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How to Argue With a Racist: History, Science, Race and Reality

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  245 ratings  ·  46 reviews

Race is real because we perceive it. Racism is real because we enact it. But the appeal to science to strengthen racist ideologies is on the rise - and increasingly part of the public discourse on politics, migration, education, sport and intelligence. Stereotypes and myths about race are expressed not just by overt racists, but also by well-intentioned people whose

Kindle Edition, 224 pages
Published February 6th 2020 by Weidenfeld & Nicolson
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Michael Perkins
Mar 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My favorite book on genetics is by this same author. (Link below). The book under review here was a strong reminder of how complex the science of genetics is. It takes a trained and experienced geneticist to understand it.

By contrast, science reporters, never mind journalists and political scientists, are not qualified to write knowledgably on this topic. Ive read those books and theyre an exercise in confirmation bias, with a clear agenda for advocating racism for personal gain.

For example,
NAT.orious reads ☽
Feb 02, 2020 marked it as to-read
The title of this book is more attractive than the cute ginger I sat next to yesterday...until I see it's written by a white dude [Edit: thanks to Maya I used some of my brainpower to google him instead of just trusting my eyes: He's half Guyanese Indian :) ] Can this be good? Anyhoo, due to recent events, this seems like a very relevant read.
Feb 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: popular-science
An educational and interesting popular science book on a topic of profound importance. My view on it changed as I read it because my expectations developed as I read it. I initially wanted bite sized, easy to understand, points covering the genetics vs. Race question. Easy, simple science explanations are always welcome! But the author is an active scientist as well as a good science populariser, and in honesty he had to demonstrate what a complicated issue it is to relate genetics to human ...more
Feb 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is an interesting, informative and important book. Sadly, it feels like it's going be even more important in the coming years. Will it be read by people who need to read it? Probably not.

Anyway, this is a book about how certain people misuse science, specifically genetics, to justify their racism and how they are wrong. It is a concise read (probably took me a day in total to finish) and gets the points across nicely. However, genetics is complicated...very complicated. I'd recommend Adam
Sid Nuncius
Mar 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
I found How To Argue With A Racist interesting, well written and thoughtful. Adam Rutherford is a good writer and a very good scientist which makes for a winning combination here.

Rutherford sets out to combat some of the myths, misinterpretations and downright lies which racists believe, and he does it well. His arguments are insightful and very well informed, and he is honest about the ambiguities and subtleties of drawing conclusions from genetic data. This in itself is a powerful argument
Feb 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is titled in a way that will either spark your interest or totally turn you off. In essence, this short book dispells all the more common racist tropes that are used by ordinary people without ill will, but also refutes poisonous and dehumanizing junk science propagated by white nationalists and other extremists. Useful, succinct, rewarding.
Feb 15, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well written and utterly convincing. The three-star rating merely reflects my interest in genetics.
Jack Gibson
Feb 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: misc, favorites
A timely, poignant and fundamental insight into how rife racist attitudes and circumstances are, even in this "modern world". Rutherford concisely, scientifically and humanely unpicks the history of people from a race perspective, and gives a polite and affirmative two fingers to common cultural and stereotypical thinking about the "differnecs" between races. We all have 2 parents, with almost 1.5M ancestors over 500 years: get your head around that one!

Bury this one in a time capsule, make them
Isca Silurum

Not sure if another BBC hatchet job, but started off very jumbled.

Obviously, when arguing with rascists, their starting point is genetics and all the civil niceties of debate!

When return to at a later date but doubtful.
Feb 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arc, read-2020
*received for free from netgalley for honest review* great book, I want to carry this around to slap people across the face with because lets be honest they wouldn't read it (even when it hits then in the face lmfao) no but this is a really great and informative book and unlike many books that are like this, the author doesn't play devils advocate but acknowledge that they exist which doesn't sound likea huge distinction but when you read a book (obviously not this one) that argues child porn ...more
Sam Worby
Feb 11, 2020 rated it liked it
This interesting little book has Adam Rutherfords usual style and verve and largely successful attempts to explain science to lay people.

But I cant rate it highly: too much of the material is recycled from his previous books. There are 186 pages to my edition and with so much repetition of info given elsewhere this was a real disappointment. I was hoping for something more in depth but this felt like a cash in to a current trend for books on race and racism. As worthy as that is, I wish I hadnt
Feb 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Adam Rutherford does an absolutely fantastic job, here. Using his education and background as a geneticist, Rutherford succinctly, scientifically and methodically deconstructs the pseudoscientific arguments on race that we hear not just from out-and-out racists, but from everyday people who have digested outdated, baseless opinions on race and its indications on humans and human behaviour. The book centres (almost) entirely on the relationship between genetics and race, and despite the ...more
Mar 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
The succinct answer to the title is, of course, "you don't!". Racists, just like flat-earthers, anti-vaxxers, homeopaths and Trump supporters, are impervious to rational argument: they believe what they will believe and there is no doing anything about it.

This isn't a long book, but it doesn't take two hundred pages to state that obvious fact. Clearly, then, there's more to it than that. It's not a book about genetics either. Genetics is a relatively new science as slippery as quantum mechanics
Mar 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting and easy to follow. Another useful resource demonstrating that so-called 'Race Science' can't be considered science at all. Well worth reading.
Mar 03, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really interesting book that is full of scientific research. Biology was never my strongest science at school and so I did find this book a bit challenging to understand in places.
Feb 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I remember when I told a class of white 13 year olds that there is simply no real scientific genetic foundation for race, and that what we understand as race is mostly only meaningful as a social construct: they didnt believe me.

Everyone needs to read this book.
Krish Kandiah
Feb 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A provocative and much needed challenge to the pseudoscience used to support contemporary racism.
Feb 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting look into the reasons we are as we are, concerning racial differences, from a scientific perspective. This book answered several questions about if certain ethnicities were really genetically better at some things, and dispelled a few myths. I love learning about human evolution, and sociology, so this was a great read for me.
Carlos Martinez
Feb 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science, racism
Great book, calmly and systematically demonstrating that 'scientific racism' isn't at all scientific, but is definitely racist. It's particularly useful that the author is an expert in genomics, precisely the field that white supremacists jump on to provide pseudo-scientific justification of their theories.

The section on anti-semitism and the various claims made about the genetic predisposition of Ashkenazi Jews for science and music was very interesting. A shame that Rutherford adopts the media
Ronny Kjelsberg
Feb 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Great short read.

What's good about this book is that it is fact-based, summing up our currently best knowledge on biloogy and genetics in particular an by doing so completely tears the foundation away from under current attempts to found classical racist ideas in newer genetic research.

As he so sicinctly puts it, using their own words against neo-conservative "academically" (or rather pseudoscientifically) oriented racists: "Facts don't care about your feelings."

And your feelings of
Steve Streeter
Feb 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A concise important book ... living in a time of increased hatred often as a result of ignorance and fear, this book takes a wider view of the genetics behind all of us and provides arguments that clearly show that borders, barriers and nationalities are devices of politics and power leading to the division and tension in the world today and that although there are some differences we are all human and full of a diverse genetic makeup... I will be buying this book for family and friends
Donna Hardcastle
Feb 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An absolute tour de force. Short, succinct, beautifully argued. Plus hip hop references for the culture. A superb addition to the battalion of great work being put out to draw the line *here* against bigotry and fascism.
Feb 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An extremely relevant book. And very well written too. Dr. Rutherford is a geneticist , so he knows what he is talking about.
Michael Warren
Feb 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An excellent book. Adam Rutherford uses the latest scientific evidence to make the case against the pseudoscientific claims of racists and white supremacists. In addition there are useful insights into the workings (and failings) of the commercial DNA companies.
Feb 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An excellent book.
It is very readable, very accessible and based on good science. A must read in this "blaming others" society. Arm yourself, educate yourself, understand your biases and promote change from here on in
Feb 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Perhaps the most timely and relevant book of the year is How to Argue with a Racist: History, Science, Race and Reality by Dr Adam Rutherford. Two months in and already it seems racist views and dodgy eugenics are going to be increasingly exposed both socially and politically without shame, so a clear, concise and scientifically accurate deconstruction of racist tropes is sorely needed.

Rutherford has had a strong career in genetics, science writing and broadcasting and brings his skills from
Martin Waterhouse
The excellent thing about this book is that it makes the very complex and confusing world of genetics a little more understandable to us mere ignorant mortals. Adam Rutherford thoroughly pulls the plug from the idea that white (or any other coloured, for that matter) skin matters much of a jot when it comes to putting you higher or lower on the ladder of genetic superiority or even competency - we're a right old mixed bunch, no matter where you may hail from.
However, my problem with the book is
Lisa Konet
Mar 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a pain in the ass to download from Net Galley because there wasn't a kindle option. Being able to read took a lot of customer care from NetGalley to be able to read on my laptop. With that being said...

This was totally insightful and thought provoking. If someone looks differently at another person just because of skin color and religion; it's definitely defined as racism. This book is that aspect but a whole lot more. I may favor some groups as opposed to others, but I have always kept
Feb 24, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book needs to be out there . It's a really clear title and does what it says on the tin in a succinct and engaging way .

I particularly enjoyed the chapter on ancestry genetic testing as so many people I know are having these tests gifted to them and using their results to justify their own superior status or debunking them if they disagree with the results . These tests are the Trojan Horse of racism, normalising this ridiculous thing called race , and it's good to understand the results
David Pain
Mar 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am quite dim. I suspect that I don't appear so on first meeting because of my accent and the occasional long word but it's true. This means that when I read non-fiction, I don't understand it all and not much sticks in my memory. It's the same as when I watch an interesting documentary but, for some reason, I previously felt under more internal pressure to remember non-fiction books than TV shows... No more! I just sat back and relaxed as the words of this one went by. 👍

However, as little as I
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Adam David Rutherford (born 1975) is a British geneticist, author, and broadcaster. He was an audio-visual content editor for the journal Nature for a decade, is a frequent contributor to the newspaper The Guardian, hosts the BBC Radio 4 programme Inside Science, has produced several science documentaries and has published books related to genetics and the origin of life.

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“As Jonathan Swift said in 1721: ‘Reasoning will never make a Man correct an ill Opinion, which by Reasoning he never acquired.” 0 likes
“demonstrates quite clearly Swift’s maxim that you cannot reason someone out of a position they did not reason themselves into.” 0 likes
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