The Instigator
Pro (for)
The Contender
Con (against)

Race is a biological construct, not social.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/6/2016 Category: Science
Updated: 3 months ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 246 times Debate No: 93410
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (2)
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1st round will just a brief summary of my opponent and I's view on said topic. Sources, expansions will be brought in round 2 and rebuttals will be commence in round 3.

Recently, in the past 30 years or so, we Americans have had an uncanny obsession with equalizing everything, trying to put everyone and everything on the same level. Race for example, is a topic widely discussed in this country even before its foundation in 1776 and wasn't until the counterculture of the 60s and 70s that the idea of race, the science and studies behind it were completely and utterly rejected solely on the basis of feeling and emotions (I.E the folk of the 60s and 70s who demanded world peace and opposed war).
To this day, there is a stark difference between the races of America, and we intentionally block it out and deny it on the basis of "racism is wrong, we're all equal".

To my opponent, what is your stance on the idea that all races have distinct features, whether it's physical or mental, and the idea that race is purely a social construct?

Thank you for taking the time to debate, by the way.


I'd like to thank bassa for beginning this debate.

I'd also like to state that Pro is factually incorrect. That is not a matter of opinion; it's a scientific truth.

My opponent writes, "To this day, there is a stark difference between the races of America, and we intentionally block it out and deny it on the basis of 'racism is wrong, we're all equal.'" Of course, differences between races does not prove that the races aren't socially constructed. Furthermore, the push to reduce racism doesn't prove that race isn't socially constructed.

Races are genetically distinct populations within the same species; they typically have relatively minor morphological and genetic differences. Humans belong to the same species (Homo sapiens), and even to the same sub-species (Homo sapiens sapiens), but there are small genetic variations among us. The diversity of our racial appearance is mostly marked by hair texture or variations in skin color, which does not constitute a drastic genetic difference -- especially when you consider evolution as a whole.

In this debate, I'll explain why our minor physical differences do not constitute an entirely different race based on biological classifications. You do not have to accept a liberal philosophy on racism to acknowledge that race is, in fact, a social construct.
Debate Round No. 1


Thank you Danielle, for participating.

I do not agree that the differences in races are minor and do not have a major impact whatsoever. At this point, the whole debate depends on our definition of 'minor'.

How do you explain the difference in IQ levels and test scores averages between the Caucasian, African and Asian races in the United States?
I would agree that socioeconomic factors could be the reason behind African American's low Scholastic Aptitude Test scores but, according to an article with a compilation of studies conducted by The Unsilenced Science, since 1976 to the present day, African Americans' scores have only slightly improved despite the massive leap in equality with Whites in terms of income, job opportunities, racism and so on.

Also, I find that significant physical differences do not count as minor. In terms of superiority, people of African descent tend to show significantly advanced physical skills compared to Caucasians and those of East Asian descent, while the latter two showed highly superior intelligence compared to those of African descent.
For example, though they may not always be willing to say so, sports physicians have found physical differences that give different races advantages in different sports. Whites and West Africans, for example, differ in proportions of body fat, width of hips, thickness of thighs, bone density, and proportion of fast- and slow-twitch muscle. Even East and West Africans differ in important ways that explain why they excel in different sports.

Although egalitarian partisans " most notably Steven Jay Gould in his 1981 book, The Mismeasure of Man " have tried to discredit the evidence, it is well established that average brain size differs from race to race. A study by K. L. Beals, published in Current Anthropology in 1984, reported that a survey of 20,000 skulls shows that the average size of the brain case in Asia is 1380 cc, while in Europe it is 1362 cc and in Africa 1276 cc. Other studies have found that the brains of American blacks are approximately eight percent lighter than those of American whites


On the side note, this is my first debate on this website, so I apologize if I sound very biased and slightly opinionated.


Thanks, Pro. I'd like to commend you on a decent first round. My first debate was on annoying TV commercials, so even though you are wrong in this debate, I'm impressed by your first submission.

I'll begin by repeating how biologists distinguish race. Race is a methodological tool that biologists can utilize to study human genetic diversity. It's about gene frequencies between groups, and this understanding of race is still largely the way modern science understands the term.

Races are genetically distinct populations within the same species; they typically have relatively minor morphological differences. Humans belong to the same species and sub-species, and the differences among us are genetically minor. THAT is what is scientifically significant in determining race - not physical characteristics.

"The morphological variation between races is not indicative of any major differences in DNA. For example, recent genetic studies show skin color may drastically change in as few as 100 generations, spanning 2,500 years, as a result of environmental influences. Furthermore, the DNA of two humans chosen at random generally varies by less than 0.1 percent. This is less genetic variation than other types of hominids (such as chimpanzees and orangutans), leading scientists to describe all humans as belonging to the same race " the human race" [1].

All humans share a single phenotype, and similar observable anatomical features and behavior.

"Science highlights these similarities in our embryonic development, physiology (our organ-based systems), biochemistry (our metabolites and reactions), and more recently, genomics (our genetic makeup). Data shows that the DNA of any two human beings is 99.9 percent identical, and we all share the same set of genes, scientifically validating the existence of a single biological human race and one origin for all human beings" [2].

My opponent brings up differences in racial IQ. Over 90% of IQ experts believe that differences are caused by human genes [3]. However, per my previous citations, the GENETIC distinction among the races is miniscule.

Pro writes, "people of African descent tend to show significantly advanced physical skills compared to Caucasians and those of East Asian descent, while the latter two showed highly superior intelligence compared to those of African descent." A few things here. First, it's true that humans have bodily characteristics that evolve over time. People of African descent have spent most of their evolutionary history near to where they originated, while the rest of the world"s populations have had to modify their African adaptations after migrating to far different regions and climates [4].

But what does this prove? That humans evolve based on having to adapt to changes in weather, food sources, etc.

As such, ALL humans are capable of evolving and possessing different traits that might be more or less observable in each race, but are not necessarily limited or inherent to their race. For example, if white people moved to Africa and continued to only reproduce with white people (but stay within Africa for centuries) then according to science, they would adapt much like black Africans have evolved if they were subject to the same conditions.

Here's a perfect example: "Sickle cell is not an African-American or African disease, although it occurs in higher frequency in these populations. But this is not a racial difference; it is a matter of ancestry, geography and evolution. Sickle-cell occurs in higher frequency in populations from regions of the world where malaria is or once was common, as sickle cell is a disease that is an evolutionary adaptation to exposure to malaria.

The sickle-cell trait is believed to be protective against malaria. Thus, sickle-cell disease is at its highest frequency in West Africans and people of West African descent. But this trait is not common in other regions of Africa, where malaria is not as prevalent. Therefore, it is not an 'African' disease. Sickle cell also appears in other regions of the globe, in other human populations, including populations in the Mediterranean Basin, the Arabian Peninsula, and on the Indian subcontinent, where these populations also saw this adaptation to resist malaria" [5].

Next, Pro brings up that white people have bigger brains. There are many theories for this.

"Over the past 100 years, life in America changed dramatically. People no longer toil in the fields, and they don"t struggle to consume enough calories. We have too much food and not enough physical activity. This means our bodies don"t have to divide fewer calories between the body and the brain, so enough energy can go to the brain, allowing it to balloon. Improved medicine also contributes to larger heads -- in the past babies with bulbous heads could not escape the birth canal and many died. With the increase of C-sections, more and more of these big-headed babes make it into the world" [6].

As you can see, bigger brains don't account for much in terms of telling us about race or racial intelligence.

Also on that subject, consider the fact that the standardized tests used in Japan to measure IQ are nowhere near the same as the ones used in the U.S. The Japanese do not include the mentally handicapped, whether by birth or by accident, in their scores. This proves that statistical data of any kind can be manipulated to suit or promote a particular narrative, but all things ought to be considered and analyzed when making broad claims, especially based on race.

Genetecist Alan R. Templeton argues that the question about the possible genetic effects on the test score gap is muddled by the general focus on "race" rather than on populations defined by gene frequency or by geographical proximity, and by the general insistence on phrasing the question in terms of heritability. Templeton points out that racial groups neither represent sub-species nor distinct evolutionary lineages, and that therefore there is no basis for making claims about the general intelligence of races [7].

Research shows that the national development (strong economy) of a country has a direct relevance to IQ test scores [8]. There is no such thing as a direct test of general mental ability. What IQ tests measure directly is the test-taker's display of particular cognitive skills: size of vocabulary, degree of reading comprehension, facility with analogies, and so on [9].

In conclusion, scientists have explained why race should be rejected as a biological construct in favor of something else.

"We would prefer the field of genetics use concepts like ancestry instead of race in human studies. It is important to distinguish ancestry from race. Ancestry is a process-based concept that helps us understand the admixing events that lead to one"s existence. Ancestry is also a statement about an individual"s relationship to other individuals in their genealogical history. Thus, it is a very personal understanding of one"s genomic heritage. Race, on the other hand, is a pattern-based concept that has led scientists and laypersons alike to draw conclusions about a hierarchical organization of humans, connecting an individual to a larger, preconceived, geographically circumscribed or socially constructed group" [5].

Humans don"t come in a set number of biologically distinct categories. Racial designations are historical inventions that vary across countries and over time in the United States. There are some genetic markers that vary by region, such as sickle cell anemia, but none that systematically vary by the invented categories we know as race [9].

"The race issue can be viewed from different perspectives. In recent years, people have used traits like skin color to define a person"s race, even forming perceptions of their intelligence, sexuality, and temperament, even though scientists have, for long, agreed that the race concept is NOT based on biological differences. In fact, many centuries ago, physical attributes were of less importance, compared to language, class and religion" [10].

Indeed the concept of race has changed over the years [11]. This means race is not a set biological reality, but a social construct based on how race is perceived within a particular culture.

And for fun, check out a picture of these 100% biracial twins:

They are almost genetically identical and yet look completely different... though technically, have the same exact racial makeup.

Debate Round No. 2
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Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by malalo75 3 months ago
There is only one race: the human race. As long as people keep segregating humans by using poor criteria such as the level of pigmentation, there will be racism.
"Race" is a term used by human languages to identify people using the poor criteria of skin color. Biology has nothing to do with it.
Posted by lord_megatron 3 months ago
are you arguing racial discrimination is a biological construct or race is a biological construct? I am confused
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