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Sub-species of humanity?

(13 Posts)
GoodToesNotSoGoodToes Wed 17-Jun-15 09:27:12

I had thought this myself and on bbc breakfast just now Richard Madley made the same comment.

Dr Jim Fallon has worked on understanding psychopaths brains. We know those who are hypermobile or Autism have two further different brain structures again.

I don't have a psychopaths brain, I do have a different brain structure to the average person and I am pleased to know this. I don't have to try to fit in anymore and I can tell others to stop trying to change me, I can now be myself.smile

headinhands Wed 17-Jun-15 12:31:10

What does 'myself' mean ultimately though as a lot of 'you' is learnt norms and values. If being yourself means harming others then it's not good, 'being yourself' as in being quirky and enjoying Jazz is okay (even though I hate jazz)

GoodToesNotSoGoodToes Wed 17-Jun-15 12:39:25

Being me is being very into certain topics of interest, not wanting to be out with others drinking, dancing, wearing makeup and heels every Friday night.smile

ErrolTheDragon Wed 17-Jun-15 12:46:54

That sounds well within the range of 'normal' to me TBH!

pocketsaviour Thu 18-Jun-15 13:13:35

Well, technically speaking, in order to be classed as a sub-species an organism must differ significantly in its physical form, or have significantly different DNA coding.

Whilst a psychopath's brain structure is somewhat different to the human norm, I don't think there are enough morphological changes for them to be considered a "sub-species".

If you think about the number of conditions we already see in humanity which have gross physical differences - achondroplasia, Down's syndrome, Prader–Willi syndrome - none of these are every talked about as if they should be a sub-species, and with good reason.

I think once you begin putting those kind of labels on groups of people, it's a very quick jump to denying them their essential humanity.

ReallyTired Thu 25-Jun-15 12:08:36

The term sub species suggests that a group of people are beneath you or are somehow sub human. A psychopath is capable of breeding with a non psychopath. You might not like them, but they are not sub human.

From a sciencific non racist point of view it's interesting to know when changes in a species through natural selection make a creature a separate species. Black people are adapted for intense heat/ sunlight where as white skin is better at making vitamin d in the northern hemisphere. Yet only someone really stupid would suggest that black/ white people are a sub species. It is more interesting to consider animals which have evolved. When does a slightly bigger tortoise become a new species?

OTheHugeManatee Thu 25-Jun-15 12:12:58

'Sub-species' doesn't mean inferior. It just means a classification within the overall classification. 'Sub-category' just means smaller category, not lesser category. 'Sub-species' is the same.

ReallyTired Thu 25-Jun-15 12:18:49

"Sub" comes from the Latin for under. Think of words like subway, subsidence, subsided. I don't think that the term sub species for describing an ethnic group or some who is not neurologically typical is appriopiate.

OTheHugeManatee Thu 25-Jun-15 12:27:11

I know what 'sub' means in Latin. But in taxonomical terms there is no connotation of inferior, only more granular/precisely defined. You'd surely have to be hyper-vigilant for racist overtones (undertones?), or perhaps a eugenicist trying to stretch a point, to see it otherwise confused

That said, I think there are other arguments for being cautious about defining different 'species' of human, as pocketsaviour says, that hold water perfectly well without being based on a misunderstood prefix.

Lweji Thu 25-Jun-15 12:39:05

The concept of sub-species is also a population based concept.

It actually means a geographically restricted population of the species, which often can have a somewhat distinct genetic background, but it is not reproductively isolated.
There must be two sub-species at least.

In fact, we are all part of sub-species Homo sapiens sapiens, as opposed to other extinct sub-species.

There is no way there are any current and co-existing sub-species of Homo sapiens.

In any case, all the behavious, brain structures, etc, are all part of a continuum, as are other human characteristics such as skin colour, hair shape, height, weight, and so on.

Lweji Thu 25-Jun-15 12:41:08

When does a slightly bigger tortoise become a new species?

When it (a population of slightly bigger tortoises) doesn't reproduce with other tortoises.

Species are ALL about populations, not individuals.

ReallyTired Thu 25-Jun-15 13:54:21

Lweji it's not quite so simple. Lions and tigers can interbreed but their offspring are infertile. Just like sheep and goats or horses and donkeys interbreed.

Lweji Thu 25-Jun-15 13:58:16

Reproducing is not only producing one individual.
The result should also be fertile, which doesn't happen to lions and tigers, and so on.

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