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Panofsky on Distortion of Science to Further a Racist Agenda

Undark spoke with public policy professor Aaron Panofsky about soul-searching in the science community after the May 2022 shooting in Buffalo that took 10 lives. The gunman who targeted Black victims cited genetics research as a rationale for his white supremacist views. Panofsky noted that the shooter’s manifesto included “prepackaged, meme-ified research objects” from “various blogs, various components of Reddit and 4chan, and so forth.” Such ready-to-share memes are used by far-right bloggers, white nationalist outlets, amateur scientists and other fringe figures to willfully misinterpret science to further a racist agenda, said Panofsky, director of the UCLA Institute for Society and Genetics. The article also shone a light on large-scale genomic studies aimed at finding genetic solutions to public health and social problems. In addition to fearing that their findings may be twisted in dangerous ways, some researchers acknowledge that the emphasis on genetics might draw attention from the true drivers of these problems.


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