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
Product Code: 6964
ISBN: 9780807028421
Format: Paperback / softback
Publisher: Beacon Press
Published Date: 05/05/2020
Pages: 256
Availability:In stock
N/A
Price: $16.00

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.


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Prologue

CHAPTER 1
Deep Time

CHAPTER 2
It’s a Small World

CHAPTER 3
Scientific Priestcraft

CHAPTER 4
Inside the Fold

CHAPTER 5
Race Realists

CHAPTER 6
Human Biodiversity

CHAPTER 7
Roots

CHAPTER 8
Origin Stories

CHAPTER 9
Caste

CHAPTER 10
The Illusionists

CHAPTER 11
Black Pills

Afterword
Acknowledgments
References
Index

“An important and timely reminder that race is ‘a social construct’ with ‘no basis in biology.’” —Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

“Whether you think of racist science as bad science, evil science, alt-right science, or pseudoscience, why would any contemporary scientist imagine that gross inequality is a fact of nature, rather than of political history? Angela Saini’s Superior connects the dots, laying bare the history, continuity, and connections of modern racist science, some more subtle than you might think. This is science journalism at its very best!” —Jonathan Marks, author of Tales of the Ex-Apes: How We Think About Human Evolution

“Angela Saini’s investigative and narrative talents shine in Superior, her compelling look at racial biases in science past and present. The result is both a crystal-clear understanding of why race science is so flawed, and why science itself is so vulnerable to such deeply troubling fault lines in its approach to the world around us—and to ourselves.” —Deborah Blum, author of The Poison Squad: One Chemist’s Single-Minded Crusade for Food Safety at the Turn of the Twentieth Century

“Some writers have tackled the sordid history of race science previously, but none have gone so deep under the skin of the subject as Angela Saini in Superior. In her deceptively relaxed writing style, Saini patiently leads readers through the intellectual minefields of ‘scientific’ racism. She plainly exposes the conscious and unconscious biases that have led even some of our most illustrious scientists astray.” —Michael Balter, author of The Goddess and the Bull

“In this essential book, Angela Saini deftly shows how science and racism have long been intertwined, why that pernicious history continues to this day, and why ‘race science’ is so deeply flawed. Deeply researched, masterfully written, and sorely needed, Superior is an exceptional work by one of the world’s best science writers.” —Ed Yong, author of I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life

“Angela Saini’s Superior: The Return of Race Science is nothing short of a remarkable, brilliant, and erudite exploration of what we believe about the racialized differences among our human bodies. Saini takes readers on a walking tour through science, art, history, geography, nostalgia and personal revelation in order to unpack many of the most urgent debates about human origins, and about the origin myths of racial hierarchies. This beautifully written book will change the way you see the world.” —Jonathan Metzl, author of Dying of Whiteness

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