May 7, 2014

Andrew Sullivan: "Race doesn't exist"

Andrew Sullivan, or one of his blog's ten other employees, writes from a press release:
A Better Answer To “Where Ya From?” 
MAY 6 2014 @ 3:05PM 
Geneticists Eran Elhaik and Tatiana Tatarinova have developed a fascinating new tool, which they call the Geographic Population Structure (GPS), that allows anyone to identify where their ancestors came from as far back as 1,000 years ago. The technology has a much greater degree of accuracy than previous methods: 
Previously, scientists have only been able to locate where your DNA was formed to within 700km, which in Europe could be two countries away; however this pioneering technique has been 98 per cent successful in locating worldwide populations to their right geographic regions, and down to their village and island of origin. The breakthrough of knowing where the gene pools that created your DNA were last mixed has massive implications for life-saving personalised medicine, advancing forensic science and for the study of populations whose ancestral origins are under debate, such as African Americans, Roma gypsies and European Jews. 
Jordan Pearson explains why the GPS is so precise: 
The increased accuracy of the new model is based on a simple, if controversial, assumption made by the study authors: that race doesn’t exist. 
“The model of races is incorrect and should be dismissed,” Elhaik told me in an email. Up until now, tracing genetic origins assumed that people could be typified as a mix of two to three defined races, presupposing a homogenous “European” identity, Elhaik said. “By contrast, GPS represents a paradigm shift in population genetics whereby all populations are considered admixed to various degrees.” 
Admixing occurs when one gene pool mixes with another to create a whole new one. You can think of it like how primary colours mix to create new palettes and shades—“red” people from region A breed with “blue” people from region B, creating a new group of “purple” people, genetically speaking. What the study assumed, if you’ll forgive the analogy a moment longer, is that there aren’t purely “red,” “yellow,” or “blue” people in terms of genetic makeup; we’re all somewhere in between, and every population worldwide displays a certain amount of admixing.

I cite this to show an example of why I prefer my bottom-up conception of racial groups as partly inbred extended families over Nicholas Wade's Linnaean top-down approach. This kind of jesuitical disingenuity doesn't even get off the ground with my way of thinking.
         

40 comments:

2Degrees said...

Dealing with ethnicity at all is risky. These guys are saying what they need to say to get promoted. Russians have a little Mongol in them and Sicilians a lot of Arab. Who'da guessed?

Anonymous said...

Then, why does he prefer a certain race to back him up?

Anonymous said...

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/05/06/watch-what-happens-when-one-parent-speaks-out-at-a-school-board-meeting-about-a-controversial-book-assigned-to-his-daughter/

Anonymous said...

http://www.jpost.com/Sports/The-Donald-Sterling-saga-and-its-implications-for-Jews-351340

Anonymous said...

http://www.jpost.com/Sports/The-Donald-Sterling-saga-and-its-implications-for-Jews-351340

It is incumbent upon Jewish community and civic leaders, especially in Los Angeles, to exert some damage control by reaching out to their colleagues in the black community in various forums and proclaim that the compassion and empathy of the vast majority of Jews towards blacks remains intact and cannot be undermined by the prejudicial and backward quips of a loose cannon like Donald Sterling.

Anonymous said...

It's strange that Elhaik is gaining notoriety from a method created by Dienekes two years ago: http://dienekes.blogspot.ch/2014/04/nature-communications-genographic.html

Hunsdon said...

Maybe Tatarinova isn't, you know, a Tatar.

The Z Blog said...

I'd love a crack of interrogating these guys. My first question would be "admixtures of what?"

I get why they are slathering on the nonsense, but that's what it is. If race does not exist, then their claims cannot possibly exist.

Anonymous said...

Colors do not exist. They are just random frequencies on the electromagnetic spectrum that excite the photoreceptors in the eye more or less, and the output of these photoreceptors is interpreted by the brain as a certain color.
Therefore, color is just a "social construct". You should argue that next time you get a ticket for running a red light.

Scharlach said...

That's funny. I and many others, at this blog and elsewhere, have used the exact same color analogy to demonstrate that race IS a meaningful concept. Is this squid ink? Or do those researchers actually believe that the existence of orange as an intermediary between red and yellow shows that the abstract concept of "color" doesn't exist?

Anonymous said...

"jesuitical disingenuity" is a great phrase. Apparently it has been used once before, to characterize Edmund Burke.

ben tillman said...

“The model of races is incorrect and should be dismissed,” Elhaik told me in an email. Up until now, tracing genetic origins assumed that people could be typified as a mix of two to three defined races, presupposing a homogenous “European” identity, Elhaik said.

The "model of races" presupposes no such thing.

Anonymous said...

2Degrees said...

Dealing with ethnicity at all is risky. These guys are saying what they need to say to get promoted. Russians have a little Mongol in them and Sicilians a lot of Arab. Who'da guessed?

You have a lot of idiot in you.

candid_observer said...

Steve,

I honestly don't get how your approach to race differs from the one Wade talks about. They seem like only slightly different ways of describing the same phenomena.

After all, an ethnicity typically can also be described as an extended family that is partly inbred.

It seems to me as well that the crucial distinction between your conception and that of Wade and others is not so much bottom-up vs top-down, as it is whether one is thinking of the pedigree going backward vs. going forward.

One important virtue to thinking about the pedigree going forward is that that is the direction in which evolution proceeds. Insofar as one is thinking about the introduction of new mutations, or the selection of more favorable ones, going forward is the easiest way to frame one's thoughts.

Anonymous said...

"Dealing with ethnicity at all is risky. These guys are saying what they need to say to get promoted."

Nah, this is blank slate meme poisoning 2.0 now that 1.0 is being demolished.

Aaron said...

Word of the day - jesuitical

jesuitical: cunning; deceitful; crafty

When someone says jesuitical, everybody SCREAM!

Anonymous said...

This Sterling thing really shook the Jewish establishment.

They took it for granted that Jews and non-whites were allied against 'evil racist whites'.
And surely, many Jews knew Sterling said such things and many Jews say the same things in private. I mean why are all those Jews in NY okay with stop-and-frisk-the-negro?

Anyway, because of the wink-wink alliance between Jews and non-whites against the COMMON ENEMY OF 'RACIST' WHITES, they were supposed to be shhhhh about differences. But Stiviano the crazy mulatto mestizo whore spilled the beans. NOT PART OF THE SCRIPT!

So, Jews have been in damage control mode by acting like they are SHOCKED, SHOCKED, SHOCKED that some Jewish guy would have such views. After all, 99.99% of Jews spend most of their waking hours reading the Collected Speeches of MLK and singing 'We Shall Overcome'(than we shall over-cum).

Jews are now wondering if there will be more copycat bean-spillers like Stiviano(though she's acting like she's all innocent in all this).

Regression to the bean and repression of the bean-spillers. So, Jews are looking to do for us goyim.

jody said...

andrew sullivan prefers a certain race of man to provide his, er, admixture. maybe he should rewrite his personal ad to say something more like "Turn ons: men in the E1b1a haplogroup, with a smattering of type A or type E2 for good measure."

all jokes aside, why are we listening to HIV positive people like andrew sullivan and earvin johnson talk about anything.

Anonymous said...

Previously, scientists have only been able to locate where your DNA was formed to within 700km, which in Europe could be two countries away; however this pioneering technique has been 98 per cent successful in locating worldwide populations to their right geographic regions, and down to their village and island of origin.


Two questions come to mind. First, are their claims true? Can they in fact tell me the specific village(s) my ancestors came from?

And secondly, if true, how does this invalidate the concept of "race"? If they're able to tell a mixed-race person "One side of your family originated in the English village of Chipping-Sodbury and the other side in the African village of Bawku" then that looks like confirming the idea of race, not refuting it.

John Belushi said...

The question then becomes against who and whom is that "racial" solidarity between Jews n Blacks aimed?

John Belushi said...

Assumes? Indeed. Who assumed that?

John Belushi said...

This is pretty funny.

Tell it to a 13 year old white boy stuck in a majority black public school. That fist pounding your face is just a social construct.

John Belushi said...

The scientists ought to know better. There are two color processes. Subtractive and Additive. One deals with pigment the other with light.

In the subtractive process pigments are mixed.

In the additive process light is refracted.

Basic chemistry and physics.

Once you mix together all the primaries in equal measure you essentially create a dark brown. It's muddy and turgid. A good painter will tend to keep the brush clean, the colours luminous. Black is rarely used by competent painters.

John Belushi said...

Attaching colour to the obvious differences of descent of various populations goes to the great mystery of the problem. What is black music? I couldn't tell you exactly but I do know it when I hear it. I can recognize music made by Europeans when I hear it. Colour pace colour is like that. What is red? I dunno but I know it when I see it.

Anonymous said...

Colors do not exist. They are just random frequencies on the electromagnetic spectrum that excite the photoreceptors in the eye more or less, and the output of these photoreceptors is interpreted by the brain as a certain color.
Therefore, color is just a "social construct". You should argue that next time you get a ticket for running a red light.


Colors obviously exist. Imputing human emotional qualities to them is a social construct, subjective, and unreal. Like: red is warm, blue is hot, black is frightening, etc.

Anonymous said...

Didn't know that Andrew Sullivan was a credentialed biologist/professional scientist as well as public essayist.

Wonder what would happen if someone, per his logic, attempted to point out that based on scientific evidence, there's no such thing as a "homosexual" gene (as gays can't reproduce) and that it is largely a social construct, primarily and heavily influenced by nurture.

Wonder how he'd take the news?

pat said...

The paint mixing analogy is very wrong.

When I was first teaching Novell Data Communications I ran into this problem. Almost everyone thinks that people are analog. Some of these people are not just the everyday ignoramuses you would expect to hold such an idea.

I was scheduled to take over a class from a guy I had hired as a consultant once. He gave me all his quizzes and exams.

In one he had a question - "A dog is digital, a human is analog" - True or False. What the hell was that supposed to mean? I made up my own quizzes thereafter.

I found later that many students had strong resistance to the idea that humans had any discrete attributes. Most students liked to think that people were analog mixtures of 'bloods' or other medieval humors. They knew about DNA but they didn't like it. Machines they liked to think were coded in 'ones' and 'zeroes' but the animal world and especially humans were from the more noble domain of analog processes.

Today we have the SNP Encyclopedia. We know that a single base pair substitution can bless you or doom you, but people still resists the idea that there is discrete coding in humans.

People like to think heredity is analog because it makes it mysterious. The idea that some day we will be able to print out your complete genome and understand what it all means seems to many some kind of violation of their privacy. These are the kind of people who cling to the concept of race as something that is 'numinous, noetic, and ineffable'.

The race problem as I see it is basically mathematical. We can experience races everyday in or day-to-day life and never doubt the utility of the concept. But we don't as yet have a quantitative racial taxonomy. We need some serious thinker to recast race in some new mathematics that reconsiles the reality of daily experience and the realities of DNA.

Pat Boyle

Anonymous said...

This clever and distinguished old man didn't believe in racial differences and it cost him his life.

"Anti-apartheid movement founder died after racism row attack, court told"

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/10813161/Anti-apartheid-movement-founder-died-after-racism-row-attack-court-told.html

Anonymous said...

"jesuitical disingenuity" is a great phrase. Apparently it has been used once before, to characterize Edmund Burke. It's a virtual motif of Stendhal's The Red and the Black.

Roger said...

The GPS tool does not depend on race existing or not existing. Race is a continent-wide clustering of DNA markers. This uses clustering for much smaller geographical areas.

Chuck said...

The problem with these admixture arguments is that racialists were well aware of the reality:

Blumenbach (1795): In the following notes and descriptions these five varieties must be generally defined...Thus too there is with this that insensible transition by which as we saw the other varieties also run together.

Darwin (1871): But the most weighty of all the arguments against treating the races of man as distinct species, is that they graduate into each other, independently in many cases, as far as we can judge, of their having intercrossed..... This diversity of judgment does not prove that the races ought not to be ranked as species, but it shews that they graduate into each other, and that it is hardly possible to discover clear distinctive characters between them.

Hooton (1926): A secondary or composite race is one in which a characteristic and stabilized combination of morphological and metrical features has been effected by a long continuous intermixture of two or more primary races within an area of relative isolation...it is apparent that the present population of the world consists for the most part of secondary races...for man has been a migratory animal from proto-human times down to the present and the contact of races has always resulted in race mixture.

What happened is that biological race critics deemed that "race" should describe genetically homogenous populations or describe populations with deep discontinuities and then propagated this view -- when originally "race" meant something more akin to: "populations delineated in terms of overall relatedness".

Anonymous said...

Just call it biological pedigree!

Anonymous said...

Eran Elhaik? Didn't she used to be in Baywatch?

Dirk Diggler said...

Taking on your last point.

Why are we listening to HIV + people...

To show how we have fallen as a society and as a digglerfied folk.

Dirk Diggler said...

No so! Although colors have iconographic import, that vary from culture to culture and age to age, it's also the case that color produces meaning in all societies. There may be variations in the definition of murder in various societies and homicide is defined differently yet we all know it's real. That it's a topic for rules and for punishment.

I cannot think of a society that fails to give symbolic meaning to colors.



There's also a great amount of info about color (bright luminous) acting as a psychological pick me up. There is a neurobiological component.

Jefferson said...

If race does not exist, can racial preference based affirmative action be eliminated altogether since race is a social construct.

Why does racial preference based affirmative action need to exist if there is only 1 race and that is the Human race.

All affirmative action is divide the Human race when we should be united as 1 and not divided into different ethnic/racial tribes.

David said...

>this is blank slate meme poisoning 2.0 now that 1.0 is being demolished<

There is only 1.0: denial of reality. It has many flavors, but they are very old and we've tasted them all before, ad nauseum. The admixture (of what?) thing is especially hoary. I think Plato or Aristotle dismissed it as sophistical so long ago as ~350 B.C.

Anonymous said...

race exists here:

http://stuartschneiderman.blogspot.com/2014/05/americas-report-card.html

ogunsiron said...

So because ethnicity exists, race doesn't ? Isn't ethnic clustering more or less a refinement of racial clustering ?

This is the same Elaik guy who was trying to revive the khazar hypothesis ? It seems to me that Razib had debunked him.

Mr. Anon said...

If race does not exist, how do racists know whom to marginalize, exclude and discriminate against? Wouldn't they get confused? And yet - according to the kind of people who say or believe that race does not exist - racists have an innate awareness of whom to oppress.