Saturday, March 29, 2014

A bird in a gilded cage


My second ebook has been published in the online journal Open Behavioral Genetics.
PDF version   Epub version
The following is a copy of the Foreword:
 

******************************************************


Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza is a complex figure. On the one hand, he has publicly backed those who assert that human races do not exist. On the other hand, by aggregating large volumes of genetic data, he has proven the existence of large continental races, as well as smaller regional and micro ones. By developing the theory of gene-culture co-evolution, he has also shown that humans did not stop evolving genetically when they began to evolve culturally. In fact, the two processes have fed into each other, with humans having to adapt not only to the natural portion of their environment (climate, vegetation, wildlife, etc.) but also to the portion they themselves have created (mode of subsistence, behavioral norms, gender roles, class structure, belief system, etc.).

This has led some to see a double game at work. While bowing to the mainstream taboos, Cavalli-Sforza has quietly amassed evidence that human races not only exist but also differ in ways that are more than skin deep. In time, his weighty tomes will speak louder than his official statements on race. This may indeed be how he sees himself, and it might explain certain contradictions between his public persona and his academic self. Oh, those naïve antiracists, if only they knew how they’re being outfoxed!

Time will tell who is outfoxing whom. To date, the results speak for themselves. When in 1994 Cavalli-Sforza published The History and Geography of Human Genes, academics and non-academics alike were talking more openly about race, as seen by the publication the same year of The Bell Curve and by the willingness of previously silent anthropologists, like Vincent Sarich, to step forward and speak out. That interval of glasnost soon ended, in no small part because of Cavalli-Sforza’s apparent conversion, as attested in his book, to the view that human races do not exist in any meaningful sense.

Why did he convert? And did he really? I doubt there was any conversion. His change of heart was too rapid, and it happened while the zeitgeist was moving in the other direction. Perhaps he saw a chance to gain acceptance for his new tome. Or perhaps he received a letter one day, detailing his wartime record, the people he worked with, and the testing on human subjects …

Cavalli-Sforza had to remake his life when the war ended. He never denied the nature of his wartime research (the time it takes for anthrax to kill its host) but tried to create the impression that he had been doing pure research with no military implications. Yet this was Berlin, in 1943-1944. There was no money for pure research. Was he motivated by opportunism, the chance to gain experience in his field of study? Or did he feel loyalty to the Axis cause? It is difficult to say, and perhaps it doesn’t matter. It is enough to say that he later saw his wartime research as a stain on his record and tried to minimize it as much as possible. He was thus vulnerable to blackmail, or rather to his chronic fear of blackmail.

We will probably never know the full story. One thing is sure. If Cavalli-Sforza is playing a double game, he has been playing it far too long. Such a strategy is excusable for an academic who is young, untenured, poorly known, and far from retirement, but these excuses hardly apply to a professor emeritus like Cavalli-Sforza. The time is overdue to speak frankly and, if need be, pay the price. Anyway, what else can he do now with all of his public esteem? Take it with him to the next world?

 

References

Frost, P. (2014). L.L. Cavalli-Sforza. A bird in a gilded cage, Open Behavioral Genetics, March 28
http://openpsych.net/OBG/2014/03/l-l-cavalli-sforza-a-bird-in-a-gilded-cage/


 

52 comments:

Ben10 said...

Peter, why don't you ask him directly? With a bit of luck you could post his answers here.
But It's likely that his life and opinions cannot be understood only by his scientific aspect, you gonna have to dig further.

RageWithTheMachine said...

Gene-culture co-evolution.

It is interesting that approximately three generations has not been enough to eradicate Christianity among Russians and Georgians and the Ukraine.

Given that Christianity (Orthodox) has been there for 40 or so generations ... it is perhaps understandable.

However, it would seem that Christianity must be adapted to some pre-existing genetic strain among people in the West ... and that it has applied selective pressure on people as well.

Anonymous said...

Double “merci” : l’un pour le travail accompli et l’autre pour le “Open access, free to publish, open peer review”.


Peut-être un jour un travail qui reprendrait les 3 posts si cohérents de janvier et Février 2010 ?

Richard Dawkins. The price of collaboration?
January 28, 2010
Claude Lévi-Strauss. The refusal to collaborate
February 4, 2010
John Tooby and Leda Cosmides. Why not collaborate?
February 11, 2010


Vous lire est toujours intéressant.

Sean said...

Seems to be a typo on page 48: "Is it possible...types of transmission" is repeated.

barakobama said...

I don't think the big and simple label race is good to use in genetics. From what i know human genetics is very complicated. You can defintley make some divides(I.G West Eurasian, east Eurasian, etc.) but like i said it's complicated.

I can't believe extreme anti-raciest(who are to obsessed with the idea of race) from the late 1960's still exist. Differences between human population is much more than skin deep, differnt skin color is just one results of differnt ancestry.

barakobama said...

Peter, i know i criticize you alot but i do respect you. You are obviously very intelligent, educated, discipline, and hard working. All of those things i wish i was, i am working on it.

Sean said...

Instead of an intellectually formidable school of thought, it seems Cavalli-Sforza was coopted into a 'tiered array of weaknesses'.

As Latour says "It takes something like courage to admit we will never do better than a politician".

Anonymous said...

"In the other hand, by aggregating large volumes of genetic data, he has proven the existence of large continental races, as well as smaller regional and micro ones."

Not true. Read 'The History and Geography of Human Genes'.

Cavilla-Sforza writes that: "At no level can [population] clusters be identified with races".

Any clustering of populations is arbitrary; this is why Cavilla-Sforza came to abandon race.

Anonymous said...

Btw, genetic clusters do not even exist. The only studies that produce them do so by sample error (i.e. by excluding intermediate regions).

"Suspicion is also warranted by the fact that as geographically intermediate regions are added to the data, the genetic markers used to identify continental clusters become less powerful, in which case the inclusion of such samples demonstrates geographic continuity in the distribution of genetic variation and thus undermines traditional concepts of race.” (Glasgow, 2009)

Anonymous I said...

"Suspicion is also warranted by the fact that as geographically intermediate regions are added to the data, the genetic markers used to identify continental clusters become less powerful, in which case the inclusion of such samples demonstrates geographic continuity in the distribution of genetic variation and thus undermines traditional concepts of race.”

Such intermediate regions no more undermine the concept of race than red-orange, chartreuse, or lilac undermine the concept of color. They do *inform* the subject, by showing that race can be viewed as a series of continuous variables; just as colors are mixes of red, green, and blue light, so human populations can be seen as blends on two or three principal components axes.

Claims that race does not exist are no more than clouds of ink.

Anonymous said...

Race is primarily a visual perception and we are hard-wired to perceive difference for very logical animal-like reasons. We behave in a civilised fashion nowadays but to suggest that we have lost the ability to perceive difference is nuts. It's quite easy to see different origins in mixed populations. With practice it is possible to guess mixed origins in a single individual. And it's a rather beautiful thing. Race-deniers have no soul.

Peter Fros_ said...

Ben,

I will try. In the past, he hasn't answered emails.

Rage,

I have a manuscript awaiting publication on this point. To be precise, I discuss the role of medieval Christianity in pacifying social relations.

Anon,

Oui, justement, je pense à reprendre ces trois-là pour en faire un petit livre. Dans le cas de Dawkins, j'aurais peut-être des choses à ajouter.

Sean,

The two sentences are similar but one refers to genetic transmission and the other to cultural transmission.

Barak,

Unfortunately, extreme antiracists do exist. I meet them all the time. There is currently a travelling exhibit in the U.S. that explains the "myth of race." It quotes Stephen Jay Gould a lot, particularly his writings about how Morton fudged his data on racial variation. The exhibit's authors seem to be unaware that it was Gould who actually fudged his data.

Anon,

Cavalli-Sforza did not abandon the race concept until the 1990s. Previously, he had no problem with it. In his 1977 textbook, he wrote:

"The differences that exist between the major racial groups are such that races could be called subspecies if we adopted for man a criterion suggested by Mayr (1963) for systematic zoology. Mayr’s criterion is that two or more groups become subspecies when 75 percent or more of all the individuals constituting the groups can be unequivocally classified as belonging to a particular group. As a matter of fact, when human races are defined fairly broadly, we could achieve a much lower error of classification than 25 percent, implying, according to Mayr, the existence of human subspecies." (Cavalli-Sforza & Bodmer, 1977)

Words are words. If you want to replace the word "race" with the word "cluster" (as Cavalli-Sforza has done), that's fine with me. The point is that the human species is not in a state of panmixia. Genetic variability does cluster and this clustering concerns not only visible physical characteristics but also less visible mental and behavioral ones as well.

You seem to be saying that Cavalli-Sforza himself believes that genetic clustering of human populations is "arbitrary." What basis do you have for believing this?

Intermediate regions have been adequately sampled. When we look at Central Asia, for instance, the data show gene flow from western Eurasia and eastern Eurasia.

Anonymous said...

"Such intermediate regions no more undermine the concept of race than red-orange, chartreuse, or lilac undermine the concept of color. They do *inform* the subject, by showing that race can be viewed as a series of continuous variables"

Straw-man. No one denies they "inform" the subject and may be useful, but these category divisions are not natural. So they undermine the traditional concept of race. If you're merely arguing for the existence of race along the lines of usefulness - this is not even race realism. To qualify as a "realist" you would need to show the divisions are natural and not imposed onto the world (i.e. they are self-individuating, mind-independent, or not arbitrary).

You are confusing usefulness with reality itself. These are two different things entirely. A race concept may be useful (e.g. medicine), but that doesn't make the racial divisions "real"/natural and not socially contructed.

Anonymous said...

"You seem to be saying that Cavalli-Sforza himself believes that genetic clustering of human populations is "arbitrary." What basis do you have for believing this?"

Read page 19 of 'The History and Geography of Human Genes':

"At no level can clusters be identified with races, since every level of clustering would determine a different partition and there is no biological reason to prefer a single one."

Even if there were discontinuous continental populations (Glasgow, 2009 shows this is not the case), you're left with an arbitrary decision where to draw genetic boundaries. For example, by recognizing a "European" genetic cluster - are Spanish a seperate race inside this continental division? In fact the continua can be indefinitely divided down to the size of a village or house. A village genetic cluster therefore would be no more objective than Spanish (the country); any cluster or boundary is arbitrary. As Cavilla-Sforza (1994) therefore came to note: "every level of clustering would determine a different partition and there is no biological reason to prefer a single one" furthermore: "why classify races if the result is arbitrary and uncertain?" (Letter to Robert Cook-Deegan. 22 Sept. 1989).

Anonymous said...

"Cavalli-Sforza did not abandon the race concept until the 1990s. Previously, he had no problem with it."

What is your point here? Virtually all biologists and anthropologists had adopted the clinalist position and abandoned race by 1990, if not a decade earlier. Why exactly are you singling out Cavalli-Sforza?

Earnest Hooton supervised 28 PhDs which specialized in race from 1926 - 1951. Nearly all of his 28 students abandoned the concept of race for clines during their later careers e.g. Joseph Birdsell.

The claim that these scientists switched for political reasons is stupid, but this is the only argument 'Hbder's' have since science completely refutes their position. C. Loring Brace though points out that it is the dogmatic belief in race that is politically correct, not racial skepticism.

http://www.researchgate.net/publication/232522306_Race_and_Political_Correctness

"Brace contends that the entire system of hierarchically arranged races, with their assumed differences in cognitive capacity, is the product of a long-continued tradition of political correctness."

Ben10 said...

Race has never been quantitatively defined in zoology/taxonomy. At best we could speak of a 'breed', like for specific dog's breed.

So we should revert back to 'subspecies'. And if CS techniques do not allow to differentiate between known subspecies, such as the Coyote, Wolf, Dog, Lions and Tigers then it is irrelevant in Taxonomy.

In the homo genus, what would be the point to use genetic indicators that wouldn't make any difference between Neandertals and modern humains, if not to make a political point?
In the same line, if a Neandertal is no more different to Africans than to Europeans, the 4% of Neandertal genes that are present in Europeans and not in African, doesn't make any sense either, no more than to say that there is 4% of human genes into the human genomes.

Also, I don't understand what's all the fuss about endangered species such as Tigers and Polar bears(*), after all, SC would say they are the same 'race' as Lions/Grizzly bears respectively, and those are not endangered.

(*)A naturalist speaking on public radio mentioned that the real cause of disappearance of the Polar Bear is actually NOT the shrinkage of its habitat, but its hybridization with grizzly Bears.

Sean said...

If it's all just one side with the social assumptions by traditional hierarchies, please explain why Cavalli-Sforza and Bodmer's paper mentioned Nazi concentration camps and Lewontin's said "Human racial classification is of no social value and is positively destructive of social and human relations".

It is getting on for 100 years since the author of a mainstream textbook could give both sides of the differences in cognitive capacity controversy without sticking his neck out like a giraffe.

If intermediates are a refutation, blue and green do not exist. It is true that races would be neater if they were discontinuously defined, but then they would be species. Viewed through quantum theory, atoms can't be specifically pinned down with any precision, but that does not disprove the theory. Differences in cognitive attainment between races are a fact (why else would we be arguing about Cavalli-Sforza?). There is no proof as to the cause, but then Copernicus's theory was full of holes, and generations of its supporters had to indulge in a great deal of hand waving. Yet it triumphed eventually. We don't know what the final verdict will be. And that is why one race should not be judged definitively guilty of damaging people of another race, just because their level of intellectual attainment is lower.

Bruce said...

No one can write a book on these topics without including the sort of things Sean mentions. E.g. Sykes’ Blood of the Isles with its detailed history of racism in Britain.

Anonymous said...

"If intermediates are a refutation, blue and green do not exist."

The visible electromagnetic spectrum is arbitrarily divided into spectral colours by the eye. Are you aware many non-human animals divide the spectrum differently?

Do blue and green objectively exist? No they do not.

Like Anon above you're trying to use the colour analogy to defend race, which completely fails.

Bruce said...

People categorize things on a daily basis. It’s part of basic human practice/experience. It’s a meaningful and useful thing to do. People have conversations where they categorize things all the time. If antiracists were consistent, they’d be denying all sorts of categorizations in various conversations on a daily basis. But then they’d sound absurd.
They’re anti-categorization wrt some things because of an ideological bias.

Bruce said...

“I prefer a Mediterranean climate. It’s more pleasant than either the humid-tropical climate or the subarctic climate. And things grow so well there”

“Climate” is an arbitrary social construct. Who’s to say where one ends and the other begins? The data we use to describe climates doesn’t fall into well-defined, neat clusters. How many climates are there anyway? You don’t have an answer so there’s no such thing as climate.”

“???”

Anonymous said...

Bruce, you're setting up the same straw man arguments - it is tiresome.

"You don’t have an answer so there’s no such thing as climate."

No-one denies climate exists e.g. variation in temperature. However any classification of climate will be arbitrary - since climatic variables are continuous.

No-one denies biological variation exists. However any classification such as 'race' will be arbitrary.

So stop with the lame straw man.

No race skeptic denies biological variation exists - they simply acknowledge that classifications based on continua have arbitrary/socially constructed borders.

Anonymous said...

"Climate is an arbitrary social construct."

No.

"Climatic classification is an arbitrary social construct."

Yes.

"Biological variation is an arbitrary social construct."

No.

"Race is an arbitrary social construct."

Yes.

- Why is this hard for you to understand?

Sean said...

I would say most people identify a colour that is intermediate between blue and green as neither blue or green, if their colour vision is normal.

"climatic variables are continuous."

Knowing the continuous variation of the composition of the earth's atmosphere does not explain weather patterns such as tornados. Reductionism to the atoms of the air level, while simultaneously going to the opposite extreme by claiming that 'tornadoes' are not really discontinuous enough from the rest of the weather for any system of classification to be valid; and tornadoes are thus arbitrary constructions of the human mind serving those with power, is missing the level at which tornadoes actually manifest themselves.

Ben10 said...

We shouldn't waste our time on the concept of 'race'.
The issue is 'sub-species', the smallest taxonomic class, under which there is nothing. We could speak of 'Populations' or 'breed' or 'race', like the 'Population of humans older than 50'.
Do 'Humans older than 50' constitute a subspecies of Humans?, nope, but it could certainly represent a social concept.

So the real issue is: can the Homo genus be further refined into subspecies?
Using the definition of zoologists, it seems that the answer is Yes, as this quote from SC 'Himself' reminds us:
["The differences that exist between the major racial groups are such that races could be called subspecies if we adopted for man a criterion suggested by Mayr (1963) for systematic zoology. Mayr’s criterion is that two or more groups become subspecies when 75 percent or more of all the individuals constituting the groups can be unequivocally classified as belonging to a particular group. As a matter of fact, when human races are defined fairly broadly, we could achieve a much lower error of classification than 25 percent, implying, according to Mayr, the existence of human subspecies." (Cavalli-Sforza & Bodmer, 1977)]

Using other definitions that use genetic variability, the answer is also Yes.
And when we force the answer to be 'No' for political purpose, we loose known subspecies of mamals. So we have to choose: there may be only ONE human species without any subspecies, but then, there is no such thing as a Tiger, a Polar Bear or a Dog.
There is only Cats, Bears and Wolves.



Peter Fros_ said...

Anon,

If we look at what Cavalli-Sforza wrote between 1977 and 1990, there was no indication that he was evolving towards the idea that human races do not exist. If anything, he was moving in the opposite direction. By 1980, he had become convinced that gene-culture co-evolution had created substantial differences between human populations, and by the mid-1980s he had become convinced that many of these differences were mental and behavioral. This was the reason for his Inuit project, which he suddenly halted for "health reasons."

It was only in 1990 that we see evidence of an about-face, when he began citing Lewontin's 1972 paper. At that time, there was no new evidence that human races do not exist. There was only the same old evidence that already existed some two decades earlier. But the academic environment had changed radically. The idea that human races do not exist was no longer simply an opinion; it had become a moral norm. If you deviated from that norm, you were not simply wrong, you were evil. Evil, as in wicked.

Please don't be disingenous. By the turn of the 1990s, no one was converting to the antiracist position. People were simply falling into line. In the 1970s, there were still older staff members who were sufficiently principled and open-minded to stand up to the new orthodoxy. By the 1990s, they were largely gone. Cavalli-Sforza realized this and decided to make his peace with a faction that had become too strong - and too violent - to resist.

And by the way, races are not species. If races were supposed to have sharply demarcated boundaries, they wouldn't be races. They would be species.

Anonymous I said...

Anonymous: "The visible electromagnetic spectrum is arbitrarily divided into spectral colours by the eye. Are you aware many non-human animals divide the spectrum differently?

Do blue and green objectively exist? No they do not."

You don't seem to understand (or care) that we perceive color because light wavelengths *differ.* How we break up colors may be "arbitrary," but the existence of frequency as a variable along which photons vary is not.

In this sense - which was the sense I meant - blue and green obviously do exist. But I suppose that failing to understand this hasn't stopped you from navagating through colored browser windows, so heck, maybe you should feel free to remain as ignorant of race as you are of basic principles in physics.

Anonymous said...

"You don't seem to understand (or care) that we perceive color because light wavelengths *differ.* How we break up colors may be "arbitrary," but the existence of frequency as a variable along which photons vary is not."

Where did I deny the wavelength spectrum? Please learn to read.

The spectrum objectively exists, but wavelength divisions of the continuum do not. That was the simple point I made.

Biological variation also exists, but it cannot be non-arbitrarily divided into "races", at least no scientist has been able to show otherwise.

As soon as a "race realist" admits race is arbitrary he/she has lost. Peter Frost for example has already lost by admitting this. If you admit race is arbitrary and socially constructed, then how are you a "realist" about race?

barakobama said...

Motala12(8,000 year old Mesolithic Swede) had light eyes, dark hair, and A/A in rs1426654. He also had T/T in rs12203592 like Loschbour and La Brana-1 had T/C.

http://www.biorxiv.org/highwire/filestream/968/field_highwire_adjunct_files/2/001552-3.pdf

Here is some of my opinon on the new preprint from Laz.

http://www.theapricity.com/forum/showthread.php?121044-More-from-Laz-Including-blue-eyed-dark-haired-light-skinned(-)-Mesolithic-Swede

Sean said...

"If you admit race is arbitrary and socially constructed, then how are you a "realist" about race?"

It seems we can only avoid being burned at the stake as essentialists by denying that we are using a metaphysical category. And such a denial is apparently considered an admission we are using an arbitrary category.

To say something is green simply means it fits the agreed criteria for being green. Nothing more.
And when someone talks about "race realist" and "Hbders" they are using those categories because we agree what they mean and, for instance, would not put Lewontin in them. To do that would be arbitrary, like classifying him as a Black African. .

Bruce said...

Races as (a precise number of) discrete entities aren’t mathematically provable? What’s the point of repeating this? People categorize things because it’s meaningful, useful and part of our nature. Why is this hard for you to understand?

Peter Fros_ said...

"Peter Frost for example has already lost by admitting this"

When and where did I say that human races are arbitrary?

If races are arbitrary, human genetic variation would not cluster geographically. Yet this is what we see. If you superimpose geographic variation for each gene, one on top of another, geographic clusters will emerge.

You seem to attach a lot of importance to the fact that races are "fuzzy sets", i.e., they do not have sharp boundaries. If they did, they would not be races. They would be species.

You seem to think you can win this kind of argument by changing the definitions of words.

Anonymous said...

"When and where did I say that human races are arbitrary?"

Above you said 'races' don't have sharply demarcated boundaries. This means according to you: racial divisions are not clear-cut. This means someone can divide genetic continua as they like which makes the boundaries arbitrary. It is like cutting rope, someone can cut it wherever they like. Since you have admitted races are arbitrary, once again I ask how are you a "realist"?

You talk about changing words, but it seems to me your position is equivalent to race denial.

Anonymous said...

"If races are arbitrary, human genetic variation would not cluster geographically. Yet this is what we see. If you superimpose geographic variation for each gene, one on top of another, geographic clusters will emerge."

Human genetic variation only clusters if you sample distant populations and exclude intermediate regions. Once the latter are included, no clusters or discontinuities appear:

"Suspicion is also warranted by the fact that as geographically intermediate regions are added to the data, the genetic markers used to identify continental clusters become less powerful, in which case the inclusion of such samples demonstrates geographic continuity in the distribution of genetic variation and thus undermines traditional concepts of race.” (Glasgow, 2009)

Explain how there are clusters/races if genetic variation is geographically continuous.

Science doesn't support any of your claims. That's why you're left with political conspiracy theories about "extreme antiracists" and how they took over anthropology. Tinfoil hat?

Anonymous said...

Anon, Frost, Bruce etc., you're positions are all confused. If you are arguing races are genetic clusters, and are "real" (i.e. natural) you need to show their boundaries are not arbitrary, otherwise someone could recognize a different race classification:

“At the very least, the full-blown racial realist ought to be able to provide a consistent and clear biological justification for treating some clusters and not others as races and assigning to those clusters (but not others) a particular kind of biological meaning. After all, the same formal techniques— indeed, the same software packages—can (and do) identify populations that are not generally considered races within the context of contemporary U.S. discourse (‘‘the Dutch’’ for example; see Novembre et al. 2008; see Kaplan 2010 for discussion; Kitcher 2007 makes a similar point, pp. 304–306).” (Kaplan and Winther, 2013)

“Biologically, the populations that form folk‐racial categories (e.g. Asians) are no more important or significant than many other populations that are NOT usually identified as races (e.g. the Spanish and Portuguese).” (Kaplan, 2011)
- ‘Race’: What Biology Can Tell Us about a Social Construct
http://www.els.net/WileyCDA/ElsArticle/refId-a0005857.html

If it is even shown there are genetic clusters (this is shown not to be the case by Glasgow, 2009) you have the same problem Kaplan and Winther (2013) point out: "At the very least, the full-blown racial realist ought to be able to provide a consistent and clear biological justification for treating some clusters and not others as races".

So why are "Europeans" a race as opposed to "Spanish"? (see Kaplan, 2011).

Anonymous said...

"If we look at what Cavalli-Sforza wrote between 1977 and 1990, there was no indication that he was evolving towards the idea that human races do not exist."

Cavilli-Sforza adopted race skepticism from the early 80s. The 90's figure you have fabricated so you can insert your conpiracy theory:

"At that time, there was no new evidence that human races do not exist. There was only the same old evidence that already existed some two decades earlier. But the academic environment had changed radically. The idea that human races do not exist was no longer simply an opinion; it had become a moral norm."

All this is false.

You've also cherry-picked passages from his 1977 book. In that same book he questions a lot about race - why not quote this? Especially his anti-typology. While he didn't deny race openly in 1977 he was questioning it.

The 1970s saw most scientists abandon or question race. Cavilli-Sforza started questioning it and abandonded it from the early 80s. There's absolutely nothing special about him in this sense, and no political conspiracy theory.

Anonymous said...

Frost has poorly researched the topic of his book.

As early as 1970, Cavalli-Sforza came to question intelligence differences among populations and even argued "there are no theoretical or practical reasons for encouraging the support of such research" in race & IQ.

Intelligence and race.
Bodmer, Walter F.; Cavalli-Sforza, Luigi L.
Scientific American, Vol 223(4), Oct 1970, 19-29.
http://psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/1971-23063-001

Anonymous I said...

Troll: "Please learn to read"

No, you need to learn to read the posts you are arguing with:

"race can be viewed as a series of continuous variables"

I'm not wasting any more time on you.

Anonymous said...

Anon, you claimed I denied the wavelength spectrum exists. Where did I write this? I never did. So all you've done is misrepresent my position, and then posted ad hominem. I'm the troll? No. Anyone reading this can quite clearly see you are and I think even other 'race realists' would be embarrassed by your posts. You aren't even competent to even defend race.

Anonymous said...

"You seem to attach a lot of importance to the fact that races are "fuzzy sets", i.e., they do not have sharp boundaries. If they did, they would not be races. They would be species."

This remark is more or less just stolen from Sesardic who quote-mines Dobzhansky (1968).

The full quote is this:

"It appears that those who attempt to deconstruct the concept of race by gratuitously burdening it with essentialist connotations (‘‘discrete’’, ‘‘non-overlapping’’, ‘‘discontinuous’’, ‘‘defined by racial markers’’, ‘‘racial genes’’, etc.) are unaware that their criticism has already been addressed by Dobzhansky more than 40 years ago: Professor Fried has correctly pointed out that there is no careful and objective definition of race that would permit delimitation of races as exact, nonoverlapping, discrete entities. Indeed, such criteria do not exist because if they did, we would not have races, we would have distinct species. (Dobzhansky in Mead 1968, 165). In fact, Dobzhansky’s argument should be taken one step further: the essentialist requirement is so unrealistically demanding that, if this criterion were applied, even the species concept would fail to pass muster: ‘‘In practice, the characters that define a species will not be present in all members of that species and absent from all members of other species. Nature is too variable’’ (Ridley 2004, 349)." (Sesardic, 2010)

And how is this a defense for race exactly? Sesardic admits both races and species are arbitrary.

While Mayr's Biological Species Concept is widely considered more objective than other species definitions since it is an isolated concept, it still has problems, and even Mayr admitted that: "even though the number of cases that cause real difficulties is very small, the fact remains that an objective delimitation of species... is an impossibility".

There is no clear-cut objective delimitation of species either. Like races they are social constructs. This is no longer a fringe view. Many biologists now consider all of taxonomy to be not natural. Taxons (species, races etc) are created for only convenience.

Sesardic seems to be unaware that species denial is a mainstream position since Darwin:

"[W]e shall have to treat species in the same manner as those naturalists treat genera, who admit that genera are merely artificial combinations made for convenience." - On the Origin of Species (1859)

So Sesardic makes no defense of race at all. All he shows is that races like species are social constructs. Its very odd that 'race realists' would use this quote when it actually supports the non-existence of races.

Sean said...

I am afaid it seems someone keeps saying race clasification is arbitrary, but won't reciprocate Peter's courtesy in addressing repeated comments by reading his e book.

" If you are arguing races are genetic clusters, and are "real" (i.e. natural) you need to show their boundaries are not arbitrary",

I think we have established that you are adamant that if racial divisions are not discontinuous they are arbitrary. The counter argument, which has been made a number of times now in response to repeated requests for clarification on the point, is that the accepted criterion for races is they are not a discontinuous taxon.

Racial classifications are fine when used for officially instituted anti discrimination and affirmative action against Western racial majorities, but not when they are being used to appeal those white societies conviction on charges of racism. That is tin hat stuff apparently.

So we are definitely guilty and must cease trying to bring forward evidence in our defence by pointing out that genetic factors may account for most of what we are being collectively punished for. Anyone who tries to give reasons for believing that that the public statements of leading scientists on race and IQ are not what they believe is dealing in conspiracy theories. We know what it represents when dissent is diagnosed as conspiracy theory.

There is a typology in Cavalli-Sforza and Bodmer's paper; why else did they consider Nazi concentration camps relevant to IQ and race research? They were saying white people go berserk with fanatical nationalism if they are given any excuse, and there must be controls on scientists . The parallel made there was between the Nazis and the current white ethnic majorities in the countries that fought Nazi Germany. So the paper said white majorities have a propensity to do racial evil, and questioned the values of academic freedom in regard to research on race, because white people are such stupid racists the research had to be stopped. Cavalli-Sforza in his co authored paper with Bodmer paper said there was no prima facie or a priori reason to assume race differences in measured IQ were the result of different selection environments. So he was basically just saying leave white society's egalitarian default assumption, which results in racial categories and their attainment disparities being prima facie evidence of racism, alone and unexamined. Societies have continued to compensate for whites' racism by making whites pay.

A couple of decades later Cavalli-Sforza ran into difficulties and began saying genetic research proved that races didn't exist. (Not good news for marginal populations of indigenous people trying to get their rights recognised if their distinctive genes mean nothing at all, being are swamped by within group variation). Of course now the immigrant is considered more valuable that the indigenous in every way. Although we are told the largest part by far of human variation is accounted for by the differences between individuals we apparently need people of other races to add diversity to our group.

Anonymous said...

Cavalli-Sforza abandoned race before 1990. Frost also wrongly portrays Cavalli-Sforza as some sort of hereditarian up to 1990. Not true either. Look at the 1970 paper I cited. In 1970 Cavalli-Sforza called to abandon race and intelligence research. He also questioned the link between IQ and race, and found no link between population and intelligence. He adopted race denial from the early 1980's, not 1990s. The 1977 book is critical of race, however he loosely defended a genetic populational definition for race which he dropped by 1983 (he published a 16 page booklet that year which basically denied human races exist "The Genetics of Human Race", Carolina Biological Supply Company).

Anonymous said...

This is just really sloppy research by Frost. I mean you only have to use Google Scholar to see Cavalli-Sforza denied races exist BEFORE 1990.

(Letter to Robert Cook-Deegan. 22 Sept. 1989).

The 1983 booklet I already cited also. So that's 7 years before 1990.

The transition seems to have been from 1977 - 1983, but could have been as early as 1980.

Sean said...

Walter Lippman had articles attacking IQ testing in the New Republic in 1922. The media long reflected widely held moral sentiments about group and individual differences in achievement. Education and effort have long been supposed to explain differences in intellectual attainment by the average educated person and as Lippman said "For the whole drift of the propaganda based on intelligence testing is to treat people with low intelligence quotients as congenitally and hopelessly inferior". So the idea that hereditarianism ever had the whip hand among the masses is wrong. However, the UNESCO Statements on Race in the early 1950s said human decency required everyone to be treated equally and so it did not matter whether racial differences in intellectual attainment were genetic or not; hence there was no mainstream hard science consensus post WW2 among geneticists that racial gene pools didn't exist. When Cavalli-Sforza published the IQ and race scientific paper with Bodmer that was still the case: "As geneticists we can state with certainty that there is no a priori reason why genes affecting I.Q., which differ in the gene pools of blacks and whites, should be such that on the average whites have significantly more genes increasing I.Q. than blacks do. (Bodmer & Cavalli-Sforza 1970, p. 28). So among geneticists no one thought it 'arbitrary' to classify non-discontinuous populations as races.


Lewontin’s 1972 paper is the crucial scientific argument for current geneticists and anthropologists who say race is socially constructed. It says there are more genetic differences between an African and a European than between two random people from within Africa or two random people from within Europe; an argument that is now used trumpeted as proving there can be no genetic cause of differences between populations. It was not a closed issue, and Cavalli-Sforza had a platform to make a high profile comment on Lewontin’s much-discussed 1972 paper, but he did not do so for many years. It is difficult to see how a favourable comment on Lewontin’s 1972 paper could have damaged Cavalli-Sforza's career. Yet he made no comment on it at the time, while "THERE is no trace anywhere in his published writings of a belief that natural selection has favored different mental traits in different cultural environments" . From the world authority on human genetics both these omissions represent a pattern of an adroit reticence. So it is quite in order to say Cavalli-Sforza kept quiet about gene culture co evolution, which he seems to have regarded as a powder keg, while his claims that his research was re-enforcing Lewontin’s 1972 argument only came when Lewontin (by then widely cited on human genetics) attacked human genome studies as a manifestation of the belief that mental disorders, which he called social problems, were actually genetic. Cavalli-Sforza sold the pass by failing to critique Lewontin's apples and oranges argument, and as a result the school of thought supported by Lewontin's argument, which always had traditional moral sentiments on its side, became unstoppable.

Sean said...

Paul Collier says there is going to be an accelerating migration Exodus greater that anything that has occured so far. The most capable and qualified from the third will leave for the west , and he thinks this is going to damage the poor in poor countries. Yet Collier, like most economists, thinks education and effort explain some being more able to attain qualifications and function in a high trust market economy. If Peter is right and IQ and middle class qualities are hereditary, there is going to be a widening of the gap between the rest of the world far larger and more intractable than even Collier predicts. So it turns out that the position of the bottom billion in the world is going to become more desperate. And because the idea that genes have little bearing on intelligence is regarded as a moral touchstone, no one is going to dare do anything about it.

Peter Fros_ said...

Anon,

You seem to be confusing two things.

1. Geographic clustering of human genetic variation is arbitrary.

2. Because these clusters have fuzzy boundaries, any sharply defined boundary is arbitrary.

Proposition #1 is false. Proposition #2 is true.

Try this exercise. Plot the geographic variation of one gene. Now plot the geographic variation of another gene and superimpose the second map on the first one. Repeat the exercise with another gene. As you build this composite map, a consistent picture of geographic clustering will emerge. These clusters are not "arbitrary." It doesn't matter who performs the exercise. The same pattern will emerge.

You seem to be arguing that the only objective categories are those that have sharply defined non-overlapping boundaries. In that case, very few categories really exist. We live in a totall illusory world. You're using a semantic sleight-of-hand that could demolish most categorization.


"Cavilli-Sforza adopted race skepticism from the early 80s. The 90's figure you have fabricated so you can insert your conpiracy theory"

Then why did he push the concept of gene-culture co-evolution during the 1980s? Why did he believe that this co-evolution affects the geographic distribution of human mental and behavioral traits?

And why did he refuse to cite Lewontin's landmark paper that shows that genes vary much more within than between human populations? This is the one paper that opponents of the race concept make a point of citing.

Yes, one can show that Cavalli-Sforza became more and more cautious in discussing these issues. This was a reflection of the academic environment that had had to navigate in.

Peter Fros_ said...

"The 1977 book is critical of race, however he loosely defended a genetic populational definition for race which he dropped by 1983"

The passage I quoted from his 1977 book is almost identical with what he concluded in a much later article ... in 1997:

"Our goal is to infer, from human genetic data, general patterns as well as details of human evolutionary history. Here we present the results of an analysis of genetic data at the level of the individual. A tree relating 144 individuals from 12 human groups of Africa, Asia, Europe, and Oceania, inferred from an average of 75 DNA polymorphisms/individual, is remarkable in that most individuals cluster with other members of their regional group.

[...] We conclude that the data are consistent with the hypothesis that, although regional groups may have been effectively isolated from one another for as many as §50,000 years, populations within régions have probably been isolated from one another for amuch shorter length of time."

Am. J. Hum. Genet. 61:705–718, 1997

In this paper, the term "race" is replaced with "regional group". Clearly, he believed that human genetic variation does cluster, but this point should be obvious to anyone who reads THGHG.

So the question is not whether he believed that such clustering exists. He did and still does. The question is whether he believed that this clustering is significant for anything other than superficial physical traits, i.e., is race more than skin deep? Again, this is what he believed during the 1980s, as attested by his aborted project on Inuit IQ and his interest in gene-culture co-evolution.

Anonymous said...

How does genetic clustering work in the first place? What genes or loci are selected? Different alleles can produce discordant genetic maps. The same applies to physical anthropological attempts at race classification.

"There are many different, equally valid procedures for defining races, and those different procedures yield very different classifications. One such procedure would group Italians and Greeks with most African blacks. It would classify Xhosas--the South African "black" group to which President Nelson Mandela belongs--with Swedes rather than Nigerians. Another equally valid procedure would place Swedes with Fulani (a Nigerian "black" group) and not with Italians, who would again be grouped with most other African blacks." (Diamond, 1994)

"Medin and Wattenmaker (1987) point out that plums and lawnmowers are unlikely to be categorised together, even though they are clearly similar on a number of dimensions (both weigh less than 1000 kg, both cannot hear, both have a distinct smell, both can be dropped). It is not the case that one comparison dimension is objectively more relevant than another one, and that empirical reality would dictate which dimension should be attended to. Rather, the choice of comparison dimensions is informed by socially constructed meaning."(Zagefka, 2009)

Anonymous said...

You repeatedly ask for clarification on how clustering works, then ignore the answer and redefine clustering as being on one dimension and make the same point about classification being arbitrary. You've done this about half a dozen times in this thread. Stop pretending to be inquiring as to the meaning of clustering.

Anonymous said...

You repeatedly ask for clarification on how clustering works, then ignore the answer (that it doesn't work with an arbitrary criterion, but does on certain relevant dimensions, becoming more relevant when the more that are used). Having got your answer, you immediately give an instance of clustering on on one dimension to make a point about classification being arbitrary. You've done this about half a dozen times in this thread. I conclude you you have stopped engaging with rejoinders, and are now not participating in a discusssion, rather just trying to get the last word.

Presumably the point of mooting a category that includes lawnmowers and plums, and comparing it to another one that includes certain Africans and certain Europeans, is that both categories are equally arbitrary and absurd.

But if you claim, as you seem to be doing, that all race categories are absurd, you should find the idea that black Africans have more in common with other black Africans than with Europeans just as arbitrary and absurd as saying that Swedes have more in common with Xhosas than with other Europeans. So you actually are using the racial catigories of European and black African, whether you admit it or not.

Please stop pretending to be inquiring about the concepts, your analogy shows you know very well what is at issue. You do not accept as valid any concept of human races, which is fair enough, but by using arguments that implicitly deny any and all categories exist (as you have done) you're overstepping the point at which you can be taken seriously. But that does not mean you will be given the last word.

Anonymous said...

Diamond doesn't claim Xhosas, Swedes or Nigerians are natural groupings (he's only using them to make his point and doesn't contradict himself). These populations also have arbitrary borders - so there is nothing stopping someone from dividing Swedes into North Swedes, South Swedes etc. This is covered in Glasgow (2009).

"the discordance issue [Diamond] raises applies within groups as well as between them. He is dismissive of the reality of the Fulani-Xhosa black African racial unity because there are characters discordant with it.

Well then, one asks in response, what about the Fulani unit itself? After all, exactly the same argument could be made to cast the reality of the category ‘Fulani’ into doubt"
- Sarich and Miele, 2004

This is Glasgow's simple responce:

"To which the unambiguous reply should be, Precisely."

Neither Glasgow, Diamond or myself is claiming Fulani or Swedes are non-arbitrary. This is another epic fail by 'race realists'.

Sean said...

Diamond claims "There are many different, equally valid procedures for defining races". Then he gives as an example, a single racial category that includes Xhosa and Swedes.

His point can only be this race category is clearly an arbitrary one, compared to clasifying Swedes with other Europeans . Yet he's simultaniously arguing that all race categories are equally valid. Implicitly he is relying on the fact that they are not. So he is using a folk wisdom level of race to deny the scientific comcept.