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Comment: Re:Profit (Score 1) 171

You are being overly cynical. You take something that may be partially true and inflate it into an entire worldview.

Just because a war has economic underpinnings doesn't mean it's wrong to fight it. Most times there is a very real impact on the lives and liberties of those involved. That impact is tied into the reason for the war as much as money is.

Combat does occur for non-economic reasons.

Comment: Re:huh? (Score 1) 435

by spiralpath (#32811600) Attached to: Ban On Photographing Near Gulf Oil Booms
Not trying to be flippant, but you should cite specific examples: find a person on here who is defending this rule who previously attacked whatever analogous rule you're referring to. Otherwise, you are just assuming a bias, and in a way being biased yourself against this population. The royal "you" that you're referring to might not actually exist in a significant way.

Comment: Re:Lucid Dreaming = teh suck (Score 1) 308

by spiralpath (#32354428) Attached to: Video Gamers Have Power Over Their Dreams
I don't see how stupid he sounds, even with your ridiculous replacement. Studying the "Teabaggers" certainly has merit: how does a populist uprising occur, how is it manipulated by large structures like the media and political parties, does racism factor in and how heavily, etc.

Another example would be belligerent idiots replying to posts to spout stagnant, myopic ideological nonsense. How can an anti-religious, anti-conservative fail at communicating his worldview to a group of people predisposed to his message? A case study is in order. Just hit reply!

Comment: Re:Lucid Dreaming = teh suck (Score 1) 308

by spiralpath (#32354338) Attached to: Video Gamers Have Power Over Their Dreams
So because the manipulation of consciousness has played a role in shamanism, it's not "acceptable" to investigate? Not even in relation to new technologies and modern methods of constructing virtual worlds?

While your atheism sounds good in theory, in practice you're just being a wonder-killing, generalizing butthole.

P.S. Shamanism is probably better classified as animistic, not theistic. The ethnomedical component of shamanism has also been extremely useful for humanity in the many thousands of years before Western medicine, and remains useful in the treatment of culture-specific diseases (especially psychological ones). Out of body experiences are real psychological phenomena and worth studying as well.

Comment: Re:It's pretty amazing (Score 1) 148

by spiralpath (#31656576) Attached to: New Ancient Human Identified
Don't make caricatures out of my argument. I was merely providing evidence that race is not entirely based on phenotypical traits.

To be very clear, so that you can "grok" it, my argument (and the consensus in modern anthropology, which is assuredly a science) is that systems of race are socially constructed, and don't represent valid biological categorizations of people.

To whit, please investigate the racial system in Brazil. It is drastically different from the American racial system, yet both are inheritors of the Enlightenment-era European thought which gave birth to the early conception of scientific race. This was well before genetics. Two different racial systems, both started in the same time, have developed in drastically different ways.

Neither of them are rooted in genetics, but in changing social conditions and expedient political decisions. I am not suggesting that biological variation does not exist. I am suggesting that our categorizations of that variation is not based in biology. That is what I mean by "social construct."

Comment: Re:It's pretty amazing (Score 1) 148

by spiralpath (#31621224) Attached to: New Ancient Human Identified
I thought I made it clear, my apologies. The distinction we make when we are hearing a "black" person speak versus a "white" person (as an example) is not based on the shape of their larynx, but rather their speech patterns, which are culturally learned, not biologically inherited.

My second assertion was that even if it was based on heritable traits, the different genetic ancestries that constitute "black" in America wouldn't necessarily share them, because they are not a homogeneous population biologically.

The problem again, comes down to the term "race." The scientific understanding of race is much different from the non-scientific understanding. See further up in the thread for the distinction and why I feel it is important.

Comment: Re:It's pretty amazing (Score 1) 148

by spiralpath (#31615384) Attached to: New Ancient Human Identified
Your response is spot on. The definition of race is exactly the point of contention.

That is what I'm trying to address. There is the American cultural understanding of race, and there is the scientific understanding of race. In my opinion, what is happening here is the equivalent of people talking about atoms when they mean molecules. While the general public may not care or bother with it, a chemist is going to feel frustrated, and want to educate the people who are making the error.

Unfortunately, while an ignorance of the physical sciences can have an impact on your day-to-day life, an ignorance of the sociohistorical conditions we are all raised into is guaranteed to have an impact on your day to day life. We see the world through the lens we've inherited. The current scientific understanding sees it differently, but it hasn't become a part of mainstream thought yet.

Comment: Re:It's pretty amazing (Score 1) 148

by spiralpath (#31615228) Attached to: New Ancient Human Identified
Do you really think that what you just said actually refutes what I said? Although I shouldn't address this asinine argument, I will.

Phenotype expression of X and Y chromosomes affects the development of the larynx and vocal cords. This results in higher and lower voices for females and males, respectively.

With regards to the expressive characteristics of speech, enculturation is the primary process for learning language habits early on. An example of a learned habit would be copula deletion, which is a characteristic of AAVE (African-American Vernacular English). Learned language habits are key for detecting a person's cultural ("racial") affiliation without seeing them.

Even if you were to find a study that suggested different laryngeal shapes rooted in different ancestries, you would still not approach being right about race's connection with biology. "Black" is a race, and in America it includes people whose origins are from very different places across the globe. West Africans and East Africans are only similar in your mind because you were taught that they are part of a homogeneous whole. I assure you they are not, and neither are their descendants, who have interbred with a wide variety of European and North American groups. Even if one of these groups had a distinct laryngeal shape that allowed you to detect their difference in speech, it would not extend to the black race as a whole.

Comment: Re:It's pretty amazing (Score 4, Informative) 148

by spiralpath (#31609492) Attached to: New Ancient Human Identified
The sheer ignorance of modern anthropology I see on Slashdot is unnerving. So many people on here assume that their enculturated worldview equals science.

Race is a social construct. Phenotypical differences are one axis along which race is constructed, but it is not the only axis, and in some contexts it is not even the most important. As an example, you can also tell the "race" of a person if you talk to them on the phone. This obviously has nothing do with biology.

Although race as a system of scientific categorization started in European thought during the Enlightenment, it has seriously decreased in scientific merit because of genetics. Today, physical anthropologists think in terms of "clines." Unfortunately, because of the impact of European empires and their hegemony, race as a system of categorization persists in various incarnations throughout the world. This system is perpetuated by a wide variety of structural institutions and the uneducated public.

You can tell races apart because you are conditioned to detect certain characteristics which you associate with an arbitrary categorization of people. These arbitrary categorizations gradually accrued social and cultural capital in YOUR culture. This does not mean they are based in any kind of genetic reality.

Comment: Re:What's the purpose of the secret DNA database? (Score 1) 263

by spiralpath (#31337160) Attached to: Newborns' Blood Used To Build Secret DNA Database
I understand that you want to defend your original post, but you are mistaken on all three counts.

1) You're using a straw man; you can study sickle-cell anemia perfectly well without the concept of "race," in fact, sickle-cell anemia is primarily studied outside a racial context. In addition, given that the researchers in question have access to genetic data, they would be better served by using "clines" as their fundamental orientation rather than races, because clines are based in actual biological science, not a shifting sociohistorical construct. Look up the word "cline."

2) It's not retarded, it's modern anthropology. You reveal here that you are unfamiliar with the field, and that you are assuming common knowledge equals the current scientific outlook. Race is most definitely seen as a social construct, because throughout its history (both scientific and popular) it has been based on a wide variety of shifting characteristics, and applied differently in different contexts. It is a social fact, but that does not mean it has any merit biologically.

3) Changing the language does change the science. Analytical terms are essentially the instruments of social science, and precision is critical. A cline is different from a race and a species and a gene pool. These terms all have meaning so we can use them precisely, they are not dreamed up to "influence society" as you claim, although that is a nice byproduct of scientific discovery. They are actually changing concepts and ideas responding to new information based on actual research.

Comment: Re:What's the purpose of the secret DNA database? (Score 1) 263

by spiralpath (#31329088) Attached to: Newborns' Blood Used To Build Secret DNA Database
Kind of an aside, but identifying races and profiling racial differences are not legitimate research paths. Race has long been determined to be a social construct, not a biological fact. Modern physical anthropology has much better language and approaches to genetic differences between groups of people.

Comment: Re:amusing (Score 1) 350

by spiralpath (#30732670) Attached to: Airport Scanners Can Store and Transmit Images
Dallas - Ft. Worth Airport (DFW) uses these. I have been offered the "opportunity" to go through one, but declined and chose a pat-down instead. The official complied readily and there was no problem. They did try to convince me that there wasn't harmful radiation emitting from the device, and that I had nothing to worry about. Of course, my worries weren't about radiation.

The device is obviously a full-body scanner; it wasn't something I would have accidentally stumbled into. I live in Dallas so I was aware that they were installing them in the airport, but it was pretty clear when I got to the machine what it was.

If money can't buy happiness, I guess you'll just have to rent it.

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