Skin Deep: Journeys in the Divisive Science of Race.
Gavin Evans

Skin Deep: Journeys in the Divisive Science of Race.

Skin Deep digs beneath the surface of race science, which is experiencing a revival with the rise of the alt-right, particularly in the United States. It examines new discoveries in archaeology, genetics and IQ studies that show decisively that there are no innate differences between population groups when it comes to intelligence or character.

Everything you need to know about race (but were afraid to ask).

  • There was no 'cognitive revolution' 70,000 years ago as claimed by Yuval Noah Harari – nor 50,000 years ago as claimed by Jared Diamon. Recent archaeological discoveries show that modern intelligence evolved tens of thousands of years earlier.
  • We had the genes for light skin before we moved out of Africa 60,000 years ago.
  • It was Russian farmers that brought light skin to Europe and India, and blue eyes came from a separate population.
  • The early Europeans, including the builders of Stonehenge, had dark skin, black, curly hair and blue eyes.
  • The Kenyans don't have a 'running gene' - but sub-Saharan Africans are more genetically diverse than Europeans. So they have a higher proportion of top-level runners and of terrible runners!
  • Nature and nurture can’t be parcelled up in terms of percentages. They inter-relate.
  • The ‘general intelligence’ measured as a single number by IQ tests does not exist as a biological reality.
  • Dominic Cummings helped end the government's Sure Start programme based on a misunderstanding of IQ theory.
  • Jordan Peterson's reading on IQ 'is very limited and very dated' – prompting him to reach the wrong conclusions on race and intelligene..
  • Steven Pinker and Jordan Peterson are wrong in claiming Ashkenazi Jews have innately superior intelligence – none of the biological arguments stack up.

 

Book Details:

  • Author: Gavin Evans
  • Published Year: 2019
  • 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...
More about Gavin Evans

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."
    http://africasacountry.com
  • "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
  • " extensively researched and clearly articulated work of popular scholarship."
    Publishers Weekly
  • "extensively researched and clearly articulated work of popular scholarship."
    Publishers Weekly
  • "systematically dismantles the pseudoscientific claims about racial differences that focus on purported differences in intelligence. … It is hard to imagine anyone reading these passages and not coming away convinced that such claims are spurious."
    Literary Review
  • "  In this extensively researched and clearly articulated work of popular scholarship, …Evans provides antiracists with responses to outdated, disproven, but nevertheless still-often-aired racist ideas. Evans dismantles a wide variety of claims, including that adapting to cold climates made Europeans more advanced than their African relatives, that Ashkenazi Jews are smarter than other races, and even that white men can’t jump. The main focus of the book is on various weak claims about race and intelligence: Evans ably demonstrates that the research meant to support race-based claims often confuses correlation with causation and ignores that more genetic difference exists within a given race than between members of different races."
    Publishers Weekly
  • "Race cannot be discussed without appreciating the subtle effects of language, politics, habits, religion and diet, which constitute the bulk of what many perceive to be ‘racial’ difference. I read too many popular-science books that treat these factors as peripheral, as if having a grasp of genetics is all you need to debunk scientific racism. With his sensitive knowledge of place and people, Evans avoids this trap… Racists don’t care if their data are weak and theories shoddy…That said, we still need scientific arguments refuting biological race, of the sort found in Skin Deep."
    Nature
  • "As Evans points out, many psychologists, particularly in the United States, …, have held onto race theory ideas….[H]e argues that IQ does not measure intelligence; it measures more abstract verbal and non-verbal reasoning, and that environment, not genes, are the determining factor. …Evans is confident that the tide of race science can be halted. If this is because he lives in the UK, it may show that environmental conditions more than genes are the crucial factor."
    Irish Times
  • "… Gavin Evans provides a thorough overview and detailed critique of contemporary "race science," and a poignant description and assessment of scientific racism in the context of the election of Donald Trump, Brexit, and the global swing to the Right. He demonstrates how the alt-right has recycled debunked race science and mixed it with new forms disseminated to global audiences on YouTube, Reddit, 4chan, and other social media platforms. Evans reveals “how the ideas of race science blend with more traditional and visceral forms of racism to produce a truly dangerous brew.” More than cultural critique, he provides an easy-to-read overview of the latest academic research in genetics, evolutionary anthropology, archaeology, and paleontology that explains disparities in human intelligence in terms of health and nutrition, in utero experience, wealth or poverty, early exposure to abstract logic, and even genes inherited from one’s parents—but not in terms of the construct “race.” (He) explains complex concepts and theories with clarity and precision, and he brings moments of levity to this challenging subject matter. As he notes, “Homo habilis and Homo gautengensis ... evolved 2.5 million years ago, after which several sub-species popped up in Africa."
    L. D. Baker, Duke University, for American Library Association
  • "Skin Deep takes a long, careful look at race science and scientific racism, especially as they operate in the area of intelligence measurement… Evans shows how… race science distorts real scientific knowledge, driven by a desire to give the “soft sciences” (such as social studies) the credibility of hard sciences such as physics – it’s the lure of all those irrefutable numbers. …He looks deeply into what intelligence is, how it has been measured and why IQ tests are a very unreliable yardstick of anything: the definitions are dubious and the calculations involved are highly manipulable. Skin Deep is a comprehensive study of several broad, overlapping fields, pitting fake science against real understanding (and doubt), and linking these to the political currents driving such arguments today. It’s a fascinating book, written in a lively, engaging way, offering strong counter-arguments to the kind of racist “knowledge” that underpinned apartheid. We need such works to help fight against the kind of neo-apartheid thinking now emerging all over the world."
    Mail & Guardian)
  • "In Skin Deep, Evans pivots from one chapter on athletic ability, which judges it to be somewhat heritable, to nine chapters on intellectual ability. In them, he agues that intelligence is much harder to define and measure than physical ability and that no evidence has yet emerged proving the existence of significant innate cognitive differences among racial or ethnic groups. …Evans aligns himself with what he considers the “clear majority of geneticists and other scientists” who believe “that the evolutionary factors acting against population differences in cognition are far stronger than those favouring them."
    Claremont Review of Books
  • "Give it up for Gavin Evans’s thorough and timely teardown of racial myths in Skin Deep: Journeys in the Divisive Science of Race. Informed by a background in law and political studies, as well as involvement in anti-apartheid movements in Cape Town, where he grew up, Evans frequently brings his unique expertise and experience to university lectures, the BBC World Service, and now your bookshelf. This triumphant volume debunks such popular fallacies as race-based IQ differences, jumping genes, and predictable variations in brain size and development across different—and arbitrary—racial categories. A hefty notes section is broken down by chapter for easy reference, listing the hundreds of sources used in the careful crafting of the text, and the final chapters provide both a warning and a call to action as race science is poised to make a comeback in these polarizing times. The best defense against misinformation is knowledge, and Skin Deep is an invaluable tool to add to your arsenal."
    Danielle Ballantyne, www.forewordreview
  • "Skin Deep is a timely and welcome review of the substantial body of work demonstrating the complete lack of a biological basis for the category of “race,” as well as the historical falsifications and scientific distortions that have been used to promote racism. It is well written and accessible to the non-specialist."
    Philip Guelpa, wsws.org
  • "Gavin Evans tackles the nature vs nurture debate head-on, examining the latest studies on how intelligence develops and laying out new discoveries in genetics, palaeontology, archaeology and anthropology to unearth the truth about our shared past. In doing so, Skin Deep demolishes the pernicious myth that our race is our destiny, and instead reveals what really makes us who we are."
    Upper Case Books
  • "Journalist Gavin Evans provides a thorough overview and detailed critique of contemporary "race science," and a poignant description and assessment of scientific racism in the context of the election of Donald Trump, Brexit, and the global swing to the Right. He demonstrates how the alt-right has recycled debunked race science and mixed it with new forms disseminated to global audiences on YouTube, Reddit, 4chan, and other social media platforms. Evans reveals “how the ideas of race science blend with more traditional and visceral forms of racism to produce a truly dangerous brew.” More than cultural critique, he provides an easy-to-read overview of the latest academic research in genetics, evolutionary anthropology, archaeology, and paleontology that explains disparities in human intelligence in terms of health and nutrition, in utero experience, wealth or poverty, early exposure to abstract logic, and even genes inherited from one’s parents—but not in terms of the construct “race.” As a seasoned science journalist, Evans explains complex concepts and theories with clarity and precision, and he brings moments of levity to this challenging subject matter. As he notes, “Homo habilis and Homo gautengensis ... evolved 2.5 million years ago, after which several sub-species popped up in Africa.”"
    Choice, American Library Association