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Is science racist? – Angela Saini (Nazi officials use callipers to measure an ethnic German's nose. The Nazis developed a system of facial measurement that was supposedly a way of determining racial descent. The compiled results, based on biased samples, were used to back up the Nazi claim that Germans were a pure and superior "Aryan" race © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

Angela Saini: Is racism creeping into science?

Published: 13th June, 2019 at 08:00
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According to Angela Saini’s new book, Superior, there is an ongoing revival of race science, which is being fuelled by a rise in extremism and right-wing views.

After World War II, mainstream science denounced eugenics and the study of racial differences. Yet there remained a staunch group of scientists who continued to research race. For a few decades, these people remained on the fringes of research. Yet now, in the 21st Century, fuelled by a rise in the far right and extremist views, an increasing number of researchers are framing race as a biological construct rather than a social one.

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Yet even well-meaning scientists continue to use racial categories in genetics and medicine, betraying their belief that there are biological differences between us, and that race can explain differences in intelligence and disease susceptibility.

In her new book, Superior (£16.99, Fourth Estate), Angela Saini explores the concept of race. She interviews anthropologists, historians, social scientists and geneticists and finds that time after time, the science is retrofitted to accommodate race.

Here, she talks to BBC Science Focus production editor Alice Lipscombe-Southwell.

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Authors

Alice Lipscombe-SouthwellManaging editor, BBC Science Focus

Alice is the managing editor at BBC Science Focus Magazine. She has a BSc in zoology with marine zoology. Her interests include natural history, wildlife, the outdoors, health and fitness.

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