Monday, April 16, 2012

Genetic Diversity and Racism

Reading Guns, Germs and Steel and talking about genetic diversity in class got me thinking about how social factors tie into the biological discussion. I thought Guns, Germs and Steel was very much driven by a biological point of view, but didn't really include enough explanations from an anthropological or sociological point of view. As was shown in class and in the book, from a biological standpoint more diversity leads to a fitter, healthier species because of genetic variation. It helps spread dominant traits that are beneficial to a species survival, and suppresses recessive traits that could be harmful, so it is vital for evolution and adaptation to occur. 

Given the benefits of genetic diversity, the fact that racism came about and that so many cultures still have a stigma against having children with someone of another race completely contradicts what we would predict from a biological standpoint. If society was driven by biological factors we would be encouraging people to diversify and would welcome the mixing of different ethnicities and races. Instead, all over the world most people still value things like fairer skin which perpetuates the stigma of marrying or having children with someone outside one's own race or ethnicity by making people who possess those features reluctant to mix with other groups that don't. Racism would have never come about had biology been the only causal factor, which leads me to believe that there's a lot of deeper issues involved in many of the topics Diamond discusses in his book that go beyond nature alone. 

1 comment:

  1. First of all, your connection between Diamond and class was really helpful. When I started reading Guns, Germs and Steel I was not sure how it directly related to the topics we have been discussing in class. Diamond makes his arguments based on historical and biological factors and fails to include a sociological viewpoint. Second, I agree with you that Diamond's argument isn't strong since he lacks a social explanation especially in regards to mixed race children and couples. If everything was driven by biological factors, then societies would encourage mixed couples to increase genetic variation. However, this isn't the case. Even in his other arguments, he should have stated possible counterarguments and why those would be wrong.