How to Argue With a Racist by Adam Rutherford

Published August 15, 2020

How to Argue With a Racist by Adam Rutherford

Book info

  • Title How to Argue With a Racist
  • Author Adam Rutherford
  • Year 2020
  • Genres Science, Politics

Race is real because we perceive it. Racism is real because we enact it. But the appeal to science to strengthen racist ideologies is on the rise - and increasingly part of the public discourse on politics, migration, education, sport and intelligence. Stereotypes and myths about race are expressed not just by overt racists, but also by well-intentioned people whose experience and cultural baggage steer them towards views that are not supported by the modern study of human genetics. Even some scientists are uncomfortable expressing opinions deriving from their research where it relates to race. Yet, if understood correctly, science and history can be powerful allies against racism, granting the clearest view of how people actually are, rather than how we judge them to be.


I can absolutely see how this book came about, Adam finally having enough abuse on Twitter to warrant a response longer than the however-many-characters is allowed. It does exactly what it says on the tin and whilst initially I wasn’t sure how a whole book could be sustained by the simple notion of “stop being an idiot”, actually, it does a really good deep dive into why we essentially don’t know anything about anything and therefore can’t be so cock-sure that one race is better than the other. Because they’re not. What is race anyway?

Getting to the nitty gritty, Adam shines a light on the science behind the very woolly term race and how there really are no clear answers on any of it. I thought the chapters on genetics and DNA were interesting if a little above my pay grade, but the stuff on sporting achievements and how your ancestry works were really interesting. There are quite literally no definitive answers in this book, but for someone who does want to take on the racists, there’s plenty enough to take them down a peg or two.

Rating: 3 / 5

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