Bronze-level articleRacialism

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Racism and racists

Racialism is the view that human races are substantially different from each other and these racial differences strongly determine the abilities and behaviour of individuals and peoples.

Unlike more casual forms of knee-jerk racism, prejudice and bigotry, racialist theories attempt to rationalise racist attitudes into a (somewhat) coherent scientific or political doctrine. Most racialists believe that some hierarchy of races exists, and since most racialists are white supremacists, this usually puts the Caucasian, or "Aryan"[1] race firmly at the top. (When called on this, some recent racialists note Jews or Asians measure higher on IQ therefore they are totally not being racist except for everything else they say.)

The claims always seem to include, somewhere along the way, one that works out to "black people are naturally stupid, so their social position follows unavoidably," because surely nothing else could have possibly caused such a plight. This falls down in that the arbitrary group "people of recent African ancestry" has more genetic variation than does the entire rest of humanity,[2] and claiming they are a genetic grouping defies science.

Examples of racialist governments include Nazi Germany and apartheid South Africa. Examples of racialist pressure groups include the Aryan Nations, the Ku Klux Klan and the Nation of Islam.


Subsets and names

Alternate names

Very few racialists call themselves "racialist". Instead, because straight-up racism isn't hip anymore, the euphemism treadmill rolls at full speed:

  • Scientific racism: While scientific racists do have to admit their racism, they also get the joy of slapping the "approval" of SCIENCE on it.
  • Racial realism or race realism: Racial realists get a two-pronged advantage: First, they can deny their racism by -- "I'm not a racist, I'm a racial realist!". Second, they can paint non-racialists as "race deniers" or "racial difference deniers", which suggests a denial of the obvious facts.
  • Human biodiversity or HBD:[3] By being just one "bio" away from supporting "diversity" and by failing to mention race, human biodiversity is the most innocuous form of racialism, because it allows one to deny any racism -- because it's recognizing biodiversity, not being racist! Coined by Steve Sailer of VDARE.
  • Human phenotypes or Human varieties, such as the Human Phenotypes website (which attempts to revive centuries old race typology) and Human Varieties.

Hereditarianism vs non-hereditarianism

Hereditarian racialism is a school within racialism (mostly linked to the Pioneer Fund) which argues there are heritable mental differences between races, and that there is a racial hierarchy in intelligence. Most, but not all racialists are hereditarians.

Non-hereditarianism racialism argues that there are no significant heritable mental differences between races, although "race" still exists.

Contemporary scientific racists (e.g. Richard Lynn, Roger Pearson) are especially those few academics associated with the hereditarianism school. Most hereditarian racialists are white supremacists, however.

Scientific consensus

Most variation occurs among human individuals in the same population, rather than between populations.

No biologist denies on average a small number of traits are geographically structured, e.g. skin colour being a light pink at northern latitude, and dark brown in the tropics. However clines, not races, are most accurate and useful in capturing these rather trivial differences because "human genetic diversity is only gradual and presents no major discontinuity between populations".[4]

The word "cline" derives from the Greek word for slope and the gradient or continuum of a given trait across geographic space is known as a clinal distribution:

The influence of clines

Strong genetic influence weakening the race concept is also seen growing out of the concept of clines and supporting data. Clines referred to gradations of genotypes or phenotypes over a geographic area, and were distributed within and across racial and national boundaries. In 1938 HUXLEY proposed the concept of clines, but clarified that it was not a taxonomic entity, otherwise it might be confused with race. At about the same time HUXLEY and HADDON’S [1936] book, We Europeans, presented one of the early maps of a cline showing gradations in the B blood type starting at a low frequency in Spain and increasing towards Moscow [...] The concept of cline began to enter anthropological awareness in the 1950s when LIVINGSTONE [1958] published data indicating that the clinal distribution of the sickle-cell allele (Hbs) corresponded to the distribution of malaria throughout West Africa, the Mediterranean, and South Asia, demonstrating that Hbs is not confined to one so-called race and that alleged boundarylines between so-called races are really continuous gradations, not merely transitions between one race and another. In the early 1960s LIVINGSTONE [1962] participated in the debate over the validity of race and declared that 'there are no races, there are only clines' (p. 279).[5]

The consensus among modern biologists is that the concept of race when applied to Homo sapiens does not capture enough variation, and (the small amount it does capture) not in an accurate way:

Race is not an accurate or productive way to describe human biological variation.[6]

The bio-anthropologist John H. Relethford (2009) describes race as being "crude" and not a convenient tool to study human variation:

The boundaries in global variation are not abrupt and do not fit a strict view of the race concept; the number of races and the cutoffs used to define them are arbitrary. The race concept is at best a crude first-order approximation to the geographically structured phenotypic variation in the human species.[7]

Clines replaced the race concept from the 1960s.[8] Although Stephen Molnar in his book Human Variation points out "the clinal approach has its strength, but only when used in conjunction with the actual basis for trait distribution — the population". He defines a population (gamodeme) as a "the most narrowly restricted group of individuals that interbreed a majority of the time".[9]

Forensic anthropology

Sierp & Henneberg (2015) question the high accuracy rate claim for "race" determination methods from skull measurements:

We have shown that even with 20 non-fragmented sets of skeletal remains none could be consistently placed into a single racial category. Individual variability may have played a significant role leading to inconsistency of the results found in this study, which further confirms the ideas of Brace and Ryan (1980), Henneberg (2010) and Lewontin (1976); that most human variation occurs between individuals of the same population rather than being attributable to geographic distribution.[10]

Sauer (1992) notes that "to estimate, with varying degrees of specificity, a person’s place of ancestry from their physical features" is "not a vindication of the [biological] race concept".[11]

C. L. Brace makes the same point that "region, does not mean race".[12] For example Ousley et al. (2009) claim to have identified local populations such as South Japanese from bones with moderate to high accuracy, but no racialist has ever considered the region of south Japan as containing a distinctive race. More recently terms such as "geographical ancestry" have replaced race in forensic literature.

Race in medicine

Classification of race (e.g. "Caucasian", "Black") is still sometimes considered to be useful by doctors. This however has been criticized on the grounds studies on disease rarely control environmental factors and so a genetic etiology is assumed without testing. That said, no doctor denies that some diseases are heritable and found at high frequency in some populations, low in others. While information about ethnicity may be informative for biomedical research: "it is imperative to move away from describing populations according to racial classifications such as 'black', 'white' or 'Asian'... Because there can be considerable genetic heterogeneity within a region, it is most useful to be as specific as possible about geographic origins, ethnicity or tribal affiliation".[13] Those diseases that show considerable inter-group difference, are only confined to local populations or small ethnic groups, that are often more inbred (e.g. ethno-religious sects such as the Samaritans) rather than major regions, or continents.

Non-human animals

Breeds of dogs are recognized by most biologists to be a useful intraspecific construct, because on average a dog breed captures six times more genetic variation than geographically separate populations of humans (30% versus 5%) while most breeds also have more discrete ancestral boundaries (where they were domesticated) that has produced non-trivial variation.[14] Sewall Wright's Fixation Index (Fst) has also shown human populations are much less genetically differentiated than most subspecies of other animals. However a few examples of intraspecific animal population structure, are similar to humans. Fischer et al. argue that there are no chimpanzee subspecies, or races, and that chimpanzee variation is mostly characterized by continuous gradients of gene frequencies and phenotypic clines, with ongoing gene flow between populations.[15]

Defining race

Contemporary racialists no longer argue for biological races in the sense of subspecies.[16] By definition subspecies are intergenerational reproductively isolated populations, within a species, that are highly genetically differentiated because of the lack of individuals migrating between them over a considerable length of time. Subspecies are therefore in a sense "incipient species", meaning given enough time, say 100 generations, they will become a species. Biologists however have calculated that very weak gene flow on the scale of 1 individual exchanged between two populations of 1000 individuals per generation - is sufficient to prevent genetic differentiation, making speciation impossible.[17] In light of this, some scientists allow for a small amount of gene flow between subspecies, defining subspecies as "geographically circumscribed, differentiated populations" or "distinctive lineages" that capture a high level (a minimal threshold is imposed) of between-group variation:

Race is generally used as a synonym for subspecies, which traditionally is a geographically circumscribed, genetically differentiated population... To avoid making “race” the equivalent of a local population, minimal thresholds of differentiation are imposed. Human “races” are below the thresholds used in other species, so valid traditional subspecies do not exist in humans. A “subspecies” can also be defined as a distinct evolutionary lineage within a species. Genetic surveys and the analyses of DNA haplotype trees show that human “races” are not distinct lineages, and that this is not due to recent admixture; human “races” are not and never were “pure.” Instead, human evolution has been and is characterized by many locally differentiated populations coexisting at any given time, but with sufficient genetic contact to make all of humanity a single lineage sharing a common evolutionary fate.[18]

According to the evolutionary biologist Ernst Mayr: "the designation of "incipient species" [i]s true only of isolates but not of contiguously distributed continental subspecies".[19]

Modern proponents of human races concede that if races are defined in standard taxonomy as subspecies, there are no human races (i.e. genetic variation between populations is far too small). Instead though of accepting the scientific consensus that human races don't exist, new concepts and definitions of race have been invented or adopted by racialists. Hochman (2013) rejects these on the grounds "the criteria applied to humans are not consistent with those used to define subspecies in nonhuman animals, and no rationale has been given for this differential treatment (emphasis added)".[20]

Furthermore Hochman has raised concerns that the modern redefinitions of race used by racialists are much too weak to contrast with the consensus races don't exist:

The problem with weak versions of racial naturalism is that they do not contrast with anti-realism about biological race. When race naturalists weaken their position they end up agreeing with their opponents about human biology, and defending a trivialised definition of race.

The following 4 concepts are modern "weak" versions of racial population naturalism:


Gunnar Dahlberg (1948) considered the possibility there are human races if redefined as "isolates", meaning breeding populations that are geographically and reproductively isolated: "we can only talk of races provided an isolate or a group of isolates display differences from other isolates".[21] This concept of race has most recently been defended by philosopher of science Philip Kitcher.[22] Such populations, while rare, exist, but no human population has been isolated long enough to have diverged in genotype of any significant measure, let alone pass as a subspecies. This race concept therefore has been criticized on scientific grounds (Zack, 2007) as well as semantic, i.e. if "isolates" exist why not just call them that? What does the word "race" have to do with them? (Glasgow, 2009).[23][24]


The geneticist Theodosius Dobzhansky founded a race concept called populationism.[25] For Dobzhansky, human races are "populations of a species which differ in the frequencies of one or more genetic variants, gene alleles, or chromosomal structures".[26] No biologist denies there are human populations that differ in their genetic frequency, albeit a miniscule quantity, usually partitioned by socio-cultural (e.g. linguistic) factors, such as ethnic groups. The problem is that this is a much too broad redefinition of race, that nearly all biologists do not regard it to be useful:

Livingstone [1962] pointed out Dobzhansky's proposed definition of race actually constituted a major redefinition of the term... '[it] is not the general use of the concept of race in biology and the concept of race, and the concept in the past has not been associated wit this theory of human diversity'... Dobzhansky's redefinition of race would obscure more than it clarifies, because he provided no cogent rationale for regarding the differing gene frequencies that distinguish populations from each other as racially significant.[27]

Montagu also criticized this redefinition as nonsensical:

It seems to me an unrealistic procedure to maintain that this late in the day we can readapt the term “race” to mean something utterly different from what it has always most obfuscatingly and ambiguously meant.[28]

When studying populations in terms of genetic frequency, Montagu proposed to use the term "genogroup", but which he cautioned was not a race.


Ecotypes are populations adapted to environmental variables (such as altitude, temperature and humidity). Pigliucci and Kaplan (2003) argue that human races exist in the sense of being ecotypes, but point out they have nothing in common with traditional proposed races (e.g. "White", "Mongoloid") by racialists.[29] A human ecotype then would be a fairly localized population adapted to specific environmental conditions such as native villagers in the Andean mountains that show high-altitude adaptive traits, such as increased lung capacity. Later Kaplan would retract his own position on ecotypes being races, writing: "populations with genetic differences due to local adaptations maintained by selection be referred to as 'ecotypes' rather than 'races' evokes Livingstone’s concerns about accurately describing the sources of variation, as well as concerns about the dangers of conflating various meanings of the polysemic term 'race'."[30]

Genetic clusters

Most modern racialists redefine race as a "genetic cluster", going further than Dobzhansky to argue there are not only genetic differences between populations, but abrupt (mean) frequency discontinuities, which support continental racial divisions. Spencer (2014) a proponent of this new concept acknowledges that: "no new racial naturalist tries to use genetic clustering results of human populations as evidence that humans have subspecies" and in more detail states:

A new racial naturalist in the philosophical race debate is a person who uses genetic clusters of human populations to argue that race, as understood by current ordinary folk in the U.S., is biologically real. A new racial naturalist in the biomedical race debate is a person who uses genetic clusters of human populations to argue that race, as understood by current ordinary folk in the U.S., is useful in biomedical research and clinical practice. A new racial naturalist in the biological race debate is a person who uses genetic clusters of human populations to argue that humans can be divided into biological races according to a concept of race in use among professional biologists.[31]

Molecular anthropologists such as Jonathan Marks are confused by this redefinition because it is so far removed from the concept of subspecies:

What is unclear is what this has to do with 'race' as that term has been used through much in the twentieth century - the mere fact that we can find groups to be different and can reliably allot people to them is trivial. Again, the point of the theory of race was to discover large clusters of people that are principally homogeneous within and heterogeneous between, contrasting groups.[32]

Regardless though of this issue, the geographical pattern to human genetic variation (which accounts for under 0.01% of the genome) matches an almost continuous gradient/isolation-by-distance model.[33] As little as 1-2% of this variation is unexplained by geographic distance, and can be captured by clustering (Handley et al., 2007).[34] However these minor genetic discontinuities are only found between local regions, not continents:

Zones of discontinuity in human gene frequency distributions are present, but the local gradients are so small that they can be identified only by simultaneously studying many loci using complex statistical techniques. In addition, such regions of relatively sharp genetic change do not surround large clusters of populations, on a continental or nearly continental scale. On the contrary, they occur irregularly, within continents and even within single countries.[35]

Genetic studies purporting to show genetic discontinuity between continents, are flawed since they omit 'intermediate' populations and hence wrongfully polarize the data, but "the inclusion of such samples demonstrates geographic continuity in the distribution of genetic variation and thus undermines traditional concepts of race" (Bamshad et al. 2004). In a major study Serre and Pääbo demonstrated the pattern of genetic variation among populations between continents or major regions (Africa, Europe, Asia) is not abrupt and that and any divide or slicing of this genetic continuum will be arbitrary:

Serre and Pääbo (2004) argued that sampling often concentrates on “the extremes of continental land masses” (p. 1680), maximizing the geographic and therefore genetic distance between individuals presumed to belong to distinct continental clusters. Without “a sampling strategy that maximizes the geographic distribution of samples and keeps similar sample size for each geographical area,” they warned, researchers risked falsely creating “apparent substructures” (Serre and Pääbo 2004:1681). In contrast, when these researchers designed a study that sampled individuals “such that their geographic distribution around the world approximates the distribution of the human population as a whole and includes areas where Africa, Asia, and Europe meet,” the pattern of genetic variation they found was “one of gradients of allele frequencies that extend over the entire world, rather than discrete clusters” (Serre and Pääbo 2004:1679-1680)."[36]

Some racialists who accept the reality that continental clusters are just one of many ways to divide genetic variation, defend them on the grounds they are the most useful and convenient, i.e. as opposed to counting hundreds, or thousands of races and that the continents are just the geographical "poles". This argument is invalid since the genetic clusters contain far too little genetic variation to be useful.

A brief history of racialism

While racialist ideas had been circulated for countless years by philosophers both natural and folk, what is more commonly known as "scientific racism" or "raciology" didn't come about until the 18th century and only gained more widespread popularity in the mid-19th century. Early attempts at "scientific" definitions of race drew largely on Carl Linnaeus' Systema Naturae (1735), in which he posited five races: the Europeanus, the Africanus, the Americanus, the Asiaticus, and the Monstrosus (that last one was actually made up of mythical creatures).[37]

The idea of a Great Chain of Being, with a linear model of creation, also influenced racialist ideologies. One of "scientific" racism's greatest hits in the 19th century was Joseph Arthur, Comte de Gobineau's An Essay on the Inequality of the Human Races (1853), which was basically a work of racial historical determinism claiming that the "Aryans" were the supreme race and miscegenation led to civilizational decline.[38] Gobineau's writings greatly "inspired" the British-Germanophile Houston Stewart Chamberlain, who wrote The Foundations of the 19th Century (1899), a massive anti-Semitic tome ascribing Europe's greatness to the Aryans (or Teutons).[39] This would later be heavily recycled by the Nazis. Incidentally, Chamberlain also rejected evolution and promoted the pseudo-astronomy of Hans Hörbiger. Another influence on the Nazis was Ernst Haeckel, who used Lamarckian views of evolution to defend racialism and nationalism.[40]

Why are people racialist?

"Race realism" is commonly used by David Duke, Jared Taylor[wp], and sundry other white supremacists, which should be a big clue as to its racist roots.[41][42] The term is also bandied about quite often by the cranks at VDARE and the Pioneer Fund.

Some racialism is justified by religion. Consider the Curse of Ham, in which Noah's curse on Canaan is interpreted to have racial implications in which the cursed people had their skin "blackened." A similar concept can be found in the Book of Mormon.[43] Some forms of racialism are based on flawed interpretations of Christianity.

Some racialism is justified by pseudoscience and flawed interpretations of science, particularly (in recent times) evolutionary biology. Diagrams showing the skull shapes and measurements of various races were used in racialist justifications for slavery during the 19th century, and appeared again in Nazi propaganda.

Problems with racialism

There are many problems with racialism, the chief of which is that race is not "real"; races are social constructions based on arbitrary agglomerations of visible physical genetic traits, such as skin color. In fact, the most genetically diverse peoples on Earth — who race realists pretty much all regard as a single homogeneous group — are all dark-skinned Africans, as variation per distance is always greatest near the origin.

The proportion of your genes that controls the external appearance by which "races" are determined is on the order of 0.01%.[44]

In many societies, race as a social fact is a big deal. Everybody in such a society has a relatively clear and acknowledged racial identity. These identities may affect their lives, store of social capital, and relationships with others in many and frequent ways. It also is obvious to people that the traits that locally sort people into races are inheritable. In the face of such a pervasive social reality, the idea that race is a social convention based on an arbitrary set of external characteristics may well seem counterintuitive.

The "original" skin color

Most forms of racialism view whatever their preferred skin color is as the "original" or "natural" skin color while other skin colors are viewed as aberrations or the result of devolution. Examples include:

Modern anthropologists believe white skin came from black skin as people moved to more northerly climates and substituted meat and fish with cereal grains. As people moved to more northerly climates darker skinned people were less able to synthesize vitamin D and relied more on diet for this essential nutrient; when agriculture was introduced to northern climates and wheat became the main staple, vitamin D deficiency and related diseases like rickets became a problem. Lighter-skinned people could synthesize more vitamin D from the same amount of sunlight, giving them an evolutionary advantage.

Note that this may have been an extremely recent mutation: two hunter-gatherer skeletons from 7000 years ago, found in Spain in 2006, were ascertained to have had blue eyes but dark skin.[45]

At the same time, chimpanzees and gorillas have pink skin; dark skin likely evolved as early humans lost their own hair.

Of course, racialists who claim to accept the scientific consensus just turn the whole thing around: if white skin is a chronologically later adaptation, then white people are obviously "more evolved". The ability to spin new discoveries and new "cultural wisdom" into new flavors of racialism can be seen in other areas, as when Jews and Asians went from being considered irredeemable in every respect to being the model minorities[wp] that (white non-Jewish) racialists can trot out to "prove" they aren't racist. e.g. the recent claim in the fringes of neoreaction that "the genetic groups are the Homo sapiens sapiens/Homo neanderthalus crosses, the Homo sapiens sapiens/Homo neanderthalus/Homo denisova crosses, and the pure Homo sapiens sapiens. These broadly align with Europe, Asia, and Africa, but not exactly" when Denisovans were only discovered in 2010, but proponents insist it's backed up by science.[46][47]

Craniology redux

Racialists were also known for having big skull fetishes. The pseudoscience of phrenology was incorporated into racialist theories during the 19th century. The variant of phrenology known as "craniology" or "craniometry" became popular during this period. Craniology attempted to measure intelligence using the shape and size of the skull as a proxy. Craniology was used as a justification for all sorts of bigotry. Brits, for example, declared the Irish to be inferior to Anglo-Saxons based on skull measurements. It could also be called a form of "scientific" sexism as it was used to "prove" the superiority of men.[48] Surgeon and anthropologist Paul Broca conducted some of the most famous large-scale studies attempting to demonstrate the intellectual superiority of whites and men.[49]. Herbert Spencer was also known as a promoter of these ideas in his psychological writings.

Craniology is, of course, made of multiple layers of wrong. In theory, it is already two steps removed from what it's attempting to measure, i.e., skull size (cranial capacity, in technical parlance) is used to approximate brain size which is in turn used to approximate "intelligence." Cranial capacity can, in fact, be used to measure brain size. However, more advanced bigots have generally moved on to direct measurements of brain size (thanks in large part to modern brain scanning technology), which is where the weak link in the chain really is. The problem here is that the size of the brain by itself is not a measure of intelligence. If this idea were taken to its logical conclusion, the world would likely be ruled by elephants or sperm whales. To use an example much more comparable to humans in brain structure, Neanderthals' brains were on average a bit larger than ours.[50] So much for the Neanderthal master race. It is only when a person has an extremely small brain, as with conditions such as microcephaly[wp], that absolute brain size has any negative impact on cognitive functions. Furthermore, having an abnormally large amount of brain tissue, referred to as megalencephaly, is recognized as being pathological and is strongly correlated with several neurological disorders, especially severe epilepsy and autism. What is much more important than absolute brain size includes factors such as cortical folding, neuronal organization, dendritic and synaptic connections, etc.[51]

Furthermore, the size and shape of the skull is itself not set in stone. As was demonstrated a hundred years ago by Franz Boas, people who are raised with a higher quality of life tend to have slightly larger and differently-shaped skulls than those who grew up in poverty, with little food and limited access to health care.[52] It was this research, showing that upbringing plays as much a role in skull size and shape as genetics does, that helped to discredit the "science" back in the early 20th century.

For good measure, and to demonstrate how utterly wrong craniological ideas are, assume that there is a single part of the brain responsible for intelligence and that its size magically corresponds exactly to intelligence levels (or, in other words, set the game up in the bigots' favor as much as possible). Because we know about the neuroplasticity of the brain, this still does not prove any kind of biological or genetic determinism tied to the size of this part of the brain as we don't know the direction of causality, i.e. is the person smart because the hypothetical "intelligence cortex" happens to be large or is that part of the brain large because the person happens to have learned well?

A handful of researchers including figures such as J. Philippe Rushton and Arthur Jensen have continued to argue that certain races are just inherently dumb. While they still like their skull and brain size measurements, their arguments hinge more on invoking genetic determinism as an explanation for racial and ethnic group differences in IQ scores. In addition to the fact that race is incredibly ill-defined itself, IQ has many of its own problems. While there is general agreement on IQ as a useful measure, there is no consensus on a number of related issues, such as how strongly it correlates to general intelligence, how many aspects of intelligence it can measure, what the implications are sociologically speaking, etc.[53] Another problem with using IQ in this manner (besides the obvious) is the Flynn Effect, a phenomenon discovered by the psychologist James Flynn in which there has been a global rise in average IQ scores. In many cases, ethnic minorities have made the most rapid gains.[54][55] Whoops.

Rushton, however, has put a new spin on the supposed racial hierarchy -- according to him, it should be organized thusly: "Mongoloid" > "Caucasoid" > "Negroid." This led anthropologist Jonathan Marks to remark:

First we must admire the apparent cranial expansion of Asians over the last half-century, when [earlier] researchers consistently reported their having smaller brains than whites. Obviously this implies the possibility of a comparable expansion in blacks. More likely, it implies the possibility of scientists finding just what they expect when the social and political stakes are high.[56]

The human gene pool does not divide neatly into geographical groupings

What human genetic groupings actually look like. See how many distinct groups "black" would break down into?

Human genetics doesn't work like race realists think it does.

Race realists spend a great deal of time and effort pointing out genetic differences between geographically separated populations in gene clustering research and insisting this is evidence for "races".

In gene clustering research a set of populations is typically determined via subjective descriptors in ethnicity, language and geographics and people can be reliably identified as members of these groups. However, this way of categorizing people depends fundamentally on the quantity and method used to create the aforementioned framework of ancestral populations; how people are grouped into populations is completely arbitrary. This is completely different from the problem of "races", which presupposes that there is only one objectively and biologically valid way of dividing all humans into different populations.

The idea of large clusters of people that are principally homogeneous within and heterogeneous in-between in terms of genetic similarity — the latter being necessary to speak of distinct "races" — has no scientific basis and in fact there is evidence against it. Witherspoon et al concluded in their 2007 paper "Genetic Similarities Within and Between Human Populations":

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.[57]

Icelanders and Ashkenazim might constitute genetic clusters; "Asians", "Caucasians" and particularly "Negroes" do not.

Adaptation doesn't work like that

Adaptation to environments, including social environments, through natural and sexual selection is the linchpin of evolution. Remembering this means knowing why scientific racism is ridiculous. To argue that races or ethnic groups differ innately in intelligence, however defined, is exactly equal to an assertion that intelligence has proven less adaptive for some people than for others. This at minimum requires an explanation, a specifically evolutionary explanation, beyond mere statistical assertion; without that it can be assumed to be cultural bias or noise. Since most human intelligence is in fact social intelligence — the main thing the human mind is built for is networking in human societies — this would require this social evolutionary arms race to have somehow stopped.

Genetic differences between people from different locations are pretty much entirely genetic drift. Amount of melanin does vary with distance from the equator, and there's recent actual evolution such as Lactase persistence in adults.[58]

Notable racialists

A racist 1860 American political cartoon, depicting with contempt an African-American as the "next Republican candidate." In the cartoonist's view, such a possibility is ridiculous because of the biologically determined positions of the races.
  • Benjamin Rush: Rush was, rather interestingly, one of the Founding Fathers and an abolitionist. He believed that blacks suffered from a disease called "negritude," supposedly a form of leprosy, that could be "cured" and would result in turning their skin white. This led to his attempts to develop quack "cures" for "negritude."
  • Samuel Cartwright: Expanding on Rush's work, Cartwright argued that drapetomania also a physical illness that could be diagnosed through the appearance of lesions on the skin. No doubt this had nothing to do with the backbreaking manual labor and frequent whippings and beatings slaves endured.[59] Cartwright coined two pseudo-psychological diagnoses that rationalized and justified slavery. The first he called "drapetomania," which was allegedly an illness causing slaves to run away from their masters. Conveniently for the slave masters, much of the "treatment" for this "illness" consisted of whipping. The second "diagnosis" was "dysaethesia aethiopica," or laziness.
  • J. Philippe Rushton: Advocate of "Life History Theory" that proposes that all socially desirable personality and intellectual traits are concentrated in the white and Asian races, whereas all the antisocial and undesirable traits are concentrated in black people. Repeatedly criticised in academia for sloppy scholarship including using questionable sources of information including the Penthouse Forum.[60]
  • Richard Lynn: Eugenics advocate who recently wrote a paper claiming that black people have longer penises than whites, who in turn are better endowed than Asians.[61] This was based on Rushton's "Goldilocks" theory of race: "Orientals have big brains but small genitalia, Africans have small brains but big genitalia, but Europeans Are Just Right[™]."[62] One of the key sources of data used in this paper was the World Penis Size Site,[63] an anonymously compiled source that includes a lot of made-up data and bogus references.[64][65] Lynn has also stated that "incompetent cultures" need "phasing out."[66] Just to clear up any doubt about which cultures he thinks need "phasing out" he writes: "Who can doubt that the Caucasoids and the Mongoloids are the only two races that have made any significant contributions to civilization?"[67]
  • Donald Templer: Authored a book on penises used as an additional reference by Richard Lynn even though Templer has no qualifications in urology. Advocates the voluntary sterilization of welfare recipients on eugenics grounds.[68]

A notable non-racialist: Charles Darwin

Despite what the creationists and Social Darwinists would have you believe, the work of Charles Darwin did not promote racialism (as above, many raciological works were written before Darwin even published his own work and many of them, in fact, denied Darwinian evolution). Despite making occasional use of racist tropes in common currency at the time in his writing (e.g., use of the term "savages"), Darwin's On the Origin of Species and the subsequent Descent of Man undermined many of the arguments made by racialists by demonstrating that humans were one species.[69] Darwin specifically argued that there were no clear delineations between the races and that they graduated into each other in Descent of Man. In his personal life, he was also a staunch abolitionist.[70][71]

It was, in fact, Herbert Spencer who coined the term "survival of the fittest" in his book Principles of Biology (notably it was published before On the Origin of Species), and (wrongly) applied evolutionary principles to sociology and politics (although his idea of evolution was closer to Lamarck's than Darwin's).[72] Darwin's cousin, Francis Galton, coined the term "eugenics". It's also worth noting that the line of eugenicists spawned by Galton in Britain generally saw social class as more important than race.

Further, there is the persistent meme perpetuated by creationists that Darwin's works were used as justification for the eugenics programs of Nazi Germany. For a full debunking of this, see the article Hitler and evolution.

See also

External links



  1. Or, in Metapedia's case, "Caucasoid."
  2. Tishkoff SA et al (2009). The Genetic Structure and History of Africans and African Americans
  4. Statement on Race proposed by the participants of the Scientific Workshop of the International UNESCO-Conference Against Racism, Violence, and Discrimination, June 8 and 9, 1995, Schlaining Castle, Austria. [1]
  5. Lieberman, L., Kirk, R. C., & Corcoran, M. (2003). The decline of race in American physical anthropology. Anthropological Review. 66: 3-21.
  7. Relethford JH (2009). "Race and global patterns of phenotypic variation". American Journal of Physical Anthropology. 139:16–22.
  8. "Promoted by Livingstone (1962), the study of clines, the distribution of individual morphological and genetic traits, came to replace race as a focus of analysis for many workers." - Caspari, Rachel. 2010. "Deconstructing Race: Racial Thinking, Geographic Variation, and Implications for Biological Anthropology" In: A Companion to Biological Anthropology Clark Spencer Larsen (ed.). Wiley-Blackwell.
  9. Molnar, S. (1983). Human Variation [2nd ed.]. Prentice-Hall. p. 146.
  10. [2]
  11. Sauer, N. J. (1992)." Forensic anthropology and the concept of race: If races don't exist, why are forensic anthropologists so good at identifying them?". Social Science & Medicine, 34(2), 107-111.[3]
  12. Brace, C. L. (1995). "Region does not mean 'race'—reality versus convention in forensic anthropology". J Forensic Sci. 40(2): 171–175.
  15. Fischer A, Pollack J, Thalmann O, Nickel B, Paabo S (2006). "Demographic history and genetic differentiation in apes". Curr Biol 16: 1133–1138.
  16. Unnaturalised Racial Naturalism
  17. Lewontin, R. C. (1974). The Genetic Basis of Evolutionary Change. Columbia University Press. p. 213.
  18. Templeton, A. R. (1998). “Human Races: A Genetic and Evolutionary Perspective.” American Anthropologist. 100(3), 632-650.
  19. Mayr, E. (1982). "Of what use are subspecies?". The Auk 99, 593–595.[4]
  20. Hochman, A. (2013). "Against the new racial naturalism". Journal of Philosophy (6):331–51.
  21. Dahlberg, G. (1948). Mathematical Methods for Population Genetics. New York: Interscience Publishers. p. 108.
  22. Kitcher (1999) has revived Dahlberg's isolation concept of race, extending it to populations that are isolated by non-geographical barriers (e.g. cultural barriers). Thus, according to Kitcher, human races may include: tribes of remote regions, economic classes such as aristocracy, and inbred religious-sects such as the Amish.
  23. Zack, N. (2007). "Ethnicity, Race, and the Importance of Gender". In: Race Or Ethnicity?. Gracia, Jorge (ed.). pp. 101–22. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
  24. Glasgow, J. (2009). A Theory of Race. Routledge.
  25. Gannett, L. (2013). "Theodosius Dobzhansky and the genetic race concept". Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences. 44(3), 250-261.
  26. Dobzhansky, T. (1951). Genetics and the origin of species [3rd ed.]. New York: University of Columbia Press. p. 138.
  27. Baum, Bruce. (2006). The Rise and Fall of the Caucasian Race: A Political History of Racial Identity. New York University. pp. 206-207.
  28. Montagu, A. (1962). "The concept of race". American Anthropologist. 64(5:1):919-928. [5]
  29. Pigliucci M, Kaplan J (2003). "On the concept of biological race and its applicability to humans". Phil Sci:1161-1172.
  30. Kaplan, J. M., Winther, R. G. (2014). "Realism, antirealism, and conventionalism about race". Philosophy of Science. 81:1039-1052.
  31. Spencer, Q. (2014). "The unnatural racial naturalism". Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences. 46: 38-43.
  32. Human Evolutionary Biology, p.270
  33. Bamshad et al. 2004. "Deconstructing the relationship between genetics and race". Nature Reviews Genetics, 5,. 598–609.
  34. Handley, Lori J. Lawson, et al. (2007). "Going the distance: human population genetics in a clinal world." Trends in Genetics. 23(9): 432-439.
  36. Morning, A. (2014). "Does Genomics Challenge the Social Construction of Race?". Sociological Theory. 32(3): 189–207.
  37. Systema Naturae
  38. An Essay on the Inequality of the Human Races
  39. Houston Stewart Chamberlain entry in the Encyclopedia Britannica. Foundations can be read in full here, if you're into that sort of thing.
  40. Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919), UC Berkeley evolution exhibit
  41. David Duke's mailbag: "Are you a racist?" (possibly NSFW)
  42. White Supremacist Stampede, The Daily Beast
  43. See the Wikipedia article on Black people and early Mormonism.
  44. Do Races Differ? Not Really, DNA Shows (Natalie Angier, New York Times, 22 August 2000)
  48. Craniometry entry in The Skeptic's Dictionary
  49. Women's Brains by Stephen Jay Gould, excerpt from The Panda's Thumb
  50. Volume of a Human Brain, Physics Factbook
  51. For a brief overview, see Brain Size and Intelligence by Steven Novella and Fact or Fiction: When It Comes to Intelligence, Does Brain Size Matter? in Scientific American. Further information can be found at the Brain Evolution page at Bryn Mawr.
  52. Clarence C. Gravlee, H. Russell Bernard, and William R. Leonard. Heredity, Environment, and Cranial Form: A Reanalysis of Boas's Immigrant Data. American Anthropologist, Mar. 2003, 105(1):125–138
  53. Ulric Neisser et al. Intelligence: Knowns and Unknowns. American Psychologist, Feb. 1996.
  54. Flynn Effect page at Indiana University. See also "None of the Above" by Malcolm Gladwell and The Flynn Effect and IQ Disparities Among Races, Ethnicities, and Nations by Scott Barry Kaufman.
  55. James R. Flynn. Searching for Justice: The Discovery of IQ Gains Over Time. American Psychologist, vol. 54, no. 1, Jan. 1999, pp. 5-20
  56. Quoted in: Leonard Lieberman. How "Caucasoids" Got Such Big Crania and Why They Shrank. Current Anthropology. Volume 42, Number 1, February 2001
  58. Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato, the genetics of lactase persistence see also: image
  59. Vanessa Jackson, In Our Own Voices: African American Stories of Oppression, Survival and Recovery in the Mental Health System, pp 1-36, p. 4-8.
  60. Weizmann, F., Wiener, N. I., Wiesenthal, D. L., &Ziegler, M. (1991). Eggs, eggplants and eggheads: a rejoinder to Rushton. Canadian Psychology, 32 (1), 43-50 DOI: 10.1037/h0078958
  61. Lynn, R. (2012). Rushton’s r–K life history theory of race differences in penis length and circumference examined in 113 populations. Personality and Individual Differences, in press. doi: 10.1016/j.paid.2012.02.016 [6]
  62. The Penile Economics of Ethnicity, Ethnic Muse. Perhaps "Goldicocks" would be even more apt.
  63. World Penis Average Size Studies Database
  64. WorldPenisSize: analysis of listed sources [7]
  65. How much does size really matter?, Psychology Today [8]
  66. Racism Resurgent: How Media Let The Bell Curve's Pseudo-Science Define the Agenda on Race, Fairness in Accuracy and Reporting, January/February 1995
  67. Richard Lynn (1991) "Race Differences in Intelligence: A Global Perspective," Mankind Quarterly, 31(3), p255 [9]
  68. 'AmRen Conference Held in Tennessee' American Renaissance[10]
  69. Contra Darwin, attempting to "prove" that blacks were a separate species somewhere between apes and whites in lineage became a hobby-horse for racialists.
  70. The Mis-Portrayal of Darwin as a Racist by R.G. Price
  71. Darwin's writing is also ripe for quote mining as he used the terms "race," "culture," and "kind" interchangeably as was the convention at the time. Removing the context of these quotes to imply that Darwin's conception of evolutionary theory implies racialism is committing the fallacy of presentism. Talk Origins has more on common quote mines here and here. Further discussion of evolution and racism can be found here.
  72. Herbert Spencer at About Darwin. See also Talk Origins on "survival of the fittest."
  73. It should be noted Gould's criticisms of Morton's cranial capacity measurements have been called into question. See Jason E. Lewis et al. The Mismeasure of Science: Stephen Jay Gould versus Samuel George Morton on Skulls and Bias. PLoS Biol 9(6), 2011, with further commentary in Nature Jun. 2011.
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