'Great replacement' was not the only discredited racist theory motivating the Buffalo shooter
Buffalo mass shooting site (Photo by John Norbile for AFP)

On Tuesday, Gizmodo published a deep dive into how the Buffalo supermarket shooter cited a long list of scientists, both mainstream and discredited, to support a racial eugenicist ideology in his manifesto — raising questions about how diligently scientists have worked to defend respected researchers who have pushed white supremacist politics, and how their work can easily be misrepresented to promote hateful ideologies.

"He cited Tatu Vahanen, a Finnish political science professor who tried to draw long-debunked connections between genetic intelligence and race. The shooter was heavily into pseudo-intellectuals bankrolled by the Pioneer Fund, a eugenics-based foundation that has a long history of backing racist theories," reported Kyle Barr. Meanwhile, "Inside Higher Ed reported that University of Notre Dame professor of marketing John Gaski was cited by the shooter. His 2013 opinion piece claimed using vague and extrapolated figures from old crime victim data that rates of Black-on-white crime are higher than the reverse." Gaski said he was "appalled and deeply distressed" about being cited by the shooter.

As the report noted, mainstream scientists once lent credence to eugenics, believing the human race could be bred for maximum fitness and to eliminate "degenerates" — which often carried racial undertones. And though scientists have abandoned this today, they are slow to disavow all of these past efforts.

"Many scientists reject 'race' as a biological and genetic concept, but that doesn’t stop regular people, and even some scientists, from letting that inform their understanding of the world," noted the report. "It’s why attempts at intelligence testing between 'races' remains a popular sticking point for race-based arguments, despite scientists routinely disproving IQ-like tests as a quality means of measuring intelligence."

Meanwhile, "Stacy Farina, an assistant professor of biology at Howard University, said those attempting to equate race with IQ or violent behaviors has become more fringe, but there are several ways similar ideas persist within the margins of the scientific community," said the report. "Yet even when that racism is exposed, some scientists will argue against tarnishing the legacy of once-respected researchers. In February, she co-wrote an article discussing the support disgraced psychologist J. Philippe Rushton got from eminent biologist Edward O. Wilson. The biologist’s death in 2021 sparked an intense debate among her peers about how to grapple with prominent scientist’s historical support for scientific racism."

The Buffalo shooter's most notorious belief was in so-called "great replacement theory," a paranoid belief that there is a plot to eradicate white people by importing nonwhite people into the places they live.

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