Cultural Reactions to Scientific Knowledge: The Creation of Race

Attach statistics, images, or the phrase “scientific research” and the basis of a paper can automatically be associated with a greater degree of scientific credibility.  But what happens when the basis for such scientific research is meant to provide “evidence” for the inferiority of one group of humans when compared to another. By exploring race through the scientific lens, one can begin to understand the social construct of race, largely questioned by scientists and society alike for its degree of scientific validity, and the implications of it throughout history and present-day.  

Merriam-Webster’s general and medical dictionary define race as “a category of humankind that shares certain distinctive physical traits” (3.3c and 1.2).  Race is not defined in Merriam-Webster’s legal dictionary nor has it been defined by the legal system; however, the legal system has accepted “racial identification” through its reliance on individuals visually sorting people (Miele and Sarich 14).  Peculiar how something does not need to be defined in order for it to be used an identifying technique in legal court. Similarly the distinctions between racial groups can be valid in a biological sense without the stigmas that are associated with them.  When exploring the innate ability of humans to classify humans through racial characteristics, seen as early as three-years-old, Frank Miele and Vincent Sarich, authors of Race: The Reality of Human Differences, likened this evolutionary characteristic of interactive sociality with that of several animals who are also able to identify members of their own social groups and others in order to adjust their behaviors towards certain individuals (25-26).  


“the Naturalistic Fallacy” – “if some scientific research were to prove (or at least, seem to imply) that there is a natural tendency for humans to be aggressive or rapacious, or even prejudiced, therefore we ought to be that way and consequently either approve of or ignore such behavior” (Miele and Sarich 27)

-> link to “Common to any normatively plausible exposition of the social determinants of health is avoidance of the naturalistic fallacy. That is, ethical analysis of the evidence regarding the social determinants of health perforce begins by examination of that evidence.”

(citation) Goldberg, Daniel. “The Naturalistic Fallacy in Ethical Discourse on the Social Determinants of Health.” The American Journal of Bioethics, vol. 15, no. 3, 2015, pp. 58-60.


“..given a sufficient number of markers, such analysis is capable of not only identifying race but predicting skin tone as well” (Miele and Sarich 23)



Miele, Frank, and Vincent Sarich. Race: The Reality of Human Differences. Westview Press, 2004.

“Race.” Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster, (Entry 1 of 1) 2.

“Race.” Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster, (Entry 3 of 3) 3c.