The New Science of Pseudoscience

2014 WordsFeb 20, 20188 Pages
Nineteenth-century America was a tumultuous place, marred by war and suffering the growing pains of both westward expansion and industrialization. The intellectual world was equally turbulent, as a great battle of ideas challenged the foundation and morality of the institution of slavery. Pro-slavery advocates had to find new ways of justifying their beliefs in order to provide a different perspective from which to view slavery, other than an economic standpoint. Southern society began to idealize science as an indisputable vehicle of objective truth. The rapid advancement of scientific knowledge lent scientists a “halo,” as they could claim neutrality and objectiveness. A scientist’s word was law and deemed worthy of imitation. Because of the belief that scientists were unbiased and impartial when conducting research, scientists in the South attempted to legitimize pro-slavery arguments by providing pseudoscientific evidence proving the superiority of whites and the inability of blacks to be self-sufficient as freedmen. Dr. Samuel George Morton, a famous physician and researcher in natural history, provided the South with flawed anthropological evidence in order to bolster the anti-abolitionist case. His universal acclaim for devotion to objective data allowed for his research to become popular and widespread throughout the United States, especially the South. Dr. Morton’s study was based on his measurements of human crania. His collection of skulls was the largest in
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