Thursday, July 17, 2008

science puts an end to racism


Nice work.

Demonstrating once and for all that racism is purely a product of prejudice, arrogance, bigotry and selfishness.


  1. Well, I couldn't get past their very first sentence:

    "All races are created equal"

    Are they supposed to be serious scientific thinkers? Equal in what? Everything? You mean big-boned, heavy-weight Europeans would lose in a hand-to-hand fight with Kalahari bushman? Or that same big-boned, heavy-weight European would run ten miles quicker than a Masai?

    You may complain that they are talking here of morality and the law. But they begin that first paragraph with the following: "No genetic data has ever shown that one group of people is inherently superior to another" so they *are* talking science, not ethics. And it is self-evident that different races, and different groups within different races are, er, different; so that they cannot be 'equal' in all aspects of their humanity.

    I set aside, for the moment, their use of the word "created" which I am surprised an "antitheist" like you let slip by - perhaps I am superior to you in observation!

  2. The 2nd sentence should clear up your first objection.

    Genetic data is obtained from across the population and so a fifty year old Masai grandmother will certainly run ten miles slower than a fit and healthy 18 year old European.

    Races are different but their specific and clearly stated point is that none is superior.

    You seem to be wilfully misinterpreting this article.

    I accept your point WRT their use of the term 'created'. My bad.

  3. But the second sentence has no bearing on the first. The second is simply a moral platitude. But the first, with its mention of genetics, can only be assumed to be a 'scientific' statement - apart from the fact that the writers are scientists, and the fact stated in your heading that "Science puts an end to racism".

    So let us consider the science.

    If no race has evolved that is superior in some respect to another then that blows Darwin's theory out the window because it would make homo sapiens entirely different from every other species. (Personally, I am not too upset at the prospect of Darwin's theory crumbling, it has never struck me as persuasive except at a trivial level.)

    The whole history of Mankind is of one group wiping out other groups. It may be that the 'wipees' were superior in, say, their development of morality and ethics, but a fat lot of good it did them against the brutes who were superior in the art of warfare!

    Come on, admit it; it was a sloppy and soppy, careless opening paragraph which casts doubt on whatever, er, 'scientific' conclusions they come to in the rest of the story.

  4. Its in the opinion section of NS, original document was published as:

    "a set of 10 guiding principles for the scientific community, published as an open letter in this week's Genome Biology"

    How is this science and not ethics? It has not passed peer review, for a start. It is the product of:

    "a multidisciplinary group"# – ranging from geneticists and psychologists to historians and philosophers"

    - of which a minority are scientific disciplines.

    So I was wrong again. You were not wilfully misinterpreting the article, you just hadn't read it properly in the first place. My bad again.

    I am perplexed by your offhand rejection of the theory of evolution as it applies to the development of species and your subtle endorsement of the gritty dog-eat-dog morals of social Darwinism. There is more evidence to support the former than you could assimilate in your lifetime and a similar amount of evidence to demonstrate that the latter has been broadly responsible for economic collapses, slavery and genocide. Which is the point of the article if you'd bothered to read it.

  5. Sorry, 'PS', but your heading reads "science puts an end to racism", and I told you that I could not progress further than teh first paragraph because it was so sloppy and, er, unscientific.

    Perhaps my own remarks lacked clarity but I cannot see where you could infer that I 'endorse' social Darwinism. I have simply referred to the history of Mankind which began a great many years earlier than Charles Darwin. That history is one long litany of militarily stronger peoples wiping out weaker peoples. That fact makes no claims as to their inherent worth, it is just a description of what happened - and still happens.

    And if I may say so, you, as a scientist, have still not supported the claim that everyone is equal, when even Darwin recognised that they were not, which is why some have proved to be 'fitter' than others. Indeed, Darwin's theory absolutely hangs on the fact that slight differences are acted upon by an outside world.

  6. Now you are deliberately misrepresenting my rantings. This blog is not a peer-reviewed journal. Little or none of my drivelling conforms to the standard of scientific writing. Its hard enough to write that way about my own research- about which I know much- let alone about something as far from my field of expertise as molecular genetics and evolutionary theory. I am not remotely qualified to criticise the conclusions of this eminent group and, from your misrepresentation of evolution, neither are you.

    You wrote:

    "you, as a scientist, have still not supported the claim that everyone is equal"

    I did not make that claim, and as a marine ecotoxicologist I am not qualified to make it. I support it, however, as a foundation of humanist philosophy, which is why the tone of my post is approving of the NS article. Philosophy is very different from a scientific theory supported by hard evidence. However, the NS article did include a statement qualifying the equality claim (the 'second sentence' I referred you to):

    "No genetic data has ever shown that one group of people is inherently superior to another. Equality is a moral value central to the idea of human rights; discrimination against any group should never be tolerated."

    I hoped you might recognise the combination of evidence based answer- the 'genetic data' bit, and philosophical assertion- the 'moral value' bit. If you are sceptical of the scientific rigour of this argument you- as a scientist- will, of course, be able to direct me to the extensive body of peer-reviewed papers you have read that contradict it. If you reject the philosophical argument- as you seem to be- then I welcome your discussion but please refrain from criticising the scientific rigour of a commentary that clearly doesn't attempt to be scientific.

    You also wrote:

    " even Darwin recognised that [everyone is] not [equal]"

    So what?

    Next phrase:

    "which is why some have proved to be 'fitter' than others"

    Fitter in what way? There are many definitions of this term in science. Darwin used it in the context of fitness for purpose. You have used this term in reference to racial equality. As I observed above, if you have extensive peer-reviewed evidence to the contrary- as opposed to poorly formulated and cryptic assertions about humanity's genocidal tendencies- you will be happy to share it with me.

    Oh, BTW- the linking of population dynamics, such as the diversification and spread of human ethnic groups, to genetic factors in humans- as you seem to do- is termed Social Darwinism.

    Finally, you stated that:
    "Darwin's theory absolutely hangs on the fact that slight differences are acted upon by an outside world."

    In this context I interpret "slight differences" as a reference to evolved traits and "acted upon by the outside world" as a cryptic reference to the effect of environmental and ecological pressures upon the expressed phenotype, which confirms my suspicion that you know sweet fuck all about evolutionary theory. Sorry to resort to profanity but your persistent misrepresentation left me little option.


Feel free to share your opinions of my opinions. Oh- and cocking fuckmouse.