Impact of Psudo-Scientifical Policies in the United States.
Once the pseudo-scientific ideas of race crept into policies and laws in the United States, White Americans seized the opportunity to use the alleged, “science,” to justify making their own circumstances better while negatively impacting the lives of perceived lesser groups. For example, the new ideas presented perfect justification for slavery supporters to continue their mistreatment. Despite its deceptive appearance, the Convict Lease System served as a continuation of slavery. Black people were disproportionately incarcerated and imprisoned as a result of criminalizing rules such as loitering or breaking a curfew. Under the Black Codes, Black prisoners were leased for profit, where they had to work unpaid. The pseudo-scientific ideas saying that Black people were more likely to commit crimes and benefit from unpaid work allowed for systems as such to be viewed as just. According to the White Man’s Burden, an ideology derived from a poem by Rudyard Kipling, it is the White Man’s responsibility to civilize, “ barbaric natives.” This ideology provided the United States an excuse to gain territory for economic and commercial objectives at the expense of the people living in these lands. Through the Spanish-American Wars and the Annexation of Hawaii, Americans exploited native peoples for their own benefit.
A pseudo-scientifical idea with a profound impact on the United States is the theory of Polygenism. This theory proposes that groups of humans evolved from separate species. Not only does this theory perpetuate the notion of a racial hierarchy based on supposed separate evolutionary paths, but it also provides a basis for the idea that the races should live life separately. Plessy v. Fergurson, a Supreme Court case that set the separate but equal doctrine, led to Jim Crow laws and the segregation of the South. In order to rebuild the American housing economy after the great depression, FDR’s New Deal called for the creation of the Federal Housing Commission and the Home Owners Loan Corporation. These groups were tasked with issuing economically sound loans to stimulate the housing market. However, loans were denied to qualified individuals because of their race. This policy, named Redlining for the marks that distinguished Black and minority neighborhoods on federal loan risk maps, had a long-term impact, contributing to the wage gap between White and minority families in the United States today, and even the segregation seen in many American cities.
Even though pseudo-scientific ideas have been disproven and race is said to be a social construct, the ramifications of the racist policies still reverberate in the United States today. These policies constructed a racist system, giving white people a head start in society. A Boston Federal Reserve Bank 2015 study even found that the median net worth for white households in Greater Boston was $250,000 dollars while for Black households, just $8 dollars. Even though it is less socially acceptable to be outwardly racist, people still use pseudo-scientific ideas to justify subtle racism. According to, “The Unwelcome Revival of ‘Race Science’,” by Gavin Evans, Steve Bannon suggested, “There are, after all, in this world, some people who are naturally aggressive and violent.” The presence of these horrific sentiments, especially coming from a prominent societal figure that would go on to be the Chief Strategist for an American President is concerning, and undoubtedly affirms that American society is still impacted by pseudo-science and has a long way to go in constructing an equitable society. To build upon the ideas expressed by Crazyarmadillo, a step in striving towards an equitable society is understanding together that race has to be viewed as pertaining to culture rather than biology.