Race, Intelligence, and Bias in Academe

Jared Taylor, American Renaissance, June 1992

Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin

Race, Intelligence, and Bias in Academe, Roger Pearson, Scott-Townsend Publishers, 1991, 304 pp.

The discovery of genetics and the development of the theory of evolution were two of the most potentially far-reaching scientific advances of all time. By the turn of the century, thanks to the work of Gregor Mendel (1822-1884) and Charles Darwin (1808-1882), man for the first time had the knowledge with which to direct his own biological destiny. Rather than leave his further development to the genetic accidents that had governed it for millions of years, he could consciously and deliberately improve his very nature.

Why, after a promising start in the early part of the 20th century, did men stop thinking that the laws of heredity applied to them? Why did they repudiate and even revile the scientific knowledge that had been so carefully gleaned? Why has mankind chosen to risk its future and its very survival by willfully ignoring heredity and biology? These are the questions that Dr. Roger Pearson attempts to answer in his excellent book, Race, Intelligence and Bias in Academe. He traces the rise, fall, and slow resurgence of applied genetics in a book that can be read as a first-rate antidote to Prof. Carl Degler’s In Search of Human Nature.

The Birth of Eugenics

It was Sir Francis Galton (1822-1911) who coined the term “eugenics” to describe the conscious improvement of the species by means of genetics. However, as Dr. Pearson points out, he was only putting on a scientific basis something that many people had long understood intuitively. The ancient Greeks, for example, claimed that they chose their wives just as they chose their horses—by the length and quality of their pedigrees. Moreover, Galton’s cousin, Charles Darwin, had already pointed the way towards eugenics in his most famous work, the full title of which is The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of the Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.

Galton and his closest colleague, Karl Pearson, were unabashed elitists, who wanted to breed a better kind of Englishman to maintain Britain’s leadership among nations. They were concerned that the best men and women of Britain were being outbred by the lower orders, and they predicted slow national decline if this were to continue. Galton wrote little about racial differences because in his day, it was taken for granted that the races were not equivalent. The climate of the times was not nearly so aggressively egalitarian as today, and Galton was able to launch a British eugenics movement that soon gained considerable support and influence.

Likewise in the United States, men such as Alexander Graham Bell and Luther Burbank were involved in founding the American Eugenics Society in 1923, and it attracted some of the most respected men in the country. Charles Eliot, president of Harvard, and Henry Osborn, the president of the American Museum of Natural History were ardent eugenicists.

One reason eugenics may have been so well received is that nations were more agricultural than they are today. Farmers saw the improvement that selective, increasingly scientific, breeding made in their animals, and could not help seeing parallels in humans. At the same time, eugenics was attractive to self-styled “progressives,” not only because it promised lasting improvement but because the church was opposed to it; evolution had great appeal for the anticlerical. For many people, the promise of eugenics was as much in what it could prevent as in what it could foster, and by 1930, thirty American states had passed laws providing for the sterilization of confirmed criminals, mental defectives, and rapists.

As Dr. Pearson explains, the most powerful attacks on eugenics and even the study of genetics itself eventually came from Marxists, but the first organized opponents were members of dogmatically egalitarian religious groups, most notably the Quakers. In Britain, the First World War was also a great blow to the eugenics movement. The upper classes, the natural recruits to the movement, were true to their warrior heritage and volunteered in disproportionate numbers for the slaughter. Losses among the aristocracy were especially great during the first two years, when the British forces were composed entirely of volunteers. Dr. Pearson argues that the pacifists and stay-at-homes who survived the war were natural cadres for the anti-eugenics movement.

Later, Marxists and religious egalitarians wore down the partisans of eugenics, and some even joined the organizations that were supposed to be carrying on the work of Galton. Under the influence of J.B.S. Haldane, Julian Huxley, Lancelot Hogbin, and Ronald Fisher, the Galton Laboratory for National Eugenics abandoned the aims of its founder, and not long after Lionel Penrose took over the laboratory, the repudiation was complete. The Galton Chair of Eugenics at the University of London was renamed the Galton Chair of Genetics, and the Annals of Eugenics was retitled the Annals of Genetics.

The promising eugenics movement in the United States was likewise throttled in the crib. Dr. Pearson writes that the United States was especially vulnerable to socialist thinking because of its generous immigration policy. When revolutionary movements collapsed in Europe in 1848 and 1871, many exiled radicals found new homes—and academic posts—in the United States. Veterans of repeated attempts to overthrow Tsarist Russia also found refuge in the New World. Thus, the names associated with the overthrow of the American eugenics movement—Boas, Kroeber, Klineberg, Goldenweiser, Sapir, Herskovits—have a different ethnic ring from the names of the men who established the movement.

Aggressive Egalitarianism

Why are Marxism and socialism so implacably hostile to the study of genetics? Primarily, it is because they are founded on the notion that plunder and exploitation rather than differences in ability explain differences in wealth. At the heart of socialism is the conviction that all men are not only legally but biologically equal. It is their environment—their class—that accounts for differences in achievement.

The biological facts of heredity are thus anathema to egalitarians. If people are successful because of inborn talents and capacities, the justification for revolution disappears. If men are born with different abilities, it becomes much more difficult to portray the wealthy as undeserving beneficiaries of an exploitative system. Dr. Pearson points out that it is hard to stir up revolutionary ardor among the poor by telling them that hereditary inadequacies keep them poor.

Socialism thrives on two unattractive emotions: envy and guilt. The envy of the have-nots blinds them to the fact that the haves probably got that way because they were talented and hard-working. The guilt of the haves, some of whom may have inherited wealth from talented ancestors, is fueled by have-not theories of biological equivalence. Studies that show how much of a person’s intelligence and even personality are governed by genes rather than environment or class are terrible threats to egalitarianism.

Ironically, Karl Marx himself did not believe in biological equality. He was convinced that some people, like some races, were superior to others. He did think, though, that the superior exploited the inferior.

It was the theories of the Soviet scientist Trofim Lysenko that set communism permanently against eugenics or even conventional genetics. Lysenko taught that environmentally acquired characteristics could be passed on genetically to offspring. As Dr. Pearson explains, “his theory made it possible for Marxists to argue that with the overthrow of class-based society, all men and women would enjoy a similar social and economic environment, and then all would become genetically equal in just a few generations.”

This sort of foolishness led to crop experiments that produced agricultural disasters for the Soviet Union, and Lysenko was eventually disgraced. Nevertheless, his message—that environment can prevail over biology—still drives virtually every social program in the entire Western world.

Although biological explanations for human differences were well in eclipse by the mid-1930s, Nazism and the terrible blood-letting of the Second World War were the death knell for eugenics. The militant egalitarians began their entrenchment in the universities, and the very word “eugenics” has now been almost written out of the scientific vocabulary.

The Attack on Science

The latter part of Dr. Pearson’s book recounts the viciousness with which egalitarians have tried to suppress renewed interest in genetics. Leftists and minority activists have made a mockery of academic freedom, and largely succeeded in silencing their opponents or portraying them as evil men. The left-leaning media have been willing accomplices in the suppression of science.

Some of the men written about in this portion of the book—Arthur Jensen, William Shockley, Hans Eysenck, Richard Herrnstein—are veterans of countless ambushes by those who would stamp out free speech. Others—Philippe Rushton, Michael Levin, Linda Gottfredson, Thomas Bouchard—are less prominent or more recent participants in the struggle. All have braved the obloquy of a society that prefers egalitarian illusions over biological facts. Dr. Pearson, who has been on close terms with many of these academics, tells their stories well, but a few of the highlights bear retelling.

Professor Arthur Jensen of the University of California at Berkeley was one of the first scholars to wake applied genetics from their long slumber. In 1969, he wrote an article in the Harvard Educational Review, in which he argued that efforts to improve the educational performance of blacks might be thwarted by the fact that blacks, on average, have lower IQs than whites. Prof. Jensen quickly became the number one enemy of leftist groups. He received so many death threats that at one time the Berkeley police advised him to move out of his house. Posters that said “Kill Jensen” appeared. Perhaps the most astounding demonstration of hatred for hereditarian views was a physical assault on a professor of genetics who was preparing to attack Prof. Jensen’s positions. Even an attempt to rebut the wicked man might have given his views an airing.

Prof. Jensen was soon joined in notoriety by Hans Eysenck, a German immigrant to England. When he left Germany in the 1930s, Prof. Eysenck was a convinced anti-Nazi, who had no compunction about teaching his students that environment rather than biology accounts for differences in achievement. It was Audrey Shuey’s classic 1966 work, The Testing of Negro Intelligence, that convinced him he was wrong. In 1971, he published his own book Race, Intelligence, and Education, which made him as great a villain in Britain as Jensen was in America. When his book was released in the United States, the SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) threatened to bomb any distributors and bookstores that handled it.

In England, Prof. Eysenck’s lectures were disrupted, he was physically attacked, and his views prompted some of the most outlandish handbills ever to grace an academic debate. One marvel urged students to: “Denounce fascist Eysenck, intellectual prostitute promoting unscientific and anti-people ideas in the service of imperialism!” On another occasion, opponents put up signs reading “Uphold genuine academic freedom: Fascist Eysenck has no right to speak.” His children were treated so badly in school by leftist teachers that he changed his family name to Evans to protect them. Years later, he resumed his real name, but some of his children were so badly scarred by the old name that they stuck to Evans.

Dr. Pearson also recounts the experiences of William Shockley, co-inventor of the transistor, who devoted the latter half of his career to publicizing the importance of genetics. Prof. Shockley was a man of action as well as ideas. He advocated what came to be known as the “Bonus 1000 Proposal,” under which the government would pay $1000 for every IQ point below 100 to anyone who agreed to voluntary sterilization.

Once his interests had turned to genetics, not even Prof. Shockley’s reputation as a top scientist could protect him from constant harassment and calumny. Even after his death, one opponent wrote in Science magazine that Prof. Shockley’s views on genetics must have been due to a head injury suffered after he had done his brilliant work in electronics.

Attempts to speak freely about race or the importance of heredity continue to be met with the same ferocity. Besides the usual disruptions, insults, and calls for his dismissal, in 1989, Prof. Philippe Rushton of the University of Western Ontario was subjected to the humiliation of a criminal investigation under Canada’s law on “Pornography and Hate Literature.” At a press conference to report the end of the investigation, the Attorney General of Ontario Province announced that Prof. Rushton was “loony but not criminal.”

Seeds of Self-Destruction

Despite the decline of Marxism, the militant egalitarianism it engendered shows no sign of weakening. For decades, the struggle merely to give biology a hearing has had to fight attacks that have two purposes. One is physically to silence any contrary idea. The other is to make an example of dissidents so that others will not speak out. Both purposes have largely been achieved. Top-flight scientists have been repeatedly denied forums for their views, and other researchers who privately agree with them are afraid to say so in public.

Of course, what the early eugenicists predicted is coming to pass. Dysgenic trends in reproduction have been hastened by welfare programs that reward reckless procreation. The steady push of non-whites into Europe and North America is replacing a race that has achieved much with races that have achieved less.

Since biology and genetics have been banished from the debate on social problems, governments continue to pour untold resources into improving the environment for people whose heredity sets insuperable barriers to success. No one dares grapple with the fact that illegitimate, welfare-bred children with IQs of 80 simply cannot be trained for useful work in an advanced society. In the past, such people might have been taught to swing a shovel or carry a hod, but today they do not accept that kind of work even when it is available. America is rearing a constantly growing army of largely non-white criminals, degenerates, and incompetents, who will prey on the competent and the children of the competent for years to come.

The LA riots were just another milestone on America’s relentless march towards genetic dystopia. When the dullard children of the dole burn down their own neighborhoods and murder passing whites, no one dares talk of their inherent limitations. Instead, once again, America wrings its hands over the terrible environment these people live in—though it is an environment they have created for themselves.

A society that pays these dullards to have yet more dullard children is courting destruction. Dr. Pearson wonders “whether we may ever hope to reshape our laws and social practices into a logical system more in harmony with the laws that govern evolution and even human nature itself.”

He goes on to say: “Only one thing is sure: A society which sets itself against the immutable laws of biology, causality, and evolution will be an unsuccessful society. An unrealistic and inappropriate culture . . . will eventually destroy the society that supports it . . .”

Topics: , , , , , , , ,

Share This

We welcome comments that add information or perspective, and we encourage polite debate. If you log in with a social media account, your comment should appear immediately. If you prefer to remain anonymous, you may comment as a guest, using a name and an e-mail address of convenience. Your comment will be moderated.