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March 27, 2005

Comments

kwasi

"For example, many people have a strong racial preference in whom they find attractive, and this explains why e.g., there are so many adult web sites which cater to specific racial preferences"

I'm aware of no evidence which suggests that these preferences are in any way innate. There are, on the other hand, numerous social reasons that can be advanced to explain people's racial prefernces. Social acceptability of the relationship, the 'forbidden fruit' factor, racial power dynamics, class differences and the existence of sexual sterotypes are all great at explaining the reasons why people may have racial preferences. Plus they provide a better framework for explaining how putting people of different races in close quarters with each other generally tends to lead to sex across racial lines. In the case of our hypothetical colonists, they will be creating their own society so it won't matter.

Actually. It turns out that the school library has access to the paper you quoted. Its hardly conclusive. Aside from anecdotal evidence, the main evidence presented to support the hypothesis is a survey of white American college students from the late 70's and the Van den Berghe and Frost paper, which they admit might have been influenced by colonization. In the only paper I found to cite yours (Jablonski, Nina G.. Annual Review of Anthropology, 2004, Vol. 33 Issue 1, p585) several competing theories are mentioned. Even if Aoki's paper is right, though, all that means is that if the offspring of our colonists move to more temperate areas they'll slowly become white. It in no way invalitates Abiola's initial argument.

Dienekes

>> I'm aware of no evidence which suggests that these preferences are in any way innate.

They may be partially innate since they are so widespread. Irrespective of whether they are innate or not, they do exist, and hence shape evolution by favoring or disfavoring certain types of unions.

>> Aside from anecdotal evidence, the main evidence presented to support the hypothesis is a survey of white American college students from the late 70's and the Van den Berghe and Frost paper, which they admit might have been influenced by colonization.

Van den Berghe and Frost criticize this idea. There is a great deal of work on this issue, which you can retrieve from PsycInfo. For example, it has been found that skintone plays a significant role in the self-perception of attractiveness in black men and women (Journal of Black Psychology, Vol. 29, No. 2, 123-141 (2003) Similar findings exist for East Indians (post 000645 in the Old Archives of my blog, which I cannot post directly, because the system thinks that this is comment spam)

Irrespective of the origin of these types of feelings, they influence the way people act, so they probably have an influence on evolution. See for example (PNAS | January 7, 2003 | vol. 100 | no. 1 | 177-182): "Thus, if we have a social race identification system based primarily on phenotype, such as occurs in Brazil, we classify individuals on the basis of the presence of certain alleles at a small number of genes that have impact on the physical appearance, while ignoring all of the rest of the genome. Assortative mating based on Color, which has been shown by demographic studies to occur in Brazil (22, 33), will produce strong associations among the individual components of Color."

João da Costa

Dienekes, please care think a bit and comment my previous post about demographics and skintone (or skin color).
Even if people (almost) worldwide seem to favour paler skin the fact remains - and this is what counts from an evolutionary point of view - that the "darkies" have more children per capita than the "whities", at least by now, and the "final" balance of frequency of different alleles or alleles combinations in mankind as a whole will surely be influenced by this dynamic.
I mean, alleles pass no only by race-mixing but also as a result of same-race unions (or sex). (Trivial!)
I mean also that actual demographic paths could also be interpreted (by a Martian, for example!) saying that "mankind favours the grow of alleles or alleles combinations for dark skin more than for pale skin".
A further example: if the darker Brazilians have more children than paler Brazilians, than the Brazilian population 100 years later will appear darker than today, and a future scientist would conclude retrospectively that, by same reason, this type of skintone were favoured in the (for him) past!
Just a thought.

digital

why are there still hairy people around? especially among europeans, middle easterners and indians.

i don't get who finds them attractive.

Dienekes

João, what you are saying is of course possible. Sexual selection is of course not the only force operating in human evolution. For example, right now, e.g., AIDS is probably a much more potent force in the evolution of African populations than any kind of sexual selection.

Also, averaging across human populations tells us something about what fraction of the world's inhabitants have a certain allele, but it doesn't reveal the selective forces at play. Evolution takes place from the village to the country to the continent to the global level, and whenever we average at some level we lose information about the processes that go on below that level.

Jens

[Crackpot chump's lunatic remarks comparing various races to chimps deleted.]

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