What is Scientific Racism? Scientific Racism is the use of ostensibly scientific or pseudo-scientific techniques and hypotheses to support or justify the belief in racism, racial inferiority, racialism, racial superiority, or alternatively the practice of classifying individuals of different phenotypes into discrete races.
Scientific racism was common during the New Imperialism period (c. 1880s-1914) where it was used in justifying White European imperialism.
An early scientist who studied race was Robert Boyle (January 25, 1627 – December 21, 1691) was an Anglo-Irish, natural philosopher, chemist, and physicist. Boyle believed in what today is called ‘monogenism’, the theory that all humans begins, no matter the race or how diverse, are descended from a single pair of ancestors. Adam and Eve. Boyle reported stories of parents’ giving birth to different colored child, what we call today ‘albinos’, he concluded that Adam and Eve were originally white and Caucasians could give birth to different colored races. Boyle writings also mention that at his time, for “European Eyes”, beauty was not measured so much in color, but in “stature, comely symmetry of the parts of the body, and good features in the face.” Various members of the scientific community rejected his views and described them as “disturbing” and “amusing”.
Voltaire born François-Marie Arouet (November 21, 1694 – May 30, 1778) was a French Enlightenment writer, historian, and philosopher. He was also a polygene, one who believed that each race had separate origins. Voltaire found biblical monogenism laughable, as he expressed: “It is a serious question among them whether the Africans are descended from monkeys or whether the monkey’s came from them. Our wise men have said that man was created in the image of GOD. Now her is a lovely image of Divine Maker: a flat and black nose with little or hardly any intelligence. A time will doubtless come when these animals will know how to cultivate the land well, beautify their homes and gardens, and know the paths of the stars: one needs time for everything.” When comparing Caucasians to Negros, Voltaire compared them to different breeds of dog: “The Negro race is a species of men different from ours as the breed of spaniels is from that of greyhounds. The mucous membrane, or network, which Nature has spread between the muscles and the skin, is white in us and black or copper-colored in them.”
Henry Home, Lord Kames (1696 – December 27, 1784) was a Scottish advocate, judge, philosopher, writer, and agricultural improver. Lord Kames believed GOD had created different races on Earth in separated regions. In his 1734 book Sketches on the History of Man, he claimed that the environment, climate, or state of society could not account for racial differences, so the races must have come from distinct, separate stocks.
Carl Von Linnaeus (May 23,1707 – January 10, 1778) was a Swedish botanist (plant scientist), physician, and zoologist (animal biology). Linnaeus was a pioneer researcher in biologically defining human race. He labeled five categories of the human species. Each one was described as possessing the following characteristics “Varying by Culture and Place”.
- The Americanus (American): red, choleric, righteous; black, straight, thick hair; stubborn, Zealous, free; painting himself in red lines, and regulated by customs.
- The Europeanus (European): white, sanguine, browny; with abundant, long hair; blue eyes; gentle, acute, inventive; covered with close vestments; and regulated by customs.
- The Asiaticus (Asian): yellow, melancholic, stiff; black hair, dark eyes; severe, haughty, greedy; covered with loose clothing; and regulated by opinions.
- The Afer or Africanus (African): black, phlegmatic, relaxed; black, frizzled hair; silky skin, flat nose, tumid lips, females without shame; mammary glands give milk abundantly; crafty, sly, careless; anoints himself with grease; and regulated by will.
John Mitchell (April 13, 1711 – February 29,1768) was a colonial American physician, geographer, and botanist (plant scientist). Mitchell took up a study of climate and race and wrote a book in 1744 called An Essay upon the Causes of the Different Colours of People in Different Climates. In his book he made claims that the first race on Earth had been brown and reddish color. He said “that an intermediate tawny colour found amongst Asiatics and Native Amerindians” had been the “original complexion of mankind” and that other races came about by the original race spending generations in different climates.
Immanuel Kant (April 22,1724 – February 12, 1804) was a German philosopher, who was considered the central figure of modern philosophy. In 1775, Kant published On the Different Races of Man (Über die verschiedenen Rassen der Menschen), which proposed natural or purposive causes of variation, as opposed to mechanical law or a product of chance. He distinguished four fundamental races: Whites, Blacks, Kalmuck, and Hindustanic, and attributed the variation to differences in environment and climate, such as the air and sun, but clarified by saying that the variation served a purpose and was not purely superficial. Kant argued that human beings were equipped with the same seeds (Keime) and the natural predispositions or characteristics (Anlagen) that when expressed were dependent upon climate and served a purpose due to the circumstance. After this process had occurred, it was also irreversible. Therefore, race could not be undone by changes in climate. “Whichever germ was actualized by the conditions, the other germs would retire into inactivity.” Kant stated: “The yellow Indians do have a meagre talent. The Negroes are far below them, and at the lowest point are a part of the American people.”
John Hunter (February 13, 1728 – October 16, 1793) was a Scottish surgeon, one of the most distinguished scientists and surgeons of his day. Hunter said that originally the Negroid race was white at birth. He thought that over time because of the sun, the people turned dark skinned, or “black”. Hunter also said that blisters and burns would likely turn white on a Negro, which he believed was evidence that their ancestors were originally White.
Charles White (October 4, 1728 – February 20, 1813) was an English physician and the co-founder of the Manchester Royal Infirmary (cottage hospital). White believed that races occupied different stations in the “Great Chain of Being”, and he tried to scientifically prove that human races have distinct origins from each other. He believed that Whites and Negroes were two different species. White was a believer in polygenism, the idea that different races had been created separately. His Account of the Regular Gradation in Man (1799) provided an empirical basis for this idea. White pointed to species hybrids such as foxes, wolves, and jackals, which were separate groups that were still able to interbreed. For White, each race was a separate species, divinely created for its own geographical region.
Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon (September 7, 1707 – April 16, 1788) was a French naturalist, mathematician, cosmologist, and encyclopedia author. Johann Friedrich Blumenbach (May 11, 1752 – January 22, 1840) was a German physician, naturalist, physiologist, and anthropologist. He was one of the first to explore the study of mankind as an aspect of natural history. Both Buffon and Blumenbach were believers in monogenism, the concept that all races have a single origin. They also believe in the “degeneration theory” of racial origins. They both said the Adam and Eve were Caucasian and that other races came about by degeneration from environmental factors, such as the sun and poor dieting. They believed that the degeneration could be reversed if proper environmental control was take, and that all contemporary forms of man could revert to the original Caucasian race. They thought Negroid pigmentation arose because of the heat of the tropical sun. They suggested cold wind caused the tawny colour of the Eskimo. They thought the Chinese relatively fair skinned compared to the other Asian stocks because they kept mostly in towns and were protected from environmental factors. Buffon said that food and the mode of living could make races degenerate and differentiate them from the original Caucasian race. According to Blumenbach, there are five races, all belonging to a single species: Caucasian, Mongolian, Ethiopian, American, and Malay. Blumenbach said: “I have allotted the first place to the Caucasian because this stock displays the most beautiful race of men.” Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon believed humanity was only 6000 years old (the time since Adam). Many scientific racialists pointed out at the time that it would have been difficult for races to change so markedly in genotype and phenotype in such a short period of time. Believing in monogenism, Buffon thought that skin colour could change in a single lifetime, depending on the conditions of climate and diet.
Benjamin Rush (December 24, 1745 – April 19, 1813) was a Founding Father of the United States, also was a civic leader in Philadelphia, where he was a physician, politician, social reformer, educator, and humanitarian, as well as the founder of Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Rush purposed that being black was a hereditary skin disease, which he called “negroidism,” and that it could be cured. He believed non-whites were really white underneath but they were stricken with a non-contagious form of leprosy which darkened their skin color. Rush drew the conclusion that “Whites should not tyrannize over [blacks], for their disease should entitle them to a double portion of humanity. However, by the same token, whites should not intermarry with them, for this would tend to infect posterity with the ‘disorder’… attempts must be made to cure the disease.”
Christoph Meiners (July 31, 1747 – May 1, 1810) was a German philosopher and historian. Meiners believed that each race had a separate origin. Meiners studied the physical, mental and moral characteristics of each race, and built a race hierarchy based on his findings. Meiners split mankind into two divisions, which he labelled the “beautiful White race” and the “ugly Black race”. In Meiners’s book The Outline of History of Mankind, he said that a main characteristic of race is either beauty or ugliness. He thought only the White race to be beautiful. He considered ugly races to be inferior, immoral and animal-like. He said that the dark, ugly peoples were distinct from the white, beautiful peoples by their “sad” lack of virtue and their “terrible vices”. According to Meiners,
The more intelligent and noble people are by nature, the more adaptable, sensitive, delicate, and soft is their body; on the other hand, the less they possess the capacity and disposition towards virtue, the more they lack adaptability; and not only that, but the less sensitive are their bodies, the more can they tolerate extreme pain or the rapid alteration of heat and cold; when they are exposed to illnesses, the more rapid their recovery from wounds that would be fatal for more sensitive peoples, and the more they can partake of the worst and most indigestible foods … without noticeable ill effects. Meiners said the Negro felt less pain than any other race and lacked in emotions. Meiners wrote that the Negro had thick nerves and thus was not sensitive like the other races. He went as far as to say that the Negro has “no human, barely any animal, feeling”. He described a story where a Negro was condemned to death by being burned alive. Halfway through the burning, the Negro asked to smoke a pipe and smoked it like nothing was happening while he continued to be burned alive. Meiners studied the anatomy of the Negro and came to the conclusion that the Negro have bigger teeth and jaws than any other race, as Negroes are all carnivores. Meiners claimed the skull of the Negro was larger but the brain of the Negro was smaller than any other race. Meiners claimed the Negro was the most unhealthy race on Earth because of its poor diet, mode of living and lack of morals. Meiners also claimed the “Americans” were an inferior stock of people. He said they could not adapt to different climates, types of food, or modes of life, and that when exposed to such new conditions, they lapse into a “deadly melancholy”. Meiners studied the diet of the Americans and said they fed off any kind of “foul offal”. He thought they consumed very much alcohol. He believed their skulls were so thick that the blades of Spanish swords shattered on them. Meiners also claimed the skin of an American is thicker than that of an ox. Meiners wrote that the noblest race was the Celts. They were able to conquer various parts of the world, they were more sensitive to heat and cold, and their delicacy is shown by the way they are selective about what they eat. Meiners claimed that Slavs are an inferior race, “less sensitive and content with eating rough food”. He described stories of Slavs allegedly eating poisonous fungi without coming to any harm. He claimed that their medical techniques were also backward: he used as an example their heating sick people in ovens, then making them roll in the snow. In Meiners’s large work entitled Researches on the Variations in Human Nature (1815), he studied also the sexology of each race. He claimed that the African Negroids have unduly strong and perverted sex drives, whilst only the White Europeans have it just right.
Samuel Stanhope Smith (March 15, 1751 – August 21, 1819) was a Presbyterian minister, founding president of Hampden-Sydney College and the seventh president of the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) from 1795 to 1812. Smith written a book called Essay on the Causes of Variety of Complexion and Figure in the Human Species in 1787. Smith claimed that Negro pigmentation was nothing more than a huge freckle that covered the whole body as a result of an oversupply of bile, which was caused by tropical climates.
Jean Léopold Nicolas Frédéric Cuvier (August 23, 1769 – May 13, 1832), known as Georges Cuvier, was a French naturalist and zoologist, sometimes referred to as the “Father of paleontology”. Cuvier was a major figure in natural sciences research in the early 19th century and was instrumental in establishing the fields of comparative anatomy and paleontology through his work in comparing living animals with fossils. Cuvier believed there were three distinct races: the Caucasian (white), Mongolian (yellow) and the Ethiopian (black). He rated each for the beauty or ugliness of the skull and quality of their civilizations. Cuvier wrote about Caucasians: “The white race, with oval face, straight hair and nose, to which the civilized people of Europe belong and which appear to us the most beautiful of all, is also superior to others by its genius, courage and activity.” Regarding Negros, Cuvier wrote: “The Negro race … is marked by black complexion, crisped or woolly hair, compressed cranium and a flat nose. The projection of the lower parts of the face, and the thick lips, evidently approximate it to the monkey tribe: the hordes of which it consists have always remained in the most complete state of barbarism.” He thought Adam and Eve were Caucasian and hence the original race of mankind. The other two races arose by survivors’ escaping in different directions after a major catastrophe hit the earth 5,000 years ago. He theorized that the survivors lived in complete isolation from each other and developed separately. One of Cuvier’s pupils, Friedrich Tiedemann, was one of the first to make a scientific contestation of racism. He argued based on craniometrics and brain measurements taken by him from Europeans and black people from different parts of the world that the then-common European belief that Negroes have smaller brains, and are thus intellectually inferior, is scientifically unfounded and based merely on the prejudice of travelers and explorers.
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel ( August 27, 1770 – November 14, 1831) was a German philosopher of the late Enlightenment. Hegel declared that “Africa is no historical part of the world.” Hegel further claimed that blacks had no “sense of personality; their spirit sleeps, remains sunk in itself, makes no advance, and thus parallels the compact, undifferentiated mass of the African continent.”
Arthur Schopenhauer (February 22, 1788 – September 21, 1860) was a German philosopher. Schopenhauer attributed civilizational primacy to the white races, who gained sensitivity and intelligence via the refinement caused by living in the rigorous Northern climate: The highest civilization and culture, apart from the ancient Hindus and Egyptians, are found exclusively among the white races; and even with many dark peoples, the ruling caste, or race, is fairer in colour than the rest, and has, therefore, evidently immigrated, for example, the Brahmins, the Inca, and the rulers of the South Sea Island. All this is due to the fact that necessity is the mother of invention, because those tribes that emigrated early to the north, and there gradually became white, had to develop all their intellectual powers, and invent and perfect all the arts in their struggle with need, want, and misery, which, in their many forms, were brought about by the climate. This they had to do in order to make up for the parsimony of nature, and out of it all came their high civilization.
Franz Ignaz Pruner (March 8, 1808 – September 29, 1882); known as Pruner Bey during his stay in Egypt, was a German physician, ophthalmologist and anthropologist. Pruner was a medical doctor who studied the racial structure of Negroes in Egypt. In a book which he wrote in 1846 he claimed that Negro blood had a negative influence on the Egyptian moral character. He published a monograph on Negroes in 1861. He claimed that the main feature of the Negro’s skeleton is Prognathism, which he claimed was the Negro’s relation to the ape. He also claimed that Negroes had very similar brains to apes and that Negros have a shortened big toe, which is a characteristic connecting Negroes closely to apes. (No paintings are found of Pruner).
Karl Christoph Vogt originally Carl (July 5, 1817 – May 5, 1895) was a German scientist, philosopher and politician who emigrated to Switzerland. Vogt believed that the Negro race was related to the ape. He wrote the White race was a separate species to Negroes. In Chapter VII of his lectures of man (1864) he compared the Negro to the White race whom he described as “two extreme human types”. The difference between them, he claimed are greater than those between two species of ape; and this proves that Negroes are a separate species from the Whites.
Samuel Adolphus Cartwright (November 3, 1793 – May 2, 1863) was a physician who practiced in Mississippi and Louisiana in the antebellum United States. considered slave escape attempts as “drapetomania”, a treatable mental illness, that “with proper medical advice, strictly followed, this troublesome practice that many Negroes have of running away can be almost entirely prevented”. He also claimed that Northern, free blacks suffered mental illness at higher rates than did their Southern, enslaved counterparts. Cartwright also described dysaesthesia aethiopica, called “rascality” by overseers.
Samuel George Morton (January 26, 1799 – May 15, 1851) was an American physician and natural scientist. Morton collected human skulls from worldwide, and attempted a logical, classification scheme. Influenced by contemporary racialist theory, Dr. Morton said he could judge racial intellectual capacity by measuring the interior cranial capacity, hence a large skull denoted a large brain, thus high intellectual capacity, conversely, a small skull denoted a small brain, thus low intellectual capacity; superior and inferior established. After inspecting three mummies from ancient Egyptian catacombs, Morton concluded that Caucasians and Negroes were already distinct three thousand years ago. Since the bible indicated that Noah’s Ark had washed up on Mount Ararat, only a thousand years ago before this, Morton claimed that Noah’s sons could not possibly account for every race on earth. According to Morton’s theory of polygenesis, races have been separate since the start.
Others who were was involved in scientific racism are:
- Charles Robert Darwin (February 12, 1809 – April 19, 1882) was an English naturalist and geologist, best known for his contributions to evolutionary theory.
- Ernst Heinrich Philipp August Haeckel (February 16,1834 – August 9, 1919) was a German biologist, naturalist, philosopher, physician, professor, and artist who discovered, described and named thousands of new species, mapped a genealogical tree relating all life forms, and coined many terms in biology, including anthropogenic, ecology, Phylum, Phylogeny, stem Cell, and Protista.
- Sir Herbert Hope Risley (January 4, 1851 – September 30, 1911) was a British ethnographer and colonial administrator, a member of the Indian Civil Service who conducted extensive studies on the tribes and castes of the Bengal Presidency.
- Peter, Pieter, or usually Petrus Camper (May 11,1722 – April 7, 1789), was a Dutch physician, anatomist, physiologist, midwife, zoologist, anthropologist, paleontologist, and a naturalist.
There are many more who was involved in this scientific racism, but I decided to list only the most important people that was involved. Scientific racism is still happening today just under a new profession called statics or an statistician. Which in all static reports I have read said that whites are worth more, they are living better, and have more education then any other race. which are false reports. Could it be because there are only white statistician? This could be it, thanks for reading.