The Evolution of Racism: Human Differences and the Use and Abuse of Science

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9780674008625: The Evolution of Racism: Human Differences and the Use and Abuse of Science
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In an intellectually engaging narrative that mixes science and history, theories and personalities, Pat Shipman asks the question: Can we have legitimate scientific investigations of differences among humans without sounding racist?

Through the original controversy over evolutionary theory in Darwin's time; the corruption of evolutionary theory into eugenics; the conflict between laboratory research in genetics and fieldwork in physical anthropology and biology; and the continuing controversies over the heritability of intelligence, criminal behavior, and other traits, the book explains both prewar eugenics and postwar taboos on letting the insights of genetics and evolution into the study of humanity.

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About the Author:

Pat Shipman is Professor of Anthropology at Pennsylvania State University. She is a Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She has won numerous awards and honors for her writing, including the 1997 Rhône-Poulenc Prize for The Wisdom of the Bones (coauthored with Alan Walker) and the Phi Beta Kappa Prize for Science for Taking Wing, which was also a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award and a New York Times Notable Book of the Year in 1998.

From Kirkus Reviews:

A thoughtful and provocative look at scientific racism from the rise of the theory of evolution to the present. Paleoanthropologist Shipman (coauthor, The Neanderthals: Changing the Image of Mankind, not reviewed) explores scientific (and, all too often, pseudoscientific) thinking about the meaning of race, showing that its history is ineluctably linked to the story of thoughts about the origins of humanity itself. The author begins her consideration with Charles Darwin. Although he contended that there were no value judgments attached to his theory of evolution, he also refused to believe that indigenous, ``less civilized'' peoples were human beings of the same order as Europeans. In England, Thomas Huxley proselytized on behalf of Darwinian theory as a way of affirming the primacy of science in its frequent battles with the church, which grew nastier as the theory of evolution challenged the biblical account of creation. In Germany, the debate took on a more political character, eventually culminating in the state's attempt, backed by a politicized science of eugenics, to distinguish a master race from subhumans. Shipman traces the story from the publication of Darwin's Origin of Species through the horrors of Nazism and down to the present. She convincingly demonstrates the links between the abuse of evolutionary theory and racism, showing that such thinking still sets the terms for discussion of matters of race and human characteristics today. The key question she raises is whether we have the capacity to acknowledge human differences without rushing to measure their value. It's a problem, she notes, of growing importance given the advances currently being made in genetics. This volume is ``must'' reading. Shipman gives readers a compelling discussion and candidly asks: ``Have we the courage and the intelligence to face the truth about ourselves?'' -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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9780671754600: Evolution of Racism: The Human Differences and the Use and Abuse of Science

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ISBN 10:  0671754602 ISBN 13:  9780671754600
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 1994
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