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The Fallacy of Racial Bias The lessons of biology

#1 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2017-September-06, 12:28

Posted Image

These are all butterflies. Natural variations within the species accounts for their different appearances. No single variation is superior to the others. They are equally butterflies.

Perhaps our mirrors should be designed to reflect not ourselves but the diversity of our own species?
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#2 User is offline   yunling 

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Posted 2017-September-06, 21:17

Butterflies are not social animals so don't see how it's relevant.
Wolf, lion or maybe killer whale are much more studiable but dunno the conclusion.
Colour discrimination is common among canis lupus arctos if I got it right :(
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#3 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2017-September-07, 06:00

View Postyunling, on 2017-September-06, 21:17, said:

Butterflies are not social animals so don't see how it's relevant.
Wolf, lion or maybe killer whale are much more studiable but dunno the conclusion.
Colour discrimination is common among canis lupus arctos if I got it right :(


You don't have to be a social animal to realize there is no difference other than appearance among the butterflies.
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#4 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2017-September-07, 09:12

View PostWinstonm, on 2017-September-07, 06:00, said:

You don't have to be a social animal to realize there is no difference other than appearance among the butterflies.

Racism didn't start out just based on appearance. Europeans went to Africa, and found the people there still organized in tribes, living in huts, and with less advanced technology. It's not hard to understand why they considered them to be less evolved savages. And Africans have some facial features (like the broad nose and thick lips) that resemble apes, which reinforced this conclusion.

We've since learned much about human genetics and evolution, which contradicts those early assumptions. But the racial stereotypes that were drawn resulted in a number of self-perpetuating conditions, which all led to the racial problems we now have.

#5 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2017-September-07, 09:49

View Postbarmar, on 2017-September-07, 09:12, said:

Racism didn't start out just based on appearance. Europeans went to Africa, and found the people there still organized in tribes, living in huts, and with less advanced technology. It's not hard to understand why they considered them to be less evolved savages. And Africans have some facial features (like the broad nose and thick lips) that resemble apes, which reinforced this conclusion.

We've since learned much about human genetics and evolution, which contradicts those early assumptions. But the racial stereotypes that were drawn resulted in a number of self-perpetuating conditions, which all led to the racial problems we now have.


Living in tribes and huts as in Africa or bathing and eating seaweed like those found in Asian were shocking cultural differences exacerbated by the alien (from the European perspective) appearance. The interesting thing to me is that it takes an observer who makes a value judgement about differences in appearance to have racism. Perhaps more than anything else, the European racism that immigrated to the New World was based on religion in that a justification for the debasement of other humans was necessary to restore a sense of righteousness to the oppressors.

I believe that this lineage of religious necessity of justification can be traced throughout history - in one form or another as the predominant reason for the rise and continued practice of racism. Even today, those who strongly believe the rights of their white European tribe are under attack and must be defended are themselves tapping into a religious justification more so than a nationalist justification, even if they are not aware of it.
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#6 User is offline   yunling 

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Posted 2017-September-08, 05:34

View PostWinstonm, on 2017-September-07, 06:00, said:

You don't have to be a social animal to realize there is no difference other than appearance among the butterflies.


Butterflies don't mind it at all.
You have no right to justify whether they are different or not, unless you feel superior to them.
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#7 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2017-September-08, 08:11

View Postyunling, on 2017-September-08, 05:34, said:

Butterflies don't mind it at all.
You have no right to justify whether they are different or not, unless you feel superior to them.


Then why are you questioning me? ;)
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#8 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2017-September-08, 08:25

P. octavia may be pretty, but all the ones I know are dicks. :)

#9 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2017-September-08, 16:07

View Postbarmar, on 2017-September-08, 08:25, said:

P. octavia may be pretty, but all the ones I know are dicks. :)


Dick Octavia? :P
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#10 User is offline   RedSpawn 

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Posted 2017-September-09, 07:51

View PostWinstonm, on 2017-September-07, 09:49, said:

Living in tribes and huts as in Africa or bathing and eating seaweed like those found in Asian were shocking cultural differences exacerbated by the alien (from the European perspective) appearance. The interesting thing to me is that it takes an observer who makes a value judgement about differences in appearance to have racism. Perhaps more than anything else, the European racism that immigrated to the New World was based on religion in that a justification for the debasement of other humans was necessary to restore a sense of righteousness to the oppressors.

I believe that this lineage of religious necessity of justification can be traced throughout history - in one form or another as the predominant reason for the rise and continued practice of racism. Even today, those who strongly believe the rights of their white European tribe are under attack and must be defended are themselves tapping into a religious justification more so than a nationalist justification, even if they are not aware of it.

Also, I think racism evolves from the human need to feel special. We want to know that we matter to others; we want to be seen. We strive to achieve some special status in the eyes of others; how we are viewed by others matters to us.

Racism and prejudice helps to draw ideological lines of superiority and inferiority which reinforce the notion of "specialness". "Those folks over there are different and don't have what we have-they aren't special like us-they don't think, behave, react, socialize, and look like we do. That's what makes us better (normal)." Labeling a group of people inferior or abnormal makes us feel special, soothes our fussy inner child and calms our ego.

Religion gives us validation and a security blanket because it suggests that we are a chosen people, that we are special and blessed by God. And there are others who are not so special, not so blessed, and need to be subjugated because they are cursed and come from cursed ancestors like Ham.

It's no surprise that the Bible that helps people find spiritual salvation and redemption is the same book used to justify the peculiar institution of slavery. It reinforces the notion that chosen people are guardians of the cursed and the cursed do not have nor have they earned God's favor so they must experience hell on Earth to experience the joy of the Promised Land. Slavery or subjugation is their lot in life in the physical realm, but obedience and submission to the "natural" order will have its rewards in the spiritual realm they are told.

Religion can be a weapon or salve depending on how its used, especially when the majority maintains the illusion of specialness by preventing the oppressed from learning how to read the Bible.
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#11 User is offline   ggwhiz 

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Posted 2017-September-09, 09:54

View PostRedSpawn, on 2017-September-09, 07:51, said:

Also, I think racism evolves from the human need to feel special. We want to know that we matter to others; we want to be seen. We strive to achieve some special status in the eyes of others; how we are viewed by others matters to us.


This made me think of the myth of American Exceptionalism which is largely based on the achievements of immigrants like Steve Jobs but embraced by Nascar enthusiasts etc. to justify a status that most of the rest of us just ain't buying.
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#12 User is offline   RedSpawn 

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Posted 2017-September-09, 10:19

View Postggwhiz, on 2017-September-09, 09:54, said:

This made me think of the myth of American Exceptionalism which is largely based on the achievements of immigrants like Steve Jobs but embraced by Nascar enthusiasts etc. to justify a status that most of the rest of us just ain't buying.

Agreed. It has the same ideological roots of "specialness".
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#13 User is online   kenberg 

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Posted 2017-September-09, 13:19

View Postggwhiz, on 2017-September-09, 09:54, said:

This made me think of the myth of American Exceptionalism which is largely based on the achievements of immigrants like Steve Jobs but embraced by Nascar enthusiasts etc. to justify a status that most of the rest of us just ain't buying.


Growing up in the middle of the last century I never heard the phrase American Exceptionalism. I have no idea how it got started.

I have probably told this before but long ago I was coming back from the playground with my younger, age 4 or so, daughter and a neighbor woman with her daughter told me how lucky I was to have a normal daughter. Her daughter was exceptional, way advanced for her age. Nobody else had ever noticed this exceptionalism and I thought it a terrible burden to place on the daughter. I simply agreed that I was very lucky and we headed on home.

Claiming exceptionalism needlessly asks for trouble and invites a put down. I could claim I am exceptional, it's true in that there is nobody else exactly like me, but then that is true of everyone. A person or a country that is truly exceptional does not have to claim to be, people will notice.

Anyway, the sooner that phrase is retired the better it will be for everyone.

The butterflies are exceptional.
Ken
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#14 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2017-September-09, 15:17

View Postkenberg, on 2017-September-09, 13:19, said:

Growing up in the middle of the last century I never heard the phrase American Exceptionalism. I have no idea how it got started.

I have probably told this before but long ago I was coming back from the playground with my younger, age 4 or so, daughter and a neighbor woman with her daughter told me how lucky I was to have a normal daughter. Her daughter was exceptional, way advanced for her age. Nobody else had ever noticed this exceptionalism and I thought it a terrible burden to place on the daughter. I simply agreed that I was very lucky and we headed on home.

Claiming exceptionalism needlessly asks for trouble and invites a put down. I could claim I am exceptional, it's true in that there is nobody else exactly like me, but then that is true of everyone. A person or a country that is truly exceptional does not have to claim to be, people will notice.

Anyway, the sooner that phrase is retired the better it will be for everyone.

The butterflies are exceptional.


And free.
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#15 User is offline   PassedOut 

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Posted 2017-September-09, 15:58

View Postkenberg, on 2017-September-09, 13:19, said:

A person or a country that is truly exceptional does not have to claim to be, people will notice.

Reminds me of something my dad drilled into us kids: A champion does not need to brag.

Maybe that's one of the reasons that Trump has always struck me as a ridiculous figure.
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#16 User is online   kenberg 

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Posted 2017-September-09, 19:59

View PostPassedOut, on 2017-September-09, 15:58, said:

Reminds me of something my dad drilled into us kids: A champion does not need to brag.

Maybe that's one of the reasons that Trump has always struck me as a ridiculous figure.


For me, and probably for you also, there are many reasons, but most certainly that is one of them.
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#17 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2017-September-09, 23:03

View PostRedSpawn, on 2017-September-09, 07:51, said:

Also, I think racism evolves from the human need to feel special. We want to know that we matter to others; we want to be seen. We strive to achieve some special status in the eyes of others; how we are viewed by others matters to us.

I'm not so sure that there's a need to feel "special". I think it comes from our social nature and tribalism -- there's always been a need to distinguish "us" from "them"; we share and cooperate with us (our family, our tribe, our country), while we against and go to war against them because we need to protect our stuff. It extends into other cultural areas -- this is why you sometimes see violent confrontations between fans of different sports teams.

It's not even a particularly human trait -- all animals that live in social groups do this. The point of being in a group is that you all provide protection for each other, and who do you think they're protecting against?

Our psychology tends to turn this into a feeling of superiority -- we justify violence against "them" because they're not as good as "us".

#18 User is offline   helene_t 

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Posted 2017-September-10, 04:17

View Postbarmar, on 2017-September-07, 09:12, said:

And Africans have some facial features (like the broad nose and thick lips) that resemble apes, which reinforced this conclusion.

Huh? Most non-human primates resemble white people (thin lips, lots of body hair). In the geography books my parents read, monkeys were shown as caricatures of black people, but I think my parents thought it was the other way round.

Anyway, IMO it is not a good idea to use the argument "racism is not natural, therefore it is bad". As a child I was taught that genocide is not natural and therefore it is bad. Later I found out that actually genocide is a very natural thing. Should that then lead me to think that apparently genocide is ok? No, because the argument was bogus to begin with. Philosophy lesson 1: You can't derive a normative conclusion from a positive premise.

So racism is bad because it is immoral. And it doesn't matter what science has to say about it.
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#19 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2017-September-11, 09:15

View Posthelene_t, on 2017-September-10, 04:17, said:

So racism is bad because it is immoral. And it doesn't matter what science has to say about it.

I'm not trying to defend racism, just explain how it arose from some very natural tendencies. Just like the geocentric view of the universe -- we can't feel the earth moving, but we see stuff moving in the sky, so it was natural of early humans to assume that the earth was stationary and everything revolves around it. This may have reinforced our notion of specialness, but it hardly came from it (and in fact, they also believed in more powerful gods that were causing all this).

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Posted 2017-September-11, 09:46

View Postbarmar, on 2017-September-09, 23:03, said:

I'm not so sure that there's a need to feel "special". I think it comes from our social nature and tribalism

I think it is pretty much accepted that racism is an extension of tribalism. The boundaries have changed over the years but the fundamental thought process is fairly well integrated into human society.
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