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Race and Reality: What Everyone Should Know about Our Biological Diversity Paperback – December 22, 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books (December 22, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591027675
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591027676
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #739,986 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"For decades, social and biological scientists have amassed evidence demonstrating that the human species has no races, and that differences between groups called ‘races’ are not biologically based. Race and Reality by Guy P. Harrison makes this knowledge accessible, and knocks the props out from under 'scientific' arguments that have been used to justify racism.”
 
-Jefferson M. Fish, Professor Emeritus of Psychology, St. John’s University, New York

 
“In the beginning of this exceptional book, Harrison laments that he ‘should never have made it through 12 years of schooling before entering a university without ever hearing the important news that most anthropologists reject the concept of biological races.’  Then in a clear, concise, and very readable manner, Harrison explains why the scientists who study this subject have come to the conclusion that biological races do not exist.  He goes on to clarify the many misconceptions surrounding race and athletic ability, racialized medicine, race and IQ, and interracial love, marriage, and parenthood.  This is a very important, profound, enjoyable and enlightening book.  It should go a long way in helping disprove man’s most dangerous myth. 
 
--Robert W. Sussman, Professor of Anthropology, Washington University.  Editor of Yearbook of Physical Anthropology and Editor Emeritus of American Anthropologist

 
"Harrison challenges us to scrutinize our views about the reality of race and its social consequences, marshalling impressive data and cogent arguments to support his case against the validity of biological race categories. All there is, and all there has ever been, he says, is an arbitrary, cultural division of human beings into different races, based on the most superficial criteria. This is a true work of enlightenment, one man’s grass-roots effort to raise our collective consciousness to the absurdity of belief in the notion of race, and to raise awareness of the fundamental unity of humankind."
 
-- George Williamson, PhD; Department of Philosophy, University of Saskatchewan

 
“Guy P. Harrison’s comprehensive and engaging book should be required reading for anyone who has thought about the benighted issue of “race.”  It will clear the cobwebs from your head.”
 
--Steve Olson, author of Mapping Human History: Discovering the Past Through Our Genes

About the Author

GUY P. HARRISON (San Diego, CA) is an award-winning journalist and the author of Think50 Simple Questions for Every Christian50 Popular Beliefs That People Think Are True50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God, and Race and Reality: What Everyone Should Know about Our Biological Diversity. Find him on online at www.guypharrison.com, www.facebook.com/guypharrisonauthor, and on Twitter @Harrisonauthor.

More About the Author

I write about many things but my primary focus is on science and skepticism. I believe that our world could be a little better - and a lot less crazy - if more people simply understood how science works and appreciated the protective value of skeptical thinking in everyday life.


I've held numerous positions in the news industry, including editorial writer, world news editor, sports editor, photographer, page designer, and columnist. I'm a veteran travel writer, having visited and written about more than 25 countries on five continents. I have also had some very rewarding jobs teaching history and science to bright kids. My degree is in history and anthropology (University of South Florida). I've won some big awards for my writing, including the WHO (World Health Organization) Award for Health Reporting and the Commonwealth Media Award for Excellence in Journalism, but doubt anyone really cares about that stuff other than my sweet mother.


What I am most proud of in relation to my work is that my writing has touched many people. I receive messages from around the world and it's always rewarding to learn that my words have inspired one more person to think in new ways and become a good skeptic. This is what all my books to date are about: encouraging readers to turn away from the madness in order to live more sensible and honest lives, both for themselves and for the world.


When I'm not staring at a blank computer screen hoping that words will appear, I'm likely to be running, hiking, reading a science or history book, working out at a gym, or teaching critical life lessons to my children via repeated viewings of Star Trek. When normal people are consumed with thoughts about politics, economics, and the Kardashian family, I'm likely to be daydreaming about time travel, the singularity (nerd rapture) ancient Greece, extremophiles, the possibility of extraterrestrial life, and robots.


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A FEW WORDS ABOUT THINKING

One of the biggest mistakes we can make in life is to ignore or reject the possibility that we might be dead wrong about something that is very important to us.

Don't do this!

Question everything. Embrace doubt. Second guess conclusions. Be humble; after all you could be wrong. You might be the first perfect person in all of history and prehistory who is incapable of being fooled by the mistakes, lies and delusions of others. But I doubt it. You might be the first ever to rise above and see through all the deceptive quirks, traps and biases that come standard with a human brain. But I doubt it.

What good is it to hold tight to a position against every challenge if that position is in error? The goal is not to avoid ever changing your mind. The goal is to be right, or as close to it as you can be. If you value wisdom and honesty then you ought to value skepticism. Wisdom is recognizing that you don't know everything and can be fooled just like every other human who has ever lived. Wise people change their minds when evidence demands it. Honest people don't pretend to know things that they don't know.

This fundamental error in thinking crops up most often in politics and religion, of course. These two fertile fields of human thought, passion and silliness encourage if not demand that participants sacrifice their ability to think independently. This treasure is given away freely as rigid lines are drawn and feet set in cement. How can something of such value--the ability and the courage to think freely--be sacrificed by so many people with so little reluctance? Why the haste to become one more zombie in the mob? Why no remorse for the loss of so much humanity?

Please do not undervalue your ability to think independently, to grow intellectually over a lifetime, and to always do your best to move closer to truth and reality. The warmth of mindless membership may be appealing at a glance but it's fool's gold.

Change. Grow. Improve. Think and be fully human.

--Guy P. Harrison


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Think: Why You Should Question Everything (2013), is a fresh and exciting approach to science, skepticism, and critical thinking. My aim is to enlighten and inspire readers of all ages. This book challenges everyone to think like a scientist and embrace the skeptical life. If you want to improve your critical thinking skills, see through most scams at first glance, and learn how your own brain can trip you up, this is the book for you. Think shows you how to better navigate through the maze of biases and traps that are standard features of every human brain. These innate pitfalls threaten to trick us into seeing, hearing, thinking, remembering, and believing things that are not real or true. It will help you trim away the nonsense, deflect bad ideas, and keep both feet firmly planted in reality. It really is in everyone's best interest to question everything. My brand of skepticism is constructive and optimistic. It's a way of life that anyone can embrace. An antidote to nonsense, quackery, and delusion, this accessible guide to critical thinking is the perfect book for anyone seeking a jolt of inspiration. It also includes great illustration by worldclass artist Kevin Hand.



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My book, 50 Popular Beliefs that People Think are True (2013), is a skeptical grand tour of extraordinary claims such as ESP, ghosts, gods, psychics, astrology, UFOs, doomsday prophecies, Roswell, faith healing, Bigfoot, homeopathic medicine, and many more. Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson says of the book: "What would it take to create a world in which fantasy is not confused for fact and public policy is based on objective reality? I don't know for sure. But a good place to start would be for everyone on Earth to read this book." I'm not preachy or condescending and strive to show how we are all vulnerable to falling for unproven and unlikely claims simply because of the way our brains work. We all believe silly things. What matters is how many and how silly.


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50 Simple Questions for Every Christian (2013) is written in a respectful and conversational style. It's designed to promote constructive dialogue and foster mutual understanding between Christians and non-Christians. I ask basic questions about Christian belief, not to argue but to stimulate deeper thinking about this religion. What is the born-again experience? Why would God want or need to sacrifice his only son for us? Does this sacrifice makes sense in light of the Holy Trinity doctrine? Do miracles really happen? How reliable is the Bible? What is the rapture? Why isn't everyone a Christian? Each question is followed by commentary and analysis that is skeptical and tough but never condescending. Christians will find the book useful as a basis for developing their apologetics, while skeptics should appreciate my rational analysis of religious claims.


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My book Race and Reality: What Everyone Should Know about Our Biological Diversity (2010) is a wide-ranging exploration of the idea of biological races, written for the layperson. I show that these categories are inconsistent and illogical. Groups such as "blacks" and "whites" do exist, but they are cultural groups, rather than something that nature imposed on us. Races change according to time period and culture, for example, and do not represent a sensible and accurate picture of humankind's real biological diversity. Professor of sociology at Stanford University, Dr. David B. Grusky, says the book is, "a tour de force that conveys the current science on racial classification in a rigorous yet readable way. Even those who think they know it all about race and racial classification will come away changed."



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50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God (2008) is my skeptical analysis of various religious claims that I have encountered at home and abroad. Each chapter presents a common reason for belief espoused by followers of various religions and then explains why there is reason for doubt. Michael Shermer, publisher of Skeptic magazine, calls the book "engaging and enlightening." I wrote this book in a way that respects believers, if not always their beliefs. I have no interest in winning arguments. I only want to inspire people to think more deeply about what they believe and why.




Customer Reviews

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Fantastic book, well written and accessible.
BeerWill
Guy P. Harrison's Race and Reality is a much needed wake-up call for the reader taken in by the myth of race as a biological category.
Arturo Calvillo
It all makes perfect sense now, and I'm glad I read this book by Guy P. Harrison.
CuJoe

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Ken W. Daniels on February 15, 2010
Format: Paperback
As the son of evangelical missionary parents to Africa, I grew up believing that Africans are inherently inferior to those of European descent. I recall asking my father in my youth whether native Americans are smarter than Africans: yes, was the answer, but still considerably less so than whites. Interracial marriage was strictly verboten (otherwise, what was the reason for God's separation of the peoples after the Tower of Babel in Genesis?). While a teenager, I asked my parents how it could be fair that we as missionaries had access to top-of-the-line medical care that prevented us from suffering the same fate as so many millions of Africans who could not afford it, watching their children die of treatable diseases. The answer? "They're used to it; it's not as devastating for them as it would be for us." To be fair, my mother was a nurse and devoted her life to treating the sick, and both my parents were loving and kind individuals. They had simply grown up accepting a view of the world they had been taught was biblical: Africans were descendants of Ham, who had seen his father Noah's nakedness, thereby bringing a curse upon his progeny, among whom were the Africans. (Note: I do not wish to give the impression that all or even most evangelical missionaries believe this, even if my parents did.)

I plan to loan Guy Harrison's book to my father. If this does not lead him to reconsider his hierarchical view of race, I don't know what will. Harrison goes well beyond asserting that no race is inherently superior to any other race; instead, he adopts the view of the majority of anthropological scientists that there is no biological basis for race and that it is, apart from superficial surface features, a cultural construct.
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13 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Sarah Trachtenberg on January 24, 2010
Format: Paperback
Skeptic Michael Shermer described races as "fuzzy groups," promoting the idea that race is a social rather than scientific concept. Harrison took this idea and made it truly solid.
I've long believed that racism is sort of like Freddie Krueger: if we didn't pay so much attention to race, racism would go away. Thank goodness we'd still have sexism to make things interesting. It looks to me like a lot of the ways we think about race in the US are counter-productive and incorrect. I have heard blacks say, for example, that racism is worse now than it was sixty years ago before the civil rights movement-- which I find very hard to believe!
Because race is such a taboo subject, at least for a Caucasian writer such as Guy P. Harrison, it took guts to point out that the emperor is in fact naked. He points out, for example, that in the US, if a person has any black ancestors at all-- say, a great-grandparent-- that person is often labeled as "black." When people call Obama black, I point out that he is half-and-half and could just as truthfully be called Caucasian. (I usually prefer to say Caucasian rather than white, and black to African American-- what if the latters aren't American?)
Harrison brings up many surprising facts and incidents: the white Australian who made a hate-filled joke about Aborigines. Two humans of different "races" still have more genes in common than two chimpanzees from the same troop. Many non-blacks get sickle cell anemia--which sounds like a great episode of House.
Harrison heavily quotes Jared Diamond's bestseller Guns, Germs and Steel (so it helps that I've read that)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Michelle Stacey Sjödin on December 3, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Love Guy, the way he writes and the important information he spreads in an entertaining way! I recommend his books to everyone I can.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By BeerWill on August 9, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Honestly the title is correct - Everyone should read this book. There are no 'races' we are all just descendants of Africans.

Guy lays out all the scientific evidence and shows that the concept of Race is just another way our species is always looking to define In Groups and Out Groups. It is time we finally realised we are all on the Earth together, and we are all cousins.

Fantastic book, well written and accessible. My only criticism was that I think I was convinced by Guy's arguments less than half way through the book - so maybe he should release a Condensed version too.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Fan on July 26, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It was a very enlightening book. A definite must read in addition to doing some independent research, if you're really into the topic.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M.A. on March 1, 2013
Format: Paperback
The language is understandable for everyday people and the examples are great. I suggest reading this book as a way to understand the fallacies of conceptualization of human biological variation.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By John D. Smead on December 18, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
this is almost a follow on to the book by Olson on the genome project and what we now know about our DNA. if you believe that science answers questions then this is for you. if you think DNA can be used to sort out criminal activity at the scene of a crime then you will love this book. DNA does not lie. we are all 1 race. period. we have many cultures but we are all one race and we came out of east africa about 100,000 years ago.
gene expression leads to differences. eye color, skin color, hair color, height etc are all gene expressions. but they dont reflect different races of tall people, blue eyed people, white people etc.. a great read.. dont miss this.
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