Friday, December 5, 2008

Discover Magazine on Race, Revisited

I follow a blog by Daughter Number Three which you can find on the left and click into directly. She describes it as "a filing cabinet of stuff I've stumbled across. But you can't keep everything."

DN3 works in media and is a sociologist by temperament and training, bringing that sensibility to her work. She has a lot of good stuff in that filing cabinet, but what's most interesting is the critical sensibility she brings to it.

DN3 recently reopened the November 1994 Discover magazine, an entire issue devoted to the best scientific thinking on race at that time, called "Race: What Is It Good for? Science looks at flesh and bones, genes and behavior."

In her own words (below), Daughter Number Three describes her decision to archive and disseminate the articles in this issue of Discover. The pieces are very interesting, and I encourage you to go over to her site to take a look. She also mentions the fact that the cover of that issue (shown here) was stunningly unattractive, as have been (in my view) those composite images this year where the faces of various candidates have merged and melded. (Actually, this HillaryBarack one is growing on me...)

I was very taken with most of the stories, and put the entire issue into the filing cabinet. From time to time, I check Discover's website to see if they have put this content online, but to date, they have not.

Recently, I decided I would scan the text and run it through OCR software so it can be found on the web. I realize this is a copyright violation, but it's one of those things that no one is reading currently because it's not online. (Yes, you could find it as a bound hard copy in some libraries, if you went looking for it. But these days, doesn't that seem so... difficult?)

If they want me to take it down, I will, and if they want my version to post on their site, they're welcome to it.
So here goes. I'll post the articles over the next few days as I get them cleaned up.


John Kennedy said...

I remember this and the Jared Diamond piece as influencing me deeply - and it became part of the basis for my piece "One Body". It is interesting that none of the articles note that blood types are shared across the planet. It would still be nice, all these years later, to see more emphatic declarations from the scientific community that there is no scientific basis for race whatsoever, because otherwise we are going to have to continue to endure decades of social policy and attitudes that classify people in races (as opposed to recent mixtures of ethnic recognitions). Thanks for sharing, ellenabella!

elena said...

..and thanks to DN3 for saving this issue and disseminating it anew.

Daughter Number 3 said...


It's good to know my hours at the OCR assembly line are appreciated by someone!

Just today I was reading the current issue of Discover and it contained a story about current research that has found the reason West African-descended people are more likely to be infected with HIV... and it's not ascribed to race per se, but to a malaria-resistance gene.