Skin Deep

There are a couple of new papers out in Cell about demonstrated immunological differences between Africans and Europeans. We already knew that the course of various infectious diseases can be quite different in people from those two different races, while autoimmune risks are also different (lupus for example is considerably more common in blacks). Researchers found that inflammatory responses were considerably stronger in Africans than Europeans. African macrophages zapped bacteria three times faster than European macrophages.

I wonder if this increased inflammatory tendency is behind the increased risk for sarcoidosis in blacks (12-fold higher death rate). If so, maybe you could help the clinical course by damping down inflammation.

The African pattern almost certainly worked better in Africa (chock-full o’ of pathogens, including many adapted to man or close relatives), while the European pattern worked better outside of Africa – on the whole cooler and less of a microbial playpen.

Henry and I, along with others, put out a paper on this subject a few years ago.

Some of the milder-inflammation alleles in Europeans originated in Neanderthals. Logical, since they too had adapted to the lower pathogen load in ice-age Europe and Central Asia. This probably meant that Neanderthals couldn’t have returned to Africa.

This is all impossible if race does not exist, or if Lewontin had had anything to valid to say on the subject. Of course race does exist, while Lewontin is a fountain of nonsense.

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93 Responses to Skin Deep

  1. Noah Smith says:

    I’m not sure if this is connected to the topic of the post, but has there ever been any serious research on whether Africans and African Americans are more susceptible to HIV than Europeans and Asians?

    In the US, HIV infections from heterosexual sex (as opposed to intravenous drug use or homosexual sex) seem concentrated in the black community, and in Africa it reaches huge percentages that can’t be explained by anything but heterosexual sex. And yet among Europeans, heterosexual sex even without condoms just doesn’t seem to transmit the virus much. Maybe 1/10,000 for women to men.

    I know that Northern Europeans have some level of immunity, which was maybe connected to the plague, but beyond that what is known?

    • jamesd127 says:

      Pretty sure African and South Asian Aids is caused by aid, If you supply poor people with potentially re-usable needles they are going to re-use them. All syringes sent to certain countries should be useable only once.

        • jamesd127 says:

          You are critical of the academic establishment in those areas you know best, while swallowing the rest of the doctrine.

          The climategate files revealed global warming science to be a big, and not terribly well run, conspiracy, revealed peer review as conspiracy against reality and against the public. Male homosexuals have extremely high levels of pathology – death by disease, suicide, murder, drug overdose etc, and so do male children raised by male homosexuals. The primary cause of third world AIDS is aid, in that they generally catch it from injections at clinics funded by foreign aid. String theory has degenerated into a game of crosswords – maths done non rigorously, which is to say, badly. Margaret Meade. The defenestration of Napoleon Chagnon. And so on and so forth.

          And yes, changes in pots generally reflected genocide or ethnic cleansing, Conan the barbarian style.

          For global warming, I recommend you read any of the many well done analyses of the Climategate files, and then read the files yourself. For African and South Asian aids, I recommend

          • gcochran9 says:

            you’re wrong. I know more about infectious disease than anyone you’ve ever met or even heard of.
            That is, when it comes to causative agents, disease origins, vectors, evolutionary history of the germs, the evolutionary factors that shape virulence, how human history matters, human evolutioanry response, etc. I’m not the guy you want treating you (for one thing, I am not an M.D. and couldn’t legally prescribe anything). I may know that artemisin is currently the best antimalarial drug ( and how it is the bastard child of the Chicoms and Taoist magic), and I may understand why chlororquine lost its punch, and why it’s so hard to make a vaccine – but I don’t know the dosages for artemisin, or, off the top of my head, drug interactions.

            • teageegeepea says:

              I’ve also come across the theory that AIDS has a very different trajectory in Africa because of the poor quality of the medical system (basically infected needles/blood supply). Otherwise it does seem something of a puzzle that it spread so much there where everywhere else the fears of it crossing over in a big way among heterosexuals hasn’t come to pass. I’m sure you know more than me, so why is Africa different and why do you think needles aren’t the explanation?

            • Luke says:

              jamesd127 is the perfect example of right wing pseudo-science masquerading as science. Any thoughts on these guys Greg? Is their agenda political?

              These guys have a conclusion already in their mind and invent evidence as they go along prove it. Anti-science.

              • gcochran9 says:

                The CDC’s no-quarantine response to the advent of AIDS in the US led to something like a quarter of a million unnecessary deaths. I wouldn’t have called them right-wing, would you?

    • gcochran9 says:

      There have been some reports that the Duffy-negative allele (almost 100% frequency in west and central Africans, ~80% frequency in African-Americans) increases the risk of contracting HIV, but I don’t think we know for sure.

      But rates for every venereal disease are much higher among blacks, as I have mentioned before. In the US, 7 times higher for chlamydia, 15 times higher for gonorrhea, 6 times higher for syphilis, about 8 for HIV. If it was just one pathogen, you might wonder if there was a causative immunological difference, but it’s all of them, so behavior, at least mostly.

      • Halvorson says:

        “For example, in Tunisia, in the first two months of 1943, British troops contracted VD at the rate of 21.4 per 1,000 men and white Americans at 33.6 per 1,000. The rate for black Americans was a staggering 451.3 per 1,000, but it must be assumed that the bulk of these were men who had already contracted the disease in the States and had been unable or unwilling to seek medical attention.”

        p.274 of On the Front Lines, by Ellis.

      • It all comes from redlining some urban districts in selling home mortgages. Damn those bankers.

      • Anonymous says:

        Behavior, and the fact that the dating pool consists of other blacks. Which is itself a behavior I suppose

      • The Z Blog says:

        This is why I’m skeptical of efforts to address the population explosion in Africa with education about birth control. Even in Africa, it is near impossible to not know the basics of venereal disease. In America it is impossible. The same is true of pregnancy, perhaps more so.

        Yet, here we are.

        • TWS says:

          Just tell them that condoms are magic penis enhancements. Made by Pygmy shamans from albino foreskins or something. Condoms will become the next currency. If they believe sex with a virgin cures aids they’ll believe anything.

      • teageegeepea says:

        What I’d read some years back is that either smallpox or the black death resulted in Europeans having a higher rate of immunity.

        It’s plausible that behavioral factors along could explain an elevated rate of HIV in sub-Saharan Africa, but would that be enough for them to constitute about 70% of all the infected people in the world, particularly when they’re less urbanized?

        • melendwyr says:

          I don’t know about ‘enough’ in the sense of accounting for every last percentage point. But I don’t think there’s much of a need to go seeking for additional factors. There is actually quite a lot of evidence that circumcision increases vulnerability to STDs generally, but not all sub-Saharan Africans are circumcised. Not all STDs originated in Africa, but you’d expect resistances to endemic ones to be greater among natives than people from other parts of the world, much like other diseases. So selection doesn’t account for the situation either.

          I’d expect behavior – using or not using condoms, frequency of visiting prostitutes, etc. – to be the single biggest factor.

          • Jliw says:

            Can I have a ref for your circumcision claim? I’ve only ever heard the opposite, but it makes sense to me that the practice increases vulnerability — I’ve just never seen a study claiming so.

      • Andrew Ryan says:

        This finding has always puzzled me as well. I once asked an epidemiologist from the CDC about it and he was dumbfounded (go figure). As you point out the US all STIs are dramatically over-represented among Blacks–for example, their gonorrhea rate is 15 times higher than whites: Thus, I think it is largely behavioral. Here are some possible explanations:
        1. Homosexual sex (not the lifestyle per se) is vastly underreported
        2. Far higher number of sex partners
        3. Presence of other STIs (nearly ubiquitous in Africa) increases chances of transmission through open genital lesions
        4. Sex practices that increase transmission–e.g. “dry sex”

        • gcochran9 says:

          You’re saying than a professional epidemiologist, working for the CDC, didn’t know this?

          • Andrew Ryan says:

            Yep. I asked that specific question–why is the epidemic in Africa driven by heterosexual sex whereas in the US it’s 90% gay men and IV drug users? His response was “Africa and America are different”.
            That said, the other CDC scientist I’ve interacted with was much more on the ball so he was an outlier.

    • Greying Wanderer says:

      some places have thinner skin than other places

    • spottedtoad says:

      The CD4 T Cells attacked by HIV are part of the specific/adaptive immune response (the body “learning” to respond to certain pathogens), rather than the nonspecific immune response that inflammation is part of. I could tell a story where Africans had a higher-tuned nonspecific response (since they were subject to a larger diversity and basal level of pathogens) while Europeans had a stronger specific response (since the same plague was likely to come back to your village or town again during your lifetime, so if you survived it the first time it paid off for your cells to learn to recognize it.) But given that the actual CD4 counts don’t seem to be lower in blacks than in whites (they are lower in Asians), and decline somewhat more slowly after HIV infection ( ), I’m not sure if that story is actually helpful in explaining anything.

      Greg has discussed very high and longstanding rates of sexually transmitted infection in Africa in general, so HIV fits into a larger pattern in that way. Part of that is probably behavioral, but there are also probably race-specific factors in reproductive biology that would affect transmission rates. (for example, there are differences in vaginal pH by race that appear to be related to differences in microflora .

  2. whyteablog says:

    A lot of those hacks wouldn’t deny the differences in immune system-affecting allele frequencies but would claim that there are no genetic differences in intelligence, Big Five personality traits, or behavior (in spite of population differences in frequency of MAOA and 5-HTTLPR alleles; no idea how they would hand-wave those away).

    The assumption, I should think, is that there were no differences in selective pressures relating to those particular traits. Of course, you only make large, unfounded assumptions like that when you’re biased.

    • another fred says:

      “…no idea how they would hand-wave those away…”

      Not even with “smiles, handwaving, and analogy.”

      To make such assertions go away one must counter with an assertion that the holder of such beliefs is a very bad person. This might be thought similar to “mobbing” in birds, but only bad people think such thoughts, so I will not.

  3. c23 says:

    New World Hispanics are largely descended from natives of this hemisphere, which was cleaner than Europe. Could it be that they have a dampened down immune system relative to whites, which could contribute to the epidemiological Hispanic Paradox?

  4. Matt says:

    This probably meant that Neanderthals couldn’t have returned to Africa. Levantine farmers did though (after adapting towards the Neanderthal variant?). Presumably this is “Neanderthals couldn’t” without heavy admixture…

    • Frank says:

      Levantine farmers had quite a bit less Neanderthal admixture than most Eurasians, due to a large amount of Basal Eurasian ancestry.

  5. JMS says:

    Unfortunately you’re still peeing in the wind Mr Cochran
    Adam Rutherford, darling of the BBC, is everywhere plugging his new book “A Brief History of Everyone who Ever Lived: The Stories in Our Genes”
    Chapter 4 titled “The End of Race”.
    The book is bound to be on the bestseller list this Christmas.

    • Here is Adam Rutherford’s argument: We now know that the way we talk about race has no scientific validity. There is no genetic basis that corresponds with any particular group of people, no essentialist DNA for black people or white people or anyone. This is not a hippy ideal, it’s a fact. There are genetic characteristics that associate with certain populations, but none of these is exclusive, nor correspond uniquely with any one group that might fit a racial epithet. Regional adaptations are real, but these tend to express difference within so-called races, not between them. Sickle-cell anaemia affects people of all skin colours because it has evolved where malaria is common. Tibetans are genetically adapted to high altitude, rendering Chinese residents of Beijing more similar to Europeans than their superficially similar neighbours. Tay-Sachs disease, once thought to be a “Jewish disease”, is as common in French Canadians and Cajuns. And so it goes on.

      Oddly enough, Dawkins is quoted as saying approvingly: Adam Rutherford’s book is well-written, stimulating and entertaining. What’s more important, he consistently gets it right (Richard Dawkins)

      So, we have got it wrong: there are characteristics “associated” with certain populations, but none of them exclusive, so, no races.

      • dearieme says:

        I suspect that the reason that I find almost all discussions of race useless, is that virtually none of them start by trying to work out what speakers of everyday English mean by “race”. Sometimes their meaning is very wide – e.g. as in the human race – sometimes distinctly narrow e.g. the Bavarian Race. Before one can usefully opine on race one is obliged to say which part of that spectrum – and in reality it may more than one dimension – one is opining about.

        The alternative is to adopt some other lingo – to opine about inheritance groups, or clusters in PCA analyses, or whatever. Oddly, when one does use a new lingo, correlations emerge that seem often to be analogous to some of the rough-and-ready meanings that everyman seems to favour. Of course, one must allow that “everyman” had better not be a USAian: the popular US absorption with race seems to me to be utterly dominated by the white/black question. But if you draw usages from elsewhere in the world, and from more reflective Americans, I’d think that you could defend the notion of “race” as long as you don’t cheat by deliberately adopting a definition that you know in advance will disagree with this new lingo.

        Above all, it is madness to assert that biologists have one true meaning for “race” and that that happens not to coincide with observations on humans. Everyman’s range of meanings for “race” don’t coincide with the biologists’ definition either. Anyway, why would you grant a monopoly of the right to define the meaning of “race” to a mob who can’t even agree on what they mean by “species”?

        • Steve Sailer says:

          Fifteen years ago I had lunch with a man who built a golf course that he eventually had to sell to Donald Trump because his 18th hole had fallen into the Pacific Ocean and it cost over a $100 million to repair.

          But the financial big risk he’d known about upfront was the question of whether the rare California Gnatcatcher bird was a separate species for purposes of the Environmental Species Act form the abundant Baja Species Act or was merely a separate race. Other Southern California property developers were going broke fighting the EPA on this arcane question.

          But he had the Gnatcatcher biologist and his golf course architect Pete Dye get together and figure out how to leave enough nesting habitat on the golf course to get the EPA’s approval. They left strips of sagebrush between each fairway, which the California Gnatcatcher found to be home sweet home.

          Oddly enough, this proved disastrous to Donald Trump after he’d bought the golf course on the assumption that it would prove irresistible to the USGA for hosting the U.S. Open. When Trump hosted a ladies professional tournament on Trump National – Los Angeles as a test drive, the Gnatcatcher’s sagebrush between fairways proved vicious to fans, ripping their clothes and skin and causing long delays due to lost balls by the players.

          The California Gnatcatcher was thus the downfall of Trump’s dream of hosting the men’s US Open next to the Pacific.

          Oddly enough, the biologist changed his mind after a DNA study and decided that the California and Baja Gnatcatchers were the same species.

        • epoch2013 says:

          I would suggest as a preliminary definition of race a difference not entirely large enough to validate subspecies, but geographically and/or otherwise isolated unlike a variation.

          But I keep asking: All these thing that are brought forth to prove races don’t exist, do they exist in known subspecies?

        • Erik Sieven says:

          Also I have the impression, that the question whether “race” exists or not is irrelevant. What matters is differences between groups, those groups can be selected in every possible way, by phenotype, ancestry, genotype, behavior, merit, etc. etc. The problem is of course that scientific antiracists have settled on the “no such thing exists” dogma, and from this abstract point the then deny specific differences. But the abstract, essentialist classification into races or not does not matter. What matters is e.g. whether it can be expected that members of group A are more violent than members from group B, and thus the insight that higher incarceration rates for group A are not due to so called “racism” but simply natural

      • epoch2013 says:

        “no essentialist DNA for black people or white people or anyone.”

        That would be a lovely explanation to explain that blacks and whites aren’t different species. But nobody claims that. BTW: Is there essentialist DNA for subspecies of, say, wolves?

      • gcochran9 says:

        By the same argument – exactly the same argument – beagles don’t exist.

        Yet beagles do exist.

        • Indeed. After a night’s sleep I realize that Adam Rutherford’s argument is simply the “No True Scotsman” ploy explained by my old tutor Prof Tony Flew: Rutherford concedes all the ways in which races do exist in genetic terms, but says they are not true races because they do not have the “True Race Essentialist Ingredient”, which he has added as a late re-definition to suit his particular purposes.

        • Toddy Cat says:

          Speaking of which, I see Chisala is back at it again over at Unz, something about how Scrabble proves races don’t exist. These people never give up.

          • gcochran9 says:

            If you started seeing a fair number of black guys (adjusted for population size) figure out interesting new things, invent cool bleeding-edge things, etc, the case would be made, even if none of them ever took or did well on an IQ test.

            That hasn’t happened.

            • melendwyr says:

              Since IQ tests measure how well people handle abstractions, and use a variety of radically different means to test this, even that hypothetical case makes no sense. There are precious few kinds of invention that don’t involve abstract processing, and arguably blacks already have created interesting new things in those fields. But jazz has come and gone, and rap isn’t interesting.

              • gcochran9 says:

                If it happened, I would get used to it.

              • melendwyr says:

                If rain started to fall upwards, would you ‘get used to it’, or would you pull out all the stops trying to figure out what was going on and why?

                Significant accomplishment, in an industrialized nation, in the absence of high IQ? And not from any one test – I do know people who don’t do sit-down testing well, but are extremely bright – but on all the different sorts of IQ tests designed to eliminate confounding factors like being unable to read?

                That’s about as unusual as rain going up.

              • gcochran9 says:

                Sure. It hasn’t happened. But if it did, that would count more than all the IQ tests in the world.

                Along those lines, northeast Asian populations, that score somewhat higher than Europeans, haven’t accomplished all that much over the past few hundred years, while Europeans sure have.

              • says:

                Re: Significant accomplishment, in an industrialized nation, in the absence of high IQ?

                There are exceptions. For example using science journal output score WFC from, Sci12 from OECD PISA as the proxy for average national IQ, Ptop12 as the proxy for intelligent fraction from PISA pct of students in the top 2 levels in Math12, Brazil stands out as an outliner and Argentina performs reasaonably well compares to Ireland.
                WFC Sci Ptop Country
                237.42 526 16.7 PO
                236.44 405 0.8 BR
                182.29 545 15.3 FI

                110.03 522 10.7 IE
                96.61 406 0.3 AR
                85.98 415 0.6 MX
                83.52 494 9.3 HU

              • says:

                I got a gut feeling before I did the calculation. To determine the productivity of the smart fraction, I calculated the ratio of WFC per million capita against percentage smart fraction. Argentina (with a proxy smart farction of 0.3%) came out on top. The descendents of the German immigrants after WW2 ?? Average national IQ and smart fraction are not adequate to explain these.

                7.344 2.2 96.61 406 0.3 #AR
                6.624 52.99 526.67 485 8 #SE
                6.575 61.8 531.83 470 9.4 #IL
                6.343 135.75 1135.4 515 21.4 #CH
                6.018 52.96 17203.82 497 8.8 #US
                5.378 53.78 307.84 498 10 #DK
                4.87 54.54 18.33 478 11.2 #IS
                4.381 51.69 3365.63 514 11.8 #UK
                3.383 5.41 98.48 445 1.6 #CL
                2.836 49.63 4078.09 524 17.5 #DE

        • epoch2013 says:

          I think there is some entertainment to be expected by asking the “no race” crowd to raise a Chihuahua to herd sheep.

        • namae nanka says:

          I think this line of reasoning has come down from feminist nonsense like white privilege was derived from male privilege.

          “He knows mercy and will still allow us to talk, even in scientific conversation, of dogs and horses, Hottentots and Russians and the like, and to predicate things concerning them, without branding us with the terrible stigma of being unscientific mediaeval survivals – and this, notwithstanding that no two dogs (not even of the same breed) are exactly alike any more than any two horses, or two Russians, or even two Hottentots. No, where he draws the line is at human sex. if you speak of “man” or “woman” in general terms, if you employ the class-name in this case, then his anathema descends on you; then you are, indeed, a mediaeval survival discussing an abstract “man” and “woman” having no counterpart in “reality,” but being merely the coinage of a medieval brain. Mind you, I repeat, if you are a zoologist or a veterinary surgeon, you are not unscientific in differentiating between a greyhound and a spaniel, notwithstanding that no two greyhounds or spaniels are “concretely” alike. Similarly, if you are an ethnologist, you may talk of the race-characteristics of Hottentots and Slavs without even a stain on your scientific character! In this case the abstraction is all right; but, if you are a sociologist, and venture to distinguish sex, i.e., human sex, or to discuss the general characteristics of “woman” as distinguished from “man,” then woebetide you! Is the suspicion unnatural, that the sudden desire to confound the harmless and necessary class-name or logical “universal” is due to the fear lest its normal use should in this case lead to conclusions derogatory to the claims of emancipated womanhood.”

      • another fred says:

        IMO, Rutherford is guided by his politics, he is not “following the science to see where it leads”, but putting “spin” on science to support his politics.

        Standard hard leftist tactic is to narrow a definition to support his argument and then declare his opponent hopelessly wrong.

        A pox on his house and the houses of all his ilk.

  6. spottedtoad says:

    Something seems to be increasing the inflammatory response of people in general; ezcema, allergies, asthma are all increasing pretty rapidly. I’ll believe some of it is due to microbiome stuff, some of it due to less exercise or more bodyweight, though I think there is an additional factor as well.
    For what it’s worth, it’s pretty obvious from looking at a mixed race classroom of kids in pollen season that black kids have a stronger inflammatory response, obvious enough that kids would discuss it.

    • j says:

      Interesting that people that typically experience high rates of inflammation lives shorter lives, that is inflammation is widely been seen as a marker for aging. African’s immune systems are exhausted at a young age (sixty is young for me).

      • j says:

        PS.: Coronary disease is an inflammatory disease, isn’t it.

      • spottedtoad says:

        It would be interesting to look at the inflammatory response of black people who make it to the “mortality cross-over” (i.e., ages at which black mortality drops below white mortality.) I can imagine various scenarios where either having a higher inflammatory response becomes very helpful late in life (since infectious disease is such a big deal for late-life mortality, even when we don’t see it at work directly) or that these long lived black people have a relatively low-intensity immune response in other ways, that avoided the downside of inflammation.

  7. Trigger Warnings says:

    Well, this is all very interesting, but redundant. If one were to do a principal components analysis of the visible, anthropometric aspects of human physigonomy, the races would emerge pretty much as we perceive them in everyday life.

    The very idea of “no races” did not gain popular currency until publication of The Bell Curve by Herrnstein and Murray, simply because it is nothing more than an exercise in propaganda.

    • I don’t know about “popular currency,” but in the fall of 1971 in Anthropology 101 at William and Mary I was taught “there are no races, there are only clines.” it was on the midterm and the final.

      • j says:

        Young Assistant, Before you were born, I had an illustrated brochure published by the UNESCO circa 1950 dedicated to fight the prejudice that human races existed. UNESCO in 2016 has not changed its mind but has added refinements, like the Jewish people does not exist and never did, that the Temple of Solomon at Jerusalem is a Mohammedan site.

        • gcochran9 says:

          The Ashkenazi exist and are a distrinct group, but other Jewish groups range from somewhat related (possibly shared Middle Eastern ancestry, mostly different European ancestry judging from mtDNA) to a little bit related to not related at all.

          • j says:

            “People”, not “Race”. The Jewish people exists just as does the American people. It existed for sure in the Antiquity too. “My father was a wandering Aramean, and he went down into Egypt with a few people and lived there and became a great nation, powerful and numerous.”

      • another fred says:

        I find an effective way to deal with those obfuscations is to point out that sometimes a difference in degree is sufficient to create a difference in kind. Red lights and green lights differ by only a small degree on the electromagnetic spectrum, but only a fool would treat them the same at an roadway intersection.

  8. Steve Sailer says:

    The cline meme is so odd because it’s obvious that it applies more to land, yet before 1492 oceans, such as the Atlantic, were major barriers to gene flow.

  9. Skinny Deeping says:

    This is all impossible if race does not exist, or if Lewontin had had anything to valid to say on the subject. Of course race does exist, while Lewontin is a fountain of nonsense.

    A member of the intellectual elite responds:

    According to the findings of the Human Genome Project, people of all backgrounds, locations and “races” share more than 99.9 percent of their DNA, and in the case of the remaining 0.1 percent, there is more variation within stereotypical racial groups than between them. This means that 99.9 percent of the genes of a “black” person are the same as those of a “white” person, and that the genes of any “black” person may be more similar to the genes of a “white” person than to another “black” person. Thus understood, race is a biologically meaningless concept, literally no more than skin deep. It is also neither innate nor permanent, for skin color can change dramatically from one generation to another as a result of mixed-race marriages. — from David Cannadine’s The Undivided Past: History Beyond Our Differences (2013) (chapter 5, “Race”, pg. 217)

    Sir David Cannadine, FBA [Fellow of the British Academy], is a Chair of the National Portrait Gallery, Dodge Professor of History at Princeton University and General Editor of the Penguin History of Europe and Penguin History of Britain. His major books include The Decline and Fall of the British Aristocracy, Ornamentalism, Class in Britain and Mellon: A Life. He is currently writing the Penguin History of Victorian Britain. He has previously taught at Cambridge, Columbia and London universities.

    • gcochran9 says:

      He doesn’t know jack about genetics – less, in fact, than the man in the street in 1900.

      • Marduc says:

        He’s an art historian. I’m sure he knows less about almost anything.

        “Fellow of the British Academy” is a scare title, by the way. It is an organisation that gives out titles to the professionally deluded.

      • Skinny Deeping says:

        He mentions S.J. Gould elsewhere, which explains the kind of expertise he’s relying on. But I think he’s worse than ignorant: he can’t reason straight from the facts he does have. If race is “neither innate nor permanent” because “skin color can change dramatically from one generation to another as a result of mixed-race marriages”, then the status of lions and tigers as separate species isn’t innate or permanent either. Ditto horses, donkeys, zebras, etc.

        • Insightful says:

          ‘Skinny Deeping’ that is very flawed reasoning on your part

          • Jim says:

            Neither “race” not “species” is “permanent in the long run. Obviously the species living today are totally different from the species living a 100 million years ago. But the fact that something is not “permanent” does not mean that it is not important at some particular time. The sun is not permanent. It will eventually become a white dwarf totally different from what it is today and even that white dwarf will not be “permanent”. But it doesn’t follow from the lack of permanency of the sun that the sun is not important.

            Human racial and ethnic differences between blacks and whites or Ashkenazi and gentiles have a substantial effect on present day America whether or not such differences may have ceased to exist 10,000 or 100,000 years from now.

            I’m not sure what is meant by saying that race is not innate. One’s race certainly isn’t independent of the physical structure of one’s polynucleotides.

            • j says:

              From an immortal’s point of view, race is so temporary as to be invisible, meaningless. Only for us, short-lived creatures, skin tinct appears dramatic.

        • Jim says:

          I believe that lions and tigers can produce fertile offspring in captivity. This doesn’t happen in nature because of a lack of geographical overlap.

  10. carol2000 says:

    Sarcoidosis is more complicated than just black vs. white. “[T]he risk is greater if you are a young black adult, especially a black woman, or of Scandinavian, German, Irish, or Puerto Rican origin. No one knows why.” About 5 / 100k US whites, 40 / 100k US blacks, 64 / 100k Scandinavians are affected. It’s more common in city dwellers. Also, cytomegalovirus has been implicated as a cause, and this virus is more common among the less-wealthy.

  11. Jonah says:

    Here’s something for you to look into: how many gay people actually get married/want to get married?

    Perhaps the whole gay-marriage issue has resolved itself to most people’s satisfaction. The anti-gay marriage people pointed out that gay marriage didn’t make much sense because marriage is centered around children. The pro-gay marriage people appealed the the idea that people should be allowed to do what they want to do.

    Perhaps the resolution has been that gay people can now get married if they want to, but they don’t really want to very much because marriage isn’t right for most gays because it is centered around children. Perhaps gays are finding they can happily pair up without subjecting themselves to the enormous legal/social/moral edifice erected around marriage because of marriage’s centrality to propagating the species via childbearing and child-rearing.

    • melendwyr says:

      I have never heard ANY gay marriage advocate argue that it should be permitted because people should be able to do as they please.
      I HAVE heard people argue that it should be permitted because there are automatic legal and societal conventions associated with legal marriage, such as hospitals permitting spouses to visit and make medical decisions, that are much more difficult for gay couples to arrange.

  12. Sterling Sorbet says:

    I thought that based on recent genetic research, differences are more about “gene expression” than genetic differences. Thus group/racial differences is about expression and regulation of genes, which are heritable. For example, it’s not whether one has or does not have a gene for any given characteristic, it’s how and when that gene is expressed. It’s kind of like two different orchestras, all the same instruments, but different music based on when, which and how the instruments are played.

    • Jim says:

      A distinction between differences in “genes” and differences in “gene expression” is not very meaningful. A person does not have a “gene” for a directly observable trait such as height. What organisms have are an enormous number of inherited polynucleotides which directly and mostly indirectly control the complex chemical reactions which are what life is.
      An organism’s “genotype” is the totality of the chemical structure of it’s polynucleotides. A trait like height is an emergent trait of a person’s genotype combined with some degree of environmental influences. Height can’t be directly linked to a single specific locus in a person’s genotype. That doesn’t mean that height is not highly “genetic”. A child of tall parents is much more likely to be tall than a child of short parents.

      For example a particular polynucleotide may code the peptide sequence of protein A. Another polynucleotide may code for the peptide sequence of an enzyme which folds protein A into the correct configuration. If the second polynucleotide is defective resulting in incorrectly folded copies of protein A then that’s a problem. One might say that the organism has the gene for protein A or some directly observable trait that protein A affects but that the gene is not “expressed”. But given the enormous complexity of an organism’s biochemistry and the emergent nature of directly observable traits this distinction between having a “gene” and “expressing” it is not very useful.

      I think the problem with your analogy to an orchestra is that the instruments in an orchestra function pretty independently of one another. How a particular French horn sounds doesn’t have much to do with how a particular tuba sounds. You can hear the sound of particular instruments or at least groups of them. The sound of the French horns can be distinguished from the sound of the tubas. The relationship between the physical structure of an organism’s polynucleotides and the directly observable emergent traits is so complex that such an analysis is not generally possible.

      It is true that the original 19th century concept of “genes” is that genes were postulated entities corresponding directly to observable traits of biological organisms. This concept was useful in it’s own time just as the atomic theories of Democritus or Dalton were useful in their own time. But a picture of little billiard balls with “+” or “-” painted on them isn’t very useful in modern physics. Similarly the 19th century of “genes” is no longer that useful.

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