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The Fallacy of Racial Bias The lessons of biology

#21 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2017-September-11, 10:15

I posted this part of this quote on another thread but I think it is worth repeating. From John Grisham's A Time To Kill:

Quote

Carl Lee Hailey: Well, you are white and I'm black. See Jake, you think just like them, that's why I picked you; you are one of them , don't you see?. Oh, you think you ain't because you eat in Claude's and you are out there trying to get me off on TV talking about black and white, but the fact is you are just like all the rest of them. When you look at me, you don't see a man, you see a black man.


Perhaps I am naive, but I think it possible by the exercise of our cognizance to overcome tribalism's effects. Instead of seeing a black man, I am convinced it possible to see a man who happens to have black skin, nothing more.
If something cannot go on forever, it will stop. - Herb Stein
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#22 User is offline   Zelandakh 

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Posted 2017-September-11, 11:19

View PostWinstonm, on 2017-September-11, 10:15, said:

Perhaps I am naive, but I think it possible by the exercise of our cognizance to overcome tribalism's effects. Instead of seeing a black man, I am convinced it possible to see a man who happens to have black skin, nothing more.

I think it is more about changing people's perceptions about what constitutes "their tribe" than of the mechanism itself. This is something that has constantly evolved over the ages and will continue to do so long after we are gone. This is one reason why racism tends not to be seen in very young children but starts coming in after a while. For the young ones their entire social group is in this context their tribe, whereas older children start to sub-divide based on experiences and cues from their parents and peers. If the division is along race lines then this can end up leading to racism; if purely on natural socio-economic lines or even just Americans versus non-Americans, then racism will gradually diminish (and similarly for other countries).
(-: Zel :-)
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#23 User is offline   helene_t 

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Posted 2017-September-11, 12:11

View Postbarmar, on 2017-September-11, 09:15, said:

I'm not trying to defend racism, just explain how it arose from some very natural tendencies.

Oh yes I agree with that. Just the minor objection that I don't think thick lips makes anyone look more monkey-like although I suppose it may depend on the species of monkey.
You might speculate on the psychopathology of some posters but hating them seems excessive --- Nige1
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#24 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2017-September-11, 14:45

View PostWinstonm, on 2017-September-11, 10:15, said:

Perhaps I am naive, but I think it possible by the exercise of our cognizance to overcome tribalism's effects. Instead of seeing a black man, I am convinced it possible to see a man who happens to have black skin, nothing more.

Maybe possible, but difficult. Until you know someone personally, all you have to go on are superficial features. And we are genetically primed to draw conclusions based on first impressions: quick, intuitive "friend or foe" decisions were necessary for survival.

And it's not just in our prehistory that this was necessary. The MIT campus is located just a few blocks from low-income housing projects in Cambridge. Even if you ignore race, residents of the projects are more likely to be in gangs or commit violent crimes. If you're walking at night in the neighborhood between them, and you notice someone following you, you need to decide whether to ignore them or try to get away for your own safety. Knowing that most of the residents of the projects are black, it's natural to be more worried if the follower is black, while assuming that a white kid is more likely to be another MIT student. It may be racist, but it's also based on solid statistics about crime in that neighborhood.

I've been threatened with a gun once in my life. I was watching a movie by myself, and some young people were talking back to the screen, and I complained to an usher about the disruption they were causing. After the movie, they confronted me in the parking lot, and one of them showed a gun; luckily, a security guard saw this and came to my rescue. This theatre was also located right near another housing project, and the race of the young people was stereotypical of the residents there. They also perpetuated a stereotype in their talking during the movie.

I don't think I fear black people in general, but I don't think it's completely racist to be aware that in certain places there's a high correlation between race and income level, and there's a similar relationship between income and violent crime. Black people aren't naturally inclined to violence, but black people are disproportionately poor, and hence more likely to turn to crime. If we could solve the poverty problem, it would extend to solving the violence problem. But as long as social and economic policies make income mobility difficult, we have a feedback loop that racists can jump on to justify their views ("look at all the black-on-black violence, they're obviously a violent race").

It's possible to be too politically correct to avoid racism. If you know that radical Islamic groups like ISIS and al Qaeda are planning attacks, and that their members are primarily of Middle Eastern descent, is it really so wrong for TSA to give a little extra scrutiny to people who look Middle Eastern? There are a limited number of screeners, so it's just good resource utilization to concentrate them where the danger is more likely. This isn't the same as automatically assuming browns are bad and whites are good -- it might amount to extra screening of 30% of browns versus 20% of whites (both random). Political correctness could mean that they're just as likely to pat down an 8 year old white child as a 30 year old man wearing a turban. Yes, the 8-year-old could have had a bomb planted on him by his parents, but statistically, which is the more likely threat? Political correctness sometimes trumps logic.

But maybe that's OK. We have ideals about freedom, tolerance, and diversity in our country, and perhaps promoting civil liberties over a little increase in safety is a way of saying that we consider these ideals paramount.

#25 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2017-September-11, 14:57

View Posthelene_t, on 2017-September-11, 12:11, said:

Oh yes I agree with that. Just the minor objection that I don't think thick lips makes anyone look more monkey-like although I suppose it may depend on the species of monkey.

You're right, I just looked some images of chimpanzee faces, and their lips aren't particularly thick. I was conflating them with the big snouts around the lips, which humans of any race don't have.

But their nostrils are flatter, similar to African-Americans. I doubt this is due to any genetic closeness, but simply due to geographical adaptation. From http://thechart.blog...fferent-shapes/

Quote

The various shapes of noses appear to be tied to adaptations to climate, Holton said. The nose must properly heat and humidify the air that you breathe. In a cold climate, it's advantageous to have a narrower nose. That's so that when a person inhales, more air comes into contact with the mucosal surface of nose, which provides moisture. The narrow nose maximizes the surface area.

So apes have flat noses for the same reason that African humans do: they live in a warm climate, so don't need long, thin noses to heat and humidify the air.

BTW, I said apes, not monkeys.

#26 User is offline   yunling 

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Posted 2017-September-11, 19:59

View PostWinstonm, on 2017-September-08, 08:11, said:

Then why are you questioning me? ;)


I‘ll be appreciated if you give a little more respect to their own culture.
I can say that canis lupus arctos are all equal to me, but it does not matter at all.
Canis lupus arctos with darker hair are discriminated among themselves. If I'm commenting on canis lupus arctos I'll try to state the fact instead of introducing my own cultural bias.

e.g.People are not concerned with the racial segregation in Malaysia not because there is no/little dicrimination but because Islamic culture is more acceptable to them.
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#27 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2017-September-11, 20:46

View Postyunling, on 2017-September-11, 19:59, said:

I‘ll be appreciated if you give a little more respect to their own culture.
I can say that canis lupus arctos are all equal to me, but it does not matter at all.
Canis lupus arctos with darker hair are discriminated among themselves. If I'm commenting on canis lupus arctos I'll try to state the fact instead of introducing my own cultural bias.

e.g.People are not concerned with the racial segregation in Malaysia not because there is no/little dicrimination but because Islamic culture is more acceptable to them.


My point exactly. Cultures vary; humans are the same, regardless of skin color.
If something cannot go on forever, it will stop. - Herb Stein
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#28 User is offline   johnu 

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Posted 2017-September-12, 02:13

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

Butterflies are not social animals so don't see how it's relevant.


Hmmm, someone should tell that to the monarch butterflies who have a mass migration to Mexico.
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#29 User is offline   cloa513 

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Posted 2017-September-12, 03:13

View PostWinstonm, on 2017-September-06, 12:28, said:

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?

What careful measurements do you do to see that there really isn't any difference between them. I suspect none.
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#30 User is offline   Zelandakh 

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Posted 2017-September-12, 06:13

View Postcloa513, on 2017-September-12, 03:13, said:

What careful measurements do you do to see that there really isn't any difference between them. I suspect none.

In the case of Araschnia levana, the difference is purely down to the time of year when it was born. The upper form comes from the Spring brood and the lower (prorsa) form is the Summer brood. You can see something similar in animals that change their appearance during the year on a seasonal basis such as with black-headed gulls and arctic hares.

There is on the other hand also some basis for thinking that animals themselves select based purely on appearance. An example of this comes from the crow family. For many years hooded crows and carrion crows were considered the same species but have now been split due to detailed observations showing that their hybridisation is low. It does mean that the crows appear to be choosing sexual partners purely on the basis of appearance though, known as assortative mating. And the same process applies also to humans of course. So you do need to be careful when invoking the natural world to support a case. Nature has many contradictory examples and what happens there is often not what we would regard as positive and healthy for human society.
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#31 User is offline   Al_U_Card 

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Posted 2017-September-12, 06:18

View Postcloa513, on 2017-September-12, 03:13, said:

What careful measurements do you do to see that there really isn't any difference between them. I suspect none.

Is there inter-species breeding? Seems to me that most animals and insects stay within strict "group recognition" guidelines. Selfish genes perhaps? I suppose that mules coming from horses and donkeys is an issue but only because it has to do with man-made obligations.

At present, the typical human face would tend to be oriental, based on numbers. Pure-bred animals are subject to lots of congenital diseases (plants as well, I gather) so hybridization and genetic diversity is a good thing. I know that it has made my grand-kids very cute indeed. :)
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#32 User is offline   Zelandakh 

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Posted 2017-September-12, 07:00

If we were ever to reach a society where skin colour is completely ignored, I suppose this would be the logical next step. To think that such "-isms" are ever going to go away completely rather flies in the face of all evidence over the entire history of mankind.
(-: Zel :-)
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#33 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2017-September-12, 07:50

View PostZelandakh, on 2017-September-12, 06:13, said:

In the case of Araschnia levana, the difference is purely down to the time of year when it was born. The upper form comes from the Spring brood and the lower (prorsa) form is the Summer brood. You can see something similar in animals that change their appearance during the year on a seasonal basis such as with black-headed gulls and arctic hares.

There is on the other hand also some basis for thinking that animals themselves select based purely on appearance. An example of this comes from the crow family. For many years hooded crows and carrion crows were considered the same species but have now been split due to detailed observations showing that their hybridisation is low. It does mean that the crows appear to be choosing sexual partners purely on the basis of appearance though, known as assortative mating. And the same process applies also to humans of course. So you do need to be careful when invoking the natural world to support a case. Nature has many contradictory examples and what happens there is often not what we would regard as positive and healthy for human society.


The perfect analogy is as hard to find as an arctic hare wearing an Elvis wig in a flock of black-headed seagulls. :blink:

I wouldn't get caught up in minutiae - it is enough to consider the differences between immediately thinking "black man" compared to "man, who has dark skin" and how to get to the latter.
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#34 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2017-September-12, 07:55

View PostZelandakh, on 2017-September-12, 07:00, said:

If we were ever to reach a society where skin colour is completely ignored, I suppose this would be the logical next step. To think that such "-isms" are ever going to go away completely rather flies in the face of all evidence over the entire history of mankind.


This would probably lead to your 19th nervous breakdown. :P
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#35 User is offline   barmar 

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Posted 2017-September-12, 11:06

View PostAl_U_Card, on 2017-September-12, 06:18, said:

Is there inter-species breeding? Seems to me that most animals and insects stay within strict "group recognition" guidelines.

The usual definition of a species is a population of organisms that can and do breed with each other and produce fertile offspring. So if you get inter-species breeding, they weren't actually different species to begin with.

Note the importance of "can and do". Sometimes there will be groups that are genetically compatible, but for various reasons refuse avoid breeding with each other. This can happen if environmental factors separate the populations long enough for them to evolve enough superficial differences that they no longer recognize each other as being the same or desirable.

But it's not a perfect definition. Homo sapiens is considered a separate species from Homo neanderthalis, but we've found some Neanderthal genes in our species so we know there was a small amount of interbreeding. But it's a small enough trace that we don't think it was common enough to consider them the same species.

Kind of like races, except that even though race mixing has often been considered taboo, it has also been common enough that we haven't split into separate species.

#36 User is offline   Cyberyeti 

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Posted 2017-September-18, 14:32

View Postbarmar, on 2017-September-12, 11:06, said:

The usual definition of a species is a population of organisms that can and do breed with each other and produce fertile offspring. So if you get inter-species breeding, they weren't actually different species to begin with.

Note the importance of "can and do". Sometimes there will be groups that are genetically compatible, but for various reasons refuse avoid breeding with each other. This can happen if environmental factors separate the populations long enough for them to evolve enough superficial differences that they no longer recognize each other as being the same or desirable.

But it's not a perfect definition. Homo sapiens is considered a separate species from Homo neanderthalis, but we've found some Neanderthal genes in our species so we know there was a small amount of interbreeding. But it's a small enough trace that we don't think it was common enough to consider them the same species.

Kind of like races, except that even though race mixing has often been considered taboo, it has also been common enough that we haven't split into separate species.


Among snakes production of fertile offspring from clearly different species (indeed different families) can happen, pantherophis ratsnakes to lampropeltis kingsnakes for example with offspring fertile to either parent species or each other.
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#37 User is offline   Zelandakh 

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Posted 2017-September-18, 23:32

View PostCyberyeti, on 2017-September-18, 14:32, said:

Among snakes production of fertile offspring from clearly different species (indeed different families) can happen, pantherophis ratsnakes to lampropeltis kingsnakes for example with offspring fertile to either parent species or each other.

It can and does happen in the crows I mentioned too. Barry even wrote about this in his post referring to Neanderthal - the frequency of inter-breeding is relevant here when it comes to defining them as different species or not. The ability to have fertile offspring alone is not enough to consider 2 animals to be the same species.
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#38 User is offline   kenberg 

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Posted 2017-September-20, 08:07

https://www.washingt...m=.d8c50993f7ae


The above article might or might not be relevant, I can't really say since the whole linkage of butterflies to racism escapes me. But I like butterflies.
Ken
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#39 User is offline   Cyberyeti 

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Posted 2017-September-20, 08:14

View PostZelandakh, on 2017-September-18, 23:32, said:

It can and does happen in the crows I mentioned too. Barry even wrote about this in his post referring to Neanderthal - the frequency of inter-breeding is relevant here when it comes to defining them as different species or not. The ability to have fertile offspring alone is not enough to consider 2 animals to be the same species.


There are areas of Spain where vipera aspis and vipera latastei regularly mate and the offspring are fertile.
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#40 User is offline   USViking 

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Posted Yesterday, 22:55

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.

Although immigrants have certainly contributed much to the US Steve Jobs was not one; it was his father who was an immigrant, from Syria.
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