Critical Sciences: Rethinking Race, Biology, and Bias

“In a perfect world,” write the authors of Troublesome Science: The Misuse of Genetics and Genomics in Understanding Race, “there would be no need for another book about science and race.” And yet, the dangerous belief that humans are naturally divided into biological races persists. The science books in this list teach us to understand and respect human diversity, while providing histories of the idea of race and critiquing racial essentialism. They highlight how scientific tools like classification, genetics, and even contemporary implicit bias studies have been misused to create master narratives of race that must be dismantled in the service of both good science and racial justice.

Race on the Brain

What Implicit Bias Gets Wrong About the Struggle for Racial Justice

Jonathan Kahn

In Race on the Brain, Jonathan Kahn argues that implicit bias has grown into a master narrative of race relations—one with profound, if unintended, negative consequences for law, science, and society. He emphasizes its limitations, arguing that while useful as a tool to understand particular types of behavior, it is only one among several tools available to policy makers. 

Troublesome Science

The Misuse of Genetics and Genomics in Understanding Race

Rob DeSalle and Ian Tattersall

Troublesome Science is an important call for researchers, journalists, and citizens to cast aside the belief that race has a biological meaning, for the sake of social justice and sound science alike. It demonstrates conclusively that modern genetic tools, when applied correctly to the study of human variety, fail to find genuine differences. While the diversity that exists within our species is a real phenomenon, it nevertheless defeats any systematic attempt to recognize discrete units within it.

Race Unmasked

Biology and Race in the Twentieth Century

Michael Yudell

Race Unmasked revisits the origins of commonly held beliefs about the scientific nature of racial differences, examines the roots of the modern idea of race, and explains why race continues to generate controversy as a tool of classification even in our genomic age.

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