The Voltaire Lecture explores the re-emergence of bogus race science in the modern era Posted - 17/05/2019

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Thirteen Lower Sixth pupils headed to UCL’s Logan Hall to attend the Voltaire Lecture, presented by Adam Rutherford, exploring the issue of ‘The Return of Scientific Racism’. However, Rutherford quickly adjusted this title to one he believed to be more accurate: ‘How to Argue with a Racist’. Adam Rutherford is a geneticist, broadcaster and author with his most recent book being ‘The Book of Humans: The Story of How We Became Us’. He mentioned the rising race crimes being reported despite the great shift in attitudes of a population which used to be heavily discriminatory. The attempts to justify racism have been rooted in science and more specifically genetics. He also spoke about racism and racial categorisation in sport and how trying to unpick the involvement of race within the sporting world is flawed due to our limited understanding of genetic involvement in sporting achievement.

He concluded by stating, ‘if you are a racist you are my enemy’, and that you cannot use science to provide evidence for your beliefs as the data collected is never neutral given that he states, humorously, it was done by humans. Rutherford finished with a quote from Angela Davis: ‘In a racist society it is not enough to be non-racist you have to be anti-racist’. He urges us to not passively disagree with racist attitudes but take action.

Thank you to Mr Swift and Mr Waller for organising and running this enlightening trip.        

Hannah Williams, Lower Sixth Form

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