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Rook, I'm a lacist!
August 9, 2005 10:56 PM   Subscribe

Rook, I'm a lacist!
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood to Etiquette/Policy at 10:56 PM (241 comments total)

ror
posted by moift at 11:00 PM on August 9, 2005


Lassist.
posted by euphorb at 11:00 PM on August 9, 2005


Why the callout S@L? Is this because I slammed Reagan in the Jennings obit thread?
posted by jonson at 11:02 PM on August 9, 2005


Image hosted by Photobucket.com
posted by exlotuseater at 11:03 PM on August 9, 2005


Can I just say that I had great sushi last week at "Frying Fish" in LA's Little Tokyo ?
posted by swordfishtrombones at 11:06 PM on August 9, 2005


Jonson, why do hate Asians so much?
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 11:06 PM on August 9, 2005


wait. Reagan wasn't asian.
posted by exlotuseater at 11:07 PM on August 9, 2005


ppppppppppttttttttttttttthhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!
posted by mischief at 11:07 PM on August 9, 2005


i gotta give this one to moift. zzzzzzzzzzzot!
posted by Hat Maui at 11:17 PM on August 9, 2005


when im sitting here at home wearing my wifebeater and reading mefi, i have to admit i feel kind of gypped when i find something like jonson's post on the front page.
posted by punishinglemur at 11:48 PM on August 9, 2005


Flag it and move on...
posted by Rothko at 11:49 PM on August 9, 2005



In the recent thread where mathowie said we could post comments to test international language support, I wrote this.

So, just how funny am I then?
posted by uncanny hengeman at 12:01 AM on August 10, 2005


I'll flag your mother...
posted by Dreamghost at 1:21 AM on August 10, 2005


I flagged moift as Best Of The Web.

If I had a hat, I'd throw it in the air.
posted by NinjaPirate at 1:44 AM on August 10, 2005


Fuckin' embarrassment, this place is, sometimes.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:03 AM on August 10, 2005


Herrooooooooo!!
posted by blacklite at 2:05 AM on August 10, 2005


Gotta love the tags, too.
posted by grouse at 2:37 AM on August 10, 2005


Fuckin' embarrassment, this place is, sometimes.

just sometimes ?
posted by sgt.serenity at 2:43 AM on August 10, 2005


Flagged it, moving on...
posted by triv at 2:53 AM on August 10, 2005


Didn't we just do this? Oh, it's closed now. Okay, let's beat the horse for another 233 comments, by all means.
posted by yhbc at 4:13 AM on August 10, 2005


"eee... suuue... zoooo? eeeeye swoooo zhoooo?!"

"Isuzu! It's ok. I can't say 'chevroret'!"

/flashback, complete with imaginary bats and a .357
posted by loquacious at 4:19 AM on August 10, 2005


Those Chinese, what with their inability to distinguish between "R" and "L". Almost as funny as those Texan cowboys, with their kangaroos and koalas.

What, I'm mixing my country stereotypes? No, impossible!
posted by Bugbread at 4:58 AM on August 10, 2005


Not only is the title racist, but the actual content of the post (tips on pirating software) is crap as well.
posted by eustacescrubb at 5:01 AM on August 10, 2005


Flag it and move on, rather than trying to be the BIG MAN. jonson lists his email in his profile, why not aggressively question him in private while moderation of his sickening and unacceptable views takes place in it's own time?
posted by fire&wings at 5:11 AM on August 10, 2005


Stupid FPP, stupid sense of humor. Can we just feel sorry for him instead of getting all uppity?
posted by sic at 5:21 AM on August 10, 2005


If bad behavior doesn't get smacked down in public, then "younger", more impressionable users might get the idea that it's okay.
posted by skoosh at 5:27 AM on August 10, 2005


That title was supposed to be racist? I wondered why he was doing it in a Sooby-Doo voice.
posted by sfenders at 5:36 AM on August 10, 2005


I would so love to learn that jonson is, in face, Asian. Has anyone ever met him?
posted by iconomy at 6:02 AM on August 10, 2005


Heh. That was supposed to say "in fact". But "in face" works too.
posted by iconomy at 6:03 AM on August 10, 2005


Of course, since it's Linnwood saying it, it becomes "flag it and move on" instead of "why don't you go down to <contrived example> and see how they like it there?"
posted by darukaru at 6:16 AM on August 10, 2005


God. What the hell is wrong with this place? Oh wait... trolls are coming back from summer camp! YAYYYY!!!
posted by Quartermass at 6:23 AM on August 10, 2005


Flagged it, moving on...

No, frag it and move on.

/inevitable
posted by jonmc at 6:36 AM on August 10, 2005


I just noticed that the original link had a .my TLD...which means it's owned by someone in Malaysia.

Di sini ada lanun.
posted by divabat at 6:41 AM on August 10, 2005



posted by 김치 at 6:51 AM on August 10, 2005


salmonberry has met jonson.
posted by riffola at 6:59 AM on August 10, 2005


Gnawing on puppy skull would be good for teeth development no doubt.
posted by peacay at 7:11 AM on August 10, 2005


Tragically, I'm as white as can be. But some of my best friends are asian...
posted by jonson at 7:12 AM on August 10, 2005


I know some black people. They're pretty cool.
posted by Necker at 7:13 AM on August 10, 2005


sigh... will someone insert the standard "metafilter is going to hell" rant, I might concur this time around.
posted by edgeways at 7:32 AM on August 10, 2005


I'm a honky.
I walk like this.
posted by hellbient at 7:50 AM on August 10, 2005


Fuckin' embarrassment, this place is, sometimes.

Sprach also wonderchickentheyoda...
posted by y2karl at 7:51 AM on August 10, 2005



posted by gramschmidt at 7:52 AM on August 10, 2005



posted by gramschmidt at 7:53 AM on August 10, 2005


Did anyone mention how this is not jonson's first time using this exact same joke?

Why does it bug so many people, this East Asian R/L confusion humor, when (for example) Italian "add an A at the end" linguistic humor doesn't spark as much of a reaction? Maybe because Asian Americans are more clearly marked by American society as the Other, and at the same time lumped together with East Asians as a whole. Thus, these stereotypes tend to sting more, because they construct a cultural notion of Asian Americans as foreigners, a notion that runs counter to their own functioning identities as Americans. Italian Americans, as far as I can tell, do not labor under a similar presumption of foreignness - they can be just American, if they want. No one ever assumes they can't speak English, or are amazed at how good their English is, or wonders how long they've been in this country (unless their accent makes it clear that they're first-generation immigrants).

Asian Americans do not have this luxury. In the U.S. (and maybe elsewhere; I only have intimate experience of the U.S.), Asian immigrant language quirks have become racialized (cf. Al D'Amato impersonating Lance Ito on Imus), and thus a vehicle for racist marginalization. That, boys and girls, is why people take East Asian linguistic jokes so personally.

On preview, the original thread in the blue is now deleted, making this thread moot. However, since the issue will probably crop up again (sadly), I'm posting this explanation for future reference anyway.
posted by skoosh at 7:59 AM on August 10, 2005


You know, all the chinese people I've met have been perfectly capable of saying "racist."
posted by odinsdream at 8:00 AM on August 10, 2005


odinsdream : "You know, all the chinese people I've met have been perfectly capable of saying 'racist.'"

(Well, yeah, largely because the whole R/L confusion thing isn't a Chinese linguistic trait. Man, you'd figure if people were going to make jokes based on ethnicity, they'd at least try to get the etnicity right. Damn Canadians with their sombreros and enchiladas...)
posted by Bugbread at 8:07 AM on August 10, 2005


The difference is that, for a long time, east Asians could only be portrayed in entertainment media as buffoons who mixed up their R's and L's, while Italians were not stuck playing only chefs who add A's to the end of everything -- they could also be mobsters.

This has since been completely fixed, as east Asians can now also play samurai and gangsters.
posted by aaronetc at 8:26 AM on August 10, 2005


Maybe because Asian Americans are more clearly marked by American society as the Other, and at the same time lumped together with East Asians as a whole. Thus, these stereotypes tend to sting more, because they construct a cultural notion of Asian Americans as foreigners, a notion that runs counter to their own functioning identities as Americans. Italian Americans, as far as I can tell, do not labor under a similar presumption of foreignness - they can be just American, if they want. No one ever assumes they can't speak English, or are amazed at how good their English is, or wonders how long they've been in this country (unless their accent makes it clear that they're first-generation immigrants).

skoosh has nailed it. Nothing pisses me off more than receiving junkmail in Chinese. Why on earth does Sprint assume I can only read and write Chinese? I'm third-generation American-born. My great grandparents came in the 1880s. I once wrote to Sprint and asked them if they sent similar letters in Italian to my mother's side of the family since they have Italian surnames. I received a really snotty reply which said, in essence, "sorry, but most people with Chinky last names like getting our junk mail in their own language."

As for jonson. Eh. He's an idiot.
posted by ereshkigal45 at 8:28 AM on August 10, 2005


It is irritating to hear people make fun of chinese by mixing up their Ls and Rs. Hello, chinese people use Ls.

Have you ever heard of the actress Bai Ling? Do people think they call her Bai Ring in China? WTF?

The content of the blog linked to was somewhat intresting, though.
posted by delmoi at 8:38 AM on August 10, 2005


delmoi : "Hello, chinese people use Ls. "

Mandarin uses some crazy Rs as well. So they've got both, and pretty well stocked as well. Koreans and Japanese lack an "L" "R" distinction (more or less), but Mefi seems to be the only place where I see folks make jokes about Chinese confusing their "L" and "R".
posted by Bugbread at 8:45 AM on August 10, 2005


That's cause it's overrun with racists.
posted by jonson at 8:48 AM on August 10, 2005


You may not be a racist, jonson, but leaving that aside for the moment, do you really think your joke was in any way clever? That sort of joke might have been original back in the 1950s, but it's not exactly cutting-edge humor these days.

Given that you've been called on this before, if you're doing it again, then a reasonable inference would be that you're annoying people on purpose. Your subsequent attempts to make jokes to minimize the matter are unconvincing. You should just cut it out.

Also, I dislike Mr. Linnwood's politics as much as anyone here does, and I actually applaud the general liberal bias of the site, but those of you who commented earlier in the thread clearly took the matter less seriously because of who posted the thread. Do most of you really think that this sort of humor is a good idea? It's counterproductive to dismiss a complaint that you likely agree with because it comes from someone with a Neanderthal political sensibility.
posted by anapestic at 9:01 AM on August 10, 2005


It's childish mocking for effect. The effect is to validate my understanding that 'jonson' is the American vernacular for dick. Is this not so?
posted by peacay at 9:25 AM on August 10, 2005


Doesn't "racism" entail a belief that another race is inferior? I always took it to mean something more than just different. "Asians use chopsticks; Westerners use forks" isn't racist. Pointing out differences isn't implying a superior/inferior relationship. Speaking different. Looking different. These are facts.

Take a joke:

Why did Disney World fail in Japan?
Because no one was tall enough to go on the good rides.

That really isn't implying an inferiority; it's just lampooning a difference. The joke isn't saying that "we" are better because we are taller. It's just mocking the idea that the cultural artifacts of one group of people doesn't translate well to another different group of people.

For what it's worth: the idea of "race" belongs to our pre-scientific vernacular. If we were re-writing our terminology, we wouldn't need the term. Pointing out differences among people based on regional affects can't therefore be racism except in an overt and ignorant sense of arguing that there is, in fact, a racial difference and that difference results in the superiority of one race. Once people understand that there is no such thing as race, then one is less inclined to see every comment about differences through the distorting spectacle of "racism."
posted by dios at 9:28 AM on August 10, 2005


Although that Disneyland joke did make me smile kinda. Hey, maybe I DO hate the yellow man. By the way, those of you scolding me into better behavior after my sixth use of the idiotic "rook!" title tag, I applaud your tenacity.
posted by jonson at 9:41 AM on August 10, 2005


*reads dios' post, falls out of chair.*
posted by me3dia at 9:51 AM on August 10, 2005


Dios, you're an idiot. Not only is the idea that tallness is better implicit in the joke, it's an inherent human bias. So of course the "joke" is racist and insulting. The fact that jonson thought it was funny validates my assessment.
posted by ereshkigal45 at 9:52 AM on August 10, 2005


For what it's worth: the idea of "race" belongs to our pre-scientific vernacular.

This comment is the dumbest thing I've read from you, and that's saying a lot. Among other physical features, height is almost entirely genetically bound for different populations.
posted by Rothko at 10:02 AM on August 10, 2005


Yeah, but there is no genetic determinant that specifies the boundaries of race. "Race" belongs to pre-scientific vernacular, "genetic binding for height within different populations" doesn't.
posted by Bugbread at 10:06 AM on August 10, 2005


Fill out a census form. I guess those statisticians are all in the dark ages. /shrug
posted by Rothko at 10:08 AM on August 10, 2005


One thing dios highlights anyway is the fact that the word 'racist' is both overused and misapplied in many instances and arguably is actually anachronistic. It's a blanket term for prejudice against a group of people. But the word racist is perhaps redundant. If somebody says something against Islam for instance, they may get branded as a racist. Which is stupid because even were we to believe that these magically discrete races exist, there's no way that someone from Iraq and someone from Malaysia are in anyone's wildest imagination going to be classed as being from the same race (beyond the human one).
posted by peacay at 10:11 AM on August 10, 2005


Among other physical features, height is almost entirely genetically bound for different populations.

Nope. Japanese immigrants to Hawaii showed a marked increase in mean height from first to second to third generations. Nutrition seems to be a major factor, as part of a whole bunch of complex developmental stuff of which genetics is only a part.

There is no such thing a scientific concept of race that makes any sense whatsoever. There is, however, a cultural concept of race-as-heritage, and that's what those census takers are after.

The post title, by the way, wasn't just racist because it ascribed a stereotypical Japanese vocal trait to Chinese people, but because the phrase "Look! I use Google!" suggests that your average Chinese internet user is, in fact, a mentally subnormal imbecile.
posted by flashboy at 10:13 AM on August 10, 2005


There is no such thing a scientific concept of race that makes any sense whatsoever.
posted by flashboy at 10:13 AM PST on August 10
Yep.

"Race" belongs to pre-scientific vernacular
posted by bugbread at 10:06 AM PST on August 10


Yep.

It's a fact.

But that doesn't stop Mr. Drama Alex Reynolds from positing this gem:

For what it's worth: the idea of "race" belongs to our pre-scientific vernacular.

This comment is the dumbest thing I've read from you, and that's saying a lot.


And you call me a troll....
posted by dios at 10:17 AM on August 10, 2005


Nutrition seems to be a major factor, as part of a whole bunch of complex developmental stuff of which genetics is only a part.

Nutrition would push means up for all the populations, not just those Japanese within the group of Hawaiian immigrants.

A better sample would be the United States, which has a much more varied immigrant pool. Would you say that Asians-Americans are on average as tall as other populations, given the same "American" diet?
posted by Rothko at 10:19 AM on August 10, 2005


And you call me a troll....

Yes, I often call you a troll, and with good reason. And for what it is worth, many other people call you a troll, in threads I have nothing to do with.
posted by Rothko at 10:21 AM on August 10, 2005


I think you'll find that the average height for Japanese people in Japan has come up in the last 50 years or so because of nutrition. And Rothko, I understand why you sensed that dios's statement sounded strange, but when you think about it it's true. With our increasing scientific knowledge the idea of discrete races simply doesn't stand up.
posted by peacay at 10:22 AM on August 10, 2005


Well, then, I guess the question is: what is the scientific definition of the race "Asian"?
posted by Bugbread at 10:25 AM on August 10, 2005


With our increasing scientific knowledge the idea of discrete races simply doesn't stand up.

I'm afraid that Dios' opinion does not hold up to scrutiny. Here's one recent example.
posted by Rothko at 10:25 AM on August 10, 2005


See the problem is that I can see that both of you guys are intelligent and have insight to offer. But you both have to get over this ongoing bitching. It's really becoming silly. Argue the ideas for fuck's sake. (Rothko & dios)

Yeah, bugbread it's kind of tricky isn't it. There are these similar facial features and hair type. I guess the word 'race' is so charged that it's just not so pc anymore. I guess ethnicity is the replacement yeah?
posted by peacay at 10:28 AM on August 10, 2005


I think you'll find that the average height for Japanese people in Japan has come up in the last 50 years or so because of nutrition.

Yes, but that's just looking at one population. If you did a MANOVA, your experimental design would consider nutrition and nutritionXpopulation effects (among others) across multiple populations, not just one.
posted by Rothko at 10:30 AM on August 10, 2005


"The construct of race is almost certainly spurious and misleading"
"Scientists are working on ways to develop genetic tests to target therapies to each patient. Someday, experts said, the tests could make issues like gender and race irrelevant in medicine."
posted by peacay at 10:32 AM on August 10, 2005


It's semantics to a degree.

Anyway, none of this detracts from the fundamental precept of jonson having been a dick. Whether that is merely distasteful mockery, stereotyping or racism.
posted by peacay at 10:33 AM on August 10, 2005


It is a controversial issue, I agree. But the FDA approved the drug presumably on a better understanding of the science than either of us have.

While some scientists are working on gene therapy, which does target individuals, that is a long way away. An investigator in a lab at my school was barred from gene therapy research due to the unexpected death of one of the trial participants. Gene therapy sounds good on paper but the details are not here yet.

In the meantime, drug trials tend to be evaluated on their efficacy across populations, not individuals.
posted by Rothko at 10:38 AM on August 10, 2005


You can certainly claim, validly, that race is a genetically meaningless concept. But the fact that it may not be valid from one narrow scientific viewpoint does not mean that it doesn't exist within a social context or that it doesn't have powerful social ramifications.

Until you can get science to prove that the Jim Crow laws never existed and that there is not ongoing discrimination based on things like ethnic heritage and skin color, you can't say that there is no racism (and, by extension, that someone isn't racist) just because race is an artificial construct.
posted by anapestic at 10:42 AM on August 10, 2005


It's semantics to a degree.

To a degree, but it is only semantics to people with an axe to grind. The objective science behind statistics should be evaluated on its own basis, and not on the basis of whatever words or incorrect opinion-based "facts" one falsely holds.
posted by Rothko at 10:43 AM on August 10, 2005


Until you can get science to prove that the Jim Crow laws never existed and that there is not ongoing discrimination based on things like ethnic heritage and skin color, you can't say that there is no racism (and, by extension, that someone isn't racist) just because race is an artificial construct.

I'm only criticising Dios' wildly incorrect assertion that "the idea of 'race' belongs to our pre-scientific vernacular," which is not substantiated whatsoever in the reality of how science is conducted today. I make no claim that racism as a social behavior doesn't exist, or that bad science can be racist in design. But that's not what was said.
posted by Rothko at 10:48 AM on August 10, 2005


anapestic writes "you can't say that there is no racism (and, by extension, that someone isn't racist) just because race is an artificial construct."

Oh I'd never suggest that it doesn't persist. But it can be argued the term itself reinforces this notion of fundamental difference and perpetuates the stigma. I don't think we disagree here.

And Rothko, what dios said is not wildly incorrect. It's arguable is all. And you know that we are moving away from the traditional view that there are discrete races. You're going to be more convincing if you concede that.
posted by peacay at 10:54 AM on August 10, 2005


anapestic : "You can certainly claim, validly, that race is a genetically meaningless concept. But the fact that it may not be valid from one narrow scientific viewpoint does not mean that it doesn't exist within a social context or that it doesn't have powerful social ramifications. "

Bingo. Race does not have to be a scientifically defined construct in order to be important. "Being an asshole" is not a scientifically defined construct, but I hope MeFi doesn't get populated with assholes. "Big" is not scientifically defined, but we can all agree that a size 90000 shoe is a big shoe.

Rothko : "The objective science behind statistics should be evaluated on its own basis, and not on the basis of whatever words or incorrect opinion-based 'facts' one falsely holds."

Yeah, but the discussion isn't of the objective science behind statistics, but whether those statistics are based on objective science. Race is a nonscientific construct based to some degree on science; i.e. it is used to describe a sharing of a certain degree of phenotypes; but is also based on things such as parental heritage, geographical location, and the like, and does not have a scientific basis for its actual definition.
posted by Bugbread at 10:58 AM on August 10, 2005


And Rothko, what dios said is not wildly incorrect.

I'm afraid that the post-scientific vernacular of our modern age says otherwise, at least until we have the tools and knowledge to, for example, develop drugs for individuals.
posted by Rothko at 11:00 AM on August 10, 2005


Well I'd ask you if someone else had said it would you have been all gung-ho contending it's false...... but I don't think I'd believe your answer somehow.
posted by peacay at 11:04 AM on August 10, 2005


Race is a nonscientific construct based to some degree on science; i.e. it is used to describe a sharing of a certain degree of phenotypes; but is also based on things such as parental heritage, geographical location, and the like, and does not have a scientific basis for its actual definition.

If you do a drug trial, when a participant checks off what racial group he or she believes herself to be a member of, that data is going into the multivariate analysis to consider its effect. It can be a deliberate and useful part of the experimental design, as was the case here.

If you're looking at genetic analysis, you can attempt to look for markers — RFLPs — that are found in number within 95% of a commonly-defined or self-identified ethnic group. (PubMed citations.)

If you do a census, people are required by law to enter information. Let's say everyone does identify their heritage accurately, within noise. Then you can say within 95% certainty that this or that ethnic group lives in this or that part of the US.
posted by Rothko at 11:13 AM on August 10, 2005


Well I'd ask you if someone else had said it would you have been all gung-ho contending it's false...... but I don't think I'd believe your answer somehow.

Dios' comment was dumb and uninformed, and I've demonstrated why. He seems happy to troll myself and other people in various threads, and the site admins let him get away with it time and again, so I have no problem using facts to put him in his place over here.
posted by Rothko at 11:23 AM on August 10, 2005


The MetaTalk thread I pointed to in jonson's post was from a few years ago, for those who didn't click it. And FWIW, I don't think jonson's a racist, just insensitive. I also didn't mean for him to get called out, but the post was is poor taste (for a variety of reasons that extend beyond simple calls of "racism") and I'm glad it's gone. pesty speaks for me as well. And skoosh makes a great couple of points.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 11:31 AM on August 10, 2005


True. I guess what I'm saying is that "race" is a non-scientific separation of individuals based on parentage (a lilly white kid with two Chinese parents would be considered Asian, not Caucasian, in most cases). Because of the regional statistical likelihood of gene sharing, people from a certain region are highly likely to share certain genetic markers, genetic traits, and the like. That is, the social construct of race, based on geography and on genetics, results in statistical correlation to certain results, also based on genetics.

A similar example would be that folks I consider "big". The concept of "big" is not scientific. There is no sound scientific definition of what is "big" and what is "small". However, my definition is based loosely on science (some people may be big due to nutrition, some due to genetics, some due to both. Either way, my concept is based on science, but is not in itself scientific). If you did a statistical survey of folks I find to be "big", you would find a much, much higher incidence of pituitary gigantism than you would in people I find to be "small". Conversely, you would find a much, much higher incidence of dwarfism in people I find to be "small" than those I find to be "big". The concept, "big", is not scientific. It is based loosely on science, however. And, as a result, it has a high statistical correlation to other scientific things. None of those justify my definition of "big" as being a scientific definition. They do, however, justify it as being somewhat useful.
posted by Bugbread at 11:31 AM on August 10, 2005


Hm. OK. I get it. So I must be trolling too or dumb or uninformed if I can readily identify with what he's saying. Thanks.
posted by peacay at 11:32 AM on August 10, 2005


What bullshit, Alex Reynolds.

My comment wasn't "dumb and uninformed." It was correct.

The concept of "race" belongs to our pre-scientific vernacular. The idea was created a long time ago to explain the differences in people based on worthless indicators like skin color. Science has told us that there are no differences that can be defined as race. Science has shown that if you look at what was called "races" that intra-"race" differences are greater than inter-"race" differences. If we were writing (or re-writing) or anthropology and scientific terminology now, the term or idea of race would not exist. This crap about drug testing would be based on shared biological features, not about skin color or race.

It is completely correct that the idea of race was created in our pre-scientific vernacular, and we haven't fully escaped the idea sociologically.

It should be clear to everyone here that you are arguing against so vociferously and dramatically because I said the innocuous statement, and you, being an asshole who can't resist arguing against anything I said, made some stupid retort.

But feel free to continue your Drama Queen schtick and act like you aren't being a prick by arguing against a correct statement.

I, for one, am not wasting any more time with your petulant behavior.
posted by dios at 11:33 AM on August 10, 2005


I don't see what's so racist about the post, reproduced below:

"Easier defrauding with unicode. Google China is a veritable treasure trove of warez; here's a handy guide to the cut n' paste unicode characters you will need to score that "evaluation" copy of Photoshop CS."

I read several articles in such publications as the BBC site and the New York Times that a lot of warez and fake Rolexes and such come from China; has it been shown that those articles are wrong and that no cracks and copies ever emanate from the Middle Kingdom?

Furthermore I don't see what could possibly be racist about the article linked to. If that's racist, remember a Mefi thread about a previous Firefox version with unicode vulnerabilities that had to be fixed?

It's just that he used a stupid title, right? I'd have fixed the title, said why, and reserved the right to do it again; I would not have deleted the post because of the silly "joke" in the title, myself.

As for a post to a link telling people how to get warez from China, I can see why it might not be a good idea for Metafilter to let THAT stand (as I'd fully expect a post or comment that clearly threatens to assassinate the U.S. President to be deleted), but the issue as stated here in this Metatalk thread is not warez but allegations of racism.

And to answer flashboy: "The post title, by the way, wasn't just racist because it ascribed a stereotypical Japanese vocal trait to Chinese people, but because the phrase "Look! I use Google!" suggests that your average Chinese internet user is, in fact, a mentally subnormal imbecile."

So by (very slight) extension anyone who criticizes someone for a double post by saying "you should have used Google" or "you should have useed Google better" has made a racial slur against that double-poster. I see.
posted by davy at 11:38 AM on August 10, 2005


I, for one, am not wasting any more time with your petulant behavior.

Thus exits Dios, having no factual leg to stand on whatsoever.

So how's that argument against homosexuality coming along, where you involved Darwin in some completely unfounded way? I'm dying to hear your reasoned scientific theory.
posted by Rothko at 11:41 AM on August 10, 2005


Hm. OK. I get it. So I must be trolling too or dumb or uninformed if I can readily identify with what he's saying. Thanks.
posted by peacay at 11:32 AM PST on August 10 [!]


Paecay, if that's what you want to take away from it, somehow, I certainly can't stop you.
posted by Rothko at 11:44 AM on August 10, 2005


Davy: You're basically right on each point, and may be confusing the callout and the deletion. The callout was for the title of the deleted page. The deletion was for the title, and because the content itself was about getting warez.
posted by Bugbread at 11:45 AM on August 10, 2005


Rothko : "Thus exits Dios, having no factual leg to stand on whatsoever."

What evidence do you have of that?
posted by Bugbread at 11:46 AM on August 10, 2005


Is being right really that important? Jesus.
posted by fire&wings at 11:48 AM on August 10, 2005


True. I guess what I'm saying is that "race" is a non-scientific separation of individuals based on parentage (a lilly white kid with two Chinese parents would be considered Asian, not Caucasian, in most cases). Because of the regional statistical likelihood of gene sharing, people from a certain region are highly likely to share certain genetic markers, genetic traits, and the like. That is, the social construct of race, based on geography and on genetics, results in statistical correlation to certain results, also based on genetics

Bugbread, the point is that the identification and use of ethnicity in science — however arbitrary the social construct might seem — is a tool designed to be useful to whatever end. This can be morally "good" things, like targeting drug therapies or disease education, or morally "bad" things, like Tuskegee.

In either case, the science used, and statistical classifications of ethnicity, are just toolboxes to these ends, good or bad. We don't discard ethnicity as a classifier simply because of Tuskegee, or because of the social constructs enforced by colonialism, or because of made-up nonsense like a "pre-scientific vernacular", but it does often encourage the research community to evaluate the moral component of its work.
posted by Rothko at 11:58 AM on August 10, 2005


Rothko, have you noticed that there aren't hordes jumping aboard the 'get dios' train you're driving? dios often gets a bum rap in this place because of his politics and perhaps just as often gets assailed for his behaviour but it seems to me after watching from the sidelines all this year, that you go out of your way to attack him personally and it's more often than not without provocation. That's just my observation. But that's the impression I'm walking away with today.
posted by peacay at 12:00 PM on August 10, 2005


Holy fuckarolee, I think we agree, then. (Well, I still disagree that "pre-scientific vernacular" is made-up nonsense to the degree that you take it to be, but would phrase it "aged scientific vernacular" or something along those lines)
posted by Bugbread at 12:01 PM on August 10, 2005


Er...that was directed at Rothko, not peacay, sorry.
posted by Bugbread at 12:02 PM on August 10, 2005


What evidence do you have of that?
posted by bugbread at 11:46 AM PST on August 10 [!]


Bugbread, here is what was said:

"For what it's worth: the idea of "race" belongs to our pre-scientific vernacular. If we were re-writing our terminology, we wouldn't need the term."

We use the term race, along with scientific definitions of racial groups, insofar as it is a useful concept for doing research, as I've shown in the examples above. I have yet to see a fact-based explanation of why we don't need the term.
posted by Rothko at 12:03 PM on August 10, 2005


I wonder what Alex's third user name will be....
posted by Carbolic at 12:05 PM on August 10, 2005


it seems to me after watching from the sidelines all this year, that you go out of your way to attack him personally and it's more often than not without provocation.
posted by peacay at 12:00 PM PST on August 10 [!]


There are many times Dios has jumped into a conversation I'm participating in, just to call me a shrill drama queen, unprovoked. The admins do nothing about his trolling. FWIW, I'm not the only one fed up with his behavior. If you were being fair you'd acknowledge this.
posted by Rothko at 12:13 PM on August 10, 2005


Rothko : "I have yet to see a fact-based explanation of why we don't need the term."

Well, if we want to be all pedantic about it: we don't need the term because we can function without it, just perhaps not as well. Or, alternatively pedantically, we don't need the term because we could use a different term. The term isn't really what's at issue, the concept is, but I just wanted to make sure that there was a technically correct response out there.

As for whether the concept is necessary: well, again, it's not necessary, but can be helpful. Again, much like the expression "looks like rain": it isn't a scientific expression, and isn't strictly necessary, but its universality is useful because it allows you to make predictions which have a higher-than-random likelihood of being right without bringing out scientific equipment (genetic scanning equipment or weather forecasting equipment, as the case may be). It's a shortcut: helpful, possibly extremely helpful, but, strictly speaking, not necessary.
posted by Bugbread at 12:14 PM on August 10, 2005


I wonder what Alex's third user name will be....
posted by Carbolic at 12:05 PM PST on August 10 [!]


Sorry to disappoint, Carbolic, this username will be around awhile. I haven't done anything wrong, and don't plan to.
posted by Rothko at 12:15 PM on August 10, 2005


Rothko : "There are many times Dios has jumped into a conversation I'm participating in, just to call me a shrill drama queen, unprovoked. The admins do nothing about his trolling. FWIW, I'm not the only one fed up with his behavior. If you were being fair you'd acknowledge this."

Well, I'll attempt to be fair then: I acknowledge that. I also acknowledge that you do the equivalent to dios. If you were being fair you'd acknowledge that as well.
posted by Bugbread at 12:16 PM on August 10, 2005


Nutrition would push means up for all the populations, not just those Japanese within the group of Hawaiian immigrants.

Well no, because the non-immigrant population should have already seen their gains. But back to your love-fight.

/wishes freebird would show up and ruin this.
posted by yerfatma at 12:17 PM on August 10, 2005


I also acknowledge that you do the equivalent to dios. If you were being fair you'd acknowledge that as well.

I've called him a shrill drama queen? Links?
posted by Rothko at 12:20 PM on August 10, 2005


Well no, because the non-immigrant population should have already seen their gains

They're native, so what would cause weight gain when their nutrition isn't changing?
posted by Rothko at 12:21 PM on August 10, 2005



posted by Rothko at 12:27 PM on August 10, 2005


Science has told us that Dios is an idiot. It's a proven fact.
posted by sfenders at 12:32 PM on August 10, 2005


Rothko, you can keep arguing, you can keep linking, you can keep attempting to skirt the issue, but I'm telling you what my balanced (of course, imho) view is about the cat fight (and nicely appropriate images they are too) that continues thead-in thread-out between you and dios. He's hardly been here so I've not been addressing him. Besides, as I said, I basically agreed with what he said. I also acknowledged that he brings on some wrath from the community because of past infractions. But I'm pointedly telling you that your behaviour is in fact worse from my observation. I think instead of linking up a whole blather of past history and/or throwing blame in any other direction, you consider the possibility that you are acting unreasonably. It's adult behaviour to examine one's own actions and change irrespective of outside forces.
posted by peacay at 12:33 PM on August 10, 2005


Rothko : "I've called him a shrill drama queen? Links?"

No. That's why I said "the equivalent", and not "the same".

Rothko : "They're native, so what would cause weight gain when their nutrition isn't changing?"

I'm very, very confused. First, apparently, you state that Japanese are shorter because of genetics. Then someone points out that they get taller with better nutrition, as evidenced by a study in Hawaii. You protest that the nutrition would make the native Hawaiians taller. Yerfatma says (in fewer words), "No, because they've already gotten taller, because they've had good nutrition from the start. Hence, their height wouldn't increase. Yet the Japanese folks height increased [indicating that nutrition was more important than genetic factors in height]" And your response is asking what would make natives gain weight (where did weight come into this?) in response to someone saying that there wouldn't be any changes for natives? That doesn't click on two levels.
posted by Bugbread at 12:34 PM on August 10, 2005


By the way, I know nothing about the study in Hawaii. I am neither supporting nor refuting it. I just don't get the flow of conversation towards the end.
posted by Bugbread at 12:35 PM on August 10, 2005


I would really appreciate it if dios and Rothko could stop making every thread they're both in about themselves/each other.

Can you guys just stop reading / responding to each other's posts? Please? Your constant feuding is childish and tiresome and it clutters up the place. Please just cut it out.
posted by raedyn at 12:40 PM on August 10, 2005


You protest that the nutrition would make the native Hawaiians taller.

I didn't say that, yerfatma said that, which might explain your confusion.

All I said is that all immigrants in the pool of Hawaii immigrants should grow taller, all else the same, which is why I said that America might provide a better sample than Hawaii, since it has a much more varied immigrant population.

This, of course, depends on the study. I don't know anything about this particular study that was referred to.
posted by Rothko at 12:42 PM on August 10, 2005


Can you guys just stop reading / responding to each other's posts?

I'm going to go waaaaaaay out on a limb here and say that the answer is "no." It's a good idea, but I reckon they both enjoy the battle too much.
posted by anapestic at 12:43 PM on August 10, 2005


And I would disagree with peacay claiming one side is more responsible than the other. They both act like goons anytime they're talking about the same topic. They both make it personal. Either one of them could put a stop to it, but they both steadfastly refuse to grow up.
posted by raedyn at 12:44 PM on August 10, 2005


American Anthropological Association Statement on "Race": It has become clear that human populations are not unambiguous, clearly demarcated, biologically distinct groups. Evidence from the analysis of genetics (e.g., DNA) indicates that most physical variation, about 94%, lies within so-called racial groups. Conventional geographic "racial" groupings differ from one another only in about 6% of their genes . . . . "Race" thus evolved as a worldview, a body of prejudgments that distorts our ideas about human differences and group behavior . . . Scientists today find that reliance on such folk beliefs about human differences in research has led to countless errors.

Point dios.
posted by LarryC at 12:47 PM on August 10, 2005


So if Japanese immigrants have gotten taller eating western diets, then is sushi making Americans shorter?
posted by jonmc at 12:48 PM on August 10, 2005


LarryC, from the same link: "indeed, physical variations in the human species have no meaning except the social ones that humans put on them."

All I'll say is that this statement does not jibe with the conclusion reached by the FDA in approving the Bidil drug, where physical differences in human ethnicities were used as the justification for approval. So there is at least one counterexample.
posted by Rothko at 12:53 PM on August 10, 2005


Alex, my point in noting the increase in mean height in Japanese immigrants was not to deny that there are phenotypic differences between individuals or between populations. That was merely to counter your claim that "Among other physical features, height is almost entirely genetically bound for different populations." Because it isn't. In fact, there's a rather famous picture (which unfortunately I can't track down right now) showing two identical twin brothers who were separated at birth and brought up in radically different environments. There's nearly a foot of difference in their heights, as well as numerous other significant physical differences.

The reason that the concept of "race" is a scientifically meaningless one isn't because there are no differences between populations; it's because there are thousands upon thousands. Generally (but not exclusively) these change in gradual clines across geographic points of origin - clines in level of phenotypic expression, gene frequency, and so on. But the trouble is that, outside of isolated populations, or ones that recently undergone some form of population bottleneck, these clines don't match up. The cline for skin colour does not necessarily match the cline for the HbS sickle-cell mutation; eye colour doesn't match frequency of achondroplastic dwarfism doesn't match haemophilia doesn't match height. So where do you draw the lines? On what basis do you say, these differences make a discrete race - but these ones we'll ignore.

Once again, outside of bottlenecked populations, you'll not find a "race" in which the genetic variation within the race less than the variation between races.

That factors such as "race" are still (sometimes) used in clinical trials or (very controversially) in recommendations for treatment is merely an approximation based on probability, and a very loose one at that. And they can only be applied to very specific cases in which the two traits do tend to match up. But it's no more a proof of the validity of the scientific concept of race than the suggestion that "people with a family history of heart disease" are a race.

As I said before, social, cultural and historical factors are a completely different matter, and should be treated as such.
posted by flashboy at 12:55 PM on August 10, 2005


In fact, there's a rather famous picture (which unfortunately I can't track down right now) showing two identical twin brothers who were separated at birth and brought up in radically different environments. There's nearly a foot of difference in their heights, as well as numerous other significant physical differences.

I could take Verne Troyer and Yao Ming and compare the two, but that would be an awful small sample size, and any conclusions I make from that comparison would not be very significant. One outlier does not prove a statistical trend. As an example again, I will ask, are Asians-Americans on average as tall as other ethnic populations, giving all immigrants the same "American" diet? It seems that in general, at least for, say, mean and variance of height, there are phenotypic trends you can assign to a population that — for lack of a less emotionally charged word — can be called a "race" or "ethnic group".
posted by Rothko at 1:05 PM on August 10, 2005


Rothko : "As an example again, I will ask, are Asians-Americans on average as tall as other ethnic populations, giving all immigrants the same 'American' diet?"

I dunno, are they? (Given, of course, that not only their current diet, but their childhood diet as well, was the same size and content) In my experience, yeah, pretty much. The asian kids who were multi-generations old at my school were about the same average height as the white kids who were multi-generations old. The asian kids who either came to America after birth, or were born in America to non-American parents, were generally shorter, and generally raised on food that was more influenced by their parents' native countries.

Is there any statistical evidence available on the net about this? I'm fairly curious.
posted by Bugbread at 1:14 PM on August 10, 2005


Although the concept of "race" as it is generally understood is flawed, and so often misused that it is often in conflict with reality when it comes down to practical application, it is by no means entirely devoid of utility. To insist that it simply "doesn't exist" is a ridiculous over-simplification. That said, I always mark down my race as "mixed" on any forms I have to fill out, and I suggest everyone do the same unless there's some specific reason to do otherwise.

While I'm here, let me say that racism is not just about looking down on people because of their "race", like someone suggested up-thread. It's about making any kind of judgement or any assumption about people on that basis. It's caused by the same kind of thinking as all the other kinds of ready assumptions people make based on appearances, which is a kind of thinking that most people are never going to give up.
posted by sfenders at 1:31 PM on August 10, 2005


Regarding Bidil, it is not without a certain amount of dubiousness that it is all it claims to be.

This blog has some reasonable sounding objections to what happened.
posted by edgeways at 1:32 PM on August 10, 2005


Can we get back to talking about what a racist Jonson is?
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 1:33 PM on August 10, 2005


This is really just a pug/rat terrier feud, isn't it?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 1:53 PM on August 10, 2005


Is there a scientific explanation that explains how jonson seems completely incapable of even being embarrassed over this?
posted by scody at 2:22 PM on August 10, 2005


scody -

Since he BRAGS about having pulled this crap multiple times, he obviously is not embarrassed. From the dick's horse's mouth:
those of you scolding me into better behavior after my sixth use of the idiotic "rook!" title tag, I applaud your tenacity.
The only reasonable explaination I can imagine is that he's dilberately trying to stir up shit. Fucking brilliant.
posted by raedyn at 2:35 PM on August 10, 2005


I just figured it was a potassium deficiency.
posted by Bugbread at 2:41 PM on August 10, 2005


Unlikely, bugbread. He's clearly bananas.
posted by anapestic at 3:36 PM on August 10, 2005


Alex, once again, the point about height is merely disputing your claim that it's completely genetic in nature. That's what the twins thing is there to demonstrate - they're essentially genetically identical, and yet their height varies significantly. It's not attempting to prove anything else.

It seems that in general, at least for, say, mean and variance of height, there are phenotypic trends you can assign to a population that — for lack of a less emotionally charged word — can be called a "race" or "ethnic group".

Well, fine, if that's what you want to call a "race". But then you have to accept that two people could be in the same race when you consider one phenotypic trait, but could then be in different races if you consider an alternative trait. Either that, or you're going to have to explain why the specific traits you choose to define a "race" are the most significant ones. You'll also have to explain away why those scientifically vital traits just so happen to coincide with pre-existing conceptions about culturally and geopolitically constructed groupings...


Or, if people would prefer: jonson is a dick.
posted by flashboy at 3:40 PM on August 10, 2005


But then you have to accept that two people could be in the same race when you consider one phenotypic trait, but could then be in different races if you consider an alternative trait.

... well, yeah. The whole point of "race" is that it's a broad generalization about a group of people. You can use a social and cultural definition of race, but it obviously won't apply in every individual case. You can use a genetic one, and again it will fail when you look at some specific individuals. Either way, there are always exceptions. When you get down to it, everything exists in particulars, not generalizations. That doesn't make the generalizations entirely wrong, just a little further removed from reality.
posted by sfenders at 4:14 PM on August 10, 2005


That was merely to counter your claim that "Among other physical features, height is almost entirely genetically bound for different populations."

A claim easily countered if he were to come to Korea. Look at the older folks who lived through the lean years until the 70's/80's. Look at kids today. It's not fucking rocket science.

Which is to say 'Rothko' is utterly wrong, dios is not an idiot, and jonson is still a dick.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:04 PM on August 10, 2005


I find that I'm using various forms of the word 'fuck' overmuch these days. I will endeavour to cut that shit out.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:10 PM on August 10, 2005


Please don't, you crazy fuck.
posted by jonmc at 5:16 PM on August 10, 2005


hey scody. not embarassed cause I know that I'm just kidding and mean no offense. and because I take a perverse delight in being judged by strangers.
posted by jonson at 5:34 PM on August 10, 2005


There is no such thing a scientific concept of race that makes any sense whatsoever.

This is true. Rothko is completely wrong; I'm not sure if he's unwilling to admit it because that would be caving in to dios, whom he hates worse than the foul exhalations of Satan, or because he's simply incapable of admitting he's wrong. Anyway, take your personal squabbles outside; they're boring.

Or, what stavros fuckin' said.
posted by languagehat at 5:38 PM on August 10, 2005


There's no such thing as race because we're all eeeeeeequal. Eeeeeeeww!!!

It is an article of passionate faith among "politically correct" biologists and anthropologists that brain size has no connection with intelligence; that intelligence has nothing to do with genes; and that genes are probably nasty fascist things anyway.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 5:48 PM on August 10, 2005


It's just that he used a stupid title, right? I'd have fixed the title, said why, and reserved the right to do it again; I would not have deleted the post because of the silly "joke" in the title, myself.

There was a long MeTa thread quite recently where folks argued that titles and tags are integral parts of the post and so must remain inviolate unless they break the site, and we try to treat them that way. However, it means that if your title has to go, the whole post needs to go. It seems like most people missed the katoyousneakyyellowbastard tag which, when combined with the title made an "eh" post turn into a wacky science lesson here.
posted by jessamyn at 5:51 PM on August 10, 2005


it was "katoyousneakyyellowdevil", a direct quote from that notorious work of hate literature, The Pink Panther.
posted by jonson at 5:55 PM on August 10, 2005


dios, whom he hates worse than the foul exhalations of Satan,

But does he hate him worse than the flatulence of Satan? Cos that's some serious hate.

(besides Rothko once hated me worse that Beelzebub's diarrhea, but he's come around)
posted by jonmc at 5:58 PM on August 10, 2005


Huh. I was just searching for a link to Dawkins' Race and Creation. Can't find one. He says it well. (This was the most interesting link I did find.)
posted by sfenders at 6:14 PM on August 10, 2005


i ate Beelzebub's diarrhea.
posted by I EAT TAPES at 7:09 PM on August 10, 2005


Did you take Pepto afterwards? I imagine it's quite spicy.
posted by jonmc at 7:20 PM on August 10, 2005


"I'm only criticising Dios' wildly incorrect assertion that 'the idea of "race" belongs to our pre-scientific vernacular,' which is not substantiated whatsoever in the reality of how science is conducted today."

I just can't stop myself. Rothko, you're a fucking idiot. You could not possibly be more wrong.

As to the "black" differentiation in certain medical studies, the African-American population is genetically related and distinct from the rest of the population, so such a correlation is possible and convenient. On the other hand, all other "black" populations worldwide, and specifically Africa are not genetically related to each other and distinct from everyone else and so such correlations do not exist.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:23 PM on August 10, 2005


uncanny hengeman : "There's no such thing as race because we're all eeeeeeequal. Eeeeeeeww!!!

It is an article of passionate faith among 'politically correct' biologists and anthropologists that brain size has no connection with intelligence; that intelligence has nothing to do with genes; and that genes are probably nasty fascist things anyway."


I could have sworn Dawkins also spent a big chunk of The Ancestor's Tale pointing out the flaws in racial theory, and how it was just as much a social construct as something based on science (I seem to remember photos of Colin Powell, who, as he pointed out, is actually whiter than George Bush, but is considered black)
posted by Bugbread at 7:35 PM on August 10, 2005


"I find that I'm using various forms of the word 'fuck' overmuch these days. I will endeavour to cut that shit out."

Fuck you, you fucking fuck. Grow some fucking balls and fucking say what's on your fucking mind before I fucking kick your fucking sorry ass.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:37 PM on August 10, 2005


I could have sworn Dawkins also spent a big chunk of The Ancestor's Tale pointing out the flaws in racial theory, and how it was just as much a social construct as something based on science (I seem to remember photos of Colin Powell, who, as he pointed out, is actually whiter than George Bush, but is considered black)

sfenders link above looks like it might explain it. I had a quick look but no time to read.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 7:46 PM on August 10, 2005


fucking say what's on your fucking mind before I fucking kick your fucking sorry ass.

Well, I was thinking about a nice cold beer, actually, but I got food poisoning a couple of days back, and have been alternating between flat on my back and hunched over on the toilet, groaning, so I'm stuck with the tasteless rice gruel with which my astonishingly patient wife has being plying me.

But thanks for askin'!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:54 PM on August 10, 2005


Rothko's a jerk, so I won't address him personally, but for those reading along who are confused about this whole "race" thing, here's an explanation.

The idea of race did not exist prior to the nineteenth century or somewhat earlier. Yes, the word was used, but it was used roughly equivalent to "ethnicity" (and Rothko seems to confuse the two). Thus, prior to the modern notion of "race", people might talk about the "English race" and the "Irish race". This clearly does not jibe with the modern notion of race.

The modern notion of race has two components: the first is distinguishing populations on the basis of a few superficial differences, the primary being skin color. The second is the assumption that these populations thus distinguished are genetically related to each other. Both components have problems, and in combination they're really in trouble.

Skin color simply isn't a reliable indicator of relatedness. The key scientific fact to know and understand here is that two black African populations may be less related to each other than either is related to a white European population. Furthermore, skin color really and truly is superficial. It does not correlate to other physiological distinctions with which it's not directly involved. It does not correlate to bone structure, propensity to certain diseases, anything. Rothko and others are confused by the fact that African Americans do share a number of characteristics, including skin color and a susceptibility to sickle-cell anemia. But this is because they are a closely related population as they primarily come from a small population in west Africa. Not all (in fact, only a few) black African populations are susceptible to sickle-cell anemia, for example. Simply put, skin color does not tell you anything about the genome other than skin color.

Secondly, the modern idea of race was a European invention that arose as modern science arose, particularly the idea of genetics. The idea of interelatedness and distinction is crucial. There is the assumption that blacks, for example, are all the descendents of an earlier population that evolutionarily diverged from the rest of humanity. That is to say, because it's assumed that "races" are distinct, that "race" signifies a population that shares a great number of characteristics because they're related, it necessarily assumes a substantial divergence from the rest of the human population. Alas, we know from modern population genetic studies that no population is that divergent from the rest. We also have good reason to believe that there simply has not been the historical opportunity for a human population to so diverge.

"Race" is not ethnicity. Ethnicity is a perfectly valid term and idea, it loosely signifies a relatedness as it correlates to culture, but primarily involves culture in general. Which is somewhat reliable, while the correlation of race to relatedness is not.

It's important to understand that although "race" isn't true, it could have been. The assumption of the modern notion of race is that humans divide into distinct "breeds" which share a bunch of physical characteristics and a genetic heritage. This isn't the case, but it could have been, had there been a population isolated for a sufficient amount of time (and isolated to this day, basically). Or eugenics could make it the case. Nevertheless, it is an empirical fact that it is not the case.

"Race" is a pseudo-scientific term that has no basis in reality. To the degree to which people think of it as a synonym of "ethnicity", then it does have utility and does reflect reality. But the assumptions most people have about "race", the history of the modern use of the term, and the way most people use the word all describe something that is quite distinct from ethnicity and has been disproven by empirical fact.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:00 PM on August 10, 2005


Amazingly enough, Dawkins' position is not simple enough to be captured in a catchy slogan like "there is no such thing a scientific concept of race" or "it's just a social construct" (not that it's even close to either of those.)
posted by sfenders at 8:02 PM on August 10, 2005


Alas, we know from modern population genetic studies that no population is that divergent from the rest.

You're talking in terms of genes here?
posted by uncanny hengeman at 8:14 PM on August 10, 2005


Part of me is happy to see so many enlightened people who understand that race is a fallacy in scientific terms. Part of me wonders if some of these folks fall into the category of "Race doesn't exist so racism doesn't either so I can be as insensitive as I want to bitches."
posted by bardic at 8:16 PM on August 10, 2005


I imagine that "race" is one of the few things that Dawkins and Gould were in complete agreement about.

To restate and clarify a little bit, "race" assumes that we could do a vast, worldwide population genetics study and find that a few large groupings would emerge from the data where each grouping was substantially distinct from the others with regard to genotype. This in fact is not the case. But let's assume that it was the case. Would those groupings correspond to the groupings we call "races" today? Not likely. It's not likely because the way that we distinguish "races" is via some haphazard and usually very superficial characteristics. A mutation that results in a darker skin pigmentation could occur in two unrelated populations, and that mutation is a relatively simple one that will not correlate regularly with a whole bunch of other shared genes (and the notion of "race" requires that this be the case because we generalize about physiology, intellect, and temperment on its basis).

Think of "race" as constellations in the night sky. That cluster of stars that form a shape and are apparently close to each other could actually signify a group of stars that are related to each other. They could be near each other and share a history. As it happens, though, this clustering in our night sky tells us almost nothing at all about the relatedness of the stars so clustered because for the most part they are not near each other and do not share a history that is distinct from all others. They are patterns that do not signify what we are inclined, in our naivete, to believe they signify. Neither do the characteristics we identify to distinguish "races".

On preview: "You're talking in terms of genes here?" Yes. My use of the word "that" in my sentence was crucial. Of course there are genetically divergent human populations. The point is that there are no human populations that are as divergent as our notion of race requires.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:21 PM on August 10, 2005


Umm. I've read that brain size and intelligence are not correlated in humans, and I believe it to be true because people smarter than I who have studied the matter have reached that conclusion.

But, why aren't they correlated? Wouldn't it make sense if they were?
posted by Kwantsar at 8:23 PM on August 10, 2005


"Part of me wonders if some of these folks fall into the category of 'Race doesn't exist so racism doesn't either so I can be as insensitive as I want to bitches.'"

Note that racism can exist even if "race" is not a valid scientific term. We could (wrongly) imagine that all human beings, when measured in centimeters, divide into "odd" and "even" where this division signifies other regular distinctions of characteristics. We might imagine that "even" heighted people are more suited to be dominant while "odd" heighted people are more suited to be submissive. Even though such a distinction has no basis in science, people could still make such a distinction and discriminate on its basis. So, too, with "racism".
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:28 PM on August 10, 2005


EB: "race" signifies a population that shares a great number of characteristics because they're related, it necessarily assumes a substantial divergence from the rest of the human population. Alas, we know from modern population genetic studies that no population is that divergent from the rest.

Aside from your own example in the preceding paragraph, anyone can easily think of a half-dozen large populations that have diverged far enough that they generally have a number of characteristics in common. How about the Inuit, for example? Not all that greatly divergent in the larger scheme of things, but enough to be measurable. That these groups do not eactly correspond to your notions of what "races" exist means not that the concept "has no basis in reality", but that your notion of how to use it is wrong.
posted by sfenders at 8:32 PM on August 10, 2005


A person from the Australian Aboriginal "race" procreates with another person from the Australian Aboriginal "race." They will almost certainly have a child that has physical (and character?) traits of the Australian Aboriginal "race."

But there's no such thing as race, right?

Where did I go wrong? Are there other factors at play other than genes? Or a yet to be discovered substructure of a gene? Or do we say "it's not genetic so let's just give up and leave it at that"?

Or am I completely missing the point? Not trying to provoke anything here. I find this topic extremely interesting.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 8:35 PM on August 10, 2005


What sfenders said. I think we're trying to say the same thing there.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 8:42 PM on August 10, 2005


Great posts, EB. But the invention of race predates the 1900s by at least a couple hundred years. The short version (because I'm tapping this out on my PDA) is that the English began to develop the concept in the 1600s, as they sought rationales for the slave trade.
posted by LarryC at 8:55 PM on August 10, 2005


"...anyone can easily think of a half-dozen large populations that have diverged far enough that they generally have a number of characteristics in common."

and

"They will almost certainly have a child that has physical (and character?) traits of the Australian Aboriginal 'race.'"

"Yes" to both (except not about "character"). But neither example conforms to the modern notion of "race". Again, the notion of "race" requires that on the basis of a few superficial distinctions we can safely assume relatedness of all individuals who share those distinctions from the rest of the human population and that this relatedness and the associated distinction from the rest of the human population is, essentially, profound. That is to say, as we look at the phenotype and genotype of this population we'll find the kind of divergence we'd see at many levels of description that you'd expect from a long isolated (or bred) population.

The pre-modern idea of "race" was roughly equivalent to "ethnicity". It said no more and no less that a given human population can share a number of traits because they're more closely related to each other than they are to other populations. The modern idea of "race" made two very specific claims, however: that a select few characteristics--chief among them skin color--reliably indicate such a relatedness; and that such relatedness indicates substantial non-superficial distinctions, specifically of the endemic things we see when we compare, say, a doberman to a chihuahua. Furthermore, these divergences were very specifically assumed (somewhat later) to have arisen from evolution. That is the modern notion of race. That is what most people today think "race" means and what they (wrongly) think about the reality of human population divergence. When you redefine "race" where it doesn't require these assumptions, you're left with mere relatedness of the sort like "this family tends to produce individuals that are taller than average". We don't expect that such taller individuals are a distinct sort of human. We do expect that "races" divide human populations into distinct varieties of humans. And that's not the case.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:04 PM on August 10, 2005


Well, I said "nineteenth" century and a bit earlier--which would be late 1700s. But I'm no historian. However, I think it's safe to say that "race" as we know it today is both European and modern. For the most part, pre-modern peoples saw their ethnic group as "kin" and everyone else as "not-kin" and did not generalize about all "black" or "white" or "brown" (or whatever) people.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:12 PM on August 10, 2005


The real question is: what vested interest does Rothko have in proving that there are, in fact, distinct "races"?
posted by darukaru at 9:13 PM on August 10, 2005


hey scody. not embarassed cause I know that I'm just kidding and mean no offense. and because I take a perverse delight in being judged by strangers.

I was talking to this guy i'm dating the other day about all the years he spent doing stand-up and sketch comedy. He was describing the experience of how the exact same material could sometimes go over extremely well, and sometimes bomb horrifically. I said, "yeah, but if it got a good response before, you at least knew that the problem in that instance was just the audience, right?" His reply: "If nobody's laughing, at that moment in time and space, you are not funny."
posted by scody at 9:34 PM on August 10, 2005


There's no reason to assume he has a vested interest. I talk about this a lot because before ten years ago, I thought the same thing Rothko thinks and for the same reasons--medicine distinguishing "races", forensic anthropoligists distinguishing "races". Not to mention the more general objection many people have that we see in this thread: that, duh, "race" obviously means something.

I keep refining my argument. I think I need to emphasize that, sure, it does mean something; it's just that it doesn't mean what we think it means. Which is the whole point of saying "it doesn't exist". Does Santa Claus exist? If you go to the local mall around Christmastime it's obvious that he does exist, isn't it? But we know what we mean when we ask "does Santa Claus exist" and we know that we're not just talking about guys that dress in fat suits and red velvet and go "ho ho ho" and ask little children what toys they want.

For example, here's Encarta's definitions of this use of the word race:

1. group of humans: one of the groups into which the world's population can be divided on the basis of physical characteristics such as skin or hair color

2. fact of belonging to group: the fact of belonging to a group of humans who share the same physical features such as skin color

4. biology strain of organism: a genetically distinct population within a species that may also be geographically isolated
We use the word race to describe something pretty specific and what it specifies is not, in fact, true.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:34 PM on August 10, 2005


I just can't stop myself. Rothko, you're a fucking idiot... Rothko's a jerk, so I won't address him personally, but blah blah blah blah

Insulting me personally doesn't make you right, even if it massages your pathetic ego.

Aside from your own example in the preceding paragraph, anyone can easily think of a half-dozen large populations that have diverged far enough that they generally have a number of characteristics in common. How about the Inuit, for example? Not all that greatly divergent in the larger scheme of things, but enough to be measurable. That these groups do not eactly correspond to your notions of what "races" exist means not that the concept "has no basis in reality", but that your notion of how to use it is wrong.

sfenders has it. EB, I don't have much more to tell you other than I recommend you pick up a few books on statistics, clustering, phylogeny and population studies, and maybe open up PubMed and look into subjects like ethnicity and markers, to give you one simple example that might get through your thick skull.
posted by Rothko at 9:44 PM on August 10, 2005


The modern idea of "race" made two very specific claims, however: that a select few characteristics--chief among them skin color--reliably indicate such a relatedness;

Where are you getting this from? It's pretty obvious that skin color is not, usually, any kind of reliable indicator of race. I don't recall anyone who could be taken seriously proposing that it should be. You seem to be arguing against some kind of idea of "race" that doesn't make any sense, of which there are of course many.

Another interesting link.
posted by sfenders at 9:45 PM on August 10, 2005


"If nobody's laughing, at that moment in time and space, you are not funny."

And the reverse is true. "Funny", like "scary", is not a purely objective quality. Yet people will assert that something is or is not definitively "funny" or "scary". For example, lots of people said that "Blair Witch" was not scary as if the people who claimed to be scared were either lying or confused. Similarly, people will say "that's not funny" and while they may claim that what they really meant is "that's not funny to me", the truth is that they are, nevertheless, making an assertion about the objective quality of something, not merely their own subjective reaction. This is not dissimilar to how many people, perhaps the majority, will claim that a book or movie or song or whatever is "bad" because they did not enjoy it.

But the interesting thing about comedy is that it's 99% the delivery and not the joke itself. Which brings to mind The Aristocrats. So your guy is doubly correct.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:46 PM on August 10, 2005


Rothko, you should take your own advice. But start with the definition of the word race.

"Where are you getting this from? It's pretty obvious that skin color is not, usually, any kind of reliable indicator of race."

Check some dictionaries, for starters. But also merely trace the etyomology of the modern use of the word. It is well-known. It has a specific meaning, and that specific meaning does not describe reality.

And, again, it's not just that the primary indicator of "race"--skin color--does not reliably indicate relatedness, it's also the case that the substantial population divergence assumed by "race" does not exist in humans.

There is no racial distinction which reliably indicates relatedness across the entire world population. This has been well-studied and well-proven. Yes, populations do diverge and because of their relatedness they will share some characteristics. But the correlation between those shared characteristics and relatedness is contingent and trivial. "Race" assumes the correlation to be necessary and profound. If you redefine "race" as a correlation that is contingent and trivial, then you're left with the simple and obvious statement that a population that shares relatedness will share some characteristics. That is both true and useful, but it doesn't even approximate the modern notion of "race".
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:03 PM on August 10, 2005



Can anyone remember the band Racey?

Did they even exist?
posted by uncanny hengeman at 10:14 PM on August 10, 2005


thanks for the warez fatbutt
posted by angry modem at 10:25 PM on August 10, 2005


And, by the way, imagine that dios's and Rothko's positions were reversed in this argument. There'd be a big, huge pileon on dios and a number of people defending Rothko. As it is, dios has said something truthful, reasonable, and lucid which is typically identified with the "liberal" point of view but tomorrow, of course, he will still be accused by most of being a troll while Rothko will not. Furthermore, Rothko very possibly wouldn't have backed himself into this corner were he not sure that anything dios claims must be, prima facie, outrageously false. This is an example of how unexamined bias and bigotry poisons civil discourse. Alex Reynolds (Rothko), while opposing dios politically, from his first day here has been at least as belligerent and prone to hyperbole as dios ever has.

True, he's much less tolerated than almost anyone else here who is politically outspoken from the left. Even so, in comparison with Alex, I think it's obvious that dios has gotten a bum rap.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:36 PM on August 10, 2005


Check some dictionaries, for starters.

I think you need to get a better dictionary. "a division of mankind possessing traits that are transmissible by descent and sufficient to characterize it as a distinct human type"

uh, yeah.
posted by sfenders at 10:58 PM on August 10, 2005


Anyway, it hardly matters. In only a few short tens of thousands of years, it seems highly probable that either racial differences really will have become insignificant, or our species will be extinct.
posted by sfenders at 11:12 PM on August 10, 2005


丫挺! 操你妈个屄!
posted by mosch at 11:17 PM on August 10, 2005


All we need is a voluntary, free-spirited, open-ended program of procreative racial deconstruction.
posted by mosch at 11:18 PM on August 10, 2005


丫挺! 操你妈个屄

Bifurcation! Holds your mother?
posted by delmoi at 11:23 PM on August 10, 2005


Reading through the thread, its clear that Rothko is a gigantic idiot.

I got into this with beth here once. Race is simply not a scientific distinction.
posted by delmoi at 11:29 PM on August 10, 2005


And, by the way, imagine that dios's and Rothko's positions were reversed in this argument. There'd be a big, huge pileon on dios and a number of people defending Rothko

Bullshit. You'd be here with your same unprovoked spiel, for one.

Just for the record, I'll point out to everyone that you pulled this same stunt in the pedophile/rape thread awhile back and you were just as wrong there as you are here.

You've demonstrated quite clearly you don't know much about biology or population studies, at the very least.

Rothko very possibly wouldn't have backed himself into this corner

What corner? Just about everything I've referenced and discussed about how statistics and race are related is factually correct, and sfenders is handing your ass to you on whatever else you think you might know, repeatedly.

What on god's green earth are you babbling about?

This is an example of how unexamined bias and bigotry poisons civil discourse.

I'm a bigot now? You'll use any excuse whatsoever to call me whatever names you can get away with, won't you?

You've lost it, EB. And I strongly recommend you cool it with the unprovoked personal comments.
posted by Rothko at 11:33 PM on August 10, 2005


Bifurcation! Holds your mother?

Damn straight.
posted by mosch at 11:35 PM on August 10, 2005


Reading through the thread, its clear that Rothko is a gigantic idiot.

Dispute the facts in this comment with equally researched or compelling counterarguments, please. If you have something of substance, then we can talk. Otherwise, the "idiot" comments are just EB-esque noise.
posted by Rothko at 11:38 PM on August 10, 2005


"...sufficient to characterize it as a distinct human type"

...which isn't the case. There are no "distinct human types" that arise from population divergence. Worldwide population genetics studies have conclusively proven this to be the case. There is no disagreement on this matter.

I have a genetic mutation in the gene controlling collagen formation that is unique to the few of us that are traced back to a common ancestor. So am I and my family a "distinct human type"? Of course not. "Distinct human type" is a far-reaching phrase--it clearly goes beyond "a population sharing certain traits". This is the crux of the matter. The modern use of the word "race" unambiguously refers to a division of the entire human species into a few large populations that each are distinct from the others in some fundamental respects as a result of long-term population divergence. This is simply not true. Even more untrue (assuming it makes sense to compare degrees of falsehood) is the notion that these divisions of the human species correspond roughly to skin-color and a few other superficial features.

I don't understand how you and others refuse to see that your weakened defintion of the word "race" reduces it to something trivial and quite unlike how the term is used in common discourse.

"Blacks" are, without a doubt, assumed by almost everyone who believes in "race" to be a "race". Furthermore, by those same people "blacks" are assumed, as a "race", to share a large number of common characteristics beside those superficial features like skin color, eye color, facial shape, and hair color. It is commonly believed in the US that blacks are somehow more "athletic" than other races. Not that African Americans are more athletic, but that black Africans in general are more athletic and thus so are African Americans. Broad claims are made about temperment, about intelligence, general health. Most people who are aware that African Americans are prone to sickle-cell anemia assume that all blacks, including all black Africans, are prone to sickle-cell anemia. But they are not. There is not a single trait (not even skin color!) that is unique to all people we call "black" and which indicates a common ancestor. Nor is there with "Asians".

We can assume relatedness in many populations, including many Asian populations, simply because it is trivially true--they live in the same area, they are more likely to be interelated. But if we pick any particular trait that is used to distinguish "races" from each other and look for a genetic correlation across the entire world's population, we don't find it. We don't find it with skin color, or eye shape, or even sensitivity to alcohol or lactose. We find populations that share skin color and are related. We find populations that share eye shape and are related. We find populations that share a sensitity to alchohol or an inability to digest lactose that are related. What we don't find is that any of these things are reliable markers for relatedness in isolation. Two different populations may each have the same skin color and not be any more genetically related to each other than they are to any other population. Two different populations may each have the same eye shape and not be any more genetically related to each other than they are to any other population. That this is incorrectly assumed to be the case is the very definition of "race", the very idea that we can see "divisions of mankind possessing traits that are transmissible by descent and sufficient to characterize each as a distinct human type."

On preview: "In only a few short tens of thousands of years, it seems highly probable that either racial differences really will have become insignificant" Don't you see that this assertion of yours encapsulates, it requires, a notion of "race" which is proven to be untrue? Your timeframe is a giveaway. There are no distinct human "types" for which it would take "tens of thousands of years of interbreeding" to eradicate. Human populations are not that divergent. They might have been, but they're not. The fundamental similarity of all human populations is an essential idea of contemporary evolutionary theory with regard to humans, and it is essential to contemporary medicine. At the level of taking the broad view and looking at variations among humans across the entire species, we are all essentially the same.

From a naive point of view, this may be a surprising result. But if you look at what we know about evolution as it has progressed in the human species, and look at what we know of our history, you find that there simply hasn't been the opportunity for human populations to diverge in the way assumed by "race".
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:41 PM on August 10, 2005


"You've demonstrated quite clearly you don't know much about biology or population studies, at the very least."

Sigh. You're really embarassing Johns Hopkins. It's sad. They should revoke your biology degree. I mean, really, it's as if you were a physicist claiming that relativity has been disproven. You're screwed no matter how you look at it: either you're just plain wrong in a flat-earth sort of way; or you're confused and intellectually sloppy enough to mistakenly think that the ways in which, for example, population studies have indicated relatedness validates the idea of "race". Either possibility indicates to me that you don't deserve the biology degree you supposedly were granted by a respectable institution. If you mosey on down the hall and talk to some folks that have PhDs in the relevant fields you'll find that you're wrong, wrong, wrong (much to your astonishment and quick denial and revisionism, I'm sure).

The notion of "race" as it is commonly understood and as it has been used by Europeans for the last few hundred years has been unambiguously disproven. I am baffled and saddened that you managed to complete an undergraduate education in biology without learning (or, more likely, remembering) this well-known fact.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:53 PM on August 10, 2005


But scody, unlike your boyfriend, I'm not performing for an audience; what I type here only has to amuse me. No one paid to read my words, I paid nothing to post them. If I choose to type something purely for the amusement that I alone will receive in the ridiculous humor of trotting out the same horrible joke ("rook!") once a year to guage the reaction it gets, there's nothing wrong with that. It cost no one anything more than the attention they willingly paid it. It doesn't make me evil, or a dick, or a troll, or any of the things said here, any more than my postings will be changed by any of what people write here. I like to use the "rook" tag on average, once every year of membership here. I'm not entirely sure why, it's sort of become a running private bit of performance art, and while the joke itself has never been funny in the least, the concept of the joke, and the response I get to it are spectacularly amusing to me, usually because I know that I meant no more by the words than had one of my pugs walked over the keyboard and hit the "r o o & k" keys, and yet it drives people into a multi-hundred comment MetaTalk thread about the nature of race. Hey, no one can help what they find funny, although I will apologize if it has overtly troubled you.
posted by jonson at 11:55 PM on August 10, 2005


I mean, really, it's as if you were a physicist claiming that relativity has been disproven.

You are truly, breathlessly clueless about statistics and about how ethnicity is used in scientific studies.

Anyway keep banging away at your keyboard, you'll convince someone some day!


posted by Rothko at 12:00 AM on August 11, 2005


rothko, for once i agree with dios...in every anthropology course i ever took, they explianed that in purely genetic terms there are no races...it is an outdated term that only served to separate humans by phenotypes.
posted by schyler523 at 12:03 AM on August 11, 2005


I'm certain I'm wasting my time, but what the hell:

"If you do a drug trial, when a participant checks off what racial group he or she believes herself to be a member of, that data is going into the multivariate analysis to consider its effect. It can be a deliberate and useful part of the experimental design, as was the case here."

Only if the larger population from which the individual is drawn is sufficiently restricted. For example, "black" does have this sort of meaning when restricted to the north American population. It does not across the world's population. If you pick a random sample of the entire world's population and ask each person to self-identify by "race" as the word is used today (i.e., "black", "white", "asian", etc.) you will not find that self-identification to be statistically meaningful. How do I know? Because many people were eager to prove or disprove this and, lo and behold, it was disproven. Many times.

"If you're looking at genetic analysis, you can attempt to look for markers — RFLPs — that are found in number within 95% of a commonly-defined or self-identified ethnic group. (PubMed citations.)"

Ethnicity is not "race". Ethnicity is more or less shorthand for "relatedness" and thus necessarily indicates...relatedness.

"If you do a census, people are required by law to enter information. Let's say everyone does identify their heritage accurately, within noise. Then you can say within 95% certainty that this or that ethnic group lives in this or that part of the US."

Again, "ethnicity" is not "race". But, anyway, yes, this does work with "race" within the US because the population pool is sufficiently restricted such that "race" correlates to relatedness. Why? Because, for example, black americans come from a small stock of west africans and have interbred--and this is sufficiently true of other ethnic groups, often confused with "race". If you tried the same thing with a randomly sampled world population you will no longer find the correlation.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:06 AM on August 11, 2005


If there are no ethnicities, there is no reason for experiments (for example, clinical trials) to collect data about ethnicities in consideration of effect. Some, not all, experimental designs do take this into account, meaning someone somewhere made a decision to put resources into this data collection. To continue this example, I doubt much that the FDA or drug companies would collect or consider this information if it wasn't useful or relevant, as in some cases it can be. Examples have been provided above where the experiment is designed with this consideration in mind, among others, and in fact, after the usual peer review process, appears to contribute significant effect. Ethnicity/race/whatever does play a role in how science is done today.
posted by Rothko at 12:14 AM on August 11, 2005


Again, "ethnicity" is not "race".

Heredity as relatedness does indeed often get connected with the term 'race', both in science and in the contentious "real world". I suspect you're playing semantics, so I'll leave it at that.
posted by Rothko at 12:24 AM on August 11, 2005


"If there are no ethnicities, there is no reason for experiments..."

Okay, see, I don't understand this. I've said about a billion times that ethnicity is not equivalent to "race" and that for obvious and trivial reasons, of course there is a correlation between ethnicity and relatedness.

I suspect that you will eventually claim that you meant "ethnicity" all along and disavow the term "race". But whether you will eventually realize it or not, your use of supposed racial identification in medical studies to prove your point reveals that you equate race and ethnicity and thus "race" to you means what it means to most people: that, on average, people of the same race are necessarily more related to each other than they are to people of another race. From what you've written, I'm certain that you believe this. But it's not true. None of the racial groupings that are commonly used today, as distinct from ethnic groupings (e.g. "black" versus "Ethiopian"), are reliable indicators of relatedness. Ethnicity is--but a moment's reflection shows that of course ethnicity correlates to relatedness because most of the things by which we distinguish ethnicities (language, region of familial origin, etc.) are intimately associated with relatedness. Having black skin is not. Having epicanthic folds is not.

On preview: as I predicted.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:28 AM on August 11, 2005


jonson writes "I'm not entirely sure why, it's sort of become a running private bit of performance art, and while the joke itself has never been funny in the least, the concept of the joke, and the response I get to it are spectacularly amusing to me"

But see, that's the essence of being a dick.
=========
I had a funny feeling that I could go to bed, get up, do a bunch of stuff and return here to see a racey party still happening.
posted by peacay at 12:42 AM on August 11, 2005


"But see, that's the essence of being a dick."

Is it? Sometimes I think so, other times I don't. I'm very ambivalent about Andy Kaufman.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:47 AM on August 11, 2005


But he's always really liked you!
posted by scody at 12:52 AM on August 11, 2005


What the hell? Nearly 200 comments and this thread hasn't Godwinned itself into a black hole yet?
posted by loquacious at 1:23 AM on August 11, 2005


salmonberry has met jonson.

quite a few times apparently.
posted by sgt.serenity at 1:40 AM on August 11, 2005


Rothko, it's not just EB who's saying you're wrong. Everybody who knows anything about the subject is saying you're wrong. This is because you're wrong. Back out as gracefully as you can.

jonson, try it this way:
Once a year, on average, I like to go up to a fat kid and holler "Hey, fatty!" I'm not entirely sure why, it's sort of become a running private bit of performance art, and while the joke itself has never been funny in the least, the concept of the joke, and the response I get to it are spectacularly amusing to me, usually because I know that I meant no more by the words than had one of my pugs walked over the keyboard and hit the "f a t t & y" keys, and yet it drives people into a conniption fit about "he can't help it" and "why are you being so mean?" and all kinds of stuff like that. It's hilarious!

Does that help explain why people think you're a dick?
posted by languagehat at 5:59 AM on August 11, 2005


so... did anyone happen to read the paper I linked to?

Although the idea that "race" is an obsolete concept that doesn't really mean anything has had some popularity in academia, it's rather far from universally accepted. I suspect that it's sort of losing ground as more people realize that it's mostly just wishful thinking.

There are no distinct human "types" for which it would take "tens of thousands of years of interbreeding" to eradicate.

Well, that all depends on just how much "interbreeding" we do. It is of course possible to be much more optimistic. Let's see if we can do it in less than a century, then. Go for it, peoples of the world!
posted by sfenders at 6:35 AM on August 11, 2005


Nearly 200 comments and this thread hasn't Godwinned itself into a black hole yet?
Fine, fine.

You know who else had some antiquated ideas about the idea of race? That's right!
posted by darukaru at 7:06 AM on August 11, 2005


That paper equivocates just as Rothko is doing and thus certainly does not prove that "race" exists as the term is commonly understood. The results they describe are trivial in exactly the way that I describe above--that is, people who self-identify as being "African" are related to other people that self-identity as being "African"; people who self-identify as being "Japanese" are related to other people that self-identify as being "Japanese"; etc. This is no big surprise except in the case of Africa (because from other population studies, as I say shortly, we know that all African populations are not more closely related to each other than they are to non-African populations) and in that case there is the flaw that their studies were restricted to African-Americans (who are, in fact, relatively closely genetically related to each other).

There are a number of definitive population studies about which there is zero controversy that have shown that there is not a correlation between degrees of genetic relatedness and self-identified race with regard to, for example, black Africans and Europeans. Two different African poulations, both "black", may be more divergent from each other genetically than either is from a "white" European population. The racial idea of the "African" is not validated by genetics and, regardless, the modern notion of "race" was never merely an example of describing a people as being "of Africa" but more specifically describing all black Africans as being closely genetically related and distinct from "white" Caucasians. This is a very definite claim that can be, and has been, empiricaly tested and shown to be false.

That there is greater diversity in the genome among black Africans--all Africans, really--than there is between various African populations and other continental populations is not a surprise given that we know Africa is the ancestral birthplace of the species itself. Similarly, that other continental populations tend to be genetically related is also not a surprise. In all the cases where there is a correlation to genetic relatedness, the factor that is correlated is not "race" as the term has been used. It is either ethnicity or another relatively trivial characterestic that is obviously going to correlate to relatedness (such as region of origin). In no case, however, are the population distinctions sufficient to allow one to say that there are, from genotype through phenotype, distinct human "types" in the way that there are domesticated animal "breeds". But that is exactly what the modern notion of "race" was invented to describe. However, there might have been. Except that if there had been, it almost certainly would not have corresponded to the racial classifications that had already been defined because those classifications are essentially arbitrary because they are based upon a few superficial traits haphazardly selected and defined.

Again, yes, there are distinct human populations that can be identified through genetic population studies. But, no, they do not correspond to the distinctions we make when we use the term "race". And, no, the distinctions that do exist, such as they are, are not that profound and would not take "tens of thousands of years" to erase. The very essence of the idea of "race" is exactly the sort of profound distinction as evidenced by superficial traits that you are invoking when you talk about "tens of thousands of years" of intermixing being necessary to eradicate "race". And the assumption on which that particular idea is founded have been proven to be false.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:13 AM on August 11, 2005


trotting out the same horrible joke ("rook!") once a year to guage the reaction it gets ... doesn't make me evil, or a dick, or a troll

Except that it does certainly make you a troll. That's practically the textbook definition of troll. Denying it and pretending that the problem is someone else's lack of sense of humor is what makes you a dick. As for evil, don't flatter yourself.
posted by soyjoy at 7:36 AM on August 11, 2005


languagehat, is that TRULY analogus? yelling an insult at a kid in real life vs typing a title tag on a website?
posted by jonson at 7:40 AM on August 11, 2005


So anyway, what does the transposition of 'R' and 'L' (proper to Japanese) have to do with Chinese web sites anyway?
posted by clevershark at 8:01 AM on August 11, 2005


This is no big surprise except in the case of Africa

...that would be because they surveyed only a rather limited population, none of it in Africa. Sure, there is no single "African" race. And some people mistakenly assume there is. So those people would be wrong. That some people in the USA think "black" is a race made up of everyone in Africa with dark skin does not mean that the black American population isn't part of a distinct racial group. There are some self-identified racial groups that do accurately correspond to genetically distinct subsets of a certain population, and some that don't.

Realistically, it might well take tens of thousands of years to change that. A lot of things can happen in a thousand years, you know; the gradual increase in world connectivity of every kind that we've become accustomed to might not last forever. We're talking about a very large and diverse population. Incidentally, I do believe there is much less genetic difference between breeds of dog than you seem to think. It wouldn't necessarily require anything like thousands of years for them either. I'd very much appreciate it if you could come up with a quantitative measure that would show human racial groups to be less distinct than breeds of dog, which also blur at the boundaries you know. I have reason to believe there isn't one.

I remember a (relatively brief) time when it was taboo to suggest that men had different traits and abilities than women. By now everybody accepts that the male of the species are different in various subtle ways from the female. The differences are obviously much larger between the sexes than between any two racial groups, and of course it's a different kind of classification entirely. But I'm talking in practical political and social terms here, for which I think the analogy is close enough. So if we are to be capable of accepting that men and women are equal, and distinguishing the reality of the difference from the obsolete social prejudices, I think we need to be able to do the same with race. After all, people do tend to self-identify with racial groups, and for practical purposes the social race-identity thing isn't going to go away as long as there are visible differences between cultural groups, whether they correspond with genetic racial difference or not. So I think it does absolutely no good to pretend that "race" doesn't exist. Otherwise I'd probably join the crowd and speak no more of it.
posted by sfenders at 8:04 AM on August 11, 2005


Indeed, whoever thinks there is a single "African" race must be mystified as to what went on in Rwanda in 1994. Or in Sudan now. Or why Kirsty Coventry -- a woman of caucasian heritage -- swims for Zimbabwe, her native country, in international competitions.
posted by clevershark at 8:20 AM on August 11, 2005


I'm racist against dumbasses because I've read all kinds of big books by people who paid lots of money to get paid lots of money to write things in big books about people who are dumbasses about race.
posted by sciurus at 9:37 AM on August 11, 2005


Rothko : "Anyway keep banging away at your keyboard, you'll convince someone some day!"

You too, sport.

Personally, I'm going to go with Richard Dawkins over you, though.
posted by Bugbread at 9:40 AM on August 11, 2005


Anyway, there's a pretty good summary of the situation with race over at wikipedia, which includes better arguments both for and against various uses of the term than have been presented here.
posted by sfenders at 9:41 AM on August 11, 2005


Personally, I'm going to go with Richard Dawkins over you, though.

Oh yeah, me too. Though I haven't actually read his whole book, just that one excerpt that was going around last year. Here's what wikipedia says:

"The geneticist A.W.F. Edwards argued in 2003 that race exists (see Lewontin's Fallacy). He points out that most of the information that distinguishes populations is not simply the sum of variation of individual genes (the 6 percent), but is variation hidden in the correlation structure of the data. The argument is technical and difficult to follow for those with no statistical training, but is presented in detail in the paper by Edwards (the journal BioEssays volume 25 pages 798-801). It was this argument of Edwards that finally convinced Richard Dawkins, in his new 2004 book The Ancestor's Tale, that race in mankind is of taxonomic value, in other words, races do exist, despite the fact that the boundaries between races are blurred."
posted by sfenders at 9:59 AM on August 11, 2005


jonson : "If I choose to type something purely for the amusement that I alone will receive in...the reaction it gets, [i]t doesn't make me...a troll"

This feels one of those 70's discussions about how "that's bad" means "that's good". What you've given is basically the definition of a troll: someone who types something, not because they believe it, but for the joy of seeing the negative reaction that it gets.
posted by Bugbread at 10:17 AM on August 11, 2005


sfenders : "It was this argument of Edwards that finally convinced Richard Dawkins, in his new 2004 book The Ancestor's Tale, that race in mankind is of taxonomic value, in other words, races do exist, despite the fact that the boundaries between races are blurred."

Man, I've gotta go reread The Ancestor's Tale then, because it was what primarily convinced me that the concept of race, as conventionally given, wasn't based on firm scientific foundations. Maybe I read it backwards.
posted by Bugbread at 10:19 AM on August 11, 2005


jonson : "If I choose to type something purely for the amusement that I alone will receive in...the reaction it gets, [i]t doesn't make me...a troll"

No, it just makes you a self-satisfied douchebag...
posted by SweetJesus at 10:22 AM on August 11, 2005


languagehat, is that TRULY analogus?

I don't know what you mean by "TRULY analogous." It's an analogy, which means by definition it's not an exact correspondence. If it doesn't help you understand why you're seen as a dick, it didn't do its job. For what it's worth, I think you're a funny guy with a blind spot for when he's being a dick. If I were you, I'd stop being so smug and give some thought to what people are telling you, consider whether it's really that important to prove what pussies people are by posting the same dumb joke year after year to make them react (which is, as soyjoy says, prima facie evidence of trollishness). But I'm not you.
posted by languagehat at 10:24 AM on August 11, 2005


Can we just admit that while "race" is of dubious (and currently controversial) scientific origin and usefulness, that "race" as a social construct is still very much alive and important, especially here in America?
Jesus, you fucking pedants...
posted by klangklangston at 11:02 AM on August 11, 2005


I don't know if I can get this out...but... I agree with klangklangston. There, I said it.
posted by Carbolic at 11:57 AM on August 11, 2005


Man, I've gotta go reread The Ancestor's Tale then, because it was what primarily convinced me that the concept of race, as conventionally given, wasn't based on firm scientific foundations. Maybe I read it backwards.

Maybe.
posted by Rothko at 12:50 PM on August 11, 2005


Alex - please stop arguing after you've been proved wrong. You do it all the time and it is very dull (not to mention it makes you out to be stupid, which you aren't). I actually have a modicum of respect for dios despite me vehemently disagreeing with some of his notions because sometimes he presents factually correct information or stops people losing the plot and making mountains out of molehills. He has shown a lot more respect and presence of mind in recent weeks and is finally (IMO) a member in good standing.

I sincerely doubt that a statistical analysis of your behaviour over the same timescale would prove MeFites have such a positive view of your antics. Please just relax and stop making a scene. Alternatively feel free to spill more unnecessary bile and insult me directly as you have done with others who have handled you with kids gloves due to your apparent "oversensitivity". I don't really mind since the least of my concerns is pleasing every single person in the world.

On topic - jonson - this was kind of stupid and pointless and you are also acting like a child. Don't make us take away your toys or send you to bed early!
posted by longbaugh at 1:36 PM on August 11, 2005


For the record, I know Chinese people that confuse R's and L's in English.
posted by nthdegx at 1:47 PM on August 11, 2005


jonson, it's going to be difficult for you to convince anyone here that your simple-minded jokes are really part of some kind of sophisticated "performance art". I mean c'mon: you sir, are a finger-puller. (I suppose there are worse things to be...but I'm glad I'm not one!) Likewise, taking credit for the in-depth discussion of race that has transcended your finger-pullery is hardly credible; I mean, it's not as if you've actually contributed anything intelligent to that discussion. What I love about MetaFilter is that it can make a silk purse out of a pig's ear.

By the way jonson, you are the pig's ear.
posted by sic at 2:01 PM on August 11, 2005


klangklangston : "Can we just admit that while 'race' is of dubious (and currently controversial) scientific origin and usefulness, that 'race' as a social construct is still very much alive and important, especially here in America? "

Yeah, I can admit that.

nthdegx : "For the record, I know Chinese people that confuse R's and L's in English."

Thanks.
posted by Bugbread at 3:11 PM on August 11, 2005


you sir, are a finger-puller

I think you mean "pull-my-finger-er"
posted by scarabic at 4:42 PM on August 11, 2005


Likewise, taking credit for the in-depth discussion of race that has transcended your finger-pullery is hardly credible

where did I ever do that, sic?

On topic - jonson - this was kind of stupid and pointless and you are also acting like a child. Don't make us take away your toys or send you to bed early

I don't know that you, longbaugh, or anyone else in this thread actually has that power...

Truth be told, the "rook" gag is a joke that makes me laugh, not in and of itself, but because of the multi-year tradition of posting it here in every title tag that even vaguely discusses asians. It makes me laugh; that it troubles others is just a byproduct. That others, like languagehat here would say I'm generally funny is nothing but a byproduct. That many, many others (sic, Sweet Jesus, peacay, too many others to mention) would insult me personally, call me names, etc, is just a byproduct. All I ever do on this site, for the most part, is post things that make me laugh; if they make others laugh, it's a plus, if they make others gnash their teeth, it's really not that big of a minus. If they cause a stranger to call me a "self-satisfied douchebag", or others to label me a dick, or a troll, what has that really cost me? My somewhat anonymous Metafilter persona becomes tagged with those labels? And? Time goes by, I continue to make whatever jokes amuse me, sometimes people get upset, and so on...
posted by jonson at 11:28 PM on August 11, 2005


Well, I think 'self-satisfied douchebag' is a funny phrase, if only because I imagine a cartoony anthropomorphicized douchebag sitting there at the keyboard with this smug look on its face.

Or where its face would be if it had one, I guess.

So it's win-win.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:48 PM on August 11, 2005


No, I totally agree with you, that IS a funny phrase. That's why I chose that one to quote, it's pretty awesome!
posted by jonson at 12:11 AM on August 12, 2005


Anthropomorphicized douchebags are the cat's pajamas!
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:23 AM on August 12, 2005


I'm not entirely sure why, it's sort of become a running private bit of performance art ... and yet it drives people into a multi-hundred comment MetaTalk thread about the nature of race.

I was referring to this part of your rambling justification for your sense of humor; it certainly seems like you are trying to put a "sophisticated" spin on what is the equivalent of a fart joke. But hey, like I said before, your your low brow humor did lead to an interesting conversation on race.

For what it's worth I don't think you are a complete douchebag, but by your own description of your actions you are a troll and in general I think that in a community like this one where the way we treat each other is important, that's just lame. But if that's the persona you want to transmit to this community that you've been a part of for several years, that's your prerogative.


Scarabic: yeah, I tried pull-my-finger-er, but it was just too long... Anyway, I'm fairly certain that jonson would just as soon pull a finger as ask someone to pull his -- either way, it's always the same hillarious punchline!
posted by sic at 2:46 AM on August 12, 2005


If they cause a stranger to ... label me a dick, or a troll, what has that really cost me?

What has being called a troll cost any troll? I don't think the "cost" to you was ever the issue. It's simply that you're trolling, as you continue to reaffirm in detail, and by saying you don't give a shit that you're trolling, you're being a dick. That's all.
posted by soyjoy at 8:12 AM on August 12, 2005


Alex - please stop arguing after you've been proved wrong

Proved wrong by whom? By the troll who equates pedophilia with a sexual orientation and thinks Darwinism is a basis for homophobia, or by the gasbag who thinks that a 500-age essay with plenty of insults but without any supporting evidence is a reasonable counterargument?
posted by Rothko at 8:50 PM on August 12, 2005


.
posted by peacay at 11:09 PM on August 12, 2005


Rothko : "Proved wrong by whom? By the troll who equates pedophilia with a sexual orientation and thinks Darwinism is a basis for homophobia, or by the gasbag who thinks that a 500-age essay with plenty of insults but without any supporting evidence is a reasonable counterargument?"

Well, by both of them, and others.
posted by Bugbread at 1:54 AM on August 15, 2005


Well, by both of them, and others.

Those two trolls never backed up their assertions with any facts whatsoever. I provided documented counterexamples to various assertions made by others, which disproves those assertions, as well as evidence that science does use racial classifiers to good effect. Sorry, but you're wrong, and the unmerited personal attacks against me are simply more proof of that.
posted by Rothko at 2:35 PM on August 15, 2005


Alex, just because nobody replies to you after a certain point doesn't mean that you have "won" an argument. It means that people are unwilling to keep having you duck and weave, changing the actual meaning behind your statements and then accusing others of using semantic arguments to avoid your rapier-like intellect.

Re-read this whole thread (including links from those who disagree with you) and you will see that it is certainly not cut and dried in your favour. I have read the links on this thread and dios and EB are both correct whereas you are not (in my mind, as well as others - I shall not name them though each has offered their own opinions above). You will no doubt have the final word (again) but it will not change the fact that people won't argue with someone who is being disingenuous. It may pain you to hear it but right now your arch-nemesis is probably better respected than you because despite the occasional statement that sends everyone stratospheric he is refreshingly honest and will not change his argument if proved wrong.

This comment from EB also leaps to mind as you twist and turn like a twisty-turny thing attempting to redefine the argument in terms that will allow you to back down (even then it was not successful as EB accurately predicted your attempt to weasel out of your previous argument.

All it takes is one instance of you apologising or simply stating "Oh right, I hadn't though of that" and people may take you more seriously. If I am ever caught out on a statement then I will hold my hand up and admit in honesty my error (feel free to browse my history and if you find an example of me not having done so I'll do so publicly). Honesty is one of the few things each of us has to hold on to as part of our online reputation and right now many people feel you are intellectually dishonest.

Try doing the right thing, you'll probably feel better. Alternatively feel free to bitch me out or alternatively tell me to stay out of your business etc. Just trying to dispense some helpful advice to ensure that you are recognised as being a decent and helpful part of this community.
posted by longbaugh at 7:43 AM on August 16, 2005


This comment from EB also leaps to mind as you twist and turn like a twisty-turny thing attempting to redefine the argument in terms that will allow you to back down (even then it was not successful as EB accurately predicted your attempt to weasel out of your previous argument.

If you read carefully, it was EB being the weasel, as I noted, by changing his terms around when I pointed out where his assertions don't jibe with the facts as they are.

For example, when I pointed out that Bidil was recognized by the FDA to have an effect on African-Americans, this fact was downgraded because I'm not using the word "black"(!), or I'm not considering this or that other population in the world — or I'm not using some other term that EB would prefer.

For that matter, when I mentioned this as a counterexample to the anthropologist-based assertion, no one really had anything to say. I guess to a certain few people here, facts don't mean anything if they come from the wrong messenger.

As far as EB's weaseling goes, if "ethnicity" and "race" are not equivalent terms for this conversation, certainly no one complained when I used them well earlier in this discussion.

He was playing semantical games because he had invested himself in insulting me well past the point where most people earn a time out from Matt, and he couldn't admit his position was incongruent with the facts as they are. He should recognize that when he ignores those facts, he's not disagreeing with me, he's disagreeing with a community of scientists who have a far better understanding of the peer-reviewed research than he has.
posted by Rothko at 8:10 AM on August 16, 2005


All it takes is one instance of you apologising or simply stating "Oh right, I hadn't though of that" and people may take you more seriously.

And as far as this complete nugget of bullshit goes, I have often apologized when I've made mistakes. Here's one recent example. And here is another. But I'm sure you'll ignore these because you want and have to.

When I'm wrong, I'm happy to say so, as I've just shown. When I'm not wrong, and especially when the "reasons" I'm "wrong" are because I don't deserve to go though a bioinformatics master's program at an Ivy League University, let alone earn my undergraduate degree, then I'll call bullshit. Thanks for your time.
posted by Rothko at 8:31 AM on August 16, 2005


Actually, EB has used much the same argument about "race" in a thread in the blue not that long ago which was pretty well received. I'd certainly be surprised if you can show evidence that there is some sort of consensus on the subject.

Although linked within the thread above, feel free to look at this wikipedia article which helpfully summarises current thought on the subject.

Your initial attack on dios was still uncalled for and with the wikipedia article backing up both his and EB's side of the discussion it would be nice to see an approach that didn't involve both sides drawing their claws in anticipation of a cat fight.
posted by longbaugh at 8:39 AM on August 16, 2005


Oh, and I missed your 2nd comment - my apologies. As to the instances of your admitting you are wrong - well done, I'm genuinely glad. Since I don't stalk you from thread to thread I can only assume that you perhaps don't always come off as argumentative and irascible (particularly when dios is involved). I withdraw my statement that you do not apologise when warrented (although the two instances you link to are simple factual corrections rather than full blown apologies).
posted by longbaugh at 9:01 AM on August 16, 2005


I withdraw my statement that you do not apologise when warrented (although the two instances you link to are simple factual corrections rather than full blown apologies).

Holy living fuck... Whatever.
posted by Rothko at 9:07 AM on August 16, 2005


Something wrong? Factually incorrect?

Thought not.
posted by longbaugh at 9:57 AM on August 16, 2005


Just as I predicted: ...you'll ignore these because you want and have to.
posted by Rothko at 10:08 AM on August 16, 2005


Not even close Alex. I shall allow you to hit refresh now in the vain hope that I will reply to this when I have already made my point clear to anyone with more than a 0.5 wit quotient.
posted by longbaugh at 10:28 AM on August 16, 2005


Not even close Alex. I shall allow you to hit refresh now in the vain hope that I will reply to this when I have already made my point clear to anyone with more than a 0.5 wit quotient.

That you turned my apologies into something else is no more than what I expected. Thanks for proving my point.
posted by Rothko at 12:12 PM on August 16, 2005


What's wrong with being a drama queen?
posted by davy at 11:24 PM on August 16, 2005


Okay everybody, let's all hold hands in a circle now.

"Someone's crying lord, kumbayah
Someone's crying lord, kumbayah..."

Actually though, "kumbayah" as an "Africanism" for "come by here" -- the explanation I got 30-odd years ago -- still strikes me as at least as racist as the title of the that post.

So never mind, we'll do something else in our circle....
posted by davy at 11:29 PM on August 16, 2005


Sex and Racial Differences in the Management of Acute Myocardial Infarction, 1994 through 2002
• Racial Trends in the Use of Major Procedures among the Elderly
• Trends in the Quality of Care and Racial Disparities in Medicare Managed Care
• Health Disparities — Less Talk, More Action
posted by Rothko at 3:47 PM on August 18, 2005


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