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Lecture 20

Lecture 20 - Modern Human Biology Variation - March 12.docx

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University of Toronto St. George
Keriann Mc Googan

March 12, 2013. Lecture 20 - Modern Human Biology: Variation This Class  Human variation o The concept of Race o Contemporary Interpretations of human variation  Polymorphism  Population genetics  Evolution in modern human population Historical Views of Human Variation?  Skin colour, e.g. Egyptians o 1350 BC, classifying humans base on skin colour o Hieroglyph depictions of yellow (east), white (north), and black (sub-Saharan Africa) people  Linnaeus o Placed humans in four separate categories based on skin colour with behavioural and psychological traits linked to them o Worst traits linked to group including sub-Saharan Africans  Johann Friedrich Blumenbach o Classified humans into five different races o Looked at skin colour as well but emphasized different traits as well o Categories merely based on skin colour were too arbitrary for him  Religious leaning also played a role in classifications; non-Christian Europeans were thought to be inferior as well  Biological determinism o Cultural variations thought to be inherited o Behaviour thought to be determined/governed by biology  Eugenics o Francis Bolton thought inferior groups need to be eliminated o The idea of “racial purification” by forcibly exterminating “inferior” groups while encouraging reproduction/offspring among “superior” groups  E.g., Nazi Germany The Concept of Race  Six fallacies o 1. Human populations are homogenous  Identical genetic composition/make-up  BUT: there are numerous difference both WITHIN and BETWEEN populations o 2. Polygenic traits can be measured accurately  Polygenic: traits determined by more than one allele, have a bell curve to them across a population, not merely EITHER/OR  BUT: not easily quantified, must consider environment o 3. Continuously varying traits can be marked by discrete boundaries  BUT: no meaningful boundaries: arbitrary o 4. Traits used in racial classification are linked  BUT: individual traits each develop in their own pattern of variation, not linked o 5. A Specific number of traits can define a race  BUT: no way to unambiguously assign an individual to a “race” based on a suite of traits o 6. Between-group genetic diversity distinguishes geographic races  BUT: individuals from different populations are more similar genetically than individuals from the same population  3 Fundamentally FLAWED Propositions o 1. Human species are naturally divided into small number of distinct races.  Way too much variation between and across/within “races” to be able to properly categorize humans o 2. Knowing a person’s race can tell you information about other characteristics like intelligence.  “Blondes are dumb” o 3. Differences in races are due to biological heritage.  A lot of these traits aren’t necessarily genetically inherited. Sample the population and you’ll find they might be genetically more similar to people of other races.  No natural classification scheme is appropriate for humans o E.g., power drills and screws  Many people do not fall into the “normal” range of variation for one racial category  Polygenic traits: influenced by more than one gene  Racial categories explain very little of world’s genetic variation o Genetic variation WITHIN racial groups is HIGHER than BETWEEN racial groups Racism  Rooted in biological determinism  Idea that one group of people is superior to another  Racial classifications are arbitrary and in no way related to other aspects of an individual’s personality Intelligence  IQ (Intelligence Quotient) tests o 1903 Alfred Binet o U.S.: Later modified by LN Terman  Sanford Binet IQ test o Has become a way of organizing children on some kind of scale of mental ability o Claimed to
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