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Thread: Politically Incorrect Evolution

  1. #1 Politically Incorrect Evolution 
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    So I've been thinking a lot lately about how personal bias can affect how one interprets data. I'm thinking that perhaps the newest form of bias is the new need to be Politically correct in everything we say and do.

    Unfortunately for us, the world is seldom politically correct. Now, I'm hoping to get peoples input on something without getting my head bitten off for it because it is a controvertial subject. In science we classify creatures by morphology, for example Coelophysis means "Hollow form", just as Coelocanth means "Hollow Spine."

    That being said, there's one animal which we seem to be content with being largely ignorant of; the animal called "Human". When a scientist finds two species, one blue one black one and one red one, he inevitably names one $species Nigra and $species Rubra, respectively. Yet, with humans we seem to be able to ignore differences in favour of this idea that we should be one universal brotherhood.

    However, let me clarify here that this isn't a racial argument. What I'm hoping to discuss is just the physiological differences between humans which most people seem to refuse to acknowledge, just like the difference between a sumatran and siberian tiger. Both are beautiful animals, both will rip you to shreds if you don't respect them, but one is white and one is orange so inevitably, they're classified differently. As such, this becomes a subspecies of the animal "Tiger".

    However, for years science has been reluctant to acknowledge the differences in human ethnicities other than in the case of the Racial Classification System. However, this is often condemned as being controvertial and unwarranted for social and political reasons. But in all honestly, isn't science the search for the facts? And does our interpretation of the facts really change them?

    Here's a few examples I'd like to pose.

    In this picture we see a morphological comparison of a Caucasian and Australian Aboriginal skull.



    Inevitably one will see differences in the brow, jaw and teeth, as well as in the cranium, which is flatter and longer than a Caucasian skull.

    in another example, we see an African skull.



    Here the biggest difference we'll see is the size of the nostrils.

    And last one! an asian skull,



    The only thing I can see here is that the jaw doesn't protrude or recede and the teeth appear to be perfectly aligned.

    We've categorized human evolution through the assessment of bones and bone pieces, wouldn't it be fair to say that now, as in the past, earth isn't populated by one but a variety of human species close enough to interbreed?

    Of course I'm not drawing assumptions about intelligence or what not, as scientists in this field of the past have (not that I'm a scientist, just a psychology student :P), those would be inferences, I'm only interested in making observations here.

    Thoughts anyone?


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  3. #2 Re: Politically Incorrect Evolution 
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carcharias
    wouldn't it be fair to say that now, as in the past, earth isn't populated by one but a variety of human species close enough to interbreed?
    If they are close enough to interbreed and do so with great regularity and enthusiasm and have been doing so for thousands of years, then they are - in biological terms - most certainly not different species.

    In science we classify creatures by morphology
    We used to. Times have moved on. Now we look at the genome. There have been a number of reclassifications based upon an examination of an organism's DNA.

    It is true that there are a variety of superficial distinctions between ethnic groups. It is equally true that more fundamental (and life critical) characteristics, such as blood type, cut right across ethnic lines.

    In some contexts the differences you are speaking of are relevant. The incidence of sickle cell anemia in black Africans as an evolutionary response to malaria springs to mind. The unusually high proportion of brown eyes amongst 'white' South Africans is an interesting counterpoint.

    Here the biggest difference we'll see is the size of the nostrils.

    Skulls don't have nostrils.

    However, for years science has been reluctant to acknowledge the differences in human ethnicities
    Here is a tiny selection of 13,907 research papers returned by PubMed in response to the search "ethnic differences".

    Improvements in Survival After Follicular Lymphoma by Race/Ethnicity and Socioeconomic Status: A Population-Based Study. Keegan TH, McClure LA, Foran JM, Clarke CA. J Clin Oncol. 2009 May 18.

    Segmented assimilation theory and perinatal health disparities among women of Mexican descent. Johnson MA, Marchi KS. Soc Sci Med. 2009 May 16.

    Gender, ethnic and school type differences in overweight and energy balance-related behaviours among Dutch adolescents. van der Horst K, Oenema A, Te Velde SJ, Brug J. Int J Pediatr Obes. 2009 May 15:1-10.

    Moreover, PubMed suggested I try searching for
    racial ethnic differences
    ethnic differences hypertension
    ethnic differences diabetes
    ethnic differences in pain tolerance
    depression ethnic differences


    On that basis I think your statement that science 'has been reluctant to acknowledge the differences in human ethnicities' is shown to be wholly without foundation.


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    Administrator KALSTER's Avatar
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    The dividing line between species is to some extent an arbitrary one. Morphological difference can be a deceptive guiding line regarding this, as can be attested by the wide morphological varieties of dogs. The most precise method then for assessing how far removed two specimens are from each other is by doing a genetic comparison and as far as I am aware this is not as clear cut with humans as one would have guessed judging from physical differences. For example, there are more variation between black Africans than there are between Africans and other races. Rats and mice are further removed from each other than chimpanzees and humans are, AFAIK, as another example.

    I do understand where you are coming from though, but I don't think "species" would be an accurate way to classify human diversity. I for one think we should celebrate the differences, not as an exercise in segregation according to value or subjective superiority, but as a greater whole by way of more diversity.

    I am not an expert on these issues though, so other actual scientists might give you more precise info. Good thread. :wink:

    EDIT: I see John Galt has done the honours already.
    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

    "Gullibility kills" - Carl Sagan
    "All people know the same truth. Our lives consist of how we chose to distort it." - Harry Block
    "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." - Aristotle
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  5. #4  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard spuriousmonkey's Avatar
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    As for teeth, there have been many such studies, but the conclusion is that you cannot use it for forensics since most special characteristics are shared or present in many different backgrounds.
    "Kill them all and let God sort them out."

    - Arnaud Amalric

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  6. #5  
    Forum Professor sunshinewarrior's Avatar
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    I'd try to respond in full (and welcome to the forums, by the way), but don't have the time. In any case, I'm sure there will be enough on the forum who will be more than happy to share their views.

    As a synecdoche, let me offer the BBC's programme The Incredible Human Journey where the Chinese, convinced by morphology that they were from a separate line of descent compared to the rest of the world discovered, thanks to genetics, that they weren't. The human species is one of the less genetically diverse of all, and time and again scientists point out, without recourse to political correctness, that not only are we not interbreeding separate species, but we are not even, by the normal taxonomic standards, a group of sub-species or races.

    In short, the morphological differences are, in this case, irrelevant.

    I recommend Dawkins' The Ancestor's Tale because he has, in it, a fascinating essay on the subject of race, human morphological differences, and the possible evolutionary psychological reasons for these.
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  7. #6  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sunshinewarrior
    The human species is one of the less genetically diverse of all, and time and again scientists point out, without recourse to political correctness, that not only are we not interbreeding separate species, but we are not even, by the normal taxonomic standards, a group of sub-species or races.
    From memory, the reason for this is that we almost went extinct around 70,000 b.p. as a consequence of the eruption of the Lake Toba supervolcano. Our breeding population is thought to have been reduced to only a few thousand individuals. Consequently there has been inusfficient time for much diversity to creep back into the human genome.
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  8. #7  
    Forum Professor sunshinewarrior's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt
    Quote Originally Posted by sunshinewarrior
    The human species is one of the less genetically diverse of all, and time and again scientists point out, without recourse to political correctness, that not only are we not interbreeding separate species, but we are not even, by the normal taxonomic standards, a group of sub-species or races.
    From memory, the reason for this is that we almost went extinct around 70,000 b.p. as a consequence of the eruption of the Lake Toba supervolcano. Our breeding population is thought to have been reduced to only a few thousand individuals. Consequently there has been inusfficient time for much diversity to creep back into the human genome.
    That's something along the lines of what I understood, although I wasn't aware that a specific natural disaster had been named and shamed as the cause. Certainly, like a few other species today (cheetahs spring to mind) the human species has been bottle-necked.

    I was, alas, delayed in actually submitting my first post and now that I look at it, it has been rendered pretty much irrelevant by the contributions from you, Kalster and spurious monkey.

    Ah well... that'll learn me to look before I leap won't it?
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  9. #8  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard spuriousmonkey's Avatar
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    One basic error in the opening post is of course that it shows single specimens of a population.

    Obviously populations cannot be captured by the morphology of a single specimen.
    "Kill them all and let God sort them out."

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  10. #9  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spuriousmonkey
    Obviously populations cannot be captured by the morphology of a single specimen.
    I was going to mention that, but since a proper study would (I think) tend to confirm these or similar differences I decided not to.
    Also, while Australian aborigines are actually quite distinctive and probably have been more isolated than most of humanity for 50,000 years, I have little idea what a Caucasian actually is. Too much interbreding with supposedly distinct racial types for it to have much meaning.
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  11. #10  
    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
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    i suppose someone from Armenia could be called a caucasian
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
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  12. #11  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard spuriousmonkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt
    Quote Originally Posted by spuriousmonkey
    Obviously populations cannot be captured by the morphology of a single specimen.
    I was going to mention that, but since a proper study would (I think) tend to confirm these or similar differences I decided not to.
    Also, while Australian aborigines are actually quite distinctive and probably have been more isolated than most of humanity for 50,000 years, I have little idea what a Caucasian actually is. Too much interbreding with supposedly distinct racial types for it to have much meaning.
    I know only of one study where they did evo-devo on skulls.

    It was an isolated village in the alps somewhere where they kept careful track of the skulls ownership and kept the skulls. So they could look for a long period of time for changes in morphology.

    But the little immigration that there was killed all evolutionary change.
    "Kill them all and let God sort them out."

    - Arnaud Amalric

    http://spuriousforums.com/index.php
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