An online talk by Dr Adam Rutherford. Contemporary concepts of race have shallow historical roots, invented as they were during the European Age of Enlightenment, exploration and plunder. From the 17th century, philosophers, scientists and writers concocted taxonomies of our species, sometimes based on crude traits like pigmentation and bone morphology, and often just made up.
Science, and notably the new science of genetics did a good job of dismantling these racial categories in the 20th century, and showing that while race is very real because we perceive it, the folk taxonomies that everyone understands and uses have little basis in biology. However, in recent years, new techniques in genetics, sometimes poorly deployed, misunderstood or misrepresented, have given succour to those who wish to reinforce traditional racial categories, alongside common attempts to understand common observations such as in sporting success and cognitive abilities.