Philosophy 105: Section 006
Option 1 (Race & Science): How Scientists Contributed to the Illusion of Race in America
Critical thinking, as discussed in class and on the course syllabus, is a reflective and analytical style of thinking, with its basis in logic, rationality, and synthesis. It means delving deeper and asking questions like: why is that so? Where is the evidence? How good is that evidence? Is this a good argument? Is it biased? Is it verifiable? What are the alternative explanations? It is used in fields such as science, where it is essential to use critical reasoning in experimentation and theory confirmation. Now, do all societies and cultures follow the laws of good research design, avoid argumentative fallacies, and present their research in a way as not to manipulate the public opinion? The short answer is no, and science plays a huge role in our world today, as it is the study of curiosity itself, and new innovations result from well-designed scientific methods. In the particular point of race, I believe that scientists put qualitative, biological data behind something that only exists as an invention of the human mind. They were so influenced by cultural and societal forces that the scientists, especially the eugenic ones, forced theory and data to separate humanity into little subgroups of race based on specific features, and subsequently assigned general behaviors to these people in the name of genetics. During this country’s early ages, science played a significant part in shaping how we view race today, and part of that phenomena is explained in the PBS series: “Race: The Power of An Illusion,” which I will use to cite specific examples and expert testimonials to provide evidence to the perhaps controversial claims I am making.
Before I begin my discussion, I must note that I had already had pre-conceived notions that race was simply a cultural and political concept forged after a long history of systematic (I am skeptical to use this term) by policies and misguided beliefs. I knew about the historical landmarks for how we think of race in the United States, such as the fact that the Federal Housing Agency created poor neighborhoods, usually filled with colored people, by redlining and devaluing houses that were not in “all-white” neighborhoods, most likely causing the typical black American family to have “1/8th the net assets”  of the typical white American family. Such events were described and subsequently evaluated by experts in the field to ultimately reaffirm the beliefs I had already held in regard to race, thus, there may be a degree of bias in favor of the film’s point of view from me.
Also, I wish to provide context as to what I define as a good research study, so I can later compare the mistakes the scientists made in their studies that contributed a great deal to the illusion of race. Through class readings and past research, I have a fairly good idea as to w...