Not being racist is a genetic defect

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    Apr 14, 2010 6:35 AM GMT
    ...at least according to this article

    http://bit.ly/b6zSPN
  • bigdrew

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    Apr 14, 2010 1:48 PM GMT
    What a crock of B.S. Now they would have us believe that we are evolutionarily predisposed to be prejudice of different races. Society drills those thoughts into our childrens heads not nature!
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    Apr 14, 2010 1:52 PM GMT
    And yesterday's article was about a DOG that was racist. Too funny and too stupid.

    I agree with BigDrew.
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    Apr 14, 2010 2:58 PM GMT
    MuchMoreThanMuscle saidThat's a MORE generalized statement that you're making.

    But it was an interesting article to read nonetheless.

    Thanks for posting.
    no problem
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    Apr 14, 2010 3:21 PM GMT
    Humans, unfortunately, are genetically geared to recognize things which are similar and things which are not.

    Babies do it even. In a study they found babies will react more to a face of the same skin colour than one of a corresponding colour.

    This is evolution's way of keeping us safe from outsiders. It also means we have to, in 2010, put up with people who feel unsafe because of the Coloured Hordes outside the gates...
  • CAtoFL

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    Apr 14, 2010 3:24 PM GMT
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    Apr 14, 2010 3:44 PM GMT
    Sorry, but even with that article, I am skeptical of that conclusion. Recognizing difference among races is inevitable, but attributing power (or not doing so) to it is learned behavior.
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    Apr 14, 2010 3:53 PM GMT
    It's not a defect, exactly. I'd call it a variation or condition. Social fear can be an adaptive trait, to be sure, but lacking it doesn't really make you "defective" so much as "different".

    [edit] Oh wait, it also comes with a host of cognitive deficits, vitamin D deficiency, and renal problems. Yeah, probably is a defect.

    I thought it was really neat that the study found stereotype activation for sex roles, but not for racial value judgements. That's further evidence for distinguishing between stereotyping--the activation of a constellation of related traits as a schema or archetype, and prejudice--value judgements and ingroup-outgroup bias applied on the basis of group membership. It's not clear to me whether the instruments they used for the test evaluated values and stereotype activation separately... if anyone has the paper I'd like to take a look.
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    Apr 14, 2010 3:59 PM GMT
    SAHEM62896 saidSorry, but even with that article, I am skeptical of that conclusion. Recognizing difference among races is inevitable, but attributing power (or not doing so) to it is learned behavior.


    I'm not too sure actually. What about a kind of primeaval reaction that over time gets assimilated into acquired behavior? It must be a little bit of both. Just look at the usage of 'black' and 'white' in most languages. White = good and black = bad. White lies, black humour, etc.

    The reason this caught my interest is because I recently read some article in the new scientist that dealt with religion and where in your brain it sits: the article argued that based on brain research, it's the atheist that has a brain anomaly while the faithful has a "normal" brain. As I personally think that religiousness is a brain malfunction it is interesting to apply the same research to racism. We just might not like the outcome.
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    Apr 14, 2010 4:02 PM GMT
    As for "It's not your genetics--society makes you racist!"... that's not the whole story.

    We know that prejudices and outgroup biases can be transmitted socially. Media, family upbringing, and peer groups are all strong predictors of your feelings about people from different races, genders, etc. So yes, society can and does influence people to be racist.

    However, we *also* know that it is possible to rapidly induce ingroup-outgroup bias in completely arbitrary populations, simply by assigning people to groups A and B and having them work in those groups for a short time. In a matter of an hour, they can start to judge the people in the other group negatively--despite the selection process being entirely random.

    This strongly implies that there are mechanisms in the human brain that form stereotypes about groups and assign negative values to other groups--and that's just the way normal humans work. It's hard to call that "learned behavior" when there's nobody to learn it from. This study suggests that those mechanisms are related, at least in the case of racial stereotypes, to social fear, and that they are also genetically influenced by the cluster of genes missing in Williams syndrome.
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    Apr 14, 2010 4:05 PM GMT
    Humans, and other animals, survive by learned skills that have many of the attributes of prejudice. For instance:

    We learn to be wary of hot pots on a stove. Burn our fingers once, and we're wary of touching a pot in the future without checking its temperature first. That's a survival skill. Are we prejudiced against pots? Of course not, but we learn to be careful.

    But when we apply such hot-or-cold approaches to our relationships with other humans, and base these beliefs & fears on what others tell us, we are operating on a very low level of perception. Avoidance conditioning is an important element for survival that we all possess; it is too primitive a response to apply to interpersonal human relationships.

    Therefore, we as humans struggle between our animalistic tendency to group things into easily-recognizable threats, versus our higher-intellect capability to distinguish on a more subtle and complex level. This is why I personally see a pattern, that the more intelligent a person is, the less prejudicially they function, and that the less intelligent a person is, the more doctrinaire & prejudiced they behave.
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    Apr 14, 2010 4:06 PM GMT
    Not sure if it's available with English subtitles, but there's a German movie called Die Welle (the wave) based on a true story that pretty much shows how minds are easily corruptible. Same goes with another movie (also based in Germany for some reason) called The Experiment, I think it's a pretty well known movie.

    So the article I was mentioning: http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20527506.100-where-do-atheists-come-from.html?full=true
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    Apr 14, 2010 4:19 PM GMT
    It may be less a defect than a vestigial trait from our time as true monkeys.
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    Apr 14, 2010 4:20 PM GMT
    Tazo995 said
    SAHEM62896 saidSorry, but even with that article, I am skeptical of that conclusion. Recognizing difference among races is inevitable, but attributing power (or not doing so) to it is learned behavior.


    I'm not too sure actually. What about a kind of primeaval reaction that over time gets assimilated into acquired behavior? It must be a little bit of both. Just look at the usage of 'black' and 'white' in most languages. White = good and black = bad. White lies, black humour, etc.


    Yeah, but again, those are phrases and attributions you LEARN, aren't they? And don't they acquire meaning only when someone first explains that a "white lie" is an innocent lie and "black humor" is humor that is twisted, ironic, and sometimes not funny?

    I mean, I'm wiling to be corrected on this, but I'm just telling you how it appears to me at this moment....
  • calibro

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    Apr 14, 2010 5:54 PM GMT
    bigdrew saidWhat a crock of B.S. Now they would have us believe that we are evolutionarily predisposed to be prejudice of different races. Society drills those thoughts into our childrens heads not nature!


    I actually think the science is pretty sound. It's not saying that racism is part of evolution, but that fear is. And often people fear those that are different from them, which is in turn caused by society. Many people have an irrational fear of black men because of the awful portrayal they get in the media and culture as gang bangers, criminals, etc... which isn't the truth at all. That fear of danger than translates through the evolutionary design of the brain to be afraid of that which can cause harm, even if in this case that harm is unjustified.
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    Apr 14, 2010 10:05 PM GMT
    My question is -- is social fear of other races necessarily an expression of that particular gene? The gene doesn't cause (or make possible) specific racist fear, does it just cause fear itself and we socially learn racism? Thus, if the gene is defective and there is no fear, the racism can't be learned.

    Very curious, though.
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    Apr 14, 2010 10:10 PM GMT
    makavelli saidIt may be less a defect than a vestigial trait from our time as true monkeys.

    Indeed, as I suggested above. But we are not monkeys, nor apes, and need to behave according to our higher human intellect, and the unique cultural ideals we have established.
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    Apr 14, 2010 10:16 PM GMT
    Red_Vespa said
    makavelli saidIt may be less a defect than a vestigial trait from our time as true monkeys.

    Indeed, as I suggested above. But we are not monkeys, nor apes, and need to behave according to our higher human intellect, and the unique cultural ideals we have established.


    I hold it to be the reason why Satan appeared to Eve in the form of a snake. We're grappling with our animal instincts with our ability to wonder and ponder.
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    Apr 14, 2010 10:23 PM GMT
    makavelli said
    Red_Vespa said
    makavelli saidIt may be less a defect than a vestigial trait from our time as true monkeys.

    Indeed, as I suggested above. But we are not monkeys, nor apes, and need to behave according to our higher human intellect, and the unique cultural ideals we have established.

    I hold it to be the reason why Satan appeared to Eve in the form of a snake. We're grappling with our animal instincts with our ability to wonder and ponder.

    Oddly enough, I often look to the Old Testament for inspiration & ideas. I don't believe it's divinely inspired, but I think it does hold a great deal of primitive folk wisdom, not unlike secular fables. I think the same thing of the Bhagavad Gita, and other ancient tales.
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    Apr 14, 2010 10:25 PM GMT
    Aesop's Fables for me...
  • DrewT

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    Apr 14, 2010 10:36 PM GMT
    Didn't read the article but for a few sentences, but I don't think that it's quite true. People these days have social fear because we interact with hundreds and hundreds of strangers each and every day of our lives (unless you have no internet and don't live the house).

    Basically, people know those they know, and ANY others outside that realm are strangers and therefore suspect. That means white people understand white people more, same culture (but the trust isn't too high if they are complete strangers). That goes to say for any other ethnic group.
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    Apr 14, 2010 10:44 PM GMT
    makavelli saidAesop's Fables for me...

    Me, too. Humans didn't suddenly become wise the day before yesterday. icon_wink.gif
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    Apr 14, 2010 11:01 PM GMT
    Simply_Drew saidDidn't read the article but for a few sentences, but I don't think that it's quite true. People these days have social fear because we interact with hundreds and hundreds of strangers each and every day of our lives (unless you have no internet and don't live the house).

    Basically, people know those they know, and ANY others outside that realm are strangers and therefore suspect. That means white people understand white people more, same culture (but the trust isn't too high if they are complete strangers). That goes to say for any other ethnic group.


    Much of the gist being said in the article, but in full disclosure, I haven't even looked at it. I know the idea already.

    But this is also true that people are suspicious because they don't interact with hundreds of others daily. Afghanis will rarely venture outside of their towns their whole lives.

    Now introduce foreign invaders, and modern technology.
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    Apr 14, 2010 11:33 PM GMT
    Actually, if we don't knee-jerk and PC our way away from this discussion, being apprehensive and even hateful of people who are different from you, as well as stereotyping people is favored by natural selection in the wild. The first because:

    1. The less you know about someone, the less you want to risk a possible bad outcome (risk aversion is fairy well-characterized, and many organisms will reject others of the same species but from different populations).

    2. There is a balance of wanting to genetically vary vs. conserve the gene pool and if someone appears significantly different he might be rejected as a result (organisms have been known to go so far as killing offspring with genetic variation that is too large and tehrefore seen as a defect).

    The second (stereotyping) is beneficial because limited information about an individual needs to be filled in based on prior experiences with others who share commonalities with that individual, for example via the famous Baysian-type approaches (or infamous if you cringe at that word) so organisms can make the best guess possible given what information they do have on hand. Open mindedness is not conducive to survival in the wild, unfortunately.

    With that said, we don't live in the wild, so the 'defect' now is people who are slow to adapt to the new environment of civilization, like evolution is intended to do.
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    Apr 14, 2010 11:41 PM GMT

    So often, racism is defined in the eye-of-the-beholder. Years ago I was surprised and somewhat put off by the fact that Liechtensteiners refer to black people as African Negroes and Negrillos. One might note that a few folks were upset that the word "Negro" appears on this years U.S. census form.

    Fact is -- fortunately or unfortunately -- Europe is far less politically correct than America. Racism here tends to be a matter fo vocabulary rather than overt material racism. Any apparent racism is often cloaked in some solution with a distinct socialist veil, e.g., the French pouring money into Arab communities after the riots.

    Go figure.