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ANTH 205 Biological Anthropology (Somer) - Scientific Bigotry

Resources relating to issues and practices of scientific bigotry

AAA Statement on Scientific Bigotry

Statement on the Misuse of "Scientific Findings" to Promote Bigotry and Racial and Ethnic Hatred and Discrimination
(American Anthropological Association)

(adopted October 1995)

The American Anthropological Association (AAA) is deeply disturbed and saddened by the spread of bigotry and racial and ethnic hatred around the world, including, but not limited to claims of racial supremacy or inferiority, calls for ethnic cleansing and purity, fanning xenophobic fears for political purposes and religious-based discrimination. The AAA also is greatly concerned that promoters of such attitudes and practices often cite alleged scientific findings to support their views. No such findings exist.  (read the rest of the statement)

Examples of Scientific Bigotry

Forced Sterilization

Barely 40 years ago, it wasn't uncommon for a single mother on welfare, or a patient in a mental hospital in North Carolina, to be sterilized against her will.  But North Carolina wasn't alone: More than half of states in the U.S. had eugenics laws, some of which persisted into the 1970s. Read the rest of this article.


A genocide is a conspiracy aimed at the total destruction of a group and thus requires a concerted plan of action. The instigators and initiators of a genocide are cool-minded theorists first and barbarians only second. The specificity of genocide does not arise from the extent of the killings, nor their savagery or resulting infamy, but solely from the intention: the destruction of a group (from the book Rwanda and Genocide in the Twentieth Century read the rest of the excerpt)

Race and Intelligence

In the 1960s and 1970s, University of California educational psychologist Arthur Jensen claimed to have proven racial differences in intellectual abilities. Similarly, political scientist Charles Murray and Harvard psychologist Richard J. Herrnstein asserted the existence of significant racial differences in I.Q. in their controversial book The Bell Curve (1994). Although the mainstream American scientific community (led by such notable figures as Harvard's Stephen Jay Gould) countered these works with detailed critiques, these well-publicized debates demonstrated that scientific racism, an idea tracing back to the birth of the United States, still lingered at the dawn of the twenty-first century.

Women and Intelligence

In 1879, Gustave Le Bon, chief misogynist of Broca's school, used . . . data to publish what must be the most vicious attack upon women in modern scientific literature.  ... published in France's most respected anthropological journal. Le Bon concluded:

"In the most intelligent races, as among the Parisians, there are a large number of women whose brains are closer in size to those of gorillas than to the most developed male brains.  This inferiority is so obvious that no one can  contest it for a moment; only its degree is worth discussion. All psychologists who have studied the intelligence of women, as well as poets and novelists, recognize today that they represent the most inferior forms of human evolution and that they are closer to children and savages than to an adult, civilized man. They excel in fickleness, inconstancy, absence of thought and logic, and incapacity to reason. Without doubt there exist some distinguished women, very superior to the average man, but they are as exceptional as the birth of any monstrosity, as, for example, of a gorilla with two heads."

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Scientific Racism:  refers to research which promotes or appears to promote a racist ideology while forgoing the ideals of scientific objectivity. Often scientific examinations of race or ethnicity can spark debate over whether they are works of legitimate science, or simply racist dogma disguised as science.  (Webster's Online Dictionary)

Bigot:  person who is  or obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance. (Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary)

Racisma belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.  (Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary)