Heterogeneity and Race

…or why “race is a social construct, therefore…” is bunk part 456.

One race fallacy (#8 here) that I haven’t had a chance to formally debunk is what I now dub the heterogeneous fallacy. It goes something like this: “Races as defined in country X are really a heterogeneous bunch, therefore there can’t be average genetic difference between them” — or, sometimes: “There’s so much genetic diversity in this population, therefore…” As discussed in the previous post, Sternberg et al. wrote a paper largely premised on this fallacy. Anyways, in a recent race debate, I was struggling to point out this fallacy when someone left the following excellent reply to my interlocutor:

Suppose there are two groups of dogs. One on the south side of town and one on the north side. The south group consists of 90 great danes and 10 poodles. The north group consists of 90 poodles and 10 great danes. Here are the questions:

Is there a difference – on average – between South Side Dogs and North Side Dogs?
If yes, does this difference have a genetic basis?
Are South Side dogs and North Side dogs “coherent” “species”?
Is the answer to the second question dependent on the answer to the third question?

Because, quite frankly, ISTM that what you’re doing is rhetorical gamesmanship. So I’m curious as to whether you will or can answer the above questions in a straightforward manner.

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2 Responses to Heterogeneity and Race

  1. Steve Sailer says:

    Say you go to a casino where there are black croupiers and Indian croupiers. To pick Lewontin’s number, 85% of the time spins of the roulette wheel are random, but 15% of the spins come up black for black croupiers versus red for red croupiers.

    Would this be useful information for you to know?

  2. Meng Hu says:

    Hmm, I found similar arguments before :

    page 6,

    One more analogy may help demonstrate the great importance of looking at genetic distinctiveness rather than at overall genetic similarity. A person’s gametes (sperm and eggs, which have only half, or one “copy” of a person’s genome) are genetically different from each another. By chance, one of Joe’s sperm could have a greater overall genetic similarity, including non-functional DNA, to one of Ted’s sperm than to another of Joe’s own sperm. Does this mean Joe is more genetically similar to Ted than to himself? Does it mean Joe should be indifferent to whether Ted’s sperm are used to create Joe’s child? Of course not. In comparing Joe and Ted, the important genetic information is in the parts of the DNA that distinguish Joe from Ted, not in the random genetic variation — much of it which has no functional significance — that is found in all individuals.

    page 8,

    This argument implies that if, for any particular genes or traits, two family members are less like each other than to a complete stranger, then “family does not exist, and family is an illusion.” Let us imagine two full brothers: Joe and Ted. Joe has brown eyes, brown hair and has blood group O. Ted has blond hair, blue eyes, and blood group B. Hans, who is a complete stranger to Joe and Ted, also happens to have blond hair, blue eyes, and blood group B, just like Ted. If we look at only these traits, Ted is more closely related to Hans than to his brother Joe. Does this, then, invalidate the concept of family?

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