Superior: The Return of Race Science

Beacon. May 2019. 256p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780807076910. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780807076941. SCI
OrangeReviewStarBritish science journalist Saini (Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong) takes an unflinching look at how 19th-century science provided an intellectual framework for the development and ranking of racial categories and the widespread acceptance of eugenics. Though Nazi Germany's genocidal use of racial purity theories forced these ideas into the shadows, racists didn't disappear after World War II. Instead, they moved into less controversial fields, received funding, and began publishing a journal (Mankind Quarterly), allowing them to update old racial prejudices in light of new scientific fields such as population genetics and genomics. With input from many scientists and historians, Saini examines the search for intelligence genes, racialized medicine, statistical racism, and the misuse of genetic research to fit racial agendas. While there's no valid biological or genetic basis for race, some researchers are still intent on searching for it, prompting the author to conclude that intellectual racism is still "the toxic little seed at the heart of academia."
VERDICT A well-argued, timely, sobering wake-up call for those who believe science is always objective and apolitical. Highly recommended for academic researchers, journalists, and general science readers alike.
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