Beyondism: Raymond B. Cattell and the
by Barry Mehler
Originally published in Genetica 99: 153-163
(1997). Revised for posting on ISAR web page, Copyright ©, ISAR,
A significant confusion has arisen out of the
mass of work done on the history of eugenics in the last two decades.
Early scholars of the subject treated eugenics as a marginalized
or obsolete movement of the radical right. Subsequent research
has shown that eugenic ideas were adopted in diverse national
settings by very different groups, including - among others -
liberals, communists and Catholics, as well as radical rightists.
This complexity is sometimes taken to mean that eugenics has no
special ideological associations, that it is historically and
potentially a beast of a thousand heads. It is not. Although people
of varied ideological commitments have been attracted to eugenics,
ideologues of the radical right, and above all interwar fascists,
have been uniquely and centrally involved in its development.
Fascism and the radical right are also complex entities, but for
all the heterogeneity of both eugenics and fascism, the special
historical relationship between the two cannot be ignored. This
relationship is exemplified in the work of the influential psychologist,
Raymond B. Cattell. Cattell was an early supporter of German national
socialism and his work should be understood in the context of
interwar fascism. The new religious movement that he founded,
"Beyondism," is a neo-fascist contrivance. Cattell now
promulgates ideas that he first formulated within a demimonde
of radical eugenists and neo-fascists that includes such associates
as Revilo Oliver, Roger Pearson, Wilmot Robertson and Robert K.
Graham. These ideas and Cattell's role in the history of eugenics
deserve deeper analysis than they have hitherto received. Far
from being of merely antiquarian interest, his work currently
encourages the propagation of radical eugenist ideology. It is
unconscionable for scholars to permit these ideas to go unchallenged,
and indeed honored and emulated by a new generation of ideologues
and academicians whose work helps to dignify the most destructive
political ideas of the twentieth century.
"...the Atlantic democracies
are bewildered, envious, and hostile at the rise of Germany,
Italy, and Japan, countries in which individuals have disciplined
their indulgences as to a religious purpose. These nationals
fear the gods even though they are partly false gods, in comparison
with the vast numbers in our democracies lacking any super-personal
aim. Their rise should be welcomed by the religious man as
reassuring evidence that in spite of modern wealth and ease,
we shall not be allowed to sink into stagnation or adopt foolish
social practices in fatal detachment from the stream of evolution."
(Cattell, 1938, p. 149)
"The mention of eugenics
frequently evokes in uneducated people the response 'Oh, thats
what Hitler did.' This accident is the major obstacle to the
proper understanding of the goals and methods of eugenics.
Hitler actually shared many values of the average American.
He aimed at full employment, family values, raising the standard
of living, and countless other things, including the Volkswagen,
which he designed himself for the average family. The man
turned out evil in his militarism and his treatment of 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 natural selection. It favors preventing births
of those who would inevitably be miserable and incapable of
living a normal happy life. It encourages the birth of those
able to look after themselves and others, who invent and enrich
the culture, who create jobs and who remain independent and
self supporting. (The Beyondist, 1994, p. 2)
career in psychology
Raymond B. Cattell is a world-renowned psychologist
known primarily for his work in IQ and personality testing. At
ninety-two years old, he is the author of some 41 books and 450
research articles. Along with a large number of students and collaborators,
he has developed many of the standardized tests of personality
and ability in use today. Over six decades after the beginning
of his career, he continues to be one of the most frequently cited
psychologists in the academic literature. His technical innovations
have been formulated within the context of a broader, largely
unchanging worldview that is expressed in an important stream
of publications dating from the 1930s. He has been the recipient
of numerous prestigious academic awards including the Darwin Fellowship,
the Wenner-Gren Prize of the New York Academy of Science, the
Psychometric Award of APA/Educational Testing Service, and the
Dobzhansky Award for lifetime achievement of the Behavior Genetics
Society. In 1997, he was chosen to receive psychology's highest
honor, the Gold Medal Award for Lifetime Achievement, from the
American Psychology Foundation. This final honor was withheld
after the material in this article came to public notice.(1) Cattell
is the founder of the Society for Multivariate Experimental Psychology
(SMEP); the Cattell Institute, and The Trust for the Advancement
of Beyondism. Each year the American Educational Research Association
honors one its members with the Raymond B. Cattell Award, and
SMEP bestows the Cattell Award for Distinguished Multivariate
Behavioral Research. In sum, he is among the most influential
psychologists of the twentieth century.
a new religious movement
Through the whole course of his career, Cattell
has promulgated a new religious movement, a distinctive reformulation
of the theological elements of classical Galtonian eugenics. Galton
conceived eugenics as both a science and the foundation for a
civic religion that he hoped would replace Christianity and "provide
a secular substitute for traditional religion" (Kevles, 1985,
especially pp. 3-20; p. 68).
The basic elements of this worldview are fully
developed in Cattell's first published works (Cattell, 1933; Bramwell,
1933; Cattell, 1938). He subsequently named his movement 'Beyondism'
to emphasize its transcendental character (the first reference
to the term is found in Cattell, 1950, pp. 21-27). He has devoted
two major books to the subject, A New Morality from Science:
Beyondism (Cattell, 1972) and Beyondism: Religion from
Science (Cattell, 1987); established The Trust for the Advancement
of Beyondism and a journal, The Beyondist to further promulgate
Cattell begins with a critique of Christianity,
which he views as the denial of the 'urge to evolution' encouraging
'the increase of the unfit,' and thus the destruction of western
civilization (Cattell, 1937, p. 131). Beyondism, by contrast,
purports to be a rational religion based on evolutionary theory
which says the fittest should inherit the earth. Any soft-hearted
amelioration of the struggle for existence can only lead to the
survival of the unfit and the demise of civilization. Rather than
wasting time and money helping the unfit, it would be far better
to give them "a merciful little push over the cliffs of perdition"
(Bannister, 1979, p. 178). While the eugenics movement has been
studied from many different perspectives and much attention has
been placed on eugenics as an outgrowth of genetics and psychology,
there has been little serious work on the religious component
to the eugenics movement and almost no mention of Beyondism. This
is extremely unfortunate. The history of 'evolutionary ethics'
has yet to be written while the history of the other facets of
eugenics have been largely overwritten.
Cattell first outlined his 'evolutionary ethic'
based on natural selection in Psychology and Social Progress
(1933). Expressing ideas that were commonplace among intellectuals
of the 1930s, he argued that poverty and disease were part of
the natural selection process which kept a race healthy. Modern
social welfare and private charity "abolished the checks"
natural selection imposed on biological systems. Instilling the
discipline of evolutionary ethics into the population was essential
for the health of the state. This is still Cattells basic
argument. 'Every national calamity is in truth a reward of sin,
though unfortunately only the scientist, and not the Church supposed
to govern the public conscience, is clearly aware of this conception
of sin' (Cattell, 1933, p. 149). The calamities of 'war, famine,
or other acute evils' in which the lives of millions are sometimes
lost often arise from "people of conscience following fundamentally
false ethics" (Cattell, 1933, p. 149).
According to Cattell, the salvation of Western
society was to be found in bringing social ethics into conformity
with the demands of reality by stigmatizing ignorance, lack of
foresight, intellectual insincerity, mental defect, and carelessness
(Cattell, 1933). Cattell called for three major modifications
in social mores and law: (1) The prohibition of miscegenation;
(2) increasing the distance between people of dissimilar race;
(3) promoting competition and eugenic selection (Cattell, 1933,
While Cattell's Beyondist ideology is hardly original,
it is striking for its extremism, racism, and virulent bias against
the poor. It is extremist both in its empirical claims and in
its policy recommendations. Cattell believes that people are poor
largely because they are incompetent and unintelligent. Furthermore,
human intelligence is declining precipitously and only extreme
measures will save humanity. According to Cattell, society faces
the 'looming threat' of being swamped by incompetents. Fortunately,
eugenics provides a humane way of promoting progressive evolution
'without allowing many short and miserable lives to be sacrificed.'
What is demanded is 'an educated control of reproduction, especially
in the lower social classes' - those 'with IQs in the 70 to 100
range,' who 'have no conception that sexual control is part of
citizenship' (The Beyondist, 1994, p. 1).
Translated into policy Beyondists recommend that
First World countries allow Third World countries 'to go to the
wall' when they collapse into chaos, mass famine, and genocide.
Foreign aid to under-developed third-world countries is a mistake.
Incompetent and obsolete societies are not fit for the competitive
struggle for existence. "What is called for here is not genocide,
the killing off of the populations of incompetent cultures. But
we do need to think realistically in terms of 'phasing out of
such peoples'" (Cattell, 1972, p. 221; Lynn, 1974, p. 207).
In order to make room for "better humans"
the obsolete and incompetent must "make way... Evolutionary
progress means the extinction of the less competent. To think
otherwise is mere sentimentality" (Lynn, 1974, p. 207). This
means that nations must compete in a fierce struggle for survival
of the fittest. Racial and ethnic groups must preserve their purity.
Immigration must be stopped. Isolation will "give rise to
societies with greater diversity and individuality, both culturally
and genetically. Indeed, it would be desirable if the human race
could evolve several different non-interbreeding species, since
this would increase the options for evolution to work on."
Furthermore, immigration usually ends up encouraging "people
of low genetic quality" who simply burden the genetically
fit. We need to stop coddling the poor (Lynn, 1974, p. 207).
Cattell's ethic involves engineering an evolutionary
jump to a new larger brained human. From Cattell's perspective
the vast majority of humans on the planet are 'obsolete.' He can
sympathize with the desire to save rare animals, including various
primitive human groups, but the earth will be "choked with
the more primitive forerunners" unless a way is found to
eliminate them. "Unfortunately, wherever a question of relative
reduction of a population is concerned the word 'genocide' is
... bandied about as a propaganda term. ... Clarity of discussion
... would be greatly aided if genocide were reserved for
a literal killing off of all living members of a people, as in
several instances in the Old Testament, and genthanasia
for what has been above called 'phasing out,' in which a moribund
culture is ended, by educational and birth control measures...
" (Cattell, 1972, p. 220).
It should be noted that Cattell's definition of
genocide exonerates the Nazis who did not "kill off all living
members of a people," and leaves only the Jews as perpetrators
of the crime. Cattell is left calling for "genthanasia,"
a humane form of genocide, essential to the elimination of "moribund"
The London School
Raymond B. Cattell was one of the fathers of the
"London School" of psychology. Belief in the overriding
importance of heredity is a major theme in the work of London
School academics. This was more an article of faith than a hypothesis
to be tested. Thus Cyril Burt, in one of his earliest published
papers in Eugenics Review in 1912, declared that "the
fact of mental inheritance ... can no longer be contested, and
its importance can scarcely be over-estimated" (Burt, 1912,
Galton established the institutional base for
the London School by establishing the Chair of Eugenics at the
University of Londons Galton Laboratory and appointing his
disciple, Karl Pearson to the position. Pearson was succeeded
by Charles Spearman and Cyril Burt - both mentors of Cattell.
Together with R.A. Fisher, these men formed the intellectual foundation
of the London School. These men would dominate the field of psychology
in England and America for the next several decades. J. Philippe
Rushtons latest monograph, Race, Evolution, and Behavior
(Rushton, 1995) opens with a quote from Francis Galton and acknowledgment
that "This work belongs in the London School
tradition founded by Sir Francis Galton." Rushton defines
the London School tradition as a "unique amalgam of evolutionary
biology, behavioral genetics, psychometrics, and neuroscience"
(Rushton, 1995, p. xvii).
In The Fight for Our National Intelligence,
Cattell summarized the scientific principles that formed the foundation
of the London School's determinist views (Cattell, 1937a). A key
element of this approach was Charles Spearman's concept of "g"
or "general intelligence." For Spearman's essay on general
intelligence see, Spearman (1904). For a discussion of the importance
of this concept in the history of eugenics see, McGuire and Hirsch
(1977, pp. 25-72). Spearman obtained four measures of intelligence
and postulated that there must be a general factor common to the
various measures. He called this "general intelligence"
Spearman recognized the importance of "g"
to the future of eugenics. The "eugenicist would be seriously
hindered" if intelligence was composed of numerous independent
factors, the "efforts to better the race" would be "dissipated
in hunting after innumerable independent abilities" (Spearman,
1914, pp. 220-21). According to Cattell "the great majority
of psychologists," were convinced that the "g"
factor was "largely inborn and constitutional, like the colour
of the person's eyes or the shape of his skull." Environment
has little effect on intelligence. Identical twins reared apart
have practically identical IQ scores and the feeble minded remain
feeble-minded "whatever influences of environment,"
mental stimulation, or nutrition are brought to bear. Furthermore,
"intelligence tests point to significant differences between
races" - a dangerous doctrine - "to be covered at once
by a fog of casuistry" (Cattell, 1937a, p. 24-27).
While our understanding of heredity might be rough
and empirical, Cattell argued that it was time to act. "We
are all grateful... that Francis Drake did not defer to using
cannon against the Armada on the grounds that there then existed
only 'a rough empirical knowledge' of gunpowder or that Jenner
did not defer attacking the scourge of small-pox because the physiology
of vaccine was not then fully understood." "We must
distinguish between the laboratory... and the adventure of living
in which the wise man is he who can discern and act upon a strong
probability. The affairs of the nation are in the second category
and the happiness of each one us depends upon those in control
being wise enough to encourage scientific research and apply it
at the first opportunity" (Cattell, 1937a, p. 38).
In the book, Cattell examines changes in IQ over
generations. While many eugenics advocates postulated a dysgenic
trend in births, Cattell argued he had proven not only the reality
of this decline, but the extraordinary seriousness of the situation.
Most eugenist argued that intelligence was falling over generations.
Cattell found the magnitude of the decline so great that it could
be measured in a single decade. Extrapolating from his "data"
he claimed that survey data showed a 30% increase in mental deficiency.
The most troubling news, however, was the catastrophic loss of
genius. Cattell claimed that rural children with IQs above 140
would be cut in half in single generation. Those "who wish
to proceed to further refinements and critical accuracy in this
melancholy calculation may do so, ... but ... I say it is enough
for me that a decline is occurring ... at a critical era of civilization
when every available understanding is needed for reconstructive
efforts." Even if this decline were arrested immediately
- "a utopian dream" considering the scientific illiteracy
of political leaders - the damage would already have been done.
"It behooves us as realists to face this decline, for the
effects will be much more pervasive than most people imagine and
will turn up in strange and unexpected places" (Cattell,
1937a, pp. 43-46).
Socialist or Fascist?
In a 1974 memoir, Cattell says he "was a
socialist student in the heyday of Shavian and Wellsian socialism."
Jonathan Harwood (1980) cites this passage in criticism of Searle
(1979) for referring to Cattell as a "right-wing extremist,"
a label, Harwood argues, ignores "Cattell's admiration for
the socialism of Shaw and Wells in the 1920s & 1930s"
(Harwood, 1980, p. 124 n. 22). He does, however, acknowledge that
Cattell (1972) is a "right wing eugenic fantasy". While
Harwood is right about the heterogeneity of interwar eugenics,
he understates the ambiguity and fluidity of ideological conflict
during this period and exaggerates the distance between the "progressivism"
that influenced Cattell and the characteristic concerns of the
radical right. As Sternhell (1986) has pointed out, "the
sources of the fascist movement, as well as its leaders, were
to be found as much on the left as on the right." In fact,
Oswald Mosley, the leader of the British Union of Fascists had
been a Labour minister (Sternhell, 1986, p. 14). Indeed, Cattell's
eugenic views were much closer to Pareto, than to Shaw or Wells
and his flirtation with the left should not cause confusion. Searle
also notes Cattell's suggestion for relief during the depression:
"No public assistance without control of birth rates"
(Searle, 1979, p. 162; Cattell, 1937a, pp. 69, 75 note 6).
More generally, historians of eugenics have over-stressed
the importance of the diversity of eugenic support. It is true
that some communists and Catholics supported eugenics. However,
there is a difference between the tangential relationship between
eugenics and the Catholic Church and the fundamental relationship
between eugenics and fascism. Similarly, communists ideologies
might accommodate eugenics, but communist ideology was not based
on Social Darwinist notions. On the other hand, notions of race
and eugenics were essential parts of the core definition of fascism.
As the French fascist Déat wrote in 1944, "race...is not
just something to be preserved, it is the point of departure for
the conquest of a future." To purify the racial identity
of the state, "to practice eugenics," is the key to
insuring the "ideological survival" of the state, "preserve
its spirit and maintain its historical role" (Sternhell,
1986, p. 24). Progressives in the United States were extremely
keen on eugenics. By 1933, the United States was leading the world
in eugenic legislation and sterilizations. After the Nazis took
power in Germany that changed. One can hardly compare the relationship
between eugenics and National Socialism and eugenics and progressivism.
In the United States it is estimated that about 60,000 eugenic
sterilizations took place from 1907 to the 1960s. The Nazis sterilized
a three and half million between 1933 and 1945 (Reilly, 1991,
with Nazi Race Science
Cattell openly supported fascism in the 1930s.
While British eugenists of the 1930s were often critical of Nazi
eugenics and especially of Nazi race science, Raymond Cattell
was generally an enthusiastic supporter. As William Tucker points
out, Cattell gave "due acknowledgment, not only to Günther,
but even to Count Joseph Arthur de Gobineau." Günther was
one of the leaders of the Nordicist school of racial philosophy
in Nazi Germany. His works, like Rassenkunde des Deutschen
Volkes were deeply racist and anti-Semitic and he was a regular
contributor to Nazi party magazines. Günther "was widely
read in Nazi Germany and was much admired by leading Nazi politicians
such as Alfred Rosenberg, who in 1941 formally honored Günther
with the Goethe medal (Tucker, 1994, p. 239; Searchlight, 1984,
Cattell blithely speaks of German colonial policy
as the "annihilation ... of backward and obstreperous savages"
by machine gun which he contrasted favorably with the less effective,
but still useful, British method of destruction of primitive tribes
by "lethal ideas." The South Sea islanders, for example,
were decimated by "being taught the habits of Western civilization,
habits destructive of their own well-adapted culture on which
their living, marrying and reproduction depended." "It
is possible," Cattell argued, "to kill off a class of
people in a wholesale fashion by means of an idea" and "it
would be a very important piece of work by social psychologists...
to study lethal ideas, especially with a view to decreasing the
number of sub-cultural persons." Cattell believed that the
"lower sub-cultural" types would probably have to be
sterilized, but the "very numerous group of low-average middle
class" could probably be "led by the nose by opportunities
of leisure and diversion to forget the satisfactions of family
life..." (Cattell, 1937a, p. 137-138).
Cattells critical remarks about Hitler in
later years trivialize the horrors of the past and the dangers
inherent in fascist ideology. In Cattell (1972, p. 406), for example,
he compares Hitler to "the murderous Hippie cults of California."
Between 1933 and 1938, the world witnessed an orchestrated anti-Semitic
campaign of unprecedented ferocity; the ousting of Jewish students
from German schools; laws denying Jews the right to serve in the
army or civil service; Kristallnacht, and the first concentration
camps. No one in England during these years could be oblivious
to these events. Atrocities committed by the Japanese in China
and the Italians in Ethiopia were also well publicized. Despite
this, Cattell could write in 1938 that the "envy" and
"hostility" of the "Atlantic Democracies"
over "the rise of Germany, Italy, and Japan," was uncalled-for.
Citizens in these fascist states had "disciplined their indulgences"
and focused their energies on "a religious purpose."
The rise of fascist Italy and Nazi Germany "should be welcomed
by the religious man as reassuring evidence that in spite of modern
wealth and ease, we shall not be allowed to sink into stagnation
or adopt foolish social practices in fatal detachment from the
stream of evolution" (Cattell, 1938, p. 149). After five
decades of reflection, Cattell has concluded that the legacy of
this catastrophe has been a mental "disorder" he calls
"ignoracism" - the inability "to consider the scientific
possibility that races may show statistically significant differences"
(Cattell, 1972, p. 262). In other words, the Nazis created such
a revulsion to racism that it resulted in "ignoracism"
- the refusal to accept the reality of racial differences!
On the Neo-Nazi Fringe
Cattell's ideas, formed in the 1930s, have remained
remarkably consistent during the intervening years. He has repeated
the same themes over and again in major academic journals and
at talks before scholarly audiences. For example, one of Cattells
strongest supporters on the contemporary neo-Nazi fringe is Wilmot
Robertson. Robertson runs his own publishing house and his books
are distributed primarily through extremist groups and direct
mail order. Wilmot Robertson is an alias and no names are ever
published in Instauration. While Instauration can
be vulgar at times, it is largely aimed at an academic reading
audience. None of Robertsons publications are advertised
in mainstream academic journals or mass media. No one simply stumbles
upon Robertsons publications. You are either a white supremacist
or an expert on the far right. To my knowledge, Cattell is the
only major academic willing to be forthright about his association
Robertson believes that "the essence of history
is the rise and fall of races" (Robertson, 1996, p. 535).
In the grand design of evolution, one race will ultimately survive
to give birth to "a new species, the better-than-man."
The race best suited to shoulder this burden is the Northern European.
Unfortunately, the "American Majority" has been dispossessed
by the Jews who have taken control of American culture (Robertson,
1973, p. 536). His latest work, The Ethnostate argues that
the Northern and Western European elements of the population have
lost any chance of recapturing America. Robertson, therefore,
calls for small ethnically unified "ethnostates." (Robertson,
1992, pp. ix-x). The Ethnostate was called "a timely
supplement to the argument of the Beyondist" in the
first issue of Cattells quarterly (The Beyondist,
1993, p. 2). Cattell, thanks Robertson in the preface of his 1987
monograph, Beyondism: Religion from Science, and Robertson
honored Cattell with a cover story and long laudatory review of
Beyondism in Instauration (Instauration,
1989, pp. 5-7).
Advocates of the ethnostate have been given a
great boost since the demise of the Soviet Union. Many racial
nationalist groups now advocate the splintering of the United
States into smaller units. Michael Hill, for example, professor
of History at Stillman College and President of the Southern League
calls for secession (Shea, 1995, p. A8-9). Jared Taylor's American
Renaissance group openly declares that racial integration has
failed and promotes the division of the U.S. into racially separate
states. Even Dinesh DSousa, who contends that racism is
dead, recognized Taylor and his organization as white supremacists.
DSousa was not surprised when he met David Duke in the elevator
while attending a conference of the American Renaissance in Atlanta.
Nor was he surprised to see Duke and Taylor chatting together
several times during the weekend (DSouza, 1995, pp. 387-89).
American Renaissance magazine published an interview with
Cattell in October 1995 and came to his defense in October 1997
attacking this writer as "a hyperactive opponent of 'racism.'"
The American Renaissance Internet page (www.amren.com) features
a wide array of academic racists and eugenic advocates, many of
whom acknowledge their debt to Cattell.
Another life-long lifelong friend and colleague
was Revilo Oliver, emeritus professor of classics at the University
of Illinois who died in August 1994. Cattell, not only acknowledged
his debt to Oliver in the preface of his 1987 book, Beyondism:
Religion from Science (Cattell, 1987, p. x), but cited two of
Olivers most virulently anti-Semitic works (Oliver, 1973;
Oliver 1981). For a summary of Oliver's career see Mintz, (1985,
pp. 163-179). Oliver served on the editorial review board of the
Institute for Historical Review, established with the aim of legitimizing
the idea that the Holocaust was myth. He also contributed to the
virulently neo-Nazi National Vanguard. In one 1984 comment, Oliver
attacked the "crazed abolitionist" who "were not
bright enough to know" that they were promoting "the
immediate abolition of slavery and the eventual abolition of our
race." Had the abolitionist been "a little more alert
racially" they would have known "that there must be
some deadly poison in any movement that the Jews were subsidizing
and zealously fostering." (Oliver, August 1984, pp. 3-4).
Dreaming of annihilation
Cattell's rabid racism and disdain for the great
masses of genetically inferior humanity must be understand in
the context of the great intellectual revolt against "the
masses" brilliantly described in John Carey's The Intellectuals
& the Masses (1992). Carey describes the "hatred
of mankind" common to many of the intelligentsia before the
Second World War. D.H. Lawrence, for example wrote:
"If I had my way, I would build a lethal
chamber as big as the Crystal Palace, with a military band
playing softly, and a Cinematograph working brightly; then
I'd go out in the back streets and main streets and bring
them in, all the sick, the halt, and the maimed; I would lead
them gently, and they would smile me a weary thanks and the
band would softly bubble out the 'Hallelujah Chorus'"
(Carey, 1992, p. 12).
In 1939, after reading The Fight for Our
National Intelligence (Cattell, 1937), Yeats,
records the conviction of a 'well-known specialist'
(i.e. Cattell) that the principle European nations are all
degenerating in body and mind, though the evidence for this
has been hushed up by the newspapers lest it harm circulation.
Following Cattell, Yeats reports that innate intelligence
can now be measured, especially in children, with great accuracy,
and tests prove that it is hereditary. If for example, you
take a group of slum children and give them better food, light
and air, it will not increase their intelligence. It follows
that education and social reform are hopeless as improvers
of the breed. 'Sooner or later we must limit the families
of the unintelligent classes.' This is the more urgent, Yeats
warns, because these classes are breeding so rapidly: 'Since
about 1900 the better stocks have not been replacing their
numbers, while the stupider and less healthy have been more
than replacing theirs.' The results are already apparent,
Yeats suggests ... (Carey, 1992, p. 13-14).
Carey concludes: "Dreaming of the extermination
or sterilization of the mass, or denying that the masses were
real people, was, then, an imaginative refuge for early twentieth-century
intellectuals" (Carey, 1992, p. 15).
For Cattell the greatest threat to civilization
was not the relatively small group of mental defectives. Rather,
it was the millions of "dull" individuals, a demographically
huge segment of the population incapable of comprehending history,
geography, biology or civic responsibility - "which alone
make full citizenship possible." Unfit for citizenship they
created a "painful dislocation between the needs of the community
and the education of its citizens." Cattell feared the "victory
of the pervasive average." The swamping of the elite minority
by the "preponderance of low intelligence" who have
made life "intolerable for that minority." These were
not the feebleminded or the mentally unstable. Cattell's nightmares
were filled with the millions upon millions of ordinary human
beings - the common masses of humanity (Cattell, 1937a, pp. 47-48;
Thus, Cattell's contempt for the masses was common
among European intellectuals of the period. Nietzsche, D.H. Lawrence,
T.S. Eliot, W.B. Yeats were among the most prominent members of
the genocidal chorus harmonizing with the rising tide of fascism.
Nietzsche insisted that "the great majority of men have no
right to existence." They were to blame for the corruption
of the European races, bringing misfortune to higher men. The
breeding of the future master race would entail the "annihilation
of millions of failures." (Carey, 1992, p. 12).
Flying under the Radar
Very few mainstream scholars of eugenics have
paid much attention to Cattell. Unlike Arthur Jensen, William
Shockley or more recently, J. Philippe Rushton, Cattell has been
largely ignored. None of the major histories of eugenics even
mention Cattell. For example, there is no reference to Cattell
in the indexes of Allan Chase (1980), Mark Haller (1963), Kenneth
Ludmerer (1972), or Daniel Kevles (1985). Indeed, he is not even
mentioned in Michael M. Sokal's Psychological Testing and American
Society, despite the fact that he is most prominent as a psychometrician
(Sokal, 1987). The most extensive examination of Cattell in a
monograph on American eugenics is a ten page summary of Cattell's
ideas in William H. Tucker's The Science and Politics of Racial
Research (Tucker, 1994, pp. 239-249). This neglect becomes
even more curious when one glances at the works of eugenics advocates.
Cattell is cited and discussed in such works as Herrnstein and
Murray's The Bell Curve (1994); J. Philippe Rushton's Race,
Evolution, and Behavior (1995); Seymour W. Itzkoff's The
Decline of Intelligence in America (1994); and Robert Klark
Graham's The Future of Man (1981).
It is truly remarkable, the extent to which Cattell's
academic career has remained untarred by his racist, pro-Nazi
politics. Even those studies which mention him and recognize his
importance to the eugenics movement, don't give any indication
of his general standing in academia. Michael Billig, Gretta Jones,
G.R. Searle, and more recently, William Tucker all refer to Cattell
as a eugenic extremist. Many of them note his fascist associations,
but none provide an understanding of his importance outside the
world of eugenics. Thus, he is presented out of context, as a
man whose only significance is his place on the right wing fringe
of the eugenics movement.
One reason that Cattell may be flying under the
radar for most mainstream critics of eugenics may be his writing
style. Cattell is one of the few people I think ought to be tried
for crimes against the English language. Even Horn, his most loyal
follower, admits that his writing is "almost guaranteed to
irritate" and that he "is about as exciting as reading
(the white pages of) an unalphabetized phone book." Cattell's
immodesty "is breathtaking" and his understanding of
others "is often superficial." He has no patience at
all for learning other people's systems and often ignores "definitions
commonly used by other psychologists." Finally, you must
add to all this the fact that "large segments of his writing
are often disjointed" and you get some idea of what Horn
calls the "Cattellian" style (Horn, April & July
1984, pp. 119-20). Here is one example of that style:
"Moral and morality are, of course, distinguishable
concepts, but social psychological research, alike in small
(Cattell & Stice, 1960) and in larger national groups,
shows that the morale of a group, as shown in its cohesion
in face of attempts to dissolve and destroy the group, is
appreciably correlated with the level of interindividual morality."
(Cattell, 1987, p. 13).
Only the most dedicated followers will be willing
to wade through three hundred pages of such prose. A graduate
student who worked with Cattell and his protégés remarked in an
interview for this project that the circle around Cattell is much
like a cult. After leaving the group, he remarked, it was hard
to understand how he once could have been swept up in it.
Another reason may be that, Cattell has taken
pains to avoid the kind of high profile exposure which Shockley,
Jensen, Rushton and others have actively sought. Indeed, part
of the theory of Beyondism is that the general public does not
have the intelligence to appreciate the importance of eugenics.
Since these lower intelligence people will not understand the
theory, Cattell argues, it is best not to share it because the
general public will be outraged. This is a movement that is secretive
by designed. They hope to appeal to an intellectual elite. Thus,
Cattell has never sought public attention.
Cattell believes that there is a desperate need
for "a new type" of "hybrid of the scientist and
the politician." Unfortunately, scientists "suffer"
from "the irrationalities and stupidity that the present
immovable organization of politics and public education makes
unavoidable" (Cattell, 1987, p. 229).
In December 1993 Congresswoman Cardis Collins
(D-IL), chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Task Force on
Intercollegiate Athletics, discovered that the National Collegiate
Athletic Association (NCAA), as part of the on going evaluation
of eligibility requirements, had employed a data analysis work
group (DAWG), as a consulting team. Ms. Collins
"... criticized the National Collegiate
Athletic Association for hiring a closely-knit group of researchers
who were members of an extremist organization, known as Beyondism,
which favors such policies as eugenic, or hereditary improvement
by genetic control" (Collins, 12/14/93).
According to Ms. Collins, three members of the
nine person group, J.J. McArdle, John L. Horn and J.R. Nesselroade,
were associated with Cattell's Beyondism Foundation. She concluded:
"These statisticians hold some views
that are truly scary, and now they are controlling the data
that can effect millions of students and their opportunities
to go to college."
McArdle, chair of the data analysis working group,
was quick to respond. In an interview published in the Chronicle
of Higher Education he said that he and his colleagues found
the ideas of Beyondism "abhorrent," and "reject
the racist and elitist implications" of eugenics. McArdle
said that "while he and the other researchers might have
ties to Mr. Cattell ... those ties never included a belief in
his ideas about eugenics" (Blum, 5 January 1994, p. A47).
In an earlier interview, McArdle explained that he attended a
Beyondism meeting in August 1993 but "did not agree with
everything I heard..." Later, he said, both he and Horn "decided
we did not wish to take part in the proposed group" since
eugenics "was so complex and so easily confused with racism"
(USA Today, 14 December 1993).
McArdle's denials were not credible. One of Cattells
closest disciples, he was mentored by John Horn, Cattells
most devoted student. In a 1984 essay, McArdle finds Cattell outspoken
in his "chastizements (sic!) of the unexpecting (sic!) mainstream
psychologists." Cattell "has also lashed out" at
the "lost souls" who "have failed to heed other
storm warnings he foresees (sic!)." McArdle clearly indicates
in this essay that Beyondism is a "New Atlantis" - i.e.
the raison d'être of the entire enterprise. A common refrain from
Cattell's more ardent supporters is that his Beyondist ideas may
be quirky, but they are peripheral to the main corpus of his scientific
work in multivariate analysis. But here are McArdles own
In discussing his futuristic plans for mixing
multivariate methods with experimental data, Cattell can be
enthusiastic and entertaining. Many experimentalist, clinicians,
and quantitative scientists get caught up in his vision of
a marvelous journey through the uncharted psychological territory,
and his promise of the wild riches which await only the most
serious factor analyst. For some, such talk of a brave new
world evokes the science fiction vision of a Hari Seldon statistically
planning for the "psycho-historians" of a "Second
Foundation" (Asimov, 1982). Others view Cattell as having
the prescience of a modern day Bacon with a "Novum
Organum" called "scientific factor analysis,"
and a "New Atlantis" called "Beyondism."...."While
this may be madness, I am convinced it is the madness of great
wisdom." (McArdle, 1984, p. 265-267).
In 1987 Cattell thanked McArdle, Horn, and Nesselroade,
for "improvements and clarifications over the first volume
of Beyondism..." which was published in 1972 (Cattell, 1987,
p. x). In September 1993, John Horn addresses a memo to "Members
of the Executive Committee Beyondism Foundation." Horn lists
McArdle and Nesselroade as members of this group. Horn conveys
"Ray's suggestion for the first Newsletter of the Beyondism
Society" and notes that "it needs some editing, some
modifications, some shortening," before it is sent out, and
he is willing to do the editing, "but not without the Executive
Board approving..." (Horn, J.L., 1993. Memorandum to Members
of the Executive Committee of the Beyondist Foundation). Other
members of the Executive Board included, Robert Graham, John Gillis,
and Richard Gorsuch.
The memo that Horn distributed was drafted by
Cattell. It called for promoting the "ideals" of Beyondism
in "what is presently a hostile atmosphere." However,
with the decay of "universalistic, superstitious religions
society has drifted" into a vague mixture of humanistic,
egalitarian and humanitarian beliefs in human decency. This decay
has opened the door for a new ethic whose "first plank"
is eugenics. Basically, eugenic selection must be based on the
success of a given culture. But "racial and cultural experiments"
must also be tried.
In the draft statement of the Beyondist which
Horn distributed, Cattell actually refers to Robertson's "ethnostates"
as an "experimental array" of separate groups. In fact,
Cattell raises the question whether "the more successful
[groups should] bolster up the less successful (as the U.S. does
Somalia)..." Beyondism, of course, "is an increasing
acceptance of reality, and that involves dropping the emotional
support of a loving omnipotent god. Humans are not the 'apple
of G-d's eye' but only a chance species, whose survival depends
upon their own efforts."
McArdle spoke for both himself and John Horn.
Horn could not possibly make such denials himself since his support
for Cattell's eugenic endeavors is multifaceted and goes back
decades. For example, Horn served with Cattell on the editorial
advisory board of Pearson's Mankind Quarterly from 1974
to 1988. Horn claimed that his involvement was minimal, and it
probably was, but there is no denying that he lent his name to
a number of eugenic endeavors including contributing to (Osborne,
1978) and "providing generous counsel" in the preparation
of (Graham, 1981, p. x).
Even amidst scandal, the nation's leading psychologists
gathered to honor Cattell for his "lifetime achievements
in the study of human abilities" at the "Human Cognitive
Abilities Conference," held at the University of Virginia
in September 1994 (Human Cognitive Abilities Conference, 22-24
September, 1994). McArdle was a key organizer of the Conference,
held in the historic Dome Room of the Rotunda, the conference
was called to honor Cattell for his "lifetime achievements
in the study of human abilities" (Conference Brochure, 22
September, p. 1).
Naturally, Cattell gave a keynote presentation
on the morning of the first day of the conference. Introduced
by John Horn as "psychology's master strategist" who
ranks among the twentieth century's "most influential behavior
scientists", (Horn, J.L., 1994. Comments at Human Cognitive
Abilities Conference, University of Virginia), Cattell declared
that we must accept "the results of psychological science"
which show that "much of mankind is obsolete" and that
to continue "the past course of evolution from Australopithecus
to Cro-Magnon -- we need to go beyond ourselves." The "only
real advance" Cattell maintained, "is going occur through
the breeding for brain size." "Enormities this huge,"
Cattell concluded, "I call Beyondism." None of those
in attendance seemed troubled by this call for a eugenic program
of Hitlerian dimensions.
Sandra Scarr, attentively listening to Cattell
babble about breeding for brain size, typified the illustrious
group assembled to honor Cattell. She was introduced as the University
of Virginias Commonwealth Professor of Psychology, winner
of the 1985 National Book Award of the APA for the book, Mother
Care, Other Care; fellow of the American Academy of Arts;
and the American Association for the Advancement of Science; as
well as past president of the Society for Research in Child Development
and the Behavior Genetics Society. She has served on a number
of prestigious editorial boards including the American Psychologist
(associate editor) and Developmental Psychology (editor). The
next day she presented a paper entitled, "Theories of Intellectual
Development," in which she argued that a genetic model of
intelligence fits the data far better than any other model.
What can one make of the difference in perspective
between Sandra Scarr and Congresswoman Collins, who described
Cattells Beyondist notions as "scary," or Rudy
Washington, executive director of the Black Coaches Association
who commented that Cattell had the "same basic ideas"
that led to the Holocaust (Collins, 12/14/93; Blum, 5 January
1994, p. A47). Why is it Congresswoman Collins and coach Washington
immediately recognized the neo-fascist nature of Cattells
Beyondist ideology, while a roomful of prominent psychologists
saw only one of "the twentieth century's most influential
behavior scientists", (Human Cognitive Abilities Conference,
23-24 September 1994). Moreover, Sandra Scarr not only paid tribute
to Cattell, her talk supported the main assumptions of the hereditarian
model (Scarr, "Theories of Intellectual Development: A Critical
Review of Socialization and Behavior Genetic Theories and Observations,"
24 September 1994).
Cattell is a major figure in the history of eugenics,
who has legions of dedicated students with considerable influence
in a number of academic fields, including intelligence and personality
testing, behavior genetics, education, and theology. Most of his
protégées, when publicly confronted with Cattells Beyondist
ideology contend that Cattells contribution to multivariate
analysis is the core of his contribution to psychology and genetics
and that his eugenic ideas are insignificant - the inevitable
product of a brilliant mind forever spinning out ideas, some of
which are naturally a little quirky. It is my contention that
none of those who have worked closely with Cattell and remained
loyal to him are unaware of the centrality of Cattells Beyondist
ideology. In fact, multivariate analysis is a means to an end,
not the end in itself, and those close to Cattell know this. It
is my belief that Cattells students deliberately obsfucate
the political and social implications of their mentors ideology.
In the radical right demimonde, on the other hand,
the political implications of Cattells work and its significance
for contemporary fascism is recognized, acknowledged and openly
embraced. He is considered a leading theorist of contemporary
eugenics, and is certainly the most prominent academician in the
extremist camp. It is this unique combination of academic legitimacy
and extremists ideology that explains Cattells importance
to contemporary fascist and eugenic advocates.
(1) Philip J. Hilts, "Group Delays Achievement
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Henry Saeman, Editor. "The Cattell Convention," The
National Psychologist (Sept/Oct 1997); The National Psychologist,
"Scientists, colleagues defend Cattell" (January/February
1998). For the original announcement of the award see, The
Monitor, "APF recognizes psychologists for lifetime achievement,"
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