How come white people don't all look alike?

A third possibility presents itself from the work of Jared Diamond. The people in south east asia, from Madagascar across the top of Australia to Easter Island, mainly descend from one village off the coast of Japan who 4000 years ago developed outrigger canoes and consequently expanded and wiped out most of the original people in those areas. Similarly, the people in Africa from the equator down to the fish river mostly descend from a village somewhere near the Cameroon or north of it, who 6000 years ago developed metal farming tools and consequently expanded and wiped out most of the original people in those areas. Hence the reason asians and africans (at least those from those areas) all ‘look alike’ is because they are much more closely related than caucasians.


Hello engjs. It is usually considered polite to add a link to the column you are referencing.

Welcome to the boards. :slight_smile:

Cecil wrote:

It’s possible that somebody still thought there was fossil evidence for this in 1982. No respectable scientist believes this today.

He does debunk it and call it a racist theory, so I’m not accusing him of anything. Merely pointing out that our understanding of evolution has changed enormously over the past quarter-century.

I can maybe accept that the populations of southeast Asia went through a narrow population bottleneck, but Africa? Africa is where all humans ultimately originated, and as a consequence has significantly more genetic diversity than all the other continents combined. And even if there’s a small region south of the equator in Africa that’s relatively homogeneous, that’s not where most black people in America (the questioner was American) come from.

I believe engjs is referring to the Bantu expansion. The Bantu peoples are genetically relatively homogeneous, but Africa as a whole is the least homogeneous continent.

Unless the evidence has been conclusively shown to be forged, it’s still evidence, just as standing outdoors and looking around you is still evidence that the earth is flat.

The more recent research I’ve read about human “subdivisions” based on DNA testing is that sub-Saharan Africa is 4-5 groups and everybody else is in one group. That means that Swedes, Japanese, Dravidians, Australian Aborigines, Mayans, etc. are all variations on a theme. Meanwhile Khoi and Hadza are nearly the most genetically distinct humans.

Cecil refers to superficial traits, and the science done since he wrote drives home this point. In some areas, appearances diverged one way and in other areas appearances diverged in another way. Which features of appearances one focuses upon seems to be based on old-style notions of races. E.g., people in east Asia can detect differences that most westerners don’t pick up on.

The fact that the earth may look intuitively flat may be considered evidence but it’s hardly evidence that the earth is flat because the same observation is also consistent with the large, spherical earth hypothesis.

What Exapno Mapcase said may well be correct. I don’t know the specifics here, but something which was considered evidence for one model may not be considered so at a future time.
e.g. All the fossils from region A have a characteristic X and all the fossils from region B have a characteristic Y. You might consider this evidence for two distinct races. But then you find a bunch of Y type fossils in region A and X type fossils in region B. And then a lot of fossils in both regions that are intermediate between X and Y.
Suddenly those original fossils (which have not changed or been debunked) are evidence of nothing.

This is a completely pointless thing to add to this thread but anyway: Wouldn’t it be cool if there were more variation? It sucks that most everyone has dark hair and eyes like me.

Misinterpreted “evidence” is not “evidence” any more than David Barclay’s “evidence” of non-linear motion is “evidence.”

Who says that all whites don’t look alike? Just as many Asians can distinguish differences in the features of people from different Asian countries, perhaps they can see a smilarity in the way most white women look or most white men.

Sometimes at the first of school I would have trouble telling all of my students apart. I would have to learn approximately 150 names in order to extablish control of the classroom very quickly. One year most of the white girls wore their hair long and curly with the top part pulled back from their foreheads and clasped in a barrett. And they were all named Stephanie. That was a nightmare.

I’ve often wondered what description/markers police use for ‘be on the lookout’ type announcements in, say, Japan. “Suspect has black hair and brown eyes” seems a bit useless…

Whites have a greater range of hair and eye color. Blacks (despite racist iconography) have a greater range of noses, lips, and hair types. Asians have a greater range of head shapes. We are all programmed in infancy and early childhood to notice the differences distinguishing people that are important to us at that time. For example, I grew up in a small town in Maine in the 1950s, so it is much easier for me to distinguish among whites.

And anyone who thinks that “they all look alike” either has had little exposure to blacks or needs the services of an occulist. I’ve had quite a few black friends and more neighbors, and I have never had difficulty telling them from each other. John W. Kennedy has it right; we tend to focus on the characteristics that we use to differentiate ourselves, but that is an inculcated bias.


Zoe said:

Why? Couldn’t you just point at a girl and call her “Stephanie”? :wink:

Cecil addressed this in his follow-up column.

There is a factual error in this column. Cecil mentions a people he calls “the Moors”. Actually there is no such people. He is probably thinking of “the Moops”, who are a people of Arab and Berber descent living in North Africa, who invaded Spain in the 8th century.

Could someone post some links that point to this research, or better yet a general commentry on it? I’d be keen to read up on it.


The heck? :confused:

There is an old meme, related either to Trivial Pursuit or the home version of Jeopardy, which either originated in or was referenced in a Seinfeld episode, about a misprint of “Moop” for “Moor” in an answer (or in a question, if it was Jeopardy).

He may be referring to the Y-chromosome haplogroups. Here’s the current wiki on it.

I find it a pretty confusing subject. But my understanding regarding these haplotypes is that there are basically three root kinds: A, B and CT. Types A and B occur only in sub-saharan africa (or in populations that have recently left that region). All other populations are type CT, including some African populations.

There may be issues with citing this as evidence that sub-saharan africa is the most genetically diverse region, but in any case, I think there is other evidence that supports that view anyway.