Race: The reality of human difference

Download Race: The reality of human difference

Post on 06-Jun-2016




0 download


  • Book Reviews

    RACE: THE REALITY OF HUMAN DIFFERENCE. By Vincent Sarichand Frank Miele. Boulder, CO: Westview Press. 2004.287 pp. ISBN 0-8133-4086-1. $27.50 (paper).

    Race: The Reality of Human Differences by VincentSarich and co-author Frank Miele was written to, asthey say, set the record strait. Sarich and Miele contendthat science experts are leading unknowing publics to acollective denial of the deep salience and signicance ofbiological races. They argue, instead, that race is bothculturally real and especially biologically real. This isnot old typology, they contend, but a simple and clear-eyed acknowledgment that humans vary by geographicorigins. Race is a fuzzy set somewhat synonymous withpopulation.Vincent Sarich is one of the founding fathers of mole-

    cular anthropology and Emeritus Professor of Anthropol-ogy at the University of California at Berkeley. He isalso a long-time proponent of the idea that biological racesare obvious and important to understanding human varia-tion and evolution. For Sarich, proof of the reality ofhuman races includes the fact that most individuals cancorrectly identify the race of another. If one plunked 100Norwegians into a crowd of 100 Ghanians, one could pickthe Norwegians apart from the Ghanians. Geographicallybased phenotypic variation is the same as race.Co-author Frank Miele is a senior editor of Skeptic

    magazine. Miele came fully onto the racial stage withIntelligence, Race and Genetics: Conversations with ArthurR. Jensen, a sympathetic defense of Arthur Jensens workon purported genetic differences in intelligence by race (co-authored with Jensen and also published by WestviewPress). While most scientists who continue to use race todayacknowledge that race is a crude way to characterize humandiversity, and argue over the degree to which race is crudeor useful, Sarich andMiele are closer to racial true believers.Their writing makes clear that: 1) they think that the ideaof race is the same as biogeographic variation, and 2) thereis little need to separate the biological aspects from the socio-historical aspects of race. Race: The Reality of Human Differ-ences makes much better sense, or perhaps only makessense, in this context.They start by attacking the recent US public television

    series Race: The Power of An Illusion (www.pbs.org/race)and some of the scientists featured in that series, includ-ing Richard Lewontin and the late Steven Jay Gould. Ina sense, the book is organized as a refutation of the ser-ies. In their preface, they present 10 facts about racethat are culled from the programs website, and contendthat they will show that all of them are false. The rsttwo chapters, on race and the law and race and history,are presented as evidence that race is obvious. Theauthors claim that ancient Greeks, Romans, and Egyp-tians understood that humans were divisible into race;in fact, this is a hotly contested interpretation.After a history of the study of race in anthropology, the

    reader is presented with a side trip into primate andhuman origins and the signicance of Sarichs ownresearch on DNA hybridization. The book ends with the

    meat of the issue: racial differences in body and behavior,followed by a plea to accept and live with the reality ofindividual and racial differences. Bravely not stopping atscience, in a provocative ending, the authors contrastthree sociopolitical scenarios: 1) afrmative action andrace norming, 2) resegregation and the emergence ofethno-states, and 3) meritocracy in the global market-place. They support the harsh realities (p. 261) of ameritocracy based on the ability of individuals.Race: The Reality of Human Differences could have been

    much better edited. Yet, it is an easy read and the authorswrite with a passion (and compassion) that moves thebook along. They appear to be genuinely concerned thatreaders come to understand the books subtitle: the realityof human differences. Depending on background, readersmight learn some genetics, human evolution, history, law,or anthropology.Three limitations of the book are particularly salient.

    First, the adage to not believe everything you readapplies to this book. The referencing is highly selective,piecemeal, and poorly documented. For example, I amcited as saying or believing that even if race can anddoes exist, it should not be studied (italics in original,p. 8). This alleged quote, along with similar quotesfrom Gould and Lewontin, are the key to the booksargumentation. There is even an entry in the Index forAlan Goodmans argument that it [race] should not bestudied challenged (p. 282). However, no reference isgiven, nor could there be one, as to my knowledge I havenever said anything close to what is attributed to me.Sadly, I do not think this error is unique. If only theauthors had done a better job of documenting sourcesand properly using them, I might have considered usingthe book in a course as an example of a race-as-biologyargument.Second, as noted above, the authors do not concep-

    tually differentiate between the idea of race and themateriality of human biological variation. Thus, state-ments such as are attributed to Gould (race cannotexist, p. 8) or Lewontin (race does not exist, p. 8) Iassume are heard as human variation cannot exist andhuman biological variation does not exist. If true, thenI would agree with Sarich and Miele that Gould andLewontin are saying ridiculous things. But that is notwhat they said; rather, it is only what Sarich and Mieleinterpreted. Here, then, is a scary thought. If Sarichdoes not get the difference between the idea of race andthe materiality of human variation, maybe the majorityof nonexperts also do not get the difference.Third, the authors repeatedly slip into language that

    begins to take race as a unity: all biological, historical,cognitive, perceptual, and sociopolitical processes rolledinto one. It may be true that most individuals might notmake these distinctions. However, a key point of currentscholarship is to do so. In medicine, for example, if therewere no distinction between race-as-lived-experience andrace-as-genetics, then it would become very difcult torecommend actions to eliminate race-based health dispa-rities.Those who like this book; (and judging from the online

    discussion and reviews, there are many) will doubtlesslyagree that the authors are both scientically andmorally correct. In contrast, the so-called race-denial



  • scientists like Gould, Lewontin, and Jared Diamond arepracticing bad science, inuenced by their desires to bepolitically correct.In the end, Race: The Reality of Human Differences

    provides an interesting study in the social study ofscience. The authors take the moral and scientic highground, and the belief that they occupy it seems to pro-pel their book. They see the data as clearly showing thatraces are real and that policy results follow. However, inanother reality, the makers of the PBS documentaryand their science consultants that Sarich and Miele cri-tique see the same data but interpret it through a differ-

    ent paradigm, and they, too, are propelled by a beliefthat they are scientically and ethically correct.

    ALAN GOODMANHampshire CollegeSchool of Natural ScienceAmherst, Massachusetts

    DOI 10.1002/ajpa.20254

    Published online 18 July 2005 in Wiley InterScience


    A DIGITAL RADIOGRAPHIC ATLAS OF GREAT APES SKULL ANDDENTITION. By Christopher Dean and Bernard Wood.Digital Archives of Human Paleobiology, Volume 3. L.Bondioli and R. Macchiarelli, series editors. Milan, Italy:ADS Solutions. 2003. ISBN 88-87563-02-0. No cost (CD-ROM).

    Between 19811984, Christopher Dean and BernardWood published a series of studies of the cranial base offossil and extant hominids. These studies utilized linearmeasurements taken from radiographs. The work underreview presents an archive of this original data set, thuspresenting researchers with a valuable resource forfuture work and, indeed, teaching.While the original studies included data on fos-

    sil hominins, this CD-ROM presents original data andstandardized radiographic images of 255 juvenile andadult skulls of three extant hominoid taxa: the orangutan(42 juveniles, 17 adult males, and 13 adult females), chim-panzee (67 juveniles, 17 adult males, and 13 adult females),and gorilla (56 juveniles, 15 adult males, and 15 adultfemales). The radiographs are presented as high-resolutionJPEG les (over 2,000 2,000 pixels), and full back-ground data, along with the original measurements usedin the studies, are provided as an ExcelTM spreadsheet.The authors also include 14 pages of background, land-mark denition, and further information in the form ofHTML lesin short, everything one would need to usethe radiographs for future study or teaching.In recent years, the development of landmark-based

    morphometric techniques has led to a revolution inhow physical anthropologists quantify size and shape dif-ferences among groups. Techniques such as thin-platespline analysis, relative warp analysis, and Euclidiandistance matrix analysis (EDMA) have become regularfeatures of research articles within the pages of thisJournal, as they allow exhaustive archiving of shape,

    rigorous testing of shape differences, and visuallyappealing depictions of form and form change (thoughthere remains some controversy within the communityas to the relative utility of various techniques). In a veryshort time, I was able to conduct a brief analysis of sex-ual dimorphism in Gorilla by capturing landmark datafrom the radiographs and analyzing them using the freesoftware available at the SUNY Stony Brook morpho-metrics site (http://life.bio.sunysb.edu/morph/). Indivi-duals teaching courses on morphometrics (geometric orotherwise) could very easily have their students engagein pedagogically useful analyses using these data.Indeed, freely available data sets (such as this one) offerrealistic real-world frameworks under which to testand compare geometric morphometric methods (as thefamous Fisher Iris data are for many multivariate mor-phometric techniques).It would be difcult to criticize this publication, given

    that it offers important data at zero cost. The addition ofmodern human data would have made a valuableresource even better, but this is a minor quibble. Deanand Wood are to be congratulated for making their dataavailable, and the anthropological community can onlyhope that others will follow their lead, either by publish-ing a CD-ROM (as here) or by making original radio-graphic images available online.

    JOHN M. LYNCHBarrett Honors CollegeArizona State UniversityTempe, Arizona

    DOI 10.1002/ajpa.20201

    Published online 13 May 2005 in Wiley InterScience



    This volume is a paleoecological investigation of whySivapithecus disappeared from Pakistan 8.4 mya. It isnot an action thriller with cataclysmic asteroid impacts,giant atmospheric tornadoes, or wild tsunamis, but is

    instead a walk through seasonal and fragmented forestswith decreasing rainfall, a story that has ecologicalimplications for the conservation of great apes today.The Extinction of Sivapithecus is a very thorough andwell-written scientic account of the paleohabitats of theSiwaliks (138 mya). The primary focus is a comparisonof the paleoenvironements just before and after the timeinterval of Sivapithecus. What was the preferred habitatof Sivapithecus and what, if any, habitat changes led toits extinction?


  • The Siwalik habitats are rst reconstructed from den-tal microwear using a wide range of contemporaneousmammals from the Siwalik fauna, including small andlarge bovids, tragulids, suids, and, of course, Sivapithe-cus. Comparisons are made to a substantial number ofliving taxa. Relative to living great apes, the dentalmicrowear reconstruction of Sivapithecus indicates thatit was primarily a frugivore with a diet of hard objects.Using a statistical analysis that uses a posterior prob-ability algorithm, Sivapithecus is shown to be 35% simi-lar to an orangutan (labeled as a hard fruit and barkfeeder), 30% similar to a chimpanzee (a fruit eater withsome browse), 27% similar to a lowland gorilla (somefruit and a browse feeder), and 8% similar to a mountaingorilla (a browse feeder). All in all, Sivapithecus had adietary pattern more similar to that of orangutans andchimpanzees but one that does not specically resemblethat of any particular great ape. The same microwearanalysis indicates that a large proportion of these Siwa-lik mammals were frugivores. Thus, the habitat of Siva-pithecus is reconstructed as being similar to that ofmodern apes in terms of fruit availability.A second kind of analysis uses isotopic carbon and oxy-

    gen to reconstruct the vegetation mosaic in the Siwaliksat the time periods before, during, and after Sivapithe-cus. These results show a million-year shift in vegetationduring and after the time of Sivapithecus. Closed forestswere being fragmented but not completely eliminated, orreplaced by more open habitats over this interval oftime. The oxygen isotopic values for the Sivapithecusand post-Sivapithecus time intervals indicate decreasedrainfall, further corroborating a change in habitat struc-ture.The third analysis of Siwalik paleoecology uses equid

    teeth to infer seasonal rainfall patterns via stable oxygenisotopes that can be tracked in the composition of wateringested during enamel formation. This data set showsthe rst evidence of C4 grazing in the Siwaliks at 8.7mya, with rainfall decreasing through the 106.3-myatime interval. The isotopic oxygen values show a shift to

    more open habitats, less closed forests, and less rainfallthrough the Sivapithecus and post-Sivapithecus timeintervals. These data show a pattern that is bestmatched with the monsoonal climate of southern China,which has dry seasons of 56 months. Thus, seasonalityis inferred to be greater for the Miocene Siwaliks thanfor any great ape environment today, with the exceptionof the Mt. Asserik chimpanzees.All lines of evidence reveal a decrease in rainfall,

    increased forest fragmentation, and a decrease in fruitavailability at Siwalik localities over the Sivapithecusand post-Sivapithecus time periods. Nelson likens theSiwalik climate to a monsoonal environment withincreased seasonality. The ecological shift to drier condi-tions, increased seasonality, and smaller forests (withless available fruit) led to the extinction of many closed-forest mammalian frugivores, including Sivapithecus.This doctoral project is a very well-thought out analysisthat tackles the complexity of reconstructing paleoenvir-onments. It uses many sophisticated analytical tech-niques with large samples to quantify present and pastcomparative data sets. The combination of microwearstudies with stable isotopes is particularly innovativeand provides a detailed and compelling account of thechanging Miocene environments in Pakistan. Thisvolume will appeal to those interested in Miocene apes,paleoenvironment reconstructions, dental microwearanalyses, and stable isotopic analyses. It is a solid pieceof work, and I recommend it for your bookshelves.

    DANIEL L. GEBODepartment of AnthropologyNorthern Illinois University,DeKalb, Illinois IL

    DOI 10.1002/ajpa.20256

    Published online 18 July 2005 in Wiley InterScience


    HUMAN OSTEOLOGY AND SKELETAL RADIOLOGY: AN ATLAS ANDGUIDE. By Evan Matshes, Brent Burbridge, Belinda Sher,Adel Mohamed, Bernhard Juurlink. Boca Raton, FL: CRCPress. 2005. 433 pp. ISBN 0-8493-1901-3. $99.95 (cloth).

    As expressed in this books preface, osteology is integralto anatomy, providing a scaffold upon which anatomicalknowledge can be constructed. Osteological examinationoccurs in the laboratory with actual skeletal material andmodels, with the use of an osteological atlas such as thisvolume, or with combination of the two. This volumemainly presents labeled osteological photographs, radio-graphs, and diagrams. There are also some magneticresonance images (MRIs) and computed tomography (CT)scans. The intended audience includes general and foren-sic physical anthropologists, general osteology students,and students of gross anatomy. This review emphasizesthe utility of this book for its intended audience.This volume certainly lls a niche in the library of

    osteology atlases by incorporating gross skeletal photos,radiographs, eld information (such as how to side ele-ments), and how to determine the identity of fragmen-tary osseous remains. The idea behind this book isexcellent, but the execution of the idea, and the imagery

    utilized in the nished publication, in my opinion, aredisappointing. In an atlas that relies on photographicimages to convey information, the clarity, lighting, andorientation of the images are all paramount concerns. Ifthe image is superb, the information associated with itis secondary. If the image is poor, the information asso-ciated with it is at best questionable, and at worst use-less. Based on the advanced state of lm and digitalphotography today, as well as high-quality images pub-lished in competing atlases, I was very disappointed bythe photographs in this atlas. Most of the images aregrainy, blurry, and poorly illuminated. When viewingosteological images, lighting is key to elucidating thecomplex topography and various levels of depth in thespecimen. I found the lighting in these photos to be poorenough that, in certain images, labeled structures aresimply not visible. In addition to the main imagery ofthis atlas, it also uses miniature examples of pages inthe How to Use This Book section that are quiteblurry. Small images at the beginning of units that areout of focus, and diagrams at the beginning of separatesections on bones are of poor quality.This atlas is organized into two units: the axial skele-

    ton, and the appendicular skeleton. Labeled photographs


  • and radiographs, sometimes black-and-white stippleddiagrams (which are very clear and helpful), and someMRIs and CTs complement general photographs of osteo-logical elements. Each section detailing a different skele-tal element begins with some pertinent points describingthe element, followed by a list of important landmarksfor each element. Next, the text describes methods fordetermining left from right sides, and how to identifythe element fragments. The fragmentary identicationsection is an excellent contribution, but I believe it willfall short of its intended utility without photographsillustrating the uniquely identifying features in actualfragmentary elements. This text for each element is fol-lowed with multiple, labeled images depicting the oss-eous anatomy. Despite my disappointment with the poorquality of the most of the imagery of this volume, I verymuch liked the high-quality illustrations of dentition.These images were reproduced from another work.This volume is most useful for someone who must

    have a photographic and radiographic atlas under onecover. Alternatively, there are separate photographic andradiographic atlases available that have been used formany years in osteology courses that provide clearer

    images of the same anatomy. The fragmentary elementinformation may be useful to some, but it does not meetits goal, and thus would not, by itself, warrant the pur-chase of the atlas.I imagine the poor quality of imagery in this atlas

    may be a by-product of overenlargement of images in thepublication process, or perhaps the lack of digital clarityin this method of publication. Whatever the cause, I amfrankly surprised that this book reached publicationwith such a lack of quality imagery.

    JONATHAN K. KALMEYLake Erie College of Osteopathic MedicineErie, PennsylvaniaE-mail: Jkalmey@lecom.edu

    DOI 10.1002/ajpa.20295

    Published online 25 July 2005 in Wiley InterScience



    Bainbridge D. 2004. The X in Sex: How the X Chromosome Con-trols Our Lives. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.205 pp. $14.95 (paper).

    Barton CM, Clark GA, Yesner DR, and Pearson GA (eds.). 2004.The Settlement of the American Continents: A Multidiscipli-nary Approach to Human Biogeography. Tucson, AZ: Univer-sity of Arizona Press. 281 pp. $75.00 (cloth).

    Biradeau M. 2004. Stories about Posts: Vedic Variations aroundthe Hindu Goddess. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 358pp. $45.00 (paper).

    Cameron DW. 2004. Hominid Adaptations and Extinction. Syd-ney, Australia: University of New South Wales. 260 pp. $89.95(cloth).

    Dewar E. 2004. The Second Tree: Stem Cells, Clones, Chimeras,and Quests for Immortality. New York: Carroll and Graf. 528 pp.$28.00 (paper).

    Egocheaga JE. 2004. Biologia de Poblaciones Humanas: Diversi-dad, Tiempo, Espacio. Oviedo, Spain: Universidad de Oviedo.950 pp. (paper).

    Jobling M, Hurles M, and Tyler-Smith C. 2004. Human Evolu-tionary Genetics. Independence, KY: Garland Science. 523 pp.$59.95 (paper).

    Killam EW. 2004. The Detection of Human Remains (Second Edi-tion). Springeld, IL: Charles C. Thomas. 268 pp. $65.95 (cloth).

    King BJ. 2004. The Dynamic Dance: Nonvocal Communicationin African Great Apes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UniversityPress. 283 pp. $29.95 (cloth).

    Lewin R. 2005. Human Evolution: An Illustrated Introduction.Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, Ltd. 277 pp. $44.95 (paper).

    McManus C. 2004. Right Hand, Left Hand: The Origins of Asym-metry in Brains, Bodies, Atoms and Cultures. Cambridge, MA:Harvard University Press. 412 pp. $16.95 (paper).

    Mithen S. 2004. After the Ice: A Global Human History,20,0005000 BC. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.622 pp. $29.95 (cloth).

    Roth E. 2004. Culture, Biology, and Anthropological Demogra-phy. New York: Cambridge University Press. 217 pp. $70.00(paper).

    Thierry B, Singh M, and Kaumanns W (eds.). 2004. MacaqueSocieties: A Model for the Study of Social Organization. NewYork: Cambridge University Press. 418 pp. $120.00 (cloth).

    van Andel TH, and Davies W. 2004. Neandertal and ModernHuman in the European Landscape during the Last Glacia-tion; Archaeological Results of the Stage 3 Project. Oxford,UK: Oxbow Books. 265 pp. $77.95 (cloth).

    Wilson EO. 2004. On Human Nature. Cambridge, MA: HarvardUniversity Press. 260 pp. $18.95 (paper).