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Four crucial facts about race, sex, and biology that contradict this messy argument.

In America, we've had a long history of people in positions of privilege and power who argue that innate biological differences between races or sexes explain why our society is unequal. Such people couch these arguments in the language of unflinching rationalism—they are merely acknowledging facts about human nature, facts they say may be uncomfortable, but which are firmly grounded in scientific evidence. Until our society is willing to accept the evidence, the argument goes, we won't effectively address the problem of inequality. "Once we acknowledge that not all differences are socially constructed or due to discrimination, we open our eyes to a more accurate view of the human condition which is necessary if we actually want to solve problems," wrote James Damore in his now-infamous Google memo, in which he argued that women are biologically less suitable for certain jobs in technology.

Those who make these arguments are trying to claim scientific high ground, but their assertions are the product of speculation and confusion about...