Thicker Than Blood: How Racial Statistics Lie

Thicker Than Blood: How Racial Statistics Lie

Thicker Than Blood: How Racial Statistics Lie

Thicker Than Blood: How Racial Statistics Lie

Synopsis

Tukufu Zuberi offers a concise account of the historical connections between the development of the idea of race and the birth of social statistics. Zuberi describes the ways race-differentiated data is misinterpreted in the social sciences and asks searching questions about the ways racial statistics are used. He argues that statistical analysis can and must be deracialized, and that this deracialization is essential to the goal of achieving social justice for all.

Excerpt

For years we have understood that race is, biologically speaking, an exceedingly complex matter and that preconceived biases much more than biology govern the way people think about it. The statistics that are publicized these days in which race is prominent treat it as an objectively determined collection of discrete categories. Because the premises about race are false, the conclusions must be also; as the saying goes, garbage in, garbage out. Moreover, adding to this problem, many researchers— who should know better—argue that race causes a person to be in a certain condition or state, when the most that has been demonstrated is that race involves an association of undetermined causes. These errors in racial statistics are endemic and subvert even the most sympathetic attempts to address questions about race quantitatively.

We should not commit the error of accepting a research result because of its political or social implications unless such implications have a methodological impact on the subject being studied. In the case of racial statistics, policy-oriented research requires that the researcher consider the side effects of the findings. We cannot discredit an argument by demonstrating that it leads to unwanted political conclusions unless those conclusions imply a methodological error. Arguments based on racial statistics too often relate to a general misunderstanding of the foundations of statistical analysis.

These problems should not be misconstrued as being of merely academic significance. Statistical conceptions of race are more likely to be noticed in the sciences, but they play a critical role in guiding and justi-

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.