Race & Genetics -- What the fuck is so hard to grasp?

Afraid I have to blow off some steam here.

WHAT ABOUT RACE AND GENETICS MAKE PEOPLE BECOME FUCKING MORONS. How many times do I have to read idiotic comparisions between fucking dogs and people, after already explaining x fucking million nauseating times its not the same question? How many times do I have to see a sports journalist held up as a refutation of the opinions of population genetecists?

I gotta ask, what is it about this topic which causes intelligent people to become boneheads? Why is it so hard to get folks to simply go back and read old threads?

Frankly, I get more and more frustrated. What more can one do in fighting ignorance that provide citations to the original literature, some fairly accessible popularizations thereof also and explain? Sure, I’m not the most talented nor patient fellow, but Tom, Edwion and Gaspode certainly are capable of great clarity and patience. Yet still, we get the same old garbage.

Where are we going wrong? Is there anything to be done differently in explaining these issues?

Okay, just venting.

Carry on.

Venting about anything in particular??? A thread, maybe?? [sub]link???[/sub]

Lots of threads and links, if recent activity on this subject is any indication.

I’d just like to thank all of those who have eradicated my ignorance on this topic by explaining race and genetics in very understandable terms, providing numerous sources, and so on. I had always assumed that the races were fundamentally different somehow, but I’ve changed my views after actually reading some of the comments and links here. So hang in there, Collounsbury. It may seem like a frustrating waste of time, but some of us appreciate it.

I think it’s probably inherited.

(ducking and running really, really fast)

Well, I’m suppressing a desire to name names since I already have a terrible rep as a meany, but I think if you plug race, genetics as keywords into the search engine and restrict to last ten days… In particular one open thread.

(PLdenny: of course its inherited, I’m just resisting ascribing this to any particular group. But if I were, perhaps I shall call it the bonehead race.)

I’m still puzzled why otherwise apparently intelligent folks have such a hard time wrapping their minds around this. Sure, the material is non-obvious, but if I can understand it, anyone can.

It isn’t that they aren’t capable of understanding, they don’t want to understand. It’s much more appealing to them if they continue to believe that race and intelligence, physical ability, or even sexual prowess are somehow related. That way you might be able to claim superiority in one or more of these areas by virtue of nothing more than association, not individual merit.


Hang in there Collounsbury. Every time a race thread pops up you do indeed educate a whole new batch of people. Your perseverance is extraordinary.

There are always those who refuse to accept that we humans are all one race no matter how much evidence is provided, no matter what the DNA tells us. I have a word for these people, but I keep getting into trouble any time I use it.

Extraordinary…hell, I think its almost legendary, lol.

Collounsbury, meanie? Blunt, I think.


Just to let you know, I should have a web-page up and running in about a week that lists sources/links you and many others have provided regarding race and genetics. That way, when the issue comes up again (and it will), you can provide the link to the web-page and have the individual(s) refer to it. It should save you and others time and effort (I hope) on having to provide the relevant sources/links again and again.

For what it’s worth, you, edwino, tomndebb, Gaspose, and others have provided the SDMB an education on this issue worthy of any top-notch university, IMHO.

Keep fighting the good fight!!

Collounsbury, you, edwino (Edwion?), tomndeb, Gaspode, and others have done a wonderful job explaining the science behind these issues. I’ve learned a lot from all of you to back up what I’ve felt to be true. I realize how frustrating it must be to see these same issues brought up again and again, but remember, not everyone has read the previous threads. I like edwino’s suggestion to save a copy of your cite post in the thread that set you off. On the other side, long-time posters who you keep running into in these threads can make the effort difficult.

eponymouos, make sure you let us know when that page is up – I’m looking forward to seeing it.

COLLOUNSBURY, keep fighting the good fight. Heck, you fought some of my personal ignorance, which I admit is like trying to bail out the sea with a bucket.

Some people just don’t know very much about this field, and some people (like me) are genuinely surprised to find that things they’ve always assumed are true are in fact wrong. Some of us appreciate your patience in explaining these things, so please don’t stop.

::comes rushing into the thread at full speed, dives at collounsbury and misses, looks around at everybody patting collounsbury on the back and regains his senses::

Well, you did educate me on the topic Collounsbury. I appreciate your efforts.:slight_smile:

[sub]this isn’t any pit thread like I’ve ever seen. someone better start flaming someone[/sub]Now

If it’s any consolation, 'Bury, you’ve managed to educate me about race and genetics.

Oops… Freedom already said that, the bastard.

Lick my sweaty, jiggling ballsack, Freedom! :smiley:

Collounsbury, it’s not that people can’t understand, it’s that they don’t want to understand. With people who don’t want to understand it doesn’t matter how good your explanation is. You can only hope to educate people who are ignorant by chance instead of choice.

Let’s see if I halt the back-slapping for a moment and shed any light on this subject.

** Collounsbury**, I think the problem arises when you say, race does not exist. Now you are always quite clear and thorough in explaining that you mean race is not a precise biological category and I (and a growing number of people, apparently) understand what you are trying to say. Then again, I’ve spent maybe an unhealthy amount of time thinking and reading about race issues. I think the statement may just shock some people because it sounds absolutist.

Because on so many other levels (social, cultural, political, etc.), race does exist (you could even say it dominates) and (here’s the important part) ** it is partially based on biology.** Race to most people means phenotype, and your phenotype is largely inherited, based on your genes. Sounds like biology to them. Then perhaps your assertion turns into the ravings of a wacky scientist.

Of course, they could take the time to read and further understand these issues. But most people’s reaction to reading something that ** exactly contradicts** their dearly-held beliefs (race is all-important vs. race doesn’t exist) is to dismiss it. It’s too much to take or tackle, I suppose. Not condoning it obviously, just observing.

Not that I know what you can do to improve the situation. I kind of like shock tactics on the SDMB as well because you can be brief and interesting and hopefully shake some folks awake. If people aren’t ready for it, there isn’t much more you can do.

I think also that you have to understand that Americans’ understanding of the larger world is so very limited. Most people (not Indigenous) don’t have an ancestral connection to the land on which they live. They don’t understand the historical movements of people, the mixing, where people come from. We’ve got a 200-year history where 5 races (according to the census) came from somewhere else and have mostly remained separate. Americans see race as five little boxes of differing colors sitting apart from one another. I think people around the world better understand that race is a continuous spectrum with infinite combinations and fluid dynamics. (I was lucky enough in Shenzen, China to visit the China Folk Culture Villages, where you get to learn about the 56(!) ethnic minorities of that country in all their various blends.) You’re trying to overcome a lot of socialization and historical blindness here. I don’t know if this makes any sense and I’m not sure if we’re allowed to debate here in the Pit, but I hope it helps somehow…

For shining examples of this deeper understanding than we have here, see the Balkans, Middle East and Africa.

Don’t feel so bad C, you got through to me at least.

Hmm, this isn’t much of a pit thread is it? I seem incapable of making one. (Well that horrible train wreck of a Peace thread was mostly his own doing.) Some comments just for the heck of it.

First, stop encouraging me god damn it! I need analysis not compliments! (Okay I like it but I have to bite the hands that feeds me, or so I was told in a recent staff meeting.)

I’ve been sitting thinking abut this, and rather than raving, I decided to try to pin down where the resistance to our genetics data is coming from. I thought perhaps I would achieve some kind of understanding of how to productively address the issue, and reduce my annoyance level. Some thoughts on why people cling to the race as biology line.

I have two thoughts:
(1) Ingrained habit
Raised and used to the idea of race as “distinct” populations, with hazy idea there is some fundamental biological differences. Where I was until I stumbled upon pop. genetics. Perhaps a number of even intelligent folks have a hard time throwing off ingrained concepts. This data is new, so…

Hard to know how to address this. It’s rather like the creationist vs evolution. At some point someone just has to be willing to jump into the materials and grapple with them. While my explanatory skills are kinda weak, I think Tom and Edwino and Gaspode have done yeoman work here. Still, any suggestions on points that we may be neglecting so our presentation could be more clear would be good. I have a sense that individual versus group is a particular stumbling block.

(2) Politics
I see two sorts of political motivations here, maybe three.

(1) Well first, easiest to understand, hardest to convince is the old style racial supremacists. Either white or black, although it seems to me the “White” supremacists are somewhat more vocal and a touch nastier. Obviously the end of racial biology is no good for them. Never going to accept without overthrowing their world view. Fuck em.

(2) Second, the main-line conservatives. Freedom connected me to such a site in one of the threads. Misapprehension on their part (i.e. those who do cling to the idea, not implying all conservatives do so, quite the contrary) that the observations re race and biology are dependant on politics or they are somehow are “leftist”. I believe there is some confusion between radical egalitarian ideas (extreme nurture) and these observations, which are in fact unrelated. Perhaps also some vague suspicions of the sources, again as politicized.

How to address. Firstly, I need to find ways to assure the reader that in fact, with the exception of the David Duke crowd, these observations are politically neutral. Indeed, if one was to take lessons, I suspect they might be quasi-libertarian as Freedom himself indicated. Of course, I might personally disagree, but that area is one of philosophical dispute and not fundamentally fact/non-fact. I suggest that a portion of “conservative” thought has been duped by racialists such as Rushton who have dressed up their pseudo-science and sold it on political grounds. Like the Bell Curve crap. I could be wrong about this, but there’s my thinking.

(3) Third, and surprising but I have run into it, lefties really invested in group identity politics. Some of this runs towards group one, but mostly I’m referring to the sort of noble savage thing. A type of thinking that tends to set up Euros as bad guys (by their essence) versus the mystical/innocent/virtuous. Often claiming not to believe in bio differences but then you get into a run-around about essences or some such. Not sure if this really addresses biological issues or not. I’m often left with the vague feeling it does.

Now, Haplaxl. I have some issues here. But first:

Good I like that. Compliments make me paranoid.

Fair enough.

Hmmm, I had not considered this thoroughly enough, although…

I am not sure I truly accept anyone has “ancentral connections to the land” even the indigenous. I know the political import, however, realistically I don’t think this is relevant to the Q of understanding race issues.

I doubt very many people understand this well, I don’t believe Americans are particularly worse in this respect. Perhaps not. What does appear to be true is the particalarly N. European take on strict seperation of racial categories. But that’s more a topic of the development of the “science” historically.

It’s true, my general opinion of Americans is pretty low. A story:

I saw a story on Dateline or some such show a couple of years ago about a French couple (2 white folks) who had done artificial insemination and been blessed with twins. One came out white and the other came out mixed with African blood. They eventually found out that the lab had accidentally mixed in sperm from an African donor. There may have been a custody issue but honestly I forget.

Anyway, the amazing thing to me was their reaction right after the birth. They quickly saw that one of the babies was considerably darker than the other. When asked later what they thought of that development, they calmly explained that one of them probably has some Gypsy (or Rom) ancestors back in the family tree and that accounted for the dark-skinned baby. It took them several weeks, (as the child became obviously African) to decide that anything was wrong.

It blew me away. Can you imagine the average white American couple seeing a dark-skinned baby and thinking that they probably just have a Black person in their family tree somewhere? Which, after centuries of passing, is a distinct possibility (I’ve read that up to 5% of the “white” gene pool in America could be African blood–maybe the big C has a cite cause I don’t. Don’t know how you would prove this sort of thing anyways). I just can’t imagine a similar reaction.

I think we as Americans have been told that the races have stayed pretty far away from each other–mixing is seen as a strange anomaly. And it’s easier to believe the whole line about the races being separate biological entities if you think they’ve never mixed throughout history. American race beliefs rest on ahistorical notions of “purity.” We aren’t strongly connected with our ancestral history. Many white folks are lucky if they can name all the countries their ancestors came from. Black folks might be lucky to know the region. Do they know about wars of conquest and movement of different peoples through those countries over the course of thousands of years of history?

I’m just as guilty. I have Irish blood but how much do I know about Irish history? Not much (been meaning to find a good general history book for years). I think my father’s considered “Black Irish,” which I think means people descended from an influx of dark-skinned Spaniards, but I’m not sure.

I just think you can only hold on to outdated ideas of race if you ignore history. And I don’t think Americans are big on history–but that’s a whole other debate.

BTW, I’m with you. I couldn’t do a proper Pit thread to save my life.