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The Myth of Race Paperback – November 27, 2012
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- William S. Cohen, former Senator and U.S. Secretary of Defense
"Scientists and scholars around the world have concurred that the idea of race has no basis in science. The Myth of Race, is an admirable attempt to explain and explore this new perspective on human variation."
- Audrey Smedley, PhD, author, Race in North America
More About the Author
Dr. Fish's most recent book, The Myth of Race, draws on scientific knowledge to debunk a series of myths that pass as facts, correct false assumptions, and clarify cultural misunderstandings about the highly charged topic of race. Praise for The Myth of Race comes from former U.S. Secretary of Defense William Cohen, and from anthropologist Audrey Smedley, author of Race in North America. Secretary Cohen said, "Writing with stunning clarity, Dr. Fish poses profound and perturbing questions about race...The Myth of Race is must reading."
Here are some of the myths dealt with in the book:
* The myth that humans are divided into Caucasoid, Negroid, and Mongoloid races
* The myth that people cannot change their race
* The myth of the tragic mulatto
* The myth of biologically based differences in intelligence among the races
The Myth of Race demonstrates that the apparently straightforward concept of race is actually a confused mixture of two different concepts; and the confusion often leads to miscommunication. The first concept, biological race, simply doesn't exist in the human species. Instead, what exists is gradual variation in what people look like (e.g., skin color and facial features) and in their genes, as you travel around the planet--with more distant populations appearing more different than closer ones. If you travel in different directions, the populations look different in different ways. The second concept, social race, is a set of cultural categories for labeling people based on how their ancestors were classified, selected aspects of what they look like, or various combinations of both. These sets of categories vary widely from one culture to another.
Dr. Fish's personal background includes marriage to an African American anthropologist who studies the Krikati and related tribes of Brazilian Indians, two years as a visiting professor in Brazil (including a month with the Krikati), and, with his wife, raising a daughter in both the United States and Brazil. These experiences led him to an appreciation of human behavior as more varied than it may appear to psychologists who know only the United States.
Dr. Fish's website is www.jeffersonfish.com, and his Psychology Today blog is Looking in the Cultural Mirror, www.psychologytoday.com/blog/looking-in-the-cultural-mirror.
Top Customer Reviews
As a recent graduate with an advanced degree in the learning and teaching of languages, I was delighted to discover that the model for human diversity which remains once Dr. Fish has carefully removed layers of stubborn untruths is similar to our model of language development. Just as language change throughout history resembles subtle webs of variation in human language use rather than socially-constructed hierarchies and discrete entities, the model which best describes human biological diversity is a "tangled lattice."
But why do such myths persist? Not only does Dr. Fish's work present key understandings about the differences between biological and cultural conceptions of human beings and how these conceptions surface in institutions such as the national census and education based on IQ testing, he also includes a final chapter which hypothesizes a plausible reason for the persistence of race based on the work of biologist, Richard Dawkins, and his concept of "the meme.Read more ›
Jeff's explanations are clear, and the book, for all the ominous possibilities of an academic text, is a very entertaining read. From the standpoint of diversity studies it well could be a game changer. If I were designing a curriculum and wanted to ease students into a thorough study of people's perceptions of race, "The Myth of Race" would be an excellent starting point.
But aside from the book being an explanation of the misconceptions of race, this is written in such a straightforward, logical style that it ought to be a must read for everyone in our society. Of course, the only way that practically happens is if it's on a core requirement reading list in school. If I was marketing this personally, I'd be rapping on every sociology department head's door in college and every school district adding diversity studies in high school.
Jeff's book goes a long way to explain that biological race simply doesn't exist and that race is a social way of creating a cultural category for labeling people that vary. His book goes a long way to understanding the concept of race and dispels the myths. Racism is a "socially learned response to socially defined races.Read more ›
Hillel Halkin MD, author of: Telling Silences. A Doctor's Tales of Denial.
Dr. Fish writes from the perspective of a partner to a racially mixed marriage, as the parent of a mixed race child and, having spent several years as a visiting professor in Brazil, one who has experienced a culture as racially mixed as that of his homeland but existing in a dramatically differing cultural milieu. He became fascinated with the ways in which Brazilians conceived of race, leading to an interest in the differing biological, sociocultural and psychological perspectives on the phenomenon.
The author draws on scientific data to overthrow longstanding and widely held misconceptions about the contentious subject illustrating the fact that the seemingly straightforward concept of race is actually a conflation of two divergent notions, viz., the concept of biological race and that of social race. This is a misapprehension that often breeds miscommunication, and engenders social friction, mistrust and enmity among and between the groups these concepts define.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a book which proves scientifically to the world that all humans, no matter what color they are or what they look like on the outside are all biologically the same. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Cathy
The usual soft-left counter-reality crap. There really is a difference in races, IQ is at the top of the pile of mind-bendingly big differences. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Phil T. Tipp
I agree with the scientists that there is no such thing as race, only trivial biological variations, and that it is a term that society came up with long ago. Read morePublished on June 27, 2013 by Markus Youssef
Jefferson Fish provides a perspective on race that most don't consider. For example, how is the biology of race so much different than the culture of race, and why has our society... Read morePublished on March 10, 2013 by Leigh Harris