44: Here comes Bernie, Joseph Graves Jr. on the scientific fiction of race

We’re joined this week by Joseph Graves Jr., a genetics professor at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and author of The Emperor's New Clothes: Biological Theories of Race at the Millenniumand The Race Myth: Why We Pretend Race Exists in America. Dr. Graves takes us through the science that proves the myth of biological notions of racial difference, and the political, economic and cultural reasons why these myths endure in our society, not only among ignorant white supremacists but liberal scientists like David Reich, who warns that if scientists continue to "stick their heads in the sand" in the face of emerging evidence that supposedly proves the validity of biological races, they will discredit themselves and provide ammunition to those with a racist agenda.

Dr. Graves is also a member of Science for the People and one of the organizers of the response of 67 scientists and researchers to Reich’s arguments published in Buzzfeed. Graves is as sharp on politics as he is on genetics, and he minces no words describing how many of his colleagues are blind to the ways that their work is impacted by the racism endemic to capitalist society and indifferent to how their work is used to promote the agendas of armies and corporations. It’s a terrific conversation. 

Jen’s out this week, so Eric joins Danny in the opener to discuss Bernie Sanders’ long-anticipated presidential announcement, and the new dynamics he’ll face as a frontrunner facing a party that has gone from mocking his ideas to trying to coopt them. 

Links for this episode

Check out these books by Joseph Graves Jr.

·     The Emperor's New Clothes: Biological Theories of Race at the Millennium (bit.ly/GravesJrEmperors)

·     The Race Myth: Why We Pretend Race Exists in America (bit.ly/GravesJrPretend)

For more on the current debate about biological race check out

·     David Reich’s New York Times article "How Genetics is Changing Our Understanding of 'Race'" (bit.ly/ReichRace)

·     And then of course the response to Reich by Dr. Graves and others: “How Not to Talk about Race and Genetics” (bit.ly/Gravesresponse)

·     Finally, find out more about Science for the People (http://bit.ly/Sci4Ppl), an organization that describes itself as dedicated to building a movement around radical perspectives on science and society.