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I recommend one of my first employers and a mentor to many who went on in science. Stanley M. Garn published a short book with a one word title, Race back around 1960. It summarized from the perspective of a physical anthropologist and a scientist the whole fallacy of “racial differences” within Genus Homo, species Sapiens. One of his earlier employees went on to become the renowned Harvard geneticist, Steven Jay Gould.
I will say, in all honesty, that I stopped reading this article at the fifth paragraph, purely due to the attitude of the author. How easy it is to live in the 21st century with all the information we have spread before us by the internet, technology and the fast advancing field of genetics and look back at other scholars and call them “ignorant” and refer to the findings of other researchers as “pseudo-science”! Such arrogance, Michael Schulson! How is it that you stand so high on the pinnacle of science? I believe it is because you are standing on a tower comprised of the hard work, exhaustive research and dedication of scientists who went before you and made the best use of the tools and information they had at hand. A little humility and some gratitude on your part would significantly increase the appeal of your articles.
Thank you for this article. I really enjoyed reading it. I think it can encourage more open and intellectual discussion of a very heated and emotional social issue.
I think the topic of race should be discussed in biology classrooms, and it should begin as soon as human biology is introduced. It should be addressed in such a way that it is clear to students that race is a concept based on social constructs and holds no scientific merit. This statement should be supported and reinforced with clear and unambiguous scientific facts. I also think it is important to teach about the atrocious acts of racism committed in the name of science.
As for the topics of sexual orientation, gender, and sex determination, these topics should be discussed at an age appropriate time and level, and with careful attention paid to what we know, not assumption. Though there is little known regarding the biology of sexual orientation and gender identity, what is known should be taught. Much more is known regarding sex determination, and the tired old way of teaching it needs to stop! Though an actual understanding of the many factors that contribute to sex determination will not be present at this level, it should be taught no later than middle school that it is far more complicated than XX or XY. (And, yes, I realize that very few study biology to the level necessary to actually understand sex determination. However, even my eight-year-old understands that it’s not as simple as XX or XY.)
With any hope, opening these topics to discussion and question, and addressing them from a scientific viewpoint could help to eliminate biases and promote acceptance, inclusion, and compassion in future generations.
“Race” doesn’t belong in Biology textbooks because it’s meaningless & non-definable in Biological terms (right???). It belongs in Sociology textbooks, where a discussion of the history of people’s attitudes toward race would be meaningful & important.
Question 2 and 3 should go first since definitions of ethnic and ancestry are needed for race.
Question 4 not only assumes the existence of race it also uses an adaptation such skin colour as example. If there is a race it could be from just one single gene because as said, if there is too much overlap a single common difference should perfectly do the trick.
About Q5 if there is too much overlap you can always cherry pick environmental adaptations or whatever satisfies the statistics you want to justify.
Said that, if you want to find a race it can be done,
what meaning you give to it is a completely different story
What is the rational for treating human categories any differently than those for any other warm-blooded creatures; elephants, chimpanzees, whales, deer, giraffees, lions, horses, dogs, kangaroos, rats, tigers, squirrels, etc.? Are they something so completely special that need special categories?
Years ago, I developed a course “Genes and Race,” which explored the many issues the title implies. See my article “Genes and Race in the Classroom: Science in a Social Context” Journal of College Science Teaching, May 2005. The course was very successful, at least according to student comments, both Black and white, and I think in terms of students understanding the issues. If we shy away from these controversies in the classroom, we are not adequately educating our students. Racism still exists in America; now more than ever, with a racist president and apparently politicians who are too cowardly to oppose him, we need discussions of this sort. Not to do so is to deny reality.
Homo sapiens is a species. It has only one race. Homo neanderthals was another human species. It had only one race. It would be okay to say there has been more than one human race in the past, but not today.
Seems like a lot of liberal propaganda if you ask me.
Going from teaching Racial hierarchies and eugenics to teaching racial colorblindness, seems to me this all just proves that education isnt objective but subject to contemporary ideologies.
how about teaching biological race as a fact (which anu doctor will confirm), teaching biological sex for what it is rather than teaching pseudoscientific gender and identity politics–gender having nothing to do with biological sex, the latter not being subject to change.
and instead just teach it objectively and let students come to their own conclusions. teaching them ideas is indoctrination and underestimates their intelligence. they can think for themselves.
We need to expand more on the similarities and conditions that the Human race expounds and discard archaic doctrines that have no basis except interfere with the global harmony that a minority are willing to maintain in order as to control the social structure of mankind.
We only have one race….The Human race!