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Sunday, March 27, 2016

Heidelbergensis worthy of affirmative action?

Here's a picture of Homo heidelbergensis:

Some biological anthropologists feel that Homo heidelbergensis is the basically same as Homo erectus:

These forensic sketches are interesting because they teach us about who we were, and possibly, who we are. Both of the men above bear an uncanny resemblance to present day Australian aborigines:

Looking at the aborigines, it's hard not to wonder if they don't have a higher proportion of erectus, or heidelbergensis, ancestry. Or maybe they simply changed less in the past 50,000 years than other races did. Recent DNA evidence indicates that the ancestors of Australian aborigines left Africa earlier (70,000 years ago) than did the ancestors of present day Europeans and Asians. And, they were isolated on the Australian continent until a few hundred years ago.

Asians have an average brain volume of 1364 cubic centimeters, Europeans 1347, and Africans 1267. These roughly correlate with the average IQ's of those races, respectively, of 106, 100, and 85 (this last number is actually for American blacks; Africans average lower). Aborigines have an average brain volume of 1199 cc, and an average IQ somewhere in the 60's.

There are approximately half a million Australian aborigines living in that country today. Australia now has a system of affirmative action in place to help them.

According to Wikipedia:

H. erectus fossils show a cranial capacity greater than that of Homo habilis (although the Dmanisi specimens have distinctively small crania): the earliest fossils show a cranial capacity of 850 cm³, while later Javan specimens measure up to 1100 cm³, overlapping that of H. sapiens.

Food for thought: if Homo erectus were around today, with their brain volume of approximately 1000 cubic centimeters, and presumably corresponding IQ, would liberals insist on affirmative action for them? Would they be able to bring disparate impact lawsuits if they didn't pass, say, the fire department exam at the same rate as other humans?

If those legal standards did apply, someone might have the temerity to point out, "Maybe Erectus-Australians don't do as well on tests of intellectual ability because they just don't have the same cognitive ability. And maybe their greater propensity for violence is from something innate, and not just a result of discrimination." What would the reaction be?

Would the usual suspects then scream, "You racist! You Nazi! You horrible person!" and make sure that that person lost his job and was booted out of public life?

Let's take this exercise a step further. What if Homo habilis were still around?

Would they be eligible for affirmative action? Would anybody who pointed out the obvious differences be shouted down and banished from polite society?

Or how about Paranthropus boisei?

At what point would the liberals concede that maybe IQ differences do have something to do with differences in achievement?

Habilis and boisei may have been perfectly fine hominids, and admirable in their own way, but they weren't exactly the same as everyone else. And lying about it would not make it so.


Steven said...

I think the cut off point would be if there was hair on the face and body from a young age. Or maybe if the head size difference was striking- with Australian Aboriginals, its not striking. I've seen them plenty and I never particularly noticed they had small heads. Their heads are probably on the small side if you look for it but they don't have the stand out small craniums and sloping foreheads of the Heidelberensis or Erectus (the one in your top picture is unusual).

John Craig said...

Steven --
That sounds reasonable but my point was, whatever cutoff point you use is arbitrary. And the arguments that all peoples have the same abilities on average is ludicrous. I've never been around Australian aborigines but I've always been struck by how primitive many of the pure-blooded ones look. Also, keep in mind, sometimes it's hard to tell from full face (front on) shots how sloping a person's forehead is. I saw another picture of the guy in the top pic you refer to, a straight on shot, and you couldn't really se ho much his forehead sloped from that other picture.

Steven said...

I know whatever cut off point is arbitrary. I just mean that's what I think it would take to tip the balance towards most people assuming a biological explanation for intelligence differences, or for even liberals to be inclined towards a biological explanation (but you never know).

Steven said...

Mark Caplan said...

Steven wrote: "Or maybe if the head size difference was striking...."

African Pygmies do have strikingly small heads yet we consider them members of the human family.

I've wondered why Neanderthals are imagined with or possibly actually had broad Negroid-type noses. Caucasians supposedly evolved long narrow noses and small nostrils as an adaptation to living in a cold climate and breathing frigid air. Neanderthals lived in Northern Europe for hundreds of thousands of years, yet retained noses well-suited to a subtropical climate.

John Craig said...

Steven --
I wonder how long that video will remain on Youtube before it's censored by Google.

John Craig said...

Mark --
I think the forensic artists can tell how wide the nose was by the width of the nasal aperture in the skull. It's my impression that these guys generally do a pretty good job. There's generally more leeway for interpretation when it comes to skin color, texture and color of hair, and color of eyes. I've always wondered, if all you have is a skull and some bones to go on, how can you determine skin color. Northern Europeans also developed lighter skin, and blue eyes, and hair that lay flat on the head and body for more warmth, but exactly at what point on the timeline did they do so? I don't think the biological anthropologists really know yet.

I look forward to the day when a specimen of homo erectus with usable DNA is found deep in a cave or frozen in a glacier somewhere and we can learn more about ourselves.

Steven said...


Pygmys at least have heads proportional to their bodies so they look human in the argument could (and no doubt would) be made that brain to body ratio is more important than absolute size (think of elephants and whales). Also, we don't know what American society would make of it if they underachieved in America. Maybe there would be a little bit more acceptance of the possibility of a biological explanation.


Kevin Bloody Wilson is a famous Australian comedy singer who tours mainstream venues. He's got lots of songs on youtube, although most aren't racial. I think it'll stay, been there quite long already. He said in a tv interview that an aboriginal elder got him to play to them once, told him 'you make my people laugh', and gifted him aboriginal art, which he values. He said he thinks racism is based on hate.

Steven said...

Could it be that wide noses are more of an archaic trait than an adaptation to climate? Plenty of west Africans have quite small noses and there are very dark skinned east Africans and South Asians with narrow noses. Plus NE Asians are very cold weather adapted and they don't have thinner but not pointy noses. Maybe pointy white people noses were just a mutation that got sexually selected..?

John Craig said...

Steven --
When people say stuff like, "racism is based on hate," it's near meaningless. How does one define racism? If you go around burning crosses and lynching people because of their race, sure, there's hatred there. But blacks commit all sorts of violent crimes against whites in this country, and it's almost never categorized as "hate." Does that mean there's no hate involved? And racism these days is often defined as a post like this one, where I write about factual differences between the races regarding IQ. is that hate? Or is it just honesty?

Regarding your other comment, yes, that could well be. People do tend to find narrower noses attractive, which is why people get nose jobs.

Steven said...

*I meant to say Asians have quite thin noses but not as pointy as Europeans.

In the UK an interracial attack would be defined as a hate crime if there was evidence that race was a motivation.

I think his defence of his material was that its not racism to make fun of people (and you could add talk about differences) as long as it isn't motivated by hate. If there are actually genetic cognitive racial differences, then at some point you can't be considered racist for knowing it or thinking it- you didn't make it that way, you're just observing it. His argument could be seen as an attempt to address that problem, even if its often unclear when hate is involved.

John Craig said...

Steven --
Or it could be that Wilson was trying to cover his own tracks, throw the liberals off the scent of his own video there.

I think it's impossible to separate out emotion from peoples' statements. People are always motivated to some extent by their resentments. I know I am, even though I try to restrict myself to facts (as opposed to cheering on one side). But with me -- and a lot of other people like me -- my resentment is not of other races, but of the people who lie about racial differences, and who hate whites while accusing whites of hating others. Some of those people are black, and some are white.

Steven said...

yeah I think you're right and no doubt he has resentments and his songs probably could stoke the resentments of more hateful people. Most of his stuff is fun, but plenty of Australians are openly racist toward aboriginals, which is probably why he can tour. He wouldn't get away with that material in this country, no way.

Maybe you could just judge content to see whether its hateful rather than motivation. Like you said, you restrict yourself to facts.

So how would you define racism?

p.s. on some level I've always been more impressed with the boomerang than any other piece of human technology. Aboriginals may not have invented agriculture, metallurgy or writing, but they made a stick you can throw to yourself. A stick you can throw to yourself John! White people got to rockets and that shit never even occured to them. I refuse to believe a race that perfected a stick that comes back to you when you throw it can be entirely without a touch of genius.

Mark Caplan said...

A point of confusion about racism is there are two definitions. One definition includes animus. But the second definition of racism is simply the belief one race is superior to or better than another, which doesn't necessarily involve animus at all. If you say humans are more intelligent than dogs, that doesn't imply you hate dogs. You might even love dogs and find their naivete endearing. Or if you say dogs are more loyal than humans, it doesn't imply you hate humans.

By the second definition, believing that African Americans have a lower IQ on average than Caucasians is racist, even if the belief is empirically true and even if you want to give African Americans extra advantages so they will succeed at the same rate as Caucasians.

John Craig said...

Steven --
"Racism" is far too vague and wide-ranging to try to define. Basically, it means whatever you want it to mean. In this country, when a black rapes a white, or murders a white, it's…..nothing. But when a white says that the US is the land of opportunity, that's a micro aggression, and therefore "racist." Got that?

I always thought the boomerang was cool, too, but I wouldn't rank it up there with the rocket ship as far as genius goes. I had one as a kid, but for some reason I could never get it to work.

John Craig said...

Mark/Steven --
There you go Steven, Mark just provided a good working definition, I hadn't seen that when I wrote the above reply.

I'd say it encompasses a lot more stuff than that, but those are the two main branches of it. I'd still say, if you're a liberal, it means whatever you want it to mean. (Which doesn't conflict with Mark's definition, merely addresses it at another level.)

Steven said...

Well explained Mark but I know that's a current popular definition. I was looking for an alternative one that is acceptable if there really are biologically based average differences. I guess its back to the animus or hate. John, I guess with liberals ever subtler things can be considered racist or sexist.

I was half joking about the boomerang. what do you call a boomerang that doesn't come back? A stick.

Anonymous said...

Australian aboriginals make up 28% of the prison population but only 3% of the total population.


John Craig said...

Andrew --
A lot of people(s) who come from Stone Age cultures have been dragged into the technological age before they're ready, and the results have not been pretty.

C. E. Trobaugh said...

While I do agree that many of the cosmetic (facial) characteristics do resemble homo heidelbergensis, many of these traits are also present in Neanderthals, and possibly Denisovans. Aboriginals have a higher admixture of Denisovan DNA than any other race (on top of the average Neanderthal admixture). It seems more likely that their archaic features are the result of this admixture, rather than a leftover of their erectus ancestors. I find the assertion that this race is more "primitive" in anything other than their facial structure rather ill-informed.

John Craig said...

C. E. Trough --
If by "this race" you're referring to Australian aborigines, there are ways other than their facial features in which they could be considered primitive: they have thicker skulls (which our ancient ancestors had), and, as I said in the post, they have smaller brains and lower IQ's. Those last two features are the two most defining characteristics that differentiate modern man from his ancestors.