Sunday Times Books LIVE Community Sign up

Login to Sunday Times Books LIVE

Forgotten password?

Forgotten your password?

Enter your username or email address and we'll send you reset instructions

Sunday Times Books LIVE

Jonathan Ball

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Gavin Evans Criticises Richard Dawkins’ Genetic View of Race (Excerpt: Black Brain, White Brain)

Black Brain, White BrainWomen24 has shared an excerpt from Black Brain, White Brain: Is Intelligence Skin Deep?, in which Gavin Evans examines and challenges the myths that are perpetuated around race and intelligence.

Evans criticises Richard Dawkins’ biological and genetic views on race, which he elucidates in The Selfish Gene, saying that Dawkins’s error “comes in trying to invent a biological case for something that does not require it”.

Read the excerpt:

The fact that racism is pervasive does not imply it has a genetic basis. People are not racist because of a genetic propensity to notice eye shape or hair curliness, nor because they have an innate tendency to be nasty to people who don’t look like them.

They may, however, be racist because they ascribe certain connotations to eye shape or hair curliness or skin colour.

And those connotations are absorbed from the ether of the environments they live in. It would appear we are capable of picking up racial cues before we can speak.

One study found that while newborn babies had no preference for looking at black or white faces, by the age of three months they were more inclined to look at same-race faces than at other-race faces.

There is nothing implicit here; it relates to newborns becoming familiar with faces they see most often, a point also suggested by another study that found that three-to-four-month-olds who spent more time with their mothers preferred looking at female faces, while those who spent more time with their fathers preferred male faces.

In other words, babies are attracted to the faces they are familiar with. It is no more profound than that.

Book details


Please register or log in to comment