Superior: The Return of Race Science

Superior: The Return of Race Science

Angela Saini

Modern science is pivotal in our understanding of race – not because of the lines that thinkers through the centuries have chosen to trace, but because, once grouped, what they thought belonging to these groups signified.

In Superior award-winning science writer Angela Saini explores the concept of race, both past and present. At its heart, race is the belief that we are born different, in character and intellectually, as well as in appearance. It’s the notion that as groups of people we have certain innate qualities that are not only visible, but which may also have helped define the passage of progress, of the success and failure of the nations our ancestors came from.

But modern science has moved on from these beliefs, finding reality to be much more complicated. Taking us from Darwin through the civil rights movement to 23andMe, Saini examines how deeply our present is influenced by our past, and the role that politics has so often had to play in our understanding of race. Superior is a rigorous, much needed examination of the insidious history and damaging consequences of race science – and the unfortunate reasons behind its apparent recent resurgence across the globe.

Reviews of Superior: The Return of Race Science

    • ‘In this essential book, Angela Saini deftly shows how science and racism have long been intertwined, why that pernicious history continues to this day, and why “race science” is so deeply flawed. Deeply researched, masterfully written, and sorely needed, Superior is an exceptional work by one of the world’s best science writers’ Ed Yong
    • ‘This is an essential book on an urgent topic by one of our most authoritative science writers’ Sathnam Sanghera
    • ‘Whether you think of racist science as bad science, evil science, alt-right science, or pseudoscience, why would any contemporary scientist imagine that gross inequality is a fact of nature, rather than of political history? Angela Saini’s Superior connects the dots, laying bare the history, continuity, and connections of modern racist science, some more subtle than you might think. This is science journalism at its very best!’ Jonathan Marks, author of Tales of the Ex-Apes: How We Think About Human Evolution
    • ‘Angela Saini’s investigative and narrative talents shine in Superior, her compelling look at racial biases in science past and present. The result is both a crystal-clear understanding of why race science is so flawed, and why science itself is so vulnerable to such deeply troubling fault lines in its approach to the world around us – and to ourselves’ Deborah Blum, author of The Poison Squad: One Chemist’s Single-Minded Crusade for Food Safety at the Turn of the Twentieth Century
    • ‘Some writers have tackled the sordid history of race science previously, but none have gone so deep under the skin of the subject as Angela Saini in Superior. In her deceptively relaxed writing style, Saini patiently leads readers through the intellectual minefields of ‘scientific’ racism. She plainly exposes the conscious and unconscious biases that have led even some of our most illustrious scientists astray’ Michael Balter, author of The Goddess and the Bull