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Vol. 17, No. 5, 2018
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hit and myth



Nick Catalano is a TV writer/producer and Professor of Literature and Music at Pace University. He reviews books and music for several journals and is the author of Clifford Brown: The Life and Art of the Legendary Jazz Trumpeter, New York Nights: Performing, Producing and Writing in Gotham and A New Yorker at Sea. His latest book, Tales of a Hamptons Sailor, is now available. For Nick's reviews, visit his website:

In a previous essay in these pages I wrote about the remarkable recent scientific studies in sexual relativity and gender evolution (Vol. 16, No. 3, 2017) and noted that these developments, however verifiable, would not be accepted by the general public for a long time. As an example of human reluctance to accept revolutionary scientific discovery, I recounted the story of the great poet John Milton who couldn’t bring himself to accept Copernicus’s heliocentric structure of the solar system some 200 years after it was proven beyond a doubt. I also noted that 150 year old Darwinian evolutionary science was still being challenged in the present day by intelligent naysayers who should know better.

Presently, we come to discuss racism and some recent investigations and discussions. It would be impossible to list all the tragedies in human societies caused by this insidious proclivity that humans have had since we first evolved. Not even the American Civil War could put a dent in the racist feelings that is still part of human consciousness; present day newspaper headlines are continually reporting on killings of African-Americans by whites with motivation traced to primordial racist tendencies and actions.

Now verifiable science tells us that racial differences in humans have absolutely no genetic basis whatsoever. Racial dissimilarity is a result of random mutations connected to the geographical movement of various human species (Neanderthal, Homo erectus, Australopithicus, Homo sapiens etc.) throughout history. Basically, we all come from Africa and have changed as we have moved.

This recent science will come as a shock to some, will cause unease in countless cultures, and will result in widespread disbelief for many far into the future. Nonetheless, for inquiring minds who tend to accept solid science, the evidence for this discovery is available in the research accomplished in the study of the human genome which has actually been going on for 30 years.

Dr. Craig Ventner, one of pioneers of DNA research resulting from the Genome project, put it to us directly in June 2000 – “the concept of race has no genetic or scientific basis.” (There are dozens of top scientific sources that support this dictum. Rather than list them I refer skeptics to seek out the many authorities available in Google). Insidiously, race is a made-up label used to define and separate us and has evolved as one of society’s great evils.Samuel Morton

In the context of this scientific pronouncement it becomes natural to ask how the practice of racism has thrived in human history. Actually, the ages old practice became ‘legitimized’ in the 19th century with the assertions of Dr. Samuel Morton (1799-1851, a prominent American skull collector who concluded that people could be divided into five races and that these represented separate acts of creation. Morton’s hierarchy led off with whites as the most intelligent of the races followed by East Asians, Southeast Asians, native American Indians and blacks at the bottom. He became known as the father of scientific racism and his ideas were instantly taken up by evangelicals and pro-slavery forces everywhere. Unhappily, we still live with Morton’s daft ideas and racial distinctions that continue to shape our politics and our sociology.

There are deeper problems in our racism than Morton’s influence and to view them we turn to psychology. Numerous neuroscientific tests reveal an unfortunate characteristic that we all have – an unconscious preference for our race over others. Some have used the term ‘groupishness’ to describe this phenomenon. Despite the fact that we may have deep intellectual opposition to racism, the human brain is “identity crazed.” We may have no conscious preference for white people over black people or Asian people but when we meet a person of a different race we immediately, and, again unconsciously relate to their racial differences before any other discernments. As evolutionary psychologist John Tooby has indicated we can’t help it. We are wired from birth to tell Us from Them.

The human predilection for groupishness is instantaneous. As Jay Van Bavel, a neuroscientist at New York University, has said, “In the first split second we react to people on the basis of their group memberships.” Regrettably, there is no single scientific hypothesis as to why people fall prey to the Us-versus-Them mind-set. Researchers work feverishly to develop theories because this unconcious custom can quickly lead to difficulties. Common experience shows that when facing threats of even minor conflict or injustice this innocent innate tendency of groupishness morphs into fear of “them” and possible subsequent violence.

One of the most unfortunate examples of this groupishness custom occurs when white police officers precipitously gun down blacks. In case after case, the officers deny any conscious racism. In many instances their impulsive overreactions can be traced to the “Us vs. Them” bias behaviour. After noting laboratory studies indicating bias in policing is strong, criminologist Lorie Fridell said “ . . . I know most police want to serve the public and are very offended at the idea that they may be prejudiced. They aren’t racists.” Their actions are the result of the unconscious group bias.

Recently, the Counter Bias Training Simulator (CBTsim) developed by Lois James at Washington State University is helping to show officers how to counteract the unconscious group bias syndrome. Nonetheless, given the power of their primordial innate tendencies it is a big challenge to train them to focus solely on “the objective level of threat.” This recent experimentation offers the best hope of alleviating the daily task that they face.

It is important to amplify society’s discussion about racism to include some of the aforementioned ideas of the brain’s group bias which are presently being put forth in various scientific communities. The challenge of removing the Us vs. Them prejudices that have dictated societal discord for the ages looms as a forbidding task. But wider acquaintanceship with recent science is certainly the place to begin.


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We know that Jews have a genetic likelihood of inheriting certain diseases, and the same has been found in other races. We know that Black people, Asians, First Nations, Caucasians and other races exhibit specific racial characteristics. This author is therefore questionable.

By Nick Catalano:
The Truth Writer
#Me Too Cognizance in Ancient Greece
Above the Drowning Sea
A New York Singing Salon
Rockers Retreading
Polish Jewry-Importance of Historical Museums
Sexual Relativity and Gender Revolution
Inquiry into Constitutional Originalism
Aristotle: Film Critic
The Maw of Deregulated Capitalism
Demagogues: The Rhetoric of Barbarism
The Guns of August
Miles Ahead and Born to Be Blue
Manon Lescaut @The Met
An American in Paris
What We Don't Know about Eastern Culture
Black Earth (book review)
Cuban Jazz
HD Opera - Game Changer
Film Treatment of Stolen Art
Stains and Blemishes in Democracy
Intersteller (film review)
Shakespeare, Shelley & Woody Allen
Mystery and Human Sacrifice at the Parthenon
Carol Fredette (Jazz)
Amsterdam (book review)
Vermeer Nation
The Case for Da Vinci's Demons


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