Race has a hold on history, but it no longer has a place in science.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2014-01-20 07:56Z by Steven

Race has a hold on history, but it no longer has a place in science. The sheer instability and potential for misinterpretation render race useless as a scientific concept. Inventing new vocabularies of human diversity and inequity won’t be easy, but is necessary.

Nina Jablonski, “2014 : What Scientific Idea is Ready for Retirement?,” Edge, January 16, 2014. http://www.edge.org/responses/what-scientific-idea-is-ready-for-retirement.

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Annual Question (2014): What Scientific Idea is Ready for Retirement? [Race]

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive on 2014-01-16 20:36Z by Steven

Annual Question (2014): What Scientific Idea is Ready for Retirement? [Race]



Nina Jablonski, Biological Anthropologist and Paleobiologist; Distinguished Professor of Anthropology
Pennsylvania State University

Race has always been a vague and slippery concept. In the mid-eighteenth century, European naturalists such as Linnaeus, Comte de Buffon, and Johannes Blumenbach described geographic groupings of humans who differed in appearance. The philosophers David Hume and Immanuel Kant both were fascinated by human physical diversity. In their opinions, extremes of heat, cold, or sunlight extinguished human potential. Writing in 1748, Hume contended that, “there was never a civilized nation of any complexion other than white.”

Kant felt similarly. He was preoccupied with questions of human diversity throughout his career, and wrote at length on the subject in a series of essays beginning in 1775. Kant was the first to name and define the geographic groupings of humans as races (in German, Rassen). Kant’s races were characterized by physical distinctions of skin color, hair form, cranial shape, and other anatomical features and by their capacity for morality, self-improvement, and civilization. Kant’s four races were arranged hierarchically, with only the European race, in his estimation, being capable of self-improvement…

…The mid-twentieth century witnessed the continued proliferation of scientific treatises on race. By the 1960s, however, two factors contributed to the demise of the concept of biological races. One of these was the increased rate of study of the physical and genetic diversity human groups all over the world by large numbers of scientists. The second factor was the increasing influence of the civil rights movement in the United States and elsewhere. Before long, influential scientists denounced studies of race and races because races themselves could not be scientifically defined. Where scientists looked for sharp boundaries between groups, none could be found

Read the entire article here.

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