Human Biodiversity

Posted on July 19, 2011 by


If one travels through the blogsosphere these days one is almost certain to encounter either explicitly or implicitly a concept known as “human biodiversity”. This topic is either explicitly recognized or lurking below the surface whenever there is a controversy concerning an aspect of sex or race. For instance, the recent flap over a scientist named Sutohi Kanazawa who wrote a post for the Psychology Today Blog where he claimed that black women, are , on average, considered less beautiful than those of other races. beauty controversy
Now this post was roundly trashed, for both good and bad reasons. But it certainly created controversy!! Indeed, difference both real and alleged between races and sexes are some of the most controversial issues that exist in today’s world. We should explore why, and this post will attempt to do that.

WHY SHOULD I CARE?

There may be some theological implications for conservative religious people in all branches of Christianity if human biodiversity, or “HBD” for short, is true. For one thing since it would be predicted by evolutionary theory, it is one piece of evidence for evolution.The second reason depends on how one’s personal religious beliefs intersect with the idea that all people are equal before God. If God created or employed guided evolution to create differences among subgroups of people then that might indicate that He had a place or plan for each race of people, just as many Catholics and others believe God had a plan in place for the sexes. The history of racism within the current Christian branches for instance is a complex one, esp. if one views things in light of the longer history in the Bible including the Nation of Israel, which, for a time was to have been Gods Chosen People. Christians were on both sides, for example, on the issue of racial slavery. To be fair, the Bible was hardly ever used to justify downright mistreatment of the slaves, but there were deep disagreements as to whether slavery was permissible under Christian doctrine or not. These days the predominant view would seem to be that as each person is a child of God, no one should be judged solely on the color of their skin. See: godandscience
Certain aspects of HBD if emphasized wrongly, threaten to undermine that moral consensus. In the secular world, there are other issues that are often amenable to HBD arguments. For instance the “nature versus nurture” controversy, and whether differential group outcomes in various economic or social factors is due to discrimination or sexism.

WHAT IS HBD?

Well, at its simplest, HBD is merely the recognition of dissimilar trait frequencies both mental and physical among the sexes and races. If one accepts several commonly accepted concepts HBD is pretty much a given.
A. The existence of a sexual binary as a reality for most people, even if not everyone fits.
B. The existence of race.
C. Evolution is a fact, and operates not just on animals, but on humans.
Of these three concepts, the most contentious one is the issue of race. Few people, except a few “gender-queer” activists would deny the existence of biological sex among humans even if one might realize that some don’t neatly fit in one or the other. Evolution, as well, is considered settled science by pretty near universal consensus among all different types of scientists, even if there is plenty of disagreement over exact details. However, even if race was considered not to exist, while that would throw many racists into a fit, it wouldn’t disprove HBD. It would, however, narrow its scope to sexual differences. It is important to note that the alleged differences between sexes and races concern traits on a normal or “bell curve” statistical distribution. In short, no race has a total monopoly of one of the traits and , barring child birth , no sex has a monopoly of either physical or mental traits either. Almost all HBD arguments are that differences exist among population groupings “on average”.

SOME COMMON HBD ARGUMENTS

Few people concern them selves with assertions that women tend to be shorter than men on average, or that “woolly hair” is more common among black people. You’ll get in no trouble if you mention that the shape of eyes in people of Chinese descent is different than the eyes of someone who is descended from Vikings. But many HBD proponents state things that tend to get them in political or social hot water. For instance:
1. The alleged Asian/white/black IQ gaps, with IQ being nearly totally genetic and – it is asserted – correlated greatly with intelligence in general.
2. Differences in statistical distributions of IQ among men and women, with men having more outliers and a narrower “middle”.
3. Differences in criminality or aggression between races or sexes.
4. Group differences in certain psychological traits between men and women.
5. Differences in athletic ability between races or sexes.
6. That genetics plays a larger part in many social ills or differential life outcomes than prejudice or institutional racism or sexism.
7. Ironically many HBDer’s not understanding that human evolution means the races and sexes will continue to change , assert that many of the alleged issues their arguments have uncovered are intractable.

CRITICISMS OF HBD

The only way to argue against HBD in toto would be to work to deny evolution occurred or is still occurring in modern humans. Such claims are problematic , to say the least: Ten Thousand Year Explosion
This is not commonly done. In fact the two current strategies for people who are against the ideas commonly subsumed under the HBD label are:
1. To ignore them. Probably no one here will be surprised to learn that many blogs and websites either ban commenters for bringing in any of the above arguments, or censor the comments.
2. To attack it part by part, for instance arguing the efficiency of IQ as a measure of intelligence; or arguing that most sexual differences are really merely expressions of societal ordained “gender” programming.
There is a third way. Some people maintain the differences , if they exist, are mostly meaningless in terms of their religious or personal philosophies.

CONCLUSION

This relatively short, introductory level argument is meant to introduce people to the ideas of HBD and what it is. Later posts will delve into my own personal views about such things as race, what HBD means for me , sexual differences and etc. It must also be stressed that HBD requires evolution, but once you grant human evolution some level of HBD is an inevitable by product.

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