Where are all the anti-Lewontins?

I see that Lewontin’s second fallacy hasn’t vanished:

Finally, it is crucial to reemphasize that the amount of genetic variation between groups is very small compared to the 85 to 95 percent of variation found within human groups…The vast majority of human genetic variation is between individuals, including individuals who can be assigned to the same racial, ethnic, or national group. Because humans have high within-group genetic variation, genes are unlikely to explain average differences in IQ test scores of different racial groups. (Ossorio, 2009. Race, genes, and intelligence).

Since 1972 other researchers have confirmed that 85 per cent of variation exists within a population…
[…] The importance occasionally of group differences in medicine does not reveal the reality of race. Indeed, what we popularly call races are generally least suited to genetic research. That is because the degree of biological relatedness in Continental groups is barely greater than in a randomly chosen group of people. (Malik, 2012. Why both sides are wrong in the race debate.)

What he found was unambiguous—and the inverse of what one would expect if such races had any biological reality: The great majority of genetic variation (85.4 percent) was within so-called races, not between them…
[…] Although race is void of biological foundation, it has a profound social reality. All too apparent are disparities in health and welfare. Despite all the evidence indicating that “race” has no biological or evolutionary meaning, the biological-race concept continues to gain strength today in science and society, and it is reinforced by those who design and market DNA-based technologies. (Snapp, 2012. Race Finished.)

Now, let’s put Dr. Harpending’s esoteric point about the genetic variance within populations aside. Let’s simply look at the difference between populations and put that on the same metric that we use when comparing social outcomes differences, differences which are said to be “profound.” Below are typical between population results for SNP differentiation. The figure is taken from page 9 of the supplementary section for Barreiro et al.

It will be noticed that the standardized difference comes out to 1. And that this figure is somewhat larger than what I guesstimated. Now, since we agree that this difference of one SD is trivial, to be consistent, we should also agree that social outcome differences of this magnitude or below are also trivial. If we want, we could just represent those differences in terms of variance between and within races (e.g., an 8% between/ 92% within Black/White variation in educational outcomes).

So where are all the anti-Lewontins? Why is no one pointing out the non-existence of racial disparities?

Barreiro et al., 2008. Natural selection has driven population differentiation in modern humans

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4 Responses to Where are all the anti-Lewontins?

  1. Kiwiguy says:

    Sapp probably did everyone a favor by providing such a ridiculous review that it prompted someone with strong liberal anti-racist credentials such as Jerry Coyne (who did his Phd under Lewontin at Harvard) to point out why it’s pretty obvious there are human races.

  2. 猛虎 says:

    Could you explain a little bit clearer your last paragraph ? I’m not sure what the argument is about.

    • Chuck says:

      If you transform the between race total genetic variance into standardized differences, you get a between race SD of about 1 (based on the Barreiro et al. data). The point is that environmentalists have been playing a clam shell game and that no one has called them on it. When they talk about genetic differences between races they talk in terms of between population variance (about 10 to 15%) and claim that this is “small” potatoes. Supposedly, too small to explain the “large” phenotype differences, as judged in terms of standardized differences, But if you place the two types of differences on the same scale — standardized differences and standardized differences or between population variance and between population variance you see that they are about commensurate! Hence: “The great majority of genetic variation (85.4 percent) was within so-called races, not between them…[…] Although race is void of biological foundation, it has a profound social reality. All too apparent are disparities in health and welfare.” Try putting the typical health and welfare disparity in terms of between population variance. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_of_total_variance For example, the income difference comes out to about 0.5 SD, which is close to a between population variance of 8%. Or try putting the total genetic variance in terms of standard deviations.

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