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REVIEW Superior The Return of Race Science

Es Murray's 1994 title The Bell Curve which purported to show differences in intelligence among racesIf the vast majority of scientists and scholars disavowed these ideas and considered race a social construct it was still an idea that managed to somehow make its way into the research into the human genome that began in earnest in the mid 1990s and continues today Dissecting the statements and work of contemporary scientists studying human biodiversity most of whom claim to be just following the data Saini shows us how again and again science is retrof. It was always going to be difficult to follow Angela Saini s hugely popular Inferior but with Superior she has pulled it off not just in the content but by upping the uality of the writing to a whole new level Where Inferior looked at the misuse of science in supporting sexism and the existence of sexism in science Superior examines the way that racism has been given a totally unfounded pseudo scientific basis in the past and how remarkably despite absolute evidence to the contrary this still turns up todayAt the heart of the book is the scientific fact that race simply does not exist biologically it is nothing than an outdated social label As Saini points out there are far larger genetic variations within a so called race than there are between individuals supposedly of different races She shows how pre genetics racial prejudice was given a pseudo scientific veneer by dreaming up fictitious physical differences over and above the tiny distinctions of appearance and how this has been continued and transformed with genetics to draw conclusions that go against the fundamental proviso of science correlation is not causality Saini demonstrates vividly how for example socio economic or cultural causes of differences in capability and even medical response to drugs have been repeatedly ascribed to non existent biological racial differencesAlong the way we come across the horrendous race based acts of the past from slavery to the Nazi atrocities which have been justified by fictitious assumptions about the implications of race But Saini makes clear that this is not just a historical problem One of the excellent aspects of the book is the way that she brings in interviews and personal experience so for example there is a fascinating section on discrimination on the basis of caste in India and attempts to justify this on a genetic basis Similarly she repeatedly shows how white supremacists misuse information to draw incorrect and vile conclusionsThere are fascinating interviews with scientists whose work strays into misuse of evidence to imply something that the data simply does not support With one exception of Robert Plomin whose work seems far solid than the rest and can only be used to support racism by deliberately misunderstanding it a lot of this work seems to have been poorly executed or involves drawing inappropriate conclusions A considerable amount of this nonsense involves I testing yet it has been shown that all I tests do is demonstrate an ability to do well at I tests an ability that can be learned so provides no useable evidenceThe coverage might have easily been extended to cover other discrimination on perceived differences but I can see the benefit of keeping the focus on race For me the only disappointing thing is that Saini shies away from the logical conclusion of her observations Having categorically shown that race does not exist it s ridiculous that we still classify people this way As the author acknowledges we need some means of categorisation to fight prejudice but surely it should be based on real markers such as socio economic means and culture to continue to do so by race having established that race doesn t exist seems oddly incongruous and makes it difficult to counter racists by giving weight to the labels they useOverall a brilliant book highly readable which if there were any justice would put a final nail in the coffin of racism

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Superior The Return of Race Science

An astute and timely examination of the re emergence of scientific research into racial differences Superior tells the disturbing story of the persistent thread of belief in biological racial differences in the world of scienceAfter the horrors of the Nazi regime in WWII the mainstream scientific world turned its back on eugenics and the study of racial difference But a worldwide network of unrepentant eugenicists uietly founded journals and funded research providing the kind of shoddy studies that were ultimately cited in Richard Hernstein's and Charl. This is a journalistic account of race science where both terms race and science are scrutinised with a sharp eye Saini is uite up front with her own stance that there s no genetic or biological support for racial difference beyond the merest superficialities such as skin pigmentation Driven by the re emergence of the most pernicious ideologies that many of us thought had been exposed for what they are by the Holocaust and other race based genocides of the C20th this takes an interesting look at the history of race science and the role it still plays in academic research today however contested and controversialSaini is a relaxed writer always accessible and with a sense of humour that is light but with just the right level of suppressed snarkiness witness the anecdote of the geneticist who proclaims that he s discovered the chop stick using gene in Chinese people Well we laugh but of course it s not much of a jump to go from Chinese people are biologically pre determined to use chopsticks to insidious and horrific claims about racialised intelligence racial hierarchies justifications for slavery the creation of race based underclasses and we re soon back at those looming gas ovens of Auschwitz What is most dispiriting about this book is the extent to which highly educated scientists at the heart of the academe in both Europe and the US can cling to old views of racialised genetic predermination and race fate in the face of an almost complete lack of biological evidence for racial difference in humans It s an important point of course but one which perhaps gets slightly repetitive in this book But perhaps it needs to There are some horribly disconcerting moments such as when we realise that Maria Stopes favoured eugenics to stop the wrong kind of people from giving birth in favour of so called racial progress or that the legendary James Watson of Crick and Watson fame was openly racist and sexist and believed that cultural ualities such as Jewish intelligence in the example given is genetically pre determined It s impossible not to snigger at some of the desperate manoeuvers of race scientists in the 1920s when Greeks Italians and other southern Europeans were being stigmatised as having sub par intelligence one scientist claimed that artists such as Dante Raphael Titian Michelangelo and da Vinci were clearly Nordic as apparently was Jesus A high point too is Saini s digging behind the story from 2018 when the mummy of so called Cheddar Man was discovered and offered the opportunity to profile an ancient Briton to the horror of many not least the UK right wing press Cheddar Man turns out to have been black not white Which considering the fact that humans all migrated out of Africa is hardly surprising Light or white skin is an evolutionary development as ancient humans who migrated to less sunny northern Europe needed to maximise absorption of Vitamin D from the sun So much then for all the Brexit associated nostalgia for a mythic white England And of course that s both the point of the book and why it s so important this isn t a light hearted review of old done and dusted attitudes this is about now it s about Brexit and Trump it s about blacklivesmatter it s about the alt right appropriating and mis using science it s about respected scientists and scientific institutions themselves though a marginal number it must be stressed still trying to find the elusive biological basis for race and differentiation and all that follows along with it Many thanks to HarperCollins 4th Estate for an ARC via NetGalley

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Itted to accommodate race Even as our understanding of highly complex traits like intelligence and the complicated effect of environmental influences on human beings from the molecular level on up grows the hope of finding simple genetic differences between races to explain differing rates of disease to explain poverty or test scores or to justify cultural assumptions stubbornly persistsAt a time when racialized nationalisms are a resurgent threat throughout the world Superior is a powerful reminder that biologically we are all far alike than different. Poor book despite it s heart being in the right place does to damage the thesis she presents by not credibly engaging with the academics she interviews I think she is a bit out of her depth perhaps as broadcast journalist she is used to the once over lightly feel good style of journalism that this comes across as Did not finish


10 thoughts on “Superior The Return of Race Science

  1. says:

    This is a journalistic account of 'race science' where both terms 'race' and 'science' are scrutinised with a sharp eye Saini is uite up front with her own stance that there's no genetic or biological support for racial difference

  2. says:

    Politically correct but scientifically unsound This book drew a lot of attention recently in which the author suggests that the use of race in b

  3. says:

    Outstanding examination of 'race science' aka racism pretending to be objectivity Extraordinarily good in how deep it goes covering the intersection of 'science' with history culture and politics and showing how

  4. says:

    A good overview of the history of race science I studied a lot of the earlier documents for my own research and they just sounded like such a

  5. says:

    'There is a kind of will to truth We will make this be the truth if we try hard enough' Subir SinhaOh how this resonates in our social media dominated'fake news' society Sinha's uote refers particularly to religious extremists but effectively demonstrates the kind of sentiment that underlies the 'science' and ways of thinking that the book works to demolish That backwards system which starts with ideology and then look

  6. says:

    It was always going to be difficult to follow Angela Saini's hugely popular Inferior but with Superior she has pulled it off not just in the content but by upping the uality of the writing to a whole new level Where Inferior looked at the misuse of science in supporting sexism and the existence of sexism in science Superior examines the way

  7. says:

    Having grown up as part of an ethnic minority group in London during the 1980s and 90s Angela Saini has first hand experience of the racism wh

  8. says:

    This book isn't written from a neutral perspective and doesn't discuss the scientific research in detail Or even is up to date with latest genetic research and information

  9. says:

    Poor book despite it's heart being in the right place does to damage the thesis she presents by not credibly engaging with the academics she interviews I think she is a bit out of her depth perhaps as broadcast journalist she is used to the once over lightly feel good style of journalism that this comes across as Did not finish

  10. says:

    The power of nationalism is that it calls to the part of us that doesn’t want to accept being ordinary It tells people t

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