Some of us are old enough to remember the shooting of Black American civil rights leader Martin Luther King in 1968:
With regard to scientific racism, King lamented that “Science was commandeered to prove the biological inferiority of the Negro” (p. 37) and he spoke of how segregationists “turn to some pseudo-scientific writing and argue that the Negro’s brain is smaller than the white man’s brain.” (p. 38) King argued that the real findings of science didn’t support such claims: “They do not know, or they refuse to know, that the idea of an inferior or superior race has been refuted by the best evidence of the science of anthropology… although there may be inferior and superior individuals within all races, there is no superior or inferior race.”
With regard to scientific materialism, King was searing:
“To believe that human personality is the result of the fortuitous interplay of atoms and electrons is as absurd as to believe that a monkey by hitting typewriter keys at random will eventually produce a Shakespearean play. Sheer magic! It is much more sensible to say with Sir James Jeans, the physicist, that “the universe seems to be nearer to a great thought than to a great machine,” or with Arthur Balfour, the philosopher, that “we now know too much about matter to be materialists.” Materialism is a weak flame that is blown out by the breath of mature thinking.” (p. 70)John West, “Martin Luther King’s Powerful Critique of Scientific Racism, Scientific Materialism” at Evolution News and Science Today
Well, just to clear the air around here, there is no evidence that brain size is any indicator of intelligence. Just for the record, lemurs, with brains 1/200th the size of chimps can pass the same intelligence test. Whales have way bigger brains than humans; does anyone claim they’re really smarter than humans?
Why was the racists’ idea about brain size considered at all?
Materialism does that to people and King was right to see it and call it out.
Here’s West’s documentary, Human Zoos: