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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Indispensable read, July 5, 2012
By 
J. Davis (San Diego, CA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This is one of the few books that I can honestly say, "The author really changed my thinking." I rarely give books 5 stars, but Fatal Invention deserves it. (I was going to say best book of the year, but realized it was published in 2011.) Not only is it well-reasoned and passionate, it is about a subject that deperately needs to be talked about honestly. Roberts challenges a lot of conventional wisdom in Fatal Invention. The entire book is well worth reading; but two discussions particularly intrigued me. One is the current marketing of drugs toward specific races. A fascinating chapter on the drug BiDil illustrates Robert's point. With no scientific basis, drug companies declared BiDil a drug that would help blacks more than other racial groups, even getting the NAACP to go along with this dubious assertion.

The other huge issue she discusses is the abuse of DNA evidenceby law enforcement. Many people think DNA is a smoking gun in law enforcement,with almost no chance of error. Roberts strongly argues that isn't the case at all. Human error or even deliberate fraud--Roberts mentions that the Houston police department was suspended from using it for a while-- can cause DNA evidence to lead to a wrongful conviction. Fatal Invention is one of the most important books published in the last few years.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Invention, December 24, 2011
By 
Larry Lundgren (Linkoeping, Sweden) - See all my reviews
Dorothy Roberts' parents, Iris and Robert had it right, as we learn from her dedication "...(they) taught me that there is only one human race." What are all those other parents telling their children, those parents who believe in "races"? ("race" in quotes from here on out.

Those who so believe and yet operate on a relatively high intellectual level should buy this brilliant book and subject themselves to the analysis that otherwise is lacking in many higher domains in American sociology and medicine.

In the space appropriate in an Amazon review it will be easiest to simply present a selection of sentences from her book that say so much with so few words. Having written that, I begin, paradoxically, with a sentence from her that in my experience is absolutely unfounded, yet tells the story for her of America as she has experienced it.

The sentence (my clarifications): "It (race) is the first or second thing we (Americans) notice about a stranger we pass on the street or a new acquaintance approaching to shake our hand."

I am an American who has thus far lived about 62 of my 79 years in America. "Race" has never entered my mind in such situations and the tens of people (many different nationalities) to whom I have thus far posed that question to do not think that way either.

Whatever elements of truth there may be in that sentence, the sentence conveys her essential position that in America people are obsessed with "race" and that this has become especially true of that segment of the (advanced) scientific community that engages in "Believing in Race in the Genomic Age" (Title of Part I).

She says in Chapter 1:"Race is not a biological category that is politically charged. It is a political category that has been disguised as a biological one." So begins chapter one. It ends with these sentences "...British sociologist Paul Gilroy..."for me,'race' refers primarily to an...arrangement, the brutal result of the raciological ordering of the world, not its cause." "In less academic terms: race is the product of racism, racism is not the product of race."

In Chapter 2, she makes perfectly clear where her book is headed when she writes: "Every modern era has had a science of race...Science is the most effective tool for giving claims about human difference the stamp of legitimacy."

Chapter 3 "Redefining Race in Genetic terms" is for me the key to understanding the tasks she takes on in this book. The goal of this chapter, in simple terms, is to show that specific groups of scientists, for example genetic scientists including those working in "pharmacogenomics" "...are treating social categories , determined by law, custom, and political affiliation, as if they were biological ones." Thus with that mind set, they seem determined to preserve "races" as distinct biologically distinguishable categories no matter what, particularly because they need potential buyers to believe in "race."

The remaining chapter headings tell you, the potential reader, what some of the Fatal Inventions are that she will critically analyze: Medical Stereotyping (4), The Allure of Race in Biomedical Research (5), The New Racial Technology (Part III), Pharmacoethnicity (7), Color Coded Pills (8), Genetic Surveillance (11), and more.

Her achievement in each of these chapters is to identify the weak foundation on which otherwise highly competent scientists build their castles and to then show how willingly Americans at every level are lured into believing that if scientists tell them that these "races" are indeed biological entities that are to be managed by the scientists or politicians or whose "members" are to manage themselves by employing the Fatal Inventions of these scientists then so be it, whatever the consequences.

She writes in Conclusion: The Crossroads: "This nation is at a crossroads. One path is the one I have just described: adopting the view that human beings are naturally divided into races at the molecular level and looking to genomic science and technology to bridge the enduring chasm between racial groups. The other road means affirming our shared humanity by working to end the social inequities preserved by the political system of race."

A brilliant book. I can only hope that in the future she can herself gradually move to the model she discovered by talking to Charles Rotini, Director of the NIH Center for Research on Genomics and Global Health. She writes "I noticed that he had not used the word race during our entire conversation" and he replied that this was quite deliberate explaining that "I don't use race because I know that the people I study are not races, they are ethnic groups."

Just try that, see what word you can substitute in her book wherever she uses "race". There is almost always an alternative word or phrase, usually much better and more accurate than "race." Swedish medical scientists and sociologists do very well without every using the word "ras" or English "race" in quotation marks. I hope that day will come for Professor Roberts.

Lawrence Lundgren Linköping,Sweden Only-NeverInSweden.blogspot.com
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5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Reading, November 13, 2014
This review is from: Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-first Century (Paperback)
This text is so important for everyone. An unpretentious and accessible inlet to critical readings of scientific discourse and a wonderfully composed history of racial science. Very well-evidenced arguments and incredibly compelling overall. Essential reading especially for all science instructors and scientists. Every high school and college student should read this book. Very readable and approachable for the complex and subversive content. Bravo.
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9 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Impeccable dissection of an American obsession, September 5, 2011
A brilliant and sophisticated, but clear, dissection of race and its hierarchies, American's collective deception. A must-read for anyone interested in science, history, politics ... actually, I suppose, a must-read for everyone.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books about race, June 25, 2014
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This review is from: Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-first Century (Paperback)
Roberts, a professor of law and sociology, has written an exceedingly well-informed and wise book about race in the post-genome era. She tackles subjects from medical stereotyping and pharmacogenomics to the misguided appeal of ancestry testing. Roberts is equally aware of the immense power of race as a social phenomenon and its worthlessness as biology. Should be read by everyone, but especially by health care professionals and pre-professional students.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a great and needed book., April 19, 2013
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This book should be required reading (with support) for all high school students and maybe for all Americans. We Americans really need help understanding the history of how racism has held the idea of race in place and how this concept continues to perpetuate racism and endangers us all.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, September 22, 2014
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Great read!
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Required Reading!, July 8, 2012
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This book is excellent. Its delivery is from a factual standpoint which makes the book even better than can be imagined. This book is required reading for everyone so that you acquain yourself with the historical, factual things about our great USA. This book is even more required reading for the young, because it is with the young that, perhaps, things will change. Dorothy Roberts leaves no stone unturned in her thesis. This book is concise and straight to the point. It visits the past that factually was, and the present that factually is. This book should not be ignored. It is an excellent read. It is and can be an enlightened read. Again, it is a read that is necessary in order to change the course of a history that has too long been perpetuated. Definitely recommend this book for everyone!!!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars We are one race - the human race, April 30, 2014
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This review is from: Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-first Century (Paperback)
The burden of proof lies with those who make a claim, in this case that different races exist among humans. This book shows that nobody has thus far succeeded in proving that race exists, but details many of the failed attempts. In my heart, I have known for a long time that race does not exist, and this book is good ammunition to argue that point.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Valuable for research, December 19, 2013
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This review is from: Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-first Century (Paperback)
Very valuable book for those who are trying to understand history and how it has and still affects blacks in this world today.
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Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-first Century
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