Week 7 Final Project – Sarah Skoropa

I believe that if the webinar were a debate, Agustin Fuentes would be the winner.  He was much more clear in the points he was making and addressed them in systematic ways, such as when he explained the van diagram Wade had been referring to the first time he spoke.  I also must disagree with Wade when he said his explanation was clarity and Fuentes’ was to obfuscate.  I found it very difficult to follow what Wade was saying, and he seemed to contradict himself at times whereas Fuentes made his position and points very clearly, and did not have well developed or direct rebuttals from Wade.  Wade also seemed to have a very difficult time coming up with definitions for the terms he was using, not a good sign to win a debate.  He also then goes into saying that “race is a very fuzzy concept,” not something that backs his argument very well.  Fuentes does a great job in using the same research Wade does, but to refute Wade’s argument.

The foundation of Wade’s argument is that the recent mapping of the genome shows that there is a genetic basis for race and that the racial groups we commonly use in western society have a genetic backing, and are indeed correct.

I found the article by geneticist and physical anthropologist, Jennifer Raff to be the most convincing.  I believe this is in part because of my prior knowledge of physical anthropology and how race is understood in that field, but I very much enjoyed her explanation of the genetics Wade was using.  She made it very clear and concise, without telling you what to believe, rather explaining and giving context to the argument for the non-geneticist.   I find the position of Nicholas Wade to be the least convincing.  On the surface taking into account almost nothing I know about the concept of race, it seems like a plausible argument, but going more than an inch deep, the argument starts to fissure and collapse, and any questioning is met with eloquent deflection.  All of which causes me to seriously question the validity of the argument.

The greatest weaknesses of Ruff’s argument have to be that her argument is entirely based on going through what Wade has said, and presenting how data can be manipulated, but she does not give any data that directly contradicts his argument.

The greatest strengths of Wade’s argument are how well it plays into existing and prominent views of race.  I believe what makes his argument so successful for some, is how easy it is for people to grasp and believe.  People want to understand and validate what they believe, how they act and what they think, Wade’s argument gives them that with the apparent backing of science.

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