The worst error in the history of science was undoubtedly classifying humans into the different races. Some discoveries have done far more harm than good. One famous critic of racial theory was the American anthropologist Ashley Montagu who wrote in The human races were invented by anthropologists like Johann Friedrich Blumenbach back in the eighteenth century in an attempt to categorise new groups of people being encountered and exploited as part of an ever expanding European colonialism. It is a resounding rejection of race by those scientists whose discipline invented the system of racial classification itself. First published in the first edition — of Nordisk familjebok. Still, the survey makes a very powerful statement. They were asked to respond to 53 statements about race covering topics like whether races are real, if they are determined by biology, whether races should play a role in medicine, the role of race and ancestry in commercial genetic testing, and if the term race should continue to be used at all. Most of the time races were justified on the grounds of cultural or language differences between groups of people rather than biological ones.
Yet, there always was a great deal of unease about race and a widely held belief that racial categories were in practice extraordinarily difficult to apply. It has been a source of inspiration and understanding, lifted the veil of ignorance and superstition, been a catalyst for social change and economic growth, and saved countless lives. Now, there are some big contenders for this dubious honour. Even today it's still used to explain social inequality, and continues to inspire the rise of the far right across the globe. Their existence was taken as a given right up until the twentieth century when anthropologists were busy writing about races as a biological explanation for differences in psychology, including intelligence, and educational and socioeconomic outcomes between groups of people. They are the main people determining what research is done, who gets funding, they are training the next generation of anthropologists, and are the public face of the field as well as the experts whose opinion is sought on issues like race. A new survey of more than 3, anthropologists by Jennifer Wagner of the Geisinger Health System and her team has recently been published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology and it offers some valuable insights into their views and beliefs. It is a resounding rejection of race by those scientists whose discipline invented the system of racial classification itself. The worst error in the history of science was undoubtedly classifying humans into the different races. Do anthropologists in particular believe that races are still valid? If race still resonates today publicly and politically, what do scientists think about it? Take for example the controversy that surrounded Nicholas Wade's book A Troublesome Inheritance if you doubt for a moment the resonance race still has for some people. One famous critic of racial theory was the American anthropologist Ashley Montagu who wrote in And there's one mistake you will never read about in those internet lists of the all-time biggest blunders of science. But race theory stands out among all of them because it has wreaked untold misery and been used to justify barbaric acts of colonialism, slavery and even genocide. We can take from this that there is a clear consensus among anthropologists that races aren't real, that they don't reflect biological reality, and that most anthropologists don't believe there is a place for race categories in science. Like everyone else, anthropologists are far from immune to unconscious bias, especially the effects of social status and culture in shaping our beliefs on issues like race. Some discoveries have done far more harm than good. Ironically perhaps, we anthropologists need, as a discipline, to work a lot harder at challenging our own deeply held and culturally embedded views, as well as on giving a greater voice to those scientists from historically non-privileged groups. The human races were invented by anthropologists like Johann Friedrich Blumenbach back in the eighteenth century in an attempt to categorise new groups of people being encountered and exploited as part of an ever expanding European colonialism. The take home message is clear. The people surveyed were members of the American Anthropological Association, the largest professional body of anthropologists in the world. Their power and influence reaches right across the field. And tenuous theories and dubious discoveries like luminiferous aether, the expanding earth, vitalism, blank slate theory, phrenology, and Piltown Man, to name just a few. Classification of humans into races 'the biggest mistake in the history of science' December 20, by Darren Curnoe, The Conversation The human faces of Asia. Massive blunders like the invention of nuclear weapons, fossil fuels, CFCs chlorofluorocarbons , leaded petrol and DDT. From the very beginning, the arbitrary and subjective nature of race categories was widely acknowledged.
Video about sex classification similar to race classification:
Stefan Molyneux on Race and IQ (Pt. 2)
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