Science in Black and White: How Biology and Environment Shape Our Racial Divide

Science in Black and White: How Biology and Environment Shape Our Racial Divide

by Alondra Oubre
Science in Black and White: How Biology and Environment Shape Our Racial Divide

Science in Black and White: How Biology and Environment Shape Our Racial Divide

by Alondra Oubre


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This unflinching expose of racially biased research--the Alt-Right's "scientific wing"--debunks both old and emerging claims of inborn racial disparities.Racial groups differ in some of their social patterns, but the cause of those differences--nature versus nurture, or genetics versus environment-- remains fiercely debated. For the pro-nature camp-- sometimes aligned with white nationalism and eugenics, and often used to promote ideas of racial inferiority and superiority -- race-based biological determinism contributes significantly to the ethnic divide, especially the black/white gap in societal achievement. By contrast, pro-nurture supporters attribute ethnic variation in social outcomes primarily to environmental circumstances, ecological conditions, and personal experience. In this thoroughly researched book, science writer Alondra Oubre examines emerging scientific discoveries that show how both biology and environment interact to influence IQ--intelligence performance--and social behaviors across continental populations, or human races. She presents compelling evidence for why environmental and certain non-DNA-related biological phenomena overall seem to best explain black/white disparities in a gamut of social behaviors, including family structure, parenting, educational attainment, and rates of violent crime. As she demonstrates, nature still matters, but the biology that impacts racial variance in social behaviors extends beyond genetics to include other processes--epigenetics, gene expression, and plasticity--all of which are profoundly affected by a wide array of environmental forces. The complex, synergistic interplay of these factors combined, rather than just genes or just environment, appears to account for black/white divergence in a gamut of social behaviors.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781633886018
Publisher: Prometheus Books
Publication date: 11/19/2019
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: eBook
Pages: 392
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Alondra Oubré is a graduate of the joint doctoral program in medical anthropology at the University of California (UC) at Berkeley and the University of California at San Francisco School of Medicine, and holds a PhD in anthropology and medical anthropology, as well as an MA in anthropology from UC Berkeley. For the last twenty-five years, she has worked as a medical writer and regulatory affairs specialist in the medical device and pharmaceutical industries. Dr. Oubré's published works include essays on the nature-versus-nurture controversy over the ethnic achievement gap, medicinal plant research for pharmaceutical drug development, and various scientific topics for magazines and journals, such as Skeptic magazine, Psychiatric Times, and Scientia Salon. She has lectured on race-related topics at events hosted by organizations such as the American Anthropological Association, California Institute of Technology in conjunction with the Skeptic Society, University of Maryland at College Park, Human Behavior and Evolution Society, and various universities in the United States, Africa, and Asia. She is the author of two books, Race, Genes, and Ability: Rethinking Ethnic Differences (two volumes) and Instinct and Revelation: Reflections on the Origins of Numinous Perception.

Table of Contents

Prologue vii

Acknowledgments xv

Chapter 1 Nature Versus Nurture: Redrawing the Battle Lines 1

Chapter 2 Darwin's Legacy: Selection and Adaptation 27

Chapter 3 Darwinian Medicine 47

Chapter 4 From Bodies to Behavior: Population Genetics and Social Life 65

Chapter 5 Architecture of the Human Brain 81

Chapter 6 The Gendered Brain 91

Chapter 7 The Racialized Brain 109

Chapter 8 Brain Traits: The View from MRIs 135

Chapter 9 The Search for IQ-Linked Genes 155

Chapter 10 Smart Genes, Big Brains, and Civilization 187

Chapter 11 Mean Genes: The (Un)Holy Grail of Race-Realism 201

Chapter 12 Girl Growth: Sexual Maturation in Black and Brown Bodies 233

Chapter 13 Testosterone Tales of Race and Aggression 255

Chapter 14 The AR Gene: The "New Testosterone" 265

Epilogue 285

Notes 293

Index 359

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