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Guest • 6 years ago
omarali50 • 6 years ago

which part do you regard as pseudo-scientific? Just curious...

nancymcclernan • 6 years ago

Explain the science that supports racial categories, please.

aeolius • 6 years ago

OK Nancy off we go

The bell curve is such old science. What
data I will discuss (not explain learning is your business . Wiki
articles will teach lots.) is Genomics. Very hard data

We are
really talking about differences between European ancestor-ed white
Americans and Bantu ancestor-ed black Americans. Now as RK explained
recently white America is very European. Black America genetically is ~
80% African and 18% European (Which means in many samples comparing
Whites and Blacks it is really Whites and (80%Bantu and 20% European).
Which in Bell curve kind of testing would move the two means closer
together then a pure European/pure Bantu sampling)

I say Bantu
because of the Bantu expansion. During a 5-8000 year period the Bantu
started out small but then went on to conquer the older indigenous
Hunter-gatherer tribes represented today by small numbers of Pygmy and
Khoisan peoples. They did a through job .
" Our data reveal a
recent origin for most paternal lineages in west Central African
populations most likely resulting from the expansion of Bantu-speaking
farmers that erased the more ancient Y-chromosome diversity found in
this area. However, some traces of ancient paternal lineages are
observed in these populations, mainly among hunter-gatherers. These
results are at odds with those obtained from mtDNA{female
orX-chromosome}analyses,where high frequencies of ancient maternal
lineages are observed, and substantial maternal gene flow from
hunter-gatherers to Bantu farmers has been suggested"

(Genetic expansion: Insights from
Human Paternal Lineages
Gemma Berniell-Lee,et. al.) Me I call that Genocide. Its basically "kill or enslave all the men and rape and enslave all the women" for a huge section of Africa.
I lost the reference but if you travelo to the right areas of Africa you can still see Pygmy enslaved by I believe Tutsi.

That's background. On to Out of Africa
"In paleoanthropology, the recent African origin of modern humans, or the "Out of Africa" theory, is the most widely accepted model of the geographic origin and early migration of anatomically modern humans. The theory is called the "Out-of-Africa" (OOA)" Wiki Recent origins of modern humans.
short the last significant emigration out of Africa into Eurasian and
the New World occurred about 60000 years ago or 3000 generation.
that time the two populations have been effectively been effectively
separated by climate changes and the (re) desertification of the Sahara.
There has been some back flow into Africa along the Nile corridor but
nothing significant for West Africa.
There is no good name for those who left (the out of Africa folk) and thse still there. I suppose "innies" and "outies"will do.
Tracing the origins of those who crossed over is difficult because of a lack of DNA from Africans of that time.
innies and outies from that time had very different faced very
different environments and ecologies for these 3000 generations. First
the outies ran into the Neanderthal and hybridized with them. Then they
had to deal with glaciation.
In short the environmental histories of the two groups differ greatly. And as Darwin tells us it is adaptation to the environment which produces the fittest. Tibetans and Peruvians have mutated and adapted to low oxygen heights. Of course sickle cell is an adaptation to malaria. East Africans and kly adapted to adult milk tolerance.
And medicine has found many differences across the spectrum of diseases
So now the innies and the outies back together in the US. Together after at least 3000 generations (perhaps more. Since we have no idea hw long a separation there was between the outies and the Batu before
the OoA event) .
The quick and pleasing notion that we are all identical except for some skin an hair differences (ala Steven Gould)after 3000 generations of separation is unscientific.
One would expect differences in learning styles. American education in locked into a theory of teaching. Where blak kids often do poorly. A highly successful NYC charter school limits traditional schooling to under 90 minutes/day. The rest of the time the kids are active in exploring, interacting and talking to each other.
I expect there are many other differences in interpersonal interactions and personal and common space expectations.
Expecting and accepting differences is to me a better way to go then singing Kumbaya.

nancymcclernan • 6 years ago

Well thanks for the gratuitous Kumbaya comment. Obviously you're a fan of Steven Pinker and all the other purveyors of evolutionary psychology just-so stories, who never tire of trying to paint their adversaries as in the thrall of politics, while putting their faith in a right-wing operative like Razib Khan, completely oblivious to their own hypocrisy.

So sifting through your sludge-like prose - very stylistically like your hero Razib Khan - I gather that you believe there is more than one "race" of people living in Africa. Is that correct?

aeolius • 6 years ago

1. I have no idea who Pinker is. There was a TV political commentator whose name escapes me. This was my source for Kumbaya. Perhaps for Mr. Pinker also. I thought the commentator was popular enough that the phrase had entered the mainstream.
2. You seem hung up upon the term "race." With all its baggage. Rather then use that term, I try to draw a distinction between those who were descended from peoples who went OUT of Africa, and those who remained IN Africa.

In Africa are there sub-groups? Absolutely. That is what evolution is all about. Once a group is separated, the two start to diverge. Both by random events and differing environments. And it is not just say in skin color or hair texture. It is all across the board all at the same time. Everything that is genetically driven is open to evolutionary steering.
To me this is a wonder. How life via the rules of evolution fill every part and crack of the environment. It is the actuality of the Platonic notion of the Great Chain of Being.
Hektor Bim has a post also on my screen . He says that
"(Rahib) reports on bad science, particularly on IQ, to reinforce invidious racial
distinctions that have been uniquely harmful in this country's history."
One of the attributes of the "Greatest Generation" was that it believed in the "Melting Pot" That the different groups in America brought a hybrid strength.
But then things changed and Zappa's "Brain Police" took over. The New Think praises diversity. But it insists there distinctions within are "invidious". The Brain police have taken a hard line and punished transgression mightily (poor Jim Watson and Larry Summers)
It is as anti-scientific as the Creationists. And like the Creationists. Bim and his ilk needs believe that the Rules of Life I have referred to above do not apply to the Human species.
The opposite is true.
There is no reason to believe that for innies and outies separated for 3000 generations there would not bee distinctions. And this includes those genetic traits underlying whatever IQ is.
Finally type I and type II errors from statistics
"...a type I error is detecting an effect that is not present, while a type II error is failing to detect an effect that is present..Within the present context, Mr. Bim eschews Type I errors. But that sort of automatically bring on the possibility of Type II errors. Equally invidious.Type I errors I believe hurt the individual. Type II errors Society as well.
I am strongly on the side of Nature in the Nature-Nurture debates. That there are genetic underpinnings to personalities and resultant behavioral styles. Realization of this can lead to more effective learning environments for Black kids. And perhaps also in understanding differences in response to Authority figures curbing an individual's actions.

nancymcclernan • 6 years ago
There was a TV political commentator whose name escapes me. This was my source for Kumbaya

Somebody from Fox News?

But seriously, how could you not know who Steven Pinker is? He is a leading proponent of socio-biology (i.e. evolutionary psychology) theories of human behavior, so in sync with Razib Khan that when the New Yorker wrote a critical review of Pinker's "Better Angels" book he linked to a Khan piece as a defense.

And so in sync with you too:

I am strongly on the side of Nature in the Nature-Nurture debates. That there are genetic underpinnings to personalities and resultant behavioral styles. Realization of this can lead to more effective learning environments for Black kids. And perhaps also in understanding differences in response to Authority figures curbing an individual's actions.

Oh, please, share with the group here the "genetic underpinnings of personalities" theory and how that will lead to "more effective learning environments for Black kids."

And if you could explain how the work of Razib Khan influenced your thoughts on this, I would be so happy.

Get your popcorn kids, this is going to be awesome.

Haliun • 6 years ago

How do you provide "more effective learning environments for Black kids" without some form of segregated schooling? Are the differences in the ways people with African ancestry and people with non-African ancestry use their brains different enough to warrant separate schooling? Do they have to be "racially pure" to qualify? What about kids with mixed parentage, do they have to have a genetic test? Is there any easy way of determining whether they have inherited an African brain or their European ancestor brain, and to what degree? You can see the problems, can't you?

nancymcclernan • 6 years ago

I think we can be pretty sure that aeolius does not see the problems.

Except of course the problem that once again liberals are preventing "science" from happening thanks to all our pernicious Kumbayaing.

JG • 6 years ago

Is the author being ironic? If so, grow up; if not, shame on you.

Hektor Bim • 6 years ago

Agree a hundred percent. This guy pals around with white supremacists and reports on bad science, particularly on IQ, to reinforce invidious racial distinctions that have been uniquely harmful in this country's history. Why is he published here?

omarali50 • 6 years ago

I am genuinely curious to know about those of his reports that you regard as "bad science". Can you cite some examples? (this is not a rhetorical question. I have been following him very regularly since 2011 or so, but have not read much of his earlier work. I did not see any "bad science" in the last three years, but maybe there is something in the past that I dont't know about)..As far as I know all his blogs posts are in public record, so it should not be hard to provide us a link to his "bad science" instead of just making that assertion..

Hektor Bim • 6 years ago

Omar Ali,

I'm going to give you some links, and would suggest you go back farther than 2011.



The Bell Curve is bad science.

What Khan and others are doing is a very old story in science - see Mismeasure of Man by Gould. The most complete takedown is probably by someone you know

Cosma Shalizi: http://vserver1.cscs.lsa.um...

You could also just read Ta-Nehisi Coates on the Bell Curve and tnr.

omarali50 • 6 years ago

The first post is just someone else's attack on him. I think an entire post by him would be a fairer example, since it is easy to pick out passages and sentences and attack those.
The second link is obviously offensive to liberals who hold a certain position on Charles Murray, but it is the politics (and the political incorrectness) that are an issue there, not his grasp of science....but I will grant you that politics and political correctness are real issues and cannot be easily dismissed either.
In the end it is your personal choice though; one has to
determine what writers seem worth reading and add value and which ones do not.
I personally think his wide knowledge, focus on areas I am interested in, and
scrupulous adherence to standards when it comes to hard science, make him a useful
writer to follow. You are free to believe otherwise and express your opinion.

Let a hundred flowers bloom (when the great helmsman said it, he clearly did
not mean it, but I do)

Hektor Bim • 6 years ago

Omar Ali,

It's precisely his politics that cause him to do bad science. The attempt to find a single estimate for intelligence, call it IQ, and then have it magically map to whatever the favored/unfavored ethnic groups of the day are is a very old story and has always been bad science.

Bad science has often been done by people with a "deep knowledge of biology".

In this case, as in the case of so many others, politics is driving the result, and that means bad science.

I'm surprised that you discount the first link, since it contains numerous quotes of his and has links to other posts of his. It's all online, easily found by Google.

omarali50 • 6 years ago

I think that from within any given political position, this argument cannot be settled. Which is why I was focused on the "science" part. One can have the "wrong politics" but still be scrupulously correct about the facts. I believe he does do that. We can agree to disagree.

nancymcclernan • 6 years ago

It is not "just an attack" on Razib Khan - I provide direct quotes from Razib Khan to make the point about his racism. And I include links. You just don't like what I said about him but your claim that I wasn't fair to him is manifestly false.

He's also an unrepentant right-wing operative. I always have to laugh at the evolutionary psychologists griping about Stephen Jay Gould's political views. And yet they seem completely unphased by Khan's political involvement. Steven Pinker is especially hypocritical in this respect.


Haven Monahan • 6 years ago

The Bell Curve is bad science.

You keep using those words, "bad science", but I don't think they mean what you think they mean. The Bell Curve isn't "bad science". Rather, its claims are supported by lots of scientists, and disputed by lots of other scientists. If Razib takes one side in this dispute, he is not engaging in "bad science", but rather is endorsing those views that he thinks are best supported. Whatever you might think of The Bell Curve (if you had actually read it), its claims are well within the mainstream of social science. Scott Alexander wrote an excellent piece on the common intellectual error of selecting one viewpoint in a scientific dispute and rejecting other viewspoints as "debunked" or "bad science" when the question is actually scientifically unsettled. He uses The Bell Curve as an example. I suggest you read Scott's article and stop making that mistake.

That hatchet piece on Razib is just silly. I was particularly amused by the claim that Richard Lewontin is not known for his leftist politics. This is the same Lewontin who was the leading member of the far-left group Science for the People and who once wrote that his own research on genetics is guided by "a conscious application of Marxist philosophy." Were it not for his leftist politics, no one would have heard of Lewontin outside of the academe.

Cosma Shalizi's piece is not very relevant here, but here's a thorough critique of it.

nancymcclernan • 6 years ago

So you don't mind that Khan is a political operative apparently.


And except for his political views, how is Razib Khan known outside of academe? In fact, is he even known in academe at all? What are his accomplishments, outside of a Discovery column and being considered an ally by Steven Pinker?

nancymcclernan • 6 years ago

Your comment about Lewontin is absurd - almost anybody who has heard of Lewontin knows who he is because of his science activities, not his political activities - those who live in the right-wing resentment bubble excepted, obviously. And again, the rank hypocrisy when Razib Khan is a public right-wing operative is stunning and appalling. The idea that you would consider Khan to be a better source for science information than Lewontin is clearly a function of your political leanings. Khan is an obvious political hack. His writing is so bad, it's stunning that his work has ever been accepted by anything but a right-wing publication like the Unz Review. Another Unz Review author is John Derbyshire, fired from the National Review for being such a racist.

S. Abbas Raza • 6 years ago

Please make sure you have carefully read our comments policy on our About Us page. Either make substantive criticisms in a civil manner or risk being banned from commenting. This is not a place for you to express your casual likes and dislikes of an author as a person, or even an article, with no reasons given. Who someone is friends with is not your business. This comment is not the beginning of a discussion here between me and you, by the way, it is me warning you to either say something real or stay out of the comments.

Main Coon • 6 years ago

Scientists are discovering that species boundaries are much more permeable than previously thought. We now know that we have admixtures of genes from Neandertals and Denisovans. It's odd that people like Khan are still clinging to discredited delineations of sub-species or race.

Of course variations are real, and certain genes cluster in certain populations, but to use the term 'race' as a scientist today is regressive.
The fact that Khan classifies himself as "a conservative" is telling (his words not mine).

omarali50 • 6 years ago

What makes you think he is clinging to 19th century "one-drop rule" type of boundaries at all? I can assure you, he is well aware of species boundaries AND racial boundaries being permeable. I disagree with some of his poliiticis, but his science is pretty sound. http://blogs.discovermagazi...


I dont want to put words in his mouth, so he will have to defend himself on details, but again, his knowledge of biology is very sound. I can assure you of that.

Hektor Bim • 6 years ago

Note, again, here that he stresses the difference between "races" without ever defining it. How many races are there exactly, and what are the borders, and how should we define them? The study cited doesn't seem to include North Africans, or Central Asians, or anyone from the Americans. If race is useful as a construct, is there one "African race" or three or fifty?

omarali50 • 6 years ago

It depends on your purposes and the scale at which you want to examine things. It is not a fixed and eternal category (most things are not)

btw, he did write about Gould and you may find his post of interest: http://blogs.discovermagazi...

Hektor Bim • 6 years ago

"purposes" is a political term, not a scientific one, I think, here. Racial definitions have changed over time, but they always have seemed to map conveniently onto local power structures.

That article is interesting because they didn't remeasure all of the skulls, just 46% of them. So they can't prove that bias wasn't introduced by Morton without remeasuring the entire set. Similarly, the question of misattribution of the ethnic origin of the skulls is also left hanging.

Finally, I would like to talk to them about their granular material measurements. What packing fraction did they attain, and did they attain it consistently? They don't seem to provide actual calculations on this, or do it by counting the number of grains.

Haven Monahan • 6 years ago

Hektor, there was no need to remeasure all the skulls, because the smaller samples of Lewis et al. provided more than enough statistical power to detect differences of the size claimed by Gould. Also, many of the skulls were no longer available or had disintegrated. The correlation between Morton's measurements and their remeasurements was 0.98.

Lewis et al. used acrylic balls to fill the skulls and measured the mass of the balls to calculate skull volumes. The paper is freely available here, see Supporting Information for technical details.

Even if you disagree with some aspect of the analysis of Lewis and colleagues, the fact is that there is no evidence to ascribe any kind of bias to Morton. Gould's claims were all smoke and mirrors, just like most of "The Mismeasure of Man". Only those with an irrational animus against Morton or his line of research can continue to claim that his results were biased.

Wilfred1618 • 6 years ago

Note all those biologists who use the term species, without ever really adequately defining the them. How many species exactly are there, what are their borders, and how should we define them? Should we dump the speciest use of this value-laden term species? Before answering please consider the concept of ring species and read the current debate over the racial/species purity of North American wolves, coyotes, and dogs.

Geoff Brandis • 6 years ago

Not even Razib would argue that different populations of Homo sapiens should be separated into different species. More Strawman argument.

nancymcclernan • 6 years ago

It appears that people with more recent African ethnicity are much less likely to have Neandertal genes. If it was the opposite, and Africans had more Neandertal genes, I have no doubt that Khan and his ilk would be using this to claim evidence of white intellectual superiority. With all their obsession about genetic heritage it's striking that racialists don't seem to talk about the fact that from a genetic perspective, people who are more recently out of Africa are more purely homo sapiens.

hypnosifl • 6 years ago

Has Razib specifically argued that the statistical black/white IQ gap in the U.S. is likely to have a significant genetic component? It seems to me there has been no real evidence to rule out the null hypothesis that it's environmental--see the article here which notes a similar IQ gap can be seen in many societies that have a particular "low-caste" group that has been traditionally looked down on and discriminated against, including cases where there is very little genetic difference between the low-caste group and the other members of the society, as with the Buraku in Japan. So those who state confidently that there is a genetic component, like Charles Murray and J. Philippe Rushton, in spite of the near-impossibility of controlling for all the different possible effects of culture (obviously, merely controlling for a few simple variables like income level is not sufficient) can be fairly accused of just trying to rationalize their own racist prejudices--but I wonder if Razib has ever stated a definite opinion on this, if not it seems unfair to lump him in with people like Murray and Rushton.

nancymcclernan • 6 years ago

Khan believes that both conservatives and liberals are going about trying to provide aid to certain "groups" the wrong way, because they are not taking into account the innate intelligence of group members - what Khan sometimes calls "aptitude."

On his gnxp blog, Khan suggested that gene therapy might be a possible way for members of an underclass to improve their inferior intelligence, which he sees as the probable cause of their social disadvantage:

right now, we assume that ALL GROUPS HAVE EQUAL APTITUDES. the result is that liberals devise new social programs to “uplift” groups to express their potentional. conservatives excoriate underclass social structures and cultures and encourage their own rival social engineering programs (vouchers, enterprise zones, privating public housing). if some aptitudes were genetic on average between groups, then we have an even harder task: identify the points in the genome that effect “g”-general intelligence, and figure out ways to manipulate these segments of the genome (gene therapy).
hypnosifl • 6 years ago

But does he say there is actually good reason at present to believe in group differences in "aptitude", as opposed to just recommending that we take it seriously as a hypothesis alongside the purely environmental hypothesis? In the quote you give there, he says "if some aptitudes were genetic on average between groups", and then discusses the consequences, without actually claiming this is more probable than the alternative. He may have a personal hunch in favor of this idea, and if so I'd say in general that people who favor such hunches probably have personal prejudices as a significant motivating factor given the weakness of the actual evidence, but I'm just trying to judge the accuracy of his science reporting, not his personal character.

nancymcclernan • 6 years ago

That's an interesting point - I'm not aware of his ever explaining where he could possibly have come up with the idea that the real problem with the underclass might be an intellectual disadvantage due to genetics.

But Khan must have his influences, like anybody else. So I'm wondering - can you think of examples of anybody prior to Razib Khan who might have proposed this theory of genetics-based intellectual inferiority?

hypnosifl • 6 years ago

Well, I already said that if someone has a hunch in favor of such an idea then "personal prejudices" likely play a role in how they came to favor such a hunch, and I'm sure you're just as familiar as I am with the background of racist ideologies in our culture and history that help plant such prejudices in people's heads. But as I said, I'm not really interested in his personal attitudes and character, just in whether his reporting on scientific issues is basically trustworthy--again, do you know of any examples where he claimed there was good scientific evidence in favor of the idea that group differences in "aptitudes" have a significant genetic component?

nancymcclernan • 6 years ago

Khan is usually very careful about making a direct argument in favor of Black intellectual inferiority, but he's a huge fan of The Bell Curve, although he actually claims to find it regrettable that race is mentioned in the book - as if race wasn't Murray's entire reason for writing the book.

Khan also interviewed Murray for his Gene Expression blog and asked him this:

7. In the wake of the Larry Summers flap, you wrote an article in Commentary revisiting familiar themes concering differences in intelligence. What was your impression of the response to that article? Were people as venomous as when The Bell Curve came out, or were they more accepting of the fact that group differences exist? More generally, where do you see the public debate on intelligence differences going in the medium- to long-term?

The smoking gun: "the fact that group differences exist." We know from Khan's other statements that by group differences he means aptitude, and of course that means intelligence.

But since you contributed to the discussion under Khan's article Why race as a biological construct matters you must be aware he commented:

... people who self identify african american on average tend to be 80% african in ancestry. and instead of racial IQ claims being 'pseudoscience,' one might perhaps say that the claims lack power because they're using instrumental variables (i.e., u use racial self identification as a proxy for genetic ancestry which you hypothesize predicts a given trait).

The problem with connecting "race" and intelligence from Khan's perspective appears to be that there hasn't been enough focus on actual genes to determine an individual's biological "race" as opposed to sociological, self-identified "race." But he's certain, nevertheless, that it is not pseudoscience and he appears confident that once more widespread genetic data is available, we'll be able to genetically determine just how much stupider (have different aptitude) people who are more recently out of Africa are than the rest of us. This in spite of the fact that those more recently out of Africa appear to be more genetically pure homo sapiens sapiens than the rest of us.

The real problem for racialists now, it seems to me, is figuring out a way to prove that Neanderthals were smarter than humans, so more Neanderthal genes makes you smarter, in spite of the fact that humans won the survival of the fittest challenge.

nancymcclernan • 6 years ago
nancymcclernan • 6 years ago

Actually, now that I think of it, it's just as likely that Murray wrote the Bell Curve out of anti-government program fervor, since he's a libertarian and so naturally believes that all government programs are bad. The argument he makes (and Khan clearly agrees) is that government programs that help poor people are only making the problem worse because the real problem with poor people isn't the lack of money and resources, it's lack of intelligence. And it just so happens that since a higher percentage of blacks than whites are poor (relative to the general black or white population) Murray, Khan and other sociobiologists take that as evidence that black people are in general less intelligent than white people.

Proving that libertarianism is just as idiotic as sociobiology.

Peter Reyne • 6 years ago

What gets ignored in statistical evaluation of IQ differences between populations is that people with higher than average IQ tend to have less children than those at the lower end of the scale. So if data is collected from high birth rate areas of Africa, for example, this needs to be taken into account in determining how much of IQ differences between populations is actually genetic, if any. Along with nutritional/environmental/nurture factors, of course.

Knox • 6 years ago

Khan says: "most Mexicans seem to have low, but detectable, levels of African
ancestry. This is almost certainly due to the attested slave population
across the Spanish colonies."
Mexicans are largely of mixed Spanish and native American ancestry. The African genetic material is just as likely to have come from North African Moorish admixtures in precolonial Spain.

razibkhan • 6 years ago

this is false. you can tell by the length of the ancestry tract, which is a function of time since admixture assuming reasonable models of recombination. the length distribution implies admixture on the order of ~250 years, not greater than 500 years. a secondary issue is that we have pretty large sample sizes from diverse areas of spain, and though there is detectable sub-saharan african admixture, it is at a lower level by about a factor of 5 on average than in mexico (note: the admixture pattern makes sense, since basque lack north african and SS african signals). so unless there was a massive skew in migration from people with moorish ancestry in the migrants to the new world that seems an unlikely source if we didn't have recourse to more advanced techniques. here's how it's done


not going to argue the rest of the comments because omar is right, i know a little bit about biology, so what's the point in engaging with people who are going to lecture me about it?

Amanda • 6 years ago

You see, this is the problem. First you talk about 'African' admixtures, now you talk about a 'sub-Saharan' race as distinct from a North African one. Which race do Saharans themselves belong to? How many races do you want to propose?

razibkhan • 6 years ago

they're admixed.

" How many races do you want to propose?"

however many needed to answer the question at hand. i happen to know off the top of my head the level of genetic variation to 'chunk' populations off to answer questions of the 200-2,000 period time scale. do you?

SA • 6 years ago

Seems a bit vague.

Dennis Perrin • 6 years ago

How much genetic variation in the population you are "chunking" off from is acceptable before the whole exercise becomes pointless?

nancymcclernan • 6 years ago

So since it's off the top of your head, it should be easy for you to tell us the level of genetic variation to 'chunk' populations off. Why don't you share with the group?

hypnosifl • 6 years ago

I believe that if you use some statistical technique to do the chunking, like principle component analysis or other algorithms for cluster analysis, you are free to tell the computer how many clusters you want. Does Razib ever claim that three is somehow more "natural" than any other number? The triangular graphs showing how self-reported racial categories line up with fraction of ancestry from the three genetic clusters labeled European/African/Native American was from this paper, I suspect the authors chose those three clusters simply because they related to the culturally-defined categories "white", "black", "latino" which people would typically self-report as their ethnicity, not because the authors would claim that it's more "natural" to divide the genetic data into three chunks as opposed to five or seventeen. I do think that whenever scientists do such an analysis, or science reporters like Razib talk about it, they should include caveats specifying that the number of clusters is fairly arbitrary though, to avoid giving the impression that our cultural categories represent some sort of Platonic truth about the most natural way to analyze human genetic variation.

Werefkin • 6 years ago

Most of the early Spanish settlers of Mexico came from Andalucia and Extremadura, areas of Spain with the maximum Moorish African heritage. But no doubt there was some sub-Saharan slave admixture too.

Guest • 6 years ago

Why use 'race' as a term to define populations of Homo sapiens? Biologists don't use the term 'racial' or 'race' for other animals, they use the term 'population'. I realise its just a matter of convenience. But when society has moved on from a term, is there good reason for scientists to still use it. 'Race' the word at least, if not the concept, has largely gone the way of terms such as "octoroon", once used by scientists.

Wilfred1618 • 6 years ago

You're right, biologists don't talk about races of, e.g., dogs. But scientists, e.g. veterinarians, do talk about breeds of animals and breed distinctions have profound consequences: You could lose your shirt in a lawsuit if you sold a Percheron as a thoroughbred or a Rotweiler as a Bichon Frise. Perhaps you would be more comfortable if Prof. Razib referred to human breeds rather than races. We could then procede to the scientific use of terms like half-breeds and so on.

More seriously, if you are really uncomfortable with the term race in discussing human populations then substitute the term clade. It will have no effect on the arguments that seem to so upset you and may relieve your PC concerns enough that you can follow said arguments.