The genetic and evolutionary significance or human races

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The life on our planet displays an amazing range of diversity at all levels of biological organization: different kingdoms of life, several millions of species, and genetic diversity within species. Some of the genetic diversity within species is present simply as allelic differences (alternative forms of the same gene) carried by a single individual (heterozygosity), some occurs as genotypic differences among individuals living in the same local area, and some exists as allele frequency differences among different local populations. All of this genetic diversity is the product of the evolutionary process. Hence, to understand the significance of genetic diversity, it is necessary to place that diversity into its proper evolutionary context. Because evolution is a biological universal, the methods of analysis for interpreting genetic diversity are applicable to all species, including our own. Unfortunately, humans have tended to interpret their own intraspecific diversity in ways that are often inconsistent with how humans analyze and interpret genetic diversity in other species. As I show in this chapter, this is certainly the case concerning “racial” variation. From a scientific perspective, the interpretation of human genetic diversity in a unique manner is indefensible: A scientific understanding and interpretation of human genetic diversity must use the same criteria that have been applied to genetic diversity in nonhuman species. My primary goal in this chapter is to examine the significance of human genetic diversity, primarily racial diversity, using the same criteria and analytical procedures applied to the remainder of life on this planet.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRace and Intelligence
Subtitle of host publicationSeparating Science From Myth
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages26
ISBN (Electronic)1410604330, 9781135651794
ISBN (Print)0805837574, 9781138866652
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2013
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2002 by Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. All rights reserved.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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