Philip J. Hilts, "Group Delays Achievement
Award to Psychologist Accused of Fascist and Racist Views,"
New York Times (8/15/97) p. A10
The American Psychological Association, which
planned to give a lifetime achievement award to a psychologist
who has specialized in intelligence and personality theory, has
postponed it after protests that some of his writings were racist.
The association, which is holding its annual meeting
in Chicago this weekend had announced that the psychologists,
Dr. Raymond B. Cattell, would receive the award on Saturday in
a ceremony there.
But Rhea Farberman, director of communications
for the association, said in a telephone interview that the award
had been postponed.
Ms. Farberman said a committee had voted to give
Dr. Cattell the award "before it knew of the information that
has since come to light," adding. "This new information has raised
a lot of concerns, and we want to be thorough in making a judgement."
She said the association would appoint a blue-ribbon
panel of senior research scientists "to thoroughly review Dr.
Cattell's research and writings to advise the board on its further
Dr. Cattell, who is 92, has created many of the
standard tests of personality and intelligence in use today, and
is the author of more than 40 books and 450 research articles.
After the association announced the pending award
in its monthly journal, The American Psychologist, protests of
the choice began.
One of Dr. Cattell's chief critics is Dr. Barry
Mehler, a historian at Ferris State University in Big Rapids,
Mich., and the director of the Institute for the Study of Academic
Racism. Dr. Mehler wrote to the association and posted a statement
on the internet saying, "The potential awardee has a lifetime
commitment to fascist and eugenics causes and openly affiliates
himself with Wilmot Robertson's work, which the Anti-Defamation
League characterizes as racist and anti-Semitic."
Dr. Mehler maintained that Dr. Cattell has long
espoused the view that human intelligence is declining on average
and that those groups with low intelligence should be provented
from having children. Dr. Cattell's work, he added, is commonly
used by righ-wing extrimists to give an air of academic legitimacy
to their racist views.
Abraham Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation
League of B'nai B'rith, has also written to the association protesting
the award saying it would give the groups "seal of approval to
a man who has, whatever his other achievements, exhibited a lifelong
committment to racial supremacy theories."
In a statement sent by fax, Dr. Cattell said that
"my views of eugenics have evolved over the years," and that he
now believes in eugenics only on a voluntary basis.
"There is absolutely no intention to involve the
government in eugenics," he wrote. "Instead, the regulation of
the family is left to the conscience of the individual, as say,
when various religions support good morals and good lives. Eugenics
is part of a religious movement, called Beyondism, which holds
a conviction of the necessity of family sizes proportional to
what the culture needs."
Dr. John Gillis, a biographer and confidante of
Dr. Cattell, said Beyondism was not racist, but rather preached
"Beyondism does not merely ask for passive tolerance
of other peoples' right to exist and prosper, but strongly recommends
that differences between humans be actively encouraged," Dr. Gillis
Dr. Gillis, who is traveling with Dr. Cattell
from the psychologist's home in Hawaii to the association's meeting
in Chicago, said Dr. Cattell was "very disappointed," and added:
"The award is important to him. It's not just an ordinary award,
but is something like a gold medal for a lifetime of work."
Dr. Mehler cited a number of statements by Dr.
Cattell, including one published in a newsletter The Beyondist
in 1994, when he wrote: "Hitler actually shared many values of
the average American. He aimed at full employment, family values
and raising the standard of living and countless other things,
including the Volkswage, which he designed himself for the average
family. The man turned out evil in his militarism and his treatement
of the Jews and dissident Catholics, but that does not justify,
to a rational person, calling all his attitudes mistaken."
"His attempt at eugenics broke the first law of
eugenics: that it is the humane substitute for natual selection,"
Dr. Cattle continued. "It favors preventing the birth of those
who would inevitably be miserable and incapable of living a normal,
happy life. It encourages the birth of those who look after themselves
and others, who invent and enrich the culture, who create jobs
and who remain independent and self-supporting."
In a 1972 book, "A New Morality from Science:
Beyondism," Dr. Cattell wrote: "At what point voluntary euthanasia
of genthanasia by groups becomes appropriate is a difficult question.
Scrupulous consideration is indicated before allowing a breed
of humans - however maladapted - to become extinct." (Dr. Cattell
coined the word "genthanasia" to mean a nonviolent intentional
phasing out of a culture or group.)
"But it is realistically questionalbel how much
space the more vital species will continue to allow for museum
'storage,'" Dr. Cattell wrote. "The manitenance of the status
quo cannot extend to making ninty-nine (sic!) hundreths of the
earth a living museum. Clarity of discussion on these solemn issues
in the rise and fall of cultural-racial groups would be aided
if genocide were reserved for a literal killing off of all living
members of a people, and genthanasia for what has above been called'phasing
out,' in which a moribund culture is ended, by educational and
birth control measures, without a single member dying out before