Eugenics was supposed to be an ugly part of science that the world condemns.
Once embraced by leading – white, western, neurotypical, straight, male – psychologists such as Francis Galton, it provides a foundation for support of fascist ideology.
So, when shocking reports of a Number 10 adviser in 2020 having allegedly called for MPs to consider the “very real racial differences in intelligence”, critics were horrified. This is an issue that should concern not just politicians, but all UK citizens.
The adviser in question, Andrew Sabisky, may have stepped down yesterday evening from his role advising the Prime Minister, but his tweets are hardly apologetic.
The UK should not have a Prime Minister that refuses to say the belief that non-white people are somehow lesser and inferior to white people is racist and unacceptable
Sabisky said on Twitter the furore was a “giant character assassination”, stating “if I can’t do the work properly there’s no point, and I have a lot of other things to do with my life.”
Prime Minister Johnson had refused to take a stance on the situation, choosing not to condemn a high profile Government official’s allegedly pro-eugenics beliefs.
The UK should not have a Prime Minister that refuses to say the belief that non-white people are somehow lesser and inferior to white people is racist and unacceptable. It should be easy for Boris Johnson to say this yet instead he opts to say nothing as if there could be two sides to this debate.
It is time for our society to stop pretending that everything is up for debate. Xenophobia is not debatable. It is not free speech to suggest black people are mentally inferior to white people: it is hate speech, as defined by the Equality Act 2010 in which race including colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin is a protected characteristic.
“Racial difference in intelligence” is a debunked, racist myth. While IQ is a contentious concept, the idea of difference in race and that there is a superiority of race-based on intelligence is utterly racist drivel with no scientific basis. IQ used as a tool to promote the idea certain races are less intelligent stems from a hatred of non-white communities and desperation to enforce white supremacy.
Scientifically, it’s nonsense to assume IQ is a fixed test of intelligence due to intelligence being such a broad spectrum. There can be a perception that science is fixed, yet advances in neuroscience demonstrate neuroplasticity exists. Neuroplasticity means our brains are not fixed but are affected by the world around us, including our social environments and emotions, effectively condemning IQ as a relic method of testing.
It is not free speech to suggest black people are mentally inferior to white people: it is hate speech
Science changes as times change with neuroplasticity offering a sound basis as to why that is, as culture changes, the environment changes and our social fabric progress. As a field, science enjoys a gold pedestal in the eyes of men like Boris Johnson who is keen to lure international scientists to the UK, but as this scandal has shown, we must question what kind of research and justification for policies Johnson will fund and implement.
Contrary to belief, science doesn’t prove anything. Instead, it offers suggestions: research is presented by the newspaper, magazine, speaker, parliament or politician who applies their own interpretation. It can be a fantastic tool that provokes curious questions and encourages us to explore.
Let us not stand by quietly if – when – authority figures try to use it to invoke division.