Mixed-race genetics


by Rumbold
2nd November, 2009 at 1:16 pm    

Dr. Aarathi Prasad’s programme, Is It Better to be Mixed Race?, airs tonight at 8:00pm on Channel 4. In a preview article for the Sunday Telegraph, Dr. Prasad, a geneticist, writes about the science behind mixed-race people and asks whether or not their genetic diversity is beneficial:

So are these differences significant and, more to the point, are they significant enough so that when they are brought together, there might be tangible benefits for people who are mixed-race? The answer from some scientists who still do what could be called “racial science” appears to be yes on both counts. Dr Mark Shriver, who studies human origins at Penn State University, is interested in ancestry, variations in skin and hair colour, facial features and height….

Shriver’s work has uncovered something else that is very interesting. He finds that mixed-race people are more symmetrical than the rest of us, and being more symmetrical translates into being more attractive, having less infection, being less stressed, and having greater genetic diversity. Professor Bill Amos at Cambridge University has also been studying the genetic basis of human disease. He finds that in humans, an individual’s level of genetic diversity can predict with astonishing accuracy how likely they are to survive parasites and infectious disease. In a recent study in Kenya, he found that low levels of diversity were strongly associated with death before the age of five.

It’s always useful to know more about the science of anything. And such work provides a powerful counter to those who oppose mixed-race marriages because the children will be ‘wrong’, as the children will be genetically stronger. As Dr. Prasad puts it:

When someone like me chooses a partner of another race, some family member is guaranteed to ask the same question as that Louisiana Justice of the Peace: “But what will the children be?”

Yet I am also uncomfortable with the talk about mixed-race children being more attractive. Different people find different people attractive. Some people have more admirers than others, and that is fine. But to talk about attractiveness in terms of race (even mixed-race) is worrying. It might be the case that on average mixed-race people are considered more attractive by more people, but it is such a generalisation as to be pointless. Any discussion that seeks to grade races on the basis of looks is dangerous.


              Post to del.icio.us


Filed in: Science






90 Comments below   |  

Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. pickles

    New blog post: Mixed-race genetics http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/6433


  2. Beige power « Clive Davis Blog

    [...] that Pickled Politics has an item on researchers’ claims that we mixed-race folk have an extra helping of, ahem, good looks. Rumbold rightly notes that this kind of speculation can be a double-edged [...]




  1. sonia — on 2nd November, 2009 at 1:24 pm  

    well surely we’re all *really* mixed race really anyway. #what’s a “pure” race anyway? we’re all mongrelified whether we admit this or not is another matter. this idea of identifying ‘some’ people as ‘mixed-race’ and some as ‘pure’ is just flawed.

    but is he basically saying that an endogamous approach to marriage is in the long-term limiting of gene pool, and therefore not a good thing?

  2. sonia — on 2nd November, 2009 at 1:24 pm  

    is it better to be attractive ?:-)

  3. irrelephant — on 2nd November, 2009 at 1:28 pm  

    Worrever, mixed race people tend to be way hotter on average.

    two words…rona mitra

  4. Reza — on 2nd November, 2009 at 1:31 pm  

    For once, I agree with you sonia.

    It doesn’t matter what races come together. I find the argument that ‘mixing’ races ‘breeds’ better humans to be as ugly, and ‘racist’ as the argument for keeping races ‘pure’.

  5. dave bones — on 2nd November, 2009 at 1:51 pm  

    Whatever the morality I have been thinking along these lines for a long while. I shall watch the doco, cheers for posting. As Sonia says we are all mixed race to differing extents, and it is easy to see the other extreme, unhealthiness in communities which are against inter-breeding, mentioning no names.

  6. Appealing of Ealing — on 2nd November, 2009 at 2:01 pm  

    “Yet I am also uncomfortable with the talk about mixed-race children being more attractive.”

    What is the nature of your discomfort, and why is it pertinent?

    “It might be the case that on average mixed-race people are considered more attractive by more people, but it is such a generalisation as to be pointless.”

    Why is a generalisation pointless?

    “Any discussion that seeks to grade races on the basis of looks is dangerous.”

    Except that wasn’t the point, which anyway you found pointless. She was making a point about looks on the basis of race, not the other way round.

    Average faces are more symmetrical. Symmetrical faces are generally more attractive. This is not news. Get over it.

  7. Ravi Naik — on 2nd November, 2009 at 2:11 pm  

    I think Aarathi Prasad is more of a media figure than a proper researcher, and therefore she will more likely fit her research according to whatever narrative she is selling. And she knows what sells. She wrote a book called: “The End of Sex: The Quest for Reproduction Without Men”.

    Linking race to beauty or intelligence is asking for trouble because “race” is a shallow concept when it comes to genetics: two individuals of the same race do not necessarily share more of the same genes than individuals of different races. Think about blood types, musical ability, intelligence, sexual orientation and so on.

  8. Leon — on 2nd November, 2009 at 2:45 pm  

    Yet I am also uncomfortable with the talk about mixed-race children being more attractive.

    It depends on the context, I’ve seen it used in a ‘see people from radically different backgrounds can make it work’ kinda way. I’m obviously biased being mixed ‘race’ but I’ve never been uncomfortable with it because it’s said with love, I mean no one I’ve known has ever meant that non mixed race people are somehow uglier!

    I guess human beings just love diversity and change on some level and mixed children represent a new and possibly more hopeful children to some…?

  9. Kismet Hardy — on 2nd November, 2009 at 2:52 pm  

    Of course mixed race children are more attractive. Only to people who like things that look different and unique, mind.

  10. S — on 2nd November, 2009 at 3:31 pm  

    Linking race to beauty or intelligence is asking for trouble because “race” is a shallow concept when it comes to genetics: two individuals of the same race do not necessarily share more of the same genes than individuals of different races. Think about blood types, musical ability, intelligence, sexual orientation and so on.

    I wish this popular misconception would die. It’s called Lewontins Fallacy (google it) and is based on the idea that there is more variation within the genes of many populations than between them. Yet two individuals of the same race (self identified) almost definitely contain more similarities than to people of other races.

    Further it is likely that the genes that vary between populations are selective (ie are adaptations to habitat– think skin colour, or lactose tolerance) whereas variation within races is more likely to be neutral (ie just drift or balanced alleles). Thus the consistent differences have meaning.

    Yet this is not to say that whilst scientists take note of the reality of race as a concept they necessarily think it is of practical use- say medically. Far simpler say to check someone for lactose intolerance, or resistance to ACE inhibitors (treatment for heart failure).

  11. Trofim — on 2nd November, 2009 at 3:31 pm  

    The Icelandic gene pool is noted for being more homogeneous (less diverse) than the rest of Europe, isn’t it? That must be why life expectancy there is only 80.

  12. Auntie Vera — on 2nd November, 2009 at 3:54 pm  

    I can’t pretend the Shoe Bomber has striking or appealing good looks. Oona King does, however.

    A great many of the loudest Negro Rights agitators in the USA were / are people of mixed race.

    There’s plenty of room for experimentation with cross-breeding.

    Madonna ideally ought to order some interesting combinations conceived and born for her to adopt; Zulu crossed with Nordic Aryan, Pygmy with Irish Celt, Sioux with Tibetan and so on.

    Those Negro-Japanese children born in the post-1945 Occupation period were – in many but not all cases – whizzed off to Brazil by an American charity called the Elizabeth Sauders Home [partly funded by Pearl Buck, the novelist.]

  13. Rumbold — on 2nd November, 2009 at 9:46 pm  

    I agree with Leon in that plenty of people say it ina harmless way. But, Appealing of Ealing, you start on a very slippery slope when you start grading races on attractiveness using science. It is a personal choice.

  14. Cyburn — on 2nd November, 2009 at 9:49 pm  

    Well Im Half English/Half Egyptian, though I see myself as mixed heritage as opposed to mixed race.

  15. Naadir Jeewa — on 2nd November, 2009 at 10:20 pm  
  16. douglas clark — on 2nd November, 2009 at 10:39 pm  

    Hmm…

    Rumbold and Leon,

    It seems to be a genuine thing that left / right symmetry is a measure of attractiveness.

    From:

    http://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S1090513800000404

    Abstract:

    Small deviations from bilateral symmetry (a phenomenon called fluctuating asymmetry [FA]) are believed to arise due to an organism’s inability to implement a developmental program when challenged by developmental stress. FA thus provides an index of an organism’s exposure to adverse environmental effects and its ability to resist these effects. If one wishes to choose an individual with good health and fertility, FA could be used as an index of a potential partner’s suitability. To explore whether this theory can be applied to human female bodies (excluding heads), we used a specially developed software package to create images with perfect symmetry. We then compared the relative attractiveness of the normal (asymmetric image) with the symmetric image. When male and female observers rated the images for attractiveness on a scale of 1 to 10, there was no significant difference in attractiveness between the symmetric and asymmetric images. However, in a two-alternative forced-choice experiment, the symmetric image was significantly more popular. The evidence suggests a role for symmetry in the perception of the attractiveness of the human female body.

    Whether that relates to mixed race children or not, I have no idea. But if someone could prove that mixed race kids meet that criteria better, then the world will see the BNP frazzle on their lack of perceived beauty. Of course, they – the beautiful – could also be exclusively attracted to other mixed raced kids.

    Err…..

    Well you’ve got to assume that somewhere within the bell curves of racial beauty, Ali Bastain for instance or, for the ladies, Ricky Whittle, may, perhaps make love to them and have babies. No matter what race or religion they may be….

    And that is back to the douglas clark theory of rock, paper and scizzors where it is gamed for sex, rather than religion or race.

  17. Andy Gilmour — on 2nd November, 2009 at 11:14 pm  

    S,

    I did a bit of Googling, as you suggested, and clearly Lewontin is extremely out of date. And yes, the sampling method seems simplistic. So I did a bit more Googling, and well, how interesting it becomes, when you look at the more recent research:

    For instance,D.J. Witherspoon et al, “genetic similarities within and between human populations” (2007):
    start with:
    “The proportion of human genetic variation due to differences between populations is modest, and individuals from different populations can be genetically more similar than individuals from the same population. Yet sufficient genetic data can permit accurate classification of individuals into populations. Both findings can be obtained from the same data set, using the same number of polymorphic loci.”

    go on to:
    “DISCUSSIONS of genetic differences between major human populations have long been dominated by two facts: (a) Such differences account for only a small fraction of variance in allele frequencies, but nonetheless (b) multilocus statistics assign most individuals to the correct population. This is widely understood to reflect the increased discriminatory power of multilocus statistics. Yet Bamshad et al. (2004) showed, using multilocus statistics and nearly 400 polymorphic loci, that (c) pairs of individuals from different populations are often more similar than pairs from the same population. If multilocus statistics are so powerful, then how are we to understand this finding?”

    and conclude:
    “The fact that, given enough genetic data, individuals can be correctly assigned to their populations of origin is compatible with the observation that most human genetic variation is found within populations, not between them. It is also compatible with our finding that, even when the most distinct populations are considered and hundreds of loci are used, individuals are frequently more similar to members of other populations than to members of their own population. Thus, caution should be used when using geographic or genetic ancestry to make inferences about individual phenotypes.”

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1893020/
    (if anyone wants to plough through the whole text)

    There’s plenty of stuff about admixing through geographical proximity, etc, muddying the waters tremendously, too.

    This doesn’t quite match your assertion:
    “Yet two individuals of the same race (self identified) almost definitely contain more similarities than to people of other races.”

    Like I said, it’s all extremely interesting…

  18. douglas clark — on 2nd November, 2009 at 11:30 pm  

    Andy,

    I thought it was a kind of gimme that phenotypes – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phenotype – beat race, which seems to be confirmed from within your own post?:

    The fact that, given enough genetic data, individuals can be correctly assigned to their populations of origin is compatible with the observation that most human genetic variation is found within populations, not between them.

    As phenotypes would not appear to me to have the same boundaries as race, what say you? I’d be quite happy to admit that this is well outside my comfort zone.

  19. A.C. — on 3rd November, 2009 at 12:09 am  

    It was an interesting show, and came down very clearly in favour of the idea that mixing races is better for diversity.

    It is a logical conclusion really, when you look at the recessive disorders that affect communities with high inbreeding like some Muslims and Jews. Surely the further you go away from that model, the healthier for all concerned.

    Attractiveness is pretty subjective, but that wasn’t really the focus of the show.

  20. Naadir Jeewa — on 3rd November, 2009 at 12:19 am  

    Working in a biomedical research lab, I’ve already had a few discussions with people who readily instrumentalise race.

    The most widely cited paper on the issue in recent history seems to be:
    Jorde, Lynn B, and Stephen P Wooding. “Genetic variation, classification and ‘race’.” Nature Genetics 36, no. 11s (11, 2004): S28-S33.

    Here’s the abstract:
    “New genetic data has enabled scientists to re-examine the relationship between human genetic variation and ‘race’. We review the results of genetic analyses that show that human genetic variation is geographically structured, in accord with historical patterns of gene flow and genetic drift. Analysis of many loci now yields reasonably accurate estimates of genetic similarity among individuals, rather than populations. Clustering of individuals is correlated with geographic origin or ancestry. These clusters are also correlated with some traditional concepts of race, but the correlations are imperfect because genetic variation tends to be distributed in a continuous, overlapping fashion among populations. Therefore, ancestry, or even race, may in some cases prove useful in the biomedical setting, but direct assessment of disease-related genetic variation will ultimately yield more accurate and beneficial information.”

    “…it might be tempting to conclude that genetic data verify traditional concepts about races. But the individuals used in [LD] analyses originated in three geographically discontinuous regions: Europe, sub-Saharan Africa and East Asia. When a sample of South Indians, who occupy an intermediate geographic position is added to the analysis, considerable overlap is seen among these individuals and both the East Asian and European samples, probably as a result of numerous migrations from various parts of Eurasia into India during the past 10,000 years. Thus, the South Indian individuals do not fall neatly into one of the categories usually conceived as a ‘race’…
    Ancestry, then, is a more subtle and complex description of an individual’s genetic makeup than is race. This is in part a consequence of the continual mixing and migration of human populations throughout history. Because of this complex and interwoven history, many loci must be examined to derive even an approximate portrayal of individual ancestry.

    The picture that begins to emerge from this and other analyses of human genetic variation is that variation tends to be geographically structured, such that most individuals from the same geographic region will be more similar to one another than to individuals from a distant region. Because of a history of extensive migration and gene flow, however, human genetic variation tends to be distributed in a continuous fashion and seldom has marked geographic discontinuities. Thus, populations are never ‘pure’ in a genetic sense, and definite boundaries between individuals or populations (e.g., ‘races’) will be necessarily somewhat inaccurate and arbitrary.

    Race remains an inflammatory issue, both socially and scientifically. Fortunately, modern human genetics can deliver the salutary message that human populations share most of their genetic variation and that there is no scientific support for the concept that human populations are discrete, nonoverlapping entities. Furthermore, by offering the means to assess disease-related variation at the individual level, new genetic technologies may eventually render race largely irrelevant in the clinical setting. Thus, genetics can and should be an important tool in helping to both illuminate and defuse the race issue.”

  21. douglas clark — on 3rd November, 2009 at 12:31 am  

    Naadir Jeewa,

    But, I do not see your conclusion to all of this. I know what mine is. I hope it is the same….

  22. sonia — on 3rd November, 2009 at 1:01 am  

    the concept of race has evolved over time anyway. originally it was a far smaller gene pool -like ‘family’ or tribe, widened out later to include a larger group of people in the ‘tribal group’. if you read books from the middle ages, one of ‘our race’ often would actually mean one of our ‘extended family’ i.e. kin.

    anyway, so its like dog breeding at the end of the day. what we think of as a ‘distinct’ race is something that emerges over time when people will only breed with others they think are part of ‘their’ group and hey presto after a while, guess what, they start looking alike and then, hey presto again, they can put a ‘physical look’ to their ‘group’ – thus biologically strengthening their social construct.

    Yawn. Humans are so petty minded. But we know all this anyway.

    anyway, its not true universally that mixed-race people are considered attractive, why would that be. it would depend on what people thought of the aesthetic of the various “races” involved! if you have an asian-black mix rest assured the asian lot will not be very impressed with the offspring..

    also..in my own case, whilst i do not fall into the category of mixed race at all -having parents who are pretty much from the same part of the world and the same social hierarchy, ironically ive spent my whole life being chastised (by them) for lookingmuch more “oriental/indigenous tribe person” than i ought to, for a ‘pure race’ bengali. this is obviously patent nonsense, why the bengalis think they have not mixed in with the indigenous tribes (who are “mongoloid” in their mind, whilst they are indo-aryan!)over the centuries..is anyone’s guess. but you really get ‘done’ for looking ‘chinky’..as if you’re giving the game away that we’re not as ‘pure’ as we might like to think we are.

  23. douglas clark — on 3rd November, 2009 at 1:19 am  

    Sonia,

    You are my favourite person, so you are.

  24. soru — on 3rd November, 2009 at 1:47 am  

    ‘anyway, so its like dog breeding at the end of the day. ‘

    Well, it was dog (and horse)-breeding that pretty much led to the whole idea of racism. With relatively few generations of selective breeding and you can produce a thoroughbred that can win you a thousand guineas, or a plough-horse than can lug a thousand pounds.

    If humans were like that, racism would be true.

  25. douglas clark — on 3rd November, 2009 at 2:18 am  

    Soru,

    You know.

    I know.

    Sonia is my favourite person.

  26. Auntie Vera — on 3rd November, 2009 at 4:38 am  

    Probably the “purest-race” people are the uncontacted folk of some of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

  27. persephone — on 3rd November, 2009 at 9:47 am  

    @21

    I know what you mean. You see a double standard if you are fair and look more mediterranean than asian. I have experience of auntiji’s (strangers thankfully not related) who ‘indirectly’ ask questions about you to see if both of your parents are asian before asking if you are single …

  28. douglas clark — on 3rd November, 2009 at 9:51 am  

    Auntie Vera,

    You raise intersting issues. I’d be willing to believe that the folk on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands haven’t a lot of outside contact. There must be tribes in the Brazillian jungle that haven’t either.

    You raised the issue of intercourse between the Japanese and American Negroes, after WW2, elsewhere on here. What are we expected to make of that?
    That they mainly ran off to Brazil? That some didn’t?

    What, are we to make of that?

    Which side are you on in this war, exactly?

    The people of Auchtermuchty demand to know.

  29. Naadir Jeewa — on 3rd November, 2009 at 9:52 am  

    Douglas, my conclusion is that modern genetics does show some correlation within regional populations, but that these don’t equate to the old constructions of race. I would prefer if scientists drop the term altogether and just stick with something less contentious, like haplogroups.

  30. bananabrain — on 3rd November, 2009 at 9:52 am  

    would it be excessively cheeky of me to point out that the Torah considers everyone to be related, via the sons of noah, shem, ham and japhet, of course? if you look at the “begats” section of genesis you’ll see it all laid out. of course, this isn’t an answer to the question “how did races come about” but it does give an interesting insight into ethnic divergence and consequent “specialisation” (which, as sonia points out, probably comes about through inbreeding). the point i’m making is, i suppose, that we’re all ultimately part of one family if you go back far enough, rather than “created as different races from the beginning”, which if you look closely at it, will probably end up leading you to less than respectable C19th notions of racial theory like theosophical “root races”, for example.

    oh – and brazilians. just that, brazilians. also, i’m looking forward to seeing what happens in about 30 years when the ethiopian and russian jews have intermarried with the rest of the israelis! “ingathering of the exiles” indeed.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  31. persephone — on 3rd November, 2009 at 9:58 am  

    I saw the programme and one of the useful things about it was the mention of science talking about populations rather than race.

    If we can talk about it on the factual level of population migration it shows our common ancestry as humans and leads to the natural conclusion that no one population can ‘own’ a single country or environment because we are all immigrants. Unfortunately humans are territorial.

    The notion of populations also makes a mockery of those people who say ‘go back to your own country’ as they are immigrants too and from that same country – just that they emigrated to eurasia from africa after other populations eg the south asians.

  32. douglas clark — on 3rd November, 2009 at 10:04 am  

    Aunie Vera,

    It annoys me like fuck, it really does, to find myself on the side of Leon. For Leon and I do not agree about much.

    However, he is right about this, see 8…

    Especially the latter part of his post.

    Yes / No ?

  33. S — on 3rd November, 2009 at 11:39 am  

    Andy Gilmour

    I’ve read that paper and a few more recent ones. This field is changing very fast because technology is making it cheaper to sample populations much more deeply and at very many more loci ( and different types of loci).

    You can think about the relatedness of populations as being a bit like a tree (this is how we visualise them in print).

    If you imagine 4 major branches you can imagine that some leafs near the base of each branch are closer to leafs on another branch than to leafs at the tip of its own branch. Yet the vast majority of leafs will be closer to more neighbours on its own branch than without. The tree outside my window is like this and indeed the spread of the main branches is wider than the distance between the 4 main branches.

    Yet there are still clearly 4 main branches on the tree outside my window. Of course trees aren’t all like that some are just a big mess of tiny branches and leaves like a hedge. The argument then is really about describing the human population tree — is it like the one in my garden or more like a hedge?

    Many geneticists choose to use the term population instead of race– some because they think it is a more accurate term, others because they like a quiet life. I don’t mind either so long as it doesn’t get in the way of understanding.

    Others are uneasy that scientists censor themselves by ignoring biological differences between populations. Recently I read the following opinion article in Nature (it does not use the word ‘race’):

    ‘Let’s celebrate human genetic diversity’ Bruce T. Lahn & Lanny Ebenstein,Nature 461, 726-728 (8 October 2009)

    They assert that we should accept genetic diversity between population groups where we find it and still choose not to discriminate. I have always believed that you can only be a moral person if you choose to do the right thing yourself– not say if you are scared you will go to hell. Similarly it is not anti-discriminative to treat people well only by pretending they are all the same.

    However yesterday when I decided to look through this same article again I googled it and found that large sections of it were posted on right-wing to far-right-wing (Stormfront) blogs– (some with a sarcstic pastiche). To me the article is perfectly reasonable yet clearly such arguments do seem to excuse prejudice for some. Sad I guess.

  34. Reza — on 3rd November, 2009 at 11:47 am  

    S

    “They assert that we should accept genetic diversity between population groups where we find it and still choose not to discriminate.”

    That’s the correct approach. It’s stupid to reject the overwhelming scientific evidence that shows that human biodiversity exists.

    But it’s equally wrong to use that information to discriminate.

  35. douglas clark — on 3rd November, 2009 at 11:55 am  

    Hmm..

    S.

    As long as we can continue to make love to each other and have viable children, then I’d have thought that human commonality was more of a subject for discussion than human diversity.

    The EDL and Muslims4Sharia might think otherwise…

    But they are just nuts…

  36. Ravi Naik — on 3rd November, 2009 at 11:56 am  

    I did a bit of Googling, as you suggested, and clearly Lewontin is extremely out of date. And yes, the sampling method seems simplistic. So I did a bit more Googling, and well, how interesting it becomes, when you look at the more recent research:

    For instance,D.J. Witherspoon et al, “genetic similarities within and between human populations” (2007)

    Andy, it seems that Witherspoon’s research vindicates Lewontin, even if he used a simplistic metric to measure diversity. The key finding here is that it is possible to find more diversity within members of the same population, than outside. Here is a recent article written by Lewontin which expresses some of the things already said here.

    Yet this is not to say that whilst scientists take note of the reality of race as a concept they necessarily think it is of practical use- say medically. Far simpler say to check someone for lactose intolerance, or resistance to ACE inhibitors (treatment for heart failure).

    This misconception is addressed in Lewontin’s article in the link above (last three paragraphs).

  37. Reza — on 3rd November, 2009 at 12:08 pm  

    douglas

    “The EDL and Muslims4Sharia might think otherwise…”

    However bigoted they may be, neither group are ‘racist’ in the biological meaning of that word.

  38. douglas clark — on 3rd November, 2009 at 12:14 pm  

    bananabrain @ 29,

    Yes, it would be exceedingly cheeky of you to see divergence as a part of the begat nonsense. Which made the Old Testament almost unreadable, except for Archbishop Usher, who I am sure you are acquainted with although not, obviously related to.

    “For Usher begat Pratchet and Pratchet begat Ook! and Ook! begat bananabrain.”

    Or summat.

  39. Dan — on 3rd November, 2009 at 12:16 pm  

    “Yet I am also uncomfortable with the talk about mixed-race children being more attractive. ”

    Well, if attractiveness is based on symmetry (as many studies bear out) and mixed race people have more symmetry, then they are more attractive. That’s just science, providing facts. Your comfort, or the lack of it, really doesn’t factor into it.

    Unless you want to ignore the whole facts thing, and use science as a tool only when convenient like the government on drugs or Hitler on eugenics.

  40. douglas clark — on 3rd November, 2009 at 12:22 pm  

    Naadir Jeewa @ 28,

    Thanks for the clarification.

  41. bananabrain — on 3rd November, 2009 at 12:22 pm  

    douglas,

    the “old testament” isn’t meant to be *readable*, except for the bits that are explicitly designed as such. the book of psalms serves a quite different function from the first part of genesis, or the “purity laws” (a mistranslation, but used so you’ll know what i’m referring to) in leviticus.

    all of it is meant to be *studied*, not dipped into for a bedside read – which is where i would disagree with many protestants.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  42. douglas clark — on 3rd November, 2009 at 12:26 pm  

    Dan @ 38,

    Agreed. I tried to write something similar, but it got caught up in the spam filter or something…

  43. Leon — on 3rd November, 2009 at 1:17 pm  

    Did anyone watch the programme last night? Thoughts..?

  44. Rumbold — on 3rd November, 2009 at 1:52 pm  

    I thought it was a good programme, with the odd surreal moment (slow motion shots of her daughter).

    Dan (and Douglas):

    My problem is that attractiveness is subjective. Yes, there are genetic reasons why some people are considered more attractive, but if you frame it in terms of race, you are going back to ranking races by attractiveness. It is such a generalisation as to be pointless (as there are huge variants within each race and mixed-race people).

  45. Dan — on 3rd November, 2009 at 2:05 pm  

    Rumbold – if attractiveness has a basis in symmetry then it’s not wholly subjective, although it may appear so. There is science to be done here.

    I don’t really have a problem with ranking races according to their attractiveness, measured in this way. It’s just information. My problem would come with people misusing or misinterpreting such an attractiveness ranking, but then I don’t see why race being involved would make that any worse. Making policy based on attractiveness in any sense would be crazy, whether or not it’s tied to race.

  46. Col Bloodnokk ex M15 — on 3rd November, 2009 at 2:09 pm  

    Speaking as someone with Celtic/Anglo-Saxon ancestry I am a perfect example of attractive mixed race breeding.

    One doesn’t have to go all the way to Brazil to find this out you know .

    Bloodnokk
    The Bunker
    Virginia Water

  47. Naadir Jeewa — on 3rd November, 2009 at 2:22 pm  

    Can I just say that Gattaca still scares the bejeezus out of me.

  48. Auntie Vera — on 3rd November, 2009 at 2:46 pm  
  49. douglas clark — on 3rd November, 2009 at 2:56 pm  

    bananabrain,

    Well done. Which bit of Genesis are we supposed to take as gospel for the creation? Genesis 1.1 or Genesis 2.4?

    Which is it?

    And there is knowt about diversity except tribes striking each other down, with our ancestors usually being the victors, summat like Millwall fans..

    And begat does not suggest tribalism, it suggests division.

    I am not a protestant. I am an atheist.

  50. Emma C — on 3rd November, 2009 at 2:59 pm  

    Why can’t people just lay off this and stop trying to encourage extreme racial mixing for the sake of it? (i.e. Black and White, which is what it normally means.)

    People, on the whole, PREFER those who look similar to themselves. It’s a fact.

    It’s down to the individual, natural selection AS IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN THROUGHOUT HISTORY – yet in this country (and world) we have a growing media propaganda campaign to try to wipe the world of any diversity by ENCOURAGING it.

    I’ll choose who I wish to be with, and in doing so, I’ll choose what I want my child to look like. Lay off!

  51. douglas clark — on 3rd November, 2009 at 3:05 pm  

    Emma C,

    I’d have assumed most folk would marry into their clan, except clans have become a tad more mobile these days. The geography doesn’t hold up as well as it did in the days before Ryan Air.

    Your choices are perhaps a bit wider than they were, say a hundred years ago.

    Just saying…

  52. dave bones — on 3rd November, 2009 at 3:07 pm  

    I thought that the lady wove a very safe and interesting path through the concept of this doco and came to a great conclusion. In other race news did you know that the C18 and the EDL had a fight in London on saturday? Apparently the C18 didn’t like the EDL burning the nazi flag and accused EDL of being a zionist run group. A big fight outside a pub late night apparently.

  53. dave bones — on 3rd November, 2009 at 3:07 pm  

    I thought that the lady wove a very safe and interesting path through the concept of this doco and came to a great conclusion. In other race news did you know that the C18 and the EDL had a fight in London on saturday? Apparently the C18 didn’t like the EDL burning the nazi flag and accused EDL of being a zionist run group. A big fight outside a pub late night .

  54. douglas clark — on 3rd November, 2009 at 3:11 pm  

    dave bones,

    Heh!

    I’m not completely convinced that the EDL and the BMSD mobs couldn’t talk to each other, if they are both sincere in what they say.

  55. Refresh — on 3rd November, 2009 at 3:13 pm  

    Attractiveness and symmetry is a fascinating area which does need deeper scientific study.

    It should also draw in behaviourial science, and individual coding established from birth. As well as a mother’s affinity to her newborn (or rarely lack of it). Media exposure to ‘attractive’ people also has a role to play. A dominant culture can determine what is attractive and what is not. You would only need to watch the Glamour series currently showing on BBC4 to get an idea of how the definition of attractiveness has changed over time.

    Traditionally in times of scarcity well-fed (even over-weight) people were considered attractive.

    Economic prosperity is a major factor.

    From the point of view of religion, equality and egalitarianism (a tenet of most religions) is promoted through humility and moderation in all things and that includes how we present ourselves. In other words flaunting your God-given features in seeking favours is not a nice trait to have. Hence the encouragement to seek inner-beauty. Handsome is as handsome does is the watchword.

    And so it goes.

  56. halima — on 3rd November, 2009 at 3:15 pm  

    I’ve heard this before that symmetry is attractive – why? It seems it’s a lazy way to define what’s attractive – i.e. what I am used to valuing and what others around me value. Each to their own but really I don’t think we can make such sweeping generalizations. There’s conventional attractive and unconventional attractive. What’s conventional differs depending on where you are in the world – and now more than ever – what images we see.

    When I was growing up everyone at school used to say mixed race girls were all really pretty – it was schoolgirl stories, but I always wondered then as I do now, how and why they associated ‘light-skinned’ with being pretty. The converse of this popular view is that being darker isn’t pretty .. or something. Anyway, I am sure my schoolgirl theory is about as scientific as any arguments that link ‘race’ with beauty and intelligence as folks have pointed out already.

  57. dave bones — on 3rd November, 2009 at 3:17 pm  

    Stormfront about Saturday.

  58. dave bones — on 3rd November, 2009 at 3:19 pm  

    and the guy is pro palestinian, anti-Israeli.

  59. Reza — on 3rd November, 2009 at 3:31 pm  

    dave bones

    “Apparently the C18 didn’t like the EDL burning the nazi flag and accused EDL of being a zionist run group. A big fight outside a pub late night apparently.”

    Could this mean that considering the EDL have an official non-‘racist’ policy, wave banners renouncing ‘racism’ the BNP and the NF, burn Nazi flags and chant “Nazis fuck off!” and get into fights with Combat 18 goons, some people here might stop accusing them of being:

    1. BNP
    2. NF
    3. Nazi
    4. Racist

    douglas

    “I’m not completely convinced that the EDL and the BMSD mobs couldn’t talk to each other, if they are both sincere in what they say.”

    I made this point previously. It would be interesting to know how EDL supporters would react to a ‘brown’ person who told them that they were a Muslim that opposes extremism and sharia law.

    I don’t know, and until I do I won’t join in the lazy and bigoted condemnation of these seemingly well-meaning though unsophisticated people.

  60. douglas clark — on 3rd November, 2009 at 3:41 pm  

    Reza,

    If you read Dave Bones link at 57, you’d see a different perspective on this. One I think both you and I would totally disagree with, but which does appear to suggest that mainstream Muslims and the EDL have opened discussions.

    Which would, obviously, be a good thing.

  61. dave bones — on 3rd November, 2009 at 3:45 pm  

    The C18 guy who appears to be a racial purist supporter of palestine (didn’t know they existed) accuses the EDL of having talks with Muslims in mosques. Either this happened or he is refering to the invite for “a cup of tea” from the Harrow Imam maybe.

  62. douglas clark — on 3rd November, 2009 at 3:48 pm  

    Oh, and Reza,

    So did I. But the comment disappeared down the plughole.

  63. douglas clark — on 3rd November, 2009 at 3:50 pm  

    dave bones,

    Yes, I wondered whether it was true or not too.

  64. Reza — on 3rd November, 2009 at 3:52 pm  

    douglas

    Could it be that we’re actually agreeing on something?

    Surely we can’t be having that!

  65. Refresh — on 3rd November, 2009 at 3:56 pm  

    It might be worth reading more of the thread that Dave Bones links too. Its going to get really messy.

    It suggests a significant number of the EDL seem to be racists. And that EDL was initiated in Israel.

    Bewildering times ahead.

  66. Refresh — on 3rd November, 2009 at 3:57 pm  

    By the way can we get back on topi Dave Bones. Request a new thread is started to tackle EDL/SF etc.

  67. dave bones — on 3rd November, 2009 at 4:02 pm  

    This is on topic! Everyone is confused about race and genetics and find it hard to label each other, find common ground, even “knowing your enemy” isn’t straight forward anymore. Anyway got to go, have a good barney!

  68. Refresh — on 3rd November, 2009 at 4:05 pm  

    Yes I suppose if you look at it like that, we should really only have the one thread. Although I do think there is merit in adding an element of differentiation.

  69. douglas clark — on 3rd November, 2009 at 4:23 pm  

    Reza @ 64,

    Yes, so it seems. I’m sure normal service will be restored as soon as possible :-)

  70. bananabrain — on 3rd November, 2009 at 4:25 pm  

    douglas: 1:1 or 2:4?

    1. what’s wrong with both? they’re not in contradiction.
    2. “these are the generations of the heavens and the earth” – this can refer to the preceding section, not just the next section.
    3. this is incredibly complicated stuff and any simple answer i can give you will be wrong.

    And there is knowt about diversity except tribes striking each other down, with our ancestors usually being the victors, summat like Millwall fans..

    but that doesn’t mean we’re not still related, that’s the point. tribes are related until they diverge enough to be considered different and stop intermarrying – you know, like species do.

    I am not a protestant. I am an atheist.

    never said you were, but your way of approaching the text is straight out of the lutheran playbook which, of course, i do not use myself.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  71. douglas clark — on 3rd November, 2009 at 4:50 pm  

    bananabrain,

    Have we not had this sort of discussion already? What it boils down to is you interpreting the Bible in a way that meets current scientific understanding of the way the Universe came about and me shouting chicken and egg.

    Anyhow, we are one species. We can all interbreed and have viable offspring who can also breed. Well, men and women, mainly. There has been no new speciation of homo sapiens since we became, well, homo sapiens. The choices we make about who we breed with are conscious decisions, they are not dictated by genetic incompatability. Maybe you weren’t saying otherwise, but it is kind of important to be clear about that.

  72. bananabrain — on 3rd November, 2009 at 5:25 pm  

    It suggests a significant number of the EDL seem to be racists. And that EDL was initiated in Israel.

    you’d love that, wouldn’t you, refresh? it’d fit right into the way you’d love the universe to behave. certainly mpac-uk are busily pushing that idea based on the edl waving an israeli flag at their mosque demo – i wonder if that might be because they knew it might upset certain people? anyway mpac have taken that as proof positive, which i think says more about them than it does about the edl.

    anyway:

    Have we not had this sort of discussion already?

    er… possibly.

    What it boils down to is you interpreting the Bible in a way that meets current scientific understanding of the way the Universe came about and me shouting chicken and egg.

    i don’t think so. science talks about “how” and “what” – the Torah is interested in the “why are we who we are?” part of things – the software, as opposed to the hardware. i don’t think the Torah confirms “current scientific understanding” any more than it “confirmed” previous scientific understanding – i think they’re POMAs. nor do i think that science confirms or denies the Torah – if anything is a chicken-and-egg argument it’s the science-and-Torah argument. i don’t think either of them deals anything near 100% with the issues the other is dealing with, no matter what fundamentalists on either side might think. it doesn’t mean either is wrong. you might as well argue about where the wood in paul mccartney’s bass guitar came from as a contributory factor to whether early beatles songs are any good. it’s that kind of argument.

    Anyhow, we are one species. We can all interbreed and have viable offspring who can also breed. Well, men and women, mainly. There has been no new speciation of homo sapiens since we became, well, homo sapiens. The choices we make about who we breed with are conscious decisions, they are not dictated by genetic incompatability. Maybe you weren’t saying otherwise, but it is kind of important to be clear about that.

    actually, some people, like the dawkinses, dennetts and pinks of this world, would argue precisely that – that the choices we make about who we breed with are more about genetics than we care to recognise. i don’t have a problem with that, but i also believe that free will is nonetheless valid – as we say:

    “everything is subject to the will of Heaven – except awe of Heaven”.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  73. yasmingrant1@aol.com — on 3rd November, 2009 at 5:59 pm  

    Having watched the show yesterday I was a little disappointed at the shallow and really non conclusions Dr. Prasad eventually reached. She ‘proved’ something we all already know; people of mixed heritage are heterozygous because both parents are of different racial backgrounds, this was clearly nothing ground breaking.But to then go on and try and suggest such individuals are infact superior both mentally and physically takes this ‘finding’ into dangerous terriority i.e. its another form of Nazi rhetoric which tries to assert the superiority of one race over another. In her excitement to prove her child’s ‘specialness’ (because of her mixed heritage) she has actually highlighted a desperate need on her part to prove that mixed people by racial default are ‘better’ than the average which was thinly veiled in a curtain she called ‘diversity’.

    It is clear no such evidence existed for her outlandish claims and I doubt such exists, I for one believe in the greatness of all races and do not like when others try and impose some self serving hierarchy onto the world when we should be working towards true equality.

  74. Refresh — on 3rd November, 2009 at 6:53 pm  

    Bananabrain,

    No I would not love that. If it was the case we really are in territory even more serious than I thought.

    Go read the thread, it summarises as follows – Anjem Ch (Al Maj) are being manipulated to turn up on the streets to provoke and disappear. EDL (and a number of forerunners) were created to respond in kind. It was initiated in Israel, pushed along by Desmond of the Daily Express.

    Personally, I see hope in this rhetoric. We have the BNP who claim to be four square behind Israel; we have contributors blaming ‘ZOG’ for these turn of events and EDL to be their creation. To me this looks like a start of a schism, which is the mainstay of the far-right, and it will be this infighting that will see them all squizzling out.

    Reza, I suggest you go read TCH’s thread on the EDL’s appearance on the streets of Leeds before you start proclaiming their ‘rehabilitation’ into a non-racist anti-muslim bunch of cuddlies.

  75. Don — on 3rd November, 2009 at 7:11 pm  

    I thought the programme was reasonably careful to distinguish betwen whether being heterozygous conferred some measure of advantage, particularly in disease resistance, when large populations are considered and the idea that being mixed race made one ‘better’. If it also leads to more symetrical features then that might (again, taken over large populations) mean that that the group as a whole could score higher in subjective aesthetic assessments.

    Early days, but I didn’t see anybody ‘ranking’ groups and if the science is well conducted then it is a valid field. Certainly as valid as studies which demonstrate that cobsistently breeding within a very genetically similar group can have negative consequences within populations.

    Neither suggest that belonging to either group tells us anything about individuals.

    Obviously, it is reasonable to be wary of anything which might feed into a eugenecist agenda but I don’t think this did.

  76. Don — on 3rd November, 2009 at 7:22 pm  

    b’brain,

    Minor point. Dawkins, Dennett and Pinker are fairly well known individuals. Why pluralise them? If someone commented that ‘…the bananabrains of this world maintain that…’ I think you would be justified in pulling them up on it. And if you weren’t around, I’d happily do it for you.

    I believe it is widely held by scientists in the field of evolutionary development that genes do influence choice of mate, and that a measure of divergence is favoured. I don’t recall any of the three you mentioned as having written significantly on the subject.

  77. Naadir Jeewa — on 3rd November, 2009 at 9:14 pm  

    b’brain, creation in scripture aside, I’m not sure how much knowledge that we’re all the sons of noah, shem, ham and japhet really helps prevent any discrimination. Especially as there’s scraps over who’s God’s preferred son of Abraham stuff between Muslims and Jews.
    On a long enough timescale, practically anything can be read into a textual source. Unfortunately, much the same seems to be true of what constitutes scientific knowledge.

  78. Don — on 4th November, 2009 at 12:12 am  

    On a long enough timescale, practically anything can be read into a textual source. Unfortunately, much the same seems to be true of what constitutes scientific knowledge.

    Sorry, didn’t get that. Could you expand?

  79. bananabrain — on 4th November, 2009 at 10:26 am  

    don,

    my phrasing was meant to convey “and those who share their views”.

    I believe it is widely held by scientists in the field of evolutionary development that genes do influence choice of mate

    it was that upon which i was relying, not expecting it to be in any way controversial and at the same time disputing douglas’ point about things not being dictated by genes, in order to suggest that they probably were to some extent.

    I don’t recall any of the three you mentioned as having written significantly on the subject.

    i don’t pretend to be expert on their work, or on what you regard as “significant”, but dennett certainly devotes quite a lot of time to genetics as a determinant underlying religious issues of mate selection in “breaking the spell” – it’s quite an interesting argument too – it was an interesting realisation that in certain parts of my culture, excellence in talmudic study is in fact a sexual display behaviour – certainly explains some rabbinic scandals!

    refresh:

    no, i’m not especially interested in anything they say on “stormfront”. i hope i misread what you originally wrote, i took it that you were considering this conspiracy theory as in some way worthy of anything other than derisive laughter – mpac seem pretty happy about it, perhaps someone should point out that stormfront share their views.

    honestly, richard desmond? why the arse do people focus on him? he’s a controversial figure at best in the community, as it has not gone unnoticed that he some of his philanthropic means are to be considered the proceeds of pornography.

    there’s no hope in this situation – all it would do in israel is to bolster the “oom schmoom” mentality: “people will believe anything, no matter how crazy, if it is to our discredit”.

    naadir jeewa:

    you’re right, it doesn’t. but it should. as should the “abrahamic” idea. i don’t think it hurts to point this out once in a while.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  80. Refresh — on 4th November, 2009 at 1:05 pm  

    Bananabrain,

    No there was no derisive laughter here. Just despair. And you should be less defensive.

    We seem to have moved into a phase where this tragedy is being played out on the streets. As for Desmond, it is not a question of his integrity, but more that he is capable of and has published seriously damaging and erroneous material.

    The SF thread is under discussion because there seems to be an argument which says because some on Stormfront mistrust EDL, maybe its not so bad. That EDL is more Geert Wilders and less SF.

    Its not about Israel, its about Britain. Its about the cards that are being played on the far-right. From the BNP innovation of support for Israel; Israeli flag furtively unfurled at EDL demos; Al Maj (all 50 of them it seems) dropping pebbles in the pond and disappearing; SF seeking martyrs.

    Its not good.

  81. Binky — on 4th November, 2009 at 6:41 pm  

    OPEN CHALLENGE:

    name accomplished people of mixed race [no cheating] and it is a very long list

    Lord Liverpool, British Prime Minister
    Mary Seacole
    Peter Ustinov
    and you can add hundreds more …

  82. Binky — on 4th November, 2009 at 6:43 pm  

    - 77 – Naadir and Bananabrain

    SCIENCE # 101 COMING UP [SHORT VERSION]

    We are ALL descended from unicellular organisms in shallow pre-Cambrian seas and all the rest is a fairy story.

    Got THAT straight?

  83. Naadir Jeewa — on 4th November, 2009 at 6:44 pm  

    Don, just working off the ideas of a maligned social constructivist.

  84. Don — on 4th November, 2009 at 8:06 pm  

    b’brain,

    Hate to niggle, but I know what you meant to convey. I just have a minor bugbear that says that pluralising an individual is a not so subtle way of disparaging that individual without the need to present an argument. I did understand that you found the actual point in question uncontentious.

    Naadir, OK.

  85. bananabrain — on 5th November, 2009 at 11:14 am  

    @refresh:

    As for Desmond, it is not a question of his integrity, but more that he is capable of and has published seriously damaging and erroneous material.

    damaging to whom? if you can show me an editor or publisher that has never damaged anyone or published something erroneous the same i will be quite impressed. no, what you are doing is, typically, expecting someone jewish, or with zionist connections (and, frankly, i’m not aware of desmond being any kind of zionist figure) to be held to higher standards then, say, i don’t know, andrew gilligan.

    From the BNP innovation of support for Israel;

    nobody in the jewish community is at all impressed with this, or sees it as anything other than a tactical ploy, as you ought to know. all that is is “some of my best friends are jewish” writ large as policy.

    Israeli flag furtively unfurled at EDL demos;

    so furtively that it is picked up by mpac, of all people! talk about tendentious, value-judging language!

    you should be less defensive.

    is it any surprise that my despair is in the likes of you, who seem prepared to entertain any bonkers suspicion as long as it involves israel? if i seem defensive, it’s because i’ve got some experience of the way you think.

    @binky:

    well, you’ve got me convinced – i’m burning my prayer book as i speak, if only i’d known.

    if you knew anything about judaism, however, you’d know that there was no reason that we shouldn’t be descended from unicellular organisms in shallow pre-cambrian seas as part of an infinitely large experiment in being kicked off slightly before the big bang. the only thing that requires belief here is that G!D should Be interested enough to Communicate with us. people like you sound like they’re standing in trafalgar square complaining that they can’t see what this “britain” thing is supposed to be.

    @don:

    i’ve got no need to disparage the authors in question, i enjoy their work and find it fascinating, although they seem to find it necessary to disparage me. i tend rather to disparage their followers, who bowdlerise their arguments to the point of idiocy and then use this to beat up on perfectly inoffensive religious points of view.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  86. Refresh — on 5th November, 2009 at 1:53 pm  

    ‘damaging to whom?’

    The social fabric.

    ‘nobody in the jewish community is at all impressed with this’

    I know.

    ‘so furtively that it is picked up by mpac, of all people! talk about tendentious, value-judging language!’

    So does that not raise the question – what is going on and who is behind it? Should the blogosphere get to the bottom of it – and expose it. That is how value-judging it actually is. You clearly see the same words as I write, but read differently. If you are asking me to write with even more care, then say so.

    ‘is it any surprise that my despair is in the likes of you’

    Despair, indeed! Go read that SF thread, and come back and let me know whether we should ignore the latest manifestations – of what I happen to think is a dangerous development. You might want to pretend to laugh at it, but I am pretty sure the CST is monitoring the situation carefully.

    I’ve no idea why you keep mention mpac or whatever. Discuss what I say, and not discolour the debate before responding. As for having preconceptions of each other – I have one or two of you too. But such an approach moves no one further forward. And its weak.

  87. Binky — on 5th November, 2009 at 2:19 pm  

    Some blacks claim a wee drop of Redskin …

    http://www.amren.com/mtnews/archives/2009/11/black_american.php

    The Redskins seem less keen on the yarn

    In fact, several Indian clans owned slaves and trekked west with them. Indeed, several tribal groups fought for the Confederacy.

  88. bananabrain — on 5th November, 2009 at 2:51 pm  

    The social fabric.

    for instance? and i stand by my earlier objection – find me a journalist or publisher who hasn’t.

    So does that not raise the question – what is going on and who is behind it?

    i may be a bit of an ignorant fecker, but i know one thing – and that is that nobody is likely to find any real answers in a thead on “stormfront”, even if i could access it through my work browser.

    Should the blogosphere get to the bottom of it – and expose it.

    you mean, like the blogosphere’s got to the bottom of how the jews caused 9/11 and 7/7, that sort of exposure?

    what I happen to think is a dangerous development.

    what, neo-nazis and islamists blaming jews for pretty much everything bad in the world? i think that became a dangerous development some time ago. wake me when something new happens.

    You might want to pretend to laugh at it, but I am pretty sure the CST is monitoring the situation carefully.

    i know the people at the cst are certainly intelligent enough to figure out the difference between neo-nazis and islamists trading conspiracy theories about israeli black-ops and real life.

    I’ve no idea why you keep mention mpac or whatever.

    http://www.mpacuk.org/story/060909/exposed-edl-and-its-zionist-connection.html

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Pickled Politics © Copyright 2005 - 2010. All rights reserved. Terms and conditions.
With the help of PHP and Wordpress.