How to Argue With a Racist: What Our Genes Do (and Don't) Say About Human Difference (Hardcover)

How to Argue With a Racist: What Our Genes Do (and Don't) Say About Human Difference By Adam Rutherford Cover Image


Race is not a biological reality. Racism thrives on our not knowing this.

Racist pseudoscience has become so commonplace that it can be hard to spot. But its toxic effects on society are plain to see—feeding nationalism, fueling hatred, endangering lives, and corroding our discourse on everything from sports to intelligence. Even well-intentioned people repeat stereotypes based on “science,” because cutting-edge genetics are hard to grasp—and all too easy to distort. Paradoxically, these misconceptions are multiplying even as scientists make unprecedented discoveries in human genetics—findings that, when accurately understood, are powerful evidence against racism. We’ve never had clearer answers about who we are and where we come from, but this knowledge is sorely needed in our casual conversations about race.

How to Argue With a Racist emphatically dismantles outdated notions of race by illuminating what modern genetics actually can and can’t tell us about human difference. We now know that the racial categories still dividing us do not align with observable genetic differences. In fact, our differences are so minute that, most of all, they serve as evidence of our shared humanity.

About the Author

Adam Rutherford is a geneticist, science writer, and broadcaster. He studied genetics at University College London, and during his PhD on the developing eye, he was part of a team that identified the first known genetic cause of a form of childhood blindness. As well as writing for the science pages of The Guardian, he has written and presented many award-winning series and programs for the BBC, including the flagship weekly Radio 4 program Inside Science, The Cell for BBC Four, and Playing God (on the rise of synthetic biology) for the leading science series Horizon. He is also the author of How to Argue With a Racist, an incisive guide to what modern genetics can and can’t tell us about human difference; The Book of Humans, a new evolutionary history that explores the profound paradox of the “human animal”; A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived, finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in nonfiction; and Creation, on the origin of life and synthetic biology, which was short-listed for the Wellcome Book Prize.

Praise For…

An International Bestseller

One of New Scientist’s 13 Best Science and Technology Books of 2020

A Goodreads Choice Awards Best Book of 2020, Science & Technology, Runner Up

One of BBC Science Focus Magazine’s 28 Best Nonfiction Books of 2020

One of Big Think’s 10 Best Science and Technology Books of 2020

A Daily Telegraph Book of the Year

"A fascinating and timely refutation of the casual racism on the rise around the world. The ultimate anti-racism guide.

— Caroline Criado Perez, author of Invisible Women

A fascinating debunking of racial pseudoscience . . . engaging and enlightening.
— Manjit Kumar, The Guardian

Nobody deals with challenging subjects more interestingly and compellingly than Adam Rutherford, and this may be his best book yet. This is a seriously important work.
— Bill Bryson

This book [shows] that race is biologically meaningless and that modern genetic science is a racist’s worst enemy, [revealing] that you are related to royalty, that every Nazi had Jewish ancestors and that you share no DNA with half your ancestors. An essential book on a critical issue.
— David Olusoga, professor of public history at the University of Manchester

Smashes race myths that plague society.
— Layal Liverpool, New Scientist

[Proves] that the concept of ‘race’ has no basis in science . . . an excellent overview of human genetics.
— Kirkus Reviews

A book that could save lives.
— Kathryn Paige Harden, The Spectator

Rutherford equips readers with the tools to discredit the prejudices of both racists and well-intentioned people. Despite its fraught history, scientists’ understanding of genes has long since converged on one truth: race, while very real as a social construct, has no foundation in science.
— Scott Hershberger, Scientific American

Short but impactful. . . . Rutherford’s work provides ample ammunition to anyone wishing to use science to combat racial stereotypes.
— Publishers Weekly

Bringing together compelling stories, irreverent humor, and informed science reporting, Rutherford debunks some of the most pernicious myths and fallacies about race. . . . Recommended. All readers.
— Choice

Essential reading in an age of false science, resurgent racism, and conspiracy theory—and the perfect antidote to racial bigotry.
— Simon Sebag Montefiore, historian and author of The Romanovs

As timely as it is invigorating and important.
— Peter Frankopan, professor of global history at the University of Oxford

Lucid, enlightening, witty, and delightful.
— Kate Fox, codirector of the Social Issues Research Centre

A counter-blast to those who would use science to justify prejudice.
— Tom Gatti, New Statesman

Timely and accessible.
— The Bookseller, Editor’s Choice
Product Details
ISBN: 9781615196715
ISBN-10: 1615196714
Publisher: The Experiment
Publication Date: August 4th, 2020
Pages: 240
Language: English