View Full Version : Reply- What does the word race really mean?

George Davey
04-21-1998, 09:50 AM
This note is my response to Mark Swanepoel's submission about the
use of
"Race" in biomechanical studies.
I disagree with Mark, because his definition of race seems to be skin
color. This is an outdated definition of race. I have seen different
"races" gait parameters. Even though there are a vast number of races
as you pointed out. The number of purebreed human "races" is finite
and differences among them should be studied. "Asians" can be
statistical outsiders when examining gait when compared to a small
group of all ramdom "whites" due to their shorter legs reletive to the
average "whites." This is the same as a pulmonary function test being
dependent on race. In one case you have smaller lungs in the other
case smaller legs.
In short, race is a complex issue and could be simplified if you talk in
terms of "purebreeds" which Mark pointed out several types of
purebreed humans which I would consider all to be different "races".
You can have 2 different asian groups with the same properties or you
might have 2 african groups with totally different properties. I don't know
what the dictionary says race is but maybe it's the wrong word to use

The thing that should be studied is the biomechanics of human groups
that evolved isolated and seperatly into their own somewhat unique
genetic groups or races for lack of a better word.

I think the term "race" was coined during a time of scientific ignorance
where the initial most important difference was determined to be skin
color by a non-scientific means. We now know this is not true and 2
"blacks" can be of 2 separate races a 7 foot Kenyen or a 4 foot Pygme.
Studying these 2 races could provide valuable scientific data reletive to
the seperate evolution of these 2 groups (races) and how they found
food over the last 10,000 years and how this difference may affect their
atheletic inclination now.
Race may be the wrong word. Purebreed is a word I like to use even
though this may offend some people by suggesting that humans are like
animals or dogs. Purebreed human groups that remain on earth today
hold valuable information on how that particular group interacted with the
environment and each other during food gathering and other activities to
produce slightly different genetic attributes that evolved over thousands
of years. These differences can affect certain inherent abilities such as
atheletic inclination even today. If we shy away from this difference to
acheive political correctness, then we may miss out on valuable data on
how the environment affects human evolution and abilities over many
thousands of years which cannot be recreated in a lab.

To unsubscribe send UNSUBSCRIBE BIOMCH-L to LISTSERV@nic.surfnet.nl
For information and archives: http://www.bme.ccf.org/isb/biomch-l