Francis Crick Was a Race Realist, Too
The world’s greatest living scientist, Dr. James Watson, was recently stripped of his honors for speaking the heretical truth about race differences in intelligence. Yet purging Dr. Watson will not be enough for egalitarian fanatics—his partner in the discovery of DNA, Dr. Francis Crick, was also a race realist. Presumably, his memory will also be attacked.
The Francis Crick Papers are online. Steve Sailer has shown that several contain sensible perspectives on race. The papers also show that Crick defended the right of scientists such as Dr. William Shockley not just to promote scientific truths but to suggest policies based on those truths. If Dr. James Watson’s contributions must be purged, so too must Crick’s.
In 1970, in response to a research proposal by Dr. William Shockley, seven members of the National Academy of Sciences sent a letter to the president of the NAS arguing that it should not investigate the genetic basis for racial differences in intelligence. “It is basically vicious to evaluate individuals on the basis of the group to which they belong,” argued the letter-writers. In response, in 1971, Crick wrote to one of Dr. Shockley’s critics, Dr. John Edsall, and expressed the view that racial differences are real.
In brief I think it likely that more than half the difference between the average I.Q. of American whites and Negroes is due to genetic reasons, and will not be eliminated by any foreseeable change in environment. Moreover I think the social consequences of this are likely to be rather serious unless steps are taken to recognize the situation.
Crick expressed his support for the arguments of Dr. Arthur Jensen regarding human differences. He challenged Shockley’s critics to explain what mistakes Jensen had made and to describe the research they think should be done to determine “to what extent ‘intelligence’ is inherited.” Crick criticized Jensen’s opponents for having made “unsupported statements of opinion” rather than referring to scientific arguments. Crick even threatened to resign as a Foreign Associate from the NAS if “the Academy were to take active steps to suppress reputable scientific research for political reasons.”
Edsall’s response was gracious. He wrote that he regards “inquiry into the role of genetic and environmental factors in the development of intelligence as a valid and important field of research,” albeit one “difficult and complex.” He criticized Shockley for demanding a “crash program” rather than a serious inquiry, and suggested Shockley was making himself into a nuisance, “pushing his demands again and again at Academy business meetings, when there was other urgent business to be done.” Edsall also said that the statement against Shockley did not mention Jensen, and that he draws a distinction between the two. Edsall even noted that he was called a “racist” by colleagues when he described an article by Jensen as a “thoughtful, careful, and scholarly piece of work,” though he did not necessarily agree with all of Jensen’s conclusions.
Crick responded again to Edsall, going even further in defense of race realism. In response to Edsall’s hypothesis that cultural factors could explain race differences in IQ tests, Crick asked, “How do you explain the relatively poor I.Q. performance of the children of middle-class American negroes?” He defended the usefulness of I.Q. tests while acknowledging “their obvious limitations.” He bemoaned the lack of “constructive approaches” to examining the genetic basis of intelligence, and suggested funding for experiments, but realized they would not be forthcoming because of political pressure.
In response, Edsall again restated the complexity of the intelligence question and suggested “stopping human population in growth is a matter of the highest priority” and “deserves a far higher priority, to my mind, than the issues raised by Jensen and Shockley.” “I am not against eugenics in principle,” Edsall also wrote, joining Crick in hoping it could be rehabilitated. (Crick noted that “the Nazis gave it a bad name and I think it is time something was done to make it respectable again.”)
Edsall’s suggestion of a future “positive eugenics” program and restriction on world population growth (in practice, limiting African growth) would both undoubtedly be called racist today. Luckily for his reputation, Edsall died in 2002.
Crick also criticized affirmative action (which he called “negative racism”) in correspondence with another one of Dr. Shockley’s opponents, Dr. Ernst Mayr.
That is, the acceptance by Universities (like Harvard) of students with considerably lower standards merely because they are black. This policy is certainly going to lead to trouble. Either many of them will drop out, or they will have to be given degrees where white people would be failed.
It certainly has led to a great deal of “trouble.”
Mr. Sailer identifies other letters in which Crick explicitly endorsed racial differences in intelligence. In a letter to Lord C.P. Snow in 1969, Crick wrote:
I said that the biological evidence was that all men were not created equal, and it would not only be difficult to try to do this, but biologically undesirable. As an a[s]ide I said that the evidence for the equality of different races did not really exist. In fact, what little evidence there was suggested racial differences.
Crick’s dedication to the pursuit of truth comes through in every one of these letters. He urges his correspondents to show courage in the face of criticism, examine ideas fearlessly, and pursue evidence wherever it leads. His belief in race realism was not a moral conviction nor an expression of racial pride. Race realism simply is; racial differences are a biological reality and exist no matter who suppresses, ignores, or complains about them. That is the scientific view, but it is not what science is today.
On April 22, 2017, an estimated 100,000 people participated in the first annual March for Science in Washington, D.C. Tens of thousands participated in other cities, with more than a million around the world. A study of supporters found 97 percent wanted to encourage “policies based on science.” That would require a willingness to acknowledge scientific realities such as racial differences. If marchers are sincere, they have a great opportunity to stand for truth at the next event.