RE: Race Not Biological?

Robert McIntosh (
Tue, 23 Jun 1998 08:23:46 -0700

Liz et al.
As it has with many cherished concepts, modern science has cast doubt on
our long-held intuitive belief in innate biological differences along
racial lines.

Since the 1950's "race" has been examined genetically. It has been found
that populations grouped by "internal" traits (e.g. blood groups)
contradict the pattern of "races" based on the traditionally used
superficial human traits (e.g. skin colour, stature, head size, etc).
The latter have also been examined more critically and it has been found
that it is often possible to arranged them on a continuous gradient, for
example, from the "blackest black skin" at one end to the "whitest white
skin" at the other. The cut off point between one "race" and another
based on skin color is thus entirely arbitrary. Traditional physical
traits have also been shown to respond to certain environmental factors
such as the general state of nutrition. The variation in all traits so
far examined is greater within "races" than between "races". The
foregoing are typical of the considerations that have weakened the
concept of "race" in physical anthropology and allied sciences. It is
increasingly the case that scientists deny the very existence of human

The political implications of these findings are very unsettling and so
it is not surprising that many of you may not be aware of them.


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Elizabeth Homer []
> Sent: Friday, June 19, 1998 7:08 PM
> To:
> Subject: Race Not Biological?
> Robert McIntosh wrote:
> > I would just like to point out one thing that actually race is not
> > biological. Most biologists agree that there is no biological
> > determinant of racial differences. Race is a social construct.
> > Reply-To:
> This doesn't seem quite right to me. -??? Race is defined as any of
> the major biological division of humankind (three), distinguished by
> color and texture of hair, color of skin and eyes, stature, bodily
> proportions, etc. Isn't that about genetics and therefore
> biological? I can see that we have developed a social construct that
> is nonbiological....
> Liz Homer

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