What Is More of a Threat to Science: Scientific Racism or Unscientific Creationism?


As an evolutionary anthropologist, I am uniquely situated within science to encounter racist and/or creationist thought.  Evolutionary anthropology produces the authoritative story of who we are and where we came from.  As such, it is impossible to de-politicize the subject.  It is also impossible to achieve complete objectivity.  The narrative evolutionary anthropologists construct of our origins can be used by politicians to justify social policy.  This same narrative is also uniquely susceptible to attack from all religious groups.  So what poses a greater threat to the science of our origins?  Scientists who seek to find empirical evidence that our species is biologically divided?  Or unscientific religious authorities that attempt to subvert the entire discipline because the factual origin story of our species does not accord with the religious?  This is no small question.  

I personally feel that scientific racism poses more of a threat to the subject, and to our species.  This is because scientific racism comes from within the discipline itself.  There are racist evolutionary anthropologists.  There are few of them.  But they exist.  However, I have never met a creationist evolutionary anthropologist.  Unscientific creationism is not science, no matter how hard creationists have tried to gain credibility by appearing scientific.  Furthermore, scientific racism can actually hurt real people and divide us socially.  If you follow this blog, let me know what you think.  And if you want to read an interesting article about this issue, check out the following paper:

Marks, J.  Why Be Against Darwin?  Creationism, Racism, and the Roots of Anthropology.  2012.  Yearbook of Physical Anthropology, 55: 95-104.





One thought on “What Is More of a Threat to Science: Scientific Racism or Unscientific Creationism?

  1. Personally I feel it is the other way round for almost exactly the same reasons. Since “scientific” racism is an internal phenomenon people in the field have the ability to debate, discuss and dismiss it by themselves as they have done with many other outdated ideas. A fundamental social change was not required for the multiple-species model of human origins, for example.

    Conversely since creationism is external there is comparatively little we can do to stop it and its negative effects. If a racist publishes a wrong article, we can write a rebuttal but what can we do if a creationist government slashes EvoAnth funding, or hampers the education of future evolutionary anthropologists by sabotauging evolution lessons? Not a fat lot.

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