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Culture & Religion

Why Race Isn’t Biological

While medical literature commonly identifies race as an independent risk factor for certain diseases, such an emphasis may obfuscate the search for more significant causes of illness.

What’s the Latest Development?

A recently uncovered dissertation written at Harvard in 1972, which found genetic causes for the difference in IQ scores between Hispanic and non-Hispanic populations, has led to its author’s resignation from a prominent conservative think tank. While the links between genetics and intelligence are highly questionable, the assumption that grounds the objectionable study remains mostly unchallenged, i.e. that there is a biological foundation for race. Medical literature that expresses risk factors for certain disease in terms of race are not difficult to find, from osteoporosis to lung function to high blood pressure. 

What’s the Big Idea?

“In the past decade, a small but growing sub-field, anchored in multiple disciplines, has begun criticizing the unthinking racial essentialism that finds its way into scientific research more frequently than one might think, especially in medicine and public health orbits.” The danger in treating race as a risk factor for disease, given its cultural currency, is that it may overshadow other more significant factors. “In and of itself, the biological race concept does not necessarily lead to claims of racial superiority or inferiority. But it certainly can lead there, or less malevolently, can obfuscate a complex litany of explanations for explaining observable population differences.”

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Read it at the Atlantic


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