From space the view of the Earth is simply mesmerizing. As beautiful as our blue marble is the history of events on Earth are not always so. Humanity has often struggled to understand itself and thus clashes have erupted over cultural differences, struggles of resources and varying ideologies. Here in the United States of America one of our biggest issues has been regarding our views on race. So, let’s put the topic of race through the lens of science by asking today's big question: How many races of people are there? Listen to this Question Your World radio report produced by the Science Museum of Virginia to learn more.
In order to approach the topic of how different we all really are we must simply stick to the facts. Science has been studying humanity for quite a long time and now we have consensus from a planet’s worth of experts in the fields of science, human evolution, and biology to inform us. Using non biased research methods and the collective body of work from experts around the world we can better understand the human family.
First of all, we’re about 250,000 years old. Homo sapiens, that’s us, first appeared on Earth about a quarter of a million years ago. Evidence of our fossil remains and in depth dating methods have allowed us to not only understand our origins, but we’re able to learn about how we migrated, when we migrated, where we migrated too, and we even have a lot of evidence of the environmental stresses that caused many of our migrations through out our history as a species on Earth including here in central Virginia. This is again something that we all have in common. We’re all related to our initial ancestors from Africa and then we slowly traversed the globe carving out a diverse array of places as our respective homes.
Other than origin we also have a few other fundamental things in common. Each one of us is home to 46 chromosomes. These are the thin strands of nucleic acids and protein that ultimately form all of us. These include the expressions of 22,333 genes held within each one of our bodies. These biological building blocks form each one of us regardless of where we're from, what we believe in, or even what we look like. This is how we have a beautiful diversity on Earth. The genes express themselves differently based on a myriad of other factors, but at the end of the day each one of us comes from the same ingredients.
How about our differences? Sure, there are some aspects of life that are different. We have about 6,700 languages, about 5,000 different cultures, and a vast spectrum of different daily customs based on economics, access to technology, the climate we live in, and beyond. With that said, those are all 100% external factors.
Currently there are nearly 7.4 billion of us scattered all across the globe and a handful that have some extended stays in space once in a while. This enormous population participates in different sports, political ideologies, faiths and spirituality, meal preferences, and beyond. Again, these are all external factors and have no implication on us as the fundamental aspects of making us be living beings.
So, once we factor all of that in we can now get to the big question. How many different races of people are there on Earth? The collective work of many experts in this field, from all walks of life, around the world agree that there are in fact zero races. There is no such thing as race. We are but one species here on Earth. Prejudices on the external factors, things that no individual human can be changed from at the fundamental level, have all been constructed over the centuries from a lack of education, lack of perspective, lack of access to information, and a misunderstanding of the inherent scientific principles that guide the development and formation of literally every single living human on this planet.
We truly are one giant human family trying our best to progress standards of living, better understand our natural world, and hopefully through logic and dialogue can attempt to better understand one another. Science shows us that there is no such thing as race.