Friday, 21 August 2020

More alike than different...


"All our researches into [human] history lead us to conclude that the races are not different in their origin, and forbid the idea of inferiority, and of the necessity of one race being superseded by another. I am of opinion that man, in his desires, passions, and intellectual faculties, is the same, whatever be the colour of his skin; that mankind forms a great whole, in which the different races are the radii from a common centre; and that the differences which we observe are due to peculiar circumstances which have developed certain qualities of body and mind." 

~ naturalist Ernst Dieffenbach, from his 1843 Travels in New Zealand, Vol. 2

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3 comments:

  1. "and that the differences which we observe are due to peculiar circumstances which have developed certain qualities of body and mind."

    What a load of meaningless tosh!

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    Replies
    1. Pearls before swine perhaps..... The meaning I take from it is that differences amongst groups develop due to the "peculiar circumstances" they're subject to in that locality, not due to their race.

      If for instance I was part of a group ship-wrecked on a deserted tropical island for a long period, my survival and reproductive chances would probably increase if I became adapt at spearing fish with a sharpened stick. You might then observe that myself, the other survivors, and my offspring had better than average fish-spearing abilities. That difference wouldn't be attributable to our race, but the peculiar circumstances we'd been subject to.

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    2. It's not 100% true--there are genetic differences (the ability to make certain sounds, skin color, the ability to digest milk, how efficiently one processes alcohol, and the efficacy of certain drugs all come to mind). But those variations are extremely minor, the sort of thing that one can expect to occur in populations that have genetic flow restricted for a time.

      The most significant variations between populations are what MarkT pointed out: things that anyone can learn, but which are only useful in certain conditions. Computer programming is only useful in a society with computers; in a stone age society it's worthless.

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