Do I think that there are Human races? No, and here is why:

In biology “race” has a very specific meaning, it is a synonym for “sub-species”. Like “theory” the scientific meaning and the common use meaning aren’t the same. So we have to define what definition we are using.

The definition I am using for race is two populations of the same species that can interbreed and produce fertile offspring but don’t due to isolation.

Dogs and Wolves are a good example of this idea. They do produce fertile offspring but don’t breed together in the wild.

So under that definition we can superficially think that humans have races, but looking at the admixture history of our species (Hallenthal, 2014, check outhttp://admixturemap.paintmychromosomes.com/ for a history of human population interbreeding, my PhD supervisor was the senior investigator on the project) shows that no population is historically pure and that genetic admixture on a large scale is a common event between populations. 

When we think about dividing populations genetically with humans we fall into another major problem. There are only a handful of common variant locations in the human genome that reside in only one population. One report that I saw said that there are only 4 mutations that can only be found in Europe or Ethiopia and that all other common mutations are found to some degree in both populations. So there is no meaningful genetic delimiter to divide the populations.

As I think was mentioned we also have the problem of genetic diversity. The out of Africa event only happened ~70kya that is a blip in evolutionary time and there are only a handful of recognised selected for traits that have arisen in the time since that split. So we are not a very genetically diverse species having had a major population bottleneck at just about the same time as the diaspora that reduced our species to approximately 10k people. The result of that is that according to one source I read any two Gorillas are more genetically diverse than any two humans. So if you take two Gorilla siblings they will have more genetic diversity than a Northern European and an African of the San people.

So speaking as a population geneticist I don’t accept the premise that there are human races. The last time there was a set of separate human races was when the Neanderthals still walked the Earth.

In regards to the social construct of race: I still don’t buy it. I completely accept the premises of Ethnicity and Culture but if you can convert to a new culture then it cannot by definition be a hard line between groups (in example converting to Judaism.)

 

/update

Though I don’t believe in race, I do know that racism is real and is a huge problem around the world. Please don’t confuse my scientific stand with an idea that because there are no races that there is no hate in the world.

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