You’re talking about sports that are popular spectator sports, and which favour strength and physical power. My point is simply that there are many different kinds of sports, which favour different kinds of fitness. Long-distance running is not nearly as popular a spectator sport in the US (I would assume) as, say, football or basketball. But when you see long-distance events in the Olympics or World Championships, it’s dominated not by American blacks (who tend to be of West African stock), but by Kenyans and Ethiopians. Likewise, swimming is dominated by people of North European heritage. There’s probably some socioeconomic factors here, but it can’t be the whole story. You don’t have to be rich to use a public swimming pool.
No. But if you are rich, you are more likely to live in an area where one exists within a convenient distance. Nor are the fees for using one likely to be an issue. They are also more likely to be of a standard and in a state of repair that encourages you to use them. The school you attend (that is if there IS as school to attend in your country) is more likely to place an importance on taking part in swimming at school and in competitive swimming in general. You are more likely to have role models from your community to inspire you, along with contemporaries who either share your interest, or who will provide positive affirmation about your involvement. If you do prove to have talent to succeed, you are more likely to have access to the sort of coaching and support that will encourage you to pursue the sport, to stay motivated and to achieve your full potential.
There’s a hypothesis that blacks in the Americas are over-represented in power sports because they were brought to the continent as slave labour.
Really? Then it’s a pretty stupid hypothesis in my opinion. Black people are over-represented in the field of best-selling popular music. Is this because many were brought to the continent to give a rousing rendition of the latest negro spriitual in order to spur on the cotton-pickers to even greater productivity in the “Massa’s” plantation? Are white Americans overrepresented in swimming becasuse those that couldn’t afford the passage from Europe to the US had to get there somehow?
Slave traders would obviously have picked the most muscular slaves at the market, then a further selection pressure would have been applied by the horrific conditions of the Atlantic crossing and then during the harsh life as a slave.
You really must stop making unsupported assertions and claiming they are facts. These statements are either illogical or downright false.
In the first place between tens and hundreds of millions of people were transported from Africa in the space of a few hundred years. The idea that they were all carefully selected for muscularity is simply ridiculous. Muscularity is something that can easily acquired to the standard necessary to be a productive slave, so selecting for a tendency to elite strength and power among such an enormous population would have been a total waste of time and money. It’s possible, even probable that slaves with obvious genetic defects such as Spina Bifida were rejected, but this is an entirely different scenario to the one you claim existed.
The sort of natural selection produced by the mortality on slave ships would hardly have resulted in those genetically predisposed to speed and physical strength surviving at the expense of others - these factors don’t protect you against the sort of diseases that killed slaves, such as dysentery and scurvy. In any case your central premise is wrong. Slaves were treated like cattle and while this treatment was undoubtedly vicious, appalling and dehumanising, it was not generally fatal in itself. You don’t particualrly care if your cattle are happy or in non-fatal pain, but you don’t usually show cavalier disregard as to whether the beasts of burden you’ve paid good money for live or die.
The truth is that the rate of mortality on slave ships was between 12-15 % (far less on British ships). While shocking, this was actually LESS than the mortality rate for sailors and passengers on the same journeys at the time.
The mortality rate of slaves in the continental US was significantly less than everywhere else in the New World and not hugely greater than that of poor whites - mainly due to the fact that the tasks they performed were less gruelling than those in the likes of the West Indies and Brazil. American blacks first harvested tobacco and later cotton and foodstuffs such as corn. They also worked in industry. If your claim is true, then surely there should be proportionally more Brazilian and Jamaican boxers than American ones?
Human beings are animals, and it’s fallacious to assume that the laws of evolutionary selection apply to every other animal but not us. It may sound awful, but yes, the slave trade was awful. And for good and for bad, it’s genetic legacy is there to be seen today.
Another false assertion.
There are no “laws of evolutionary selection”. There is A law of Natural Selection in the Theory of Evolution, but human evolution usually takes place over a far longer period than the Slave Trade. What you are talking about is more accurately selective breeding, but to prove that this was responsible for the overrepresentation of Black Americans in power sports you would need to show that there was a higher survival rate among those slave children predisposed to speed and power, or that for some other reason they were less likely to have children once they were of reproductive age. For example if it was the case that Slave masters systematically prevented weaker and slower slaves from having sex, or that they killed the offspring of such slaves before they could themselves reproduce, your argument might hold water, but I’m not aware of anything like this ever having taken place on any significant scale.
Mortality among a population cannot possibly lead to selective breeding if the dead individuals have already reproduced - so your basic proposition makes no sense.
[Quote]I’m not saying stereotypes “are true”, I’m saying they often have some grain of truth. By your own argument, blacks dominate in many American athletics leagues, so it would be stupid to say that the stereotype “blacks are athletic” has no basis in truth, wouldn’t it?
No it wouldn’t, because the proposition has never been proved. It would be stupid to say that “blacks are over-represented in activities that require athleticism” has no basis in truth, but that is something entirely different.
In Britain, we have a tradition of “Irish jokes” about how the Irish are supposedly stupid. (I think the American equivalent is the “Polish joke”.) Now obviously there is not a genetic tendency towards stupidity in Irish people but in previous centuries, Ireland was a very underdeveloped country compared to much of Europe and most Irish people who came to Britain were uneducated, superstitious country folk looking for work as labourers. Ignorance and unsophistication are not the same thing as stupidity but to an educated, urbane person, it’s easy to conflate the two. Thus the “stupid Irishman” stereotype was born; a stereotype not actually true, but not totally without a basis, viz. Ireland’s lack of economic development and general “backwardness” compared to Victorian Britain.
Not true. The Irish stereotype goes back long before that. The Irish were viewed as not fully equivalent to the White race by the British for centuries. It is probably a feature of the history of the subjugation of Ireland by Britain and the inevitable negative stereotypes that sort of conflict always brings in it’s wake.
Notwithstanding the fact that Irishmen and Englishmen have moved between the countries for centuries, the main influx occured after the potato famine of the mid nineteenth century (and to a lesser extent because of the economic problems after the founding of the Free State in the nineteen twenties). At that time Ireland was an integral part of the British state and not a colony, as indeed it was for over 100 years from 1801. During this time Ireland had seats in the House Of Commons and Irish Peerages (the current Chancellor George Osborne, is the heir to one of the most prominent and historic Irish peerages I believe). In fact the officical name of the state was, “The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland” as opposed to the “The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland” today.
Effectively an Irishman Someone from Dublin came from the same country as an Englishman from London. Consequently the level of compulsory state education was identical. In fact in some ways the Irish were probably more educated than the English, as there was a culture of fee-paying schools for the lower classes until state education was introduced in the late ninteenth century. To imply that the average nineteenth centruy Englishman was some kind of educated sophisticate by comparison with his dullard Irish cousin bears no scrutiny. At the beginning of Queen Victoria’s reign one-third of the UK population was completely illiterate. There fore idea that Irish immigrants were any more uneducated and superstitious than their social conterparts who were native to mainland Britain is ridiculous.
The Japanese have lived on fish since forever. What are fish made of, if not animal protein?
Nonsense. That would only be true for some coastal populations. Prior to modern refrigeration, fish was difficult and costly to preserve and transport. It was only eaten by most Japanese on special occasions. Meat and dairy was traditionally taboo under Shinto buddhism, so the majority of the population was largely vegetarian, with the most important foodstuff being rice. Fish might be an important part of the Japanese diet today, but that is a relatively recent phenomenon borne of technological improvements, the radical reorganisation of Japanese society after defeat in the war (I.e democracy, less economic inequality and more even distribution of wealth) and the boom in the Japanese economy after the Korean War.
Strangely with increasing prosperity, the Japanese are no longer as short as the stereotype suggests. With very slight variations depending on the survey, the average height of a Japanese man is now 5’7.5”. That is identical to that of Jamaicans and taller than the male populations of Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Ghana, The Gambia and Malawi. It is MUCH taller than that of the male population of Nigeria (5’ 4.5”) the country which contains by far the single biggest population of Black Africans. (Something like 1 in 7 or 1 in 10 humans of Black African origin is a Nigerian; I forget the exact figure). Interestingly there is no significant difference between the average height of Black and White Americans. In fact where there is a difference in a survey, Whites are taller by half an inch. How that fits in with your theory that blacks are “bigger and stronger” than whites is beyond me.
Even if you’re just talking about meat from land animals, most people in the Middle East eat a very meat-rich diet and always have done, yet they’re still generally not as tall as Europeans.
Notwithstanding yet another of your sweeping generalisations (The Middle-East is a big and diverse place) meat is usually relatively expensive in most countries, when compared to cereals, grains and fruit and vegetables . Given that large numbers of the population in many Middle-Eastern countries are very poor, I would question whether their staple diet really is “meat-rich”. National cuisine and average diet can be two very different things.
Regardless, your argument is false in this instance as well. There are Middle-Eastern Countries such as Egypt, where the average height is identical to, or greater than that of some European countries, such as Italy, Spain and Portugal. Interestingly there is a divide between the traditionally rich Northern European countries, with commensurate healthcare and social welfare systems and the traditionally poorer southern European ones.
I think you are getting too hung up on the issue of diet in any case. It is environmental factors impacting on health that are important, of whih diet is one. However such things as healthcare and housing are also important.
Well what about the peacock’s tail? Isn’t that a “waste of (evolutionary) energy”? (What about female breasts in humans? Most of the mass of a woman’s breasts is just inert fat, the actual milk glands are very small. A woman with small breasts - providing she’s not actually malnourished - is no less able to feed babies than one with huge hooters.
You don’t seem to understand the principle of natural selection, as your earlier false analogies appear to demonstrate.
The Peacock’s tale is a characteristic that is easily visible in a potential mate. A peacock’s tail is male sexual display, designed to attract the female. Therefore a female peacock will mate with the peacock with the most impressive tail and his offspring will be most likely to be born. Peacocks with unimpressive tails or other animals that lose the competition for sexual favours, may well not get to mate at all during the mating season, since there is a limited window of opportunity. This is not so definite a trend in humans, as we can mate at any time and the criteria determing which males are to be the preferred choice of fertile females is much more complicated than in animals. Desirable sexual characteristics in humans are transient and culturally based to some degree - being a footballer might get you more opportunities to mate with a high-status female in the UK and Brazil in 2011, but not in India in 2111. As a general rule human males whose characteristics may be considered less desirable to contemporary human females will still get to mate and reproduce if they want to - just not with their first choice female.
And really, I think your argument (that a big penis confers no evolutionary advantage and therefore there is no reason for different races to have evolved penises of different sizes) is pretty self-defeating. Why are we all here, if not to enlarge our penises?
But this is a personal choice that is unlikely to have any impact on sexual selection.
How does a big penis confer an evolutionary advantage? Unless it is true that men with smaller penises are somehow significantly less likely to reproduce, then even if women prefer men with big penises, which is far from proven, average penis size will not be influenced by this preference. This could only be true if women in general refuse to sleep with men with smaller penises, or get pregnant by them less often, or that having a parent with a small penis is associated with a higher pre-pubescent mortality rate (I.e you die before you can reproduce). In other words, if men with shorter penises generally have fewer offspring than those with larger ones.
In much the same way, bigger breasts do not confer an evolutionary advantage as such. Women with small breasts (for the purposes of this argument, a less desirable secondary sexual characteristic) still get to have children. We do not commonly see maternity wards overwhelmingly populated by women possessing enormous breasts, with childless flat-chested women staring plaintively through the window. Female breast size may be increasing in some countries like the UK, but as with height, the reasons are probably environmentally based. As I’ve already pointed out, mate selection and reproductive success is far more complex in humans than in non-human animals and males without superficially attractive qualities still get to father children. This is where the rationale behind your argument about penis size and race falls down.
We’re doing it at least in part to impress women, aren’t we? Just like the peacock’s tail, in fact!
Many on this site are doing it because they THINK it will impress women. The distinction is important.
I’m afraid to say that increasing the size of your penis will make no difference to your ability to have children, so it is not like the Peacock’s tail at all. Even if it were proven that having a big penis increased female sexual pleasure, which is dubious, it would make no difference - women do not need to enjoy sex to get pregnant. Since the complexity and colourfulness of the Peacock’s tail most certainly does make a difference to his ability to have children, the difference between the two examples shoud be clear.
Yes, a red car and a blue car of the same make and model have the same engine, but they’re different colours. That’s a difference.
That much is obvious. But it would be absurd to suggest that the colour of the car changed the way the engine worked.
And we’re talking about differences that go more than ‘paint deep’.
No. You’re the one asserting that the differences go more than “paint deep”. However you have yet to mount a convincing argument to support this theory.
.When scientists say “there’s no such thing as race”, what they mean is that human beings can’t be discreetly divided up into several well-defined “breeds” or “subspecies”, as was once thought.
Yes. The Human race is a continuum with no sharp breaks.
That’s not to say there aren’t well-defined genetic differences between populations from different parts of the world.
No. There are well-defined genetic TRENDS among populations with ancestors who originated in different parts of the world. However these people don’t have to share an outward physical appearance (phenotype) with those ancestors or even with others carrying the same gene. While you might be statistically more likely to find more of a certain gene ticaly-based characteristicamong the population of a particular location or race, you could theoretically find examples of the same characteristic everywhere.
Things like resistance to disease, adaptation to extreme cold or heat, the ability to metabolise certain nutrients - all these things differ (statistically, of course) from population to population around the world.
Again, no. The TENDENCY to posessing these characteristics differs. A significantly higher number of Japanese can’t metabolise alcohol efficiently compared with many other “races” and a significant higher number of caucasians suffer some cystic fibrosis. However you can still find Japanese people that can drink copious amounts of alcohol and black people with Cystic Fibrosis.
I think the problem might be arising if, like many people, you are overestimating the size of the human gene pool, based on the fact that the human population is very large and that some human beings have quite different superficial characteristics (in other words they look very different). DNA sequencing has shown this belief to be completely fallacious.
It is a curious fact that mankind has a far lower rate of genetic diversity than the size of the human population suggests. In fact there is more genetic diversity among the chimpazee population of Africa than among the entire human race, despite the fact that chimpanzees have much less superficial diversity. Chimpanzees have 20 times the genetic diversity of humans - no two human beings are more distantly related than something like fiftieth cousins. (I forget the exact number but it’s something around that).
One theory for the reason behind this (the Toba Catastrophe Theory) is that at some time in human pre-history, or in the history of our immediate ancestors, some catastrophic event wiped out most of the population, leading us to be descended from a very small number of individuals.
The long and the short of it is, that without real evidence, a correlation between penis size and race cannot be proven.