Just because someone agrees with me doesn’t mean that I agree with them.
I don’t think it’s really scientific to claim that black people are not in fact people, actually…
When in fact, part of that posts cites the father of zoological taxonomy, Carl Linneaus, who literally classified various Africans as “nonhuman”.
Biological disciplines all use this system. In which Khoisan peoples were designated “nonhuman”.
Which led to Saartje Baartman being displayed like a zoo animal, and Angelo Soliman, a man who spoke seven languages and was called “the Father of Pure Masonic Thought” being posthumously stuffed and displayed as a curio surrounded by bones and dressed in a loincloth.
Which led to this awful woman following around Khoisan people TODAY with a thermometer, calling them some kind of connection with “our ancestors”, in the NAME OF SCIENCE.
Acting as if science and racism are some kind of natural enemies, as if one eliminates the other, merely divorces the present from its historical context, and if you hadn’t noticed, is counter to the purpose of this blog.
And it’s probably worth noting that the takeaway from this (at least, as I’m reading it) isn’t “Science is bad, we should stop doing science ‘cause all of it’s racist!”
Rather, it’s to recognize that a rather lot of our current body of scientific…stuff (be it knowledge, terminology, models, etc) either itself dates back to or is built on top of the work of people who were kind of super racist.
It’s the same thing as, like — to this day we still tend to name sciencey stuff in Latin, and it’s because Enlightenment thinkers had a gigantic hard-on for classical antiquity. Sciencey Latin is pretty ubiquitous and is something we generally take for granted, even though it contributes significantly towards making scientific terminology really inaccessible.
(We can even contrast the fields of chemistry and biology with, say, modern psychology — which is loaded with its own issues too, but isn’t all in Latin because it (by my layperson Wikipedidating) didn’t start being a thing until a century later.*)
Scientific racism is the same deal: it’s there, but because it’s built into the woodwork it’s easy to gloss over or take for granted if you aren’t looking for it — and correspondingly difficult to extract without upsetting a bunch of people.
And even though there’s nothing about race in the scientific method itself, when you’re dealing with people it can be hard to dissociate your process from the environment…which gets you a vast array of scientific studies performed mostly on white, upper-middle class college undergrads.
….aaaaaand then I try and track down the source that the numbers I remember hearing regarding that came from, and get this paper, which…basically makes the argument that we should think about college undergrads in the same way as we do one of those wacky, isolated tribes of brown people that anthropology gets all of its anecdotes from.
* The Age of Enlightenment was about 1650 - 1750ish , while Wilhelm Wundt built his first laboratory in 1879 .
1. yes, absolutely you make a lot of really great points which i have bolded
2. I really wish people would stop cutting eras into chunks when I’m trying to demonstrate a linear historical narrative that goes from before the period I’m talking about to after the period I’m talking about. Nothing happens in a void.
Every discipline is built on the foundations of predecessors. My work is based on foundations laid by people who came before me.
"Science" was not born like Venus from the foam, come adult and fully formed into the world complete with all the ideas we associate with it, like "objectivity" and "rational thought". It was created on purpose by human beings with thoughts, feelings, beliefs, cultures, genders, sexualities, and, eventually, races as we think of them today.
The past doesn’t just disappear into the ether when people die or ideas are replaced by others. I mean, the entire point of having records of anything humanity has done is so we can look at them now and be influenced by them.