Anatomy provides important disclaimers within the lab itself. However, it seems that these disclaimers get downplayed because students never mention them. Let me quote from the lab itself and emphasize these points:
It can be extremely difficult to determine the true race of a skeleton. This is due to several factors: First, forensic anthropologists generally use a three race model to categorize skeletal traits: Caucasoid (European), Mongoloid (Asian/Amerindian), and Negroid (African). Although there are certainly some common physical characteristics among these groups, not all individuals have skeletal traits that are completely consistent with their geographic origin. Additionally, there is the issue of racial mixing to consider. Often times, a skeleton exhibits characteristics of more than one racial group and does not fit neatly into the three-race model. Also, the vast majority of the skeletal indicators used to determine race are non-metric traits, which, as stated earlier, can be highly subjective.
First of all, most of the above paragraph is explaining why race is NOT a reliable factor when it comes to trace evidence. The paragraph states that race is difficult to determine. Why would it be difficult if race was biological? Would it be difficult to determine whether a human, a chimp or a gorilla committed the crime? I believe it would not because biologically, those three creatures are different. But because humans are the same species and NOT biologically different, they cannot be separated distinctly into different races.
Let's analyze the paragraph closely.
"...forensic anthropologists generally use a three race model to categorize skeletal traits: Caucasoid (European), Mongoloid (Asian/Amerindian), and Negroid (African)"
The three race model is an old, erroneous and racist model that biologists, social scientists and anthropologists all do NOT use anymore.
"Although there are certainly some common physical characteristics among these groups, not all individuals have skeletal traits that are completely consistent with their geographic origin....Often times, a skeleton exhibits characteristics of more than one racial group and does not fit neatly into the three-race model."
Even if you still use the erroneous three race model, this says that it is NOT distinct.
"Also, the vast majority of the skeletal indicators used to determine race are non-metric traits, which, as stated earlier, can be highly subjective."
Finally, read this sentence carefully! 'Non-metric traits' are a fancy way of saying that race is NOT scientific. "Non metric" means it is subjective and based upon the society and local circumstances surrounding the people; it is a social construction. Not only that, it says 'THE VAST MAJORITY', which means overwhelmingly, that race is determined by non scientific, non biological, subjective evidence.
Secondly, and this is probably the most important part, the forensics analysis is really analyzing different gene pools of certain traits for groups of people who are in the U.S. Using forensic evidence, one can cross reference the likelihoods of different characteristics that a person might have. Then the forensic anthropologist correlates those characteristics to a region of the world. Then this region can be compared to how Americans define race. For example if there is a high probability that the bones are from West Africa, the anthropologists might say that person has a high probability of being black because that is how people from West Africa are categorized in the U.S. However, this type of data also rules out people from East and Central Africa who would also be considered "black" by U.S. standards. So the forensic analysis is using probability to state whether someone is likely to be considered "black" in America, but it is not able to predict going the other way. In other words, forensic analysis is not able to say because you are considered "black" you must have a certain bone structure.
For example, look at the genetic traits that are on the Race Power of Illusion website (click on physical appearance). They show that certain traits (such as head size or nose width) are more likely in different populations of people. A forensic anthropologist might try to pinpoint what geographic region of the world has the highest concentration of the overlapping traits. In other words, he might put layers of evidence that do not line up with "race" on top of each other in order to determine the most likely location of genetic ancestry of the person. Then using this approximate location, the forensic anthropologist might take that geographic region and say, "What would someone from this region be called in the U.S.?" From that he might say black or white or Asian, but that doesn't mean that all people in that group would contain that combinations of traits.
Here are just two traits to correlate:
In the above maps, imagine forensic evidence that finds a large skull. Where might that person be from? Scotland, West Africa, or Southern India.
Now imagine that the evidence also showed that the skull had a broad flat nose (92-97). Look at the top map. Where is the probability highest that this skull be from? Southern and Western Africa or Australia.
A forensic anthropologist might say then that the probability is most high that the person is of West African origin because that is where the two data points correlate. Then, the anthropologists might say that in the United States, a person from West Africa is likely called "black or African American". Note that this is only a probability and only works because of the population of West Africans who were forced to the U.S. in slavery. But if the evidence revealed a medium head size and a long narrow nose (66.9-71.9) the person might be from Scandinavia, Eastern Russia or the Horn of Africa. These places all have these genetic traits correlating in higher probability. Obviously this would be a much more difficult task. These traits help to point to a specific region of the world where there is a high probability that an individual's ancestors came from, but it doesn't define biologically what "race" is.
I stopped into the ILC and looked at the anatomy textbooks. There was NOTHING in the entire book about race. I checked the table of contents, the index and I thumbed through chapters. Nothing. There is even a section on genetics that makes no mention about race. Not a thing. The section about craniums and skeletal system makes no mention of any distinguishing characteristics.
Harvard School of Biomedical Sciences "there is no evidence that the groups we commonly call 'races' have distinct, unifying genetic identities. In fact, there is ample variation within races"
The U.S. National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health published this article
which explains, "Humans have much genetic diversity, but the vast majority of this diversity reflects individual uniqueness and not race."
Race; Power of an Illusion Documentary FAQs answered by these experts.
The American Association of Physical Anthropologists published this statement about race, including, "There is great genetic diversity within all human populations. Pure races, in the sense of genetically homogenous populations, do not exist in the human species today, nor is there any evidence that they have ever existed in the past. "
Contexts sociology blog
The press release reports the results of this panel’s initial analysis of almost 500 cases. Most startlingly, it reports that FBI examiners gave inaccurate testimony in 96% of those cases.... As a 2009 review of forensic science by the National Research Council (NRC) put it, “No scientifically accepted statistics exist about the frequency with which particular characteristics of hair are distributed in the population.”
"The study adds to established research undercutting old notions of race. You can’t use skin color to classify humans, any more than you can use other complex traits like height, Tishkoff says. 'There is so much diversity in Africans that there is no such thing as an African race'.”
"...there’s more variation within any racial group than there is between them...Our genes are constantly moving around the planet. We’ve had 100,000 years of genes moving and mixing and re-assorting in countless different ways. We’re always mating outside our groups. [As a result, there’s] very little variation among us."
there is only one human race. Our single race is independent of geographic origin, ethnicity, culture, color of skin or shape of eyes — we all share a single phenotype, the same or similar observable anatomical features and behavior - See more at: http://www.livescience.com/47627-race-is-not-a-science-concept.html#sthash.PdEUEzMO.dpuf"...there is only one human race. Our single race is independent of geographic origin, ethnicity, culture, color of skin or shape of eyes — we all share a single phenotype, the same or similar observable anatomical features and behavior..."
Innocence Project and Unreliable Evidence:
"...many forensic testing methods have been applied with little or no scientific validation and with inadequate assessments of their robustness or reliability. Furthermore, they lacked scientifically acceptable standards for quality assurance and quality control before their implementation in cases..." And from NPR,
We’re talking about a technology which the FBI and state and local crime laboratories across the country have relied upon to associate an accused to a piece of crime scene evidence for the last 40 years by looking at hairs under a microscope that they found in a crime scene and comparing it to a defendant’s hair. It turns out that for 30 or 40 years, they were exaggerating the probative value of those similarities such that in, I would say a quarter, of all the DNA exoneration cases, the people were originally convicted in part based on crime lab people coming in and saying the hairs matched.
"With the exception of nuclear DNA analysis, no forensic method has been rigorously shown able to consistently, and with a high degree of certainty, demonstrate a connection between evidence and a specific individual or source."
How unthinking racial essentialism finds its way into scientific research.
There is no such thing as race; The troubling persistence of an unscientific idea.