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Tags race , genetics , anatomy

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Old 24th November 2006, 12:30 PM   #1
Quixote
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Is bone structure race specific?

Twice in the last week I have read the claim that, contrary to recent statements that race is a social distinction, not a genetic one, the "race" (whatever that means) to which an individual belonged can be determined from an examination of his bones alone, presumably independent of information concerning the age of the bones, where they were found, etc. The claims came from highly unreliable sources and I have satisified myself so far by noting the silence that follows my request for a citation to their source.

Given that difficulty of determining the "race" of living humans without some arbitrary rule*, I can't imagine what the claim even means. Has anyone heard of this before?


*See, for example, Show Boat, in which Julie "passed" for white during most of the movie and Gaylord managed to pass for black at a critical moment because he had one drop of black blood (Julie's) in him.
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Old 24th November 2006, 12:36 PM   #2
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I guess it is. Don't you often hear that "the bones being autopsied come from a 20 to 25 year old male of ______ extraction". So I think more could be gained from Googling "anthopology autopsy etnicity post-mortem facial features" and things like that.
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Old 24th November 2006, 03:24 PM   #3
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There are no genetic human race divisions.

And I believe those autopsy reports you mention, casebro, include skin or a skull. You cannot tell ethnicity nor skin color from only a skeleton. With the exception one might be able to determine facial features from a skull that are suggestive of certain ethnic features.

http://www.aaanet.org/stmts/racepp.htm
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Old 24th November 2006, 04:51 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Quixote View Post
Twice in the last week I have read the claim that, contrary to recent statements that race is a social distinction, not a genetic one, the "race" (whatever that means) to which an individual belonged can be determined from an examination of his bones alone

I've heard the claim before. In 1991, I met a man who claimed that race cannot be only a social distinction because black people have more bones in their feet than white people.
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Old 24th November 2006, 05:01 PM   #5
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Nature Genetics had some articles about 2 years ago where some argued a genetic basis for race.

http://www.nature.com/ng/journal/v36...1204-1243.html
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Old 24th November 2006, 05:05 PM   #6
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I am currently taking a class on forensic anthropology, and we are indeed learning to distinguish 'race' from bones. While there are no genetic races, different ethnicities do tend show a cluster of characteristics. Environment seems to play a strong role: 'blacks' and 'whites' in the US are much more similar to each other now than they were a century ago, and not from breeding.

The major thing we had to learn was variation. Variation is the rule rather than the exception with humans. It's fairly common to have additional bones, 106 is merely an average. Check the 'parts' thread in Forum Community for an example.
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Old 24th November 2006, 07:15 PM   #7
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Sorry if this is considered derailing but I have a question on race and the last topic on the matter scares me.

I'm reading Genes, People, and Languages by Cavalli-Sforza. He makes the often made point that there isn't any real genetic discontinuities geographically so choosing the boundaries is arbitrary. I understand this and as far as I can tell this is right. I just think it is misleading to go from there and then to say race doesn't exist. It seems to me that we group things that do not have sharp divisions all the time. One example is adults and children. There are no sudden changes at the age of 18 or 13 or whatever and some people classified as adults are more childlike than some people classified as children. Yet most people would agree that the child/adult division is based in reality. Why is race any different?

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Old 24th November 2006, 07:25 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Skeptigirl
There are no genetic human race divisions.
We shall see:

http://www.internationalskeptics.com...ad.php?t=69233

Quote:
The scientists looked at people from three broad racial groups - African, Asian and European. Although there was an underlying similarity in terms of how common it was for genes to be copied, there were enough racial differences to assign every person bar one to their correct ethnic origin.
Might turn out that there are racial genetic profiles. Which means we might have to decide simply to live in harmony with one another, without having to eliminate all the marvelous variations in the name of oneness.

~~ Paul
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Old 24th November 2006, 11:49 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Paul C. Anagnostopoulos View Post
We shall see:

http://www.internationalskeptics.com...ad.php?t=69233


Might turn out that there are racial genetic profiles. Which means we might have to decide simply to live in harmony with one another, without having to eliminate all the marvelous variations in the name of oneness.

~~ Paul
Well clearly there will be an expansion of our knowledge in this area but I await the details. If you have sickle cell trait I can assign you to African ethnicity and be correct most of the time. That doesn't mean every ethnic African has sickle cell trait. Which race are you when your parents are of two different ethnicities?

The means of getting genetic diversion is isolation and time. While the Australian Aboriginales were isolated for 60,000 years you might see more of a "race" identity in the DNA. But European ancestry vs Asian vs African? There has not been the same complete isolation. Who were in their samples? Did they take random people who looked black or caucasian or did they look for people with long stable family lines?
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Old 25th November 2006, 12:23 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by skeptigirl View Post
Well clearly there will be an expansion of our knowledge in this area but I await the details. If you have sickle cell trait I can assign you to African ethnicity and be correct most of the time. That doesn't mean every ethnic African has sickle cell trait. Which race are you when your parents are of two different ethnicities?

The means of getting genetic diversion is isolation and time. While the Australian Aboriginales were isolated for 60,000 years you might see more of a "race" identity in the DNA. But European ancestry vs Asian vs African? There has not been the same complete isolation. Who were in their samples? Did they take random people who looked black or caucasian or did they look for people with long stable family lines?
As for who were in the samples, here is the description:
Quote:
The HapMap collection comprises four populations: 30 parent–offspring trios of the Yoruba from Nigeria (YRI), 30 parent–offspring trios of European descent from Utah, USA (CEU), 45 unrelated Japanese from Tokyo, Japan (JPT) and 45 unrelated Han Chinese from Beijing, China (CHB). Genomic DNA from Epstein–Barr-virus-transformed lymphoblastoid cell-lines was used.
See the two links to Nature in this post for more detail:

http://www.internationalskeptics.com...2&postcount=20
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Old 25th November 2006, 06:48 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Skeptigirl
Well clearly there will be an expansion of our knowledge in this area but I await the details. If you have sickle cell trait I can assign you to African ethnicity and be correct most of the time. That doesn't mean every ethnic African has sickle cell trait. Which race are you when your parents are of two different ethnicities?
If they are ethnicities that are "far apart," that probably makes profiling more difficult. That's good. We wouldn't want it to be too easy.

Cool example: Genzyme manufactures a drug for people with Gaucher disease. At first, all such people were Ashkenazi Jews. Then, surprise!, people in Japan started turning up with the disease. Then people in Sweden. More bucks for Genzyme and those of us clever enough to own their stock .

~~ Paul
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Old 25th November 2006, 07:28 AM   #12
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my impression of that was that they could *usually* tell if a victim was black or white by looking at the bones surrounding the nose. you get a pretty good idea of how far the top of the nose projects and how wide the base is by looking at that part of the skull, I have never heard of any other races being identified by bones. So perhaps its only blacks that can be identified by that. I was also under the impression that black people are (in general) larger bone wise than whites.
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Old 25th November 2006, 09:12 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by nails View Post
my impression of that was that they could *usually* tell if a victim was black or white by looking at the bones surrounding the nose. you get a pretty good idea of how far the top of the nose projects and how wide the base is by looking at that part of the skull, I have never heard of any other races being identified by bones. So perhaps its only blacks that can be identified by that. I was also under the impression that black people are (in general) larger bone wise than whites.
Asians also have differnent shaped skulls.
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Old 25th November 2006, 09:27 AM   #14
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thanks for the info.

I got most of this from court tv and their website so im not an expert or anything...
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Old 25th November 2006, 02:23 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Dylab View Post
I just think it is misleading to go from there and then to say race doesn't exist.
I think the confusion stems from what the word "race" means.

To most English speakers, "race" means the classic social theory of race: caucasion, mongoloid, negroid. This concept of "race" does not exist genetically; it is as accurate a description of human genetic differences as the Ptomelic model of the solar system.

If you define "race" to mean any arbitrary grouping of genetic clusters, then yes, there are many, many races. Possibly even Southern Italian and Northern Italian, depending on how finely you want to draw the lines, and how immobile geographic populations have been.

Since "race" has such a well-defined meaning, it is appropriate to say that "race" does not exist, even while acknowledging that human populations can be grouped by genetic similarity to whatever degree of distinction you find useful.
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Old 25th November 2006, 02:28 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by nails View Post
I got most of this from court tv and their website so im not an expert or anything...
Just so long as you don't get it from "Bones."

Their magic holographic box has made the show virtually unwatchable.

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Old 25th November 2006, 03:17 PM   #17
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Read this on Race differences.
If it`s true blacks are genetically less inteligent this may spell trouble in the future,as blacks naturally want the good jobs as well.

http://www.amren.com/9412issue/9412issue.html#cover
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Old 25th November 2006, 06:01 PM   #18
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lets put ten philipino males picked at random vs ten samoan males picked at random in a tug of war contest against each other

I will give you ten to 1 odds in favor of the philipinos...wanna take it?

I got 1000 dollars on the samoans, and you only have to risk 100 on the philipinos for it...come on

PC religion is stupid and without basis in fact, standing in the way of true knowledge
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Old 25th November 2006, 06:50 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Yahzi View Post
I think the confusion stems from what the word "race" means.

To most English speakers, "race" means the classic social theory of race: caucasion, mongoloid, negroid. This concept of "race" does not exist genetically; it is as accurate a description of human genetic differences as the Ptomelic model of the solar system.

If you define "race" to mean any arbitrary grouping of genetic clusters, then yes, there are many, many races. Possibly even Southern Italian and Northern Italian, depending on how finely you want to draw the lines, and how immobile geographic populations have been.

Since "race" has such a well-defined meaning, it is appropriate to say that "race" does not exist, even while acknowledging that human populations can be grouped by genetic similarity to whatever degree of distinction you find useful.
No Yahzi, it wasn't about terminology. It's about the bulk of genetic research until now which showed there were no specific genes that all people considered to be of a particular race had in common. While certain genetic traits are more common in particular groups such as sickle cell trait, sickle cell trait is not a marker for that group. In addition, prior to this research, all humans on the planet had most of our DNA in common and the variation which results in our outward appearance is such a small % of the total as to be meaningless in defining groups.

Why I don't buy the reported conclusion immediately that one can define race with these new findings is easily demonstrated by the following example:

It is arbitrary to use visible characteristics to define race. Why not use blood types to define race instead?

Even if it is determined one can describe the outward appearance of a person by certain genetic markers, you still have the problem with the claim that outward appearance alone distinguishes one group of humans from another. Our appearance may indicate something about our ancestry, but it is as arbitrary as blood type in dividing humans into groups.
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Old 25th November 2006, 07:00 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by idunno View Post
Read this on Race differences.
If it`s true blacks are genetically less inteligent this may spell trouble in the future,as blacks naturally want the good jobs as well.

http://www.amren.com/9412issue/9412issue.html#cover
If it is true this garbage article certainly does nothing to test that hypothesis.

This is nothing but some racist propaganda. If one is going to make claims such as intelligence is genetic then one needs to back such a claim up with science. This article merely reports problems/aspects of culture and claims everyone of whichever "race" by the web authors' definition belongs to that culture (not true right there) and they have those cultural traits because of their genes (as if prenatal care, diet, health, education, economic status and so on have nothing to do with it).

This should have been a clue to you right here!
Quote:
What We Believe

Race is an important aspect of individual and group identity. Of all the fault lines that divide society—language, religion, class, ideology—it is the most prominent and divisive. Race and racial conflict are at the heart of the most serious challenges the Western World faces in the 21st century.

The problems of race cannot be solved without adequate understanding. Attempts to gloss over the significance of race or even to deny its reality only make problems worse. Progress requires the study of all aspects of race, whether historical, cultural, or biological.

American Renaissance

American Renaissance is a monthly magazine that has been published since 1991. It has been called “a literate, undeceived journal of race, immigration and the decline of civility.” We consider it America’s premiere publication of racial-realist thought, and we invite all users of this page to subscribe. The paper version is delivered through the mail, and the PDF version—with identical contents—is delivered to e-mail addresses.

Who We Are

American Renaissance and its web page are run by Jared Taylor, Stephen Webster, Joel T. LeFevre, and George McDaniel. Our mailing address is Box 527, Oakton, VA 22124 and our telephone number is (703) 716-0900.
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Old 25th November 2006, 07:25 PM   #21
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reliability of source

Originally Posted by idunno View Post
Read this on Race differences.
If it`s true blacks are genetically less inteligent this may spell trouble in the future,as blacks naturally want the good jobs as well.

http://www.amren.com/9412issue/9412issue.html#cover
I'm skeptical of much that emanates from American Renaissance magazine. It is not a peer-reviewed, scholarly journal. And without any attempt to categorize its agenda, I ask that you take its "research" with a grain of salt.
b44

eta: skeptigirl got to this already.
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Old 25th November 2006, 07:31 PM   #22
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say what?

Originally Posted by pipelineaudio View Post
lets put ten philipino males picked at random vs ten samoan males picked at random in a tug of war contest against each other

I will give you ten to 1 odds in favor of the philipinos...wanna take it?

I got 1000 dollars on the samoans, and you only have to risk 100 on the philipinos for it...come on

PC religion is stupid and without basis in fact, standing in the way of true knowledge
huh?
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Old 26th November 2006, 01:16 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by Silly Green Monkey View Post
I am currently taking a class on forensic anthropology, and we are indeed learning to distinguish 'race' from bones. While there are no genetic races, different ethnicities do tend show a cluster of characteristics. Environment seems to play a strong role: 'blacks' and 'whites' in the US are much more similar to each other now than they were a century ago, and not from breeding.

The major thing we had to learn was variation. Variation is the rule rather than the exception with humans. It's fairly common to have additional bones, 106 is merely an average. Check the 'parts' thread in Forum Community for an example.
Exactly. I've also taken physical anthropology courses, which include gender and race identification of skeletal specimens. Given the right bones, I was 100% on gender and about 80% on race identification during the exams. As you say: forensics uses this information to attempt to identify remains, even from fragments too small to do a full-tissue reconstruction.

A specific example is the unique shape of incisors for Asiatics. Another example is the longer nasal bone of Caucasians.

"Blacks have an extra bone in their foot," is untrue, and somewhere between an urban legend and racism. (Depends on the motivation for circulating the claim.)
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Old 26th November 2006, 07:33 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by skeptigirl View Post
No Yahzi, it wasn't about terminology. It's about the bulk of genetic research until now which showed there were no specific genes that all people considered to be of a particular race had in common. While certain genetic traits are more common in particular groups such as sickle cell trait, sickle cell trait is not a marker for that group. In addition, prior to this research, all humans on the planet had most of our DNA in common and the variation which results in our outward appearance is such a small % of the total as to be meaningless in defining groups.

Why I don't buy the reported conclusion immediately that one can define race with these new findings is easily demonstrated by the following example:

It is arbitrary to use visible characteristics to define race. Why not use blood types to define race instead?

Even if it is determined one can describe the outward appearance of a person by certain genetic markers, you still have the problem with the claim that outward appearance alone distinguishes one group of humans from another. Our appearance may indicate something about our ancestry, but it is as arbitrary as blood type in dividing humans into groups.

I think it is partly about terminology. For starters, there are no clear biological markers for "race." Race is a social construction based, usually on skin color. Unfortunately, culture has chosen to blend the word "ethnicity" with the word "race." However, ethnicity contains real biological markers because by definition it is about common ancestery.

If there were no biological markers for ethnicity (and yes, there are markers in bone structure-- example forensic science can determine the race of victims by bone structure), then anthropology would be more woo than science.
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Old 26th November 2006, 12:49 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by skeptigirl View Post
It is arbitrary to use visible characteristics to define race. Why not use blood types to define race instead?
Er... I thought that was what I said. At least, it's what I was trying to say.

Quote:
Our appearance may indicate something about our ancestry, but it is as arbitrary as blood type in dividing humans into groups.
In another thread, I phrased it this way:

Racism is the theory that skin color is genetic identity, as opposed to the idea that genetic identity defines skin color.
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Old 26th November 2006, 12:58 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by stamenflicker View Post
If there were no biological markers for ethnicity
Of course there are biological markers for ethnicity.

The point is that the ethnicity you derive by grouping people according to biological markers bears - at best - only a passing resemblance to the groupings predicted by the social theory of race.

The method of racism - identifying by skin color - is an invalid method. Ergo, the theory it generates is invalid. "Race", like the ether, is a simplification that simply doesn't fit.

We can, and probably should, divide people into groups based on their genetic/geographic/cultural history. Heart disease, anemia, etc. are just the beginning; there are a multitude of medical problems that can be meaningfully addressed by this approach.

The point, however, is two-fold: the social theory of race is wrong and useless; and "intelligence" - whatever we mean by that term - has not been demonstrated to be one of the issues addressable by this approach. Neither has "love of one's children," "courage," "fidelity," "creativity," or "compassion."
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Old 26th November 2006, 03:31 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by Yahzi View Post
Racism is the theory that skin color is genetic identity, as opposed to the idea that genetic identity defines skin color.
Deep! Thats like nobel prize material there

You guys must have a lot more time to think up in the highlands compared to us busy valley folk. Any snow yet?
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