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Superior: The Return of Race Science von…
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Superior: The Return of Race Science (2019. Auflage)

von Angela Saini (Autor)

MitgliederRezensionenBeliebtheitDurchschnittliche BewertungDiskussionen
2521981,088 (4.21)20
"A powerful look at the non-scientific history of "race science," and the assumptions, prejudices, and incentives that have allowed it to reemerge in contemporary science Superior tells the disturbing story of the persistent thread of belief in biological racial differences in the world of science. After 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 quietly founded journals and funded research, providing the kind of shoddy studies that were ultimately cited in Richard Hernstein's and Charles Murray's 1994 title, The Bell Curve, which purported to show differences in intelligence among races. If 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 retrofitted 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 persists. At a time when racialized nationalisms are a resurgent threat throughout the world, Superior is a powerful reminder that biologically, we are all far more alike than different"--"In Superior award-winning science writer Angela Saini explores the concept of race, past and present. She examines the dark roots of race research and how race has again crept gently back into science and medicine. And she investigates the people who use this research for their own political purposes, including white supremacists. They believe that populations are born different, in character and intellectually, and that this defines the success or failure of nations. It is a worldwide network of eugenicists with their own journals journals and sources of funding, providing the kind of shoddy studies that were ultimately cited in Richard Hernstein's and Charles Murray's 1994 title, The Bell Curve, which purported to show differences in intelligence among races. Taking us from Darwin through the civil rights movement to modern-day ancestry testing, Saini examines how deeply our present is influenced by our past, and the role that politics has so often had to play in our understanding of race. Superior is a powerful, rigorous, much needed examination of the insidious history and damaging consequences of race science and the unfortunate reasons behind its apparent recent resurgence across the globe"--… (mehr)
Mitglied:ProfessorEX
Titel:Superior: The Return of Race Science
Autoren:Angela Saini (Autor)
Info:Beacon Press (2019), 256 pages
Sammlungen:Deine Bibliothek
Bewertung:
Tags:to-read, non-fiction, science, history, political, anthropology

Werk-Details

Superior: The Return of Race Science von Angela Saini

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Best for:
Those interested in the history of of science used in support of and to further racism.

In a nutshell:
For centuries, racism has received some support from those who seek to use science to suggest there are biological differences (and inferiorities) among race. This book explores many of the ways they are wrong, and many of the ways they continue their racist work.

Worth quoting:
(I tried to narrow this down, but there’s so much good in here)

“Because of the narrow way Europeans had set their parameters of what constituted a human being, placing themselves as the paradigm, people of other cultures were almost guaranteed not to fit.”

“The idea of race didn’t make people treat other people as subhuman. They were already treated as subhuman before race was invoked. But once it was invoked, the subjugation took on a new force.”

“Scientific racism has come out of the shadows, at least partly because wider society has made room for it.”

“The true human story, then, appears to be not of pure races rooted in one place for tens of thousands of years, but of constant mixing, with migration both one way and another.”

“The desperate hunt for ‘black genes’ reveals just how deeply even well-meaning medical researchers believe that racial differences in health must be genetic, even when a goldmine of alternative explanations exists.”

“Enjoy your culture or religion, have pride in where you live or where your ancestors came from if you like, but don’t imagine that these things give you any biological claim.”

Why I chose it:
The author gave a remote talk at my workplace (I work at a University).

Review:
This book is dense yet extremely readable. Author Saini organizes it chronologically, so the reader gets a real sense of how ‘race science’ has evolved over time. She focuses on how it has changed to provide the racists with different avenues for trying to prove their belief that there is a biological difference among races, and further, that those differences mean that some people (usually whites) are superior.

Saini covers so much ground that I’d be doing a bit of an injustice to try to summarize it all here. But her basic premise, which she backs up repeatedly with not just source material but with interviews with some of the offenders, is that racists have made use of science for decades to try to support their ideas of racial superiority, when in fact there is basically no evidence for the concept of race to be found in biology.

I found the history extremely interesting, but I was especially taken with the discussion of the focus specifically on genes, and how genetics has played into and furthered some racist ideas about biology. And the chapter called ‘Black Pills,’ about how medicine has suggested a biological difference in disease treatment and process that could be much better described looking at sociological factors, was fascinating and frustrating.

Saini doesn’t just present the facts though, she also explores what all of this means for us as society, when some people are so desperate to feel superior that they seek to misuse science. I think we are getting closer as a society to understanding that science is yet another area that is not free from bias; this book makes it extraordinarily clear.

Keep it / Donate it / Toss it:
Keep it ( )
  ASKelmore | May 16, 2021 |
I thought I knew a bit about race "science" going into this book, but hearing the history all laid out and how science/health is still so tangled up in it today was astonishing. ( )
  thereserose5 | Mar 3, 2021 |
A very accessible survey of attempts to “prove” the existence of race by scientific means, pretty much solely to justify thinking that one group is better than some or all of the others, and, of course, mostly white people trying to claim they’re special.

Over and over again, we see the power of science applied to explain differences by biological factors by researchers who are, somehow, incapable of taking into account blindingly obvious explanations such as poverty, racism, educational differences, and other cultural beliefs and practices whose effects are overwhelmingly powerful compared to the tiny differences “explained” by twisty statistical manipulation of data from small samples, small population sizes, or both.

It’s especially painful to see the focus on genetics/biology when, again, over and over, we see groups once described in horrifyingly demeaning terms—such as immigrants from China, Japan, India, Greece, Italy, and Ireland—who are later reevaluated and acknowledged to be normal people after all, or, even, when convenient, to somehow have some special innate something that allows them to outperform whites on some measure. (Said something, of course, is assumed to be biological, rather than cultural. And, of course, white people are always still better than other groups they look down on.)

The author is London-born and raised by her Indian immigrant parents, which provides a unique perspective on the issues as racist beliefs are a bit different in the UK/Europe than in the US, and also because the “East Asian” communities in the UK have had different experiences despite being lumped together.

She also talks about how powerful hierarchical cultural systems, such as India’s castes or closed orthodox Jewish communities, can create actual biological effects, such as various rare genetic disorders that appear in populations with small numbers much more often than in the broader population, by limiting the possible partners of people enmeshed in these systems, and the powerful social limits on things like access to education, availability of employment, exposure to outside ideas and opportunities imposed by these systems create the sorts of differences in IQ and similar measures that disappear when those structures are loosened or individuals escape from their control. ( )
  cmc | Jul 13, 2020 |
Amazingly written, well researched, and extremely informative. While some liked to live with the delusion that America had become postracial when Obama was elected, racism was thriving on the margins waiting to go inevitably mainstream. This book is particularly good for understanding an aspect of racism and makes a wonderful companion to others books on the broad topic of racism. ( )
  Zcorbain | May 2, 2020 |
Diese Rezension wurde für LibraryThing Early Reviewers geschrieben.
The book traces the origins of research and beliefs regarding racial differences. Ultimately the author concludes that while there are outward physical manifestations of genetic differences, all humans are essentially the same, and that racial superiority is a human construct rather than a scientific fact.

This was an early review copy provided upon request. ( )
  mldavis2 | Apr 17, 2020 |
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"A powerful look at the non-scientific history of "race science," and the assumptions, prejudices, and incentives that have allowed it to reemerge in contemporary science Superior tells the disturbing story of the persistent thread of belief in biological racial differences in the world of science. After 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 quietly founded journals and funded research, providing the kind of shoddy studies that were ultimately cited in Richard Hernstein's and Charles Murray's 1994 title, The Bell Curve, which purported to show differences in intelligence among races. If 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 retrofitted 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 persists. At a time when racialized nationalisms are a resurgent threat throughout the world, Superior is a powerful reminder that biologically, we are all far more alike than different"--"In Superior award-winning science writer Angela Saini explores the concept of race, past and present. She examines the dark roots of race research and how race has again crept gently back into science and medicine. And she investigates the people who use this research for their own political purposes, including white supremacists. They believe that populations are born different, in character and intellectually, and that this defines the success or failure of nations. It is a worldwide network of eugenicists with their own journals journals and sources of funding, providing the kind of shoddy studies that were ultimately cited in Richard Hernstein's and Charles Murray's 1994 title, The Bell Curve, which purported to show differences in intelligence among races. Taking us from Darwin through the civil rights movement to modern-day ancestry testing, Saini examines how deeply our present is influenced by our past, and the role that politics has so often had to play in our understanding of race. Superior is a powerful, rigorous, much needed examination of the insidious history and damaging consequences of race science and the unfortunate reasons behind its apparent recent resurgence across the globe"--

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