The current politically correct view of human races is that they don't exist. Surprisingly, this view has been adopted by many scientists, including biologists, who should know better.
Bruce T. Lahn and Lanny Ebenstein have published an opinion piece in this week's issue of Nature. Everyone should read it [Let's celebrate human genetic diversity].
They begin by pointing out the problem and then they state their position.
The current moral position is a sort of 'biological egalitarianism'. This dominant position emerged in recent decades largely to correct grave historical injustices, including genocide, that were committed with the support of pseudoscientific understandings of group diversity. The racial-hygiene theory promoted by German geneticists Fritz Lenz, Eugene Fischer and others during the Nazi era is one notorious example of such pseudoscience. Biological egalitarianism is the view that no or almost no meaningful genetically based biological differences exist among human groups, with the exception of a few superficial traits such as skin colour3. Proponents of this view seem to hope that, by promoting biological sameness, discrimination against groups or individuals will become groundless.These guys seem to be a bit late in realizing that the scientific data doesn't support the politically correct "biological egalitarianism" viewpoint but, as they say, better late than never.
We believe that this position, although well-intentioned, is illogical and even dangerous, as it implies that if significant group diversity were established, discrimination might thereby be justified. We reject this position. Equality of opportunity and respect for human dignity should be humankind's common aspirations, notwithstanding human differences no matter how big or small. We also think that biological egalitarianism may not remain viable in light of the growing body of empirical data (see box).
Here's their bottom line.
Bravo! I'm glad that more and more scientists are speaking out on this issue.
- Promoting biological sameness in humans is illogical, even dangerous
- To ignore the possibility of group diversity is to do poor science and poor medicine
- A robust moral position is one that embraces this diversity as among humanity's great assets
Lahn, B.T. and Ebenstein, L. (2009) Let's celebrate human genetic diversity. Nature 461:726-728 [Nature]
[Hat Tip: Nils Reinton at BIOpinionated: I Wish I Wrote This (me too! -LAM)]