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You Don’t Need Genes to Delineate Race

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Most race deniers say that race isn’t real because, as Lewontin (1972) and Rosenberg (2002) state, the within-group variation is larger than the between-group variation. Though, you can circumvent this claim by not even looking at genes/allele frequencies between races, you can show that race is real by looking at morphology, phenotype and geographic ancestry. This is one of Michael Hardimon’s race categories, the minimalist concept of race. This concept does not entail anything that we cannot physically ‘see’ with our eyes (e.g., mental and psychological traits are off the table). Using these concepts laid out by Hardimon can and does prove that race is real and useful without even arguing about any potential mental and psychological differences between human races.


Morphology is one of the most simple tells for racial classification. Just by looking at average morphology between the races we can use attempt to use this data point as a premise in the argument that races exist.

East Asians are shorter with shorter limbs and have an endomorphic somatype. This is due to evolving in cold climate, as a smaller body and less surface area can be warmer much quicker than a larger body. This is a great example of Allen’s rule: that animals in colder climates will be smaller than animals in warmer climates. Using average morphology, of course, can show how the population in question evolved and where they evolved.

Regarding Europeans, they have an endomorphic somatype as well. This, again, is due to where they evolved. Morphology can tell us a lot about the evolution of a species. Though, East Asians and Europeans have similar morphologies due to evolving in similar climates. Like East Asians, Europeans have a wider pelvis in comparison to Africans, so this is yet another morphological variable we can use to show that race exists.

Finally, the largest group is ‘Africans’ who have the largest phenotypic and genetic diversity on earth. Generally, you can say that they’re tall, have long limbs and a short torso, which is due to evolving in the tropics. Furthermore, and perhaps most important, Africans have narrower pelves than East Asians and Europeans. This character is one of the most important regarding the reality of race because it’s one of the most noticeable, and we do notice in when it comes to sports competition because that certain type of morphology is conducive to athletic success. (Also read my recent article on strength and race and my article on somatype and race for more information on morphologic racial differences.)


Morphology is a part of the phenotype too, obviously, but there is a reason why it’s separated. As is true with morphology, different characters evolved due to cultural evolution (whether or not they adopted farming early) or evolution through natural selection, drift and mutation. Though, of course, favorable mutations in a certain environment will be passed on and eventually become a part of the characteristics of the population in question.

East Asians have the epicanthic fold, which probably evolved to protect the eye from the elements and UV rays on the Mongolian steppes. They also have softer features than Europeans and Africans, but this is not due to lower testosterone as is popularly stated. (Amusingly enough, there is a paper that stated that East Asians have Down Syndrome-like qualities due to their epicanthic folds to bring up one reason.) Even then, what some races find attractive or not can show how and why certain facial phenotypes evolved. To quote Gau et al (2018):

Compared with White women, East Asian women prefer a small, delicate and less robust face, lower position of double eyelid, more obtuse nasofrontal angle, rounder nose tip, smaller tip projection and slightly more protruded mandibular profile.

And they conclude:

The average faces are different from the attractive faces, while attractive faces differ according to race. In other words, the average facial and aesthetic criteria are different. We should use the attractive faces of a race to study that races aesthetic criteria.

We can use studies such as this to discern different facial phenotypes, which, again, proves that race exists.

The climate one’s ancestors evolved in dictates nose shape. In areas where it is extremely dry and also has a lot of heat, a larger mucous area is required to moisten inspired (inhaled) air, which is why a more flat and narrow nose is needed.

Zaidi et al (2017) write:

We find that width of the nares is correlated with temperature and absolute humidity, but not with relative humidity. We conclude that some aspects of nose shape may have indeed been driven by local adaptation to climate.

Though climate, of course, isn’t the only reason for differences in nose shape; sexual selection plays a part too, as seen in the above citation on facial preferences in East Asian and European women.

There are also differences in hirsutism between the races. Racial differences exist regarding upper lip hair, along with within-race differences (Javorsky et al, 2014). The self-reported races of African American, East Asian, Asian Indian, and ‘Hispanic’ predicted facial hair differences in women, but not how light their skin was. The women were from Los Angeles, USA; Rome, Italy; Akita, Japan; and London, England. Indian women had more hair than any other race, while European women had the least. Regarding within-race variation, Italian women had more hair on their upper lip than American and British women. Skin lightness was related to hair on the upper lip. (Also read my article The Evolution of Human Skin Variation for more information on racial differences in skin color.)

In 2012, an interesting study was carried out on hair greying on a sample population of a large number of the world’s ethnies titled Greying of the human hair: a worldwide survey, revisiting the ‘50’ rule of thumbThe objective of the study was to test the ’50-50-50′ rule; that at age 50, 50 percent of the population has at least 50 percent of their hair grey. Africans and Asians showed fewer grey hairs than whites who showed the most. The results imply that hair greyness varies by ethnicity/geographic origin, which is perfect for the argument laid out in this article. The global range for people over 50 with 50 percent or more of their hair grey was between 6 and 23 percent, far lower than what was originally hypothesized (Panhard, Lozano, and Loussouarn, 2012). They write on page 870:

With regard to the intensity of hair greying, the lowest values were found among African and Asian groups, especially Thai and Chinese, whereas the highest values were in subjects with the blondest hair (Polish, Scottish, Russian, Danish, CaucasianAustralian and French).

Altogether, these analyses clearly illustrate that the lowest incidences and intensities of grey hair are found in populations of the darkest hair whereas the highest intensities are found in populations with the lightest hair tones.

grey hair pca

Actual hair diversity is much more concentrated in Europeans, however (Frost, 2005). (See Peter Frost’s article Why Do Europeans Have So Many Hair and Eye Colors?) It is largely due to sexual selection, with a few climatic factors thrown in. Dark hair, on the other hand, is a dominant trait, which is found all over the world.

Zhuang et al (2010) found significant differences in facial morphology between the races, writing:

African-Americans have statistically shorter, wider, and shallower noses than Caucasians. Hispanic workers have 14 facial features that are significantly larger than Caucasians, while their nose protrusion, height, and head length are significantly shorter. The other ethnic group was composed primarily of Asian subjects and has statistically different dimensions from Caucasians for 16 anthropometric values.

Statistically significant differences in facial anthropometric dimensions (P < 0.05) were noted between males and females, all racial/ethnic groups, and the subjects who were at least 45 years old when compared to workers between 18 and 29 years of age.

Blacks had statistically significant differences in lip and face length when compared to whites (whites had shorted lips than blacks who had longer lips than whites).

Brain size and cranial morphology, too, differs by geographic ancestry which is directly related to the climate where that population evolved (Beals, Smith, and Dodd, 1984). Most every trait that humans have—on average of course—differs by geographic location and the cause of this is evolution in these locations along with being a geographically isolated breeding population.

Geographic ancestry

The final piece to this argument is using where one’s recent ancestors came from. There are five major populations from a few geographic locales: Oceania, the Americas (‘Native Americans), Europe, Africa and East Asia. These geographic locales have peoples that evolved there and underwent different selective pressures due to their environment and their bodies evolved to better suit their environment, and so racial differences in morphology and phenotype occurred so the peoples could survive better in that location. No one part of this argument is more important than any other, though geographic ancestry is the final piece of the puzzle that brings everything together. Because race is correlated with morphology and phenotype, the geographic ancestry dictates what these characteristics look like.


Thus, this is the basic argument:

P1: Differing populations have differing phenotypes, including (but not limited to) facial structure, hair type/color, lip structure, skull size, brain size etc.

P2: Differing populations have differing morphology which, along with this population’s phenotype, evolved in response to climatic demands along with sexual selection.

P3: This population must originate from a distinct geographic location.

C: If all three of the above premises are true, then race—in the minimalist sense—exists and is biologically real.

This argument is extremely simple, and along with the papers cited above in support of the three premises and the ultimate conclusion, it will be extremely hard for race deniers to counter. We can say that P1 is logically sound because geographically isolated populations differ in the above-mentioned criteria. We can say that P2 is logically sound since differing populations have differing morphology (as I have discussed numerous times which leads to racial differences in sporting competition) such as differing trunk lengths, leg lengths, arm lengths and heights which are largely due to evolution in differing climates. We can say that P3 is logically sound because the populations that would satisfy P1 and P2 do come from geographically distinct locations; that is, they have a peculiar ancestry that they only share.

This concept of minimalist race from Michael Hardimon is (his) the racialist concept of race “stripped down to its barest bones” (Hardimon, 2017: 3). The minimalist concept of race, then, does not discuss any differences between populations that cannot be directly discerned with the naked eye. (Note: You can also use the above arguments/data laid out for the populationist concept of race, which, according to Hardimon (2017: 3) is: “A nonracialist (nonessentialist, nonhierarchical) candidate scientific concept that characterizes races as groups of populations belonging to biological lines of descent, distinguished by patterns of phenotypic differences, that trace back to geographically separated and extrinsically reproductively isolated founder populations.)

Minimalist race is biologically sound, grounded in genetics (though I have argued here that you don’t need genetics to define race), and is grounded in biology. Minimalist race is defined as characteristics of the group, not of the individual. Minimalist race are biologically real. Minimalist races exist because, as shown with the data presented in this article, phenotypic and morphologic traits are unevenly distributed throughout the world which then correlates with geographic ancestry. It cannot get any more simpler than that: race exists because differences in phenotype and morphology exist which then corresponds with geographic ancestry.

hardimon flow chart

From Hardimon (2017: 177)\

No sane or logical person would deny the existence of race based on the criteria laid out in this article. We can also make another leap in logic and state that since minimalist races exist and are biologically real then geographic ancestry should be a guide when dealing with medicine and different minimalist races.

It is clear that race exists in the minimal sense; you do not need genes to show that race is real, nor that race has any utility in a medical context. This is important for race deniers to understand: genes are irrelevant when talking about the reality of race; you only need to just use your eyes and you’ll see that certain morphologies and phenotypes are distributed across geographic locations. It is also very easy to get someone to admit that races exist in this minimalist-biological sense. No one denies the existence of Africans, Europeans, ‘Native’ Indians, East Asians and Pacific Islanders. These populations differ in morphology and other physical characters which are unevenly distributed by geographic ancestry, so, therefore: minimialist races exist and are a biological reality.



  1. John Connor says:

    Excellent article. What irks me about race deniers is their insistence on bringing up irrelevant points (such as the variation within races as opposed to the variation between them) long after they’ve been established as such, but then again, what else would one expect from the cult of egalitarianism.


  2. Matt says:

    List me the races. How many are there?


  3. Matt says:

    Pick this one apart.

    And this is just America’s conception btw.

    So there are whites who are non hispanic and hispanic, and blacks who are non hispanic and hispanic. There are also hispanics who are neither white or black.

    An Asian is someone from the Far East, Central Asia, North Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Indian subcontinent. All deemed the same race, but as you would say, morphologically distinct.

    No mention of the wide ranging morphological differences amongst whites.

    Also, note the way that descriptions of ‘race’ simply become nationalities. Hispanics are Portuguese and Spanish.

    And this is forgetting the blockbuster quote that the question of Hispanic or Latino origin is not a question of race. Why is that? Surely if race existed it would apply to all people?

    It might have something to do with the fact that there’s no population that has ever stayed in the same place, that humans have never not migrated and procreated, and that the extent to which America’s brightest and best have been able to quantify this, is by denoting ‘some other race’ or ‘mixed race’.

    I just cannot find any evidence anywhere to suggest that race is nothing other than a social construct.

    If it isn’t, list me the races, and tell me what makes them physically, biologically and chemically distinct.

    I want exact measurements of all physical, biological and chemical traits of distinction.

    Until you can do that, and no one has reliably and empirically yet, then the race deniers are in fact the race realists.


    • John Connor says:

      “I just cannot find any evidence anywhere to suggest that race is nothing other than a social construct.”

      Lol, either you have done some very poor research or you are woefully scientifically illiterate.


  4. Matt says:

    Hi John,

    I love you.

    Please do provide the links to the studies by scientists that have defined race.

    I would suggest you start here;

    I repeat; please list me the races, and tell me the characteristics that define those races, because if you can, you’ll achieve what no study has yet.

    I’m waiting.


    • jasif says:

      first off Hispanic is by definition:

      adjective: Hispanic
      relating to Spain or to Spanish-speaking countries, especially those of Latin America.
      relating to Spanish-speaking people or their culture, especially in the US.
      noun: Hispanic; plural noun: Hispanics
      a Spanish-speaking person living in the US, especially one of Latin American descent.

      in the simplest form a Hispanic is someone who is born in Latin america in Spain and/or speaks Spanish.

      the average “Hispanic” varies by country and is often a mestizo, a mestizo is mixed of European and Amerindian. however there are plenty of non – admixed Hispanics who are of solely European descent as thus look typically “white” these are what you would regard as “white Hispanics” if distinct human populations (nicer way to say races) did not exist we would be unable to trace ancestry and admixture in these “Hispanic”. the same apples to “black” and “mulatto” Hispanics. but because they do we can calculate an average admixture per Hispanic country. for example. Peruvians are often darker then Argentinians and low and behold we can show that the average Peruvian is 61% native american and 29% European. The average Argentina is reversed in admixture with high amounts of European admixture relative to native american.

      races are simply populations that have evolved to appear and in many ways behave differently. but for the sake of this , we are just talking about phenotype (Appearance) .


      for example “black people” or “African Americans” can be pointed out by features, e.i hair form, skin color, jaw shape, nasal cavity, nasal bridge, nasal, root, body mass, etc. this is the meaning of a race. it need not be absolute as nothing in science is. there are always exceptions as seen with other species and subspecies.

      Commonly accepted races are

      East Asian (Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Korean, Mongolian, etc) – evidence reveals non human Devonian Admixture

      Middle eastern / Persian/ Arabian/ some times horn of African

      South west Asian (Indians : indo Aryan, Dravidian)

      Aborigine (Australian, Melanesian)

      Amerindian (american Indian/ native american)

      European (Mediterranean, Slavic, Nordic, Anglo) – evidence reveals non human neanderthal Admixture

      Negro (sub Saharan, Congolese, Ibo, pygmies, etc)

      Based on phenotype and genetic similarity you could group them into three Large Racial groups

      Caucasoid ( all peoples originating for the Caucasus mountains) – Middle Easterners, north Africans, Europeans and possible northern Indians thought there has been must more distance)

      Mongoloid ( all peoples origination from East Asia) – Chinese, Japanese, Korean etc and native Americans (yes there originate from the Siberians who themselves are genetically related to east Asians along with obvious physical appearance)

      Negroid (all peoples originating AND LIVING IN THE sub Sahara)

      yes all humans came from Africa but then gradually evolved in relative to their geographical location. this is not even bringing up genetically evidence which i will link. the notion that races are not biologically real is a joke. it does not matter wither or not society may change its view of race , races exist, they correspond with geographically locations, display enough genetic difference to isolate and track to those locations and can clearly pointed out visually. that is all there is to it.


      Click to access 1985-nei.pdf

      McCurdy, J.A., Jr., & Lam, S.M. (2005). Cosmetic Surgery of the Asian Face (2nd ed.). China: Thieme Medical Publishers, Inc. pp. 4. TMP ISBN 1-58890-218-8 GTV ISBN 3 13 747602 X


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