In this episode of Life, the Universe & Everything Else, Gem, Lauren, Ashlyn, and Laura discuss science’s rocky history with issues of race and talk about some racist pseudosciences that continue to masquerade as science today.

Life, the Universe & Everything Else is a program promoting secular humanism and scientific skepticism that is produced by the Winnipeg Skeptics.

Note: If you notice an improvement in our audio quality, that’s thanks to Pat Roach from The Reality Check who introduced us to a great auto-levelling tool. Thanks, Pat!

Links: Scientific racism (Wikipedia) | New Analysis Challenges Study Suggesting Racial Bias at NIH (Science) | The Amazing Atheist’s Racism (Martin Hughes) | If you speak out against hate, the atheist community has your back (Martin Hughes) | Race (Wikipedia) | Shovel-shaped incisors (Wikipedia) | Forensics 101: Race Determination Based on the Skull (Skeleton Keys) | The Social Construction of Race (Jacobin) | Phrenology (Wikipedia) | History of Phrenology on the Web | History of eugenics (Wikipedia) | Immigration Act of 1924 (Wikipedia) | Introduction to Eugenics (Genetics Generation) | Human Testing, the Eugenics Movement, and IRBs (Learn Science at Scitable) | Feeble-minded (Wikipedia) | The Kallikak Family (Wikipedia) | Alberta Eugenics Board (Wikipedia) | Eugenics (Wikipedia) | Sexual Sterilization Act of Alberta (Wikipedia) | Canada’s Human Rights History: Eugenics | The Scared White People Who Love Donald Trump (VICE Canada) | The anthropologists really are buzzing (Pharyngula) | ‘A Troublesome Inheritance’ and ‘Inheritance’ (The New York Times) | Letters: “A Troublesome Inheritance” (Stanford Center for Computational, Evolutionary, and Human Genomics) | The hbd delusion (Pharyngula) | Race and intelligence (Wikipedia) | Satoshi Kanazawa (Wikipedia) | Academic racism has a K=N problem (Noahpinion) | The Creepy Internet Movement You’d Better Take Seriously (Vocativ) | Curtis Yarvin (Wikipedia)

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About Gem Newman

Medical student and former software developer. Host of the Life, the Universe & Everything Else podcast. Past organizer of the Winnipeg Skeptics. Former board chair at Bad Science Watch. Writer of things. Grower of beards. He/him.

3 responses

  1. Drake7 says:

    Fantastic show you guys. As (almost) always, you ventured deep into the topic and were quite thorough. I appreciate that you dig into nooks and crannies and possibilities without straying too far into unsupported speculation and conjecture.

    Here comes the but… it’s not really a but, it’s more some suggestions for you to consider. When you talk about race, (or any issues that particularly affect certain subaltern groups) remind the audience that those people are listening also, and encourage everyone to think about what it must be like to be them hearing it. It is great that you located yourselves in relation to the subjects of the topic (to simplify, as white) and I do think it’s laudable you waded in despite what were likely trepidations. You acknowledged at the end it was difficult for you so again, don’t forget to acknowledge the people whom these horrible ideas are directed towards.

    A commonly used mechanism for denial about racism is to tuck it away into the recesses of our minds and go on with daily life, often thinking of it as something from the past. As you know, a big problem with confronting racism is that it is defined inadequately as discreet, overt, intentional events that occur between individuals. But these poisonous ideas are embedded deeply into the culture and manifest not as discreet, overt events, but as pervasive, ongoing behaviours that overlay every aspect of the daily life of a racialized person. (Of course, this in turn contributes to how systems embed inequality but I’ll narrow the scope here). As a black, queer person, I live day-to-day with the subtle embedded assumptions of me as devious, stupid, dishonest, lazy, incompetent, unworthy, not quite fully human, etc. Often the people holding these beliefs are not aware of them and are not able to articulate them or where they came from (as implicit bias tests demonstrate). So when talking about a topic such as racism, remember to remind the audience that people live everyday with the sometimes subtle and sometimes overt day-to-day manifestations of these beliefs today. Encourage them to imagine how these beliefs might be expressed in day-to-day life of the subaltern person – with a co-worker, a boss, a mechanic, a client, a cashier, a stranger on the street…… hopefully this can promote awareness and empathy in addition to knowledge.

    Again, great work and thanks.

    • Gem Newman says:

      That’s really great feedback. Thanks! We’ve already got our next episode recorded (Laura and I have a baby due in August, so it’ll be a busy month), but I’d like to take your advice and share these things with the audience on our September episode. Do you mind if I quote your comment on the show? (I can paraphrase, if you’d prefer.)

      • Drake7 says:

        Hi, oops sorry to take so long. Yes, you can share my post. And you probably have a baby by now which is incredible.

        Feel free to correspond further if you want clarification or whatever.

        Take Care.