Kicking the Dead

Jared Taylor, American Renaissance, August 2010

William H. Tucker, The Cattell Controversy: Race, Science and Ideology, University of Illinois Press, 2010, 254 pp., $50.00

Although he was not well known to the public, Raymond Cattell (1905–1998) was one of the most influential research psychologists of the 20th century. He wrote 56 books and more than 500 journal articles in the fields of personality, intelligence, and multivariate analysis. He designed 30 standardized tests for measuring intelligence and personality, some of which are still in use.

The Cattell Controversy by William Tucker

During the course of this remarkably productive career, Cattell received many honors and awards, and in 1997, the American Psychological Association (APA) announced it would present him with the association’s Gold Medal Award for Life Achievement. The 92-year-old Cattell traveled to Chicago from Hawaii, where he lived in retirement, to receive the honor, but two days before the ceremony the APA announced that the award was to be “postponed.”

The reason? Two professional “racism”-hunters — Barry Mehler of Ferris State University and Abraham Foxman of the ADL — had written the association complaining about Cattell’s political views. The APA announced it would withhold the award until a Blue Ribbon Panel had looked into “the relationship between Dr. Cattell’s scientific work and his views on racial segregation.” This caused a furor, in the midst of which Cattell withdrew his name from consideration. The panel disbanded and issued no report; a few months later, Cattell died.

The Cattell Controversy is a book-length account of Cattell’s career, with special emphasis on his little-known political writings that so exercised the anti-“racists.” The author, William Tucker of Rutgers University-Camden, is himself a professional anti-“racist,” who supported the witch hunt, and who assures us that Cattell’s views were so appalling that the APA would have disgraced itself by giving him its top honor. Instead, it is University of Illinois Press that has disgraced itself by publishing a volume of transparent dishonesty.

A remarkable scientist

Despite his obvious hatred for Cattell, Prof. Tucker admits that “almost everyone who had worked with him, even for a short time, regarded Cattell with a mixture of awe and gratitude for his brilliance, his prodigious work ethic, and his ability to inspire others.” Prof. Tucker also concedes that Cattell was admired for “his good manners, sense of humor, and ability to treat everyone with respect, no matter their status or background,” but warns us that even Nazi exterminators could be loving husbands and fathers, and that “it is hardly unusual to find considerable personal charm and kindness coupled with monstrous beliefs.”

Prof. Tucker also recognizes that Cattell was brilliant. He graduated at age 19 from London University with top honors in chemistry and physics. His interests changed, however, after attending a lecture by Cyril Burt on Sir Francis Galton, the father of eugenics. As a boy, Cattell had been deeply moved by the colossal massacre of the First World War and the poverty of London slums, and came to the early belief that such horrors could be alleviated by eugenics. He came of age at a time of great enthusiasm for the view that by understanding and controlling evolution mankind could enter a golden age. Cattell therefore abandoned the physical sciences for the social sciences which, he believed, would be at the forefront in guiding evolution in fruitful directions.

Raymond Cattell

Raymond Cattell (Credit Image: Wikimedia)

Cattell threw himself into the study of personality because he understood that evolution works on all aspects of personality, not just intelligence, and that any scientific eugenics program would have to make careful choices about which traits to encourage and which to discourage. His Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire was first published in 1950 and quickly became a standard instrument for assessing personality. What are now known as “the big five” personality traits — openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, neuroticism — though not developed specifically by him, are derived from his work.

Cattell also made important contributions in the study of intelligence. He recognized the need to measure innate ability independent of cultural influence, and his Culture Fair Intelligence Scales are still used today.

Cattell believed that if the traits and abilities of people could be measured at an early age, each citizen could be given the place in society in which he would be happiest and most productive, and that this would put an end to unearned privilege and class conflict. As the great British psychologist Charles Spearman put it, “perfect justice is about to combine with maximum efficiency.”

Personality assessment had other uses. Cattell believed it could chart the progress of mental therapy, with patients taking periodic tests to see if they were becoming more normal. He also thought that if someone showed the qualities of a great research scientist, for example, he should be given considerable laboratory resources even before he had produced anything important. He believed it was possible to measure groups on such scales as Good Internal Morality versus Poor Cultural Integration and Morale. He believed it would be instructive to evaluate a society every 100 years or so to see if it were moving in promising directions.

Cattell believed that the goal of life was “to strive upward,” and that moral behavior was that which contributed to the betterment of the species. Like Galton, he did not think traditional religions were reliable guides in this respect. He recognized the importance of giving meaning to life and of grounding men in larger values, but he rejected universalist ethics that treated all men equally, despite vast differences in ability and contribution. He was convinced that science, rather than revealed truths, was the proper basis for morality and, again like Galton, thought that man’s religious impulses should be directed towards the eugenic goal of improving mankind.

Cattell shared his generation’s concern with dysgenic fertility, or the tendency of the incompetent to outbreed the competent. He calculated that if Europeans reproduced indiscriminately, average IQ would decline about one point per decade and that “in three hundred years half the population would be mentally defective.”

Having children was therefore “far from being a personal matter but must admit of fine regulation by the state on behalf of the happiness of all.” “The first step of the nation” therefore, was “to control the number and quality of its citizens,” and Cattell’s personality assessment tools would make it possible to measure quality. Every citizen could then be assigned a fertility quota that reflected his abilities, and Cattell believed that with the right education, most people would understand the profound social implications of procreation, and would stay within their quotas. He suggested that the legislature should have a “house of scientists” that would operate more or less like the House of Lords, and help make evolutionary choices for society.

Cattell believed that it was best for a nation to have high averages of intelligence and ability but without a great deal of variation. This would eliminate large class differences and would make real self-government possible. He did not think democracy worked well in societies with large variations in abilities, and thought no one with an IQ of less than 90 should be allowed to vote. Cattell also opposed excessive individualism, and wanted evolution nudged in the direction of the man who was “capable of achieving his fullest expression only in groups.” He thought societies that promoted “sympathy, unselfishness, self-sacrifice, and the capacity for enthusiastic cooperation” were most likely to succeed.

Cattell assumed that different societies would establish different evolutionary goals. Some might prefer a wide range of abilities, with the recognition that this would result in castes and aristocracies that were not suited to democracy. He also believed that sexual attraction was “a backward eddy in the stream of natural selection,” because it put a premium on certain physical configurations that had no real value. He even hoped for an anti-aphrodisiac that would curb sexual urges, so couples would be attracted to each other because of “congenial temperaments and common purposes” rather than lust.

The importance of race

If Cattell had gone no further than this, he probably would have got the gold medal. His views were certainly open to criticism, especially on libertarian grounds, but compulsion is a specialty of the left, and the idea of the authorities running our lives for us is congenial to anti-“racists” — assuming they are the authorities.

Cattell’s unforgivable sin was to see evolution working not just on individuals but on races. In his view, racial differences were a great natural experiment in evolution. Nature had given rise to groups with distinct temperaments and abilities, and it would spoil the experiment to mix the races. Cattell also noted the practical problems of diversity:

Whenever a nation has been forcibly put together from differing races, we find a social life unnecessarily disjointed, weak, and feverish. There are thousands of misunderstandings, produced by individuals working for different goals in different ways and at different speeds.

Cattell thought racial consciousness was a natural part of human nature, and that the campaigns waged against it, generation after generation, were proof that it could not be eradicated. Societies should therefore adjust to it rather than battle it uselessly, and the most obvious adjustment was to avoid unnecessary contact between races.

Homogeneous societies were also more conducive to the best kind of group identification. Cattell thought that an intelligent Scot, for example, would probably be more comfortable with the less intelligent members of his own race than with an equally intelligent Chinese, because temperament and fundamental outlook differed between races. Cattell wanted citizens to feel they were part of an important group enterprise, a “super-individual consciousness” that was striving for biological improvement, and doubted that this feeling of solidarity could extend across racial lines. It could probably extend across national lines so long as the nations were of the same race.

Ultimately, this sense of participation in the evolutionary improvement of one’s people was to play the role of religion in rationally organized societies. Cattell coined the term “Beyondism” for this new, science-based religion, which would direct man’s “upward striving” and give meaning to life.

What most enrages Prof. Tucker is that Cattell expected different racial and national groups to evolve separately and competitively. Each group should prosper or stagnate in accordance with its own powers rather than exploit vulnerable groups or ask to be carried on the backs of those that were more successful. To Cattell it was clear that cultures could not be imposed, willy nilly, on groups that were biologically unsuited to them, but he went even further: scientific discoveries should not be shared indiscriminately, because this would falsify the results in the great experiment in which races rose and fell in accordance with their gifts.

Professor William H. Tucker

Professor William H. Tucker

Here, therefore, was another objection to indiscriminate altruism. Just as it was wrong, within a single society, to tax the productive to subsidize the procreation of the unproductive, it was “biologically perverse” to extend altruism across national lines. If Somalis or Congolese, for example, could not build societies that prevented starvation, it violated the norms of evolution — and therefore of scientifically established morality — for the French or the Japanese to feed them.


Cattell summarized his political/religious thinking — as opposed to the personality assessment work for which he is famous — in two volumes: A New Morality from Science: Beyondism, published in 1972, and Beyondism: Religion from Science, published in 1987. Prof. Tucker calls these “the most comprehensive statement of his [Cattell’s] sociomoral beliefs,” but he quotes from them briefly and selectively, with the clear intention of discrediting them.

The Beyondism books are hard to find, but a spot check of Prof. Tucker’s citations is disconcerting. He writes of Cattell:

[O]ther humanistic principles “such as ‘social justice and equality,’ ‘basic freedom’ and ‘human dignity,’ ” he dismissed as ‘whore phrases.’

Prof. Tucker clearly wants us to think that Cattell had nothing but contempt for “human dignity,” for example. However, in this passage, Cattell was criticizing a governing ethos not based on scientific principles and that has:

only a political, Humanistic rhetoric in which such whore phrases as “social justice and equality,” “basic freedom” and “human dignity” continue to prostitute their beauty to every imposter. (New Morality, p. 411.)

In other words, these beautiful concepts become whore phrases in the mouths of imposters who ignore science — something completely different from what Prof. Tucker wants us to think.

Prof Tucker continues: “The notion of ‘human rights’ was nothing more than ‘an instance of rigid, childish, subjective thinking.’” Again, we are to believe Cattell dismissed anything that could be described as human rights. This is what Cattell actually wrote: “The notion that ‘human rights,’ or any other ethical standards, are independent of the circumstances of the group is an instance of rigid, childish, subjective thinking ” (Beyondism, p. 88) Cattell is not denying human rights at all; he is pointing out that they depend on circumstances. Rights that are appropriate in peacetime, for example, may not be possible during war. By chopping up Cattell’s sentences, Prof. Tucker utterly distorts their meaning. If someone had the time — and the stomach — to check all his citations there is no telling what he might find.

What most stimulates Prof. Tucker to distortion, however, was what Cattell considered the logical consequence of competition between groups: that there would be losers as well as winners. What happens when nature’s great experiment produces a failure? Cattell did not believe that more successful groups should keep less successful groups alive through foreign aid, and that under certain circumstances some groups or races might go extinct if left unaided. What should the more successful groups do about this?

Here, Prof. Tucker concentrates on essays Cattell wrote in the 1930s when he was in his early 20s, and which are nearly impossible to find. Prof. Tucker writes this:

Cattell named “the negro” as one of those races that, despite their “endearing qualities,” were appropriate candidates for a process of humane elimination, in which “by gradual restriction of births, and by life in adapted reserves and asylums, must the races which have served their turn be brought to euthanasia.”

Why is this quotation chopped up? Is it a fair summary or a distortion? Prof. Tucker’s record (see more below) offers grounds for suspicion. He also cites the following sentence fragment from a 1933 publication: “[T]he leading nations may attempt to reduce the numbers of the backward people by birth-control regulation, segregation, or human sterilization.”

Again, there is no way to know in what context Cattell said this or how he might have qualified it. Prof. Tucker cannot find similarly menacing material in Cattell’s later, mature work, but he has an explanation: “[I]t was unlikely that Cattell’s views had changed, but in a more politically correct era, apparently he felt compelled to make a modest accommodation to the changed zeitgeist.” It would be the rare man whose views did not change from his 20s into his 50s or 60s, but Prof. Tucker apparently thinks he can read Cattell’s mind from beyond the grave.

It is important to know what Cattell really thought — in the 1930s as well as in the 1980s — because Prof. Tucker, now in his own words, writes of his subject’s views of blacks:

At the very least it would have been morally proper in Cattell’s analysis to confiscate their land and property and move them onto “reservations” — that is, into concentration camps — where they would be prevented from reproducing as part of a systematic attempt to eliminate the black population.

Prof. Tucker even goes on to say that Cattell would have countenanced “violent elimination” of blacks. These are very serious accusations, and should be based on careful, extensive citation, not on out-of-context, unverifiable fragments from the 1930s. Prof. Tucker concedes that even in the 1930s, Cattell insisted that any steps taken by one group with regard to another must be taken with “kindness and consideration,” not exactly the language of mass murder.

How did Cattell treat this controversial question in his mature, verifiable works? Prof. Tucker expects the reader to be horrified by the term “genthanasia,” which Cattell coined to describe the process whereby, in words quoted by Prof. Tucker, “a moribund culture is ended, by educational and birth control measures, without a single member dying before his time.”

Prof. Tucker refrains from quoting a passage that continues onto the very same page:

As regards animal species, we are today inclined, for aesthetic and scientific purposes, to make sanctuaries and reservations for species obviously heading for extinction, and still more extreme and scrupulous consideration is indicated before allowing a breed of humans — however maladapted — to become extinct. But it is realistically questionable in both cases how much space the more vital species will continue to allow for museum “storage.” The maintenance of the status quo cannot extend to making ninety-nine hundredths of the earth a living museum. (New Morality, pp. 220f.)

These are the “reserves” that Prof. Tucker tells us are really “concentration camps,” but there is no hint of violence, of taking anyone’s property, or running people off their own land. Cattell says it would be impractical to set aside 99 percent of the world’s surface for failing groups, but clearly huge expanses could be devoted to this purpose.

Prof. Tucker quotes further, expecting the reader to be horrified:

Failing groups should either be allowed to go to the wall, or be radically re-constituted, possibly by outside intervention. By contrast, successful groups, by simple expansion or budding, should increase their power, influence, and size of population.

Prof. Tucker fails to quote Cattell’s following paragraphs:

This is the logic of the situation, but it leads to conclusions that run counter to the habits of thought of the majority of people today. The result will be that for them emotion will add its lurid touches, and convert what has just been said into an alleged advocacy of a nightmare of ambitious group self-seeking. Finally it will be dramatized that all this must end in a nuclear holocaust. Actually this conclusion is logically, politically and emotionally false.

It was logically false because most of relative success in survival had to do with “competition against nature” rather than against other groups. It was politically false because a sane society avoids the lopsided requirements of arms expenditures that should be put to productive uses.

Cattell continues:

It is emotionally false because the concept of cooperative competition implies a brotherhood in a common religion of progress, in which real competition and objective comparison are an indispensable reality, but no cause for rancor. [C]ooperative competition is emotionally a very complicated balance, involving mutual assistance and shared hopes and strivings, along with inexorable regard for realities. It calls for pressures toward re-direction not unlike those in a parent bringing up a child, or in true friendship. (New Morality, pp. 95f.)

Prof. Tucker — a textbook case of the hysteria Cattell so accurately predicted — refuses to recognize that Cattell did not want any group to go to the wall. He did not want to see failing groups kept alive indefinitely by artificial means, but the “pressures toward re-direction” in the previous passage meant evolutionary and eugenic advice that successful groups should give to the less successful. Cattell even wanted a “world federal government” that would be a clearing house for promising evolutionary information to be made available to all. This government would also provide protection to any subnational group that wanted to seek its own evolutionary destiny but was so small it might require defenses against larger neighbors. Furthermore, it is clear from these passages that expansion into the territory of others would take place only after a failing group had depopulated it.

Cattell believed that with enough careful study and the proper assessment instruments, it would be possible to devise a “probable survival index” for measuring the health of different societies. Here is what Prof. Tucker says about the index:

A low value on this index would not only eliminate “the need to wait on complete collapse” but, by providing the opportunity to study “a misconceived racio-cultural experiment as it demonstrates its failure,” could lead to greater understanding of the laws and principles of evolutionary advancement. (The two quoted passages are inexplicably stitched together from pp. 91 and 100 of Beyondism.)

The image is clear — ghoulish white scientists taking careful notes as dark-skinned natives go through their death agonies — but Prof. Tucker has it wrong. Cattell is talking about how evolutionary criteria could be established. One way to learn what to avoid is to study societies that have gone extinct and figure out why. Another is to study current societies and rank them according to a “probable survival index.” Cattell writes: “Discovering such an index — thus eliminating the need to wait on complete collapse as the ‘criterion’ [for policies to avoid] — will appeal to humanitarian motives.” It will appeal to humanitarian motives precisely because complete collapse might be avoided if a failing society accepted timely eugenic advice.

“Genthanasia” was a last resort for groups that refused eugenic advice and could not carry on. It was to ease the end of what Cattell called a “tragic” process and was, in this sense, the equivalent of euthanasia. To accuse Cattell — certainly the Cattell of Beyondism — of countenancing mass murder is a vicious distortion, especially since Cattell repeatedly stressed that one of the purposes of science-based morality was to rise above the chance and cruelty that had governed evolution in the past.

Like all diligent anti-“racists,” Prof. Tucker cannot resist evoking the Nazis. He tells us that Cattell praised the eugenic policies of the Third Reich in the 1930s — at a time when Winston Churchill himself expressed admiration for Hitler’s leadership. After the war, however, Cattell wrote of “Hitler’s lunacy,” and compared his regime to a roving band of killers. He lamented that his personality assessment tools had not been perfected and applied to politicians because, if so, “Hitler would never have got past the clinical psychologist.” This does not stop Prof. Tucker from writing that “Cattell’s ideological thought was essentially an intellectual justification for the form of fascism adopted by Nazi Germany.” By “fascism,” Prof. Tucker does not mean industrial or labor policy; he means extermination.

Guilt by collaboration

Prof. Tucker concedes that some have argued that Cattell’s admittedly extraordinary scientific contributions should be assessed without regard to his political views, but says this would be wrong, first, because his views were repulsive and, second, because he cooperated actively with wretches even more repulsive than he. There follows a long section of guilt by association, in which the reader is treated to amateurish smears of such people as Roger Pearson and William Shockley, and to such howlers as the following:

Alain de Benoit’s magazine Nouvelle Ecole is “a French version of the Mankind Quarterly,” and his organization, GRECE, “placed particular emphasis on pre-Christian societies in which Aryan aristocrats ruled over inferior races.” Revilo Oliver’s America’s Decline is “a neo-Mein Kampf,” and Wilmot Robertson’s magazine, Instauration was “a slick periodical” (it always looked as though it had been mimeographed). He tells us Carlton Putnam’s two books on race “described how Jewish scientists had duped the nation into extending political equality to blacks” (Race and Reason hardly mentions Jews, and Race and Reality contains just a few references, most of them complimentary).

However, among all the scoundrels with whom Cattell allegedly cooperated, it was his association with the editor of American Renaissance — the writer of this review — that most clearly demonstrated Cattell’s unfitness for high honors:

Cattell would never have engaged in American Renaissance’s blatant racism yet did not hesitate to lend his prestige to a publication founded on the belief that blacks should be deprived of their constitutional rights.

Here is Prof. Tucker’s example of AR’s “blatant racism:”

Until recently, the editor pointed out, there had been widespread agreement that blacks were “a perfectly stupid race,” and although they could “neither be killed nor driven away,” no one expected “civilized white men” to work alongside them.

The quotation marks are clearly meant to suggest that these are the editors own words and sentiments. In fact, they are quotations from prominent Americans, cited in an article about racial views from the past, (“The Racial Revolution,” AR, May 1999) and are not even from the same person; the first two are from Theodore Roosevelt and the last is from Charles Eliot (1836 – 1926), president of Harvard.

Prof. Tucker warns that according to a 1997 survey of AR readers, Adolf Hitler got the top score for Foreigners Who Have Advanced White Interests. He conveniently fails to report that half again as many AR readers said Hitler was the foreigner who had most damaged white interests.

And what about AR’s alleged denial of blacks’ constitutional rights? Prof. Tucker refers to an article by the late Sam Francis (“Prospects for Racial and Cultural Survival,” AR, March 1995):

[A]ccording to the magazine, blacks were entitled only to personal liberty and the right to hold property, not to any of those “phony” rights to participate in the polity and economy that had been “fabricated” for them in the 1960s.

Unfortunately for Prof. Tucker, Francis wrote that equality before the law does not mean:

the “right” to attend the same schools, to serve on juries, to marry across racial lines, to serve in the armed forces, to eat at lunch counters, to ride on buses, to buy a house or rent a room or hold a job, to receive welfare, to be admitted to colleges and universities, to take academic degrees or to be promoted.

All these are phony “rights” that have been fabricated through the corruption of our constitutional law and our understanding of it, and no citizen of any race is entitled to them. (emphasis added)

Isn’t it curious how the words “fabricated” and “phony” seem to have caught Prof. Tucker’s eye?

And how did Cattell “lend his prestige” to the filth you are holding in your hands? In 1995, when he was 90 years old and in retirement, he gave an interview to the editor of AR that resulted in a one-page article. Nothing more. “This,” thunders Prof. Tucker, “is not guilt by association but rather guilt by collaboration.” It is the concluding, definitive example from Prof. Tucker’s list of the ways in which Cattell actively tried to bring about the “common vision of an ethnically cleansed future” that he reportedly shared with AR and all the other felons with whom he allegedly cooperated and whom Prof. Tucker caricatures.

What may yet be the pinnacle of Prof. Tucker’s mendacity, however, is his claim to have described Cattell’s thinking “as fairly and accurately as my admittedly imperfect ability will allow.” This ingratiating false modesty makes the swindle all the more odious.

Prof. Tucker’s performance is sadly typical of his kind, but why are anti-“racists” incapable of taking their opponents as they are? Perhaps they are so blinded by hate that they truly cannot understand the words they are reading. More likely, they just can’t resist the thrill of a distortion that turns an opponent into Hitler and eugenics into genocide. This shoddy behavior dirties the name of a respectable academic press.

One can perhaps understand the temptation to misquote (if, in fact, Prof. Tucker has done so) obscure publications from the 1930s that no one can check, but the back issues of American Renaissance are a few mouse-clicks away on the Internet. Why risk exposure? Is it because Prof. Tucker believes his colleagues are no more scrupulous about the truth than he, when it comes to fighting “racism”?

All things considered, however, it is good that this book was written. It reveals — as if any additional proof were needed — the low character of our opponents. More significantly, if it stimulates even a little interest in the work of a man who had the vision to care about the destiny of fellow men who would live 1,000 years in the future, it will have rendered good service — a service far different from that intended by its contemptible author.

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