Superior: the Return of Race Science
by Angela Saini
Saini, an engineer-turned-journalist, looks at how science was and is used to create, justify and perpetuate racism. She begins with the so-called science that defined race in the first place – using long-since discredited methods such as phrenology and skin-colour charts. The more you read about how people have been grouped differently over time, and the political reasons for the changing delineations between “races”, the more clear it becomes that race is an entirely social construct, not a scientific one.
But of course race became a social reality, one that has been used to justify a lot of very dodgy science. From European explorer scientists publishing ignorant untruths about native people they encountered to justify colonialism and slavery, to the ugly history of eugenics, there have now been centuries of racist lies masquerading as science. And worse, the lies still need to be countered because they are still part of public discourse.