In order for you to be able to hate a certain group of people, they must fulfill two criteria:

  1. They're within your vicinity
  2. You have some a (real or perceived) conflict of interests with them

In my current setting, dragons, lizardmen, etc... are barely considered to be more than animals (maybe "savages" then?).

The problem is:

  1. Lizardmen are very reclusive people (mostly because of their metabolism) with strong defensive capabilities. They aren't particularly war-like but are still suspicious of strangers.
  2. Dragons are similarly more ready for evasion than offense. Not only can they fly, but the white fixer who made them ensured they'd be practically invisible on IR and radar. Dragons occasionally steal from plantations, almost always fruits, due to their energy density. But, those incidents are rare and limited to rebellious youngsters. Otherwise, dragons will remain near mountainous areas, not doing much. The most humans will ever see of them is their silhouette flying in the distance.

Both have human intelligence and are capable of communication.

Now, being meek, hospitable, and remote hasn't saved the Taíno from getting enslaved by Columbus ('cause he was kind of a f@cking monster), but Columbus hasn't had to deal with:

  1. The wilderness in my setting has terror units in it. Their distribution changes over time, and when they come across humans, bad things happen. The shadows that are infested with Vashta Nerada rend the flesh, Slendreman clouds the mind, and ghosts do both. They're very sneaky and specialize in taking out supply lines, so colonialism over long distances simply can't work here.
  2. Because there ARE terror units, which fulfill both criteria (they can be in any shadow, and their interest is wiping out sapient life), humans can't afford to bully either the lizardmen or dragons.

So then, why would humans still hate and somewhat actively try to fight either? To be more exact, I wanted to make it so that dragons are considered to be a rare but potent servant/pet material in most cases (assuming you can control one), while lizardmen are viewed as savages to be either subdued or wiped out.

Despite having a feudal society, humans' technology is around the same level as that of modern-day Earth. However, long-range communications (satellite, landline, etc) don't work, and there aren't any railroads or highways for that matter. Lizardmen are around the same level as Aztecs. Dragons, while knowing how gadgets work, have limited access to them.

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    $\begingroup$ Dude I grew up in a place where there is prsctically no one of jewish faith, yet so many crackpots hate jews because "they control mainstream media". Sometimes people hate a certain group because hatred is the only thing they have in their minds and hearts. $\endgroup$ Nov 9, 2020 at 6:25
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    $\begingroup$ It is definitely false that someone must be in your vicinity in order for you to hate them. $\endgroup$
    – cowlinator
    Nov 9, 2020 at 8:24
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Just because their different/spooky/can do something I can't/my tummy aches and they bewitched the water. $\endgroup$
    – Erik
    Nov 9, 2020 at 8:48
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    $\begingroup$ It is also false that you need to have a conflict of interest. It is enough that they are not yourself. Although some people hate themselves too, I guess. $\endgroup$
    – kutschkem
    Nov 9, 2020 at 10:39
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    $\begingroup$ Racism is not rational. $\endgroup$
    – Theraot
    Nov 9, 2020 at 11:00

8 Answers 8


The worst form or racism is hate, but "racism" generally is nothing more than "I'd prefer to be with people just like me"

Racism has (really, really, really simplistically) only two aspects:

(1) Humans are wired to fear that which is different. It comes from a bygone era where something rustling in the shadows will probably eat you. But, like the Good Book says, knowledge overcomes fear. It may take a considerable amount of education and practice to overcome it, but it can be done.

(2) Humans are really only good at three things: politics, marketing, and pattern-matching.1 "Politics" can be simplistically defined as the process of negotiating for a desired result2 and "marketing" can be simplistically defined as the process of managing communication to achieve a desired result.

Special is to species as racial is to race

But before I go on. You're using the right word philosophically to get your point across, but the wrong word "scientifically." I think this is important. The word you want is "special" (pronounced "spee-see-al" or "spee-shal" not "speh-shal"... two different words, same spelling). Why is this important?

Because depending on how your species developed in your world, humans may... or may not... treat creatures of another species the same way we do here on Earth. We love our pets, but we also love a good steak on the plate. We're delighted to kill all the buffalo to extinction for their pelts just as quickly as we are all the wolves 'cause they keep eating our steaks before we do. My point is, humans (being on the top of the proverbial food chain) always see all other species as something much less than we are, ourselves. And if you have the same humans in your world, they will, too.

  • Humans see all other species as less than themselves

Now, back to our program

Due to the isolation of your species, you do have a problem with #1. Humans will always fear what they're not familiar with and I can only imagine the nightmares they would have if a talking lizard (flying or not) suddenly approached them. Especially if that talking lizard was armed. So, without tons of education, there will always be an aspect of fear, leading to distrust, leading to specism.

  • Humans always distrust/fear/hate what they don't know

But your biggest problem is #2. If human history has taught us anything (and with all due respect!), the easiest way to get people from looking too closely at their government's policies is to convince them it's the Jews' fault.

Please forgive me, I'm not being mean. I'm being practical. Throughout history, the Jewish people have been used as the proverbial "scapegoat" to distract "the people" from something their government doesn't want seen or understood. (Which is oddly funny because the concept of a "scapegoat" is Jewish....) From the deepest Medieval periods through to today, you'll see Jews blamed for almost everything. (If they actually had the influence history has burdened them with, you'd think they'd own a bigger patch of ground and had done so much earlier....)

Reflect this (frankly despicable, but what bias isn't?) behavior on your world and what you have is everything from parents telling their children bedtime stories about lizard men and dragons to frighten them into obedience to governments blaming the obviously-not-here-to-defend-themselves lizard men and dragons for all the problems that would convince "the people" to change the government.

Which is better known by the modern nom-de-plume, "marketing."

  • Humans will always use fear and hatred to convince others to follow their lead

BTW, the marketing world has an abbreviation that is the basis for most (if not all) marketing efforts: FUD. "Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt." They're the three easiest emotions a marketer can use to leverage the behavior of you, the "consumer" (of everything from gumdrops to ideology). And the goal of marketing is always to get you, the "consumer" to buy/act in a way that's always in the best interest of the marketer — even when it's not in the best interest of the "consumer."

Which was a lengthy way of saying that unless your humans are all naturally saints... there will always be specism.

1 *Trust me on that third one. It's the basis of abstract reasoning.

2And it's a lot easier to negotiate when you're holding the biggest gun.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ humans (being on the top of the proverbial food chain) always see all other species as something much less than we are, ourselves. -- A random thought: I would suggest that if we can find some overriding point of commonality, some sense that the other is not fundamentally so much an Other, we cannot possibly see the other as less. $\endgroup$
    – Zev Spitz
    Nov 9, 2020 at 9:55
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    $\begingroup$ @ZevSpitz While I agree with you in principle, I have the entirety of history to back up the idea that it's unfounded at best, utopian at worst. Humans have trouble seeing past differences within our own species. Heck, we have difficulty seeing past differences in our own race (poor white trash vs. wealthy blue bloods). Therefore, the phrase "we cannot possibly" is too unrealistically idealistic to apply - unless the humans of Meph's world evolved very differently than here on Earth. Nevertheless, please re-read my point #1. You'll see that your concept is in my answer. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Nov 9, 2020 at 15:01
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    $\begingroup$ The preference for people like oneself could easily be tribalism rather than racism. When people couldn't pronounce the word shibboleth correctly, they were put to death. $\endgroup$ Nov 9, 2020 at 16:03
  • $\begingroup$ @WalterMitty 😁 Like I said in my answer, "really, really, really simplistically." You're absolutely correct that there are a lot of reasons to fear or not trust another, and only a few of them are actually "racism." ("What is your favorite color?" - "Blue. No, yel-- auuuuuuuugh!") $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Nov 9, 2020 at 16:06
  • $\begingroup$ @WalterMitty 'Tribalism' and 'racism' are just different scales of the same concept. In-group vs out-group, but either applied to a 'tribe' (whatever definition you please) or to 'race' (whatever definition you please). I feel like that's the point you're making, but thought it would be helpful! $\endgroup$ Dec 7, 2020 at 17:00

Racism forms better without proximity.

I disagree with your suggestion that you need proximity for racism to form. Racism may form in this environment, yes, but there are other paths.

I'd suggest that distance and an information vacuum work even better, as the opposite of racism is essentially knowledge.

My hometown was very white and very Christian, and feelings of anti-black, antisemite, and anti-Muslim were quite common despite the culture being quite monotonous. There was no direct conflict or proximity with these people of any kind.

The white-trash side of my family knew nothing about Islam or Muslim people other than "they did 911" and were quite racist and keen for a war in the early 2000s.

If we had proximity to other peoples, I don't believe that would necessarily defeat racism, but a few "oh wait Bob from the pub is that race, and he seems nice" can be powerful antidotes.

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    $\begingroup$ Poland has very little immigration and basically no minorities; Eastern part of it has even less than that, especially the parts around the city of Białystok. And yet in the 90s, when I went to middle school in Białystok, most of my male classmates often talked about black people, with RIDDICULOUSLY intense racism: constantly calling them "asphalts" or "bamboos" (even though bamboo grows in Asia?), talking about how they'd mercifully allow them to work for no pay, and how they steal jobs from Poles. All in a parochial city of a country with virtually no black people. $\endgroup$
    – Dragomok
    Nov 9, 2020 at 14:28

The problem is in this statement

In order for you to be able to hate a certain group of people, they must fulfill two criteria:

They're within your vicinity
You have some a (real or perceived) conflict of interests with them

If you insist on limiting the only reasons for hate to those then fine.

But let me tell you than there are many many reasons for humans to hate anything other than those. If you accept this we can continue.

But I'll use hate instead of racism hate as it is somewhat more general.

Old injury.

Dragons used to control the world and enslaved humans. Lizards where their chosen enforcers. Humanity suffered but we did whatever we did and got the upper hand. Yet still from generation to generation we still teach our kids of the past and teach them to be avert to both or outright hate them. Sure the time scale of 4000 years or more is a bit much. But remember the last time you looked at something disgusting and did not like it? Why? Most likely because that signals disease and we don't like that. So. Even the mere sight of it is repulsive. Sure this more evolution than social engineering or selective ideas on our part. But I stand my ground. If we keep up the old tales and pass down the hatred we can keep it up as long as we want, or you want. Mentioning examples would only anger people I think.


Easy to point to religion and say here is the entire history's source of evil. But a lot of people here are writers and should show deeper understanding of humans and history.

Long story short their mere existence is a slight to us. Maybe they are creatures of darkness. Maybe the most dominant religions or ideologies are against them just because. Maybe there is even a reason. Like the dragons are the race that killed god or something like that.

Or maybe rational pure pragmatic anti religious thoughts oppose them for their obvious powers and how we can only be free only after killing them.

Honestly history is full with stories that don't even make sense. You can oppose them without reason or add reasons.

In my opinion ideology is probably the biggest and richest reason.

Biological reasons.

Maybe they release pheromones that has X effect on us. This can be as tragic as hell. For examples dragon are peaceful however they release a pheromones that they don't control, or know about, that makes us avert to them. Here you can have them be murdered for their mere existence. Depressing as hell. This could be that people react with: disgust, fear, hatred...etc to them even without actual actions on the dragons behalf.

Another direction is that is does have a negative impact on us. Think that once exposed to dragons we are hypnotized or paralyzed or slowly go insane.

Now we can actual tangible reasons. You can control the severity. Like a bit of this and a bit of that.

They are magical. But refuse to share power or help us.

Old wise dragons hold great powers and can annihilate armies with their magic. That is why we are afraid to hunt them.

But they can also cure all diseases or change the climate or even fix mental illnesses.

Now imagine our surprise when knowing that they, together or certain members or even anyone, can snap a finger and solve all our problems but they refuse to do so.

Perhaps certain lucky heroes go there and gain a measure of power or wisdom. Perhaps they murder anyone who gets close to their lands. Whatever the thing we just hate them for not helping us.


How many 2020 people you know who think in a very scientific and logical manners? Like what would you feel against people of ethnicity X if you meet 20 of them and they are all nice. And what would you feel about ethnicity Y if you meet 20 and all of them are awful.

Well. This is the same problem. Lizards for example are used as soldiers, criminals, bodyguards...etc and people the started viewing them with hatred.

I don't feel the need to tell that it is easy for a whole religion, culture, country...etc to be considered radical, terrorist, evil...etc just because of view bad examples. Even if that group is 2 billions, few bad examples are enough. Have the media focus on the bad ones and people will say: I don't know. I never meet a good person from that group. Even if they met like one and he was buying stuff from their stores.

Just the news or continuing browsing different sites.

Anyway if the examples known to people are those hardened cases who are criminals or violent then expect a lot of people to dislike them. Even without direct conflict with them

In contrast to the first option this one is about seeing a few active bad examples and deciding they are all evil. While the first one is about keeping the ancient feud alive even if the last 10 generations of your family never saw a dragon.

Fear of having another intelligent species sharing the planet with us.

A lot more interesting and certainly something we never faced. But we do have legitimate concerns if we saw a race of smart creatures that can even use technology. After all we have caused so much damage to the entire planet, a lot of which is by pure accident or not caring, and life that if they are anything like us we might want to arm those ICBM and keep the default targets their lands

You can simply pick whatever elements you feel like. None comes together


Natural resources

Modern technology requires resources. Lizardmen and dragons sit on valuable and often very rare (coltan) ressources. So as you have stated there is a conflict of interests and therefore economical incentives to fuel hater ideology against the creatures. This leads many people to doubt they have human dignity or at least doubt it accepting or tolerating humanity's abuses of them.


Strictly speaking, neither of your criteria for conflict existing are accurate.

You have some a (real or perceived) conflict of interests with them

That's not true. In-group bias suggests that all that's required is for people to perceive a different race as somehow being "different" than us. Experimental evidence shows that the basis for forming in-groups can be extremely arbitrary. (Researchers were even able to get people to form in-groups based on which group they were randomly assigned to in the experiment).

Also, the Thomas theorem predicts that negative expectations about another group can cause a "vicious cycle" that reinforces prejudice.

One other point: contrary to popular opinion, conflict in general does not require a conflict of interest. Research by Morton Deutsch and others has indicated that quite a lot of conflict occurs in contexts where people at least theoretically have the same goal (such as in marriages, within companies, on work projects, etc.). That's actually what lead to him coming up with the concept of the "win-win solution" - if the conflict is occurring in a context where all of the parties have the same goal, it's presumably possible for a solution where everyone "wins" somehow.

They're within your vicinity

It's more subtle than that. Conflict actually requires interdependence, so vicinity is neither necessary nor sufficient. Vicinity often causes interdependence (think of the neighbor who plays loud music at 2 AM; in that case, my ability to sleep is dependent on the neighbor not doing that), but that's not necessarily the case; there can be plenty of people in the same general vicinity as me that I have little to no interaction with, or that I don't really depend on in any way. Also, people that aren't in the same general vicinity can have conflict. Many of the Western countries that are currently in conflict with Russia are nowhere near it, for example (think of Australia or New Zealand, for example).


Those two points are not the only things that can incite hatred. For example:

  • Fierce, diametrically opposed beliefs. Those filthy lizards were formed from a puddle of pure evil, while humans are divine in their origin, or the lizards regularly carry out practices that are viewed as abhorrent, or are considered to be allies of a hated group of humans, for example. So long as they remain in the people's mind's eye a point of negative comparison with little to no redeeming features, hatred can fester. They might just be a scapegoat for some other issue.
  • Greed. The humans hunt and kill lizardmens and dragons because they want something from them. Their hides, their organs, their teeth, their eggs, their hoards, their caves, what have you. People grow to hate them because the people actually seeking the luxury items talk so much about they must be hunted down. Perhaps they're not useful items, but so long as they are desired there is motive.
  • Perceived pragmatism, or paranoia. They're not so big a threat now, but people fear that they will become one. Maybe they have begun to breed at an alarming rate, maybe expansion puts humans into conflict with them, maybe there is a new leader trying to unify the lizardmen who has trained dragons as spies.
  • They are perceived to exacerbate or be responsible for the other threat. Perhaps these dark creatures are somehow drawn to the dragons and lizardmen, or maybe they were created from them, or it is believed that their actions have riled them up. Maybe even, there is just a line drawn between humans and the monstrous enemies, and technically or otherwise these dragons and lizardmen happen to be on the other side of the line.

The reason racism exists is due to 4 important factors

1: The parents in our Society has something against this group.

2: The race just stays with their kind and doesn’t interact with other people. Which is why people think that this Race thinks they are superior to others.

3: It is easier to Label people with stereotypes than to try to get to know them.

4: It is easier to blame others than ourselves.

Which is why Hitler got his power because of Germany's post-WWI economic crisis. This was a result of hyper-inflation in an attempt to repay its crippling war debts/shares which is why they lost their Jobs, but Hitler confides in the people that the Jews where the people who stole all their money and brought the Economy to a downfall (his proof was the classic stereotype of "the greedy Jew").

There can be other factors like:

  • A Long History of Slavery or racial segregation
  • Not seeing the difference between others of his kind
  • Political reason (like Hitler or Slavery)
  • They are "different" from US so they Must be Bad
  • Religion

One other example is Slavery:

The reason Colonialists were looking for new land was because of the dream of wealth and gold.

But what they found were People.

So what to do? They hear that rich people are looking for unpayed workers so why not kidnap "Those" people that live here and sell them to those houses and get some money

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    $\begingroup$ You're confusing the American Great Depression with Germany's post-WWI economic crisis, which was a result of hyperinflation in an attempt to repay its crippling war debts. People "being greedy and investing into shares" had nothing to do with it. You're right that Hitler pinned the blame on the Jews, though. $\endgroup$
    – F1Krazy
    Nov 8, 2020 at 22:53
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks Man i appreciated the help I will later change it $\endgroup$ Nov 8, 2020 at 22:57
  • $\begingroup$ I change it thanks again man you really are a hero, whiteout you I would now look like an idiot $\endgroup$ Nov 8, 2020 at 23:02
  • $\begingroup$ Hey. I edited to fix the numerous they, their and there and other spelling missteps to make your answer easier to read/understand. Feel free to undo any changes I made that unintentionally changed the meaning of what you were trying to express. $\endgroup$ Nov 8, 2020 at 23:33
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    $\begingroup$ I understand what you mean by "The parents in our Society has something against this group." E.G., the ethnic hatred after the break up of Yugoslavia, despite decades of inter-marrying and peaceful relations, required parents to pass a lot of hate on to their children - however, you can't just blame parents, otherwise there's no one to blame (there's always another set of parents). U.S. Pres. Harry Truman popularized the phrase, "The Buck Stops Here," meaning people always push ("buck") responsibility up the line. He took responsibility. If I'm racist, it's not my parent's fault. It's mine. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Nov 9, 2020 at 15:25

I'd like to modify your definition of racism, that I think will expose an answer from :

  1. They're within your vicinity
  2. You have some a (real or perceived) conflict of interests with them


  1. There exists a general vacuum of knowledge, which is filled-in by a combination of received wisdom and guesswork, instead of genuine research.

Take a look at your lizardmen for some of the things people might wrongly assume and never bother to check :

  • They look big, therefore they MUST be evolved for violence $\rightarrow$ They must be violent, despite their seeming peaceful nature.
  • They look like reptiles (who knows if they are) $\rightarrow$ They must be poisonous
  • Turtles are also reptiles (re-using an unproven unknown), and can get kids sick if they play with them (received wisdom, misapplied) $\rightarrow$ They probably have all sorts of dangerous-to-human diseases. Don't touch them. Don't get near them. Clean anything they come into contact with.
  • Strong things are always dumb (pseudoscience) because they spend their time developing muscles, instead of brains $\rightarrow$ They are dumb. Maybe not even sentient.
  • Reptiles have not feelings, and these are reptiles $\rightarrow$ These lizardmen CAN'T have their feelings hurt.

It gets worse once some people find a profit motive for mistreating your lizardmen, because now they have an incentive never to find out if the above assumptions are wrong.

Profit motivated people may even lend their own energy to stopping efforts to challenge the profitable assumptions about lizardmen. Now, such research becomes "rocking the boat"; and doing so may "hurt peoples reputations" or their feelings.

These perceptions can be unintentionally reinforced through performance art. A lazy playwright (or one who's never met a lizardperson) may treat them as things that only eat, fight, and mate -- not out of malice, but because it's easy to just use the stereotype.

Such lizardmen characters in literature may be mute, or only speak one word of the common language (or a few words), if they speak at all. Lizardmen characters written from such ignorance will never be eloquent, erudite, wise, and soulful.

And the overall writing community (if most performers are ignorant) would bash any treatment of lizardmen displaying wit, virtue and heart as "not a realistic depiction".


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