Cover image for Race : the reality of human differences
Race : the reality of human differences
Sarich, Vincent.
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Publication Information:
Boulder, Colo. : Westview Press, [2004]

Physical Description:
xiii, 287 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
General Note:
"A Member of the Perseus Books Group."
Opening statement: The case for race -- Race and the law -- Race and history -- Anthropology as the science of race -- Resolving the primate tree -- Homo sapiens and its races -- The two "miracles" that made humankind -- Race and physical differences -- Race and behavior -- Learning to live with race.
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GN269 .S27 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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When the head of the Human Genome Project and a former President of the United States both assure us that we are all, regardless of race, genetically 99.9% the same, the clear implication is that racial differences among us are superficial. The concept of race, many would argue, is an inadequate map of the physical reality of human variation. In short, human races are not biologically valid categories, and the very ideas of race and racial difference are morally suspect in that they support racism. In Race , Vincent Sarich and Frank Miele argue strongly against received academic wisdom, contending that human racial differences are both real and significant. Relying on the latest findings in nuclear, mitochondrial, and Y-chromosome DNA research, Sarich and Miele demonstrate that the recent origin of racial differences among modern humans provides powerful evidence of the significance, not the triviality, of those differences. They place the "99.9% the same" figure in context by showing that racial differences in humans exceed the differences that separate subspecies or even species in such other primates as gorillas and chimpanzees. The authors conclude with the paradox that, while, scientific honesty requires forthright recognition of racial differences, public policy should not recognize racial-group membership.

Author Notes

Vincent Sarich is Emeritus Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Sarich and Miele, both respected academicians, challenge the much-hyped, popular notion of race as an illusion, or mere social construct. Instead, they contend that significant human racial differences exist. Those differences are being increasingly identified and quantified via medical research and law-enforcement techniques, most notably in DNA testing, which has led to convictions and acquittals. Inquiries into the genetic influences behind racial differences in educational achievement and intelligence, despite inflammatory resistance, are justified by cost-benefit analyses, the authors contend. Assessing the future of racial politics in the U.S and internationally, Sarich and Miele offer three scenarios: meritocracy with race-sensitive safety valves (which they prefer), affirmative action or quotas, and rising resegregation and ethnopolitics. This is an important work, despite its conservative inferences, that challenges both the existence and the value of America's obsession with color blindness. --Vernon Ford Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Sarich, a Berkeley emeritus anthropologist, and Miele, an editor of Skeptic magazine, cannot resist calling the current view that "race does not exist" a "PC dogma." They make cogent, if not convincing, arguments of their case in three areas. Race as a concept, they argue, considerably antedates colonial Europe, presenting such examples as an "Egyptian tomb with four races" (as one caption calls a tomb painting) that may point up "awareness" of difference, but whether that awareness correlates to concepts of "race" as currently defined remains unproven. Several chapters are heavy going on DNA-based research into the origin and differentiation of Homo sapiens, here interpreted as branching off from the other hominids recently enough to make differences among people very minor but, in the authors' view, significant. They move from the Human Genome Project into their final section, in which differences in intelligence are said to correlate to a concept of race (but are not said to be a justification for discrimination). This last argument is predicated on what will seem to many readers an excessive faith in IQ tests. Nevertheless, the book lacks vitriol, other than that needed to fuel the skeptic's attempt to debunk. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Sarich (anthropology, emeritus, Berkeley) has long been a controversialist, and his new book, coauthored with Miele (senior editor, Skeptic magazine), will further this reputation. Sarich and Miele argue that, contrary to the orthodox view, race is indeed a valid scientific concept and that the various modern "races" (how many there are is left unclear) do differ in many significant ways (including athletically and intellectually). Often, their argument appeals to "common sense" and what they feel are obvious physiological differences. The core of their argument, however, is biological and pays particular attention to evidence from recent research into mitochondrial DNA. The authors claim that there are significant racial differences at the genetic level, though they are not able to connect these differences to real or alleged differences among the races. What damages their argument most and makes them particularly vulnerable to claims of racism are their rather gratuitous arguments based on the relative cranial capacities (and size of genitalia) of the races. The authors offer a concluding chapter on the policy implications of their theories in which they argue that society should strive to achieve a true meritocracy, which they say is best done by a public policy that generally-they do make a few exceptions-does not distinguish among the races. Likely to provoke the same audience as Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray's The Bell Curve, this book will be of similar interest to public and academic libraries.-David A. Timko, U.S. Census Bureau Lib., Washington, DC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Preface: Why Another Book on Race?p. ix
Acknowledgmentsp. xiii
Opening Statement: The Case for Racep. 1
1 Race and the Lawp. 13
2 Race and Historyp. 29
3 Anthropology as the Science of Racep. 59
4 Resolving the Primate Treep. 103
5 Homo sapiens and Its Racesp. 127
6 The Two "Miracles" That Made Humankindp. 155
7 Race and Physical Differencesp. 161
8 Race and Behaviorp. 193
9 Learning to Live with Racep. 233
Notesp. 263
Indexp. 273