Coon Carleton S

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Shofar archives:

In fact, what you did bugs me so much I’m posting my response here,
too.

Laura Finsten wrote:
>olk@login.dknet.dk (Ole Kreiberg) wrote:

Kreiberg:

Please let me quote the American scientist Carleton S Coon, (now retired
I guess) Professor of Anthropology at Harvard and at the University of
Pennsylvania, curator of ethnology at the University Museum in
Philadelphia, past President of the American Association of Physical
Anthropology. In the course of writing his The Story of Man, which has
been translated into at least eight languages, he said:

Me:

Although I’m not absolutely certain of this, I think that Carleton Coon
may now be dead (according to bibliographic information he was born in
1904).

Kreiberg:

“More serious are the activities of the academic debunkers and soft-
pedalers who operate inside anthropology itself. Basing their ideas on
the concept of the brotherhood of man, certain writers, who are mostly
social anthropologists, consider it immoral to study race, and produce
book after book exposing it as a “myth”. Their argument is that because
the study of race once gave ammunition to racial fascists, we should
pretend that races do not exist…. These writers are not physical
anthropologists, but the public does not know the difference.”

Me:

Coon’s reference to “certain writers” is the bastion of an academic
coward, I’m afraid to say. Who are they, so that readers may investigate
their academic credentials for themselves, read the criticisms of
Coon’s ideas for themselves, and draw conclusions for themselves?

Coon is in part correct that not all of his critics were physical
anthropologists. Among the most vocal was a biologist who specialised
in the study of genetics and (micro)evolution. To suggest that
such a biologist lacks the knowledge and scholarly skills to criticise
Coon’s theory of human evolution is disingenuous, at best.

And although Coon does not say so, there were *many* critics of his
theory of human evolution (which entailed the racial superiority of
“whites”) who *were* physical anthropologists, including Sherwood
Washburn and Ashley Montagu, both of whom were very vocal in the
*scientific* criticisms of Coon’s argument.

It is also noteworthy that, today, most introductions to human
evolution still include discussion of Coon’s basic argument about
the evolution of modern humans, i.e., that Homo sapiens emerged from
Homo erectus in a number of different parts of the world, rather than
in a single location. This idea, however, is not well-supported by
the accumulating fossil and biochemical (mitochondrial DNA) evidence.
Given the lack of support, it is no small wonder that Coon’s corollary
argument about the earlier emergence of “whites”/Europeans and their
alleged superiority does not merit serious discussion.

[text deleted]

From finsten@mcmail.cis.mcmaster.ca Sat Jun 8 07:34:03 PDT 1996
Article: 21853 of alt.politics.nationalism.white
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From: Laura Finsten
Newsgroups: alt.politics.nationalism.white
Subject: Re: Some Quotations about the Race Question
Date: 7 Jun 1996 15:34:56 GMT
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olk@login.dknet.dk (Ole Kreiberg) wrote:
>In article <4onl1j$6gi@informer1.cis.McMaster.CA>, Laura Finsten wrote:
>>In fact, what you did bugs me so much I’m posting my response here,
>>too.

>>Laura Finsten wrote:

>> And although Coon does not say so, there were *many* critics of his
>> theory of human evolution (which entailed the racial superiority of
>> “whites”) who *were* physical anthropologists, including Sherwood
>> Washburn and Ashley Montagu, both of whom were very vocal in the
>> *scientific* criticisms of Coon’s argument.

>Hm Ashly Montagu (born Israel Ehrenberg) says the following on
>page 66 in “The Anatonomy on controversy, part two”:

Oh, well, that explains everything!!! Coon resigned as president
of the AAPA, because he did not have the support of the organisation.
The organisation did not consist entirely, or even predominantly,
of Jews, Mr. Strom. There were no *physical anthropologists*
speaking out vocally in support of Coon’s theory of racial origins,
and that ought to say a lot about the quality of the theory.
Instead you chose to focus on the race/ethnicity of one of the
individuals who was vocal in his criticisms. Now why is that,
Mr. Strom?

>”It is a fact that such recognitions [statistical results] cannot have
>any meaning of this simple reason that all men by virtue of their
>human nature have the right to be given every opportunity to fulfil
>themselves. No results neither from the scientific anthropology, the
>ethnology nor from psychological tests can by no means have influence
>on this principle which is a ethical principle”
>(I have translated the above English from a German translation. I am sorry
>that I could not find the original one).

> He admits that his arguments are rather based on ethics than pure science.

I’ll try to find time to check out the statement. But where is
the evidence, Mr. Strom? Have you read the empirical and logical
critiques of Coon’s theory of racial origins?

>> It is also noteworthy that, today, most introductions to human
>> evolution still include discussion of Coon’s basic argument about
>> the evolution of modern humans, i.e., that Homo sapiens emerged from
>> Homo erectus in a number of different parts of the world, rather than
>> in a single location. This idea, however, is not well-supported by
>> the accumulating fossil and biochemical (mitochondrial DNA) evidence.
>> Given the lack of support, it is no small wonder that Coon’s corollary
>> argument about the earlier emergence of “whites”/Europeans and their
>> alleged superiority does not merit serious discussion.

>Carleton S. Coon wrote in 1962 (The Origins Of Races) p.18:

>” I am making these statements not for any political or social purpose but
>merely to show that, were it not for the mechanism cited above, men would
>not be black, white, yellow, or brown. We would all be light khaki, for
>there has been enough gene flow the clinal* regions of the world during the
>last half millions yaers to have homogenized us all had that been the
>evolutionary scheme of things, and had it not been advantageous to each of
>the geographical races for it to retain, for the most part, the adaptive
>elements in its genetic status quo.

What “mechanisms cited above”? You see, if I am reading this paragraph
correctly, a major flaw in Coon’s reasoning here seems to be that all
traits change at the same rate and in concert with one another. And yet
the present evidence for earlier hominid evolution clearly indicates that
this simply is not true. Superficial traits that confer a clear adapative
advantage in a particular environmental setting, and are simple dominant-
recessive traits, can change relatively rapidly, over a small number of
generations.

Coon is in fact partly correct here – skin colour does indeed show
a “clinal distribution”, generally speaking grading from lightest to
the north to darkest in the south of the eastern hemisphere. This does
indeed suggest that populations grade into one another (and they do so
in other, less superficial traits, as well), and that there are no
clear cut boundaries between “races”. However, Coon is wrong in
assuming that population movements and mixing should have resulted
in a homogenous “khaki”-coloured mass of humans if all humans share
the same immediate evolutionary ancestor. He is also wrong about
the “half million years” for homogenisation. All the present evidence
suggests that Homo sapiens sapiens have been around for less than half
that time.

> This status quo entails not only the variations in bones and teeth that
>are evident in fossil man, and those of the surface features of living men,
>like skin, hair, lips, and ears, by which we can distinguish races almost
>at a glance, but also subtler differences seen only on the dissecting table
>or through the eyepieces of microscopes. Races differ in the extent and
>manner in which the fine subcutaneous muscles of the lips and cheeks have
>become differentiated from the parent mammalian muscle body; in the chemical
>composition of hair and of bodily secretions, including milk; in the ways
>in which different endocrines: in certain details of the nervous system,
>as, for example, how far down in the lumbar vertebrae the neural canal
>extends; and in the capacity of individuals to tolerate crowding and
>stress.

Coon argued that he could identify five “races” of Homo erectus, and
that the five (not four, not six) “races” of modern humans each evolved
independently out of the five groups of this earlier species. And,
surprise surprise, Coon argued that the line that produced “whites”
underwent this transition before the others, so “whites” are “more
evolved” than are other races. I don’t think that there is a single
living palaeoanthropologist who would support Coon’s claim that such
identifications are possible on the basis of fossil materials (it is
tremendously difficult with recent skeletons). And as I have already said,
there is no empirical support for his evolutionary argument. All of
the existing evidence suggests that Homo sapiens emerged first in Africa.
What are you going to say about that, Mr. Strom?
Biochemical evidence doesn’t support Coon, the additional fossil evidence
that has accumulated since Coon wrote this does not support him, and our
much improved understanding of human biological variation (skeletal and
otherwise) does not support him. ALL populations are variable, that
variation does indeed have a geographic component in humans just as it
does in other species. But among humans, populations differ more
>from one another than the groups lumped together as “races” do.
Biologically, they are bogus categories based on a couple of superficial
traits.

> In studying racial differences in living men, physical anthropologists
>are now relying less and less on anthropometry and more and more on
>research in blood groups, hemoglobins, and other biochemical features.
>This is all to the good because the inheritance of these newly discovered
>characteristics can be accurately determined. In them, racial differences
>have been found, differences just as the better known and much less
>controversial than the latter in an increasingly race-conscious world. To
>me, at least, it is encouraging to know that biochemistry divides us into
>the same subspecies that we have long recognized on the basis of other
>criteria”

Well you know, Mr. Strom, when Coon was writing, biochemical genetic
work was in its infancy. More than 30 years of accumulated data, and new
and improved techniques for collecting and analysing genetic data,
contradict Coon’s conclusion. Would you care to address that?

>*A cline is defined as “a region of racial transition, a frontier-in-depth
>within which a subspecies [or what is commonly called a race] grades into
>another through intermediate forms”,

More recent definitions of clinal distributions don’t assume that “race”
is a necessary part of them, in keeping with our present understanding
of variation among humans. For example, Stephen Molnar defines a clinal
distribution as “trac[ing] the geographical range of phenotypic or
genetic characteristics of our species” (“Human Variation”, 3rd ed.,
1992, Prentice Hall, p.344). The focus on geography, something that
Mr. “Ourobouros” Stone appears to have tremendous difficulty with, is
in keeping with contemporary biological concepts of species, subspecies,
and populations.

From finsten@mcmail.cis.mcmaster.ca Sat Jun 1 21:12:43 PDT 1996
Article: 30611 of alt.politics.white-power
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From: Laura Finsten
Newsgroups: alt.politics.white-power
Subject: Re: Some Quotations about the Race Question
Date: 31 May 1996 20:32:51 GMT
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