Broadcast on Sunday February 13, 2011. Speakers: Peter Taylor, Nina Nolan, Chair, RACE Education Team, Boston Museum of Science, and WUMB host, Janis Pryor. Click here to listen to Podcast.
Afterthoughts on the discussion:
1. The host did well to launch us into the discussion without precirculation of questions. The broadcast ended up cutting out only about 5 minutes of the recorded discussion.
2. I was cast as the scientist who would supply the definitive answers about the biological (genetic) basis of race, as if the answer to the rhetorical question in the title given to the broadcast was there’s no scientific reality to race (with the implication that those who say there is are part of the longstanding, historically given problem of racism in the USA).
3. I tried to take the role of someone who was informed by the science, but wanted all listeners to be able to think about the complexities of the issues around race.
4. One of these issues is helping people who think it’s plausible that average differences in, say, IQ test scores, among social/racial groups could be explained by genetic differences see the problems in supporting such an idea with evidence.
5. Another of the issues is the fact that, even if races are defined by (shifting unreliable) social definitions, the experience of living with such definitions can have a significant impact on one’s biology and psychology–that is, it becomes a scientific reality in another sense.
6. I tried to do #4 on the radio and they didn’t edit it out, but visual aids would have helped and even then I need more practice if the take-home point is to come across. #5 isn’t so hard to convey, but I didn’t get into countering the rejoinders that hypothesize that average differences in susceptibility to illness among social/racial groups could be explained by genetic differences.
7. Re: the passage at the end where I try to speak of the cost of a racially divided society even to those that benefit from it, I need to keep working on how to express this to have impact (and not seem to discount the far greater costs to minorities).