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Afrocentric Pseudoscience & Pseudohistory

There is a lot of high-quality, constructive Afrocentric scholarship. As in most fields, however, there are fringe groups and extraordinary claims that grab our attention because of their extremism, and, occasionally, their absurdity. Since it is our job at Skeptic magazine to track these groups and claims, we bring them to our reader’s attention. This is not to imply that all or most African-American scientists and historians believe such claims. The recent surge of these beliefs, however, especially when supported by such recognizable names as Louis Farrakhan, is alarming. Here are just a few quotes emblematic of this extreme. This compilation by the editors appeared in Skeptic magazine 2.4 (1994).

On Blacks, Whites, and Melanin

“We’re not talking about superiority and inferiority, but we’re talking about the important factor of melanin. It allows us [blacks, who have more melanin and are thus the superior “sun people” over the inferior white “ice people”] to negotiate the vibrations of the universe and to deal with the ultraviolet rays of the sun. There’s a mix of DNA, RNA, and there’s a not-too-understood question of melanin, the organized molecule, in the beginning.” —Leonard Jeffries, Time, 2/14/93

Who Created Civilization?

“For the first two or three thousand years of civilization, there was not a civilized white man on the earth. Civilization was founded and developed by the swarthy races of Mesopotamia, Syria, and Egypt. It was southern colored peoples everywhere, in China, in Central America, in India, Mesopotomia, Syria, Egypt and Crete who gave the northern white peoples civilization.” —John Jackson, Ethiopia and the Origin of Civilization

The Holocaust

“Because I Said the Holocaust of Black People Was a Hundred Times Worse Than the Holocaust of Jews They Were Angry With Me for Even Comparing This, and It Is Because You Feel Your Life Is So Much More Sacred Than the Lives of the Gentiles, or the Lives of the Asians, Arabs, and Africans.” —Louis Farrakhan, Interview With Barbara Walters, 20/20


“The white man is so wicked and filthy that God calls him the scum of the planet Earth.” —Elijah Muhammad, quoted by Barbara Walters on 20/20


“Jews are sucking the blood of blacks. No matter who sits in the seat at the White House, Jews control that seat. Jews control the media, especially NBC, ABC, and CBS. The Pope is a no-good cracker. Somebody needs to raise that dress up and see what’s really under there.” —Khallid Muhammad, speech at Kean college

“I’m going to be a pitbull, that’s the way I’m going to be against the Jews.” —Khallid Muhammad, speech at Howard University

Drugs, Guns, AIDS Conspiracy

“Black males are specifically programmed for self-destruction by this society. Hundreds of thousands of U.S. military troops are called on to wage urban warfare on our people … An avalanche of cheap heroin was unleashed into our communities to lull our people to sleep…African Americans are beginning to realize that the real enemy is not the brother standing across the street, but the white man in the top floor of the downtown high rise.” —Malcolm Carson, “The White Conspiracy,”The Hilltop, Howard University campus newspaper. “The crack epidemic did not start until after Louis Farrakhan became the voice of the poor.” [Regarding guns]: “Somebody is inspiring the black people to kill off each other. We believe it’s the government of the United States of America.” —Louis Farrakhan, Washington Post, 1990

Skeptic 2.4 (cover)

This article appeared in Skeptic magazine 2.4 (1994).
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“The fact of the matter is that there was no crack prior to 1985 when Farrakhan spoke in Madison Square Garden in New York and nearly 50,000 people came out to hear him. The fact of the matter is that in the 60s when blacks began moving in the Civil Rights movement a purer form of Heroin was introduced into the black community. I believe with all my heart that there is a dirty hand here somewhere and if the government is not responsible then help me clean it up.” —Louis Farrakhan, Interview with Barbara Walters, 20/20

“The spread of international AIDS was an attempt by the U.S. government to decimate the population of central Africa.” —Louis Farrakhan, African-American Summit speech, New Orleans, 1989

“Do you know where the AIDS virus was developed? Right outside of Washington. It is my feeling that the U.S. government is deliberately spreading AIDS.” —Louis Farrakhan, Interview with Barbara Walters, 20/20

About the Author

Dr. Michael Shermer is Publisher of Skeptic magazine, Director of the Skeptics Society, and Assistant Professor of History of Science at Occidental College. He has published Teach Your Child Science and co-authored Teach Your Child Math and Mathemagics with Dr. Arthur Benjamin. Dr. Shermer has just finished two book manuscripts, Heretic-Scientist, a biography of Alfred Russel Wallace, and The Chaos of History, on the application of chaos theory to human history. He has also written numerous cycling books based on a ten year professional career as an ultra-marathon cyclist and competitor in the transcontinental Race Across America.


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