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“The Impossible”
Posted: 16 May 2013 04:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 61 ]
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mid atlantic - 16 May 2013 02:51 AM
GdB - 16 May 2013 02:34 AM

So how does that relate with the idea that ‘races’ are more than conventional groupings?

I don’t understand your question. Do you mean sociologically relate or biologically relate?

I mean conceptually.

mid atlantic - 16 May 2013 02:32 AM
GdB - 16 May 2013 02:00 AM

And did I deny somewhere that a black skin is determined by genes?

Not sure if you did or not, I didn’t post anything about that.

No, you didn’t literally. But if forensic science can make a DNA ‘fingerprint’ and skin colour is coded in DNA, then it is very likely that there is a high correlation between them. You do not need the concept of ‘race’ to describe that fact.

mid atlantic - 16 May 2013 02:45 AM

The common view of different races’ appearance might be over simplified, but it works pragmatically enough in forensic science.

I think there is nothing else than the ‘common view’ of it.

I think that what Dawkins means is that we can make a family tree of genetic traits that is loosely connected to the conventional idea of races. What I am at, I suppose, is that ‘race’ is not a natural kind, i.e. is not a scientific category.

As an example, take the particles that make up atoms: electrons, protons and neutrons. Every building block of an atom we find can be subsumed unambiguously in one of these categories, and every different particle behaves unambiguously but exactly the same as ‘its peers’ to the laws of nature. So dividing subatomic particles in this way is a scientific sound idea, the categories are natural kinds. Also, when we find new particles, we can define family connections based on attributes that are physically exactly defined (e.g. the muon is ‘family’ of the electron because both are negative, have the same spin, and the same lepton number. One can even make (very short lived) atoms with it (muonium)). Now it is true that you could make different categorisations, but whatever categorisation you make, it is possible to define the exact criterion that decides if a particle belongs in one category or the other.

‘Race’ is not such a category. It is a huge bunch of possible attributes, and there is no clear criterion to say who is member of one racial category, and who of another (in the time of Apartheid in South Africa this could be very troublesome for the people that did not nicely fit in the racial definitions), even if we see very obvious difference between people. Defining set of attributes that characterise the differences between races is so very arbitrary. I think biology and genetics can be done very well without the folk concept of ‘race’. It just makes talking sometimes easier.

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Posted: 16 May 2013 04:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 62 ]
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It sounds to me, GdB, as if more than trying to convince us, you are trying to convince yourself that it can’t be true. I think Dawkins is being pretty clear on this and so am I, I believe. I bet you don’t find the idea of dog breeds as illogical as that of human races.

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Posted: 16 May 2013 05:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 63 ]
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George, you still did not answer my question.

And no, “However small the racial partition of total variation may be, if such racial characteristics as there are highly correlated with other racial characteristics, they are by definition informative, and therefore of taxonomic significance” is at least not an answer on my question, which I can rephrase now (if you bothered to read my previous posting) as:

Are races natural kinds?

From there:

Philosophers of biology argue about whether biological species, like the Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), are natural kinds; even such familiar species as bird, cat, and dog cannot be established as natural types, since any plausible definitions of those species leaves the classification of some animals ambiguous. Others debate whether races, sexes, or sexual orientations are natural kinds, or rather, to what extent they can be given the wide and continuous variety of race- and gender-related qualities.

And from here:

The ambiguities and confusion associated with determining the boundaries of racial categories have over time provoked a widespread scholarly consensus that discrete or essentialist races are socially constructed, not biologically real. However, significant scholarly debate persists regarding whether reproductive isolation, either during human evolution or through modern practices barring miscegenation, may have generated sufficient genetic isolation as to justify using the term race to signify the existence of non-discrete human groups that share not only physical phenotypes but also clusters of genetic material. In addition, scholarly debate exists concerning the formation and character of socially constructed, discrete racial categories.

I am sure the discussion is not settled, but it surely is not as simple as you seem to suggest here.

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Posted: 16 May 2013 05:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 64 ]
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You mean when does a boat stop being THE boat when I go replacing one of its wooden pieces at a time? You know how I feel about philosophy, right? If you want call a bacterium your cousin, by all means, please go ahead.  grin

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Posted: 16 May 2013 06:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 65 ]
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George - 16 May 2013 05:32 AM

You mean when does a boat stop being THE boat when I go replacing one of its wooden pieces at a time? You know how I feel about philosophy, right? If you want call a bacterium your cousin, by all means, please go ahead.  grin

Yeah, those topics are similar. The answer that the concept of THE boat does not make much sense might also apply to ‘race’. In both cases the answer is purely conventional, and has not much to do with reality.

And for the rest I can think of a few differences between ‘my cousin’ and me that do justify that humans and bacteria are different natural kinds. It’s not that easy with individuals belonging to a ‘race’.

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Posted: 16 May 2013 08:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 66 ]
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GdB - 16 May 2013 12:14 AM

... I think it is your ‘greediness’ to explain some of the differences (like intelligence and criminal behaviour) between ‘races’ with genetics is the reason that you are accused of racism…

TimB: I think this is George’s problem, too.

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As a fabrication of our own consciousness, our assignations of meaning are no less “real”, but since humans and the fabrications of our consciousness are routinely fraught with error, it makes sense, to me, to, sometimes, question such fabrications.

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Posted: 16 May 2013 09:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 67 ]
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I am also a breedist. I think poodles may be smarter than bulldogs.

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Posted: 16 May 2013 10:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 68 ]
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I am also a breedist. I think poodles may be smarter than bulldogs.

They are but the smartest breed is the border collie.


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Posted: 16 May 2013 10:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 69 ]
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George - 16 May 2013 09:29 AM

I am also a breedist. I think poodles may be smarter than bulldogs.

Poodles may actually be smarter than bulldogs. (I haven’t seen the data.)  Are chocolate labs smarter than black labs? Would a black lab that has gone thru obedience training be deemed to be smarter than a chocolate lab that hasn’t?

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As a fabrication of our own consciousness, our assignations of meaning are no less “real”, but since humans and the fabrications of our consciousness are routinely fraught with error, it makes sense, to me, to, sometimes, question such fabrications.

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Posted: 16 May 2013 10:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 70 ]
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TimB - 16 May 2013 10:16 AM
George - 16 May 2013 09:29 AM

I am also a breedist. I think poodles may be smarter than bulldogs.

Poodles may actually be smarter than bulldogs. (I haven’t seen the data.)  Are chocolate labs smarter than black labs? Would a black lab that has gone thru obedience training be deemed to be smarter than a chocolate lab that hasn’t?

Maybe. But it may be due to their population density.

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Posted: 16 May 2013 10:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 71 ]
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Or their poorly developed skills in the use of sarcasm.

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As a fabrication of our own consciousness, our assignations of meaning are no less “real”, but since humans and the fabrications of our consciousness are routinely fraught with error, it makes sense, to me, to, sometimes, question such fabrications.

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Posted: 16 May 2013 10:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 72 ]
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I also am a canine racist.  My first wife’s father had a Boston Bulldog, and it was obviously less intelligent than the average amoeba.  I agree about the border collie, but many year ago I acquired a four year old Samoyed, and while of average dog intelligence, he had by far the best sense of humor of any dog I’ve dealt with.  smile

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Posted: 16 May 2013 10:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 73 ]
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I also am a canine racist.  My first wife’s father had a Boston Bulldog, and it was obviously less intelligent than the average amoeba.  I agree about the border collie, but many year ago I acquired a four year old Samoyed, and while of average dog intelligence, he had by far the best sense of humor of any dog I’ve dealt with. 

The best dog I ever owned was in the Samoyed family. She was a Keeshond, a Dutch breed, hence my racial prejudice toward northern European canines. They are designated as working dogs and were used to guard canal barges. She was my constant companion at home and one of the most intelligent and affectionate animals encountered to date. She lived to be 14. I do miss that dog!

Cap’t Jack

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Posted: 16 May 2013 11:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 74 ]
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Thevillageatheist - 16 May 2013 10:57 AM

She was a Keeshond, a Dutch breed, hence my racial prejudice toward northern European canines.

Yeah, Dutch are the best… tongue rolleye

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Posted: 16 May 2013 11:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 75 ]
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Border collies are one of the most intelligent breeds, but when taken out of the circumstances for which they were bred, and used as housepets, I think that they can have a tendency to become the most neurotic. (At least judging by the collies that a friend of mine has.)

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As a fabrication of our own consciousness, our assignations of meaning are no less “real”, but since humans and the fabrications of our consciousness are routinely fraught with error, it makes sense, to me, to, sometimes, question such fabrications.

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