesn't get so worked up about the shoe size or the height of the people around him.


Is this another "simplification" [...]Are you trying to imply something with the scare quotes?


[...] not only is modern cosmopolitan London and historically isolated Australasia comparable, but now London and Northern Europe are equatable?You underestimate me. I was not referring, of course, to the recent immigration which the U.K. has been receiving from all over the world (and especially its former colonies), since WWII. That, while visible enough to ruffle some xenophobic feathers, is still numerically insignificant, and of course most of those immigrants are found only in the large cities.

I was referring to something else which you yourself had written in your post:


Not only do I not have a clue what my racial background could be considered to be, given the constant to-ing and fro-ing of warring factions over Britain's past, but many of my non-white friends in London are even harder to classify.Contrary to what the xenophobes like to claim, "mixing" is no novelty in the British Isles. The whole history of the place is a patchwork of invasions and counter-invasions by a multitude of different peoples. Few parts of Europe had such a tumultuous history in the Middle Ages. And the rest of northern Europe is not much different. Anyone who falls for the myth of a racially pure northern Europe just doesn't know their history.

And yet northern Europeans and their descendants seem to be especially prone to believing in the race myth. Hence the irony.


I've explained what I mean and justified the existence of race by that definition while admitting that by yours they don't exist.Sure, you can always save a bankrupt idea like race by redefining it beyond recognition. That cop-out is always available. But why bother? I say let it die a well deserved death.

worzel
2008-Apr-10, 01:40 PM
Disinfo, you are verging on calling a racist in that post.

You have moved from semantic quibbling to make a political point to out right argumentative rhetoric.

I've had it with you, bye.

captain swoop
2008-Apr-10, 07:43 PM
bye

JohnD
2008-Apr-10, 09:19 PM
All,
I started this thread, so I think I have a right to at least ask for it to be locked.

I've tried to point out the fallacy of 'race', when families are as different, or similar, but wihtout success. The origin of the thread has been long lost anyway.
Mods? Please lock this thread.

John

antoniseb
2008-Apr-10, 09:41 PM
Please lock this thread.
Done.