May 15, 2014

My post-post-modern definition of race

Below I've posted an essay I circulated on an evolution-related email group in 1998 in which I outlined my first version of my concept that a racial group is a partly-inbred extended family.

I developed it in response to the post-modern attacks on the modern Linnaean conception of a racial group as a subspecies (which Nicholas Wade sticks with in A Troublesome Inheritance). So I guess that makes my conception post-post-modern. Indeed, recently I've been puttering around on an essay about how the pre-modern Shakespeare used the word "race," and it seems like I've gotten pretty close to a formalized version of the hazy but evocative ways that the English used the word when it became popular in English in the 16th Century.

I'll have to write up the Shakespeare essay one of these days.


JLJ said...

I assume you mean de Vere. Recommended reading before your essay is Shakespeare by Another Name, by M. Anderson.

Anonymous said...

De Vere, not Shakespeare.


Anonymous said...

Honestly, do you not like money? Your donation links don't work. WePay has been defunct for some time. Maybe you've recently inherited a fortune and no longer feel the need to solicit donations?

Anonymous said...

What's a subspecies? I looked at Wikipedia but there was no bright line test of a subspecies. What is the reasoning behind saying race is a subspecies?

Steve Sailer said...

"What's a subspecies?"

Good question.

Of course, so is "What's a genus?" or even "What's a species?" The haziness of "What's a species?" is striking considering its importance in the history of science and the huge legal-economic role it plays due to the Endangered Species Act.

The one thing we can be certain exist are family trees.

Anonymous said...

Voltaire foreshadows evolution in Candide: "Why should you think it so strange that in some countries there are monkeys which insinuates themselves into the good graces of the ladies; they are a fourth part human, as I am a fourth part Spaniard."

dearieme said...

Don't be silly: Bacon, not De Vere.

reiner Tor said...

As everybody knows, Shakespeare's works were written not by Shakespeare, but by an unknown person also called William Shakespeare.

Anonymous said...

I agree and I disagree.

I like the family concept because it fits into my biblical concept of family lineages.

However, my pet peeve in life is interracial marriage. So with my next statements...I haven't figured out if I'm being biased or if I'm being honest. I can't tell because I have such a Visceral Reaction Against Interracial Marriage.


Your concept of 'we're all just extended families' is too goody-two shoes. It's almost borderline politically correct. It's so simple and cutesy I just can't stand it :)

I think there's a missing piece. Because there's too many physical and mental problems with interracial children (like you know the family of half-asians I know where 2 out 3 kids committed suicide) that there's gotta be something a bit deeper going on with the races.

I just feel like your explanation, though valid to an extent, is too simplistic.

Anonymous said...

"Races" do not exist in the same sense that "species" do not exist, they are a form of classification. We could call it something else or define it a bit differently. Still, genetic, morphological and psychological differences between different groups of people form different places do exist, and you have to call them somehow.

I suppose the concept closer to "race' is that of "breed" in dogs, although the first one came up naturally and the second artificially.

Power Child said...

For some reason, Steve, your writing on race (or perhaps the continued widespread denial of race in spite of your writing) reminds me of the closing lyrics to the Faith No More song "A Small Victory":

If I speak at one constant volume
At one constant pitch
At one constant rhythm
Right into your ear
You still won't hear, you still won't hear

pat said...

Never mind subspecies - look up the term 'species'.

The public is encouraged to think that the term 'race' is meaningless because it a little ambiguous. So you get the meme 'race is a social construct'. The people who say this think that there is real biology and then there is the quasi-political realm of classification.


All taxonomic and biological classifications suffer from the same sorts of ambiguities.

There are now 26 different definitions of the term 'species'. Under some of these definitions some critters are separate species while under others they are sub-species, races or varieties.

My favorite definition of a species is #26 - a species is one which is called a species by a qualified taxonomist.

Pat Boyle

Anonymous said...

"Race is a social construct" vs Society is a racial construct

Answer pithy with pithy.

Or, ask the speaker if they deny the existence of genetic differences between population groups of different origin (ie "do you deny genetic differences between folks from China versus folks from Congo?"). Likely they'll say, "of course not" as you've not pressed any explicit PC triggers. Then it's just as others have noted - a rose by any other name. Call it "race" or "sub-species" or call it "Steve" ... let's just agree it exists and we need to call it *something*.

I was raised by liberals and grew up with many hardened liberals (many Jewish liberal activists whose names would be recognized) and *all* of them privately acknowledge that race exists, that Africans have some glaring and intractable .. erm .. "issues". The hurdle it seems is the social stigma attached to saying negative things about groups of people and the kneejerk Jewish allergy to goyim mention of race. Again, privately, among friends, I've heard Jews and goyim liberals say some incredibly racist things about blacks. Publically, not so much.

Maybe we need to all become V Stiviano and get it on tape?

Stan D Mute

Anonymous said...


Reading through your recent posts on Wade's book, race, and HBD more generally, I have just two questions for you:

1) Have you ever seen Gattaca?

2) If so, is that a world you'd want to live in?

(To establish my priors, I don't doubt there's at least some validity to HBD, including Wade's claims. But, I have absolutely zero confidence that, if embraced by the policy community, they won't be used to justify identifying certain groups as "undesirables", subsequently stripping them of civil rights to one degree or another, and then finding new and creative ways to deprive and/or abuse them.)

Steve Sailer said...


I probably don't want to live in a world where astronauts consist of young male models in suits typing endlessly, while Gore Vidal leers at them and makes suggestive remarks about their keyboard skills.

Anonymous said...

@anonymous 1:16 -

1). have you seen the movie Idiocracy?
2. Is this a world in which you wish to live?

Or, departing the realm of Hollywood,

1.) have you watched any of the hundreds of hours of documentary film shot in Africa and showing what life is there in the 21st century?
2.) have you given any serious thought to the implications of the fact that Africa has the world's highest birth rates and that thanks to white agriculture and food donations, white chemistry and medicine, Africa will soon have several billion in population yet still without the ability to self-sustain?

Mr Wade's new book and indeed HBD generally, does little more than document what my great great great grandfather already knew as Truth. 50,000-100,000 years of evolutionary distance is a LOT. We cannot continue to ignore or pretend it does not matter that there are Stone Age peoples and populations here now in the 21st Century and they will outnumber us by a large margin while being wholly dependent on us for food, medicine, and technology. We don't need gene studies to know these people failed to ever develop written language, mathematics, the wheel, or ag/animal husbandry. How does this square with a world planning manned exploration of Mars?

The consequences of our failure to address this are already felt daily (read Colin Flaherty's "White Girl Bleed a Lot") and threaten collapse of our nation (have a look at the debt clock).

Stan D Mute

Dan said...

We sacrificed space exploration to subsidize blacks.

My Dad was on the Blue Streak programme in the UK. This was shut down for various reasons but one of them was clearly the decommissioning of Empire and aid to the blacks.