It is certain that debates within the scientific community about whether the historic descriptors of race or ethnicity are valid anymore, or indeed ever were, and whether they should be replaced with more robust information about genetic ancestry will continue. My own view is that attempts to stop the progress of science have been remarkably unsuccessful over time, and the benefits of understanding the impact of human variation outweigh the risks. But I say this with the specter in the back of my mind of someone speaking from this stage in a hundred years time, castigating the scientists of my era for their blindness to the ways in which their scientific findings were used to sustain prejudice and discrimination.Keep in mind, Tilghman delivered this speech to an audience of Afro-American studies scholars. Some might see in her stated view a note of optimism for "HBD".
How we proceed in this new era, and whether for good or ill, are now up to all of us, scientist and non-scientist alike. In this regard the Center for African American Studies is poised to play a critical role in the ongoing debate we must have about the meaning of race in the post-genome era. As a University that prides itself in being in the nation's service and the service of all nations, we need to be a leading voice in this debate, through the scholarship that we produce, the conversations that we stimulate and the future leaders whom we educate. As a community in which scientists, social scientists and humanists work and study in close proximity to one another, we can ensure that this discussion be as broad as possible. As the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. observed, "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that." At Princeton we are in the business of generating light.What I'm getting from this is Tilghman fully grasps that current leftist dogma will be unable to withstand the onslaught of genomic fact and is warning her audience they'll need adopt newer and more effective varieties of sophistry (a number of which she illustrates in her speech).
I'll close with two quotes I find it amusing to juxtapose. I don't think I need to point out the irony. At one point in her speech, Tilghman writes:
What Linnaeus, Gall, Galton and Davenport have in common – and recall that several of them were considered scientific giants in their time – was deep-seated racial prejudice that biased the way in which they framed their questions, designed their studies and analyzed their data. It would be imprudent for us to think that such biases cannot creep into our thinking about race in the post-genome era.Followed later by (discussing the announcement of the completion of the human genome project):
It was a euphoric moment for all who had participated in the project, but even at that moment of celebration, there was a sense that the genome could potentially open up a proverbial Pandora's Box of issues, particularly surrounding the issue of race.