Friday, March 29, 2019

Razib Khan, Jerry Coyne and Steven Pinker can't say exactly what "race" is - but whatever it is they are sure it is not a social construct

Razib Khan believes that race is not a social construct, and that race is not only real but predictive of intelligence. And yet I have found that in spite of the title of his article "Why race as a biological construct matters" he in fact failed to demonstrate the existence of race as a biological phenomenon


Jerry Coyne, Ph.D is a Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago, and is certain race is not a social construct:
So when people say “race is a social construct,” they’re simply wrong. The only sense in which they’re right is that the designation of a finite number of easily-distinguished human groups (“races”) is a futile exercise, because we have differentiation within differentiation, making the whole exercise purely subjective. (You can, for example, distinguish subgroups of “Caucasians” within Europe, distinguishing those of Scandinavian from Italian ancestry simply by their genetic differences.) 
But that’s not what people mean, I think, by “social construct.” What I think they mean (since they are rarely explicit) is this: “There is no biological difference between human ethnic groups.” 
Coyne engages in the most blatant straw-manning. Yes, you can distinguish Scandinavians from Italians. And these days both are considered members of the "white race." 

How do we know with great certainty that both are considered  members of the "white race" and have been for some time? Because during Southern segregation, both Italians and Scandinavians would have been allowed to use the accommodations designated "whites only."

And thus we see that when people say "race is a social construct" almost everybody except Jerry Coyne understands they do not mean "ethnic groups are a social construct." It's hard to tell if Coyne is honestly confused on this point or if he is deliberately ignoring the difference between ethnicity vs. race.

Steven Pinker is also certain that race is not a social construct as he explains in this video. 
Here he is on Twitter, referring to an article in Quillette.



I have so far been unable to discover what Steven Pinker thinks "race" actually is. But his support for the Quillette article On the Reality of Race and the Abhorrence of Racism and its anti-empirical, postmodernist scheme for the classification of race is truly bizarre and I will talk about that next.

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