Superior: The Return of Race Science, Angela Saini
After the horrors of the Nazi regime in World War II, the mainstream scientific world turned its back on eugenics and the study of racial difference. But a worldwide network of intellectual racists and segregationists quietly founded journals and funded research, providing the kind of shoddy studies that were ultimately cited in Richard Herrnstein 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 an idea that still managed to somehow survive in the way scientists thought about human variation and genetics. Dissecting the statements and work of contemporary scientists studying human biodiversity, most of whom claim to be just following the data, Angela Saini shows us how, again and again, even mainstream scientists cling to the idea that race is biologically real. As our understanding of complex traits like intelligence, and the effects of environmental and cultural 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 rigorous, much-needed examination of the insidious and destructive nature of race science—and a powerful reminder that, biologically, we are all far more alike than different.
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About the Author
Angela Saini is an award-winning science journalist and author based in New York. She presents radio and television programmes, and her writing has appeared in National Geographic, New Scientist, The Sunday Times and Wired. She is a spring 2022 Logan Nonfiction Program Fellow and was in Berlin in summer 2022 as part of the Humboldt Residency Programme on social cohesion. As the founder and chair of the ‘Challenging Pseudoscience’ group at the Royal Institution, Angela researches and campaigns around issues of misinformation and disinformation.
Her previous book Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong has been translated into fourteen languages. Both are on university reading lists across the world. Angela’s two-part television series for the BBC about the history and science of eugenics aired in 2019. She is currently finishing her fourth book The Patriarchs: In Search of the Origins of Male Domination, which will be published by 4th Estate and Beacon Press in early 2023.
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