One Instance Where Political Correction is More Accurate
I generally despise anything politically correct. Topics concerning race are particularly mushy puddles of P.C./B.S. They are at once overly talked about and under-analyzed. Same goes for gender. My last post on the topic of innate differences among groups highlighted the hysteria generated controversy of any academic foolish inquisitive enough to research any differences among genders. Well my friend and faithful reader, Dave, sent me a recent Slate article reporting on a study researching, gasp!, racial differences. For example, they argue that black men generally have higher centers of gravity which helps with the physics of locomotion (i.e. running) while whites’ general lower center of gravity helps in swimming.
To me these are rather trivial, mildly interesting, topics – the reason I’m covering this study is something else entirely. The authors don’t argue that the differences are racial but biological or hereditary. Before you think that they are just being P.C. or nitpicking, read this explanation. First the scientists in science-y language:
Our approach is to study phenotypic (somatotypic) differences … which we consider to have been historically misclassified as racial characteristics. These differences represent consequences of still not well-understood variable environmental stimuli for survival fitness in different parts of the globe during thousands of years of habitation. Our study does not advance the notion of race, now recognized as a social construct, as opposed to a biological construct. We acknowledge the wide phenotypic and genotypic diversity among the so-called racial types.
Now the Slate reporter helping translate:
This is a fascinating bit of finesse. There’s nothing unusual about dismissing race as social construct. Racism watchdogs do it all the time. But they do it precisely to deny hereditary differences between blacks and whites.
Taking “race” out of the equation makes a substantive difference: It focuses the conversation about heredity on populations, a more precise and scientifically accepted way of categorizing people.
The authors also help the conversation by pointing out that “environmental stimuli” caused differential evolution in different parts of the world. There’s nothing inherently good or bad about being West African or Eastern European. All of us are evolving all the time. As environmental conditions change in each part of the world, they change the course of natural selection. Ten thousand years from now, the average center of body mass might be higher in Europe than in Africa.
Simply put, it is not about being black or white that causes biological differences. Populations’ genetics blend and change all the time. We lump people into race groups because it’s visually easy, not because it’s a particularly accurate measure of anything. But that doesn’t mean different groups of people can’t have biological differences – but those differences aren’t static and aren’t inherently bad or good. In the future, populations that happen to have darker or lighter skin will have different sets of genes which produce different effects in those individuals. Accepting that genetic differences exist does not condemn anyone to prejudice or racism – it should eradicate it.
(image from here)