Posts Tagged ‘ethnicity’

European Genetics Reveal The Differences Between European Ethnic Groups

Saturday, October 21st, 2017

If you listen to the egalitarian narrative, you will believe that we are all the same and the only difference between us is that some groups were oppressed and others were not. The only possible reason for this, we are led to believe, is that some groups are mean and others are nice, so the former oppressed the latter.

This nonsense lasted for centuries and when it finally failed as the presidency of Barack Obama and the chancellorship of Andrea Merkel failed in unison, the backlash was intense: all of us of one race are supposed to join up together, fight off the others, and live in some kind of Utopia.

This is merely a restatement of the egalitarian narrative that controls for race, but it does not address ethnicity, or the ethnic groups within those races, including hybrids.

The above map expands upon traditional knowledge and a body of genetic knowledge which shows us that the different European ethnic groups are both highly distinctive, and less separated when placed in clusters like Northern/Western, Eastern and Southern/Irish Europeans.

Here is another map, from GNXP in 2008:

Even more, notice how this corresponds to a European tribal map which shows the national identity of each regional entity:

It is not PC to notice this, nor is it “far-Right friendly” for most values of far-Right, but Europe is divided into many ethnic groups, although similar groups may cluster.

For this reason, “white nationalism” will never work, because we are not only divided into different ethnic groups, but are divided by caste, and people see no reason to engage in ethno-Bolshevism to make us all equal-within-a-race.

In the meantime, the mainstream press is reworking Lewontin’s Fallacy in order to deny the existence of race and presumably, ethnicity. To follow their narrative, they are always trying to deny race:

The researchers pinpointed eight genetic variants in four narrow regions of the human genome that strongly influence pigmentation — some making skin darker, and others making it lighter.

…The widespread distribution of these genes and their persistence over millenniums show that the old color lines are essentially meaningless, the scientists said. The research “dispels a biological concept of race,” Dr. Tishkoff said.

…A variant for light skin — found in both Europeans and the San hunter-gatherers of Botswana — arose roughly 900,000 years ago, for example.

However, unfortunately for them, race is not skin color; it involves clusters of traits which are coded for by multiple genes each. As a result, race consists of a genetic profile, as opposed to a single gene, as is argued in Lewontin’s Fallacy:

This conclusion, due to R.C. Lewontin in 1972, is unwarranted because the argument ignores the fact that most of the information that distinguishes populations is hidden in the correlation structure of the data and not simply in the variation of the individual factors.

Lewontin’s Fallacy argues that if race is not coded by a single gene, it does not exist. This constitutes a strawman, since the common sense definition of race is that different groups have different traits, which are measured as spectra based on an ideal that consists of a cluster of traits, rather than a single trait.

The same is true of ethnicity. We can say that we are all European, White, Caucasian, or otherwise similarly related, but the fact that we have identifiably different networks of traits means that race subdivides, and we have to look at ethnicity as well. This is complicated by the fact that the word “race” is used to refer to both root race (African, Asian, Caucasian, Australid) and ethnic group.

The new argument, advanced by The New York Times, is that because there are multiple genes for skin color, there is not a single gene for race, therefore — the “magic therefore” — race does not exist.

In actuality, race and ethnicity are terms that humans use to describe clusters of traits. The clusters exist, no matter how much we play around with the symbols we use for them. We can see continuity in ethnic groups that cross time, space and nation-state identity. For example, ancient Greeks and Romans, much like the Tarim basin mummies, resemble today’s Western Europeans.

In modern Europe, we can see how not just race is important, but also ethnicity, because ethnic groups are not just divisions of a race, but also hybrids between races and cases of trace admixture:

The proof of this is that we can observe Europeans and discern different tribes because they have different collections of traits that go with each. While this is taboo for now, it means in the long term that people will organize themselves around not just race but ethnic group, looking for genetic commonality instead of hoping that ideology and profit motive unite us.

Class Warfare Is The Basis of Leftist Denial of Race

Friday, August 4th, 2017

People on the Alt Right are comfortable talking about human differences between races, but not so much about differences between ethnic groups or social castes. The latter issue rears its head again in why the Mediterranean Diet works only for the wealthy and educated:

Participants with post-secondary education saw a 57% decrease in cardiovascular risk after following the diet, and those earning more than €40,000 (about $47,000) a year saw a 61% decrease. Those of lower socioeconomic status saw no benefits.

…The foods eaten by subjects of this study varied widely depending on their socioeconomic status. The more educated the participants, the more likely they were to report eating a broader variety of vegetables, plus more whole grains and organic vegetables. More educated participants had daily diets that contained higher proportions of monounsaturated fats like those found in olive oil and nutrients like calcium, vitamin D, and fiber. Meanwhile, higher-income study subjects ate more whole grain breads, fruits, nuts, and fish, and fewer meat products than subjects with lower incomes.

Those who are wealthy and educated are, on the whole, more intelligent than those who are not.

Higher intelligence correlates with longer lifespan and higher educational potential.

Most people exist in a simple world where if you take a peasant, “educate” him and give him an office job, he is suddenly equivalent to one of these people. He is not; he is still a peasant, albeit one with some skills. This means that he will find himself out of his depth on a regular basis, and make bad decisions because he is not competent at the level of critical thinking and analysis, which are higher IQ skills, nor is he morally oriented toward leadership, a trait which seems correlated with some in the higher IQ registers.

But as even dietary differences show, there is more to it than that. Those with higher intelligence know different things, and are generally healthier as a result. They can discern what they should do, and can interpret simple instructions such as the Mediterranean Diet in more accurate ways, much as they are better with law, philosophy, literature and art.

For a humorous take on this, consider the words of the hard rock band Upper Crust:

PSF: You mentioned previously that a lot of your influences happen to be working class rock and rollers like AC/DC. How do you reconcile that with your aristocratic bearings?

LB: Well, we’ve always said that rock and roll is just like anything else — it’s something that’s better done by the upper classes, as is almost every other enterprise of human endeavor.

That definitely applies to the Mediterranean Diet, and education at least.

Where this gets complicated is that caste has multiple layers. Looking at the IQ distribution charts that make up the basis of the book The Bell Curve, we can see that roughly 13% of our population is above 120 IQ points, which educators who are honest about this issue consider the minimum for a college education.

Among those, less than one percent are above 130 points, which is where people stop trying to earn money and start trying to change history through the battle of ideas. All of our great works of art and philosophy, and most of our innovations, come from people in this group. When these are also of high moral caliber, they provide our best leaders.

Those who have high moral caliber and high intelligence, as opposed to what we might call “medium-high” or “middlebrow” intelligence, are those who naturally should rule a society because they are more competent.

Even in that bastion of class warfare, Britain, recognition sneaks out that these people are genetically gifted to rule:

A survey published in this month’s Economic Journal proves the point perfectly. Two economists, Professor Gregory Clark and Dr Neil Cummins, have studied 634 upper-middle-class surnames – including Bazalgette, Bigge, Nottidge and Pepys – from 1850 until today. Their findings show how extremely sticky wealth is. Five generations apart, the descendants of the rich of 1850 remain rich today. They are more likely than others to live longer, attend Oxbridge, have nice houses and become professionals.

Naturally, this offends the middlebrow, who tend to be of the Vaisya caste and thus talented with mercantile concerns, but essentially morally oblivious and not capable of seeing through the long-term consequences of their actions. This is why every society dies the same way: the middlebrow merchants, who are accustomed to manipulating people and understand their hidden desires, unite with the proles to overthrow the upper castes.

As we see with every revolution, including the French and Russian revolutions, this initiates a cycle called the Napoleonic arc where the greater incompetence of the middlebrow and prole army leads to a less prosperous civilization, and then the only way to unite the failing nation-state is by perpetual warfare, which means ideological warfare to spread the People’s Revolution elsewhere. Naturally this too ends in disaster, and the states tend to collapse much like post-Revolutionary French government or the Soviet Union.

Ironically, the American Revolution succeeded because it overthrew a king, but not the natural upper-middle-class (high Kshatriya or low Brahmin) aristocracy in America. That was overthrown during the Civil War, when the industrial and as a result, prole-heavy, North invaded the agrarian South in order to plunder its riches and assert the lower-caste Northern “elites” as rulers instead of the natural elites of the South.

They used race as a justification in that war; to the North, the war was hyped for a Gulf of Tonkin type pretext based in the injustice of slavery. To the South, where slaves were prized and often loved, slavery was the natural extension of European feudalism, which since it had been made illegal and replaced with legal systems, could only live on through chattel slavery. In this case, the serfs were black because they could endure the heat of the fields where people whose ancestors came from near the Arctic Circle could not.

Caste relates to race because to the Left they are the same issue. The Left has one and only one idea, “equality,” and they seek places to demonstrate it. This means overthrowing upper castes, or racial or ethnic groups whose higher IQs make them de facto upper castes in a mixed-race or mixed-ethnic society. To the Left, miscegenation and diversity are weapons for overthrowing that upper caste.

Right-wing movements succeed when they emphasize putting society into order so that people are more prosperous, which includes having the invisible leadership of a caste hierarchy, such that the wealth and power belong to the most competent, instead of the actors, celebrities, athletes, politicians, scam artists, merchants and poseurs we have handed it to now, who are neither morally nor intellectually competent to wield it.

On the other hand, the Right fails when it accepts the Leftist proposition that caste is not important and must be inverted, with the lower in power and the naturally higher subjugated, which is the eternally emergent argument from the idea of “equality.” If the Alt Right wants to succeed, it will have to talk about caste and “huwhite” ethnic hierarchy as well as race.

Ethnic Genetic Interests And Group Selection

Wednesday, June 7th, 2017

Scientists have their method reversed: they look at details, and then draw conclusions about the whole, forgetting that a detail serving to represent the whole has only partial truth value and is inherently misleading.

One of the conclusions drawn by scientists is that, because the genes that prevail through natural selection are the ones that reproduce themselves, there is no such thing as “ethnic genetic interests.”

If they were a bit more attentive, they would notice that genetic information contradicts this view entirely, because we can see how European groups pursued homogeneous breeding practices through the ages.

The paradox of group genetic interests and group selection is that, if natural selection picks traits that survive, why do people choose to breed within their tribe rather than without? The safe liberal conclusion is that they only did so because they were geographically isolated, but history shows us that this is not even true, since tribes contacted each other all the time.

A more sensible view is that people choose others like them for the health of the offspring and from the knowledge that, if people who share more of their DNA survive, they are closer to reproductive success than if they invest their DNA into people who do not have any of the common substructure that makes a group similar to one another.

Not Politically Correct serves up a version of the group genetic interest theory that makes sense of this paradox:

How, for example, can I be 50% identical to my father if I’m 99.8% identical to all living humans? The answer is that I am not 50% identical to my father; rather, I am 50% identical to my father by comparison to the baseline level of relatedness of all living humans. If all living humans are 99.8% genetically identical then I’m 99.9% identical to my father. Jayman’s argument that two random co-ethnics aren’t related fails to factor this into account: a calculation of relation needs a baseline level of relatedness for comparison. So he’s correct in stating that two co-ethnics are not similar to one another- but only by comparison to the baseline level of relatedness of their entire population.

Since the ethnic kinship coefficient has been worked out to the equivalent of half siblings, it may be useful to frame the issue in those terms. If I am 25% identical to my half sibling by comparison to any other co-ethnic, it is because there is a quarter of my genome that I share with my half sibling due to our common descent. Specifically, our mutual descent from our mutual parent gives us a specific combination of genes that nobody else is likely to have. 25% of my genome is 100% identical to his alleles of the same genes and the other 75% is as similar to his as it is to any other co-ethnic, but taken as an average across my entire genome, any given allele is 25% more likely to be shared with him than it is everyone else in our race.

The ethnic kinship coefficient works in an uncannily similar way. Instead of inheriting those 25% identical genes from recent common ancestors, the two co-ethnics inherit the same genes due to the fact that people of their race usually have those genes (think melanin, keratin, microcephalin, EDAR, HERC2, or any other gene for which the frequency of alleles differs overpopulation).

All animals act in self-interest. People, as a type of animal, do the same. Human groups also do the same, and they identify themselves by the metric of “more similar than different.” This means that they share traits and pass them on together, which is why people choose to breed within a group if they are healthy and confident.

Because of this shared genetic heritage, your neighbors pass on your genes as well as their own. This allows the group to choose isolation, as advanced societies did over the ages, and then focus on selective breeding for the best of those traits. Smart observers will notice that this mirrors the conservative formula of realism plus transcendentalism, or a desire to improve quality in the way that nature does.

In addition, there is another factor. Social capital consists of all of the knowledge passed along by family, friends and society to the youngsters of the next generation. For this to work, the new generation must be roughly similar to the old and with the same inclinations, or the social capital will be incomprehensible or seem irrelevant to them.

Natural selection does not reward the person who wins the fistfight. It rewards the traits that are found in the individuals that reproduce the most. In groups, this means that shared traits are the ones that won out, and therefore, the traits that will continue to propagate.

Denial of ethnic group interest and group selection are motivated by a fundamentally egalitarian desire, which is to insist that all people are compatible and that race is an accident of history. Common sense, logic, history itself and the genetic data show that this is an illusory theory.

A Cascade Theory Of Identity

Saturday, February 11th, 2017

Nationalism has become confused because we live in an anti-nationalist age. With the advent of equality, any constraints on the individual — culture, race, heritage, ethnic group, religion, values, family — were rejected in favor of the ideology of equality.

But, as we try to rediscover the methods that work in any age, including nationalism, we must rediscover what it means to be of a tribe. This leads to confusion: is our tribe our national group, or European-descended peoples generally, or “whites”?

The answer is simple. We are many identities, and the one we use depends on how close the question at hand is to our heart. That is, we will be part of many groups at once, but those which are smallest or most specific will be the ones we go to in times of confusion.

Dr. Tomislav Sunic writes about ethnic confusion:

In this sense American nationalists, such as they are in their current historical and social context, deserve credit for attributing a lesser role, to say their German, Irish, or Italian heritage, and focus instead more intensely on the imperative to protect and preserve this common bio-cultural heritage. European small-time nationalisms, with a flurry of national identities of sorts, inherited from the 20th century, must no longer play a crucial role in our new identity building process.

…As witnessed in the artificial state of Yugoslavia, despite all the former academic paeans about the alleged romantic diversity of its former constituent peoples, this composite state made up of different peoples and religions ended in chaos and brutal civil war.

Here we see a duality: (1) national/tribal identity should surrender to racial identity, and (2) artificial states do not work. Another take might argue that the latter applies to the former, and as a result, we cannot create a binary decision tree regarding nationalism. Instead, we must accept that both are true.

Race alone is not enough to form unity; ethnic groups can fight for themselves, and fight for Europe, and in fact natively do this when not interrupted by democracy. This is why it makes sense to see a “cascading” identity, such that one can be first of a local group, next of an ethnic group, then of a type of European, then European, then white, then human and so on…

For example, someone from Southern France is first of his locality or tribe, then of his region, then of the ethnicity “French” which is also the nation, then of the Southern European meta-tribe, then finally of European heritage and more broadly, “white” or Caucasian, as the linguistic demands of the situation demand.

We cannot ask people to sacrifice any part of their identity, nor does it make sense to merge different groups instead the same identity. Work together without become a grey (but white!) mass.

Nativists Were Right All Along

Friday, November 4th, 2016


Over at VDARE, a reader writes in with a critique of anti-nativist sentiments by Cardinal [[[ Dolan ]]] and Archbishop [[[ Cupich ]]]:

Having been trained as an historian I find allegations of “nativism” lacking in depth and accuracy. Ignored, in what can only be termed “vincible ignorance,” are the disastrous consequences of large-scale 19th Century immigration.

Overcrowded, disease infested, crime ridden slums, pressure on municipal water and sewer systems, corrupt machine politics, exploitation of immigrants by their own kind, were all products of cities overwhelmed by immigration. Are we to tolerate those conditions once again?

Dolan, whose roots are in Ireland, and Cupich, whose are in Yugoslavia, have good reason to oppose Nativism: those of us who are Nativists would send them back to their ethnic homelands. Nativism is the belief that a country should be populated only by those who are ethnically and culturally members of its founding group.

In the case of the USA, the founding group is Western Europeans: English, Dutch, German, Scots and Scandinavians. Those who came from other nations were of this heritage, even if their residence had been in places like, say, Ireland, because they owned property or served administrative roles there.

The quoted analysis misses the vital point that Nativists make: a society can only define standards when all of its members are heading in the same direction, which because genetics point to inclination, means of the same ethnic group. In addition, they must uphold that culture, or they are ethnic in name only, having become genetically broken or otherwise rejecting the behaviors of their heritage group.

This gets us past a discussion of whether the Irish (for example) are good or bad. They are what they are. The point is that mixing the Irish with any other group causes social breakdown. In addition to that, if any other group shows up, the resulting racial admixture will erase what the Irish are. This has happened before in history, and is why great empires tend to leave behind mixed-race groups that do not attain the potential of the original group.

Diversity does not work. This is not the fault of the groups involved. If you moved Chinese people into a high-performing African nation, and they do exist although only as parts of modern-day nation-states, the performance would vanish and be replaced by social chaos. The inverse is also true, or if you shipped the Irish to Africa.

1924’s National Origins Act reined in immigration with quotas favoring northern Europe from whence the majority population had come. It preserved the culture of the country and allowed immigrants to assimilate (before World War One started, many went back to the old country). Rising wages was one if its beneficial components.

As usual, democracy specializes in slamming the barn door extra hard after the horse reaches the neighboring county. The National Origins Act was a backlash against the feeling of creeping insecurity, loss of moral standards, and spiraling social disorder in the “diverse” communities of the day.

A Nativist would have sent the newcomers back home, repatriated Africans to Africa, and sent the Indians back to Siberia. Preservation of civilization requires this kind of Iron Law: no diversity, not even one drop. We can trade ideas with other cultures, and be friendly with them, as long as we all stay within our own borders.

The National Origins act was repealed in 1965 because Democrats were losing the white vote. Importing from failed third world cultures of the padrone and the peon was a ticket to permanent power: give aliens benefits and get votes. Encouraging illegal immigration is part and parcel of this movement, as President Obama’s present push to give aliens citizenship again proves.

In other words, the Left looked back in history and saw how well the Irish had served as voters for the Left during the early years. Why is this? Any immigrant group will be conscious of its origins as not of the founding group, and in order to act in self-interest, will seek to abolish the standards, values and culture of that founding group, eventually trying to abolish the group itself through outbreeding, or “silent genocide.” Only then will the non-majority group be free from competition with the values of the founding group.

And again, history repeats itself:

The Latin lobbies are not interested in assimilation but in taking over and pushing out the hated “Anglo” as La Raza (and the Mexican government) has made amply clear.

The letter writer, “Spirit of the Fighting 69th,” is correct in all that he asserts, but needs to go further. We can only exist here in America as a Western European nation both culturally and — in violation of the Leftist idea of equality — ethnically, or genetically. Race matters; in fact, it is the core of civilization.

Ethnic Origins of Beauty

Friday, November 4th, 2016


Russian photojournalist Natalia Ivanova has put together a project, Les origines de la beauté (the origins of beauty) which features pictures of different people around the world which are grouped by ethnicity, showing through similar photographs the detailed differences between ethnic groups.

While this project may not have political intent, it shows us the power of Nationalism: each group has its own standards, values and conception of beauty and excellence. These are not the same (“universal”) but instead vary with the environment and choices of each group. This in turn defeats the idea of an objective standard, and with it, the idea of diversity, which imposes an “objective” standard which denies each group the ability to have its own and so creates constant conflict.

The Uppity Negro

Thursday, September 15th, 2016


There is something hardwired in all of us that rages when we see a member of another Tribe acting defiant amongst us.

In this we find the origin of the Uppity Negro trope that afflicts the South: if someone is not of our Tribe, his duty is to act deferential and respectful, but if he starts acting jubilant and mocking us… then we know there is a problem.

The reason for this is as old as human evolution, and it has little to do with African-Americans, and everything to do with the fact of the Other. If someone is Other, and he is acting jaunty among us, it means we are conquered. Beaten. Unable to do anything. Cucked.

Much of the dark side of American history could have been avoided if this principle had been articulated. When among those of another tribe, behave respectfully. And yet, diversity did not allow this.

The fundamental principle of Nationalism is this: each Tribe acts in self-interest, and those self-interests are not compatible. Every group works toward its advantage, which is that it rises above others by pressing them down and raising itself up.

This knowledge is the origin of the Uppity Negro myth. Anyone from another Tribe who acts jubilant is celebrating a victory over the tribe around him. He has forced them to bow before him, and whether from their own neurosis or his military prowess, they are subservient to him.

This is why the presence of happy people from other Tribes drives people nuts. If a Hispanic man sees a celebratory African-American, his primal instinct calls for him to exterminate the Other. Same if an Oriental Asian sees an Arab or Indian. Or any combination thereof.

Diversity does not work at all. It interrupts power structures, and presents us with people who by their assertion of their own Tribal identity make us want to murder them, and every other tribe want to murder them and us. This is why violence erupts at random in diverse communities.

The solution, as always, is not so much “do this difficult thing” as “stop doing this insane thing.” But that is too much for the individualistic society because it denies the presence of anything above the individual — God, nature, Tribe, values, logic — and admitting the failure of diversity thus threatens the individual.

However, the fundamental fact does not change because we cannot articulate it. A happy member of another Tribe appears “uppity” to us, and we want to kill him, independent of his Tribe and who he is. It is simple evolutionary wiring.

In the past and present of humanity, each tribe has had a singular goal: break away. Only by removing itself from all Others and pursuing its own goals can it establish a standard to replace natural selection, and by so doing refine its population to be unified in characteristics. In other words, a sub-species.

When we think through all of this, it becomes clear that the Uppity Negro trope is not about African-Americans at all. It is about how diversity does not work, and how we need our own space, whatever our tribe. It is about the ability to pursue our destiny, which is better than freedom in any age.

Zombie attack

Friday, August 14th, 2015


The interesting thing about civilization decay is that societies die by succeeding. Like the city neurotic who quests for the perfect career, apartment, arugula and futon, those societies which do everything that they are supposed to promptly self-destruct.

The reason for this is the Achilles heel of humanity, which is that what we want is rarely what we need, but we are afraid in social situations to change our desires lest we be seen as inferior. Social competition means that people are always trying to prove superiority to others.

Essentially, this situation is no different than a troupe of monkeys. A few have fought to the top, and the rest try to sabotage those in order to feel important and receive esteem from their friends. Very few do much other than feed themselves, and so the ones on top are often there because they do stuff like notice predators in advance of a fatality. To an outsider, monkey civilization resembles a great beast fighting with itself.

The problem with such a system is that most people in it will be zombies. That is, they rely on external measurements like what other people do or what you are supposed to do as a means of figuring out what to do, and since they trust in that they never question it until it fails. Sadly for them, certain ideas will seem to succeed for a long time until suddenly they fail catastrophically. Many people drank toxic water for years, experiencing no symptoms until the toxins built up enough in their tissues to kill them without warning. The same is true of unstable architecture: it works just fine, until it falls down in a handful of seconds. A plane can have a crack in its fuselage or wing for years until it finally is put under stress and an explosion results. The worst threats in life are traps like these.

Zombies surround us. They repeat the dogma that their television says is right, and use it as an excuse to beat down people smarter than them. They do exactly what everyone else does, even if it is abundantly clear that it is stupid, and they will break and panic with the herd if anything goes wrong. It is not so much that they are stupid, although most of them are not very bright, but that they are inattentive and morally not alert. Like zombies, they stagger onward seeking sustenance that never will make them full, and so they are constantly on the march, pathologically so. This makes them both terrifying and tedious.

Let us witness some Christian zombies and analyze their moaning:

They city Michael Emerson’s conclusion in Divided by Faith that, far from being a solution to racial segregation, the American creed of individualism is part of the problem. They summarize the “fundamental creed of the United States of America” as the belief that “individuals are endowed with rights and freedoms and that there should be liberty and justice for all,” and add: “At least in its current interpretation, it simply declares that within limits, people should be free to do as they wish and not restrict other people from doing the same. Divided by Faith showed the ways and reasons that this creed has led to numerous religious affiliations in the United States, resulting in about 90 percent of worshipers attending racially homogeneous congregations. When religious people make choices based on their individual rights, they largely end up in homogeneous congregations” (4).

First a criticism, and then, with Niebuhr lurking in the background, two observations. The criticism: The authors make use of a questionable understanding of “race,” one with a specifically American origin (for background, see C. Loring Brace, “Race” Is A Four-Letter Word, valuable and detailed though not convincing in some of its central claims). If a congregation includes people of German, Polish, Irish, and English origin, it is an “inter-racial” church by some definitions. It certainly is inter-racial by comparison to 19th-century churches. Their book would have been strengthened if they had probed the meaning of the central concept of “race.”

First, anyone who puts race in scare quotes is an idiot. See the biological basis of race and The Race F.A.Q..

Second, individualism is the cause of wanting to obliterate ethnic boundaries. Ethnic groups arose, by nature or God or both, for a reason. But this seems to be a boundary or limit on the individual and he wants to “break free,” so he smashes his way out by declaring race invalid and race-mixing to be a positive value, not a sign of failure as all sane people consider it.

Third, someone might want to point out the difference between ethnicity — German, Polish, Irish, and English — and race, with the knowledge that multiple groupings exist within a race. For example, Germans and English are enclosed in the Western European group, which is what we traditionally think of as “white.” Polish people are often hybridized with Asiatics, and Irish are hybrids with North Africans. Race is more complex than a single level of division, but all levels are important.

Finally, if the author of this article were honest, he would admit that the reason churches are mono-ethnic for the most part is that “birds of a feather flock together.” People like being with people like them who understand the world the way they do and share their values. There is no crime in that. Only leftist ideologues complain about such a thing, and this makes us wonder why a church would advocate leftism in any form. Not only because leftism destroys the things that serve as the basis for religion, such as transcendental logic and reverence, but also because leftism is destructive and forms a substitute for God.

Churches have followed the zombie train for many years. They see some people getting popular for being left-leaning, so in order to succeed, they do the “right thing” and turn left as well. Each year more people leave and the churches must scrape for parishioners they would have rejected in healthier times, and somehow put on smiles for the cameras as they announce their new, improved liberal ideas and also, ah that little thing, the increasingly falling rates of attendance. Liberalism is a dead end for churches. But they have begun the zombie ritual, and they just cannot stop themselves.

The Race Frequently Asked Questions (F.A.Q.) by John Goodrum

Saturday, December 1st, 2012

The Race FAQ

by John Goodrum

Do biological races exist within the human species?  If scientific terms are to be used consistently, this question can only be answered in the broader context of non-human taxonomy.  The intent of this paper is to investigate what constitutes a race (or subspecies) in other species, and to answer some questions concerning whether the traditional human races might qualify.

Q: What is the definition of ‘race’ or ‘subspecies?’

The terms ‘race’ and ‘subspecies’ are most often used synonymously [1,2] although the former is normally used when talking about human populations. When a distinction is made, ‘race’ generally implies a lower level of differentiation, but because this term is not commonly used in the recent non-human literature, ‘race’ and ‘subspecies’ are used interchangeably throughout this paper.

Much of the debate over the existence of human races stems from how one chooses to define ‘race’ (or ‘subspecies’).  No realistic definition can avoid using qualitative terms, yet these invariably invite disagreement in their application: “a group of individuals in a species showing closer genetic relationships within the group than to members of other such groups”[3]; “essentially discontinuous sets of individuals”[4];  “conspecific populations that differ from each other morphologically”[5];  “genetically non-discrete (confluent) populational entities”[6];  “geographically circumscribed, genetically differentiated populations”[7]; or groups identified “by the usual criterion that most individuals of such populations can be allocated correctly by inspection.”[8] Compounding the confusion, still others employ the term ‘race’ in a way more akin to ‘species’ than to ‘subspecies.’[9]

In response to questionable interpretations of the U.S. Endangered Species Act, and to help ensure the evolutionary significance of populations deemed ‘subspecies,’ a set of criteria was outlined in the early 1990s by John C. Avise, R. Martin Ball, Jr.[10], Stephen J.  O’Brien and Ernst Mayr [11] which is as follows: “members of a subspecies would share a unique, geographic locale, a set of phylogenetically concordant phenotypic characters, and a unique natural history relative to other subdivisions of the species.  Although subspecies are not reproductively isolated, they will normally be allopatric and exhibit recognizable phylogenetic partitioning.”  Furthermore, “evidence for phylogenetic distinction must normally come from the concordant distributions of multiple, independent genetically based traits.”[12]  This is known as the phylogeographic subspecies definition, and a review of recent conservation literature will show that these principles have gained wide acceptance.

A number of studies have employed this subspecies definition, and these can be helpful in inferring how the definition is applied in practice.  A good example is a paper entitled “Phylogeographic subspecies recognition in leopards (Panthera pardus): Molecular Genetic Variation,”[13]  co-authored by Stephen J. O’Brien (one of the definition’s co-authors).  From the ranges of the revised leopard subspecies (Fig. 1) we can infer that a ‘unique geographic locale’ does not require that a range be an island, or share no environmental characteristics with another.  Rather, it merely requires a subspecies to have a geographical association as opposed to a subset of individuals sharing a trait but drawn from different geographical populations.  Conversely, two subspecies will not remain distinct if they occupy the same locale over evolutionary time.  Hypothetical human races have been proposed in which members would share a single trait (e.g., lactose tolerance or fingerprint pattern)[14]  but not a common geographic locale.  These ‘races,’ therefore, would not be valid under the phylogeographic definition.

Whether a population has had a unique natural history can be inferred from its degree of differentiation with respect to other such populations.  The arbitrary division of an interbreeding, genetically unstructured group will result in subgroups that are genetically indistinguishable, whereas populations that evolve more or less independently for some length of time will accumulate genetic differences (divergent gene frequencies, private alleles, etc.) such that they “exhibit recognizable phylogenetic partitioning.”

A set of “phylogenetically concordant phenotypic characters” is taken to mean several morphological, behavioral or other expressed traits that tend to co-vary within, but differ among, putative subspecies.  This indicates that members of the group have evolved together relative to other groups, and may reflect shared demography, local adaptation, sexual selection or other evolutionary effects.

The need for “concordant distributions of multiple, independent genetically based traits” requires us to recognize that too much inference from a single trait or single genetic locus is unwarranted.  For instance, rather than indicating recent co-ancestry, a trait shared by two populations might have evolved independently in response to some environmental variable, while the potential idiosyncrasies of any single gene can limit its reliability to paint an accurate phylogenetic picture.  Most population genetics theory relies on loci that have evolved neutrally (i.e., in the absence of natural selection) so a non-neutral locus may give misleading results.  The best way to avoid this potential source of error is to examine a large number of independently-evolving loci.

Q: How genetically diverse are humans?

It’s become a popular view that the human species is extraordinarily homogeneous genetically when compared to most other species.[15]  This notion argues against the existence of human races, because very little genetic variation within the entire species means there cannot be much variation between major human populations.  Before examining this further, we should first inquire about what is meant by ‘genetic diversity.’

Because little can be learned from a locus that is the same in every individual, the study of phylogenetics depends on polymorphic loci.  Over the past few decades, methods have been developed that allow different kinds of these polymorphic ‘markers’ to be assayed in individuals.  Prior to the 1990s, genetic diversity was usually inferred from classical (non-DNA) polymorphisms, such as blood groups, serum proteins, allozymes and immunoglobins.  Later, restriction enzymes were employed to produce a useful class of marker at the DNA level, restriction fragment length polymorphisms (RFLPs).  Other loci such as mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), Alu insertions, minisatellites, single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and microsatellites (STRPs – short tandem repeat polymorphisms) have also been utilized for population genetic studies.  Due to their high polymorphism, rapid mutation rate and random distribution throughout the genome, microsatellites are probably the most important class of marker in use today.[16]  Highly variable loci are an advantage in phylogenetics because they can provide the finer resolution necessary for distinguishing closely related populations (such as subspecies).

The majority of  population genetic studies over the past decade have investigated the various regions of mitochondrial DNA, a molecule that resides in the cytoplasm outside a cell’s nucleus.  mtDNA contains 37 genes and is comprised of 16,569 base pairs in humans.  Because it is haploid and maternally inherited, mtDNA has an effective population size about one-quarter that of the autosomes (the non-sex chromosomes).  It’s easy to collect, has a relatively high mutation rate, and in particular, its lack of recombination allows for a straightforward assessment of the relationship between haplotypes.  Lack of recombination also means that all parts of the molecule are completely linked, which prevents independent evolution of mtDNA’s 37 genes and non-coding control region.  For this reason, mtDNA is considered a single genetic locus for phylogenetic purposes.  Humans have relatively low mitochondrial diversity compared to the other great apes, and reports of this are mostly responsible for the belief that humans have low genetic diversity.  However, mtDNA makes up just a few millionths of the human genome,[17] and as a single locus, carries little statistical weight.

When allele frequency data are used to estimate genetic diversity within a population, a frequently reported statistic is the average number of alleles per locus (A), but because rare alleles do not contribute much to overall diversity, the most informative statistic is average heterozygosity (H).  This is estimated from both the number of alleles and the frequencies at which they occur, and is generally defined as the percentage of individuals in a population that are heterozygous (have two different alleles) at a random locus.  In general, genetic diversity is synonymous with mean heterozygosity.

Table 1.  Comparative figures for the genetic diversity of humans and a variety of other large mammals (sampled across much or all of their range except as noted), based on autosomal microsatellites (He and Ho = expected and observed heterozygosity, respectively):

Species                                                 He                    Ho

Humans [18]                                         --                    0.776
Humans [19]                                         --                    0.70-0.76
Humans [20]                                         --                    0.588-0.807
Chimpanzees [21]                                0.78                 0.73
Chimpanzees [22]                                 --                    0.630
African buffalo [23]                             0.759                0.729
Leopards [24]                                     0.36-0.80            --
Jaguars [25]                                        0.739                   --
Polar bears [26]                                  0.68                     --
Brown bears (N. America) [27]          0.26-0.76          0.30-0.79
Brown bears (Scandinavia) [28]          0.709                 0.665
Canada lynx [29]                                   --                    0.66
Bighorn sheep [30]                             0.681                 0.566
Coyote [31]                                       0.675                 0.583
Gray wolf (N. America) [32]              0.620                 0.528
Pumas [33]                                            --                   0.52
Bonobos [34]                                     0.59                   0.48
Dogs (42 breeds) [35]                        0.616                 0.401
African wild dogs [36]                        0.643                    --
Australian dingo [37]                          0.47                   0.42
Wolverines (N. America) [38]            0.42-0.68              --
Wolverines (Scandinavia) [39]              --                     0.27-0.38
Elk (North America) [40]                   0.26-0.53              --

In addition to microsatellites, a 2001 study [41] reviewed the literature on protein variation for 321 mammal species and reported mean expected heterozygosity of 5.1%.  In comparison, Takahata (1995) reports an unbiased estimate of protein heterozygosity in humans of 10-14%.[42]  Also, Nei’s 1987 text Molecular Evolutionary Genetics gives an estimate of mean heterozygosity for classical protein polymorphisms of 0.148 in humans, and has this to say about the general level of genetic diversity in other organisms:

“In the last two decades, the extent of protein polymorphism has been studied for numerous organisms ranging from microorganisms to mammals by using electrophoresis.  In most of these studies, the extent was measured by average gene diversity or heterozygosity.  In early days, the estimate of heterozygosity was based on a small number of loci, so that its reliability was low.  In recent years, however, most authors are examining a fairly large number of loci (20 loci or more).Average heterozygosity or gene diversity varies from organism to organism. In general, vertebrates tend to show a lower heterozygosity than invertebrates. If we consider only those species in which 20 more loci are studied, H is generally lower than 0.1 in vertebrates and rarely exceeds 0.15.  In invertebrates, a large fraction of species again show an average heterozygosity lower than 0.1, but there are many species showing a value between 0.1 and 0.4.  In plants, the number of loci studied is generally very small, so that the estimates are not very reliable. However, if we consider only those species in which 20 or more loci are studied, the average heterozygosity is generally lower than 0.15 except in Oenothera, where permanent heterozygosity is enforced by chromosomal translocations (Levin 1975; Nevo 1978; Hamrick et al. 1979; Nevo et al. 1984). The highest level of gene diversity so far observed is that of bacteria (H=0.48 based on 20 loci in Escherichia coli, Selander and Levin 1980; H = 0.49 based on 29 loci in Klebsiella oxytoca, Howard et al. 1985).” [43]

Obviously, humans are not at the low end of the genetic diversity spectrum, particularly in relation to other mammals.

We might wonder how humans could have accumulated so much genetic diversity when we are such an evolutionarily ‘young’ species, but this assumes that the human species arose by an extreme founding event – a time at which the entire species’ diversity resided in just a few individuals – and that all humans today are descended from those few founders.  This supposed event is often conflated with the concept of “mitochondrial Eve,” a woman who lived roughly 200,000 years ago and is the most recent common ancestor of all human mtDNA.  This conflation is incorrect, however, because the coalescence of mtDNA to a single ancestor back in time does not imply a demographic bottleneck, but is expected even in a population of constant size.[44]  Avise (2001) has noted that in a hypothetical population with 15,000 breeding females (about three times the long-term human estimate), reasonable variances in reproductive success would likely see mtDNA coalesce to a single founding lineage in 300,000 years (~15,000 human generations), without any change in population size.[45]  Thus, the coalescence time of human mtDNA doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with a population bottleneck or speciation event, but rather is more or less a function of long-term effective population size, with a large standard error.[46]  Variants of nuclear autosomal genes, having a four-fold greater effective population size than mtDNA, generally coalesce in the neighborhood of 800,000 years ago.[47] This indicates that a substantial amount of our existing genetic variation originated in the population ancestral to modern humans.

In sharp contrast to the shallow genealogy of human mtDNA, some alleles of the major histocompatibility complex appear to coalesce over 30 million years ago, long before the emergence of the hominid lineage.[48,49]  Some MHC genes are known to have over two hundred alleles,[50] maintained by balancing selection at loci where heterozygosity confers some fitness advantage.  Several researchers have demonstrated that humans retain too much ancestral MHC diversity for a severe bottleneck to have ever occurred during human evolution.[51-53]  There’s fairly wide agreement that the long-term effective population size of humans has been roughly 10,000,[54] making it unlikely that the sum total of our genetic diversity has ever resided in fewer than several thousand individuals.

Additionally, the genetic profile of humans is much different from that of other large mammals that are believed to have experienced a recent demographic bottleneck.  The cheetah, for example, is thought to have had a severe population contraction sometime during the late Pleistocene.  While cheetahs apparently have had time to accumulate a moderate amount of variation at some rapidly evolving loci, current populations display very little allozyme or MHC variability.[55] Another example is the moose.  Old World and New World subspecies are estimated to have diverged at least 120,000 years ago, but sometime before divergence a bottleneck must have occurred that reduced both allozyme and MHC diversity to a fraction of that found in humans.[56]

Q: Haven’t human populations been separated for too short a time for distinct races to have evolved?

Although there is some evidence of non-African archaic contributions to the modern gene pool,[57] it appears likely that current human populations derive largely from a single African population, and diverged something less than 150,000 years ago.  While time of separation is important in evolutionary divergence, effective population size can be an equally important factor.[58] While the overall size of the human species has probably never been reduced to a handful of individuals, populations that migrated out of Africa may well have remained relatively small for thousands of years before beginning to expand toward their current numbers.[59,60] If so, divergence due to random genetic drift would have occurred rapidly in the absence of high gene flow.[61]

An example of this has been observed in a North American elk herd re-established from a small number of founders.  Between 1915 and 1924, 34 animals from two large herds in the western U.S. were released in north-central Pennsylvania.  The herd remained at about this size for 50 years and now numbers about 550.  Very low microsatellite heterozygosity (0.222) and very large genetic distance from the source populations (pairwise FST = ~0.45) now characterize this herd.[62]

It has also been proposed (originally by Darwin) that sexual selection (mate choice) may promote the retention of physical features in populations long after neutral genetic variation has been replaced by gene flow, and that this might help explain the prominent morphological variation among human groups.[63]

At any rate, divergence times for major subdivisions within the human species, while relatively shallow, are certainly not unique when compared to subdivisions within many other mammal species.  An appendix to Avise et al. (1998)[64] lists eleven mammal species with major phylogroups that diverged between 100,000 and 500,000 years ago, based on mtDNA sequence divergence.  Being a single genetic locus, mtDNA is subject to selection effects and a large amount of random variation, so these times are probably not terribly reliable.  For example, mtDNA has indicated 2-3 million years of isolation between western and eastern gorilla subspecies in Africa, but a recent study of multiple nuclear loci provided little support for that time depth.[65]  A related situation exists in chimpanzee taxonomy, particularly with regard to the distinctiveness of the eastern (P.t. schweinfurthii) and western equatorial (P.t. troglodytes) subspecies.  Studies utilizing nuclear loci,[66,67] as well as more thorough sampling of mtDNA, are calling into question earlier mtDNA results that indicated long separation.  As some of these chimp researchers point out, “The current volatile state of chimpanzee molecular taxonomy is largely due to the fact that studies to date have relied heavily on only a handful of genetic loci.”[68]


Q: Isn’t there actually more genetic distance between populations within the traditional human races than between the major races themselves?

In 1972, Richard Lewontin studied global variation at seventeen protein polymorphisms,[69]  and found that about 85% of genetic variation existed between individuals within a given population.  The next largest portion, about 8%, was found between populations within continents, with the remaining 6% of variance  attributable to differences between the major human races (Fig. 2).  The ~85% within-population figure has been affirmed numerous times, while the relative size of the other components of variance probably depends on the specific populations chosen for analysis, and is often the reverse of Lewontin’s findings.  In any event, many data sets have been assembled since 1972 for classical polymorphisms and all other genetic markers, and as a general rule, populations within continents are more closely related to one another than they are to the populations of other continents.  This pattern can be seen in any matrix of global genetic distances, such as those assembled by Cavalli-Sforza et al. in The History and Geography of Human Genes.

Population genetic studies often report AMOVA statistics (Analysis of MOlecular VAriance), which show the hierarchical proportions of variance between aggregates of the individuals sampled.  The following is a discussion of worldwide data on autosomal microsatellites and RFLPs, Alu insertions, mtDNA and Y chromosome STRPs:

“The hierarchical AMOVA analysis shows that, with the exception of Y STRPs, all systems show much less differentiation between populations within continents than between continents. This result is expected when there is greater gene flow between populations that are in close geographic proximity to one another. The autosomal values…are especially small, ranging from 1.3% for the RSPs to 1.8% for the Alu polymorphisms. This is in agreement with the small continental GST values shown in table 4…they are highly consistent both with one another and with previous analyses of worldwide variation in autosomal microsatellites and RFLPs, which also show considerably greater differentiation between continents than between populations within continents… The fact that there is little differentiation between populations within continents has important implications in the forensic setting, in that it supports the current practice of grouping reference populations into broad ethnic categories when autosomal STRP data are used…” [73] (Fig. 3)

Q: How genetically differentiated are human continental populations (the major races) from one another compared to populations of other species?

Before the advent of conservation biology and modern phylogenetics, subspecies were normally delineated by morphological characteristics.  The “seventy-five percent rule” goes back to 1949, stating that subspecies classification is merited if at least 75% of individuals can be correctly assigned to their group by inspection.[74] This rule isn’t in common use today, but the importance of genetically-based morphological differences is still apparent in many recent phylogenetic studies.  Some biologists argue that a 70 or 75 percent rule should still be a standard criterion in taxonomy, as applied to individuals outside of hybrid zones where the ranges of subspecies overlap.[75]

On the basis of morphology, we can compare the traditional human races (as well as some minor races) to chimpanzee subspecies.  Individuals of the former can be correctly assigned at much greater than 75% accuracy,[76]  while the latter are morphologically indistinct, and difficult or impossible to classify when raised in captivity.[77,78]

Of course, the domestic dog demonstrates that morphological difference doesn’t necessarily correlate with underlying genetic difference, so let’s look at population differentiation from a genetic perspective.  Many measures of divergence or ‘genetic distance’ are in use today, the most common being FST, originally developed by the late population geneticist Sewall Wright.  FST is a statistic that describes the proportion of variance within a species that is due to population subdivision. It can be estimated in a variety of ways (e.g., by AMOVA [79] or theta [80]), but the general expression is FST = (Ht-Hs)/Ht where Ht is the genetic diversity within the total population, and Hs the average diversity within subpopulations.  Its value can be considered inversely proportional to gene flow, or indicative of the length of time two populations have been evolving separately, and may vary according to which locus or family of loci are under study.  As mentioned earlier, haploid loci like mtDNA and the NRY have effective population sizes one quarter that of autosomal loci, making them much more sensitive to drift and thus to the effect of population subdivision.  Other types of loci have their own unique evolutionary characteristics, so we need to remember that an FST value based on one class of loci may or may not be representative of the overall evolutionary distinctiveness of the populations in question. For these reasons, values based on several types of loci should be considered before drawing any firm conclusions.

Keeping the preceding caveats in mind, these are qualitative guidelines suggested by Sewall Wright for interpreting FST:

“The range 0 to 0.05 may be considered as indicating little genetic differentiation.
The range 0.05 to 0.15 indicates moderate genetic differentiation.
The range 0.15 to 0.25 indicates great genetic differentiation.
Values of FST above 0.25 indicate very great genetic differentiation.” [81]

Table 2.
Here are some comparative figures for humans and other species (again, sampled across most or all of their ranges except as noted), based on autosomal microsatellites:

Species                                                         FST

Gray wolves (North America) [82]                    0.168
Pumas [83]                                                       0.167 (mean pairwise)
Humans (14 populations) [84]                           0.155 (AMOVA)
Asian dogs (11 breeds) [85]                              0.154
European wildcats (Italy) [86]                           0.13
Humans (44 populations) [87]                           0.121 (AMOVA)
Coyotes (North America) [88]                          0.107
Wolverines (North America) [89]                      0.067 (mean pairwise)
Jaguars [90]                                                      0.065
African buffalo [91]                                           0.059
Polar bears [92]                                                0.041 (mean pairwise)
Canada lynx [93]                                              0.033
Humpback whales [94]                                    0.026 (mean pairwise)

Additionally, Uphyrkina et al. (2001) employed mtDNA and microsatellites to identify nine leopard subspecies by our phylogeographic criteria.  Unfortunately for the sake of comparison, the authors reported microsatellite RST rather than FST values.  RST is an FST analogue, but their values can be quite different numerically.  However, if the RST/FST ratio for leopards is similar to those of other felids [95,96]  the maximum reported RST value of 0.363 would correspond roughly to an FST of 0.14-0.15, very similar to the human value at microsatellite loci.  The mean proportion of private (population-specific) microsatellite alleles for the nine revised leopard subspecies was found to be 6.3%, compared to a mean value of 7.1% for three major human continental populations [97] while the mean Nei’s genetic distance DS for allozymes between the leopard subspecies identified by Miththapala et al. (1996) is 0.019 (range 0.002-0.047) [98] and can be compared to the protein distances between three major human races (mean 0.037; range 0.028-0.048). [99]

Wolverines, polar bears, Canada lynx and humpback whales have not traditionally been divided into subspecies, while two or more subspecies (or ‘breeds’ in the case of the Asian dogs) have been named in all of the remaining non-human species listed above.  The overall FST value for African buffalo is not particularly large, but the mean value of 0.095 between the central African population and other populations was considered large enough to support their traditional subspecies status.  Based on cranial morphology and geography, 24 subspecies of the gray wolf in North America were reduced to five in 1995, while North American coyotes are considered to have eastern and western subspecies.

For our purposes, the studies of population structure in the big cats are especially informative, since these used phylogeographic criteria to suggest possible taxonomic revision.  Jaguars have traditionally been divided into eight subspecies, but Eizirik et al. (2001) considered the population structure too weak (FST = 0.065) to warrant naming any.  In contrast, distinct phylogroups were readily apparent within both pumas and leopards, although somewhat fewer than classically described (6 vs. 32 in pumas, and 8 or 9 vs. 27 in leopards).

It should be noted that high phenotypic diversity in some domestic animals (such as the Asian dogs) is mostly the result of selective breeding for quantitative traits, rather than the long-term allopatry or local adaptation that leads to morphological distinctiveness in “natural” populations.  As expected, the average microsatellite distance between these dog breeds as measured by Nei’s genetic distance DA (0.194) [100] is correspondingly smaller than the average distance between fourteen human populations (0.322). [101]

Human FST values of 12-15% are typical not just for microsatellites, but also for classical protein polymorphisms,[102] autosomal RFLPs[103] and Alu insertions.[104]   Values for mitochondrial DNA and the Y chromosome are substantially higher.  It would seem, then, that the level of genetic differentiation among human populations is not especially small, and in fact is entirely adequate for race designation, particularly when coupled with consistent morphological differences.


Q: Which human populations qualify as major races?

The construction of reliable evolutionary trees involves a number of technical issues, such as sampling design, mutation mechanisms, genetic distance measures and particularly, tree-building algorithms.  Nonetheless, the topology of human trees (Figs. 4, 5) is remarkably consistent regardless of which class of loci are considered, and principal component analysis of genetic data also produces predictable clustering (Fig. 6).  Either method gives a good visual overview of the general relatedness of the world’s populations.

By analysis of classical markers, Nei & Roychoudhury (1993) identified five major human clades:  sub-Saharan Africans, Caucasians, Greater Asians, Australopapuans and Amerindians.  Evolutionary trees constructed with autosomal RFLPs,[105] microsatellites[106] and Alu insertions[107] show similar topology.  Frequently, Amerindians are grouped together with Asians, indicating four major clades, and it has been suggested that this should be a minimum.[108] Obviously, additional structure exists within each of these groups, but as we’ve seen, it’s generally weak compared to the differentiation among the ones listed here.  For this reason alone, the term ‘race’ applies well to these major groupings.

In terms of our phylogeographic definition, each of the major human clades has a geographical association (slightly less clear today than 500 years ago, but only slightly); each has a distinguishing set of phenotypic traits; phylogenetic partitioning is apparent and consistent at multiple genetic loci; and substantial intergroup genetic distances (i.e., FST) indicate unique natural histories on an evolutionary timescale.

The criticism can be made that the placement of some populations located between the “cores zone” of these major races (e.g., Europe or East Asia) is ambiguous.  However, in non-human taxonomy this would not normally invalidate the subspecies status of well-differentiated core populations.[109,110]  In fact, zones of intergradation have traditionally been taken as evidence that core groups are indeed subspecies rather than different species.[111] While some clinal variation in the genetic traits of subspecies is generally the rule, human variation tends to show extensive zones where clinal gradients are relatively flat, separated by short zones of steeper gradient.  This pattern can be seen on the dust jacket illustration of The History and Geography of Human Genes.


In conclusion…

Some will find provocative the idea that humans display a subspecies-like population structure, but given that the major human subdivisions revealed by modern genetics had already been recognized as early as 1775,[112] it shouldn’t be as provocative as the alternative notion, i.e., that human races don’t exist.

So if we do belong to different biological races, what, if anything, does this mean?  Subspecies are closely related by definition, and human races appear to be less genetically distant than the major phylogroups of many other species.[113]  While FST values for neutral variation are by no means negligible from a population genetics point of view, it’s significant that the overwhelming majority of genetic variation is found within populations, reaffirming the importance of treating people as individuals.  It’s also significant that the FST value for the most prominent racial trait – skin color – has been estimated to be about 0.60,[114] which means that the visible variation between races greatly exaggerates overall genetic differences.  Admixture in some populations further clouds the picture.  The average European contribution to the gene pool of American blacks has been found to be about 20%,[115] and admixture between the major races in some other regions is substantially higher.

Nevertheless, when the taxonomic term is used consistently across species, it’s difficult to see any justification for the common assertion that human races are merely ‘social constructs.’  The motivation behind the assertion is a positive one, but denying biological realities at the outset is unlikely to lead to productive social dialogue on coping with human differences.



FST Follies

In 1998, American Anthropologist published a paper by Alan Templeton entitled “Human Races – A Genetic and Evolutionary Perspective” [116] which seems to have had broad influence on the race question within anthropology and the social sciences.  In the first section of the paper, Templeton cites a 1997 article from Herpetological Review entitled “Subspecies and Classification.”[117]  Templeton asserts that, according to this paper, an FST value of .25 or .30 between populations is a “standard criterion” for subspecies classification.  He then provides a graph showing FST (or FST analogue) values for humans and 12 other species of large mammals (Fig. 7).  (The human value of 0.156 is from a 1997 paper, “An Apportionment of Human DNA Diversity”[118]  in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.)  Two of the non-human values listed are lower than that for humans, but the other ten values are substantially higher, and appear to support Templeton’s claim that human populations are only weakly differentiated.

There are several curious things about this.  First, there is little, if any, corroboration in the recent literature for an FST value of .25 or .30 being a standard criterion for subspecies designation.  Secondly, if you actually read the paper by Smith et al., they never mention anything about FST values.  Rather, they say that “overlap [of differentiae] exceeding 25-30% does not qualify for taxonomic recognition of either dichopatric populations or parapatric populations outside of their zones of intergradation.”  What the authors are referring to here is not an FST value, but simply the long-standing 75 (or 70) percent rule discussed earlier.[119]  Templeton’s misinterpretation is all the more obvious when you consider that this subspecies rule and FST have an inverse relationship, i.e., a 75 percent rule implies greater differentiation than does a 70 percent rule, whereas an FST value of 0.25 indicates lesser differentiation than does a value of 0.30.  Additionally, FST is generally used to assess neutral genetic variation in these kinds of studies, which, as we’ve seen, can be quite different from expressed morphological variation.

The most interesting thing, however, about Templeton’s FST comparison is the fact that he uses a human value (0.156) based on autosomal loci (microsatellites and RFLPs), while nine of the ten largest non-human values, including the eight highest, are based on mitochondrial DNA.  This is quite misleading, because FST values for mtDNA are expected to be much higher than autosomal values.[120,121] The primary mechanism causing populations to diverge is usually genetic drift, and the magnitude of the effects of drift is inversely proportional to population size, as shown by Bodmer and Cavalli-Sforza (1976) through computer simulations (reproduced in Ref. 17, p.14).  The four-fold greater effective population size of autosomal loci vs. mtDNA virtually ensures that FST values based on the latter will be substantially greater than values based on the former, and in fact this is nearly always observed in population studies.  Since mtDNA is maternally inherited, sex-biased dispersal can also play a role in elevating FST for species in which males disperse over greater distances than do females.

In the present paper, every attempt has been made to use comparable data.

Some typical comparative FST values for autosomal and mitochondrial loci, respectively, for similar or identical samples:

     Jaguar[122]                     0.065 vs. 0.295
Puma [123]                     0.167 vs. 0.467
Gray wolf [124,125]        0.168 vs. 0.76


1. Templeton, A.R. 1998. Human races: An evolutionary and genetic perspective. American Anthropologist100:632-650.

2. Bodmer, W.F & Cavalli-Sforza, L.L. 1976. Genetics, Evolution, and Man. WH Freeman and Company. San Francisco. p561

3. Hartl, D., Clark, AG. 1989. Principles of population genetics. Sinauer Associates, Sunderland, MA. p301.

4. Mayr, E. (1963) Animal Species and Evolution. Belknap, Cambridge, MA. Cited in Ref. 82.

5. Mayr, Ernst. “What Is A Species and What Is Not?,” Philosophy Of Science, 63:262-277. June 1996.

6. Smith, H.M., Chiszar, D., Montanucci, R.R., 1997. Subspecies and Classification. Herpetological Review 28:13-16.

7. Templeton 1998.

8. Wright, S. 1978. Evolution and the Genetics of Populations, Vol. 4, Variability Within and Among Natural Populations.  Univ. Chicago Press, Chicago, Illinois. p439.

9. E.g., see Graves, Joseph, 2001. The Emperor’s New Clothes: Biological Theories of Race at the Millennium.  Rutgers University Press, Piscataway, New Jersey. p 2.  Graves suggests that valid racial categories would exist if “pairs of individuals from different races either had reduced capacity, or no capacity, to produce viable offspring.”

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