Sunday, November 11, 2007

Is Prejudice Seeping Into Science?

A well-written piece by Amy Harmon in Sunday's New York Times raises old questions of race, genetics and our perceptions of ourselves. New questions hovering around supposed scientific proofs reinforcing the supposed superiority or inferiority of people with different physical characteristics are once again grabbing media attention.

Once again we are witnessing attempts to cloak the irrationality and fear-based insecurity of thinking warped by prejudice in the folds of science.

Aside from attracting media attention it raises the question - at what point does objective scientific analysis begin to become subject to the ingrained prejudices of those whom laymen look to, or qualify as scientific experts?

There have been numerous attempts over the course of history to use questionable scientific conclusions or flat out bogus theories to prove racial superiority.

It brings to mind the infamous 'Piltdown Man', an alleged early human ancestor found near Uckfield, East Sussex, UK. For years members of the scientific community attempted to use Piltdown man to undermine the existence of fossils proving that mankind originated in Africa.

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