Bigots online who argue that their racist views are merely a recognition of scientific realities are growing in number, a scientific author warns, and their pseudoscience needs to be challenged for being inspired by hatred and based in fiction.
Angela Saini, a science journalist based in London and the author of a book titled Superior: The Return of Race Science, penned an opinion piece for Scientific American that was published online on Monday. In it, Saini argued that many bigots online are shifting their arguments, suggesting that the superiority of some races is just simply grounded in scientific fact.
Saini rejects this argument, but notes that doing so automatically results in attacks from those who are advocating the idea.
“To state even the undeniable fact that we are one human species today means falling afoul of a cabal of conspiracy theorists,” Saini wrote. “The ‘race realists,’ as they call themselves online, join the growing ranks of climate change deniers, anti-vaxxers, and flat-earthers in insisting that science is under the yoke of some grand master plan designed to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes.”
Race realism, sometimes called “scientific racism” in the past, is the belief that empirical evidence exists that justifies belief in the superiority of certain races for aspects within society. According to reporting from Washington Monthly, the concept was used to justify racism and Jim Crow in the United States, as well as the genocide of Jews in Nazi Germany.
Put simply, it is essentially a kind of pseudoscience that is used by the alt-right and white supremacist groups to make racism seem appealing to others who may buy into its supposed scientific reasonings.
«The “race realists,” as they call themselves online, join the growing ranks of climate change deniers, anti-vaxxers and flat-earthers in insisting that science is under the yoke of some grand master plan designed to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes.» https://t.co/aKAkhgWmBB
— Per M. Koch (@perkoch) July 29, 2019
For those with extremist viewpoints, pointing out our similarities rather than our differences is a “left-wing plot to promote racial equality when, as far as they’re concerned, racial equality is impossible for biological reasons,” Saini added.
New technologies take a bulk of the blame. The internet, and the departure from traditional media, have allowed “[t]hose with outdated views” to have a voice, whether warranted or not, equal and “alongside reputable writers and academics” in the online world, Saini said.
Saini also warned that the outcome of unregulated social media, as well as the lack of challenge toward other tiers of society (the rich and academia have their fair share of racists, too, she points out), could be dire. “What has started with a gentle creep through the back door of our computers could end, if we’re not careful, with jackboots through the front door of our homes,” she wrote.
She added, “the public must hold the Internet giants to account, recognize hatred dressed up as scholarship and learn how to marginalize it, and be assiduous in squeezing out pseudoscience from public debate.”