The Race-Research Funder
Steve Buist, Science Reporter
The Hamilton (Ontario) Spectator
April 17, 2000
CONTROVERSIAL BACKER: J. Philippe Rushton's
work to compare the intelligence of different racial groups, which
is criticized by other scientists, receives funding from an American
organization with a long history of support for race research
and eugenics, the controversial study of racial improvement.
It's a short, throwaway line that barely attracts
attention at the conclusion of J. Philippe Rushton's preface to
his book, Race, Evolution and Behavior: Special Abridged Edition.
"Finally, I would like to thank Harry F. Weyher
and The Pioneer Fund, for their continuing support," Rushton writes.
That innocuous line probably reveals more about Race, Evolution
and Behavior: Special Abridged Edition than anything contained
in the eight chapters that follow, as inflammatory as that might
The recent distribution of 35,000 copies of the
booklet to psychologists, sociologists and anthropologists across
Canada and the United States has rekindled the academic debate
over Rushton, the controversial professor at the University of
The 108-page booklet is a disturbing, plain-language
distillation of Rushton's 1995 full-length book of the same name,
which expands on his highly criticized theory that East Asians
are more intelligent than whites, who, in turn, are more intelligent
But what's just as intriguing as Rushton's racially
charged work is how such research ever sees the light of day in
the first place.
Which brings us back to Harry F. Weyher and the
Since its inception in 1937, the Pioneer Fund
has handed out tens of millions of dollars throughout North America
and Europe to fund research that explores differences between
races, particularly those that might be related to intelligence.
At best, the work supported by the Pioneer Fund
has been described as controversial. At worst, it has been attacked
by critics as racist and sinister.
Rushton, it turns out, has been one of the Pioneer
Fund's top grant recipients. Over the past two decades, he has
received more than $1 million US for his research.
The Pioneer Fund was established by a reclusive
New England millionaire named Wickliffe Draper, heir to a Massachusetts
family that made its fortune in the textile machinery business.
Draper was born in 1891 and graduated from Harvard
in 1913. A decade later, he inherited half of his father's estate,
worth $11 million US at the time.
Draper served as a volunteer in the British Army
during the First World War, then travelled from the Amazonian
forests to Africa to Mongolia shooting big game.
By the mid-1930s, Draper had developed a fascination
with the subject of racial genetics. Later in his life, Draper
lived reclusively in a large Manhattan penthouse apartment surrounded
by walls adorned with hunting guns and mounted animal heads. He
would pay prominent geneticists of the time to come to his apartment
and tutor him privately.
One university professor from Virginia Tech who
tutored Draper for $10 an hour in the years after the Second World
War said later that Draper, who died in 1972, was preoccupied
with racial superiority and inferiority.
"I don't think he would have placed blacks among
the superior," the retired professor told the Wall Street Journal
Draper didn't just restrict his financial support
to the Pioneer Fund. When a U.S. federal judge ordered 130,000
secret files opened in 1998, it was discovered that Draper had
been anonymously -- and privately -- funding a campaign in Mississippi
during the 1960s to fight the civil rights movement and maintain
According to the original charter of the Pioneer
Fund, the organization would support research that was directed
at "race betterment," with special consideration given to scholarship
programs aimed at "children who are deemed to be descended predominantly
from white persons who settled in the original 13 states."
In fact, one of the Pioneer Fund's first efforts
was to offer $4,000 in scholarship money to any U.S. Air Corps
pilot having a fourth child during 1940.
The Pioneer Fund directors wanted to promote
a higher birth rate among what was seen as the best of the white
race. At the time, blacks were barred from the all-white Air Corps.
In exchange, the Air Corps provided the fund's
psychologists with extensive records on its officers, including
training, parentage, race and religion.
Two of the Pioneer Fund's first directors were
prominent supporters of the eugenics movement in the United States.
Eugenics is the controversial science of improving the qualities
of a race by controlling inherited characteristics.
Frederick Osborn was the secretary of the American
Eugenics Society, and once stated publicly that the sterilization
program in Nazi Germany was "perhaps the most important social
program which has ever been tried."
Harry Laughlin was director of the Carnegie Institute's
Eugenics Record Office, and an advocate of sterilization for those
he believed were genetically unfit. In 1936, he was honoured by
Hitler's Third Reich for his contributions to Nazi eugenic programs.
In its infancy, the fund reportedly imported
two copies of a Nazi propaganda film entitled "Applied Eugenics
in Present-Day Germany" and added English subtitles for the American
Henry Garrett, a Pioneer Fund director during
the 1970s, organized an international group of scholars dedicated
to preventing the mixing of races, preserving segregation and
promoting the principles of what was described as "race hygiene."
Weyher, a New York lawyer, has been president of
the Pioneer Fund for just over 40 years. He was also Draper's personal
attorney, and has publicly stated his opposition to the U.S. Supreme
Court decision that desegregated the American school system.
Welcome to the Pioneer Fund.
Looking into the Pioneer Fund is much like peeking
inside one of those ornate Russian dolls.
Take the top off the outer doll and there's another
inside that looks identical. Take the top off that one and there's
yet another waiting. Repeat as necessary.
For an organization that's obsessed with issues
of genetic superiority, it's surprising how much inbreeding exists
between the Pioneer Fund's grant recipients.
Consider Race, Evolution and Behavior: Special
Check just inside the front cover and you'll
find two pages of academic acclaim for the booklet.
At first glance, it looks like a ringing endorsement
for Rushton and his views.
But check closer. Smell something fishy?
According to Arthur Jensen of the University
of California at Berkeley, "this brilliant book is the most impressive
theory-based study ... of the psychological and behavioural differences
between the major racial groups that I have encountered in the
world literature on this subject."
High praise, indeed.
But wait a second. Jensen just happens to be
an even larger recipient of money from the Pioneer Fund than Rushton,
which is no easy task.
Jensen's research on blacks and low IQ scores
has been attacked for being just as racially sensitive and pseudoscientific
as Rushton's work.
In a 1994 article that touched on eugenics and
sterilization, Jensen was quoted in the magazine Newsday as saying,
"Which is worse, to deprive someone of having a child, or to deprive
the child of having a decent set of parents?"
Perhaps it's not surprising to learn that Rushton
has reciprocated with a flattering review of a 1998 book written
by Jensen. Rushton describes Jensen's career as "brilliant" and
the book as "awesome" and "monumental."
Or how about this praise from Professor Hans
Eysenck of the University of London: "Professor Rushton is widely
known and respected for the unusual combination of rigour and
originality in his work."
Put aside for a second the fact that Rushton
does almost no original research of his own and that critics have
attacked his "rigour" because he uses the bits of old data that
support his hypothesis while ignoring those bits that aren't as
Rushton attended the University of London as
a student and Eysenck was his mentor. Eysenck, who died in 1997,
was also a Pioneer Fund grant recipient.
Here's what Richard Lynn has to say about Rushton:
He "should, if there is any justice, receive a Nobel Prize."
Lynn is associated with the right-wing Ulster
Institute for Social Research in Northern Ireland and was second
only to Rushton as the Pioneer Fund's top grant recipient from
Lynn has tried to suggest that IQ scores for
black Africans average 70, a level that is equated with some mental
There are also endorsements from Linda Gottfredson
of the University of Delaware and Thomas Bouchard of the University
of Minnesota, both major recipients of cash from the Pioneer Fund.
But perhaps the most odious plug comes from Glayde
Whitney, a professor at Florida State University.
In a review of his work, Whitney says Rushton
has been persecuted and then equates the resistance to racial
science with the Inquisition.
"Astronomy and the physical sciences had their
Copernicus, Kepler and Galileo a few centuries ago," Whitney writes.
"Psychology and the social sciences today have their Darwin, Galton
Imagine that: Galileo and Rushton in the same
Here is perhaps all you need to know about Whitney:
he wrote the foreword for David Duke's autobiography, calling
it an "excellent work ... that has the potential to change the
very course of history."
Duke is a white supremacist from Louisiana and
the former National Director of the Ku Klux Klan. He then went
on to form the National Association for the Advancement of White
Duke is now the president of NOFEAR -- the National
Organization for European American Rights -- an organization "dedicated
to protecting the rights and heritage of people of European descent
in America," according to Duke's official Web site.
Welcome to the people who support Philippe Rushton.
Flip all the way to the back of Rushton's booklet
and there's one final interesting tidbit.
The single-copy price of Race, Evolution and
Behavior: Special Abridged Edition is $5.95 U.S.
But bulk rates are also available. Fifty copies
of the booklet will only set you back $75 U.S.
Order 1,000 copies of the booklet and the cost
drops to just 60 cents each.
One question: Why would anyone, aside from, say,
a white supremacist organization, want to order 1,000 copies of
the pocket-sized booklet?
In fact, Rushton's work is either reviewed or
cited on a number of white supremacist Web sites, including Duke's
official international Web site, the National Alliance site and
the Stormfront "White Pride World Wide" site.
Rushton, not surprisingly, has attempted to distance
himself from individuals or groups who might want to use his work
in a more sinister way.
"I don't really have any comment on people who
support me or political groups that oppose me," said Rushton.
"They're in the realm of politics and I'm in the realm of science.
"My view on policy and politics is to stay as
far away from it as I possibly can. I don't condemn policies,
I don't praise them.
"In fact, I'm not even sure what policies I would
advocate if I was required to do so," added Rushton.
It's also not surprising that Rushton defends
the money he receives from the Pioneer Fund.
"They are a perfectly legitimate funding agency
just as I am a perfectly legitimate scientist," said Rushton.
"Because it's very difficult to attack my data, it's much easier
for my opponents to attack groups that I am allegedly associated
with or the funding agency that gives me money.
"The Pioneer Fund is much-maligned unfairly."
But to some academics who have attempted to untangle
Rushton's work, there's a bigger question than whether or not
a scientist received money from an organization like the Pioneer
"Scientists can sometimes be incredibly arrogant,"
said Dr. Fred Weizmann, "because they think they are exempt from
being influenced by those who fund them.
"The real question is not did the Pioneer Fund
make you alter your scientific findings but why did the Pioneer
Fund fund you?"
Weizmann is a psychology professor at York University
who has analysed the scientific data used by Rushton. He describes
Rushton's work as "lousy science."
"It's not so much a question of whether or not
they influence an individual scientist but rather the scientists
they choose to fund in the first place," Weizmann added.
"I think evolutionary psychologists -- the straight
ones -- are very embarrassed by all this. It's like a dog trying
to outrun its shadow. It never seems to be able to fully escape
Which leads to the final question. Perhaps it's
a question that can never be answered.
Is it possible to objectively explore whether
there is a link between race, genetics and some shapeless, yet
vital, human characteristic such as intelligence?
"Some people claim you can't do good science
on it," said Weizmann. "It's just too explosive no matter what
"One can even question why people are interested
in it. Scientific topics are not random. Why is there so much
interest in group differences?
"I think that in itself is a reflection of the
climate we live in," Weizmann added. "There are lots of scientific
questions one could ask but there's a limited amount of money
for research in science.
"Why do these topics become hot and get published?"
Buist, Steve. "The race-research funder." The Hamilton (Ontario) Spectator. 17 Apr. 2000. For Fee$$ http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/hamiltonspectator/search.html