Black brain, white brain
Gavin Evans

Black brain, white brain

The last decade has seen a revival of a very old and long-discredited idea: that intelligence is influenced by racial origin. The prime culprits have been evolutionary psychologists – for example, Steven Pinker claiming that Ashkenazi Jews were innately smarter than anyone else and Richard Lynn claiming that Bushmen and Pygmies were the least intelligent humans on earth. But others with sounder scientific credentials have joined the party, including the Nobel Prize winner James Watson who believes that black people are intrinsically less intelligent than whites, and the Chicago geneticist Bruce Lahn who claimed that a recent gene variant made people from Europe, America and Asia smarter than those from parts of Africa.

Black brain, white brain challenges these ideas, arguing that they are based on a mistaken view that IQ measures crystalized intelligence, and on misconceptions about the evolution of the human intelligence. The book, which draws from recent discoveries in palaeontology, archaeology and biological anthropology, argues that race is useful as no more than a short-hand descriptive term, and that the genetic differences between people from all over the world are miniscule compared with other species.

Book Details:

  • Author: Gavin Evans
  • On Submission
  • Rights Sold
    • South Africa: Jonathan Ball Publishers

Gavin Evans

  Gavin Evans was born in London but grew up mainly in Cape Town. After a year studying in Texas, he returned to South Africa to become intensely involved in the anti-apartheid struggle in various capacities. Along the way he studied economic history and law before completing a PhD in political studies. He worked as a journalist for several South African newspapers and as a foreign correspondent for a Rome-based news agency.   He returned to London with his wife and first daughter in 1993, initially working as a freelance journalist (for The Guardian, Esquire, Men’s Healt...
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Book Reviews

  • "Smart, accessible and stimulating, Black Brain White Brain is by far the most important book yet written to systematically debunk society’s lingering attachments to race science and its pet topics of intelligence, genetics and civilization. This book is at once a work of serious scholarship as well as an easy-to-read educational reference book on the major controversies spanning a century of provocations on the subject of race and capability. In our still race-obsessed country, Black Brain White Brain should be required reading in every undergraduate university course, in every high school and in every home. "
    Professor Jonathan Jansen, University of the Free State
  • "Punchy and perceptive, Evans’ passionate and wide-ranging debunking of hereditarian views of race in areas ranging from archaeology to IQ and sport deserves wide readership in South Africa and beyond."
    Professor Saul Dubow, Queen Mary, University of London
  • "GAVIN Evans studied economic history and law, has a PhD in politics and has worked as a journalist for 25 years. He has read widely on evolutionary biology, palaeontology, biological anthropology, archaeology, neuroscience and evolutionary psychology. He needed all this for his latest book, Black Brain White Brain. It plunges deep into the world of racist science and demolishes its myths quickly and smartly."
    Business Day
  • "Evans debunks racist science and centuries-old beliefs that Africans are predisposed to being less intelligent than their European counterparts."
    The Herald
  • "In Black Brain, White Brain, Evans lays out the reasons he believes science does not support the idea that intelligence is determined by race, with an impressive list of scientific references and interviews to back up his rationale."
    Mail & Guardian
  • "Ripping apart theories about the link between race and intelligence Evans is able to decipher fact from fiction and illustrate how history has shaped perceptions of race."
    The Herald
  • "The title of Gavin Evans’ new work, Black Brain, White Brain: Is intelligence skin deep? is seemingly problematic. Surely we know the answer to that question? Evidently not. Spend a few moments with this valuable and indeed welcome work and it becomes quite clear there are a lot of supposedly learned folk out there who, frankly, should know better. "
    The Times
  • "Over the course of 300 well-written and accessible pages [this book] answers its own subtitle in the negative. Intelligence is definitely not a matter of skin tone, hair texture or any of the other phenotypical features used to classify human beings into race groups."
  • "Ripping apart theories about the link between race and intelligence, Evans is able to decipher fact from fiction and illustrate how history has shaped perceptions of races. The years of thinking about race and racism have paid off through this book, in which he skilfully pulls apart scientific rhetoric and discredits historical allegations about the diminutive intelligence of “inferior” races."
    Weekend Post
  • "In Black Brain, White Brain: Is intelligence skin deep? Evans evaluates mountains of research by both racist scientists and the mainstream researchers who have debunked the myths, in an accessible and engaging way. The book is methodical and meticulous (there are 14 pages worth of footnotes and citations) in its explanations but still reads easily. … As someone who is not a fan of the non-fiction genre, I found this a fascinating read."
    Rant and Rave Review.
  • "I am quite a fan of Gavin Evans’s and have always followed his writing – since the late 1980s. He writes very well. Here he’s given an overview of all the research on race of the last few years and I think he’s done a very good job. He’s taken complex ideas and put them in very clear language, which is very accessible and easy to read - and it’s a compelling narrative. I hope that many South Africans across the racial spectrum will read this book."
    Professor William Gumede, Radio 702