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A classification of humans beings into different categories on the basis of their biological characteristics. There have been a variety of schemes for race classification based on physical characteristics such as skin colour, head shape, eye colour and shape, nose size and shape etc. A common classification system uses four major groups: Caucasoid, Mongoloid, Negroid and Australoid. The term was once popular in anthropology, but has now fallen into disrepute, because the idea of racial classification has become associated with racism - the claim that there is hierarchy of races. The idea of race categories also appears to be unscientific, since humans are able to mate across all ‘races’ and have done so throughout history, creating an enormous variety of human genetic inheritance. In addition the defining characteristics of ‘race’ do not appear in all members of each so-called race, but merely occur with some degree of statistical frequency. If the defining characteristic of each ‘race’ does not appear in all members of each ‘race’ then the whole definition is clearly inadequate.

Last updated 2002--0-9-

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Athabaca University ICAAP

© Robert Drislane, Ph.D. and Gary Parkinson, Ph.D.
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