"Race" As Biological & Sociological Fallacy

Dr. Robert C. McCarthy, Assistant Professor of Anthropology at FAU

The idea that humans belong to "races" that differ from one another in discrete ways is an outdated concept that has no biological basis. While it is true that forensic scientists can sometimes determine a person’s ancestry from such subtle clues as features of the skull and DNA, it is important to realize that 85% of human variation lies within, not between, populations. As a species humans are more homogeneous genetically than nearly all other mammals, so that the approximately 6.7 billion people living in the world today are less diverse genetically than the estimated 150,000 wild chimpanzees living in Africa. The reason we are so closely related to one another is that we are all descended from a common ancestor living in Africa, and so-called racial differences (including differences in skin color) are the result of local adaptations to climates and environments in areas of the world that people colonized after leaving Africa in the past 70,000-or-so-years. Prehistory therefore teaches us that differences between human populations are not deeply engrained, as was once believed. In this talk, I will discuss how racism (discrimination or prejudice based on race) stems from the fallacious idea that ancestry accounts for differences in human character or ability. I will argue that an enlightened view of the nature of human variation is necessary for healing divisions between populations exacerbated by historical, economic and sociological circumstances.

Mondays, 4:00 - 5:15 p.m.

General Classroom GS 119
(South Building)

For further information: (561) 297-4225