Shared Eugenic Visions: Raymond B. Cattell and Roger Pearson

Andrew S. Winston, University of Guelph

In order to place Raymond B. Cattell’s postwar eugenics in context, it is necessary to consider the intellectual community that received and promoted these works. In the final two decades of Cattell’s life, this community centreed around the journal Mankind Quarterly, published and edited by anthropologist Roger Pearson. Between 1979 and 1996, Cattell published nine articles in Mankind Quarterly, a journal which featured discussions of race, genetics, and culture, and he served on the honorary Advisory board from 1980 until his death. In addition, Roger Pearson (1981; 1994) published two Mankind Quarterly Monographs by Cattell, and Pearson's Scott-Townsend Publishers issued two books by Cattell on dysgenics and national IQ differences. Cattell's acknowledgment of Pearson's help in his 1987 edition of Beyondism (p. x) is further indication of their scholarly cooperation. However, it would be inadequate to "link" Roger Pearson and Raymond Cattell together merely on the basis of cooperation in publishing. What must also be examined is whether Cattell and Pearson held shared views of race and eugenics and were therefore engaged in a common intellectual project. This paper presents an introduction to these issues.1

Pearson and Cattell were committed to eugenics as the basis for ethical decisions and the reorganization of society. Cattell’s views on these issues have been clearly summarized by Tucker (1994) and Mehler (1997). Both Pearson and Cattell shared a vision of race and competition, and this vision persisted in the 1987 edition of Cattell’s Beyondism. Although much less prominent in the work of Cattell than Pearson, race occupied an important place in Beyondism. Chapter 6 detailed the presumed role of race in determining the preferred religion or philosophy of a group, as well as personality characteristics beneficial or detrimental to group survival. Environmental influences and complex gene-culture interactions were described, but the predominant theme was that industrialization, technology, higher education, moral standards and creativity of a nation were determined in part by the "average genetic mental capacity levels of the populations involved" (Cattell & Brennan, 1981, p. 239). For Cattell, average group differences in fluid intelligence were presumed to be a crucial factor in the development of complex culture, and fluid intelligence was presumed to be highly heritable (60-70%).

Throughout the discussion, the cautious conclusion was that genetic differences in racial groups produce differences in nervous system functioning and that Arthur Jensen’s pessimistic conclusions about race and educability were largely correct (see Cattell, 1987, p. 269, note 5). Even small differences in the mean IQ of racial groups were said to have major consequences for the group’s history, achievements, and economic status (p. 272). Unemployment was described as primarily the result of low IQ rather than economic or social conditions. Cattell awaited "research indicating that the ‘poor’ are not necessarily the ‘downtrodden,’ but occupy a level reached by inherent properties, as an oil level separates out from a shaken mixture of oil and water" (p. 280, note 86).2

For Cattell (1987), the major racial groups were Mongolian, Negro, Nordid, Alpinid, and Mediterranid-Caucasian, and these groups were said to be so obvious that "even the ignoracist [Cattell’s term for those who deny innate racial differences in average behavioral potential] cannot, unless blind, deny the physical types of races" (p. 271). The use of the categories of "Nordid" and "Alpinid" to denote gene pools is unusual for a scientific discussion from the 1980s, although it would have been unremarkable in the 1920s. There are two important themes regarding these groups. First, Cattell rejected hybridization or "mixing" as a source of group improvement:

In the USA, praises are traditionally sung to the Melting Pot, but the first requirement in successful plant hybridization is a rejection of perhaps 90% of the hybrids as unsuccessful . . . The appearance of unfortunate combinations goes on naturally, and this, rather than the sociologists wild western frontier, is very likely partly responsible for the higher crime and insanity rates in the USA than in the parent countries . . . The average citizen seems to be mistaught that the melting pot is good per sé, in the first step, regardless of whether the selection is made, in the indispensable follow-up, to bring out the more effective combinations. With most traits, whose genetic parts are due to many genes, such as intelligence or stature, a hybrid typically falls (dominance aside) halfway between the two parents. The same holds for hybrids of racial groups, so that virtually all studies of intelligence on white-colored crosses show the intelligence on a sufficient sample to fall halfway between the two groups. (pp. 202-203)

Cattell maintained that "an average of the two races is the main consequence for all polygenic traits" (p. 203) and this principle had important implications for immigration: "When a country is opening its doors to immigration from diverse countries, it is like a farmer who buys his seeds from different sources by the sack, with sacks of different average quality of contents" (p. 187). Given Cattell’s 60 year-concern over dysgenic trends in IQ, the assertion that "white-colored crosses" will reduce average white IQ is crucial. His position was hardly unique, and was shared by Mankind Quarterly editors Henry Garrett, R. Ruggles Gates, and many others.

The second theme concerns "speciation," namely, the formation of new species. Cattell (1987) maintained that a single species is dangerous for humans, and it would be highly desirable to separate into several species incapable of interbreeding. For Cattell, speciation would allow for evolutionary experiments within the separate groups, permitting scientific conclusions regarding traits which favour group survival and should therefore be ethically valued. Most startling is the claim that although we do not yet have species- level differences among races, we are already headed in that direction: ". . .we lack gynecological records and research that might well show that relative sterility – the forerunner of interspecies infertility – exists in mating between the presently most distant racial types" (p. 189). Cattell argued that dividing of the races into species could be achieved by complete segregation via colonization of other planets, or by "strong, diverse sociobiological cultural ideals alone" (p. 189). "Speciation" must be viewed in context of Cattell’s urging that a group must control its "genetic direction" by means that would not always be democratic, and his discussion of the deficiencies of democracy and problems arising from "freedom of the press" (pp. 252-252). Speciation and hybridization had important political ramifications for him.

These themes are also important in the work of Roger Pearson. In publications from the 1950s to the 1990s (e.g., 1995), themes of group competition and the importance of race in determining economic success are central. In a pamphlet entitled Blood Groups and Race (Pearson, 1959a), the basic racial "types" were identified as "sub-species," a view also implied by the cover illustration of Mankind Quarterly which divided humans into three sub-species. Pearson defined a "subspecies" as "a distinctive group of individuals which are on their way to becoming separate species, but which have not been isolated long enough, or had time to become sufficiently diversified to lose the power to inter-breed" (p. 7). Like Cattell, Pearson assumed that racial separation might produce this evolutionary "advance." Both emphasized the use of blood groups for identification of races. Pearson was clear about the problem of contact between races:

. . . evolutionary progress can only take place properly amongst small non-cross-breeding groups. Always, a cross between two types meant the annihilation of the better type, for although the lower sub-species would be improved by such a cross, the more advanced would be retarded, and would then have a weaker chance in the harsh and entirely amoral competition for survival. (1959a, pp. 9-10)

This assumed evolutionary value of non-interbreeding gene pools is echoed in Beyondism, although Cattell’s version tends to emphasize this process as a human-controlled experiment in which some groups would lose out and disappear, but not necessarily through intergroup aggression, as in Pearson’s work. Nevertheless, both emphasized the "naturalness" of aversion and hostility of racial groups toward each other. Cattell discussed the issue in detail in Mankind Quarterly, noting that racism has both advantages and disadvantages (Cattell, 1992a). For both, altruism should be naturally directed toward those who are genetically similar, but believed that the natural processes have been distorted by ideologies which encourage altruism toward members of competing gene pools. Pearson’s anthropology owed a great debt to Sir Arthur Keith and his views of race and racism (see e.g., Wolpoff & Caspari, 1997), a debt that Pearson often acknowledged. Cattell (1987) also cited Keith frequently and approvingly.

Finally, both Cattell and Pearson argued that without drastic social changes, the consequences will be dysgenic, and potentially disastrous. Spenglerian themes of the decline of Western Civilization are prominent in both Beyondism and Pearson’s work. Although there are important differences in their positions, particularly in Cattell’s much greater sophistication regarding statistical issues and more complex view of culture, their shared eugenic vision indicates that cooperation was more than a matter of convenience.

To understand the implications of this cooperation and the audience for their work, it is necessary to consider Pearson's career in detail. Blood Groups and Race was actually a collection of articles from Northern World, a journal Pearson founded in the mid-1950s for his new organization: the Northern League. Pearson formed the Northern League in collaboration with Peter Huxley-Blythe, who was active in a variety of neo-Nazi groups with connections in Germany and North America (Tauber, 1967, Vol. II, n. 142, 207). The purpose of the Northern League was to save the Nordic race from "annihilation of our kind" and to lead Nordics in Europe and the Americas in the "fight for survival against forces which would mongrelize our race and civilization" (Pearson, 1959b, pp. 2-3). In this struggle, Pearson announced a merger of newsletters with Britons Publishing Company, the most extreme anti-Semitic publisher in England, and a major distributor of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The readership of both groups understood who the forces of "mongrelization" were, the Jews.

Leading members of the Northern League included the premier Nazi race scientist Hans Günther, who continued his work in the postwar period under a pseudonym. It should be noted that Cattell cited Günther in Beyondism as an authority on the genetic quality of Harold MacMillan’s family (1987, p. 38). Other active members included Mankind Quarterly founder Robert Gayre, Mankind Quarterly editors Robert Kuttner and Donald Swan, ex-Waffen SS officer and postwar neo-Nazi leader Arthur Ehrhardt, and a number of postwar British fascists. In fascist circles of the 1950s the Northern League was considered extremist (see Billig, 1979; Thurlow, 1987).

The basic principles in the Northern League literature are the same principles as those in Roger Pearson’s "scientific" writings about evolution and race, and his blend of science and politics represents the continuation of a tradition: in the words of a Bavarian cabinet minister of the 1930s, "National Socialism is nothing but applied biology" (quoted in Proctor, 1988, p. 64). Moreover, the Northern League Statement of Aims (n.d.) hearken back to19th century conceptions of Rasse and Volk. According to the "Aims," Northern Europeans are the "purest survival of the great Indo-European family of nations, sometimes described as the Caucasian race and at other times as the Aryan race." Almost all the "classic civilisations of the past were the product of these Indo-European peoples." Intermarriage with conquered peoples was said to produce the decay of these civilizations, particularly through interbreeding with slaves. "The rising tide of Color" threatens to overwhelm European society, and would result in the "biological annihilation of the sub-species," according to the Northern League.

When he moved to the United States in the 1960s, Pearson worked closely with Willis Carto, the founder of the ultra-right wing Liberty Lobby and the most important purveyor of anti-Semitic and holocaust denial literature in the country. Carto’s Noontide Press distributed old Nazi works by Hermann Göring and Alfred Rosenberg, works on race by Arthur de Gobineau, pamphlets on racial differences in IQ by Mankind Quarterly editors, and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Pearson served as editor in chief of Western Destiny, a Carto publication which promoted international Jewish-Communist conspiracy theories, holocaust denial, and White genetic superiority. Under a pseudonym, Pearson briefly edited another Carto-based periodical, The New Patriot, devoted to virulent anti-Semitism (McCune, 1984). Other editors included Edward Fields, leading American Nazi and longtime associate of George Lincoln Rockwell, and British Admiral Sir Barry Domvile, who was imprisoned during World War II for collaboration with the Nazis (see Thurlow, 1987). Thus Roger Pearson had a very active career as a leader of neo-Nazi groups, and his promotion of scientific writings by Cattell and others must be seen as an integral part of his Weltanschauung and his political activism.

No assumptions should be made regarding Cattell's awareness of these activities, and any analysis of the joint activities of Cattell and Pearson must deal carefully with issues of "guilt by association" (Winston, 1998). Whether aware or not, Cattell’s cooperation provided Pearson with a psychologist of tremendous visibility and reputation, thereby adding to the legitimacy of the Mankind Quarterly, Scott Townsend Publishing, and Pearson's own position. In turn, Pearson provided Cattell with an outlet for ideas rarely mentioned in Cattell’s mainstream publications and consequently unknown to most psychologists. The legitimization of Mankind Quarterly is a significant issue, and illustrates the way in which individuals from mainstream psychology can contribute to the survival of scientized racism and neo-fascist movements.

To explicate and justify his eugenics, Cattell’s Beyondism and his publications in Mankind Quarterly drew on his mainstream work in personality and intelligence, including the familiar concepts of fluid and crystallized intelligence (e.g. 1992b). In his postwar eugenics writings, there is no separation of scientific and political issues; eugenics was said to be a matter of science, and scientific data are to be the basis for political decisions. These writings cannot be termed his "political" writings and treated separately from his scientific achievements, as it is sometimes claimed. Nor can it be said that these ideas were merely part of the pre-World War II context of eugenics given that he continued to publish closely related ideas up to 1996. Although his writings on eugenics form a relatively small portion of Cattell’s enormous scholarly output, they are indeed important to his worldview. The shared eugenic vision and scholarly cooperation of Cattell and Pearson must therefore be considered in evaluating the appropriateness of the American Psychological Foundation’s Life Achievement Award for Raymond B. Cattell.


1. For an extended discussion of Roger Pearson’s career, see Billig (1979), Tucker (1994), and Winston (1998).

2. The reader is urged to examine the quotes from Beyondism in the original context. I have included the quotations here in order to avoid any misunderstanding due to paraphrasing.


Billig, M. (1979). Psychology, racism, and fascism. Birmingham: A. F. & R./Searchlight.

Cattell, R. B. (1981, July). Ethics and the social sciences: The 'Beyondist' solution. The Mankind Quarterly Monograph, No. 1. Washington, DC: Cliveden Press.

Cattell, R. B. (1987). Beyondism: Religion from science. New York: Praeger

Cattell, R. B. (1992a). 'Virtue' in racism? Mankind Quarterly, 32, 281-284.

Cattell, R. B. (1992b). The relevance of fluid and crystallized intelligence concepts to nature-Nurture Investigation. Mankind Quarterly, 32, 359-376.

Cattell, R. B. (1994). How good is your country? What you should know. Mankind Quarterly Monograph Series, No. 5. Washington, DC: Institute for the Study of Man.

Cattell, R. B., & Brennan, J. (1981). Population intelligence and national syntality. Mankind Quarterly, 21, 327-340.

McCune, W. (1984). Group Research Report, Vol. 23, No. 8. Group Research Collection, Columbia University Archives, Columbia University.

Mehler, B. (1997). Beyondism: Raymond B. Cattell and the new eugenics. Genetica, 99, 153-165.

Northern League (no date, pre-1965). Explanation of the aims and principles of the Northern League. Leaflet, 2 pp, copy provided by Marek Kohn, London.

Pearson, R. (1959a). Blood groups and race. London: Clair Press.

Pearson, R. (1959b). Editorial: Our third birthday. Northern World, 4, 1-4. (copy available in Herbert C. Sanborn Papers, Special Collections, Vanderbilt University)

Pearson, R. (1965). Editorials: Our new look. Western Destiny, 10, No. 9, 3-5.

Pearson, R. (1991). Race, intelligence, and bias in academe. Washington, DC: Scott-Townsend.

Pearson, R. (1995). The concept of heredity in Western thought: Part two, the myth of biological egalitarianism. Mankind Quarterly, 35, 343-371.

Proctor, R. (1988). Racial hygiene: Medicine under the Nazis. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Tauber, K. (1967). Beyond eagle and swastika: German nationalism since 1945 (2 Vols.). Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press.

Thurlow, R. (1987). Fascism in Britain. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

Tucker, W. H. (1994). The Science and politics of racial research. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press.

Winston, A. S. (1998). Science in the service of the far right: Henry E. Garrett, the IAAEE and the Liberty Lobby. Journal of Social Issues, 53, 179-209.

Wolpoff, M. & Caspari, R. (1997). Race and human evolution. New York: Simon & Schuster.

ANDREW S. WINSTON is Professor of Psychology at the University of Guelph. He is currently studying the involvement of psychologists in neo-Nazi groups during the 1950s through 1970s. In addition, he has published work on the concept of "experiment" in the history of psychology, and on psychological aesthetics. He can be reached at:

Recent publications relevant to the special issue are:

Winston, A. S. (1996). "As his name indicates": R. S. Woodworth's letters of reference and employment for Jewish psychologists in the 1930s. Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, 32, 30-43.

Winston, A. S. (1996). The context of correctness: A Comment on Rushton. Journal of Social Distress and Homelessness, 5, 231-250

Winston, A. S. (1998). "The defects of his race...": E.G. Boring and antisemitism in American psychology, 1923-1953. History of Psychology, 1, 27-51.

Winston, A. S. (1998). Science in the Service of the Far Right: Henry Garrett, the IAAEE, and the Liberty Lobby. Journal of Social Issues, 54, 179-210.