Is domination of running by African descended athletes genetic or cultural?

| | August 23, 2016
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This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

[T]he white American liberal tends to worry that even talking about innate athletic aptitudes risks bolstering racist views – since if genetically determined physical differences exist between races, might it not be argued that psychological and cognitive ones do too?

In men’s track, athletes of African ancestry hold every major record in all running events, from the 100m to the marathon. Every last one of the 64 finalists in the hundred-meter dash in the last eight Olympics has been of African descent. Only two white runners hold places in the top 500 times ever posted in the 100 meter sprint. And similar racial dominance characterizes the long-distance running contests.

Harvard sociologist Orlando Patterson…all but dismisses the idea of genetic advantage, attributing Jamaica’s success first to an institutional and cultural history…[and] “combative individualism”…

A contrary take comes from journalist Jon Entine,…[who] acknowledges the cultural factors Patterson lists, but insists that “culture alone can only take one so far;” beyond that, we have to turn to biology. …“genetically linked, highly heritable characteristics” determine outcomes across various contests, he writes, and “they are not evenly distributed among human populations.”

[G]enetic differences may determine small but decisive advantages among world-class athletes [but they do not] hold any implication for character, personality, intelligence, or any of the myriad factors that make up the individual human being as we know him or her in the real world.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. Read full, original post: Race and Footrace

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