So in this pit thread, a position came up for debate that I’ve seen a lot on the dope. Diogenese, as usual, put it in the most blunt and absolute terms:
My question is… what precisely does he mean by that? What do other dopers who make similar but less absolutely stated claims mean, and are those claims true?
My thoughts on the topic:
-It’s certainly true (and I don’t think anyone would argue) that it is 100% not possible to absolutely and meaningfully divide every single human being on earth into one of a fixed number of racial groups. That’s one (of many) reasons why white separatists who propose a “no black people can live here” law are being idiots.
-It’s also certainly true that things are a lot more complicated than just “oh, all those dark skinned people who look kind of African to me are ‘black’, I know them when I see them, and they all share common genes”
-That said, I do think the general consensus view is a bit facile…
So let’s say we want to discuss 4 racial groups in the US: White, Black, Asian, and Latino.
So, we take 100000 random guessers and 100000 random targets. And we show each of the guessers a picture of each of the targets and say “to the best of your ability, sort this person into one of those 4 categories, or (E) no idea, or (F) other.” (Presumably we give them some incentive to do their honest best job).
I claim the following characteristics will be true of this experiment:
(1) there will be a large number of people among the targets who are identified as the same one of ABCD by a huge statistical majority of the guessers (although some will be mostly E, some will be mostly F, and some will be just about every cominbation of the above you can imagine). We will call people who are generally guessed as being in the same group like this “consensusers”.
(2) If a “consensuser” is closely related by blood to other targets, it is more likely than chance (although not certain) that those other targets will also be consensusers, and of the same type
(3) There will be a strong (although again, not perfect) correlation between someone being a consensuser, and that person self-identifying as a particular racial group (obviously there is some trickiness here as “Asian” has subgroups, etc).
(4) If you take other measurable biological traits (ie, muscle type distribution, height, or susceptibility to sickle cell anemia) and test all the targets for them, and then graph those vs. consensusers, you will notice at least some correlations.
So, (a) does anyone question my claims, and (b) does anyone have any comment on their bearing to the “there is no such thing biologically as race” question?
(To avoid doing the kinda douchey thing where someone posts a controversial OP and refuses to actually take a stand on the issue, my opinion is that if racial groupings were truly “biologically meaningless”, then (4) would certainly not be true. If you can predict anything biological/physiological based on the race, even with a very low degree of confidence, as long as it’s still statistically significant, then it’s disingenuous to say that there is no biological meaning at all. But that’s really ALL I’m saying, please don’t think this is part 1 and part 2 is going to demonstrate that blacks are inferior, or anything of that sort.)