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

Race is much more than skin colour

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Voting Style: Open Point System: Select Winner
Started: 7/8/2018 Category: Politics
Updated: 19 hours ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 212 times Debate No: 116385
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (7)
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Not only is race more than skin colour, but race is MUCH more than skin colour. The differences between races are numerous. Perhaps the best proof lies in our DNA. Races have different genes, DNA tests can tell you which race you are from through these genes. These genes produce differences in a whole range of areas. Disparities in physical characteristics such as bone size and structure, chemical make-ups in the body such as hormone levels, behavioural distinctions because of differences in the brain, biological differences such as mating behaviours and gestation periods. These differences all add up and ultimately amount to great differences in societies created by each race.

Some differences are quantitative because we know what they are and can measure them to some degree of effectiveness, for example intelligence is different between races and can be measured by IQ tests to a decent degree of accurate representation, or discrepancies in testosterone levels are easily measured. Some differences are necessarily qualitative because we do not fully understand them and/or cannot measure them, but we can deduct their existence based on an understanding of history and evolution and also by observing differences in outcomes that would presumably be affected by different levels in the hypothesized trait. An example of this could be differences in empathy, which are difficult to measure without in-depth sociological/anthropological behavioural studies/experiments that are basically impossible due to our hyper sensitive PC culture. However there have been some basic studies which give us some insight, as well as our own observations and common sense we can see how different races treat each other, treat outsiders, and treat animals. Also, our knowledge of evolution tells us that different climates produce different traits that are beneficial to their respective populations. A harsh climate such as northern Europe and Asia, which has seen some mini ice ages, would seem to require a higher level of teamwork to survive, more so than the rich fertile lands of tropical Africa, where food grows easily and temperatures are conducive to relaxed lifestyles. Traits that would help with greater teamwork would be high emotional intelligence, high levels of empathy, and an inherent mechanism that would prevent social disruption and increase social trust, aka guilt.

Just as different breeds of dog are all part of the same species and can breed with each other, yet remain distinct and have recognised differences in behaviour, temperament and intelligence. Humans are the same species and can breed with each other, but can be broken up into sub-species, aka breeds, aka different races. These races (the main ones being, Whites, Asians and Negroes) are a social construct with semi-abstract cut-offs. Race is techincally a continuum with many peoples found in between the main races and even between the secondary races (such as the Arab, which is technically Caucasian). However due to geography these cut-offs make sense, most races were contained to continents because of large oceans or large deserts, and thus the classifications we have constructed to label and identify members of each race are very useful.

In later rounds I will talk in more detail about studied differences, and what these differences may mean. I am happy to provide sources for almost all claims, except for the most obvious ones that common sense will be required for, such as that evolution, genes and genetic mutation is real. 5000 characters allowed each round with 3 days to argue each round. Please avoid ad hominem arugments such as "youre a racist" etc. We are only here for the truth.


Pro has settled on a more defined claim in the comments with me. I will be contending that there are not broad genetic differences between races in cognitive, emotional/social, or physical areas of development.


Subspecies: I will not define sub-species, but rather point out that biologists widely disagree agree on the criteria for sub-species in general animal taxonomy (emphasis on animal classifications, not human ones). In general though, yes, genetic distinctions are a part of it. But it is not the whole of it.

[An excerpt from "How objective is a definition in the subspecies debate?"]

"But, as a classificatory unit, subspecies are not useful in comparative systematic and biogeographical studies because — unlike genera and families, for example — subspecies are groups of populations that are defined by hypothesized biological interactions or geographical distributions, rather than by homology (shared derived characteristics)." [1]

[What is skin color?]

Skin color was naturally selected for in relation to the amount of ultraviolet radiation exposure. [2]

"The pigment melanin is responsible for dark coloration in the skin and there are at least three genes, which control for human skin color." [3]

Take a look at this diagram. Subject 1, who expresses a characteristic that we would call "white", has a dark allele like subjects 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6. However, his race is still considered white. Once a certain level of pigmentation is reached, the subject is no longer considered white. Subjects 2-6 would not be considered white.

It is also noteworthy to point out that subjects 2-5 contain at least 1 light allele. Although we do not consider these subjects white. I will suppose that it is common knowledge that a majority of white people are not as light as subject 0. A significant percentage of people of color are also not as dark as subject 6.


In other words, people of different races commonly share genetics that can create darker or lighter skin tones than their own.

Therefore, the same kind of genetic markers that contribute to subject 6's dark skin are also commonly found in people considered to be white.

[Resulting Arguments:]

Race is determined by skin color. "White" and "black" are two examples of race. Race can be determined by skin color alone, whereas ethnicity cannot be.

Genetic information is not easily determined by appearance. The presence of alleles present in darker or lighter skinned people is highly likely. When discussing race, the genetic components of a black person's pigmentation (dark alleles) is not specific to people of color. The genetic components of a white person's pigmentation (light alleles) is not specific to white people. White and black people share genes that contribute to the other race's lighter or darker skin color.

Pro has mentioned studies which note differences between races. I will argue the validity of these studies in later rounds, but for now I will note that white people in these studies are likely not split into categories such as "white people with no dark alleles", "white people with one dark allele," etc. Likewise, black people are likely not split into categories such as "black people with one light allele", etc.

Simply put, you cannot simply isolate the genetic components (pertaining to skin color) of a race to one race. The genetic components (pertaining to skin color) of one race belong to many races.

Furthermore, the genetic components of skin color are independent of other genes. They do not work with other genes to yield differences in cognitive, social/emotional, or physical development.

I assume that pro will be discussing varying phenotypes across some races, such as epicanthic folds found in people of Asian descent. I will argue their importance on a case-by-case basis. Epicanthic folds, for example, are not a significant genetic difference when considering the following:

"Epicanthal folds also may be seen in young children of any race before the bridge of the nose begins to rise." [4]

Apparently, these folds are also present in at least eight health conditions humans are born with/develop. The fact that these folds are common in young children and appear in various human conditions is very suggestive that they are already written into the human genetic code but they are not always expressed. This means it's only a slight genetic difference.

Anyway, there are many genes that lead to differences from human to human—some of them visually apparent, some not. In the next rounds, I will continue to argue that humans aren't significantly genetically different from each other.





Debate Round No. 1


Thanks to my opponent for accepting the debate and for such a well formed first round argument.

"Race can be determined by skin color alone, whereas ethnicity cannot be." Ethnicity is a hodgepodge term that doesnt mean genealogy (race) and is not entirely separate from it either. From Wikipedia: 'An ethnic group, or an ethnicity, is a category of people who identify with each other based on similarities such as common ancestry, language, history, society, culture or nation.' So it could mean genealogy, but it could also not. It is highly ambiguous and thus slightly meaningless, please refrain from using.

Secondly, race is not determined by skin colour, it is simply a strong indicator. Race is determined by groups of alleles, not a single one. The method of sampling from many alleles allows us to place an individual in a particular race very accurately. Your points on people having different quantities of identifying alleles (dark skin genes) seems to suggest that race is quite abstract and not a useful set of classifications because of it is set on a continuum with people on all parts of the spectrum. However, just because there are people we find that are roughly in the middle of 2 generally accepted races, does not mean those races are meaningless. Firstly, the people found between common race groups are of lower quantity than those from the primary race groups. This is because, as I explained in my first argument, geography has placed limits on human movement and intermingling for long periods before mass transit was made available. Secondly, we are aware of people regarded as 'mix-race', the product of miscegenation. Many examples of those found on uncommon points on the spectrum are made of of mix-race peoples who are more common these days due to travel and immigration, where different races can come together. These people exhibit the characteristics expected of someone who is the average of two racial extremes. They exhibit the expected IQ levels found in the mid point of blacks and whites (

Quite similar to how we have trucks and cars. There are some vehicles that have traits found in both cars, and trucks, and may be hard to tell which category they belong to. There is also much crossover, in that trucks have a lot of the same things that cars have. This does not mean that trucks and cars are useless classifications, and it is still important to treat them differently, such as using different fuel, and different driving behaviours.

My opponent goes on to say something along the lines of: Asians have epicanthic folds, but other races do too, they just lose it as they mature. Therefore using epicanthic folds as a racial marker is useless. Since we can use this logic for many traits, races are not very different.' Obviously not a direct quote, just trying to give clarity to observers. Unfortunately, my opponent fails to grasp the underlying concept of race, which is (I am reiterating what ive already said here) common alleles at the GROUP level. When the only difference between people is the colour of their skin, which may only be 1/3 alleles different, or an epicanthic fold, of which the other used to have before coming out of the womb, then I can see why you might think race is not a big deal. But there are other differences, many others. When one person has an epicanthic fold, and yellow skin colour due to higher levels of subcutaneous fat, and straight hair, and black hair, and little body and facial hair due to neotonous evolutionary selection, and are short in stature, and have large skulls with large cranial capacity, and short flat noses, and are lactose intolerant, and have an IQ of 105, then it can be readily determined that this person is East Asian (Korean/Japanese/Chinese). This is what broad racial differences mean, and this is how DNA tests work, how your race can be determined quite easily just from a saliva sample. Geneticists take a lot more into account that these basic differences I have given as examples.

Racial differences are far greater than skin colour. Doctors understand it is important to treat patients of different races differently, and prescribe medicines that they do not have adverse reactions to, because of their racial differences. Differnet races are susceptible to different diseases, due to biological differences in quantities of chemicals, and different immune reactions, and different organ sizes, and different brain pathways and responses. These are all evolutionary behaviours and responses.

I hope this satisfactorily covers the physical broad differences between races.



I did not define race, but rather point out that it can be determined by skin color alone. Certain skin tones are almost infallibly considered to belong to white people. If I showed you a picture of a white hand, we can readily determine the person is white. I do not argue that phenotypes can help classify other races. If I showed you a picture of a dark skinned hand, we cannot readily determine if the person is e.g. Asian or black.

Pro's points about ethnicity are not invalid, but they do not relate to my argument. I was making a point about what race was not. Here is a list of races defined by the US government:

1) American Indian or Alaska Native

2) Asian

3) Black or African American

4) Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander

5) White [1]

["Race is determined by groups of alleles, not a single one."]

I never disagreed with this. My point was that you cannot isolate the genetic components of a race's skin color to one race. This can pertain to genetics outside skin color, such as hair texture. African hair texture is not exclusive to black people and straight hair is also not exclusive to non-African races. [2]

["concept of race… common alleles at the GROUP level"]

I do not argue this. The fact that allele combinations are frequently occurring in members of a given race does not signify that races have significant genetic differences in the aforementioned areas relevant to this debate.

[Epicanthic folds]

1. I did not say they were exclusive to Asians

2. I did not suggest epicanthic folds were not useful for determining race

The case by case basis can also apply to the gene(s) for lactose intolerance. Lactose intolerance is a relatively common phenomenon throughout the world. Asian people are simply highly likely to be lactose intolerant.

[Asian Differences]

The differences pro listed—except perhaps for yellow skin tone—are not a given for members of their race. It is true that the genes contributing to these traits are in higher number in Asian populations. When genes for these traits are found together, we can better conclude the person is of Asian descent. I do not argue this. But Asian people can indeed have naturally occurring traits such as curly hair, blond hair, tall stature, and bigger noses.

Pro also listed these traits: "large cranial capacity… and have an IQ of 105". I ask that pro provide sources to the study methods of the given studies.


Intelligence is a very broad concept. The definition of intelligence is still widely argued over by scientists. I am interested in how pro defines intelligence and what tests pro considers to accurately measure IQ. I'm aware that sometimes multiple IQ tests are given to ensure reliability, but this does not ensure accuracy. IQ tests may also not take into account various types of intelligence such as the mulitple intelligenes identified by Howard Gardener.

"One advocate of the idea of multiple intelligences... Sternberg has proposed a triarchic (three-part) theory of intelligence that proposes that people may display more or less analytical intelligence, creative intelligence, and practical intelligence. Sternberg (1985, 2003) argued that traditional intelligence tests assess analytical intelligence, the ability to answer problems with a single right answer, but that they do not well assess creativity…" [3]

[Intelligence Genes]

Genetic components of intelligence are nowhere near as easily isolated as say, skin color or other phenotypes described in this debate so far. "Like that Formula One car’s performance, intelligence is an emergent property of the whole system. There is no dedicated genetic module “for intelligence” that can be acted on independently by natural selection…" [4]

This article describes how thousands of variants affect intelligence. There are very strong environmental influences on the development of IQ scores which would easily explain IQ scores of different races growing further apart as children aged in the article you linked. This is not an indicator of poor intelligence-related genetics but the influence of nature vs. nurture. Intelligence is indeed nurtured from a very early age.

Furthermore: "…a team of European and American scientists announced on Monday that they had identified 52 genes linked to intelligence in nearly 80,000 people.

These genes do not determine intelligence, however. Their combined influence is minuscule, the researchers said, suggesting that thousands more are likely to be involved and still await discovery. Just as important, intelligence is profoundly shaped by the environment." [5]






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Debate Round No. 5
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by Philipoemen 3 days ago
Hi Thoughts

My claim is the second one, that there are broad genetic differences between races. Same concept that there are differences between species, but just to a lesser degree.
Posted by cubemaster 3 days ago
I would love to see how this goes, but I could never argue the negative of this.
Posted by ThoughtsandThoughts 3 days ago
Your claim is vague. Are you saying that different races are human sub-species and that there are significant genetic differences between races? I will debate you with more clarity. If your claim is that there are gene differences between some black people and some white people for ancestral geographical reasons, that's not really debatable. If your claim is that there are broad genetic differences (significant gene differences in one or more areas of human cognitive, emotional/social, or physical development), then I will accept this debate as the contender.
Posted by Philipoemen 6 days ago
ChingSea, it is amazing to me that people will admit to differences, genetic differences but suddenly stop at the red line that is mental capacity. We know IQ scores are different, we know cranial capacity is different.

"Several studies have shown that the race differences in intelligence are fully present in preschool children. Thus African 3-year-olds in Dominica have an IQ of 67 (Wein & Stevenson, 1972), and 4-year-olds in St. Lucia have an IQ of 62 (Murray, 1983). In the United States, 3-year-old Africans have an IQ of 86 (Montie & Pagan, 1988) and 85 (Peoples et al., 1995), and 4-year-olds have an IQ of 87 (Broman et al., 1975), just about the same as African American adolescents and adults. These preschool studies suggest that lack of education is not a significant factor determining racial differences in intelligence."

As for references, the only one i think i could have put would be IQ scores, but a simple google search will tell you much of what you need to know, which makes it almost common sense, much as my other points on climactic impact on evolution. To find the studies themselves read any of Richard Lynn's work, and his co-authors on many, many books.

To me, it is absurd to suggest that, despite different evolutionary paths and different DNA, people of all races have somehow miraculously turned out exactly equal. Preposterous.
Posted by ChingSea 1 week ago
It would be nice if you had your sources put up in your initial argument.

Though, most people aren't claiming race is just skin colour, of course there are physical differences, such as broader noses, monolids, hair textures, etc. What people are trying to suggest is that these differences are not what dictates mental capacity.

You mention that different races score differently on IQ tests, and this is true. However, I think you disregard why this may be the case. The outcome does not dictate the source. (Example: when it rains the floors are wet, thus wet floors must cause rain. [Obviously this isn't true.) Therefore, its important that we're aware of external sources that may hinder individual's intelligence.

I could go on, and I'd love to take on this debate, but I'm leaving for 3 days. If you can't find anyone within 3 days OP and you think you'd be interested in debating with me, then you can shoot me a PM.
Posted by Kram_Redarsh 1 week ago
What are you trying to say?
Sounds like you were trying to state facts as opposed to instigate a debate.
All people are different even in the sub species which I think you were trying to allude to
It would be nice if I could say white people are smarter, black people are stronger, Asian people are smarter, Nordic people are blah blah blah
I can only hope that you are not trying to elevate one over the other
Because There is a plethora of stupid white skinned people if that is what you try to infer
Case in point Heil Mine fuhrer trumph
Posted by Smooosh 1 week ago
You're supposed to stop pushing the q-tips in when you get resistance.
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