JAPANESE PEOPLE, RACE, EAR WAX TYPES AND PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

JAPANESE PEOPLE

null Conservative notions about ethnic purity remain strong in Japan. Theodore Bestor, a professor of Japanese Studies at Harvard, told the New York Times: “Japanese tend to have a fairly strong kind of inherent belief that genetics and biology really matter in terms of people’s behavior. So I think Japanese might be much more predisposed to thinking about a kind of genetic basis for personality than most Americans would.”

In 2005, future Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso called Japan “one nation, one civilization, one language , one culture and one race.” A senior official quoted in the Washington Post said, “This isn’t America. When you go to the hospital to have a baby, we know what we’ll get: black hair, dark eyes, skin more or less the color of mine.”

In a 2010 television show called Anata wa Doko Made Nihonjin (“How Japanese Are You?”), a survey of 1,000 Japanese was conducted to find out what defined the modern Japanese individual. A list of 20 characteristics was derived. Among them were Japanese love hot springs (number 20); many Japanese wear glasses (19); Japanese are not good at English ( 3); they are no longer good at studying (2); and Japanese are overly impressed by titles and ranks (1). It also found that Japanese love curry (18), gossip (16), brand-name goods (15), saving money (13), uniforms (12), and manga (4) and revealed that Japanese hate to say “I love you”(7); are too gullible and trusting (17), poor talkers (8), love to work (10), like to stand in lines (11), are not interested in politics and keen on cleanliness. The evidence for some of the claims was persuasive; others not so. [Source: Wm. Penn, Daily Yomiuri]

Links in this Website: JAPANESE PERSONALITY AND CHARACTER Factsanddetails.com/Japan ; JAPANESE POLITENESS AND INDIRECTNESS Factsanddetails.com/Japan ; JAPANESE SOCIAL LIFE Factsanddetails.com/Japan ; JAPANESE SOCIETY Factsanddetails.com/Japan ; JAPANESE REGIONAL DIFFERENCES Factsanddetails.com/Japan ;POPULATION OF JAPAN Factsanddetails.com/Japan ; BIRTH CONTROL IN JAPAN Factsanddetails.com/Japan ; JAPANESE PEOPLE, RACE, AND PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS Factsanddetails.com/Japan

Books: The Chrysanthemum and the Sword is Ruth Benedict’s “flawed but masterful analysis of Japanese culture.” It was written during World War II on commission for the U.S. government. The Japanese by Edwin O. Reischauer (Belknap Press at Harvard University, 1982) is also recommended. Good Websites and Sources: Wikipedia article on Japanese People Wikipedia ; What Japan Thinks, a blog with info on demographics and statistics whatjapanthinks.com ; Social Science Japan Newsletter newslet.iss.u-tokyo.ac ; Nipponia, Quarterly Web magazine on Japanese Culture and Life nipponia/archives

People, Race and Views on People and Race : Difference Between Chinese and Japanese, a Blog Report socyberty.com ; Portrayal of Race in Manga and Anime focusanthro.org ; Origins of the Japanese People nakasendoway.com ;Opinion on Asian Fetish colorq.org ; Physical Characteristics, Thais and Japanese ncbi.nlm.nih.gov ; Wikipedia article on the Mongoloid Race Wikipedia

Japanese View of Japanese

Japan is regarded as one of the world’s most insular countries. Law enforcement officials and scholars sometimes begin their explanations of Japan's low crime figures with statements like "we are a homogeneous race" or Japan is a "monoracial society." Hundreds of studies and books have been published and read voraciously by Japanese on the attributes of collective Japanese culture and what makes the Japanese different from everyone else in the world.

In Japanese newspapers, renowned scholars write things like: "The Japanese are Mongoloid... Mongoloid children should be raised slowly and carefully in large families and be exposed to complex social relations. This kind of environment is essential in raising Japanese children to ensure their frontal lobe develops properly." The scholar that wrote this also wrote that the traditional Japanese fish- and rice-based diet is "most suited for the brains of the Japanese."

An extremist bureaucrat once explained to a an American audience that Japanese couldn't eat foreign rice because they had longer intestines than other people.

Japanese strongly desire the praise of foreigners. Television commercial feature foreigners complementing Japanese over their kindness and expressing admiration for Japanese technology. The media runs stories about what foreign textbooks and newspaper say about the Japanese.

Homogenous Japan

The Japanese have traditionally prided themselves on the racial harmony of their people and sometimes describe Japan as a "monoracial" society with one language and one set of commonly held beliefs. This means there are not many non-Japanese ethnic groups in Japan and very few of the non-Japanese are Japanese citizens.

According to DNA studies Japan has remained in remarkable genetic isolation. The mutations are strikingly different from those of surrounding populations and account by themselves for a special haplogroup.

See Minorities.

Rising Sense of Individualism in Japan

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Young Japanese are much more individualistic than older Japanese. They have been called the "bean sprout generation." Bean sprouts grow fast but grow best in the dark and thus have no strength.

Many scholars believe that traditional Japanese group society is collapsing and being replaced by a more individualistic one. "Japan," wrote author Jonathan Rauch, "is being 'set free' not from state tyranny, but from a complex network of social constraints that produce repression and self-control in equal measure. Sometimes it's hard to tell where liberation ends and social decay begins, and every time I go to Japan I feel I see more of both."

As old ways of doing things break down many Japanese are not sure what they are going to be replaced with. And what many see is not encouraging. The Nobel-Prize-winning novelist Kenzaburo Oe wrote “Our identity as Japanese has withered away...Now we have nothing but the reflection of ourselves we see in the eyes of the West. We are confused and lost. The response to that lostness is nationalism.”

But some see the rise of individualism and rejection of the status quo as a driving force behind creativity and entrepreneurship and find more hope in that than doing things in old, stodgy Japanese way.

Japanese has its share of eccentrics. Hiroshi Nohara won some notoriety after spending four months living Terminal 1 of the international airport in Mexico City, somewhat like the character in 2004 Steven Spielberg movie The Terminal. The only difference was that Nohara had a valid visa and a ticket home.

Japanese Physical Characteristics

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In 2008, based on data collected from 7,000 people, geneticist determined that Japanese fall into two basic genetic types: people native to Okinawa and the Ryukyu Islands and those native to other parts of Japan. The biggest difference between the two groups is hair thickness and ear wax texture with those from the Ryukyu Islands having harder hair and drier ear wax.

About 95 percent of all Japanese are lactase deficient. This means they have problems digesting milk products.

Almost all Japanese are born with a Mongolian birthmark, a small patch of brown pigment located on their butt and/or lower back. The mark disappears when they are one or two years old. Korean, Mongolians, some Chinese, Hungarians and Bushmen or the Kalahari have a similar mark.

Fat accumulates differently on the European sumo wrestlers than its does on the Japanese ones. Mongolians have wider cheekbones than Japanese. Japanese have the same percentages of A, AB, B, O blood types as Estonians.

Ear Wax Types and Japanese Get Taller

Asians on average are also generally thinner and shorter than Westerners but they are getting taller and fatter. Some believe that at least some of the difference can be explained by diet.

Japanese today are around three inches taller than Japanese who grew up around World War II. Most scientist attribute the increase to nutritional changes, such as more milk and meat in their diets. Others have proposed more far-fetched theories. One researcher suggested that the switch from sitting on the floor to sitting Western-style in chairs has straightened some Japanese out and made them taller.

The are two main ear wax types found in Japan: wet an dry. Students at Nagasaki High School were able to isolate the gene that determines ear wax type and with that knowledge collected samples ear wax from all over Japan and put together an ear wax map and found that dry ear wax is more common in western Japan. Studies have found that people living in Japan in the Jomon period (10,000 B.C. to 300 B.C.) carried the gene for wet ear wax while the gene for dry earwax was introduced into Japan by people that came from the Asian continent in the Yayoi period (300 B.C. to A.D. 300).

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Study of Japan and Japanese

For a long time the study of Japan in particular and Asia in general was the domain of a few specialists but all that began to change in the 1970s as Japan emerged as an economic powerhouse and the people in the West began seeking cultural secrets behind its success.

Sawa Kurotani, an anthropology professor a Redlands University, wrote in the Daily Yomiuri, “Japan’s ascent as a modern, capitalist nation-state never erased the more traditional image of Japan. In fact, the emphasis on the uniqueness of Japanese capitalism and business practices reinforced the Western image of Japan as fundamentally foreign.”

In the 1990s, when Japan’s star began to wane during a period of economic stagnation there and China’s star began to rise as its economy began to take off interest in Japan and Japan studies declined while interest in China and China studies rose. Now many of those interested in Japan are drawn by popular culture---namely anime and manga---rather than by economics, trade and business.

DNA studies have shown that all Asians descend from two common lineages: 1) one more common in southern Asia, particularly among Vietnamese, Malays and New Guineans; and 2) one more common in northern Asia, particularly among Tibetans, Koreans and Siberians.

Asian Physical Characteristics

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People classified as Asians are physically different in some ways than people of European descent. In almost all cases Asians have straight, black hair and dark eyes. They also tend to have less body hair, less facial hair, flatter faces, smaller noses, wider cheekbones, and "shovel-shaped" incisor teeth (slightly scooped out shape of back side of the front teeth).

Asians are less likely to get some diseases than Westerners and more likely to get others. Many Asians get acne at a later age than Westerners. Fewer Asian men go bald than European men. There also appears to be less Asians with grey hair, but it is not clear whether this is because they get grey hair at a later age or dye their hair. Many Asian children find red and blonde hair and hairy arms and legs to be fascinating.

Northern Asians are generally stockier and have lighter skin and thinner eyes than southern Asians. All skin contains about the same number of melanocytes but the amount of melanin they produce varies. Dark skinned people produce more and light skin people produce less.

Some people think that difference between Asians and Europeans have existed for some times. While holding a cast made of Peking Man in the 1930s, Chinese archeologist Jia Lan told National Geographic, "This skull has some characteristic of modern Chinese people. For instance, the nose bone of Peking man was low and cheeks were flat, as in Asians today."

Individual strands of Chinese women’s hair are circular and wider and more resistant to breaking than the oval hairs of Western women. Chinese hair has higher pigment concentrations that makes it glossier and shinier than the hair of Western women and less likely to turn white. Chinese hair is less dense than Western hair with fewer hairs per square centimeter of scalp.

When stripped of its natural pigment, Asian hair has reddish undertones while European hair has yellow-orange undertones. As a result hair dyes for Asian women are made with green that cancels out red while those for European women are made with violet that cancels out the yellow-orange undertones.

Books: Human Variation, Races, Types and Ethnic Groups by Stephen Molnar (Prentice Hall, 1992); The Mismeasure of Man by Stephen Jay Gould (Norton, 1991); The Evolution of Racism by Pat Shipmen (Simon & Schuster, 1994); Human Biodiversity by Jonathan Marks of Yale University (Walter Gruyter).

Yellow Skin

Asians are sometimes referred to as having yellow skin. It is not clear where the term comes from especially when one rarely sees an Asian with yellow skin unless they have jaundice. Biologists who deal with such matters classify most Asians as having the same skin color as people living in northern North America.

20080224-map_of_skin_color_distribution.gif

Some trace its origins to the term “yellow peril”---fear of Oriental hordes overwhelming the West---which first appeared shortly after Japan defeated China in 1895 and has been attributed to the German Kaiser Wilhelm II but was used before him by the Hungarian General Turr in an assessment of Bismark. Several American newspapers used the term, including Ohio paper The Sandsuky Register, which ran a story in June 1895 with the following passage: “The “yellow peril”is more threatening than ever. Japan has made in a few years as much progress as other nations have made in centuries.”

Westerners rarely use the term yellow or yellow skin in association with Asians anymore but sometimes Asians do. Chinese athlete Liu Xiang dedicated the gold medal he won in 110 meter hurdles at the 2004 Summer Olympics to “all the yellow-skinned people”and called his performance a “miracle.” “Because I’m Chinese,” he said, “and have the physiology of the Asian race to me this is a miracle. But because of it I expect more miracles in the future.” In China Liu is nicknamed the “The Yellow Bullet.”

Skin Color and Zebrafish

The are number of theories that attempt to explain why there are difference in skin color. One theory holds that lighter skin evolved as an adaption to weaker sunlight and the need to extract more sunlight to manufacture Vitamin D. Pale skin makes this easier when the sun’s rays are not particularly strong. But unfortunately , malignant melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, is more common among lighter skin people than darker skinned ones.

In 2005, scientists discovered a tiny mutation in a gene that plays a key role in determining skin color, with Caucasians inheriting a different version than other groups. The gene---named slc245a5---was discovered in a cancer research study using zebrafish, which have the same gene and come in dark and light skin versions. Slc245a is believed to be responsible for between 25 and 38 percent of color variation between Europeans and Africans.

Researchers found that people in Africa and China have one variation of slc245a5 and people of European ancestry have another. The research indicated that the dark version was the original and the light version evolved as humans migrated from Africa into northern areas and is consistent with a theory that lighter skin evolved as an adaption to weaker sunlight.

On the relevance of this finding to race, Gregory Barsh of Stanford University told the Times of London: “The paper indicates how the genetics of skin color variation is quite different from, and not be confused with, the concept of race...One of the most obvious characteristics that distinguishes different humans is nothing more than a simple change in the activity of a protein expressed in pigment cells. Skin color does not equal race period.”

Ears, Asian Eyes and Squatting

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The small webs of skin over the corners of Asian eyes are described by scientists as epicanthic folds. It is not understood why Asians have them and Europeans don't. Most Asians have a dry kind of ear wax that is relatively odorless while Africans and Europeans have wet and sticky ear wax that gives off more smell.

Many Asians also don't have a crease around the top of their eyelid like Westerners do. Some Asian women consider and eyelid with a crease to be more beautiful than an eyelid without one and they spend a lot of money for "double slit operation," to have a crease surgically incised into their eyelid. Many Asians also consider round eyes to be more beautiful than almond-shaped eyes.

Asians are more comfortable squatting and crouching than Westerners. In many Asian countries people relax and rest for long periods of time in a squatting position that many Westerners find unbearbaly uncomfortable after only a few seconds. Some scientists claim that the squatting position is better for digestion. Many Asians also spend more time sitting on the floor than on chairs and couches, which Westerners prefer. see Japan, China. See Toilets.

Blood and Body Odor

Type B blood is more common among East Asians and Africans than it is among Europeans. Asians generally do not have Rh-negative blood and hospitals do not store it for transfusions. Foreign travelers who have O Rh negative are in big trouble because they can only accept O negative blood, which generally isn't available.

Deodorants are sometimes difficult to find in Asia although they have become more common in recent years, in part through marketing efforts by deodorant makers. Body odor is produced apocrine glands in the armpits and genital area. Men have more and larger apocrine glands than women, and Caucasians and Africans have more and larger glands than Asians. Some people claim that Asians have a different body temperature than Westerners.

Milk, Butter and Lactase Races

Some Asians don't like cheese, butter, milk or other dairy prodcuts and in some cases get physically sick if they eat them. In the old days, many Asian didn't even like their smell. Nineteenth century Japanese described Europeans traders as bata-kusai ("stinks of butter").

The aversion for dairy products is partly the result of the fact that many Asians lose lactase, an the enzyme which helps in digestion of milk sugar, as they get older. Groups that don't possess the lactase enzyme are called lactase negative races and those that have it are called lactase positive races.

Almost all mammalian milk contains lactose, a complex sugar that is broken down in the body of most people into simpler sugars like glucose by lactase. If people who lack lactase consume a lot of dairy products, undigested lactose accumulates in their large intestines, ferments, and emits gas. This leads to bloating and diarrhea.

Most adult animals can not tolerate lactose. Over time through evolution humans have developed a tolerance to lactose. Around 8000 years ago most people were lactase negative because they stopped consuming milk when they were weaned form their mothers. Beginning around 4000 B.C. some groups of people began drinking milk from domesticated animals, and later milk became an important food source for people in northern and central Europe, Arabia and parts of West Africa. Natural selection enabled these people to retain the lactase enzyme into adulthood while groups that drink milk lost the enzyme in childhood.

Exposure to American food like pizza and cheeseburgers have made dairy products more palatable to young Asians.

Red Faces and Mongolia Birth Marks

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red in the face and
flat on the floor
About half of all Asians lack an active enzyme which breaks down acetaldehyde, a toxic chemical derived from ethanol found in most forms of alcohol. As a result, when they drink they often get sick to their stomach or turn red in the face. Most westerners have this enzyme, and consequently they need to drink much more to get drunk or turn red.

Some Asians turn bright red after only a few sips of alcohol. If they continue drinking they often vomit because their bodies reject the alcohol.

Almost all Japanese, Korean, Mongolians, and some Chinese are born with a Mongolian birthmark, a small patch of brown pigment located on their butts or lower back. The mark vary in size and usually disappear within a few years. Indians in North, Central and South Americas also have these marks. Some scientists have suggested that these marks are evidence that these people originated from Asia. "Mongolian spots" are also found in Bushmen (See Below).

Asian Traits Found Among Other Groups

Khoisians ("bushmen") from southern Africa also have epicanthic folds and Mongolian birthmarkes. Many Swedes and native Americans have shovel shaped incisors. Many American Indians also have lack enzyme that helps the body metabolize alcohol.

Lactase negative races include east Asians, some African blacks, American Indians, southern Europeans and Australian aborigines. Lactase positive races include northern and central Europeans, Arabians and some West African groups such as the Fulani.

Asian and Native American Connection

The oldest form of human DNA recovered in North America---dated to be around 10,300 years old---is common in type to that found in Japan and Tibet. Similar DNA has been found in native Americans all the way down the west coast of North and South America.

It had long been thought that the first Americans were hunters who crossed a land bridge across the Bering Strait from Siberia to Alaska about 13,500 years ago and followed an “ice-free corridor” southward though glacier-covered North America, presumably chasing mammoths and mastodons as they went. Studies of skull and facial structures indicates these people were closely related to the Jomon period (10,000 and 400 B.C.) people of Japan. The skull and facial structures of the Jomon people are in fact more similar to the skull and facial structures of Americans and Europeans than to mainland Asians.

The latest and most widely accepted theory on the first Americans is that they were fishermen who traveled in small boats along the coasts of eastern Asia and western America, bridging the two continents by island hoping between Siberia and Alaska. Some scientists have theorized they originated from Japan and followed a near continuous belt of kelp forests, rich in fish and other sea creatures, that have existed in coastal waters from Japan to Alaska to southern California and flourished even during the Ice Age.

Backing up this assertion is evidence that the coastline and northeastern Asia and northwestern America was not as inhospitable as previously thought and could have easily supported migrating, seafaring communities. In the 1990s evidence emerged of a community living in shellfish at a site called Monte Verde on an island off the Chilean coast around 14,850 years ago. It is likely these people arrived by boat. The ice-free corridor mentioned above was blocked until 13,000 years ago.

There is evidence that people living on Honshu set out across the North Pacific more than 20,000 years ago to Kozushima, an island 50 kilometers away, to collect a type of volcanic glass to make tools. Erland believes these people made the journey in animal skin boats and could have used to the same boats to travel northward to Hokkaido, the Kuril islands and Kamchatka Peninsula, all of which, even today, are rich in game and fish, and continuing onto to Alaska and North America. Recently the remains of a seafarer, dates to between 13,000 and 13,200 years old, were found in the Channel Islands off southern California.

Explanation for Physical Differences

No one knows why Asians have thin eyes or flat facial profiles. None of these traits appear to give groups or individuals any kind of evolutionary advantage or particular adaption to environment. Epicanthic folds and thin eyes, some scientist have specualted, may have developed in northern Asia as a way of protecting the eyes from cold and glare off the snow.

Some anthropologists believe that people in northern climates developed stockier bodies because they have less surface area and retain internal heat better than long thin bodies with long limbs which that have more surface area to dissipate heat. This may be why many Africans in hot climates have long thin bodies, while eskimos and some northern Asians are stocky and squat.

Small noses are commonly found among Asians who live in humid tropical areas. Long noses are common among North Africans in dry climates and among northern Europeans in cold or dry climates. One of the main purposes of the nose is to moisten air that enters the body (an excess amount of dry air is harmful to lungs) and therefore long noes may be an adaption among people in dry climates to moisturize air.

Variations in Skin Color and Other Traits

"By definition we are all capable of interbreeding with all other human beings of the opposite sex to produce fertile offspring," wrote James Shreeve in Discover magazine. "In practice, however, people do not mate randomly; they normally choose their partners from within a social group or population immediately at hand and have been doing so for hundreds of generations."

More so than today, people in the past were divided into specific geographical regions by mountain ranges, deserts and oceans. They generally stayed pretty close to their homelands until the beginning of European colonialism in the 16th century, when people from far away regions began mixing and interbreeding. People still seem to prefer their own kind. Studies have shown that people tend to mate with people who resembles themselves in term so things like eye, hair and skin color.

"As a result," Sheeve wrote, "the physical expressions of the genes inherited for an expanding chain of parents and grandparent---most of whom lived in the same region as one another---also tend to cluster, so that there is a great deal of variation from geographical region to another in skin color, hair form, facial morphology, body proportion and a host of immediately less obvious traits."

History of the Concept of Race

Early explorers like Marco Polo traveled by camel or boat over reality short distances each day. "It never occurred to them to categorize people, because they had seen everything in between," University of Michigan anthropologist Loring Brace told Discover magazine. "That changed when you could get into a boat, sail for months, and wind up in a different continent entirely."

The notion of using science to define race can be traced back to Carolus Linnaeus (1707-1778), the Swedish biologist who helped develop the modern system of classifying living things into genus and species. In 1758, Linnaeus took the radical step of establishing Homo sapiens as a species within a group of animals called primates and then divided mankind into four races: 1) Europeans, 2) Native Americans, 3) Asians and 4) Africans. He also mentioned tow other categories: monstous (hairy creatures with tails described by explorers) and ferus ("wild boys"). Members of the latter group were occasionally found in the forest and were believed to have been raised by animals (most were actually mentally ill or retarded youngsters abandoned by their parents).

Linnaeus then went a step further and defined four races in terms of personality and dress. He said Native Americans were "red, choleric, upright" and "ruled by habit"; Europeans were "white, sanguine, muscular" and "ruled by custom"; Asians were "pale yellow, melancholy, stiff" and "ruled by belief"; and Africans were "black, phlegmatic, relaxed" and "ruled by caprice." About a century after Linnaeus, Charles Darwin attributed the difference in human races to sexual preference in his second most influential book, The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex.

Problems with the Concept of Race

"Race is supposed to be a strictly biological category, equivalent to animal subspecies," Yale anthropologist Jonathan Marks told Discover magazine. "The problem is that humans also use it as a cultural category, and it is difficult if not impossible, to separate those two things from each other."

Racial categories based on skin color and geography often doesn't make any sense. Indians from India, for example, have dark skin (like "blacks") and Europeanlike facial features (like "Caucasians") but they inhabit the continent of Asia (like "Asians").

About 70 percent of cultural anthropologist and half of physical anthropologists have rejected the concept or race as a biological category according to a 1989 Central Michigan University study. Even so, many anthropology textbooks still define five major races: "whites," "African blacks," "Mongoloids," "aboriginal Australians," and "Khoisans." This in turn are divided into various number of sub-races. American Indians fall into the Mongoloid category.

Modern Science, Race and

Physical Characteristics

Much of the information that scientists use to study genetics and "race" is ascertained from the analysis of blood types and specific antigens, antibodies and other proteins found in blood. Stanford University population geneticist Luca Cavalili-Sforza, author of The History and Geography of Human Genes, has attempted to put together a genetic map of the world by analyzing blood samples taken from different places around the globe.

Cavalli-Sforza's team often had difficulty collecting blood from people in remote places for their study. A farmer in the Central African Republic, for example, brandished an ax when he was asked if it was alright if the scientists took blood samples from his children. He said, "if you take the blood of the children. I'll take yours."

Studies in the United States have shown that many people with mostly European DNA look black and East Asian DNA is common in native Americans.

Diversity Among Peoples

From a genetic perspective, grouping people by skin color or "race" doesn't have a foundation in science. Blacks from the United States, Ghana and Somalia, for example are no more similar to each other that they are to Arabs, Swedes or Greeks.

Many physical traits have nor correlation to skin color or race. Groups with a predominance of "loops" in the fingerprint patterns include most Europeans, black Africans and east Asians, while groups with mostly "whorls" include Mongolian and Australian aborigines. Groups with "arches" include Khoisians and some central Europeans.

Black Americans generally have higher rates of hypertension (high blood pressure) than white Americans but Finns and Russians also have high rates of hypertension while black Africans generally have remarkably low rates of the disease.

Unlike the United States, which has clear difference between whites, blacks and Asians, people in most of the world, says Harvard biologists Orlando make social and class "distinctions based on gradation of color."

Racial Differences and What It Means

In regard to physical differences between groups of people, Cavalili-Sforza has said that once surface traits such as skin color, hair texture, and shape of the nose, eyes and body are discounted, human races are remarkable alike. The differences between individuals within a race are much greater than the difference between races and the diversity among individuals is "so enormous that the whole concept of race becomes meaningless at a genetic level." [Source: Time magazine, January 16, 1995]

In 1972, Harvard biologist Richard Lewontin studied 17 genetic markers in 168 different populations (such as Germans, Thais and Apaches) and concluded "there is more genetic difference within race than there is between that race and another" and "only 6.3 percent of genetic differences could be explained by the individual's belonging to different races."

In 1994, the Human Genome Diversity Project concluded that "genetic variation from one individual to another of the same 'race' swamps the average difference between racial groupings." Hampshire College's Alan Goodman told Newsweek that group people by geographical origin (ethnicity) "is more correct both in a statistical sense and in understanding the history of human variations."

Law enforcement authorities and doctors are some of the few people that can put the concept of race to some positive use. Forensic experts examining murder cases can usually determine whether or not the victim was black, white or Asians based on the measurements of certain bones. Some groups are more likely to get certain diseases than other groups (blacks and sickle cell anemia, for example) and thus doctors can direct preventive measures towards these groups.

Image Sources: 1) and 2) Photosensibility Andrew Gray 3) Ray Kinnane 4) Picture Tokyo 5) Liz Dalby geisha website 6) 7) squatting guy, Hector Garcia

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Daily Yomiuri, Times of London, Japan National Tourist Organization (JNTO), National Geographic, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, Lonely Planet Guides, Compton’s Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

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© 2009 Jeffrey Hays

Last updated January 2017

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