Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Beastly Bigots

It's funny how things work.  I go for weeks without reblogging anything from Occam's Razor, and then, all of a sudden, I find two posts that I just have to reprint in quick succession. This one is especially interesting, because recently on the net I've encountered several actual human beings who claim that they can't tell the difference between the various human races. Indeed, their lack of ability seems to have them convinced that human races don't even exist. The poor things don't even know who to award Affirmative Action to. And that raises, or lowers, scientific inquiry to the level of solipsism. Or, to put the best face on it, they look at races as they look at Schrödinger's cat — if they don't see it, it sort of isn't there.

But even if you're ethno-blind yourself, you're surely familiar with the principle that cats see things that we don't, and dogs certainly smell things that we don't, and that's just in order carnivora. Who knows what ducks detect? What platypuses perceive? What salamanders sense? What dugongs deduce? I'm reminded of the episode of King of the Hill where Hank was horrified because his, dog, Ladybird, growled at the Black repairman.

Well, even if we human beings can recognize human races, we can also be trained to be politically correct about it, and pretend not to notice. It takes a certain amount of finesse, of course, but a good college education can teach you to notice when minorities are victims, but to be totally oblivious when they're victimizers. The MAG (Media, Academia, Government) are particularly adept at this. But there's no way you can teach your budgie the tactfulness of cultural Marxism. On the other hand, what better proposal could there be for a hefty government grant? Watson! A letter to the National Science Foundation, if you please! I feel a monograph coming on! And now to Occam's Razor:

Can animals distinguish between human races?

A recent study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences notes:
Elephants are able to differentiate between ethnicities and genders, and can tell an adult from a child – all from the sound of a human voice.
…Elephants can reliably discriminate between two different ethnic groups that differ in the level of threat they represent, significantly increasing their probability of defensive bunching and investigative smelling following playbacks of Maasai voices. Moreover, these responses were specific to the sex and age of Maasai presented, with the voices of Maasai women and boys, subcategories that would generally pose little threat, significantly less likely to produce these behavioral responses.
It stands to reason that if elephants can distinguish between various African ethnic groups, they also should be able to distinguish between larger racial groups as the cues demarcating larger racial groups are less subtle.
Can other animals? I have often wondered whether dogs can differentiate between human races.  I have anecdotal evidence for such a claim, but before I give it let me say I often find anecdotal evidence about dogs to be lacking, sometimes even comical (such as people who want to claim that pit bulls are not more genetically violent than other breeds because they know someone with a gentle pit bull).  That said, every dog I’ve owned (often living in largermultiracial citiesseems to distinguish between races, that is they seemed to be friendly around white people and more wary of blacks.  Of course, many things could be going on here.  Blacks (and mestizos to a lesser extent) seem to be more wary of dogs and certainly won’t dote on them as whites do, and dogs could pick up on these cues.  Or it could be something else.
Do the scents of human races differ and dogs pick up on them? The keenest sense for dogs issmell — which is 10,000 – 100,000 times more acute than humans’.    We’ve recently learned for instance that different races have different oral bacteria, so it is not entirely unreasonable that different races project different odors and dogs pick up on them?
Thoughts?
The original post is HERE.
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Quibcag: The weird illustration in the quibcag of the blindfolded hapless fellow confronted by the two scantily-clad (if clad at all) girls is from the equally weird anime, Mysterious Girlfriend X (謎の彼女X Nazo no Kanojo Ekkusu)

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