Don Corrigal

Owner - Designer & Consultant, Gumption Inc

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Is the concept of “race" a notion that has no scientific basis and should be removed from the lexicon?

Does the human genome project suggest that there is only one genus of “Homo”, species “homo sapiens and subspecies “sapiens sapiens”?

The notion of race based on further genetic clustering and characteristics does not hold up to scientific scrutiny. Races were once considered human subspecies, but genetic research shows that inherited differences do not accurately match common racial divisions.

For example, since non-Africans are descended from a small population that emigrated from Africa about 100,000 years ago, non-Africans (even those representing difference races) are more closely related to each other than Africans are to each other.

  • Feb 8 2012: Is there a difference between us categorizing races of humans and us categorizing breeds of animals? Would calling it "breeds" be more accurate? The analogy (if it isn't the identical thing) seems to fit perfectly, as there are often barely, if any, biological difference between breeds and some breeds are more 'purebred' than others. Horses come to mind for this.

    This is all speculation, but I'm curious what the difference would be, if there is one at all.

    I have never bothered to look into if different races of people are different beyond having different shaped noses, lips, skin color, hair and other superficial aspects. Would removing 'race' from the lexicon really have any effect at all, considering there are already countless other stereotypes out there? People would simply jump to the next means of categorizing anyone unlike themselves.

    I see nothing wrong with categorizing people, as we do the same to every other animal species. The only time an issue is presented is when bigots step in, and even if we removed all words from every language, it wouldn't stop them from being bigots. The cause is not the word, it is the assumption. There are just as many people who hate black dogs because they remind them of black people. Logic has no place in the minds of such people, race or not.
    • Feb 9 2012: All human being indees have to realize our mystery of mind.
      We are all connected , and how do we have to differentiate ourselves, for scientific reason or for our ignorance.

      In my opinion , Racism is a result of our ingnorance. " Fear of unknown "
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      Feb 9 2012: I am uncomfortable with equating human genetics with the breeding of animals. This smacks of “eugenics” and that is a very slippery moral & ethical slope. As a breeder of both dogs & horses, I have found that there is indeed a significant difference.

      The question is "are the differentiation of a couple of dozen genes around the amount of melanin in hair, eyes & skin, and the diverging bone structure, from a possible 35k - 50k genes in the human genome significant?” If it is, then do we take that further and categorize humans based on blood type, etc

      In terms of the use of “race” in lexicon, it connotes an idea that far exceeds the root definition of the word. By removing it from the lexicon, it removes the baggage associated with the word. The word tends to assume a hierarchy or class structure. This is an artificial construct that is not supportable in the post-modern 21st century society.
      • Feb 9 2012: "I am uncomfortable with equating human genetics with the breeding of animals."

        My apologies, as I was under the impression this was going to be a rational discussion, not one based on warm fuzzies. I see no benefit in having, or possible conclusions of, debates based around warm fuzzy feelings. You will never reach consensus because the entire basis is subjective.

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        For those who wish to rationally consider the idea:

        "This smacks of “eugenics” and that is a very slippery moral & ethical slope."

        People already base breeding decisions on genetics. To think humans are somehow exempted from such consideration smacks of hypocrisy and, frankly, shortsightedness.

        "As a breeder of both dogs & horses, I have found that there is indeed a significant difference."

        Indeed, a person who already practices such a technique should be keenly aware of the disadvantages of focusing on 'purity' in breeding. The argument is already there against breeding based on purity in general, but is also there _for_ breeding based on specific traits, such as immunity, physical and mental traits. To think the exact same concept cannot benefit the human species is silly and purely based on emotion.

        "In terms of the use of “race” in lexicon, it connotes an idea that far exceeds the root definition of the word. By removing it from the lexicon, it removes the baggage associated with the word."

        Speaking of slippery slopes.. where does one end the removal of words? Should all words with more than one meaning be removed? Should all words which make you feel 'uncomfortable' be removed?

        "The word tends to assume a hierarchy or class structure."

        Are you against the entire evolutionary tree or simply anything which relates to humans? Or would you allow only scientists to categorize humans? Would these people need a license to do so?

        "a couple of dozen genes .. in the human genome significant?"

        Should we also ban the use of 'blonde' or 'blue eyes' too, as these are even more specific?
    • Feb 12 2012: I agree with you Edward, well put. I don't think eliminating terms such as "race" is the problem. It's both important for the human race to recognize our sameness and oneness with each other, but also to recognize and celebrate our differences. The answer isn't to simply "assimilate" all differences so that there is no difference and diversity anymore. Then we'd simply be like the BORG (a star trek reference). Rather, we should aim to become a "United Federation of Planets" (another star trek reference). Basically, we can be as separate as the fingers, yet one as the hand, in purpose and goals. I am a believer in the philosophy of integration rather than assimilation.
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    Feb 21 2012: Why should we remove a word just because it's not supported by science? What does science have to do with it at all? Should we remove "nice" because it's not supported by science? Or blond? Or "green"? Color is a good example, by the way: The distinction between green and blue, or between any two colors, can't be determined exactly. It's a matter of opinion and arbitrary definition. So we can say there is no green. But yet it's a useful concept, a useful word. Race is in the same boat. There are in fact major groupings of humans that share certain visible characteristics, and these can be called a race if they breed true among themselves for those characteristics. No matter which word you get rid of, there will always be a word for these groupings. If it weren't useful we wouldn't have the word race.
    The word has meant many things over the years. In the 19th century, the British spoke of the German race, the Spanish or the French race. More recently it has of course been used for larger groupings. In either case, it's not a word to be afraid of. Just as with colors, we know that races blend and that they will change over the years.
    If we start to censor the lexicon because we're afraid of misuse of common words, there'll be no end to it. Almost every word describing any identifiable group of people would have to go. Pretty sad.
  • Feb 8 2012: I read this on a T-shirt over 20 years ago, and made it my own. It is how I view life.

    "One race: human"

    I cannot expound with scientific wording, because I am no scientist. But every time I fill in an application that asks the race question I always want to add a little square and write in 'human'.

    We all descended from the same group of people.....however, I understand, that in today's world, with so much prejudice and racism, it is important that there is equal representation of various cultures in any one organization.

    Eliminating the word race in and of itself would not be eliminating the fact that humans still see others as inferior.

    But maybe it's a start.

    It would be good if others with scientific knowledge contributed with additional information expounding on what you have already stated.

    I'll keep a look out for their comments.

    Be Well.
  • Feb 12 2012: I think the word "race" has gone through a process of pejoration rather rapidly. It denotes a very negative meaning thanks to the hyperused word of "racism/racist". The word race itself isn't wrong. There's nothing bad or wrong about keeping the term "race", but genetically speaking, it is true, there is only one race. To be more specific, the term ethnicity should be used and kept. Classifying people groups will always exist one way or another. Even if you decide to completely eradicate the word race, ethnicity, or even nationality, and try to promote a one world agenda, even under this "one world", we'll still classify people based on their location, land, language, etc. Look at the United States. They are one country but people classify each other in various ways.

    You can still have unity in diversity. This whole American notion of "assimiliating the entire world" to be more like America and be "one world", really means, "Entire earth = America". I'm not for eliminating terms such as ethnicity, or nationalities. I think those are very important to keep.
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      Feb 13 2012: Not an entire earth America... An America, with the entire earth in it, which we already have, and... An entire earth, with more fluid and friendly borders, which everyone wants. Not a human race that forgets culture, just one that learns from the influence of several. Also a world space program, because Alpha Centauri is gonna be an expensive trip.
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    Feb 12 2012: I tend to think of the concept of race, as a painful, but necessary step between nationalism, and humanism. I think racism, in many ways would be more clearly be defined continentalism... The preferance of people of one continent to hang out with people from the same... That, was slightly more open minded than traditional ideas, of French, vs German, vs. British. I think it was a tragic step, but it was an important one, in the right direction, towards seeing us all as the human race. At least, that's my opinion.
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    Feb 11 2012: As the diffrences in between races are kinda fluent (not that you find each "not a step" today) i would say well either each person is their own race (more or less closely related to smn else) or we are all the same race ;o)
  • Feb 9 2012: Eeverything are consist of same substances, It may be little off-topic.

    I would like to suggest to look race with eye of mind.

    Please know that everything is empty interms of what meaning relies on them.

    Race is basically a manufacture of our perception even if it originally cause by nature phenomenon.

    Knowing enerything can be equal or different only depend on your perception will free you from the question.

    Even scientifically , can you seperate the space.

    When the sun sets , the space seems dark. When the sun rises, the space seems bright. In fact , the space has not changed at all. Race is like the space.

    Mr, Don. gOD BLESS