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Pet Sins January 2002 Issue
Cherished beliefs - an obsession with the pre-ordained, 'natural' inferiority of Other groups

Genetic arguments about racial superiority can cut both ways - we can just as easily argue in favor of the groups we choose to put down if we look for evidence that proves the point. Very often, overly broad generalizations are made about presumably unbiased studies, social and environmental factors that skew the results are ignored or trivialized.

Instead of spending our time and energy equalizing the playing field for everyone, some of us choose to spend time, mental energy and money trying to prove the inferiority of others. It is hard to believe in the good intentions of such people despite their claims of "objectivity" and "strictly scientific" interest. To use an analogy, will a parent who genuinely loves a child spend a lot of time arguing with friends and family trying to prove how that child is genetically inferior to siblings? Or will the parent do all within his/her power to unlock the child's full potential? Based on numerous experiences shared by readers, we have, with the permission of contributors, put together a few portraits of composite characters who personify how we unconsciously exercise the common racial prejudices held in our society. Although the individuals described in this issue may not be actual people, their actions and attitudes are based on real accounts.

We share these stories in the hope of taking a step toward examining and understanding the deeply-ingrained prejudices present to a degree in most of us, rather than to blame or shame specific individuals.