Human Genetics

Discussion in 'Opinions & Current Events' started by Danoff, Feb 27, 2020.

  1. Danoff

    Danoff Premium

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    We have a few threads floating around where discussions of genetics are occurring. We have the islam thread, where we're discussing genetic propensity for intelligence (and religion actually). Incidentally that has its own thread. We also have a threads on genetic counseling, race, and tribalism.

    Somehow I felt that we were missing a deeper discussion of the role of genetics. This is a subject that I've spent a lot of time on due to personal circumstances, particularly when it comes to procreation. It has been a long journey for me, especially when it comes to evaluating the role the genes play in who I am personally.

    Tribalism comes from our desire to spread genes, and our desire to spread our genes comes from our genes. Genes are designed to spread and thrive in a biological environment, they transcend species, and individual members of the human species. Some of them are good, some of them are bad, and some of them are a little of both - like the genes that cause our eyes. Great that we have eyes... the design needs some work. But it's good enough that it gets passed on and on and on.

    A gene's desire to spread itself is not limited to the individual member of the species. Members band together in tribes to spread on their collective genes. Nowhere is this more easily seen than the family unit, which is a close-nit collection of individuals that usually share a high degree of genetic similarity. And those genes want to protect each other, mostly the older infertile protecting the young fertile for the purpose of keeping those genes moving. The less genetic similarity you have with someone, the less you're hardwired to help them propagate their genes. This is the foundation of racism.

    Each of us tends to think of ourselves as special. I'm sure this is helpful for keeping us alive. And our desire to procreate is intertwined with that special sense of self. That we have the unique gift of our genetic combination that we need to share with some other individual. It's an illusion.

    You're not a special snowflake. You're the same decaying matter as everyone else.

    To the extent that you are special, it's your choices that make you special. The choices you make ripple through your life in a never ending (until death), building, cascade of effects that create who you are as a person. And you can even pass some of those choices on to other through memes (a term first coined in the 1970s to describe self-replicating concepts). This is the way that you pass on what makes "you". Your genes carry none of that.

    To the extent that you care about your children or your parents because they share your genes, it is no more meaningful than racism, or other forms of tribalism. It is your hardwired propensity to protect your genes, and your genes are just physical expressions. It's true that they can physically manifest in your brain, but they can't physically manifest as experience, which is really what makes you yourself. The fact that someone has your nose, or your eyes, or your hair color, skin color, body type, athletic prowess... none of that is any more meaningful than the most basic tribalist, racist, bigoted nonsense you see anywhere else.

    Your children, your parents, your grandparents, if you love these people, or feel obliged to love them, it is their choices that should inform that. Don't love your genes. Your genes are not you. Your genes might even torture and kill you (because most of us have some horrible genetics ready to pounce as we get older). The great thing about being human is that you can make yourself who you want to be. You can change the contents of your mind. You can mold yourself the way you want to be.

    I'm not saying you should hate your genes either. They're familiar (in a deep sense of that word). They're a part of your experience. But if you're going to get attached, be proud, or find your identity in something, do it with something more meaningful than the accident of your particular genetic combination. Do it with choice, with effort.

    We get into these discussions about genetic propensity for IQ, or EQ, or even memes such as religion. Maybe you do have a genetic propensity for mathematical intelligence. Or for emotional intelligence. And maybe your particular circumstances of birth made you predisposed to being exposed to the religion meme. But there are so many expressions of intelligence, whether it's art, social, or science. And there are so many opportunities for the memes you were exposed to as a child to fall away.

    I find that this view of genes helps inform a lot of discussions about policy. If you adopt a child is it your child? Yes. In every way that is meaningful (choice, experience, responsibility, emotional bonding). Just because you share fewer genes with that child than other parents do does not mean that you are any less its parent. In fact, if you conceive a child with someone that shares fewer of your genes (hair color, eye color, skin color, propensity for pancreatic cancer), then your children will share fewer of your genes than someone who conceives a child with someone who shares more of those genes. And that is not meaningful in any particular way.

    Does it matter what country you were born in? No. It's arbitrary. Does it matter whether we splice out genetic diseases? Does that make the child any less yours? Is it playing god? No, they're just genes.

    Anyway, this thread is for discussion of all things genetic and the tribalism that comes from our propensity for spreading genetics.
     
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  2. MatskiMonk

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    Interesting topic.

    I think it's important to understand the factors that genetics change from one notional human to the next.

    ... I however don't understand them, so the opinions stated below are uneducated statements based just on how I assume stuff works...

    I don't agree with this. If the body and the brain are the structure, and they can only develop certain elements of this structure through genetics, then there's a limit to what conscious thought can achieve. Any element that relies on a genetic 'switch' being in a certain position surely can't be changed? And certainly not by conscious thought, e.g. I can't think my eye's into changing colour, so why would I be able to think all aspects of my into brain operating a certain way? Or, is it that no element of brain development is genetically prescribed?

    As I think I've stated before, I believe that the propensity for religion can exist in any person, irrespective of their upbringing, if the genetics of their survival mechanism allow it. As much as you identify reproduction as a basic instinct, I'd say so is survival. Having a mind that is open to unseeable, untouchable, unproven, effectively non-existent forces that are beyond our control enables us to maintain hope when there is none, and this hope can act as a driver in survival situations. That this small opening in the human mind is exploited as it is, and has been over thousands of years is man-made thing for sure, but the original mechanism, I would suggest, is hardwired in our brain.
     
  3. Danoff

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    I'm not necessarily saying that you can change every aspect of your mind. There may be some things that you simply can't will away. Propensity for depression might be such an example. But you can change the contents of your mind. You chose to read my post, that's perhaps the smallest example. You choose what you learn, and what you do not. You choose how hard to think about certain subjects, which hobbies to take up, what books to read, how you challenge and how you reinforce. And you can choose differently. These choices can have impacts on your personality as well.

    You definitely have control over the contents of your mind. Whether you have complete control is another matter. Cognitive biases, and the superstition example below, might be good examples of exactly what can't be changed, or at least not completely eliminated.

    Superstition, for example, is not even limited to humans. It's present in pigeons and other creatures with much smaller brains. So I have no doubt that the exploitable propensity for superstition in the way the mind forms. But that does not mean that you're genetically predisposed to be Islamic, or Christian, or Buddhist. And it's something that you can actively control, such as by learning about the origins of superstition and recognizing it when it starts to crop up in your own brain.

    Your circumstances of birth might lead you to be exposed to certain religions, but it's not quite the same thing. That's exposure to a meme, not genetic inheritance.
     
  4. MatskiMonk

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    So would you say these choices are totally independent of genetics? I'd suggest such choices could be dictated by brain chemistry that is itself dictated by genetics. Therefore, I think it's possible that where you think it's a conscious thought to perform a certain activity, that actually, it's almost pre-selected by virtue of being the most accessible way of satisfying whatever chemical balance the brain is seeking to find. The example of me choosing to interact with this thread is, I would suggest, a result of a complex mix of circumstance, nurture, and nature, that could simply seem on the surface like a spontaneous conscious decision.
     
  5. Danoff

    Danoff Premium

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    No.

    Sure, there may be some element of predisposition due to genetics. If you want to follow this train of thought all the way down, you'd end up thinking that perhaps genetics themselves are deterministic, and that there is no possible way to alter the outcome of the universe - in otherwords, that the universe itself is deterministic.

    That doesn't appear to be the way things are shaping up though. The future seems to exist in a quantum state, holding many possible outcomes as true until ultimately the waveform collapses into an event.

    Until I become convinced that choice is, in fact, an illusion, I'll proceed as though it is not - because it appears to not be. It would appear as though I have the option of typing "a certain phrase" or "a sequence of words" or "the rest of this sentence" or all of the above, as I chose to do, and that any of choices is available to me. Before I hit post (or even after), I could go back and change that as well. You might be right that choice is an illusion (and for that matter reality could be an illusion), but until I have solid evidence to think otherwise, I'm going to go with what I am presented with, which is that the potential illusion seems to be reality.
     
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  6. Rallywagon

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    The argument I think I might reference against this is Sam Harris' argument against free will. The basis of which is that you have no control over the thoughts as they "appear". That even as you consider your thoughts, those considerations are less in your control and more a product of "impulse" influenced by things like genetics, experience and the alike.

    In interestingly fortuitous timing, Joe Rogan just had Aubrey de Grey, a theoretician in gerontology on. Some of the things he was talking about that they are capable of doing with CRISPR, gene manipulation with bacteria, ot may be that we could in fact "fix" things like depression or adjust people's propensity for mysticism. Or, maybe just aging....


    Full podcast can be viewed here.
     
  7. Danoff

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    But to what extent do you think genetics can even influence such a thing? If you were born and raised in North Korea would your genetics have prevented you from being indoctrinated? Genetics might shape certain aptitudes, but your brain's pathways get formed after birth, and those pathways are used to process information. You learn to think after you are born.

    If you're never taught anything as a baby, you won't even learn language, let alone to hate or love communism.
     
  8. Rallywagon

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    The way those pathways a formed are influenced by genetics as well as experience. I mean obviously you wont learn to speak if you arent taught a language, that's not genetic, but you will absolutely make noises. Theres also environmental forces that will affect development. But that's not the minutia we are getting at here. We are talking about genetic propensities for things like depression. If it helps move the conversation away from environmental causes then we can talk about Huntington's or CF. No need to muddy the waters when we know we are speaking on genetics in this tread.
    To that point. There is research out there suggesting that the propensity for mysticism is absolutely influenced by genetics. What religion you may or may not take is very much environmental, but the original want to even consider a religion is to some extent genetically driven.
    Edit: continuing the thought:
    So to that extent, someone born in NK, there are likely those that are born that will be more likely to "submit" to the brain washing, and those that are more likely to resist, and no doubt some of that, possibly 40% of that resistance/acceptance, is genetically driven.
     
  9. Danoff

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    Yes I'll agree that we have a genetic predisposition for making noises. Like dogs, dolphins, birds, lions, and much of the animal kingdom. Those genes do well.

    That research is pretty tenuous. It could very well be that identical twins are more socially driven to conform with each others' behavior, and to indicate that their behavior is similar to the other identical twin in a survey. To really study this completely we'd need them to be unaware that they even had a twin.

    Are you basing this on the religion research you linked? Because that's not a straight comparison. The twins in that research changed or didn't change after leaving their parents' house (post-indoctrination). It said nothing of how much they resisted it, but rather discussed how much they changed when left to their own devices.

    It is possible that there would be a genetic component to resisting or accepting information. In fact, that's almost inescapably true. If you took one biologically related family's "resistance" and could measure it perfectly and compared to the "resistance" of another, you'd expect to find some differences. But to say that these differences are significant, or that they would largely determine the outcome, seems like it would require evidence at a minimum, and also seems pretty unlikely.

    South Koreans, for example, don't seem to have the same brain-washing regime in place, and as far as I'm aware don't seem to have any special propensity for it or lack thereof compared with the North.

    The idea that populations naturally resist brainwashing doesn't seem to ring true with the wide extent to which various populations of humans have been brainwashed. Whether we're talking about people born in the US, Germany, Russia, or Korea, the result seems to be that humans, as a species, have a shared genetic propensity for brainwashing. And our choices, and environment, can alter the oucome.
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2020
  10. Rallywagon

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    I think in regard to the final points of your post, there could very well be another set of circumstances at play. First is what we discussed about learned behaviour. South koreans may not have a propensity for authoritarian regimes, because they dont have one, thus haven't had the life experience and propaganda to fuel the bias one way or the other. The second is another genetic trait. That being the group mentality/tribalism. Even if they are of a more resistant mind frame, it's hard to go against your tribe. They may not see all of NK, or the regime as their tribe, certainly their family and friends are and the propensity for rebellion may be tempered by the need to protect their tribe.
     
  11. Danoff

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    The propensity for rebellion, and for submission, seems to be present throughout all of human history, across all tribes and groups. I don't know of a segment of the human population that has not shown a similar biological propensity for rebellion and submission.

    The whole of humanity is of African descent.
     
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  12. Rallywagon

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    Yep. I mean, that's to be expected, especially if said traits are genetically based rather that situational/learned...

    This is something that, as more hominids are discovered and new remains are found, is becoming debatable I think.
     
  13. Danoff

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  14. HenrySwanson

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    Sorry, should have been black African descent

    What?!

    - The first picture (that I chose) is an all black lineup from the Olympics final in 2012 - which I'm sure we can agree is a pretty high standard in terms of 100m events.

    - The video is from the 28th Summer Universiade 2015. This was an event where South Korea led the medal table.

    - The second picture was taken of random sprinters in a random stadium that was empt----you know what? Why bother.

    If it makes you feel better, then sure, those pictures and videos show the pinnacle of athletics and prove that there is a mix of ethnic groups at the top of world 100m sprinting....just excuse myself and others who may laugh at the next conclusions you draw

    Proof that I'm racist please..

    Where is that conclusion from?

    You do realise this is like showing the results of the 300m race right?

    Oh, you haven't heard of the 300m race..?

    Probably because nobody cares about running competitively for 300m.

    Wake me and the world up when ultramarathons are run in World Championships, Olympics or anything with real significance
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2020
  15. Scaff

    Scaff Staff Emeritus

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    So once again you utterly ignore the actual peer reviewed sources I posted and go with pictures as a rebuttal, so I will cite them again, try not to ignore them for a third time.

    The American Society of Human Genetics.

    "Genetics demonstrates that humans cannot be divided into biologically distinct subcategories. Although there are clear observable correlations between variation in the human genome and how individuals identify by race, the study of human genetics challenges the traditional concept of different races of humans as biologically separate and distinct. This is validated by many decades of research, including recent examples.1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

    Most human genetic variation is distributed as a gradient, so distinct boundaries between population groups cannot be accurately assigned. There is considerable genetic overlap among members of different populations. Such patterns of genome variation are explained by patterns of migration and mixing of different populations throughout human history.7 In this way, genetics exposes the concept of “racial purity” as scientifically meaningless.

    It follows that there can be no genetics-based support for claiming one group as superior to another. Although a person’s genetics influences their phenotypic characteristics, and self-identified race might be influenced by physical appearance, race itself is a social construct. Any attempt to use genetics to rank populations demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of genetics."

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6218810/

    " If separate racial or ethnic groups actually existed, we would expect to find “trademark” alleles and other genetic features that are characteristic of a single group but not present in any others. However, the 2002 Stanford study found that only 7.4% of over 4000 alleles were specific to one geographical region. Furthermore, even when region-specific alleles did appear, they only occurred in about 1% of the people from that region—hardly enough to be any kind of trademark. Thus, there is no evidence that the groups we commonly call “races” have distinct, unifying genetic identities. In fact, there is ample variation within races"


    http://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2017/science-genetics-reshaping-race-debate-21st-century/
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2020
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  16. HenrySwanson

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    That says that there are variations between groups but they aren't so black and white (pun not intended) as to create distinct racial groups matching the traditional descriptions.

    ....And?

    The only people who would be arguing about racial purity based on traditional racial classification are right wing nuts who don't understand the nuances of genetics (whom the first article is directly addressing)

    I'm not sure how this goes against what I'm saying....?
     
  17. Scaff

    Scaff Staff Emeritus

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    Actually try reading the sources rather than cherry picking the bits you want.

    "However, the 2002 Stanford study found that only 7.4% of over 4000 alleles were specific to one geographical region. Furthermore, even when region-specific alleles did appear, they only occurred in about 1% of the people from that region—hardly enough to be any kind of trademark."

    They both quite clearly and consistently say you are wrong. They state that race is a social construct and that the unique alleles that did occur in a region occur in 1% of that population!

    One percent of the population having unique alleles in a population does not under any sane analysis make for a racial trait.

    It certainly doesn't back up your claim of race being a causal factor in intelegence.

    Once again, as they are quite clear about it...

    "Any attempt to use genetics to rank populations demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of genetics.Any attempt to use genetics to rank populations demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of genetics."

    .. they are not in agreement with you at any level.
     
  18. HenrySwanson

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    :rolleyes:

    Read that part (the bolded) again.

    Quote me where I said that?

    If I recall I said that intelligence varies between ethnic groups and there is likely to be some genetic cause to this.

    ----

    Hold on. I've played ball with you, now you can try to answer my question:

    Why do people of black African descent dominate the 100m?
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2020
  19. Danoff

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    We are all of African (and as far as I know, black) descent.



    It looks like if you want to put a fine point on it, the light skinned genes arose in human ancestors before other features that we would associate with "modern humans". So the genes that make light skin predate "modern humans" and originated in Africa from black African human ancestors.

    So I guess I'd like you to be more specific when you say "people of black African descent". And just so that you know I'm not merely being pedantic, this is exactly the trouble with trying to identify race.

    It could be that those genes were a return to form from when human ancestors were covered in hair, and so those genes had been suppressed as we lost hair in favor of pigmentation to protect from sunlight, and then re-emerged in segments of the population that did not need as much pigmentation. Either way, our ancestors all went through a black phase.
     
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  20. Scaff

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    So are you now saying that only certain races exist in specific geographical regions?

    And every bit of science and peer reviewed documentation says you are incorrect about a genetic link.

    As has been said we are all of that descent, however you have failed to show its a genetic trait, or that its a genetic trait that is widespread among people from a certain geographic location. Which in case of the 100m ten fastest people is North America and the Caribbean, if your black African hypothesis were correct why is no one from Africa in the top ten?

    Oh that would be because you are applying scientificly invalid assumption that don't stand up to analysis.

    https://www.worldathletics.org/records/all-time-toplists/sprints/100-metres/outdoor/men/senior

    In the top 100 less than 10% are from African nations, based on your hypothesis that would not be the case, but you just looked and saw black people!
     
  21. HenrySwanson

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    I'll address your other points later when I have time but...Jeez this is painful....

    OK, work with me here, I'm showing that people descended from black Africans are quicker in the 100m and your source proves that because they are all descended from black Africans!

    Bolt, Gay, Coleman - they are all descendants from black Africans!

    I'm a descendant from black Africans.

    Another, very simple question:

    Which out of that list are descendants from Africans who are white?
     
  22. Rallywagon

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  23. HenrySwanson

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    Read it again.

    It is talking about genes specific to a group. Taking the example of the facial flushing, the allele more common in East Asians wouldn't be specific to East Asians....this means that genes found more commonly in one group wouldn't be counted in the quote you provided.

    * If that's what they meant by specificity - some degree of interpretation was made on my part
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2020
  24. Scaff

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    Then you will have no problem explaining why the descendants of black Africans who are actually black Africans account for less than 10% of the list (and none in the top ten).

    Yet descendants of black Africans many times removed, and from a limited geographic region do dominate. From that you are claiming its a genetic trait common to black Africans?

    Looking at the African dispora, Brazilians should (after Africans) be the most represented, yet they are absent despite being twice as populous than Americans and Jamaicans combined!

    How on earth can't you see the problem with your hypothesis.


    Genes specific to a group account for less than1% of that population, once again science says your wrong.

    Your also mixing genes and allele's, in terms of facial flushing you are talking about a specific mutation (allele) of a gene, not a gene that is specific to a group. The gene in question is ADH1B, one varient of which increases the risk of alcoholism without flushing, another reduces the risk of alcoholism and produces flushing (common in East Asia) and another reduces the risk of alcoholism without flushing and is highly common in Africa.

    However none of these are specific to a group and none of them are unique genes.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/ADH1B

    Which brings me once again to highlight your utter lack of peer reviewed sources.
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2020
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  25. baldgye

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    I mean, you kinda did it for me over the last few hours...
     
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  26. HenrySwanson

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    I'm not sure if it's a colloquialism or there is something more concrete in science now that you've raised this point (I'm not an anthropologist). I'd include those who are black and were brought to the Americas as slaves as descendents of black Africans but wouldn't class white Europeans as such (and, it follows, white Americans). I think in general such classifications are valid but I'd need to do more research as to where the line is drawn when it comes to 100% accurately stating that a person is of black African descent.
    Huh?

    You answered your own question:

    "Yet descendants of black Africans many times removed, and from a limited geographic region do dominate"

    I.e. descendents of West African slaves.

    No, because:

    Do you see what you highlighted there?

    I'll point it out:

    The gene in question is ADH1B, one varient of which increases the risk of alcoholism without flushing, another reduces the risk of alcoholism and produces flushing (common in East Asia) and another reduces the risk of alcoholism without flushing and is highly common in Africa.

    You identified a difference in the average genomes between different ethnic groups. And which of those were genes (or even alleles in this case) specific to a "race"? None. Yet there is still a variation in how likely they are found between the different groups.

    As such, that statistic that you continue to cite doesn't hold much water when investigated more thoroughly.

    Why?

    According to what I'm saying, Christians are more homophobic than many other religions? Does that make me racist?
    Similarly, I believe it's more likely that east Asians are on average smarter than white people - at least on measurable tests.

    Racist?

    May I remind you of the study in the Political Correctness thread that seemed to show that those more "racist" actually treated different "races" more equally when managing a serious medical condition....
     
  27. TenEightyOne

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    On the basis of that some might either say that the answer is "yes" or "no, but your understanding is grossly compromised".
     
  28. baldgye

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    No, what makes you racist is your constant ranting that black people are genetically more stupid than white people, despite having no actual evidence to back any of it up (apart from all those nice pictures of sprinters you posted of course...).

    Yes

    Ah, so being a racist is a good thing!

    jEe Wizz, I s
    Ure Can'T iMagiNe whY aNyOnE wOuLd CoME tO tHe cOncLuSioN tHaT yOu Are a rAciSt!
     
  29. HenrySwanson

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    Why not just no?

    Attack the argument if you want but I see it as a reasonable observation

    I'm observing that intelligence, or at least that which can be measured by tests is likely influenced by genes and the environment, and that there are likely to be variations between different ethnic groups.

    You're the one singling out black people.

    And it's a wonder why "liberal" policies are being trashed around the world.....
     
  30. TenEightyOne

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    You continue to see that as a reasonable observation. My personal opinion is that belief in a link between racial genetics and intelligence is eugenicism and racist. I consider that to be a reasonable observation.

    Only one of us has the science on their side.
     
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