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

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: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 4,915 times Debate No: 116385
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (15)
Votes (2)




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]






Debate Round No. 2


In regards to use of the word ethincity I would just like to avoid it since the definition is highly ambiguous.


"I did not define race, but rather point out that it can be determined by skin color alone."

You posted a quote that said "subspecies (races) are groups of populations that are defined by hypothesized biological interactions or geographical distributions, rather than by homology"

Also, you seem to immediately contradict yourself here: "it (race) can be determined by skin color alone"... "If I showed you a picture of a dark skinned hand, we cannot readily determine if the person is e.g. Asian or black."

I assumed your whole point on dark-skin alleles was to point out that race exists on a continuum, and I dealt with it as such in Round 2. If it wasnt, im not sure what the point was at all, since in no way does it contradict my statement that 'race is much more than skin colour', nor the statement 'there are broad genetic differences between races in cognitive, emotional/social, or physical areas of development.'

"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."
This point also does not contradict that statement that 'race is much more than skin colour', or that there are broad genetic differences between races in cognitive, emotional/social, or physical areas of development.'


"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."
Technically correct, but misleading. By saying "allele combinations are frequently occuring in memebrs of a given race", you are also implying that these respective allele combinations DO NOT occur frequently in other races. In fact, the greater the combinations tested for, the less frequently they will appear, and once you reach a certain threshold of combined alleles, they will not appear at all. This is how DNA tests work. And when these allele combinations result in such an amount of physical/social/cognitive differences that we can observe huge disparities in nations/cities/societies inhabited by respective races, we can reasonably conclude that the genetic differences can be significant.


"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."
Much higher.

"When genes for these traits are found together, we can better conclude the person is of Asian descent."
Yes, but more accurately, when genes for these traits are found together (as they very frequently are), it is useful to keep our social classifications of race the same, because they correlate extremely well.

"But Asian people can indeed have naturally occurring traits such as curly hair, blond hair, tall stature, and bigger noses."
Clutching at straws. Most of these are so rare as to be almost unheard of, but again, this does not contradict my thesis. When these traits (and many more) are all found in combination, the person cannot be defined as Asian, and thus your quote:
"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" is misleadin.


"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."

Race and intelligence has been an area studied for some time now.
We have over 100 years of IQ test data to call upon, and there has been a difference in IQ scores between races since United States Army recruits in World War I were tested. Results consistenly show an IQ gap between blacks and whites, and a smaller gap between whites and orientals. So analysing the method of one or two tests seems to be clutching at straws a bit. The same goes for brain size and cranial capacity.;

"Based on craniometry data, Morton claimed in Crania Americana [1878] that the Caucasians had the biggest brains, averaging 87 cubic inches, Indians were in the middle with an average of 82 cubic inches and Negroes had the smallest brains with an average of 78 cubic inches... Stephen Jay Gould studied these craniometric works in The Mismeasure of Man (1981) and claimed Samuel Morton had fudged data and in order to justify his preconceived notions on racial differences... In 2011, physical anthropologists at the University of Pennsylvania, which owns Morton’s collection, published a study that concluded that almost every detail of Gould’s analysis was wrong."

Intelligence is a very important difference, but by not the whole picture There are disparities in other significant areas, but I only allowed 5000 characters.


Frequency of traits

Blond hair: In the US, 16% of people are naturally blond [1]. In the world, around 2% of people are naturally blond [2]. Hair color works much like skin color, such that more melanin causes darker hair. Less = lighter hair [3]. But there is no single gene that creates hair color. Genes that create "dark blond" can also make black hair.

This study [4] says that scientists discovered 100+ genes linked to hair color. This article [5] describes a gene mutation linked to blond hair, suggesting that it is the single gene responsible for blond hair in people of European descent. Is this a broad difference between races? No, not when you consider that over a 100 genes are linked to hair color.

Height: This one is a bit trickier, but also works "additively" like hair & skin color to a certain extent; i.e. certain genes may "add" much more height than others. Scientists have discovered over 700 genes linked to height [6]. Also noteworthy: height is influenced by environment. "For example, a study of adults of Japanese descent living in the United States and native Japanese found that Japanese men and women were shorter than Japanese-Americans." [7].

There is some speculation that diets may have something to do with this, but that is beside the point. Height has environmental influence. Did you know that jumping stimulates growth in children because of the growth plates in our knees?

P1. Height is many genes

P2. Height is influenced by environment

C: It is a bit reaching to infer that height indicates broad racial differences.

On lactose intolerance 1 more time: This occurs in all races at statistically significant rates.

"…does not contradict that statement that 'race is much more than skin colour'"

Before accepting, I commented on this debate to point out the vagueness of this claim. I then said, "If your claim is that there are broad genetic differences (significant gene differences in …" I would debate you. I'm not sure how this was taken as: "I'll debate you if that is your claim and [another claim] is also your claim."


We agree that certain genes occur in much higher frequency in certain races.

Certain genes also occur in much higher frequency in certain populations of a race. We see this especially with races separated geographically. For example, black people in Haiti vs. Kenya vs. African Americans. E.G. "…higher average blood pressure levels of western hemisphere blacks when compared with African blacks" [8] We can find many genetic differences between geographically separated races.

After all, genetic testing can separate much more than race. It can inform people of many heritages such as Italian, German, Russian, Irish, etc.—indicative of the many genes linked to these groups.

Take a person with 99% Italian, Russian, & Irish background. We'll say they're white. We do not consider this person a mixed race. Yet there are enough genetic differences between these groups for us to identify them as "Italian" etc.

There are not enough differences for us to classify these groups under a different level of taxonomy (e.g. subspecies).

Which begs the question—what is the difference between higher-frequency genes within races, geographic subgroups of race, and in a single person's family tree?

We can genetically test Jane Doe's family members and gene groups will show up in much higher frequency than in other families of the same race. We'll say Jane's family has high-frequency genes for baldness, Alzheimer's, smaller noses, blue eyes, freckles, lactose intolerance, etc. There are many genes listed here. This is where con's argument becomes problematic. There is no basis for comparison to the human genome. This is a very important tool that helps us evaluate differences.

Humans have around 20-25,000 genes. Two people with 100 different genes would still have 99.5 to 99.6% of the same genes. Just for reference. (*Some sources estimate there being around 30k genes)

"Most genes are the same in all people, but a small number of genes (less than 1 percent of the total) are slightly different between people." [9]

In round 1, pro compares races to dog breeds—yet has not offered comparisons between dogs' total genetic variations to humans'. A basis for comparison is extremely important. Allow me to use a silly analogy. A gallon of milk. One might say that's a lot of milk. Is it? That depends. Is it for an 8oz cup of coffee? Then, yeah, that's 94% milk. If we are looking at genetics objectively—we need to compare wholes to wholes.


Pro links wikipedia articles to support claims. Critical review of studies, especially race-based ones is extremely relevant to this debate. Will be discussing further.

[1] "Race". Retrieved 2012-04-03.

[2] Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 13 April 2016.


[4] "Genome-wide association meta-analysis…". Nature Genetics. Vol 50. Pages 652-656.

Sources continued in comments

Debate Round No. 3


"But there is no single gene that creates hair color"
Once again, this does not matter because, as you admitted to earlier, (and later in the same round), races are genetically distinct because of disparities in rates of frequency in genes, and even more variation in frequency of groups of genes. So your whole point about races sharing many hair colour genes, and that this means broad genetic differences do not exist, is wrong. It is the FREQUENCY that matters, and also the pattern we find genes in, i.e. the tendency of particular hair colour genes to be found with other particular genes (e.g. eye colour).

"On lactose intolerance 1 more time: This occurs in all races at statistically significant rates."
What are you talking about? "Lactase persistence (LP) is common among people of European ancestry, but with the exception of some African, Middle Eastern and southern Asian groups, is rare or absent elsewhere in the world." [1]

"The frequency of this “lactase persistence trait” is high in northern European populations (>90% in Scandinavia and Holland), decreases in frequency across southern Europe and the Middle East (~50% in Spain, Italy and pastoralist Arab populations) and is low in Asia and most of Africa (~1% in Chinese, ~5%–20% in West African agriculturalists)" [2]

"Also noteworthy: height is influenced by environment. "For example, a study...[7]"
That study you linked simply references the study you used as an example. I cannot access the study and so we dont know how different they were, just that they were different. The study you linked suports my argument and describes how height is extremely heritable (genetic):

"Accordingly, the relative genetic contribution increased with age and was greatest in adolescence (up to 0.83 in boys and 0.76 in girls)." Thats basically 83% genetic contribution.

"The proportion of height variation explained by environmental factors unique to each twin individual, which also includes measurement error, did not show any clear age pattern and was largely similar at all ages (0.05–0.14)" 14% environmental contribution.

"Since then many lines of evidence such as twin, adoption and family studies have estimated the role of genetic factors in the determination of height, showing that it is one of the most heritable human quantitative phenotypes."

Environmental factors in height are much less significant than genetic factors, so actually, it is not "a bit reaching to infer that height indicates broad racial differences." Everyone knows Asians are short and Nords are tall.

"There is no basis for comparison to the human genome."

"The majority of the genetic variation is found between African and non-African populations" [6]. Obviously.

[7] Europe can be subdivided.

"a small number of genes (less than 1 percent of the total) are slightly different between people."
Except that "We share 98.4 percent of our genes with chimpanzees, 95 percent with dogs, and 74 percent with microscopic roundworms. Clearly, what’s meaningful is which genes differ and how they are patterned, not the percent of genes. A tiny number of genes can translate into huge functional differences.” [3] [4]

"yet has not offered comparisons between dogs' total genetic variations to humans" Breeds of dogs are vastly more different in appearance than races of people, yet they are so genetically similar that until 2003 geneticists could not distinguish between them using DNA. [5]

"Pro links wikipedia articles to support claims."
So? Wikipedia has sources, I suggest you go through them. If racial differences in intelligence and cranial capacity were inconclusive I would post links, but since the topic is largely understood, there is no need.
Furthermore, in round 2 you posted "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."
If you actually read the article I linked then you would have seen the many points disproving your idea:

-Brain Size Differences... Race differences in brain size are present at birth.

-Trans-Racial Adoption Studies... he Minnesota Trans-Racial Adoption Study followed children to age 17 and found race differences were even greater than at age 7: White children, 106; Mixed-Race children, 99; and Black children, 89.

- Racial Admixture Studies. Black children with lighter skin, for example, average higher IQ scores.

-IQ Scores of Blacks and Whites Regress toward the Averages of Their Race. Parents pass on only some exceptional genes to offspring so parents with very high IQs tend to have more average children. Black and White children with parents of IQ 115 move to different averages--Blacks toward 85 and Whites to 100.

-The Gene-Environment Architecture of IQ is the Same in all Races, and Race Differences are Most Pronounced on More Heritable Abilities. Studies of Black, White, and East Asian twins, for example, show the heritability of IQ is 50% or higher in all races.



My opponent pointed out how closely other species are related to humans. This emphasizes how significant a 1+% difference in DNA can be

"While the genetic difference between individual humans today is minuscule – about 0.1%, on average – study of the same aspects of the chimpanzee genome indicates a difference of about 1.2%... The DNA difference with gorillas… is about 1.6%." [1] Humans don't have that much genetic variation

Lactose Intolerance

I spoke to the absence of this mutation, not the presence of it. Lactose intolerance commonly occurs across races


Con does not discuss many genes contributing to certain traits. Significant differences in height may be caused be a single gene. Con has not offered gene differences linked to height, only measured observable height

"what’s meaningful is which genes differ"

I agree this is part of the whole picture. Yet pro has listed many traits that don't translate to huge functional differences. Height, hair color, facial hair, nose shape, etc. are minor differences compared to e.g. the ability to speak

I ask that con identify genes that translate to such differences between races



A famous controlled study called the Bucharest Early Intervention Project (BEIP) looks at the effects of institutionalized orphanages

"Children reared in institutions showed greatly reduced intellectual performance compared to children raised with their biological families… scores, were 74 for children in the institutionalized group at 30 months..." [2] At 54 months, their mean IQ was 73. Whereas community children were at 109 and children from the institution placed into foster care were at 81

The BEIP study discusses the importance of individualized childcare, experiences, & stimulation necessary to support child development. This is a well researched topic & I can provide more sources upon request. But essentially things like a decorated room, change of scenery, toys, music, holding the baby, playtime, talking to the baby, reading to it, etc. all have a profound collective impact on cognitive & physical development.

Concerning children from the institution placed into foster care: "Their heads stayed small, and brain activity wasn't as vigorous as it was in kids who'd never been institutionalized." [3] It should be noted that this is high quality foster care with training, support, & financial compensation

Racism: Impact on child development

It's true that social reform has improved race relations significantly, but this does not erase histories that still impact people today. I will use African American struggles as an example. We could discuss how British invasion & exploitation of nearly 200 countries has impacted other races as well but 5k limit here


  • Black Codes—1865

Forced lower wages; "…many states required blacks to sign yearly labor contracts; if they refused, they risked being arrested, fined and forced into unpaid labor." [4]

  • Jim Crow Laws—1896
  • Redlining—1930s [5]

On redlining: the US government mapped out "good" & "hazardous" neighborhoods in green and red. Green = white neighborhoods. Red = minority neighborhoods. Loans were made much more accessible & cheaper to those in green neighborhoods, restricting minorities from buying homes in suburbs

Furthermore, housing developers restricted minorities from inhabiting their developments. While this is illegal now, this does not erase the financial disparity caused by these policies. Black people living in redlined areas have far less buying power than white families who had access to cheap home loans. Redlining also increased segregation in schools by keeping white & black neighborhoods separate. Education is funded through property taxes, so schools in black neighborhoods also suffer financially because of these racist policies

A deep history of racism has led to high rates of poverty among black people. Poverty decreases access to health care, food, & increases risk for mental/physical illnesses. It causes parents to spend more time working & less time with their children. It causes children to gain fewer experiences (books, TV, restaurants, toys, cars, etc.) which collectively affect their cognitive/physical development

Racism caused huge financial disparities, which influence IQ. I also argue that discrimination still takes place and further prevents black people from accessing housing, higher paying jobs, quality education, and numerous other resources (e.g. clean water)

*Poverty also influences prenatal environment—affecting differences at birth


The reason I asked for specific studies was because correlations do not speak for themselves. A correlation between race & IQ does not mean race causes higher/lower IQ

Pro has not spoken on the high volume (perhaps thousands) of genes which may be linked to intelligence—or the studied miniscule of effect of 50 intelligence-linked genes—or if there are any/which genes are linked to certain races

Sources in comments

Debate Round No. 4


"Humans don't have that much genetic variation"
Intentionally misleading. Animals dont have that much genetic variation.

"I spoke to the absence of this mutation, not the presence of it."
Semantics. Lactose intolerance is the opposite to lactose persistance.

"Lactose intolerance commonly occurs across races"
Wrong. I provided 2 sources saying Europeans are 90% lactose tolerant.

"Bucharest Early Intervention Project"

"Prof. NELSON: These kids got longer. They got taller. They got - they weighed more, but their head circumference didn't change for the kids we placed in foster care."

"Racism: Impact on child development"
Whole argument irrelevant emotional appeal. Unless you can prove that racism makes Black skulls smaller on average, its just a waste of characters.

"Racism caused huge financial disparities, which influence IQ"
Ive already explained how the differences in intelligence cannot be easily explained by environment, and thus, MUST be genetic to a significant degree. I would say at least 50%.

"I ask that con identify genes that translate to such differences between races"
Not necessary. Heritable traits must have causative genes.


First, it is a principle of evolutionary biology that when sub-populations of a species become geographically isolated and occupy different environments, they become genetically differentiated and eventually diverge so much that they become different species. It is in accordance with this principle that the races have become genetically differentiated for all characteristics for which there is genetic variation, including body shape; color of skin, hair, and eyes; prevalence of genetic diseases; and blood groups. It is inconceivable that intelligence would be the single exception to these differences. Some racial differences in intelligence must also have evolved as a matter of general biological principle.

Second, the studies summarized in Table 13.1 show a consistency of the IQs of the races in a wide range of geographical locations that can only be explained by some genetic determination. Only a genetic factor can explain the consistency of these race differences in so many different environments.

Third, the races differ consistently in IQ when they live in the same environments. Thus, Africans in the United States, Britain, the Netherlands, and Brazil consistently have lower IQs than whites. The same is true of South Asians and North Africans in Britain, and Continental Europe; of Arctic Peoples living with Europeans in Canada; of Australian Aborigines living with Europeans in Australia; and of Pacific Islanders living with Europeans in New Zealand and Hawaii. All these differences are consistent and add to the credibility of the genetic theory.

Fourth, when babies from other races are adopted by Europeans in Europe and the United States, they retain the IQs characteristic of their race.

Fifth, mixed-race individuals have IQs intermediate between those of the two parent races. When the amount of European ancestry in American blacks is assessed by skin color, dark-skinned blacks have an IQ of 85 and light-skinned blacks have an IQ of 92 (Lynn, 2002a), and there is a statistically significant association between light skin and intelligence.

Sixth, the IQs of races explain the extent to which they made the Neolithic transition from hunter gathering to settled agriculture. This transition was made completely by the more intelligent races: the Europeans, the South Asians and North Africans, the East Asians, the Southeast Asians, and the Native Americans; to some extent by the Pacific Islanders; minimally by the Africans; but not at all by the Bushmen and Australian Aborigines, with IQs of 54 and 62.

Seventh, the IQs of races are consistent with their achievements in the development of early urban civilizations with written languages, systems of arithmetic, and codified laws as shown by Baker (1974), who has documented that only the East Asians, the Europeans, the South Asians and North Africans, and the Southeast Asians developed early civilizations. The less intelligent Native Americans developed a half civilization; and the remaining races failed to develop anything that could be called civilizations.

Eighth, all the twin studies that have been carried out in Europe, India, and Japan, and on blacks and whites in the United States, have found a high heritability of intelligence in national populations.

Ninth, there are race differences in brain size that are associated with differences in intelligence, and brain size has a heritability of 90 percent (Baare, Pol et al., 2001) (see also Rushton and Osborne, 1995).

Tenth, for the problem of race differences in intelligence, the theory that these have some genetic basis explains all the numerous phenomena set out in the points listed above, and there are no serious anomalies. The theory that the race differences in intelligence are to a significant extent genetically based fulfills Popper's (1959) criteria for a strong theory.



Correlation =/= causation

"Whole argument irrelevant emotional appeal."

P1: Racism caused huge financial disparities

P2: Poverty influences cognitive/physical development

P3: Racism still occurs

P4: It prevents people from obtaining advantages & resources

P5: Racism is a huge variable

P6: Race /IQ studies are correlational

I fail to see the irrelevance or emotional appeal

Unless you can prove that racism…"

Actually, the burden of proof here lies on you

P1: Race-based discrimination affects many variables like housing, jobs, education, etc.

P2: You are using correlational studies

Racism affects many variables which are known to affect cognitive/physical development.
If you use correlational studies to prove that race affects IQ/skull size, you must either:

1. Cite studies that control for racism

2. Prove this variable doesn't affect IQ/skull size

Racism Affecting Many Variables: Examples

*A pregnant black woman complains of pain to her doctor, but he thinks she is just being a dramatic black woman

*A boy goes to private school. His teacher thinks he is a lazy black kid

*Shaquan applies for a job. His resume gets tossed out because his name "sounds black"

*Shaquan is called for an interview, but the interviewer doesn't like his natural African hair


Interestingly, mixed race people with lighter skin tend to experience more privileges based on their lighter skin tone. Racism is not just about color but shade

Consider this study [1] [2] where children were asked to pick out the "dumb" or "ugly" or "bad" child out of a lineup. Children overwhelmingly picked the darkest ones. Even black children chose the darkest children. When 3 groups of black children were asked about which skin colors people didn't like, more than 70%, 61%, and 57% chose between the two darkest shades

There is strong bias against darker skin

Observable differences =/= genetic differences

*Skin color is only a few genes, and "light" and "dark" alleles are present in all races

*Hair color is many genes (100+). There are "light" and "dark" genes present in all races. Blond is thought to occur from a single mutation in Europeans

*Height is many genes (700+). Certain genes "add" much more height than others. Height is also influenced by environment

*Intelligence is many genes (thousands). It is greatly influenced by environment

Pro never identified any/which hair color, height, or intelligence genes are linked to certain races. Recall that:

*"Blond" is an observation, not genetic data

*Height=measured observable differences, which may be caused by a single gene with high additive power

*Intelligence testing only measures observable IQ

Pro used observational data for these traits. This is not the same thing as genetic data. It does not tell us how broad genetic differences are

Genetic Variation

"Not necessary. Heritable traits must have causative genes"

This is a red herring. Obviously heritable traits come from genes. Not the point

P1: You said we share 95% DNA with dogs

P2: You cited, "what’s meaningful is which genes differ"

But you can't tell me which genes make races have huge functional differences?

"Animals dont have that much genetic variation."

You do not provide counter-evidence to back up this claim. Last round, I used source 1:


From human to human: about 0.1% difference

Gorillas: 1.6%

Chimpanzees: 1.2%

The chimpanzees are split into 4 subspecies. So are the gorillas [3]


Humans haven't been around long enough to develop that much genetic variation. [4] [5] [6] [7] "Most biological anthropologists would agree that human variation is not now sufficient to warrant defining separate biological races, varieties, or sub-species." [5]

"Our species actually displays less genetic variation than chimpanzees or penguins." [7] Birds appeared around 150 million years ago; great apes 14 million. Humans appeared around 200,000 years ago [8]

Pro's Source

The book review you linked points out problems with that author's race/IQ studies

"This book is a frightening example of how an intelligent European author with good skills of academic presentation can argue any case by selectively ignoring vast areas of research on the roles of individual biological variation, cultural traditions and biases in psychological testing, and by creating conceptual entities from unreliable observational phenomena." [9]

The author of the book himself apparently points out issues that make it difficult to prove genetic causation:

"Using the critical approach of a modern scientist, the author explains that intelligence cannot be precisely defined, nor measured accurately. Then he proceeds to explain the meaning and formation of races using the same critical attitude. What follows, however, is based on the assumption that intelligence and races are real biological entities determined primarily by genes, with some environmental influences modifying their phenotypic expression."

"Wrong… Europeans are 90% lactose tolerant."

10% of people is 1/10 people, so it's common

Debate Round No. 5
15 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Philipoemen 3 years ago
Oh, my source was wrong, i didnt mean to post reviews of the book, but the book itself
Posted by Philipoemen 3 years ago
Thanks for the debate. It was very good and encouraged me to actually locate all the sources I have used in my own education. I appreciate you taking the time as I am aware most would rather ignore the subject altogether.
Posted by ThoughtsandThoughts 3 years ago
Philipoemen, I enjoyed debating this with you. I believe you were a worthy opponent. Although I still disagree that there are broad genetic differences, I found it interesting that there was still much we agreed on.
Posted by Philipoemen 3 years ago
Richard Lynn
Race Differences in Intelligence, 2006.
Posted by ThoughtsandThoughts 3 years ago
Round 4 Sources:
[2] Nelson, Charles & Furtado, Elizabeth & A. Fox, Nathan & Zeanah, Charles. (2009). The Deprived Human Brain Developmental deficits among institutionalized Romanian children-and later improvements-strengthen the case for individualized care. American Scientist. 97. 222-229.
Posted by Philipoemen 3 years 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 years ago
I would love to see how this goes, but I could never argue the negative of this.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Leaning 3 years ago
Who won the debate:-Vote Checkmark
Reasons for voting decision: I think Con makes good arguments for people defining race as skin color. As well as how where people live has effected their natural skin color. I'm actually voting for a tie though since the debate mostly confused me.
Vote Placed by RMTheSupreme 3 years ago
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: Con doesn't realise it but they agree with Pro (I am not just saying this, they do). What Con was trying to prove is that race is fairly irrelevant to DNA itself and that it's a minute aspect of a being. What Pro points out is that even in that minutia of our variation that is race, there's much more to it than colour and lactose intolerance was only the beginning of it. Con believes race isn't "much at all" and thought this angle was a counter attack on the 'much more' but I truly didn't buy into this semantic argument and Pro successfully, in a very informed manner, explained just how much of race is not the colour of one's skin. Con genuinely does agree with Pro, they just don't realise what the 'much' was in reference to.

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