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Thread: Anthropologists' views on race, ancestry, and genetics

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    Anthropologists' views on race, ancestry, and genetics


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    Quote Originally Posted by Amerijoe View Post
    I accept what they are saying, that the differences between individual humans or groups of humans is small compared with the scientific term "race" as applied to living things in general. And hence we are very much alike. They would add that differences among humans of any one popularly defined "race" are greater than those between those identified as being of different popularly defined "races".

    Many ordinary people would suggest that the concept of "race" used in this way has been taken away from common language.
    That common language may well be identifying a few minor superficial characteristics, but that is what the word means to them.
    They would see the scientific meaning as being divorced from everyday reality and therefore would disagree with scientific pronouncements.
    "Say what you like, but the truth is staring me in the face!" might be one response.

    If what scientists mean is that we are more alike than different, then say it.
    If one example is that what are called different races are more alike than some different breeds of some animals, then say it.
    Computer hardware and software companies are currently all over my free-to-air TV screens promoting their products and saying that people everywhere are alike - very expertly. Sporting wear companies do it well also. And some fashion clothing sellers.

    Banging on about a re-defined term just alienates the general public and tells them that experts are out of touch with reality.
    Last edited by Saetro; 12-17-2016 at 12:22 AM.

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    A very interesting topic. I have always been curious about it, specially the first question on the link that is

    The human population may be subdivided into biological races? and 86 % of professional anthropologists disagree with it.

    but my question is what makes us different from dogs, cats and other animals when comparing races and breeds for instance when we look at dogs , we have

    German Sheppard, Bull Dog, Kungal and Chiwawa etc. each with a distinct physical tract and a different set of abilities , some are good for shepparding, some are police dogs, some have a stronger bite than others, some are pets and better temperament than others etc etc.

    Can similar distinction be made to Humans? for instance a certain group of people who perform better in sports? a certain race that performs better in trade...and so on....? very controversial topic and extreme caution required.
    Last edited by jatt2016; 12-17-2016 at 11:43 PM.

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    Dog breeds were created by humans, though, for specific reasons - some were for hunting, some for herding sheep, some for guarding and so on.

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    As technology advances and gene splicing becomes the norm in some future time, what encompasses race will take a back seat to more a more pertinent question, what makes a human. If you think not, look what we have done to the dog without such technology. It's a concern, hotly debated in many circles.

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    Classifying humans into races the biggest mistake in history of science

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-12-2...cience/8142992
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    Hidden Content .

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    Human beings innately categorize and classify other people to negotiate the big, wide (& sometimes wild-seeming) world. Perhaps the label or term "race" has denotations or connotations that are no longer, or never were, appropriate. However, I've traveled & moved around enough to know that how I dress and speak & how my general phenotypic traits are perceived have a lot to do with how someone is reading, and often reacting, to me.

    In my present vocation, I also do a lot of temporary or project work. When a co. utilizes a cafeteria or similar communal area, I still see more like-appearing people sitting together. We seem to react on deep-seated instincts that persons who look or act differently than us are fearful at first. However, there is also the villager who is drawn to the new or exotic, helping to diversify the local gene pool. Accordingly, I don't have a problem with using the term "race" in discussing genealogy, ancestry or similar fields. If it has become offensive or misleading, however, I will adjust my terminology.

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    Political correctness at work. We're supposed to believe that environmental selection caused phenotypic differences in appearance but we're not supposed to ask the question if such selective processes could have had an effect on behavior or intelligence or athletic ability or susceptibility to various medical conditions, or well, you get the point.

    They would add that differences among humans of any one popularly defined "race" are greater than those between those identified as being of different popularly defined "races".
    False. You are regurgitating Lewontin's fallacy which has been taken to task and smacked down in numerous academic rebuttals. If Lewontin's claim were true, ancestral DNA testing wouldn't work. But it does and it's extremely accurate.

    The truth is that these academics don't want race to be real. It has nothing to do with science, but everything to do with politics and their own preconceived notions of egalitarianism.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Villabruna View Post
    Political correctness at work. We're supposed to believe that environmental selection caused phenotypic differences in appearance but we're not supposed to ask the question if such selective processes could have had an effect on behavior or intelligence or athletic ability or susceptibility to various medical conditions, or well, you get the point.



    False. You are regurgitating Lewontin's fallacy which has been taken to task and smacked down in numerous academic rebuttals. If Lewontin's claim were true, ancestral DNA testing wouldn't work. But it does and it's extremely accurate.

    The truth is that these academics don't want race to be real. It has nothing to do with science, but everything to do with politics and their own preconceived notions of egalitarianism.
    I on the other hand would have to disagree with you. I believe the concept of "races" as scientific is false, and that in fact this assessment (distinction and gradation) is politically based stemming from the 18h and 19th century Euro-Caucasoid smugness of their own sense of superiority. I believe this is born out in the colonialist and imperialist underpinnings of early anthropologists bit adhered to in this more enlightened time.

    when an Anthropologist was appointed or hired by an expansionist Colonial government to go forth and research a people, they did so under the guise that this re-civilization process (take over) was necessary to elevate these poor backward savages, as noble as they may have been, to some higher order. Of course the underlying realities of expansion, exploitation, and economic gain were always present.

    “Orientalisms” were the order of the day, and the perceptions and beliefs of any non-Caucasoid peoples were always sifted through a filter of the invading Government’s own value system. These Governments always had in mind either a form of “direct“ governance, where they directly impose leadership with their own martial presence, or what is called “indirect“ rulership, where via a system of hegemony, they eventually appoint the indigenous leaders to carry on their implemented system, usually creating a dependency relationship with the colonized country so they could covertly influence from abroad for the purpose of continued political and economic exploitation. These newly imposed standards and social structures were implemented without regard for environment or ethnocide.

    Most modern Anthropologists are quite often repulsed by the antiquated neo-Darwinist disregard for the people and their culture. This often causes a conflict between the hidden interests of the investors behind a so-called “Development Project “, and the real needs of the people of a target country, that should be the concern of modern Anthropologists. Therefore, modern Anthropologists must always assess, within the parameters of the Development Cycle, the effect that such a project might have on inclusive indigenous peoples of that land. They seek to achieve a socio-cultural fit.

    One of the best ways to achieve this greater good is to include the people themselves in the planning and implementation stages projecting the possible outcomes, taking into account their traditional social structure, including these, and hopefully anticipating and warding off potential negative effects to their social norms, and to the environment. Sadly for the developers this SHOULD include the indigenous citizenry wanting the changes being offered. But as we here in the US have seen recently in Iraq that is not always the case.

    Being limited in time, and having to employ Rapid Research Methods, often hinders the process even further. The reason why proceeding with caution is so important is, because often these so called developments, though alleging to bring the peoples upward economically or politically can be as devastating to culture and environment as Colonialism was in the past. After all, many times the real interest even of local politicians and incoming Industry, is still to profit from the project irregardless of the effect it has on the people. Often the implementation of a cash/job system, and the large scale building of roads and factories etc., will leave people unable to survive where their past local economies guaranteed at least their general subsistence. Large commercial agribusiness farms can put the small farmer out of business. Also, social units are broken up, and people are re-located, destroying important traditional social organizations destroying traditional inheritance patterns, land distribution, and even introducing new and often destructive elements (germs, chemicals, gases, etc.,) into these people’s environment. Thus, the return for the investment in this new form of expansion, and the alleged development process, is often paid for in more than just dollars.

    Colonialism, seeking uniformity with Western values and processes, usually insisted on a created dependency. They saw it as their genetically and often providentially determined right and duty to civilize these allegedly backward nations while today’s “modernization“ development projects achieve similar Westernizations and dependencies without caring what happens one way or the other, to the indigenous traditional structures. Uniformity with the allegedly assisting nation’s values and social systems have nothing to do with the interests of modern investors in Development Projects. It is usually with purest of intent on the part of groups like the U.N., missions, and many other non-government organizations, to help nations raise the standard of living for the people of so-called under-developed nations who are entering into a global economy, but still the greed and power hungry nature of elitism lurks ever present in the background, and it is the role and obligation to the true spirit of modern Anthropology to guard against the destructive effects of such a spirit, as much as possible.

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    One of today's factors I see as a danger is hidden in the work "Our Global Neighborhood" by Koffi Anan (former Sevretariat General of the UN). In this practically prophetic work Anan speaks about the general plans the UN has been considering for a Global governance. The problem this poses from an anthropological perspective (in my opinion) is 3-fold. First there is a tendency to interpret "equality" as "sameness" and this is frightening because it carries over into such things as possessions, accomplishments, clothing, and even government oversight regarding vocation and so on. A second factor is in the idea of a global religious initiative which claims "toleration of all views" but in practice does not tolerate those views which disagree with them. True toleration of all views allows for all views and would not censor or legislatively punish those who differ. Finally, the most dangerous in my opinion is the subtle form of ethnocide which would bring all cultures into a bland similarity with each other in economic patterns, life style uniqueness, and slowly dissolve ancient and culturally embedded traditions which make each unique culture exactly what it is and why it is different.

    In insisting on consensus which forces everyone to think alike in accepting the views, zeitgeist, and opinions of the governing body one removes and dwarfs TRUE critical thinking. IN true critical thought one must be able to consider all the arguments or data FOR AND AGAINST and be allowed to examine and consider the reasons for these views or opinions and then actually decide for themselves. This would not be allowed under such a system.

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