Scientific Racism In Stephen Jay Gould's The Measure Of Man

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Stephen Jay Gould’s The Mismeasure of Man attempted to show the process and examples of scientific racism in the historical of the study of the human anatomy. The ideas of scientific racism came as a side effect to the scientific support of imperialism and was glorified in its support and backing of imperialist policies throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In analyzing scientific racism, he put forth a general argument that had been used by these scientists that he referred to as biological determinism, in which he disagreed with the practice by which they put forth and skewed their evidence to support the generally regarded ideals of the socially accepted of the time. Gould’s general argument centered on what he had referred…show more content…
He had first attempted to find a meaningful characteristic that could display the established ranks, and tried the ratio of the radius to the humerus, or the extent of the elongation of the forearm. After this attempt he discovered that it would be difficult for him to continue in the support of his theory that the elongation of the forearm was a character of degradation or inferiority, because the European occupied a place between Negroes on one hand, and Hottentots, Australians, and Eskimos on the other. Attempting to salvage as much value as possible from his measures of the overall brain sizes, he continued to believe that brain size still had real important, even if the volume did not play any decisive role in the ranking of intelligence in race. This was an unbeatable argument, denying at on end where the conclusions did not support the social expectations, but affirming it by the same criterion at the other; Broca did not fudge his numbers, but merely interpreted his way around them to favored conclusions. He later abandoned this criterion of brain sizing in favor of an argument that brain size increased with body size, decreased with age, and decreased with long periods of poor health. The South African anthropologist P.V. Tobias published an article in 1970, that exposed…show more content…
Recapitulation served as a general theory of biological determinism and ranked among the most influential ideas of nineteenth century science, holding that all inferior groups, races, sexes, and classes, were compared to the children of white males. Recapitulation was a theory that directly supported the imperialist cause in that it proposed that groups that were considered inferior to the Caucasian male could be compared to an early stage of intellectual development, and therefore seen as less advanced and projected the need to colonize these peoples in order to educate them. As part of the recapitulation theory, individuals in their own growth were believed to pass through a series of stages representing the adult ancestral forms in order, and in short climbing the individual’s own family tree. The theory also required that “the adult traits of ancestors develop more rapidly in descendants to become juvenile features- hence, traits of modern children are primitive characters of ancestral adults.” Recapitalization was the widely accepted defense for ranking groups and therefore part of the preference of scientists to compare the intelligence of different racial and ethnic groups on a single scale that lacked the capability to take into account environmental factors. It also not only reinforced, but was a key part of the ideals of scientific

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