Variability and Racial Mixture

Variability and Racial Mixture

The American Naturalist
Volume 61, Number 672 (Jan. – Feb., 1927)
paages 68-81

Melville J. Herskovits (1895-1963), Professor of Anthropology and African Studies
Northwestern University

[Read a biographical memoir by Joseph C. Greenberg here.]

[From Northwestern University: In 1948, Herskovits founded the Program of African Studies (PAS) at Northwestern, the first and foremost center of its kind at a major research university in the United States with a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York.]

The biometric method has come to lay great stress on the variability of populations of their development and in the discovery of the applicability of the findings of the geneticist to human populations.  One of the hypotheses which has gone hand in hand with the use of the concept of variability is what where there is a greater variation in one of two populations, that which has the larger represent the greater amount of mixture.  And when “mixture” is spoken of, the connotation is that of “racial mixture.”  The logical conclusion is that the “pure race” is that which show the lowest variability, and that when large variation is found in a population, this means it is the result of a great amount of race-crossing.

We see that this assumption is a real one in the minds of biologists and biometricians when we consider some of the  statements which have been recently made regarding this matter. Thus, in a paper published a short time ago, Castle remarks that “… as heterosis disappears, the population of later generations will be intermediate in character, and probably more variable that either uncrossed  race.”  Wissler, in a consideration of the subject of variability, remarks that “what he have… in a population unit is a number of types or pure lines, thrown together, each with its own range of variability, and these variabilities have a way of combining so as to increase the variability of the whole… As often said, the range of stature will be grater among mixed races.  This is, in fact, a recognized law of biology.”…

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