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Race is a social construct, again.

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) writes | 1 year,18 days

User Journal 2

I thought it was already pretty well understood that "Celtic" is only meaningful as a linguistic grouping, but it seems the old idea of a separate "Celtic race" or "Irish race" is pretty strongly embedded, even now:

DNA shows Irish people have more complex origins than previously thought

I thought it was already pretty well understood that "Celtic" is only meaningful as a linguistic grouping, but it seems the old idea of a separate "Celtic race" or "Irish race" is pretty strongly embedded, even now:

DNA shows Irish people have more complex origins than previously thought

This makes me think about wider issues. I don't know how many online discussions I've been in recently in which I've been solemnly assured that humanity is divided into three races. (Three shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out.) And people will go on believing this, even when genetic evidence makes it perfectly plain that there's no such thing as race, never has been and never will be. There are heritable phenotypes, some of which are clustered together as a result of geographical or historical accident, none of which are set in stone and almost all of which are continuous rather than discrete states. The weight we assign them is entirely cultural.

As always, Darwin puts it elegantly: "Man has been studied more carefully than any other animal, and yet there is the greatest possible diversity amongst capable judges whether he should be classed as a single species or race, or as two (Virey), as three (Jacquinot), as four (Kant), five (Blumenbach), six (Buffon), seven (Hunter), eight (Agassiz), eleven (Pickering), fifteen (Bory St. Vincent), sixteen (Desmoulins), twenty-two (Morton), sixty (Crawfurd), or as sixty-three, according to Burke. This diversity of judgment does not prove that the races ought not to be ranked as species, but it shews that they graduate into each other, and that it is hardly possible to discover clear distinctive characters between them."

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2 comments

Erk. I should be more careful. (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | 1 year,18 days | (#44211683)

My fiancee just pointed out to me that the site where this appeared, sott.net, is borderline woo-woo. And there aren't any citations in the story AFAICT. So while an entire grain of salt might be two much, I'd say to keep a few crystals handy until a reliable citation shows up. Sorry about that.

Re:Erk. I should be more careful. (1)

symbolset (646467) | 1 year,17 days | (#44222533)

Now and then we need to revisit the issue of race so we can be honest about our progress. The timing was good. The comment was good. We need to have a mature discussion about the absurdity of purity of race. Thanks for giving it a go.

In the modern world the issue of race seems to be overtaken by religion as a reason to kill each other, but race is still up there. My guess is that until we acclimate to the world of plenty we live in we will always have these issues of race and religion to kill and exploit each other because "I want your stuff" seems greedy and lacks the mass appeal to gain wider acceptance. Making taking your stuff part of a wider scheme like race, religion, sexual preference, nationalism, political party or monetary policy gains the ability to get a mass of active supporters who will help the marketer take the stuff of the marginalized population, to generate a subclass of inferior people to feel superior about, to create a disenfranchised base of labor to exploit. As long as they're not members of the exploited population some people will support it and this works to your advantage. Having thousands of years to work on this India developed a stratified class culture with many tiers.

The nature of humans to be so evil deserves more study.

My view is that this was necessary or appealing when there wasn't enough stuff for everybody. Now we don't have that problem. There are enough food, housing, clothing, energy, medicine that nobody has to be hungry, homeless, bare or sick unless they want to be. Now the problem is that we have more people than we need to produce all this stuff. Because this simple thing turns the world of economics upside down I expect my grandson will have quite the interesting life.

And yes, to the humans trafficked in the US and the rest of the world today the fact that their plight is vestigial offers no solace, nor does it to the disproportionate number of citizens of color incarcerated.

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