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A Terrible Thing to Waste

by Harriet A. Washington

A Terrible Thing to Waste Synopsis

The 1994 publication of the The Bell Curve and its controversial thesis catapulted the topic of genetic racial differences in IQ to the forefront of renewed and heated debate. Now, in A Terrible Thing to Waste, award-winning science writer Harriet A. Washington adds her incisive analysis to the fray. She takes apart the spurious notion of intelligence as an inherited trait, pointing instead to environmental racism -- a confluence of institutional factors that relegate marginalized communities to living and working near sites of toxic waste, pollution, and urban decay -- as the prime cause of the reported black-white IQ gap. Investigating heavy metals, neurotoxins, deficient prenatal care, bad nutrition, and pathogens as the main factors influencing intelligence, Washington explains why certain communities are so disproportionally affected and what can be done to remedy the problem. Featuring extensive scientific research and Washington's sharp, lively reporting, A Terrible Thing to Waste is sure to outrage, transform the conversation and inspire debate.

A Terrible Thing to Waste Press Reviews

In her groundbreaking new book, A Terrible Thing to Waste, award-winning science writer and bioethicist Harriet Washington explores how environmental racism damages young minds, particularly the minds of impoverished African American children who are exposed inordinately to toxins and pathogens in marginalized communities. She writes lucidly of how pollutants such as heavy metals and neurotoxins injure developing brains and recounts vividly case after case of the devastating cost to human brains and bodies. As she demolishes racist notions of inherited intelligence, she describes the medical consequences of horrific environmental catastrophes that have largely been forgotten or overlooked. Revelatory and compelling, Harriet Washington's A Terrible Thing to Waste is the Silent Spring for the 21st century. --Robin Lindley, JD, Features Editor, History News Network It's amazing how far you can get if you just study the data. And have a keen analytical mind. And are a gifted reporter. With a sense of social justice. By which I mean, if you are Harriet Washington. She methodically indicts environmental racism and its catastrophic effects, particularly on the cognitive abilities of America's children, a reminder that what we're told is immutable -- our social conditions, our 'intelligence' -- is nothing of the kind. The news she brings is grim, but she leaves the reader feeling not paralyzed by despair but determined to act. --Randy Cohen, host of Person Place Thing and original author of New York Times Magazine's The Ethicis Deeply researched, well written and timelier than ever, A Terrible Thing to Waste will necessarily transform public and scientific debates over urban decay, environmental policy and reported racial differences in IQ...Eye-opening. --Amy Brady, Shelf Awareness (Starred Review) An unflinching look at environmental racism in black and brown communities. --Angela Helm, The Root A Terrible Thing to Waste is a powerful and indispensable book for anyone who cares about a just and healthy future for all Americans. Harriet Washington asks the critical questions that get at the heart of racism and inequality in health, income, social welfare and power in 21st century America. --Gerald Markowitz, author of Lead Wars and Distinguished Professor, John Jay College, CUNY

Book Information

ISBN: 9780316509435
Publication date: 23rd July 2019
Author: Harriet A. Washington
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Format: Hardback
Pagination: 368 pages
Categories: Social discrimination & inequality, Social groups, Social impact of environmental issues,

About Harriet A. Washington

Harriet A. Washington has been the Shearing Fellow at the University of Nevada's Black Mountain Institute, a Research Fellow in Medical Ethics at Harvard Medical School, a senior research scholar at the National Center for Bioethics at Tuskegee University, and a visiting scholar at DePaul University College of Law. She has held fellowships at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Stanford University. She is the author of Deadly Monopolies, Infectious Madness, and Medical Apartheid, which won a National Book Critics Circle Award, the PEN/Oakland Award, and the American Library Association Black Caucus Nonfiction Award.

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