Questions on the Existence of Human “Race” Answered!

Despite people believing the existence of “race” based on biological grounds and explanations, more scientists rejected the concept of “race”. For them, the idea of different races does not make sense. HuffPost Science asked biologist Dr. Marcus Feldman of Stanford University and anthropologist Dr. Robert Sussman of Washington University, to talk about the science of “race”.

How did the idea of “race” begin?

According to Feldman, the idea of race began with Aristotle’s predilection with classification. Moreover, he told that the prominent concept of race came from “Blumenbach’s classification in 1775 of the five human races.” For Sussman, the concept of race began during the Spanish Inquisition “when a purity of blood decree was established and those converting to Christianity needed to prove their Christian origins”. He also attributed the works of Western Philosophers like Kant, Hume, and Blumenbach.

Does science validate the idea of different “races”?

Sussman affirmed the scientific validity of the concept of different races, however, “the genetic differences among human populations are not similar to those found among many other mammalian populations.” Thus, the species of animals are the only one capable of separating and developing different populations with different gene frequencies. In biology, it is referred to as “sub-species”.

Have scientists discarded the concept of “race”?

According to Sussman, “most biologists, geneticists, and anthropologists have discarded the concept of race.” Scientists found out that there are more genetic similarities than genetic differences. Thus, it is important for all the people to learn that “race” does not biologically exist. Thus, biologists replaced the term “race” with “continental ancestry” which is much more appropriate, Feldman told.

Why are human populations different from each other?

Heldman explained that differences are the result of the action of genes which may affect skin color and height. Also, some differences may be attributed to differences in the founding size of a population, natural selection and cultural differences, among others.

Why do human populations look so different?

“Some genes are involved in phenotypic differences that are detectable by the naked eye, and some are involved in musculature-related phenomena,” Heldman said. Further, Sussman explained that all human populations really do differ from each other, even within families. “People develop different adaptations over time and these make us look different.” It can also be attributed to genetic differences and differences caused by environment referred to as “clines”. According to anthropologist Livingstone (1962): “There are no races, there are only clines.”


According to Heldman, “race” is outdated and often pejorative. The term shouldn’t be used now considering the modern knowledge that we have. However, despite the non-existence of “race”, racism exists. It is the discrimination among humans of different characteristics. And that is the concept that everyone should watch out for and strive to erase. Sussman told that “racism” may be hard to disappear as it strongly became part of our culture. However, he suggested that parents should teach children the realities, so they will not grow as racists.