ADMIN note: A lot still needs to be added, but the basic issues are covered. Since the matter is technical, do not modify it unless you have a sufficient background in the biological sciences.
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This FAQ is current as of [see bottom right for date]. It will be revised and updated depending on newer studies and feedback.
A biological race or subspecies of a species is a population that is distinguished from other biological races/subspecies of this species by the following criteria:
The above criteria are the standard phylogeographic criteria for race or subspecies assignment.1), 2) “Subspecies” implies a greater level of differentiation than “race,” but these words are often used interchangeably, which will be the case in this FAQ except as otherwise noted.
At least five subspecies exist among humans: European or white, sub-Saharan African or Negro, Mainland East Asian, Australo-Melanesian and Native American. Evidence supporting this notion:
One may wonder why a more definitive answer has not been provided. One could also ask how one can be confident that the final word on this topic will not be fewer than five races or no races.
A more definitive number requires more research. Consider the following issues that need to be clarified:
On the other hand, the phylogeographic criteria for race assignment make it clear that the number of races will not go below five.
What is the race of someone who is half Nigerian, one-fourth Chinese and one-fourth Dutch? Answer: none.
Offspring born to two parents of different races are not assigned a race as per the phylogeographic criteria for race assignment. For instance, the mestizos (white-American Indian mixes) of South America do not have a race. The inability to fit racially-mixed individuals or populations within a racial classification scheme does not undermine the concept of race. For instance, mixing a Great Dane with a German Shepard (dog breeds) does not produce a dog that belongs to either parental breed and does not undermine the fact that the parental breeds exist. On the other hand, a racially-mixed population could, with sufficient time, evolve into a separate race.
Very well. For instance, Tang et al. assessed 326 microsatellite markers in 3,636 individuals from 15 different regions within the U.S. and Taiwan. Cluster analysis assigned all but 5 individuals to their self-identified ethnic group.17) We know that American Hispanics are usually mixes of some combination of Europeans, American Indians and black Africans, but still, dividing the data into 4 clusters produced a cluster, 99.8% of whose membership comprised of Hispanics.
Genetic Cluster Analysis versus SIRE (self-identified race/ethnicity)
CAU= white, AFR = black, HIS = Hispanic, CHI = Chinese, JAP = Japanese, OTH = other. In Cluster D, 8 of 9 individuals classified as “other” had self-identified as Hispanic.
One may still object that different types of mulattos (black-white mixes) such as quadroons (one-fourth black), octoroons (one-eight black) and quintloons (one-sixteenth black) may all be classified as black even though their genetic affinities to whites and blacks are substantially different. However, no one would have any difficulty telling which is which with respect to a group of quadroons and a group of octoroons, and neither would genetic tests have any difficulty in distinguishing these groups. For instance, consider the following correspondence between self-identified ethnic group and the assignment of ethnicity based on 199 ancestry-informative markers (AIMs); the probability of concordance was > 99% for most samples:18)
Abbreviations: EUA = European American, AFR = West African, AMI = American Indian, EAS = East Asian, SAS = South Asian, AFA = African-American, PRN = Puerto Rican, MXA = Mexican American.
For mixed-ancestry samples such as African-Americans, most were readily distinguished from West Africans, and the minority of African-Americans most likely assigned to the West African group by the AIMs simply reflects the fact that some African-Americans have little European ancestry. Therefore, since the mixing is not uniform in mixed-ancestry groups, some individuals will not be assigned by AIMs to the mixed-group but nevertheless they will be assigned to the related group contributing the majority of the genetic material. Of course, if, after familiarizing oneself with West Africans and African-Americans, one were to assign African-Americans and West Africans to their respective groups based on looks alone, a similar result will be obtained. Therefore, it cannot be assumed that there is lack of correspondence between perceived racial composition/affinities and genetic reality. Black African and white European mixes usually produce a brown person with Negroid facial features rather than a brown individual with European facial features. This is a major reason why mulattos have often been classified as black along with Negroes with no significant other-population admixture. Of course, presently, black leaders encourage all people with any amount of black ancestry to self-classify as black so that the number of blacks remains high enough for political purposes. Just because terms like quadroon, octoroon or equivalent nuanced terms are not used presently in the U.S., it does not mean that people perceive no differences between black West/Central Africans, East Africans, African-Americans and different types of mulattos when all these groups are called black.
These terms are rarely used in current anthropology. “Australoid,” when used, is unambiguous. “Negroid,” when used, is typically unambiguous since people take it to mean sub-Saharan African, but some people may classify numerous populations in East Africa as Negroid, too, which is problematic. Excluding skin color, East African populations with a non-Negroid facial features central tendency craniofacially cluster with Europeans before joining the sub-Saharan African or Negroid cluster.19) Similarly, genetic analyses of East African populations such as Somalis and Ethiopians reveals major affinities to both Euro-Mediterraneans and sub-Saharan Africans.20), 21), 22), 23), 24), 25), 26) See also the following principal components analysis of African populations and neighbor-joining dendograms from Cavalli-Sforza and others' 1994 book on the history and geography of human genes:
Therefore, numerous East African populations are not classifiable as Negroid or Caucasoid, and they certainly didn't end up as they are via a simple admixture scenario.
“Mongoloid” is a more ambiguous word. Mongols, Chinese, Koreans and Japanese would be unambiguous examples of a Mongoloid, but a popular early-to-mid 20th century tentative racial classification scheme proposed by Carleton Coon classified northeast Asians, southeast Asians, Eskimo-Siberians and Native Americans all as Mongoloid, which may make it difficult for individuals harboring a relaxed or a strict definition of a Mongoloid to effectively communicate with each other.
“Caucasoid” is the most ambiguous word in this group. It is frequently encountered in the non-anthropological scientific literature, where it refers to whites but not a biological race. “Caucasoid” in colloquial usage in Western societies also refers to whites. However, Carleton Coon's popular tentative racial classification scheme included people as far south as North Africa and as far East as India in the Caucasoid group. We have seen above that East Indians and whites cannot be classified into the same race as per the phylogeographic criteria. There is also clinal variation from sub-Saharan Africa to Europe. Therefore, caution is required when using formerly in vogue racial terminology, especially “Caucasian.” One could talk about Caucasoid features with less ambiguity than talk about who or what is a Caucasian. For instance, a Somali or Ethiopian could be found with a Caucasoid basic face design, but whereas his facial features could be said to be Caucasoid, the person himself could not be classified as a Caucasoid in a meaningful manner.
Some common arguments that deny racial reality among humans and responses to them are provided below.
There has certainly been a great deal of inconsistency with respect to the number of races, but then the formal, standard phylogeographic criteria for assigning races date to around 1990. Different criteria will yield a different number, but not if the criteria are well-defined and widely accepted as the phylogeographic criteria mentioned in the beginning are.
An important issue that seems to have escaped the attention of those harping on the inconsistency of the number of races in different racial classification schemes is that no serious scientific attempt at racial classification has classified any two of the following groups into the same race: Danes, Chinese, Congolese. Therefore, there is some consistency. This can be depicted in more detail as follows.
The following comparison is of Coon's 5-race system vs. Brace's zero-races system comprising of 8 geographic clusters.
Now consider Glowatzki's 36 races
|Plate 1||Nordid, Dalonordid, Osteuropid, Alpine, Lappid, Dinarid|
|Plate 2||Mediterranid, Berberid, Orientalid, Indid, Indid (Gypsy), Armenid|
|Plate 3||Turanid, Weddid, Polynesid, Ainuid, Mongolide: Tungid, Sinid|
|Plate 4||Palaemongolid, Sibirid, Eskimid, Silvid, Zentralid, Brasilid|
|Plate 5||Lagid, Andid, Australid, Neomelanesid, Sudanid, Kafrid|
|Plate 6||Nilotid, Palaenegrid, Aethiopid, American Negrid, Bambutid, Khoisanid (Bushman)|
Look at some of the details underlying Brace's dendograms (based on 24 largely neutral craniofacial inter-landmark distances):
What is the take home lesson? It is obvious that the differences between the three classification schemes involve the level of grouping that constitutes the race taxon, but the structure of the groupings is similar, i.e., it isn't the case that one scheme is classifying Swedes and Eskimos together before they join other groups whereas another scheme is joining Eskimos and black Africans together before they join other groups. This is an example of broad consistency. The decisions regarding which level of grouping to consider as a racial/subspecies taxon will be consistent if there are agreed upon well-defined criteria for species, which have been in place since around 1990. There is no reason why humans should be exempt from these criteria. Indeed humans aren't and manifest racial divisions.
This is a common argument, some illustrative examples of which are shown below. Race deniers take features like skin color, frequency distribution of the Hemoglobin S gene, tooth size or frequency of O blood group and show that the classification based on any of these individual traits produces a grouping that is strikingly different from a classification based on another individual trait:
This race denial argument is very lame. As the phylogeograhic criteria show, race is not assigned by a single trait but by a set of phylogenetically concordant traits. In addition, there is a geography requirement, i.e., one cannot go around combining populations that have historically developed in well-separated geographic regions.
Three of the images on the left above are from C. Loring Brace. On the other hand, Brace himself has show that the use of 24 craniofacial inter-landmark distances makes people cluster with others in their geographic region of origin before they join other such clusters, the clusters being along geographic lines. Brace then tells us these regional clusters of populations owe the similarities in their appearance to the perpetuation of traits that are shared by virtue of kinship but which have no other biological significance. Well, Mr. Brace, race is shared by virtue of kinship and need not have any other biological significance.
Races do not need to have zero percent overlap in order to be valid taxonomical categories. The statistical tools used to examine whether a given distribution is of a categorical or continuous nature – e.g., cluster analysis, taxonometrics, discriminant analysis – do not require no overlap between categories. An example can be roughly visualized in the form of a rainbow where each color band blends into its adjacent bands, yet distinct bands are clearly visible.
Some authors like Joseph Graves have argued that valid racial categories would exist if “pairs of individuals from different races either had reduced capacity, or no capacity, to produce viable offspring.” 27) Graves is defining race as species. On the other hand, there is an increased likelihood of negative health consequences from race mixing among humans.
The clinal variation argument is a variant of the observation that races blend into each other at the boundaries of contact. With respect to one or even multiple markers (anatomical or genetic), one can observe a smooth change over a broad geographic region said to comprise of two or more races. Serre and Pääbo have argued that if people are sampled as shown to the left below as opposed to the sampling shown on the right, then evidence for clustering or racial distinction will emerge as an artifact of sampling in the first case but no clustering will be seen in the second case.28) Serre and Pääbo also argued that evidence for clustering is partly a result of the assumption that the allele frequencies are correlated (alleles are different versions of the same gene or locus).
However, Rosenberg et al. have shown that provided a sufficiently large number of markers are used, notwithstanding a) geography-based sampling as in the image shown to the right above, b) clearly observable clinal variation and c) an uncorrelated alleles assumption, population/geographic clusters still emerge.29)
This belief stems from the “recent out of Africa” hypothesis, which states that modern humans emerged in Africa 100,000-200,000 years ago and replaced archaic humans as they spread out, and stems from mitochondrial DNA evidence. However, nuclear DNA data clearly show that the modern humans that rose in Africa 100,000-200,000 years ago extensively absorbed archaic humans as they spread out.30) Therefore, differences between human continental populations go back a lot earlier.
John Goodrum compiled the following comparison of genetic diversity, assessed in terms of average heterozygosity of autosomal microsatellites; the heterozygoisty of a population (H) is the percentage of individuals that are heterozygous (have two alleles) at a random locus. H varies from 0 to 1 or 0-100%; the higher the value, the more genetically diverse the population. In the table below, He is the expected heterozygosity and Ho is the observed heterozygosity.
See Goodrum for the references in the table above.
It should be clear that humans are more genetically diverse than many mammalian species. Protein diversity is also a lot higher among humans [He = 10-14%,31) He = 14.8%32)] than among mammals on average [He = 5.1%33)] as well as most other species with a backbone [He usually less than 10%34)].
This is generally true. For instance, roughly 85% of the genetic diversity among humans is found within populations and 15% between populations. However, this does not in any manner imply that races do not exist/cannot be discerned since most of the information that distinguishes populations lies in a correlation structure rather than mere variation of individual factors.35)
Some differences between populations can be larger or smaller. For instance, Relethford reported that about 88% of the variation in skin color is found between populations and 12% within.36) This is an example of how human populations can be substantially different on some counts even though they are less different on most other counts.
Some estimates of the proportion for diversity between populations have improved with time. For instance, Relethford and Harpending's analysis of W.W. Howells' craniometric data, published in 1994,37) revealed that 11-14% of the variation was between populations, but a 2002 analysis of Howells' dataset by Relethford listed this figure at about 19%,38) and a 2004 report by Roseman and Weaver,39) employing a more sophisticated analysis of Howells' dataset, reported that this figure was 22% for size variation, 24% for the first principal component of shape variation and 33% for the second principle component of shape variation; the principle components analysis excluded the dacryon subtense, supraorbital projection and glabella projection because they tended to dominate the first few principal components.
For one or a few markers, in trials where an individual is compared to a randomly selected co-ethnic or a randomly selected individual from another population, in a minority of cases, the individual will be closer to the person selected from a different ethnic group, but the proportion of such cases will decrease with the use of more markers. However, if the entire genetic information is considered, then an individual will be closer to a random co-ethnic than a random individual from another ethnicity.
This is a false notion. At about 15% of the overall genetic diversity in humans lying between populations, this value is more than sufficiently large for racial differentiation if the phylogeographic criteria are met. Indeed, numerous species said to comprise of subspecies or races/breeds have lower values of between-populations genetic diversity. Goodrum compiled the following examples of the proportion of genetic diversity in various species that is between populations (FST). In the table below, note that 0.168 is the same as 16.8%, 0.155 is the same as 15.5%, etc.
See Goodrum for the references in the table above.
The interpretation of FST can be seen in the table below, based on Sewall Wright.40)
|FST||Extent of differentiation between populations|
|0 - 0.05||small|
|0.05 - 0.15||moderate|
|0.15 - 0.25||great|
|> 0.25||very great|
The classification above is not arbitrary given the variation seen in the animal kingdom, though some would like to claim it.
Now consider the following table showing FST between populations based on 150 autosomal genes analyzed by Cavalli-Sforza and others in their book on the history and geography of human genes. In this table, divide a number by 10,000 to get FST value in terms of 0.xxxx or divide by 100 to get FST value as a percentage. For instance, if you see a value of 638 between two populations, the FST or proportion of variation between these populations is .0638 or 6.38%. Note that FST is > 0.15 and even > 0.25 for a number of population pairs clearly belonging to separate races as per the phylogeographic criteria, yet some people deny racial reality among humans!
The following is a summary from Goodrum. A 1998 paper by Templeton41) reported that an FST of 0.25-0.30 is required for racial differentiation, but there is no such requirement. Templeton misunderstood a rule of thumb in early taxonomical studies where it was required that for two populations to be classified as separate races, 70-75% of the individuals outside the zone where they mingle should be assigned to their respective populations upon inspection.42) The 70-75% rule of thumb certainly doesn't translate to an FST value of 0.25-0.30. Besides, using the mid-facial region alone, if one had a sample of European, Inuit, black African and Australian aboriginal skulls, in any two population comparisons, discriminant analysis will assign 85-100% of skulls to the correct population,43) easily satisfying the 70-75% rule of thumb, and we know that these populations belong to separate races based on the phylogeographic criteria.
Templeton also reportedly showed that FST values for humans were a lot lower than for large-bodied mammals:
However, in the figure above, nine of the ten largest non-human FST values, including the eight highest, are based on mitochondrial DNA, whereas the human FST value is based on autosomal DNA. Since mitochondrial DNA has an effective population size one-fourth of autosomal DNA, FST values based on mitochondrial DNA will be much larger than those based on autosomal DNA.
For instance, Goodrum provided the following:
|Species||FST autosomal||FST mitochondrial|
Therefore, it certainly does not follow that the proportion of human genetic diversity that is between populations is too low to justify racial differentiation among humans.
There are numerous reasons apart from being genuinely convinced that biological races do not exist among humans, not necessarily mutually exclusive:
We are not obsessed with race. People who are truly obsessed with race are the leftist/Marxist academics who deny the existence of biological races among humans while blaming minority failure on racial discrimination. So what is the need for this FAQ?
Western civilization, particularly America, is reeling under the impact of massive Third World immigration, minority handouts, affirmative action and a high frequency of crimes on the part of numerous non-European ethnic groups. The people promoting this have not only made no attempts to examine whether the Third World masses possess the same aptitude as whites and whether they can be made to behave like whites, but also have attempted to sabotage attempts to answer these questions and persisted with their policies in spite of evidence that decades of affirmative action has not reduced the need for affirmative action for American blacks in the slightest amount, reduced the aptitude/performance gap between whites and blacks, made non-Europeans behave like Europeans…in short make the non-Western populations Western apart from looks. These individuals obviously need to convince Westerners that aptitude/behavior differences between populations stem from the social environment, and therefore need to argue that biological differences between populations are minimal and limited to superficial differences, not aptitudes and behaviors. This is why they are especially motivated to deny the existence of biological races among humans.
Are these people denying racial reality to promote racial harmony? Is it reasonable to attempt to promote harmony between ethnic groups by telling a white person that you cannot get this job because your ancestors exploited the ancestors of this non-white who needs to be compensated in the form of getting your job? Does one promote mutual understanding by insisting that the failures of a non-white group stem from white racism? Is it reasonable to place together in the same geographic region a large number of people from populations having different trait distributions pertaining to altruism, respect for individual rights, criminality and intelligence if the trait distributions are primarily caused by genetic differences between the populations? Obviously not. Therefore, if promoting racial harmony were a goal, these individuals would make sure that genetically-based population differences are ruled out before they implement their grand social schemes, but they have done the opposite, i.e., opposing a proper investigation of group differences. Some of these individuals are obviously malicious and hostile toward Western societies and Western people, whereas the others have good intentions but are ignorant and useful idiots for the malicious ones.
The malicious ones know fully well why they deny racial reality…to minimize opposition to their plans, namely the race replacement and dispossession of whites and the destruction of Western civilization. The irony is that for races to exist, there need not be any genetically-based behavioral or aptitude differences between them. Conversely, the existence of genetically-based aptitude and behavioral differences between populations does not imply that these populations belong to separate races. However, it obviously helps the malicious individuals to minimize populations differences. Therefore, the purpose of this FAQ is to hopefully get Western people to ask whether the behavior and aptitude differences they observe between populations possibly result in part from genetic differences since there are numerous genetic differences between populations with respect to a lot of traits. The purpose of this FAQ is not to argue that since races exist, it follows that differences between the races with respect to aptitude/behavior stem from genetic differences.
When more people start wondering whether genetic differences are involved, there will be a stronger sentiment in favor of a moratorium on the grand social schemes currently in place till it is shown that genetic differences between populations are not involved in the discrepancies regarding socially undesirable outcomes. At stake are the health of Western societies and white people, and these stakes are high. If indeed genetically-based differences between populations are implicated, then the grand social schemes currently in place will simply serve to convert First World productive societies to Third World hell-holes with a large and more crime-prone underclass that one could hardly do anything about. It is fair to ask that a proper assessment of the most likely consequences of a grand social scheme be thoroughly investigated before it is implemented.
A second purpose of this FAQ is to be of educational value regardless of any use that it could be put to.
In a 1998 statement denying the existence of biological races in humans, the American Anthropological Association (AAA) mentioned the following:
During World War II, the Nazis under Adolf Hitler enjoined the expanded ideology of “race” and “racial” differences and took them to a logical end: the extermination of 11 million people of “inferior races” (e.g., Jews, Gypsies, Africans, homosexuals, and so forth) and other unspeakable brutalities of the Holocaust.
Should we be concerned? After all, The AAA experts know better. Seriously, consider what the AAA or equivalent is saying.
A belief in race leads to a belief in superior and inferior races
Really? A race more susceptible to some genetic diseases is less susceptible to other genetic diseases. A white supremacist boasting about the intellectual achievements of whites will have his skin peeling under the hot equatorial sun in no time. A black supremacist proud of the domination of the 100m sprint by West African blacks will be at a loss to explain the near-absence of blacks among martial art champions…and so on. There is no race that has all the advantages or all the disadvantages. Just because a certain race has some advantage, it does not become racially superior to other races; it just has an advantage with respect to the trait in question or, if one insists, it is just superior with respect to the trait in question. Does one have to have an advanced education to understand this? There is nothing about the existence of races that lends itself to a belief that some races are superior to others. If someone who believes in the existence of biological races among humans also believes that his race his superior to others, then it does not follow that his supremacist beliefs stem from his belief in human races.
Racial supremacist beliefs make one want to enslave, dominate or exterminate members of inferior races
What in the world? Many whites are strongly opposed to keeping animals in cages even though they have no doubt that these animals are intellectually inferior to them. Why do these people not want to dominate/control/manipulate/enslave inferior species? Western nations spend a lot of resources saving numerous species from extinction, including species whose disappearance will not cause any harm to the ecology or humans, and this endeavor is supported by many in the general population. Why are these people not letting nature take its course and working to preserve species that are intellectually inferior and worthless to humans instead of speeding up their demise? It should be obvious that a belief in some sort of superiority does not lead to a desire to exploit others. This is not say that people with supremacist beliefs will not exploit others; some will, but the underlying reason will not be the supremacist belief. For instance, whereas numerous whites are attempting to save the great African apes from becoming extinct, numerous black Africans are merrily killing and eating them. Are these blacks eating apes because they believe they are smarter than the apes or because these apes are a delicacy in their cuisine?
It is a given that if the opportunities present themselves, some people will attempt to exploit others if they can get away with it. Slavery has historically been a universal human institution and is also found in non-human species. If a living organism can get away with exploiting others to his advantage, then some living organisms will be found engaging in this behavior in nature regardless of whether they are capable of higher thought or whether they harbor supremacist beliefs if human…this is a straightforward expectation…even some with an inferiority complex will be found to engage in exploitative behavior if they can get away with it.
If one uses supremacist beliefs to justify slavery, does it follow that a desire to enslave and exploit stems from the supremacist beliefs? What comes first…a desire to enslave or a justification for slavery? Do you realize what fine logic the AAA is using?
As mentioned earlier, some ignorant individuals are opposed to acknowledging racial reality in humans because they believe it will lead to horrors, but not all people in the AAA are this ignorant. A number of them belong to the same group that has been pushing the Holocaust hoax upon us…they are not stupid enough to believe that the “logical end” to a belief in races is racism and crime, and they are not motivated in order to promote racial amity…they want whites to believe that the millions of non-whites flooding their nations have the same aptitude as whites and can be made to behave like whites so that whites offer minimal resistance to their race replacement and dispossession. Do not be fooled by them.