Le razze umane

Le barriere intellettuali un tempo erette per arginare l’ipotesi delle razze umane, oggi – dopo la mappatura del genoma umano – non reggono più.

Nicholas Wade lo afferma in modo circostanziato nel suo libro “A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History”.

L’evoluzione umana è un processo biologico che negli ultimi 30.000 anni è continuato spedito e senza soluzione di continuità.

Nei vari continenti la “macchina della natura” ha lavorato in modo indipendente

… populations on each continent have evolved largely independently of one another as each adapted to its own regional environment. Under these various local pressures, there developed the major races of humankind, those of Africans, East Asians and Europeans, as well as many smaller groups…

Non è più possibile – come si faceva un tempo – escludere cambiamenti rilevanti nella natura umana in quest’ultimo lasso di tempo della nostra storia…

… Several of the intellectual barriers erected many years ago to combat racism now stand in the way of studying the recent evolutionary past. These include the assumption that there has been no human evolution in the last few thousand years and the assertion that there is no biological basis for race…

Oggi abbiamo una nuova visione dell’evoluzione umana: più rapida, più radicale e più localizzata territorialmente. E’ l’evoluzione come emerge dalla mappatura del genoma umano…

… New analyses of the human genome establish that human evolution has been recent, copious and regional…

Le razze principali… 

… The three principal races are Africans (those who live south of the Sahara), East Asians (Chinese, Japanese and Koreans) and Caucasians (Europeans and the peoples of the Near East and the Indian subcontinent)…

Diverso ambiente, diverso corredo genetico

… In each of these races, a different set of genes has been changed by natural selection, as is described further in chapter 5. This is just what would be expected for populations that had to adapt to different challenges on each continent…

Le razze umane esistono e hanno una base biologica: questa ipotesi s’impone al momento come la più ragionevole per l’uomo di scienza…

… Analysis of genomes from around the world establishes that there is indeed a biological reality to race, despite the official statements to the contrary of leading social science organizations…

Nelle razze miste, per esempio, il genoma è segmentabile

… with mixed-race populations, such as African Americans, geneticists can now track along an individual’s genome and assign each segment to an African or European ancestor, an exercise that would be impossible if race did not have some basis in biological reality…

L’ortodossia – al contrario – ha sempre ipotizzato una sospensione evoluzionistica nel periodo analizzato…

… Historians, economists, anthropologists and sociologists assume there has been no change in innate human behavior during the historical period. This belief in the recent suspension of evolution, at least for people, is shared by the major associations of social scientists…

La conseguenza: le razze sono un concetto culturale, non biologico. Vanno chiamate più correttamente “etnie”.

Difficile però imbattersi in un trattamento serio dell’argomento. Per “serio” intendo senza il retro-pensiero delle implicazioni politiche…

… The commonsense conclusion—that race is both a biological reality and a politically fraught idea with sometimes pernicious consequences—has also eluded the American Sociological Association. The group states that “race is a social construct” and warns “of the danger of contributing to the popular conception of race as biological.”…

In questo ambito la scienza serve quasi sempre come stampella alla politica…

… The social scientists’ official view of race is designed to support the political view that genetics cannot possibly be the reason why human societies differ…

Il padre del “culturalismo”…

Franz Boas established the doctrine that human behavior is shaped only by culture…

La crisi dell’ortodossia deriva, come dicevamo, dai recenti studi del genoma…

… The recent discoveries that human evolution has been recent, copious and regional severely undercut the social scientists’ official view of the world because they establish that genetics may have played a possibly substantial role alongside culture in shaping…

Perché l’adeguamento accademico è così lento? Alla paura del razzismo si aggiunge l’inerzia accademica

… One reason is, of course, the understandable fear that exploration of racial differences will give support to racism, a question addressed below. Another is the inherent inertia of the academic world…

Gli studiosi restano tenacemente attaccati a cio’ che hanno studiato a fondo, specie in gioventù.

Persino su argomenti molto più innocui l’adeguamento deve attendere un ricambio generazionale.

Pesa anche la politicizzazione delle università

… Another kind of flaw occurs when universities allow a whole field of scholars to drift politically to the left or to the right…

L’idea delle razze è davvero pericolosa?

La legge di Hume ci tutela dalle implicazioni razziste: da un fatto non deriva un dovere. Dal fatto che esistano più razze differenti non deriva che debbano esistere diritti differenziati…

… Racism and discrimination are wrong as a matter of principle, not of science. Science is about what is, not what ought to be. Its shifting sands do not support values, so it is foolish to place them there. Academics, who are obsessed with intelligence, fear the discovery of a gene that will prove one major race is more intelligent than another…

Sul piano logico certe paure sono immotivate…

… Even if it were proved that one race were genetically more intelligent than another, what consequence would follow? In fact, not much of one. East Asians score around 105 on intelligence tests, an average above that of Europeans, whose score is 100. A higher IQ score doesn’t make East Asians morally superior to other races. East Asian societies have many virtues but are not necessarily more successful than European societies in meeting their members’ needs…

Anche sul piano pratico alcuni fenomeni ci rassicurano: sappiamo che gli asiatici sono i più intelligenti ma non li consideriamo “moralmente superiori”.

Ammettere l’esistenza di razze è anche conforme al senso comune, da sempre conosciamo l’importanza della genetica: cosa rende tibetani e andini tanto adatti alla montagna? E come mai nella finale olimpica dei 100 metri ci sono tutti neri?…

… it is inevitable that science will establish relative advantages in some traits. Because of genetic variants, Tibetans and Andean highlanders are better than others at living at high altitudes. At every Olympic games since 1980, every finalist in the men’s 100-meter race has had West African ancestry…

Sia chiaro: la genetica “inclina”, non “determina”…

… Genes do not determine human behavior; they merely predispose people to act in certain ways. Genes explain a lot, probably far more than is at present understood or acknowledged. But their influence in most situations is or can be overwhelmed by learned behavior, or culture. To say that genes explain everything about human social behavior would be as absurd as to assume that they explain nothing…

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Un altro chiarimento necessario: razza biologica non significa geni differenti

… One might expect that different races would have different genes, but they don’t. All humans, so far as is known, have the same set of genes…

Non significa nemmeno alleli differenziati

… the next expectation might be that races would be distinguished by having different alleles of various genes. But this too is not how the system works…

Significa frequenze differenziate negli alleli…

… The genetic differences between human races turn out to be based largely in allele frequencies, meaning the percentages of each allele that occur in a given race…

Analizzando le frequenze ottenute dopo una simulazione sul genoma umano e raggruppandole in cinque gruppi omogenei grazie ad un software statistico otteniamo una distribuzione che coincide… guarda caso… con i cinque continenti. No, non puo’ essere un caso…

… everyone ends up in the cluster with which they share the most variation in common. These clusters always correspond to the five continental races in the first instance… “genetic differentiation is greatest when defined on a continental basis,” writes Neil Risch, a statistical geneticist at the University of California, San Francisco…

Noah Rosenberg: dall’analisi del genoma possibile risalire al mix di razze…

… it’s possible to assign segments of an individual’s genome to different races if he or she has mixed ancestry. This is because each race or ethnicity has a characteristic number of repeats at each genomic site…

Possibile risalire all’etnia all’interno della razza…

… Within races, the Rosenberg-Feldman study showed that different ethnicities could be recognized…

Esempio

… Among Africans, it is easy to distinguish by their genomes the Yoruba of Nigeria, the San (a click-speaking people of southern Africa) and the Mbuti and Biaka…

Ortodossia: esiste una gradualità, non razze differenti…

… A genetic gradient, or cline, is what some researchers prefer to think exists in place of races. “There are no races, there are only clines,” asserted the biological anthropologist Frank Livingstone

Ma la classificazione per razze sta diventando uno standard utile anche nella ricerca medica

… Rosenberg and Feldman compared people’s genomes on the basis of DNA repeats. Another kind of DNA marker has since become available for global population comparison—the SNP, which is more useful for medical studies… SNPs are arbitrarily defined as sites on the genome where at least 1% of the population has a DNA unit other than the standard one…

Jun Z. Li e Richard M. Myers individuano sette razze

… One of the new clusters is formed by the people of Central and South Asia, including India and Pakistan. The second is the Middle East, where there is considerable admixture between people from Europe and Africa.10 It might be reasonable to elevate the Indian and Middle Eastern groups to the level of major races, making seven in all…

I raggruppamenti genetici omogenei ottenuti dai software arrivano a distinguere con coincidenze straordinarie a livello di nazione

… Within Europe it distinguished French, Italians, Russians, Sardinians and Orcadians (people who live in the Orkney Islands, north of Scotland)…

Genetica e lingua

… Genetics generally correlates with language family, except in the case of populations that have switched languages; the pygmies now speak Niger-Kordofanian languages, and the Luo of Kenya, whose genetics place them with Niger-Kordofanian speakers, now speak a Nilo-Saharan language…

La genetica è sempre più utilizzata per ricostruire le migrazioni dei popoli…

… On the basis of the new African and other genomic data, the origin of the modern human migration lies in southwestern Africa, near the border of Namibia and Angola…

Le differenze genetiche di cui parliamo non hanno grande rilevanza su base individuale

… Both repeated DNA units and SNPs, the two kinds of DNA marker used by the surveys described above, lie for the most part outside genes and have little or no effect on a person’s physical makeup…

Ma su base sociale possono fare la differenza.

Domanda sull’origine: perchè i vari popoli hanno modificato il loro corredo genetico?…

Natural selection is the major shaper of differences, especially in large societies…

Jonathan Pritchard: aumenta la quota di popolazione con le frequenze più vantaggiose rispetto alle pressioni evolutive dell’ambiente…

… The evidence of natural selection at work on a gene is that the percentage of the population that carries the favored allele of the gene has increased…

La selezione naturale agisce localmente (Pardis Sabeti)…

…  other researchers too have found that in doing genome scans for the fingerprints of natural selection, each major race or continental population has its own distinctive set of sites where selection has occurred…

Fertilità, pelle… cervello? Cosa modifica la pressione evoluzionistica?…

… the genes Pritchard identified as shaped by natural selection included genes for fertilization and reproduction, genes for skin color, genes for skeletal development and genes for brain function…

Già, anche il cervello. Non si tratta di un organo esente dai processi evoluzionistici…

… brain genes do not lie in some special category exempt from natural selection. They are as much under evolutionary pressure as any other category of gene…

Fino a poco tempo fa il calcolo della “velocità” dell’evoluzione era una prerogativa della paleontologia, con tutti i limiti che ciò comportava…

… Biologists have long had to depend on the evidence from fossils to judge the speed of evolution. But fossils capture just the bones of an animal. And since the skeletal structure of a species changes only slowly, evolution has long seemed a glacially slow and plodding process…

Oggi possiamo correggere le loro stime: per modificare pelle, occhi e capelli 5.000 anni sono più che sufficienti. L’evoluzione dell’uomo è più rapida di quel che credevamo…

… It’s now clear that evolution is no sluggard. There are already clear examples of human evolutionary change within the past few thousand years, such as the continued evolution of European skin, hair and eye color within the past 5,000 years….The type of selection picked up by most genome scans is very recent selection, meaning within the past 5,000 to 30,000 years or so…

Almeno l’8% del nostro genoma è sotto pressione evoluzionistica…

… 722 regions, containing some 2,465 genes, have been under recent pressure of natural selection, according to an estimate by Joshua M. Akey of the University of Washington. This amounts to at least 8% of the genome…

La maggior parte dei cambiamenti in atto avviene su base locale…

… some 80% of the 722 regions under selection are instances of local adaptation,…

Secondo Mark Stoneking si tratta di cambiamenti con un impatto sociale rilevante…

… Changes in social behavior may well have been foremost, given that it is largely through their society that people interact with their environment…

Ipotesi sul nostro passato

… populations began to grow after the beginning of agriculture some 10,000 years ago. Independently on all three continents, people’s social behaviors started to adapt to the requirements of living in settled societies that were larger and more complex than those of the hunter-gatherer band…populations began to grow after the beginning of agriculture some 10,000 years ago. Independently on all three continents, people’s social behaviors started to adapt to the requirements of living in settled societies that were larger and more complex than those of the hunter-gatherer band…

Ma come emerge una nuova razza? Non occorrono mutazioni radicali…

… But given that all humans have the same set of genes and that there have been almost no full sweeps that push different alleles to dominance in different races, how have races come to differ from one another? The answer that has dawned on geneticists in the past few years is that you don’t always need a full sweep to change a trait….

I tratti caratteristici emergono nel gioco combinato di geni che in sè non mutano…

… Many traits, like skin color or height or intelligence, are controlled by a large number of different genes, each of which has alleles that individually make small contributions to the trait…

È la frequenza il fattore fondamentale che caratterizza il genoma, non l’assenza o la presenza di un certo gene…

… Of the traits specific to one race or another, a few are encoded in hard sweep alleles that have gone almost to fixation, such as the Duffy null allele or some of the alleles involved in shaping skin color, but many more are probably encoded in soft sweeps and hence in mere differences in the frequency…

La frequenza degli alleli agisce complessivamente sui tratti caratteristici di una razza…

… Given the importance of allele frequencies in shaping specific traits, it’s not surprising that they afford a means of identifying an individual’s race…

Cancro, diabete… la ricerca medica in molti ambiti si fa su base razziale…

… Excluding subjects of a different race is an essential procedure in surveys to detect the alleles that contribute to complex diseases like diabetes and cancer… If so, the allele may be associated with the disease. But the statistics can be confounded if the population being surveyed includes people of more than one race… medical geneticists have therefore developed sets of test alleles that can be used to distinguish one race from another….

Razza e origine geografica sono strettamente correlati…

… Some biologists insist that AIMs do not prove the existence of race and that they point instead to geographic origin. But geographic origin correlates very well with race, at least on the continental level… A single AIM that occurs in 45% of East Asians and 65% of Europeans says that the carrier is a little more likely to be European, but is hardly definitive. When the results from a string of AIMs are combined, however, an answer with high statistical probability is obtained…

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Passiamo in rassegna i vari argomenti tradizionali proposti contro l’esistenza delle razze. Partiamo con Jared Diamond

… His principal argument for the nonexistence of race is that there are many different “equally valid procedures” for defining human races, but since all are incompatible, all are equally absurd. One such procedure, Diamond proposes, would be to put Italians, Greeks and Nigerians in one race, and Swedes and Xhosas (a southern African tribe) in another. His rationale is that members of the first group carry genes that confer resistance to malaria and those of the second do not. This is just as good a criterion as skin color, the usual way of classifying races…

Sintesi: in presenza di molti criteri contraddittori di raggruppamento, ogni raggruppamento è assurdo.

Ma i cluster proposti da Diamond (es. colore della pelle) nella sua parodia sono arbitrari e isolati. Oggi possiamo formarne di rigorosi e complessivi sulla base della frequenza degli alleli…

… Skin color is thus an ambiguous marker of race. People belong to a race not by virtue of any single trait but by a cluster of criteria that includes the color of skin and hair, and the shape of eyes, nose and skull… The trait of resisting malaria is one that has been acquired secondarily to race, so obviously it is not an appropriate way of classifying the populations. A scholar’s duty is to clarify, but Diamond’s argument seems designed to distract and confuse….

Altre critiche (più serie) sono venute da Richard Lewontin

Lewontin misura la varianza di 17 proteine e riscontra che l’appartenenza al gruppo umano designato spiega solo il 15% delle differenze…

… Lewontin measured a property of 17 proteins from people of various different races and calculated a measure of variation known as Wright’s fixation index. The index is designed to measure how much of the variation in a population resides in the population as a whole and how much is due to differences between specific subpopulation… Lewontin’s answer came out to 6.3%, meaning that of all the variations in the 17 kinds of protein he had looked at, only 6.3% lay between races, while a further 8.3% lay between ethnic groups within races… Of all human variation, 85% is between individual people within a nation or tribe,” Lewontin stated…

Lewontin: un potere esplicativo così scarso, a fronte della sua pericolosità sociale, fa propendere per la dismissione del concetto…

… He went on to say that “Human racial classification is of no social value and is positively destructive of social and human relations…

In breve tempo l’approccio di Lewontin divenne ortodossia intoccabile…

… Lewontin’s thesis immediately became the central genetic plank of those who believe that denying the existence of race is an effective way to combat racism. It is prominently cited in Man’s Most Dangerous Myth: The Fallacy of Race, an influential book written by the anthropologist Ashley Montagu…

La scoperta di Lewontin è corretta ma non le sue conclusioni: quanto ha scoperto è proprio ciò che ci si aspetta dal fatto di avere un antenato comune

… This is just what would be expected, given that each race has inherited its genetic patrimony from the same ancestral population that existed in the comparatively recent past….

L‘errore

… What is in error is Lewontin’s assertion that the amount of variation between populations is so small as to be negligible. In fact it’s quite significant…

Piccole differenze a livello individuale innescano grandi differenze a livello sociale: si consideri solo l’inclinazione a cooperare e la costruzione della fiducia. Per questo motivo trascurarle è sbrigativo.

Inoltre, una differenza del genere riscontrata altrove è più che sufficiente per identificare una sub-specie.

Come se non bastasse, lo stesso ideatore dell’indice utilizzato da Lewontin (Wright) invita a considerare come “rilevante” una simile differenza.

Perché preferire Wright a Lewontin?…

… Why should Wright’s judgment that a fixation index of 15% between races is significant be preferred over Lewontin’s assertion that it is negligible? Three reasons: (1) Wright was one of the three founders of population genetics, the relevant discipline; (2) Wright invented the fixation index, which is named after him; (3) Wright, unlike Lewontin, had no political stake in the issue

Ma la principale lacuna nell’impostazione di Lewontin è forse un’altra…

… The fallacy is to assume that the genetic differences between populations are uncorrelated with one another; if they are correlated, they become much more significant. As the geneticist A.W.F. Edwards wrote, “Most of the information that distinguishes populations is hidden in the correlation structure of the data.”… The 15% genetic difference between races, in other words, is not random noise…

Le differenze riscontrate non sono causali. Cio’ implica: 1) che le differenze sono indotte da selezione naturale dell’ambiente esterno e che 2) si possono quindi fare classificazioni significative e 2).

C’è poi la dimensione sociale (“pericolosità del concetto”): ci si chiede se abbia diritto di cittadinanza nel momento in cui si fa scienza. Come minimo sarebbe meglio non mischiare le questioni: alla stessa stregua certe idee potrebbero essere valutate “talmente pericolose” da dover essere negate contro ogni evidenza.

Passiamo alla terza obiezione: c’è chi sostiene che non esiste evoluzione recente in grado di diversificare l’uomo.

Stephen Jay Gould

… dacchè l’uomo è uscito dall’Africa non c’è stato il tempo materiale per avere differenziazioni significative…

L’analisi del genoma ha ribaltato questa credenza…

… oggi sappiamo che i tempi evolutivi sono molto più rapidi di quanto pensassimo: i tibetani, tanto per fare un esempio, presentano adattamento genetico all’ altitudine a neanche 3000 anni dal loro insediamento…

Gould è un paleontologo. Prima della mappatura del genoma il calcolo dei tempi evolutivi era demandato a questi scienziati sulla base precaria dei fossili disponibili.

Vale la pena allora di ripetere – perché rilevante anche su questo punto – l’esito delle simulazioni al computer sul genoma…  

…  si consideri dopo la simulazione un certo numero di corredi genetici classificati in base alla ricorrenza di certi alleli in modo da comporre dei cluster il più omogenei possibili. I cinque maggiori coincidono con i 5 continenti che coincidono con le 5 razze… [tre punti rilevanti]… 1) molti geni decisivi sono sotto pressione evolutiva (ovvero tendono a differenziarsi) 2) i tempi evolutivi sono molto più brevi di quel che pensavamo (2-3000 anni anzichè 30-40000) risultando compatibili con la differenziazione razziale della specie umana e 3) la pressione evolutiva si esercita a livello locale…

Il fatto che non esistano confini discreti tra le razze non significa che non esistano. Gli studi sul raggruppamento coincidente con i continenti sono più che ragionevoli…

… The classification of humans into five continental based races is perfectly reasonable and is supported by genome clustering studies…

Quel che conta non è il possesso di un tratto specifico ma il fatto di rientrare in un cluster di frequenze omogeneo

…. races are identified by clusters of traits, and to belong to a certain race, it’s not necessary to possess all of the identifying traits…

Esempio della dentizione

… most East Asians have the sinodont form of dentition, but not all do. Most have the EDAR-V370A allele of the EDAR gene, but not all do. Most have the dry earwax allele of the ABCC11 gene, but not all do. Nonetheless, East Asian is a perfectly valid racial category, and most people in East Asia can be assigned to it…

Esempio delle razze miste

… Even when it is not immediately obvious what race a person belongs to from bodily appearance, as may often be the case with people of mixed-race ancestry, race can nonetheless be distinguished at the genomic level…

Conclusione: se puoi distinguere non puoi negare che le differenze esistano…

… At least at the level of continental populations, races can be distinguished genetically, and this is sufficient to establish that they exist…

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Come potremmo definire il razzista? Il concetto di superiorità della razza è centrale…

… The central premise of racism, which distinguishes it from ethnic prejudice, is the notion of an ordered hierarchy of races in which some are superior to others…

Altro concetto centrale: l’immutabilità

… Besides superiority, racism also connotes the idea of immutability…

Ma soprattutto: il razzismo guarda agli individui.

Il concetto di razza era già utilizzato da Linneo nelle sue classificazioni del genere umano…

… recognized four races, based principally on geography and skin color. He named them Homo americanus (Native Americans), Homo europaeus (Europeans), Homo asiaticus (East Asians) and Homo afer (Africans)…

Con un salto arriviamo al lavoro di Blumenbach

… In a 1795 treatise called On the Natural Variety of Mankind, the anthropologist Johann Blumenbach described five races based on skull type…

L’infausta svolta di Gobineau

… The more dubious turn taken in the 19th century was exemplified by Joseph-Arthur Comte de Gobineau’s book An Essay on the Inequality of Human Races…

Si fa avanti il concetto di “superiorità”…

… The superior race, Gobineau wrote, was that of the Indo-Europeans, or Aryans, and their continuance in the Greek, Roman and European empires…

Da notare l’ammirazione di Gobineau per gli ebrei

… Gobineau greatly admired Jews, whom he described as “a people that succeeded in everything it undertook, a free, strong, and intelligent people…

Ma la costruzione di Gobineau era estremamente precaria

… Gobineau’s ambitious theory of history was built on sand. There is no factual basis for his notions of racial purity or racial degeneration…

Morton raffinò la teoria…

… To Gobineau’s assertion of inequality between races was then added the divisive idea that the various human populations represented not just different races but also different species. A leading proponent of this belief was the Philadelphia physician Samuel Morton… He was troubled by the fact that black and white people were depicted in Egyptian art from 3000 BC yet the world itself had been created only in 4004 BC, according to the widely accepted chronology drawn up by Archbishop Ussher from information derived from the Old Testament and elsewhere. This was not enough time for different races to emerge, so the races must have been created separately…

I crani di Morton…

… Morton amassed a large collection of skulls from all over the world, measuring the volume occupied by the brain and other details that in his view established the distinctness of the four principal races…

Le classifiche di Morton

Europeans are the earth’s “fairest inhabitants,” he wrote. Next were Mongolians, meaning East Asians, deemed “ingenious, imitative and highly susceptible of cultivation.” Third place was assigned to Americans, meaning Native Americans, whose mental faculties appeared to Morton as locked in a “continual childhood,” and fourth were Negroes, or Africans, who Morton said “have little invention, but strong powers of imitation…

Divulgazione delle idee di Morton…

… Morton was an academic and did not promote any practical consequences of his ideas. But his followers had no hesitation in spelling out their interpretation that the races had been created separately, that blacks were inferior to whites and that the slavery of the American South was therefore justified…

Le accuse di Gould a Morton…

… The Harvard biologist Stephen Jay Gould, a widely read essayist, accused Morton of having mismeasured the cranial volumes of African and Caucasian skulls in order to support the view that brain size is related to intelligence…

La vendetta a distanza di Morton…

… But in a surprising recent twist, the bias now turns out to have been Gould’s. Morton did not in fact believe, as Gould asserted, that intelligence was correlated with brain size. Rather, he was measuring his skulls to study human variation as part of his inquiry into whether God had created the human races separately. A team of physical anthropologists remeasured all of the skulls they could identify in Morton’s collection and found his measurements were almost invariably correct…

Gli errori di Gould rivelano chiaramente da bias ideologici.

La lezione: politica e scienza vanno distinte, altrimenti anche scienziati di chiara fama sono soggetti a topica…

… There are two lessons to be drawn from the Morton-Gould imbroglio. One is that scientists, despite their training to be objective observers, are as fallible as anyone else when their emotions or politics are involved, whether they come from the right or, as in Gould’s case, from the left

Fu lo stesso Darwin, del resto, ad opporsi all’idea di razza…

… A firm refutation of the idea that human races were different species was supplied by Darwin. In On the Origin of Species…

Senonché, il darwinismo sociale si rifaceva in modo esplicito a Darwin…

… Social Darwinism. This was the proposition that just as in nature the fittest survive and the weak are pushed to the wall, the same rule should prevail in human societies too, lest nations be debilitated by the poor and sick having too many children…

Herbert Spencer: se le persone di basso lignaggio (poveri e malati) fanno troppi figli la civiltà e la prosperità sociale declina.

Policy: se non vogliamo ostacolare questa gente, per lo meno evitiamo di aiutarla… 

… Spencer argued that government aid that would allow the poor and sickly to propagate would impede society’s adaptation… Even government support for education should be cut off, lest it postpone the elimination of those who failed to adapt…

Darwin contro Spencer: aiutare è un nostro istinto…

… Yes, vaccination has saved millions whose weaker constitutions would otherwise have let them succumb to smallpox, Darwin wrote. And yes, the weak members of civilized societies propagate their kind, which, to judge from animal breeding, “must be highly injurious to the race of man.” But the aid we feel impelled to give to the helpless is part of our social instincts, Darwin said…

Poi fu la volta di eugenetica e shoah

… But for many intellectuals, theoretical benefits often outweigh overwhelming present evils. Airy notions of racial improvement drove the eugenics movement, which over many decades created the mental climate for the mass exterminations conducted by the National Socialists in Germany…

Questa brutta storia inizia con il cugino di Darwin: Francis Galton. Cominciò osservando gli animali, ma non quelli selvaggi bensì quelli domestici…

… By analogy with animal breeding, people could no doubt be bred, if it were ethically acceptable, so as to enhance specific desired traits. But it is impossible to know what traits would benefit society as a whole…

Charles Davenport: il primo attivista per le politiche eugenetiche. Fu lui a contattare alcuni “filantropi all’avanguardia”…

… Davenport, though he had no special distinction as a scientist, found it easy to raise money for his eugenics program. He secured funds from leading philanthropies, such as the Rockefeller Foundation and the recently founded Carnegie Institution…

L’accademia aderisce entusiasta al progetto eugenetico…

… The Eugenics Research Association included members from Harvard, Columbia, Yale and Johns Hopkins… “Besides Davenport, there were Raymond Pearl and Herbert S. Jennings, both of Johns Hopkins University; Clarence Little, the president of the University of Michigan and later the founder of the Jackson Laboratory in Maine; and the Harvard professors Edward M. East and William E. Castle. . . . The large majority of American colleges and universities—including Harvard, Columbia, Cornell, Brown, Wisconsin, Northwestern, and Berkeley—offered well-attended courses in eugenics, or genetics courses that incorporated eugenic material.”… “The elite thinkers of American medicine, science and higher education were busy expanding the body of eugenic knowledge…

Motto:

… “We have no business to permit the perpetuation of citizens of the wrong type.”…

Carrie Buck fa appello ma il “bene comune” proclamato nelle aule di giustizia americane la vuole sterile…

… The court was considering an appeal by Carrie Buck, a woman whom the State of Virginia wished to sterilize on the grounds that she, her mother and her daughter were mentally impaired… In the 1927 case, known as Buck v. Bell, the Supreme Court found for the state, with only one dissent. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, writing for the majority, endorsed without reservation the eugenicists’ credo…

Chiudiamo le tube!: tre generazioni di imbecilli sono abbastanza…

… The principle that sustains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting the Fallopian tubes. Three generations of imbeciles are enough.”…

Indovinate da dove deriva la cattiva fama degli IQ test?…

… Eugenicists perverted intelligence tests into a tool for degrading people. The tests had been first developed by Alfred Binet to recognize children in need of special educational help… Questions like “The Knight engine is used in the: Packard/Stearns/Lozier/Pierce Arrow” or “Becky Sharp appears in: Vanity Fair/Romola/A Christmas Carol/Henry IV” were heavily loaded against those who had not received a particular kind of education… Yet tests like these were used to destroy people’s hopes of having children or deny them entry into military…

La vergogna americana…

… 1930, 24 states had sterilization laws on their books, and by 1940, 35,878 Americans had been sterilized or castrated…

Eugenetica e immigrazione: evitare italiani e latini in genere…

… Eugenicists also began to influence the nation’s immigration laws. The 1924 Immigration Act pegged each country’s quota to the proportion of its nationals present in the 1890 census, a reference point later changed to the 1920 census… The intent and effect of the law was to increase immigration from Nordic countries and restrict people from southern and eastern Europe… The eugenicists had inspectors installed in the major capitals of Europe to screen prospective immigrants…

Il libro che ha convinto tutti a “scremare”…

… Many supporters of the 1924 Immigration Act were influenced by a book called The Passing of the Great Race. Its author, Madison Grant, was a New York lawyer and conservationist who helped found the Save the Redwoods League, the Bronx Zoo, Glacier National Park and Denali National Park…

L’eroe di questa brutta  storia: Franz Boas

… Franz Boas, the founder of American social anthropology and a champion of the idea that significant differences between societies are cultural, not biological, in origin. Grant tried to get Boas fired…

Un esempio? Ecco Grant sugli inglesi

… England’s decline was due to the “lowering proportion of its Nordic blood and the transfer of political power from the vigorous Nordic aristocracy and middle classes to the radical and labor elements, both largely recruited from the Mediterranean type,”…

Oppure Grant sull’immigrazione

… “We Americans must realize that the altruistic ideals which have controlled our social development during the past century and the maudlin sentimentalism that has made America ‘an asylum for the oppressed,’ are sweeping the nation toward a racial abyss…

Un fan di Grant: l’autore di “Mein Kampf”, Adolph Hitler.

L’eugenetica sbarca in Inghilterra: fabiani e socialisti i più ardenti…

… The Galtonian version of eugenics at first attracted a wide following among the intelligentsia, including the playwright George Bernard Shaw and social radicals such as Beatrice and Sidney Webb…

Ma qui il Parlamento si oppose alle campagne di sterilizzazione. C’erano dei dubbi sull’efficacia…

… While a Mendelian trait could in principle be almost eliminated by sterilizing its carriers, were it ethical to do so, complex traits are much harder to influence in this way…

Il 1933 fu l’anno della svolta per USA e GB…

… By 1933, eugenics had reached a fateful turning point. In both England and the United States, scientists had first embraced the idea and then turned against it, followed by their respective publics…

Ma in Germania

… if scientists in Germany had followed their colleagues in rejecting eugenic ideas. Hitler’s rise to power foreclosed any such possibility… They saw that American eugenicists favored Nordic races and sought to keep the gene pool unsullied…

La musa di Hitler furono gli USA…

… U.S. eugenic laws and ideology “became inspirational blueprints for Germany’s rising tide of race biologists and race-based hatemongers,” wrote the author Edwin Black.24 Hitler came to power on January 30, 1933, and Germany’s eugenics program quickly got under way… Doctors who failed to report suspect patients were fined. Sterilizations began on January 1, 1934, and covered children over ten and people at large, not just those in institutions…

Hitler non mancò di apportare delle personalizzazioni: ebrei

… The other departure in Germany’s eugenics program was the addition of Jews to the list of those considered unfit… The term “non-Aryan” offended foreign nations such as Japan. Future laws referred to Jews explicitly…

Definizione di ebreo

… The National Socialist Party proposed that half-Jews be considered Jews, but the Ministry of the Interior rejected the idea as impractical. It divided half-Jews into two categories, considering them as full Jews only if they belonged to the Jewish religion or were married to a Jew…

Sotto certe operazioni di pulizia razziale c’erano anche obbiettivi di politica estera…

… It was Hitler’s aim to depopulate the countries of Eastern Europe so as to make room for German settlers…

Difficile negare l’ispirazione “americanista” di Hitler…

… Nordic supremacy, purity of the blood, condemnation of intermarriage, sterilization of the unfit—all these were ideas embraced by American eugenicists. The destruction of the Jews, however, was Hitler’s idea…

Scienza e filosofia tedesca hanno “collaborato” attivamente al disastro…

… In Germany, scientists played a major role in paving the way for the destruction of the Jews but were not solely culpable. Anti-Semitic statements mar the writings of leading German philosophers, including even Kant. Wagner ranted against Jews in his essays…

Dopo questo breve excursus si capisce meglio la “pericolosità” di certe idee e il perchè su questi temi molta scienza abbia deciso di non fare la scienza: l’ “acqua sporca” tracimava al punto che si decise di buttare con essa anche “il bambino”…

… After the Second World War, scientists resolved for the best of reasons that genetics research would never again be allowed to fuel the racial fantasies of murderous despots…

*********************************************************************

Il fatto delicato è che ipotizzare un legame tra istituzioni politiche e razza è del tutto plausibile…

… But though people are much the same, their societies differ greatly in their structure, their institutions and their achievements. For most of recorded history the civilization of China has been pre-eminent, followed more recently by the rise of the West as Europeans created open and innovative societies, starkly different from the default human political arrangements of tribalism or autocracy…

In campo sociale piccole differenze individuali – per esempio nella cooperazione – realizzano grandi cambiamenti complessivi…

… Although the emotional and intellectual differences between the world’s peoples as individuals are slight enough, even a small shift in social behavior can generate a very different kind of society…

Facciamo un caso di spiegazione genetica avanzata per rendere conto di un fenomeno sociale: la rivoluzione industriale.

Prima della rivoluzione industriale erano i ricchi a fare più figli, molti si questi erano destinati ad un regresso nello status…

… Until the great demographic transition that followed industrialization, the wealthy had more surviving children than the poor. As many of the children of the rich fell in status, they would have spread throughout the population the genes that support the behaviors useful in accumulating wealth…

Nell’Inghilterra tra il 1200 e il 1800 la tendenza è particolarmente accentuata.

Gregory Clarck passa al setaccio una marea di registri per documentare bene il fenomeno.

Ebbene, il miglioramento della razza (anche la parte povera era di alto lignaggio) è una delle cause della rivoluzione industriale (perché lì e in quel momento e non altrove e in altri momenti)…

… The narratives constructed by historians describe many forms of change, whether political, military, economic or social. One factor almost always assumed to be constant is human nature…

La rivoluzione industriale, poi, è una transizione decisiva (paragonabile alla nascita dell’ homo sapiens o dell’agricoltura). Segna per esempio il declino di Cina e Islam sullo scacchiere mondiale…

… China created the first modern state and enjoyed the most advanced civilization until around 1800 AD, when it slid into puzzling decline… The Islamic world in 1500 AD surpassed the West in most respects, reaching a high tide of its expansion in the siege of Vienna in 1529 AD by the forces of the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent… The counterpart of Chinese and Islamic decline is the unexpected rise of the West. Europe…

Naturalmente questa resta solo un’ipotesi, per quanto alacre sia il lavoro di Clarck, ma un’ipotesi sensata.

La razza puo’ spiegare anche perché alcuni paesi sono persistentemente poveri da sempre ed altri persistentemente ricchi.

Di per sé il fatto è misterioso: perchè infatti non copiare chi fa bene? E’ così semplice arricchirsi!…

… Why are some countries rich and others persistently poor? Capital and information flow fairly freely, so what is it that prevents poor countries from taking out a loan, copying every Scandinavian institution…

Africa:

…  Africa has absorbed billions of dollars in aid over the past half century and yet, until a recent spurt of growth, its standard of living has stagnated for decades…

Di solito per speigare le persistenti differenze nei redditi si parla di geografia e cultura

… Economists and historians attribute the major disparities between countries to factors such as resources or geography or cultural differences…

Ma in moti casi sono con grande evidenza le istituzione a contare, e le istituzioni non piovono dal cielo…

… True, culture provides a compelling and sufficient explanation for many such differences. In the natural experiment provided by the two Koreas, the people are the same in both countries, so it must surely be bad institutions… Institutions are not just sets of arbitrary rules. Rather, they grow out of instinctual social behaviors, such as the propensity to trust others…

 

Perché esportare la democrazia è tanto difficile?

… This would explain why it is so hard to transfer institutions from one society to another. American institutions cannot be successfully implanted in Iraq, for instance… Iraqis have different social behaviors, including a base in tribalism and a well-founded distrust of central government…

L’istituzione funziona se c’è un’attitudine a cooperare conformemente, e l’origine di questa attitudine merita di essere esplorata. Ebbene, in questo sforzo esplorativo la genetica ha decisamente qualcosa da dire.

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