Talk ETH: Revival of the Undead: The Nature Nurture Debate and Reactionary Ideology

14 Dec. 2021, 18:15, Rebekka Hufendiek

Looking at public debates, we can observe an apparently never ending interest in supposed scientific facts about biological differences between groups of human beings: be it between the sexes, races or classes. A study that claims to have observed differences in play behavior between boys and girls or in IQ between black and white people, no matter how obviously marginal or even poorly conducted it is, will almost certainly find great resonance within public media debates as well as in the subreddits and YouTube Channels of the so called Intellectual Dark Web.In this talk, I argue that the current prominence of largely outdated views on sex, race, and class differences in human behavior and cognition in popular science books and throughout the Intellectual Dark Web is part and parcel of current reactionary ideology. The reference to „science“ is used to justify social inequalities by framing them as natural. I suggest that this justificatory use of marginal and poorly conducted studies needs to be analyzed and addressed by scientists, philosophers of science, and social critics alike. I conclude by making some suggestions for successful argumentative interventions in this field.