SSN Commentary

Hold Science to Higher Standards on Racism

Policy field

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University of California, Davis

Originally published as "Hold Science to Higher Standards on Racism," Stat News, June 20, 2022.

Shortly before an 18-year-old white supremacist entered a supermarket in a Black neighborhood of Buffalo, N.Y., and shot 13 shoppers and employees with an assault rifle bearing a racist epithet, he posted an online diatribe. Other white nationalist terrorists have done that, but this one was different: It cited a considerable quantity of scientific research to support its author’s racist claims and actions.

In the weeks since the mid-May shooting, journalists and scientists have discussed what to make of the Buffalo terrorist’s references to science. Overwhelmingly, these discussions describe the diatribe as relying on pseudoscience or discredited science and co-opting or misreading mainstream science.