Raymond B. Cattell and the Fourth Inquisition
Florida State University
Raymond B. Cattell was selected to receive
the Gold Medal Award for Life Achievement from the American Psychological
Foundation. The award ceremony was canceled at the last minute
when threats were made to disrupt the Chicago convention of the
APA amid charges that Cattell's work was racist. It took only
two political activists to derail the APF. This event is analyzed
as an instance of Inquisitional attack on rational thought and
inquiry, in the context of modern liberalism with radical egalitarianism.
The events of August 1997 will assure that the
already eminent scientist Raymond B. Cattell will be remembered
in history as elevated to the pantheon occupied by such as Roger
Bacon, William of Occam, and Galileo Galilei. The infamous events
of August and the players will be summarized below, but first
a context needs to be established in order to make any sense of
the scurrilous attack and the craven response of the American
Psychological Association (APA).
Approaches to Knowledge
The Harvard biologist, historian and philosopher
of science Ernst Mayr (1982) has suggested that as human populations
evolve from savagery to civilization their approach to knowledge
takes one or another of two paths.
One approach leads to modern science, the other
to authoritative dogma. The direction toward science, traceable
back to the philosophies of ancient Greece, is unique to Western
civilization. The much more common direction toward authoritative
dogmas is illustrated by the revealed religions that sprang from
the Middle East.
The direction toward science traces to the first
recorded Western philosopher, Thales of Miletus (c.636-c.546 BC).
Thales maintained that to gain knowledge and understanding one
should start with naturalistic observation, that is, descriptions
of events as they exist in the real world. We should then seek
natural explanations for natural phenomena. Gods, supernatural
beings, and forces or events that were outside the system should
not be invoked as explanations for events within the system. A
third major position was that it is acceptable, even encouraged,
to question existing explanations, to use criticism in order to
improve knowledge and theories. These three principles that trace
to the beginnings of recorded Western thought capture the essence
of modern science; naturalistic observation, natural explanation,
and criticism as a beneficial tool to advancing knowledge. Alas,
from Thales' time through today his approach has, on a worldwide
basis, been a minority position under constant attack.
The road to dogma starts with assertions of knowledge
based in authority. Often from a great man or leader come statements,
frequently but not always based in revelation. The religious and
political aspects of dogmatic systems often become commingled.
The revelations leading to dogmas often claim supernatural inspiration,
but this is not necessarily the case. Christian theology, Marxian
sociology, and Freudian psychoanalytic theory equally well illustrate
dogmatic belief systems. The systems with their statements to
account for reality become codified into a set of rigid beliefs.
Not only is criticism and questioning not encouraged, it is condemned.
The less than complete supporter, the doubter, is shunned, outcast,
outlawed, a heretic, criminal and evil sinner. Followers will
believe on the basis of acceptance of authority ("on faith")
and will not deviate from the established dogmas that tend to
become ever more rigid. Encounters with the partially understood
real world, in all its foibles, always lead to discrepancy between
dogma and natural observation of real phenomena.
It is considered necessary to preserve the authoritarian
dogma and the power of the authorities in the face of conflicting
truths. The Path of Righteousness knows what is good for man and
society. Dissenters, free thinkers, or those with new knowledge
are viewed as a threat to all that is Good. Sanctions, laws, censorship,
need to be imposed and enforced. This is the realm of Inquisitions.
In the history of Western civilization there have been four main
identifiable inquisitions. It is the fourth that we suffer today.
First Inquisition. The first major inquisition
was established in 1233 AD to suppress heresy. The groundwork
leading up to the need for this inquisition extends back to the
origins of the Christian religion in the west. The few centuries
around the time of the fall of the Roman Empire were turbulent.
The Roman Emperor Constantine I had his famous vision (312 AD)
which led to his establishment of Christianity as the official
religion of the Empire. Shortly thereafter the Empire fell; various
invading Germanic tribes repeatedly sacked Rome. In the turmoil
many of the writings of the ancients, Greek and Roman, were temporarily
"lost" to Western civilization. Aristotle, Galen, Thales,
were reintroduced only centuries later.
St. Augustine (354 - 430 AD) early systematized
Christian doctrine in his monumental On the Trinity. He
argued against paganism in The City of God, and provided
what has been called a "classic of Christian mysticism"
in his autobiographical Confessions. Augustine came to
be recognized as the father of theology and over the centuries
of the dark ages his approach became official dogma. The essence
of Augustinian dogma is that truth must be accepted on faith.
And truth resides in the revealed word of God as represented in
the Bible and interpreted by the leaders of the Church.
With the "rediscovery" of the learned
writings of the Ancients, often acquired from Islam and translated
from Arabic back into Latin, problems arose. Here was knowledge,
and approaches to knowledge such as Aristotelian deductive logic,
not envisioned in the existing dogma. The age of the scholastics
was upon the world as scholars tried to incorporate the new knowledge.
Robert Grosseteste (1175 - 1253), Franciscan and
first chancellor of Oxford University, studied Aristotle and attempted
to integrate the Greek knowledge with Christian dogma. He suggested
that there were actually two routes to knowledge, observation
with deductive reasoning was one route, while authority (revelation
from the written word as interpreted by dogma) was another. In
the direction of science, Grosseteste formulated his famous Principle
of Falsification: when faced with an apparent conflict between
observation and dogma, go with the observation. Experience can
falsify the pronouncements of authority.
This won't do at all, hence the Papal Inquisition
of 1233. Times were dicey for the scholastics. William of Occam
(c.1285 - 1349) escaped capture when he fled. In the same year
(1264) was published Roger Bacon's De Computo Naturali
and Thomas Acquinas' Summa Contra Gentiles. For his troubles
Bacon (c. 1214 - 1294) was imprisoned - 15 years - for heresy.
Among the charged crimes was "suggesting novelties".
Although it was touch-and-go for Acquinas (1225 -1274), he was
eventually sainted and his solutions (Summa Theologica)
became the new dogma. As had Grosseteste, Acquinas tried to integrate
Greek natural philosophy, essentially Aristotle, with Christian
dogma. In God's perfect wisdom these two approaches to knowledge
will always ultimately agree. However, in our fallibility there
will on occasion appear to be a conflict between rational observation
(science) and the revealed word (religion). When in doubt, go
with revelation. The subsequent hardening of the new theology
into dogma set the stage for the third inquisition.
Second Inquisition. The second of the major
inquisitions was established in 1478 as the Spanish Inquisition.
This one was primarily the result of conflicts between competing
segments of society. The Spanish monarchy established the inquisition
to enforce laws of conversion and to catch false converts. Over
the preceding centuries members of the Jewish community had steadily
amassed increasing proportions of wealth and power. They, along
with Muslims, had been forced to either convert or leave the country.
When it was suspected that many of the conversos were secretly
retaining their Jewish values and culture, the inquisition was
established to root them out. A consideration of this second recognized
inquisition would lead too far astray for the present essay. MacDonald
(1994) provides an in-depth consideration of the Spanish Inquisition
from the point of view of the social sciences.
Third Inquisition. The third of the main
inquisitions was established in 1542 to suppress heresy. As with
the first inquisition, a basic problem was that the established
authorities would not integrate new knowledge that was discovered
after the establishment of their dogmas. Instead the new knowledge
was treated as a central threat to all that was good in society.
Suppression and censorship was the answer.
The synthesis of Greek wisdom and Christian theology
that was rigidified as dogma after the work of St. Thomas Acquinas
included the flat earth with man as the center of the universe.
Clearly the Copernican heliocentric theory of the solar system
could not be tolerated. Although widely discussed, Copernicus'
theory was published only in 1543 when the author was on his deathbed,
and then presented only as a speculative thought exercise. It
was in 1591 that Giordano Bruno (1548 - 1600) was arrested for
a variety of thought crimes, including that he believed the Copernican
"theory" to be true.
Andrew White (1896/1965) poignantly wrote:
But the new truth could not be concealed; it could
neither be laughed down nor frowned down. Many minds had received
it, but within the hearing of the papacy only one tongue appears
to have dared to utter it clearly. This new warrior was that strange
mortal, Giordano Bruno. He was hunted from land to land, until
at last he turned on his pursuers with fearful invectives. For
this he was entrapped at Venice, imprisoned during six years in
the dungeons of the Inquisition at Rome, then burned alive, and
his ashes scattered to the winds. Still, the truth lived on. (p.125)
It has been pointed out that in the latter decades
of the 20th century the fourth inquisition no longer burns its
victims, although it has arranged the firing of rather many.
The story of Galileo Galilei (1564 - 1642) is
well known to all. Only a decade after the burning of Bruno, Galileo
built a telescope. By 1610 he was proclaiming on the basis of
new evidence the truth of the Copernican Theory. In essence, "come
look through the telescope and see for yourself the evidence for
the theory". Arrested by the Inquisition in 1616, he was
released only to be re-arrested in 1633. Held under house arrest,
the old man was forced under threat of torture to recant.
For the physical sciences the inquisitional suppression
and censorship was coming to an end. Indeed, Isaac Newton (1642
- 1727), born in the year of Galileo's death, lived to be knighted
and upon death was buried in Westminster Abbey, two of the highest
honors from his Church and Country.
Lagging the physical sciences by a few centuries,
the psychological and social sciences are still suffering attempts
at suppression and censorship, which characterize the inquisitional
Fourth Inquisition. The fourth inquisition
was established in the mid-twentieth century to suppress heresy.
As with the first and third inquisitions, a main problem has been
that the ideologues did not integrate new knowledge with their
already established objectives and dogmas. Instead they viewed
new discoveries as a direct threat to all that was good and important
in society. As with the earlier inquisitions, the fourth attempts
to suppress and censor new knowledge that is perceived to be threatening
to old dogmas.
Somewhere between Thomas Jefferson and William
Jefferson Clinton an influential segment of the intelligentsia
lurched far to the ideological and political left. Thomas Jefferson
certainly did not confuse rule of law ("all men are created
equal") and hereditary reality. In a letter to John Adams,
Jefferson wrote, "I agree with you that there is a natural
aristocracy among men. The grounds of this are virtue and talents
.... For experience proves, that the moral and physical qualities
of man, whether good or evil, are transmissible in a certain degree
from father to son." (Jefferson, 1813).
In the face of what experience proves, and in
open antagonism to much of twentieth century science, a powerful
strain of modern liberalism worships radical egalitarianism. Modern
liberalism is attempting to enforce Lysenkoism throughout Western
civilization. The travesty that is Lysenkoism ruined the science
and economy of the Soviet Union. It is well known as an example
of the folly of attempting to repeal truth in the service of ideology
(Berg, 1988; Medvedev, 1971; Soyfer, 1994). What is less often
acknowledged is that the spirit of Lysenkoism is alive and well
in the form of modern liberalism's enforcement of radical egalitarianism:
There and here the guiding theory is identical;
it is socialist utopia based on egalitarianism, with what the
behavioral scientists call environmental determinism. In 1948
Stalin actually outlawed genetics as being a western bourgeois
construction that was incompatible with the truths of Marxist-Leninism.
Like outlawing the heliocentric nature of the solar system. Hillary
doesn't have quite that political clout, yet.
The theory that Stalin and Hillary share is
that all those newborns, wheat plants for Uncle Joe, human babies
for Mother Hillary, have identical potentials for growth and
development. If some individuals don't do as well as others,
it is because of their early experience. This is obviously true
- everyone knows that fertilizer is important for wheat plants,
and everyone knows that early nutrition and stimulation is important
for humans. This is so obviously true that anyone who questions
its application to the problems at hand is an idiot, an enemy
of the state, and a mean-spirited hate monger. There the eminent
scientist who objected, the geneticist Nikolai Vavilov, died
of disease and starvation in Gulag. Here eminent scientists
that voice objections are subjected to vitriolic ad hominem
attacks [And the end of whatever federal research support they
may have had]. In addition to individual differences there are
those vexatious group differences. There winter wheat and spring
wheat did not produce equal crop outcomes. Here it is altogether
too obvious that various ethnic/racial groups do not produce
equal educational, criminal, or job performance outcomes. Although
no one was actually sure of all of the reasons for the differential
outcomes, if you did not acquiesce to the environmentalist socialist
egalitarian explanation, you were evil, a maverick beyond the
pale, beyond the bounds of acceptable discourse. There a hated
Morganist-Mendelist, here a contemptuous racist. (Whitney, 1997).
Exactly where and how modern liberalism escaped
the bounds of reality is a topic of widespread discussion. The
seeds of radical egalitarianism may be contained in the basics
of Christianity, with its teaching that all men are equal in the
eyes of God (Bork, 1996; Pearson, 1996). Certainly the nineteenth
century New England, largely Unitarian, social reformers were
influenced not only by their religion, but also by the contemporaneous
revolutionaries in Europe.
A major lurch to the left occurred with the bloody
French revolution's slogan of "liberty, equality, fraternity".
Then there was the 1847 publication of the Communist Manifesto,
followed by the 1848 wave of riots and revolutions throughout
Europe. The 1867 first volume of Das Kapital was dedicated
to Darwin for the notions of evolutionary materialism and progress
in the world. However, it is essentially non-biological and like
the rest of Marx's writing contains no appreciation of evolutionary
biology. In areas pretending to science, as late as 1934 Franz
Boas was maintaining that the basis of all serious study was the
work of Theodor Waitz. Waitz's major work of 1858 was the pre-Darwinian
On the Unity of the Human Species and the Natural Condition
of Man. This thread was not originally anti-Darwinian; rather
it was a-Darwinian or non-Darwinian, an approach to the study
of man rooted in biblical creationism with a monogenesist emphasis
(Mayr, 1982; Degler, 1991).
Many writers agree that a major wrenching leftward
happened with the protest decade of the 1960s. In his autobiographical
Radical Son, David Horowitz (1997) describes how a group
of ideologically committed red-diaper babies, with support and
encouragement of the underground Communist Party, engineered much
of the radicalism of the 1960s. In Destructive Generation
Collier and Horowitz (1995) explain that "the utopianism
of the Left is a secular religion. However sordid Leftist practice
may be, defending Leftist ideals is, for the true believer, tantamount
to defending the ideals of humanity itself. To protect the faith
is the highest calling of the radical creed. The more the evidence
weighs against the belief, the more noble the act of believing
becomes" (p. 246).
There is a "readiness to reshape reality
to make the world correspond to an idea" (p. 37). There is
a "willingness to tinker with the facts to serve a greater
truth" (p.37). And so it has obviously been since the 1960s.
Over recent decades, as the scientific data accumulate the stridency
of the Left intensifies. Driven by ideology and not constrained
by the truth, as all else fails they engage in misrepresentation
and character assassination.
Raymond B. Cattell described some aspects of the
workings of this inquisition which has been snarling at his heels
for many decades. In A New Morality from Science: Beyondism,
Cattell (1972) wrote:
The danger is not only that politicians and private
institutions with axes to grind will find tame or corruptible
social scientists to support their positions. The greater danger
which recent experiences both here and abroad, e.g., Lysenkoism
in Russia, have revealed is that partisans primarily political
in interest and intention either accidentally or deliberately
infiltrate the ranks of science. In the case of the Lysenko episode,
and comparable events in Nazi Germany, the disturbing realization
to scientists was that the exile or death of those ejected from
their academic positions followed what seemed initially
to be severe technical criticism by fellow scientists, but was
actually politically staged." (p. 38, emphasis in the original).
Robert Bork has commented on a recent high-profile
example of "what seemed initially to be severe technical
criticism by fellow scientists" (Cattell, 1972, p.38). Bork
(1996) pointed out that:
For egalitarians there is always lurking the nightmare
that there may be genetic differences between ethnic groups that
result in different average levels of performance in different
activities. Only that fear can explain the explosive rage with
which some commentators received The Bell Curve by the
late Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, which, as a small
part of a much larger thesis concluded that there are heritable
differences in cognitive ability among the races. Some comments
expressed respectful and thoughtful disagreement, some asked for
careful reexamination of the data and arguments, but some did
little more than shout "Nazi". Herrnstein and Murray
are not racists but serious scholars. They may be right or they
may not, but the episode indicates the degree to which the ideology
of egalitarianism censors expression and thought in sensitive
areas. (pp. 267-268).
Many contemporary events amply illustrate the
truly inquisitional nature of modern liberalism in the defense
of radical egalitarianism. The titles of some papers written by
targets of the inquisition are informative, such as "Egalitarian
fiction and collective fraud" (Gottfredson, 1994) and "Ideology
and censorship in behavior genetics" (Whitney, 1995). While
under criminal investigation instigated because of his research,
Rushton (1994) wrote "The equalitarian dogma revisited".
It is Christopher Brand, lately of Edinburgh University,
UK, who in 1997 suffered the high penalty of being fired for challenging
the egalitarian fiction. Having been on the psychology department
faculty for over twenty years, in 1996 Brand authored a book entitled
The g Factor. Published in the UK by John Wiley & Sons,
one of the largest of the international scholarly houses, the
company's promotional literature contained the statement:
The nature and measurement of intelligence is a
political hot potato. But Brand in this extremely readable, wide-ranging
and up-to-date book is not afraid to slaughter the shibboleths
of modern `educationalists'. This short book provides a great
deal for thought and debate.
Brand's book enjoyed brisk sales in the UK for
about 6 weeks, and was scheduled for release in the US, when it
was suddenly "depublished", actually withdrawn from
circulation, seemingly at the command of Wiley's New York executive
headquarters. Wiley told the media that the book "makes assertions
that we find repellent". Branded a "racist", Christopher
Brand was in due course suspended from teaching and administrative
duties at Edinburgh University. A "Special Tribunal"
was convened, following which Mr. Brand was sacked. At the time
of this writing, and in accord with the procedures of classical
Lysenkoism, the proceedings of the Special Tribunal remain secret.
The present fourth inquisition is directly analogous
with the preceding first and third inquisitions. The agenda and
objectives of liberalism were established first before, and then
with complete disregard for, Darwin's (1859) On the Origin
of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation
of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. The dogmatic position
of modern liberalism with radical egalitarianism was established
in a philosophical and political context. The positions were hardened
into dogma with no regard for the discoveries of the explorations
of the 19th century. Additionally, the genetics and behavior genetics
that routinely attacked with religious fervor by the radical egalitarians
twentieth century science, not nineteenth century political theology.
Marx was writing in the 1840s and 1860s, while Mendel's epoch-setting
experiments and theory were not widely appreciated until after
Unfortunately the radical egalitarianism characteristic
of modern liberalism became formalized as a quasi-theological
dogma just before the discovery of much new knowledge. Just as
the first inquisition arose because the existing dogma did not
encompass knowledge of Aristotle, and the third inquisition functioned
because the dogma was inconsistent with the discoveries of Copernicus
and Galileo, so the current fourth inquisition exists in large
part because its dogma is inconsistent with the discoveries of
Darwin, Galton, and Mendel.
One must never underestimate what Richard John
Neuhaus called `the profound bigotry and anti-intellectualism
and intoler-ance and illiberality of liberalism.' (Bork, 1996,
The Events of August 1997
The highest honor bestowed by the American Psychological
Association (APA) is the Gold Medal Award for Life Achievement
in Psychological Science. As the APA prepared for its 105th annual
convention to be held in August, the house organ American Psychologist
(1997) for August announced the winner of the Gold Medal.
The American Psychological Foundation (APF) Gold
Medal Awards recognize distinguished and enduring records of accomplishment
in 4 areas of psychology. The 1997 recipient of the Gold Medal
Award for Life Achievement in Psychological Science is Raymond
Joseph D. Matarazzo, President of the APF, will
present the Gold Medal Award for Life Achievement in Psychological
Science at the 105th Annual Convention of the American Psychological
Association on August 16, 1997, at 5:00 p.m. in Ballroom III
of the Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers in Chicago. (p. 797).
The 92-year-old Cattell, with a traveling companion
to assist him, traveled from his retirement home in Hawaii to
be at the meeting in Chicago to receive this special honor, a
gold medal award for a lifetime of work.
But Joseph D. Matarazzo did not present the Gold
Medal on August 16. Instead:
On Aug. 13, the foundation decided to postpone
the presentation of the award to Raymond B. Cattell, in the week
proceeding the opening of the APA's 1997 Annual Convention, concerns
that Cattell's writings were racist and advocated the separation
of the races were voiced to the association. (http://www.apa.org/monitor/sep97/award.html).
Since its founding in 1892, the American Psychological
Association (APA) has only once changed the statement of objectives
contained in its bylaws. In 1892 the one objective was "to
advance psychology as a science." From 1945 there have been
three: "The object of the APA shall be to advance psychology
as a science, as a profession, and as a means of promoting human
welfare". From 1945, political concerns, left wing, became
a more prominent, and contentious, part of the APA. In the files
of the historian of the Psychonomic Society are letters from prominent
psychologists of the time: "All manner of interests, mostly
non-scientific, sprang up"; the APA proliferated into a "chaotic
monster" that "fails to discriminate between science
and charlatanry". It engaged in much political lobbying for
mostly liberal causes. In protest, breakaway scientists formed
the Psychonomic Society in 1959. Many members of the APA drifted
away over the years, often in protest of the politicization of
the Association. Finally a major schism occurred. In 1987/88 psychologists
who wished to separate from the increasingly professional and
political APA formed the American Psychological Society. Perhaps
it should not be a surprise that the remnant APA was such an easy
mark for the Inquisition in 1997.
The New York Times for August 15 reported
an interview with Rhea Farberman, director of communications for
the association: "Ms. Farberman said a committee had voted
to give 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 judgment'"
(Hilts, 1997). This excuse of new information "coming to
light" is preposterous. Cattell has never been retiring about
his interpretations of data and theory. Frankly outspoken throughout
his long career, his views have been widely known for decades
among the scientific community. Ms. Farberman appears to be impugning
the competence of the leading psychologists that had in full knowledge
chosen Cattell for their most prestigious award. It was not even
for "new information" that Cattell is on the hit list
of the Inquisition; that information has been public knowledge
Poor Ms. Farberman, and the APF, should have realized
that with the (as yet) uncensored Internet it is becoming almost
impossible to hide the most embarrassing details of organizational
snafus. From winnowing great masses of Internet traffic (and admittedly
some of it second-hand or further removed, and impossible to cite
confidential sources) it seems that it was not new information
but failure of courage that tripped up the APF. Apparently the
original and lengthly letter of nomination spelled out both Cattell's
scientific strengths and specifically flagged those of his views
that are deemed controversial. A committee of some six well-informed
past-presidents chose Cattell as deserving the Gold Medal with
full knowledge of his works. Then after the award was publicly
announced, a well- experienced Inquisitor, Barry Mehler (not himself
a psychologist), is reputed to have threatened to disrupt the
convention if the award were given to Cattell. Shades of a `60s
convention in Chicago! Against much advice, and with at least
one eminent psychologist threatening to resign if he did so, Matarazzo
decided to cancel the ceremony and further investigate the award.
The official citation that accompanied the Gold
Medal Award is as follows:
In a remarkable 70-year career, Raymond B. Cattell
has made prodigious, landmark contributions to psychology, including
factor analytic mapping of the domains of personality, motivation,
and abilities; exploration of three different medias of assessment;
separation of fluid and crystallized intelligence; and numerous
methodological innovations. Thus, Cattell became recognized in
numerous substantive areas, providing a model of the complete
psychologist in an age of specialization. It may be said that
Cattell stands without peer in his creation of a unified theory
of individual differences integrating intellectual, temperamental,
and dynamic domains of personality in the context of environmental
and hereditary influences. (Amer. Psychol, 1997, 797).
The fact is that it was Cattell's massive contribution
to science that led to the APF decision to select him for this
prestigious award, but the decision to withhold it was made on
purely political grounds, i.e. that he "advocated the separation
of the races."
It is that substantive and theoretical domain
specified in the last two words of his citation, "hereditary
influences", that long ago flagged Cattell as a target of
the Inquisition. In craven response to the attack on Cattell,
the APA announced that the American Psychological Foundation would
now appoint a special Blue Ribbon Panel, to consist of both psychologists
and nonpsychologists, to review the award.
Only two accusers have been publicly mentioned
as attacking the award of the Gold Medal to Cattell. Apparently
it doesn't take much to derail an organization as sensitive to
the Inquisitional furies as is the APA. Neither were psychologists.
The heavyweight was Abraham Foxman, identified in the New York
Times as "the national director of the Anti-Defamation
League of B'nai B'rith," who has "written to the association
protesting the award, saying it would give the group's `seal of
approval to a man who has, whatever his other achievements, exhibited
a lifelong commitment to racial supremacy theories.'" (Hilts,
Although it was probably the criticism of the
influential ADL organization that caused the APA to hold up the
award at the last moment, the initiative would seem to have come
from the lesser accuser – one Barry Mehler, an associate professor
of humanities at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan.
Mehler has incorporated something that he calls "The Institute
for the Study of Academic Racism (ISAR)".
On the Internet Mehler has provided quotes of
himself: "`ISAR created this story and it's far from over,'
Mehler said. `It is gratifying to see my Institute attain this
level of credibility in so short a time. I will be monitoring
the investigation of the blue-ribbon committee.' ... Mehler ...
has made national headlines with his recent criticism of the American
Psychological Foundation's (APF) choice of psychologist Raymond
B. Cattell for a lifetime achievement award .... Mehler's protest
has stirred up national publicity in the New York Times, The
Chronicle of Higher Education, Reuters, and the Associated
Press. Mehler has been interviewed by radio giant WBAI in
New York and has received numerous inquiries into the Cattell
Mehler has also posted a sample of his writing,
a paper entitled "In Genes We Trust: When Science Bows to
Racism". Mehler reports that the paper was a cover feature
in the magazine Reform Judaism for Winter 1994, and was
revised and republished in four further outlets, 1, The Public
Eye, 2, RaceFile, 3, Networking: A Publication of
the Fight the Right Network, and 4, B'nai B'rith Messenger.
The paper is replete with passages such as "With
its legacy of Dr. Josef Mengele's twin experiments at Auschwitz
and Dr. Burt's bogus science, twin studies fell into disfavor".
Adjectives scattered throughout include "racist", "Hitler's
race ideology", "Nazi produced", "Fascist
ideologist", "notoriously anti-Semitic", "fraudulent",
and it concludes, "we must beware of scientists who wish
to play G–d".
Such loose use of similies is reprehensible. Mehler
is seemingly confusing anti-liberalism with anti-Semitism. Anti-liberalism
apparently is often confused with anti-Semitism. To illustrate,
in the newsletter Details for July 1997, published by The
Jewish Policy Center, Rabbi Daniel Lapin wrote "I would like
to argue that the root cause of both anti-Semitism and intermarriage
in America today is the same, namely, the Jewish community's disproportionate
liberalism .... The vast majority of Americans care deeply about
the value of family and religion. They recognize that these institutions
have been the pillars of moral society for millennia. They realize
that liberalism, which devalues these institutions, is largely
responsible for the fact that life in America has become more
squalid, more expensive, and more dangerous over the past 30 years
.... Though virtually all Americans are too decent to let this
blossom into full-fledged anti-Semitism, there is always that
threat." (pp. 1-2).
Mehler has been guilty of this confusion for a
long time. In the book Race, Intelligence and Bias in Academe
(Pearson, 1997), author Roger Pearson provides a chapter entitled
"Activist Lysenkoism: The Case of Barry Mehler". In
this he points out that decades ago Mehler was a student in a
"Program for Training in Research on Institutional Racism"
that was headed by Jerry Hirsch, and that Hirsch had long ago
attacked Cattell. For example, he quotes Hirsch as saying "`my
University of Illinois squandered a career-long research professorship
on [Cattell].' Likening Cattell to the `disgraced Vice President
Spiro Agnew,' Hirsch railed against Cattell's `Hitler-like recommendations'
on the need for eugenic foresight" (p. 259).
Today Hirsch is retired, and we hear less from
him. But his torch is being carried by someone who appears to
be even more of a zealot. That someone is his erstwhile student,
Let us look at this disciple of Jerry Hirsch,
an excellent example of a political activist operating from
the security of the academic world. Mehler has published little
or no non-political material: he appears to specialize in politicized
diatribes, filled with inaccuracies, for fringe publications
on the Far Left, and glories in participating in non-academic
TV shows such as Geraldo. His published works have targeted
respected scholars with impressive research credentials who
reject the aberrant theory that all individuals and peoples
are equal (i.e., identical) in their inherited potential abilities.
Moreover, copies of these error-filled and scandalous attacks
on such scholars have often been mailed to journalists in anonymous
envelopes. Recipients have ranged from well-known figures such
as Jack Anderson, the syndicated columnist, to editors of student
journals and to journalists working for local newspapers in
towns where the scholars Mehler lambasts work and reside. (pp.
Several qualities consistently characterize
Mehler's attacks on the scholars he selects for `exposure.'
He seldom attempts to present scientific evidence to contradict
the findings of their research. Clearly, since they are writing
within the limits of their own or related disciplines, and he
has no demonstrated or academically recognized competence in
these areas, he cannot do this. Instead he falls back on ad
hominem attacks, labeling some of America's and Britain's
finest scientists `racists,' `nazis' and `fascists.' Those whom
he has attacked include a long list of distinguished scholars,
such as: John Baker (Oxford), Thomas Bouchard (Minnesota), Sir
Cyril Burt (London), Raymond Cattell (Illinois and Hawaii),
C. D. Darlington (Oxford), Hans Eysenck (London), Linda Gottfredson
(Deleware), James Gregor (UC Berkeley), Richard Herrnstein (Harvard),
Arthur Jensen (UC Berkeley), Travis Osborne (Georgia), J. Philippe
Rushton (Western Ontario), Nancy Segal (Minnesota), William
Shockley (Stanford), Audrey Shuey (Randolph Macon Woman's College),
Ernest Van den Haag (CUNY), and Daniel Vining (Pennsylvania).
The charges lodged against Cattell have been described
at some length. There is absolutely no need here to go into any
detail with regard to any of Cattell's many technical scientific
achievements. This is because, true to the form described above
by Pearson, the scientific accomplishments of the great man do
not figure in the charges leveled against him. The charges fall
into three categories: [A] heresy; [B] blasphemy; and [C] cavorting
with devils. In taking the charges up one-at-a-time, I hope to
show that after cutting through the invective, and discarding
the gratuitous ad hominems, there are indeed large kernels
of truth embedded in each of them. As with most victims of Inquisitions,
the target is largely guilty as charged.
[A] Heresy. The charge is made that Cattell
has been, since the 1930s, an advocate of eugenics. Indeed beyond
that, Cattell followed Galton's lead in suggesting that the science
of eugenics could form the basis for a new approach to religion.
Cattell proposed an ethical system founded in science, to be called
"Beyondism". Mehler tells us:
Cattell first outlined his `evolutionary ethic'
based on natural selection in Psychology and Social Progress (1933),
and that "Cattell's first monograph on the topic was, A New
Morality from Science: Beyondism (Cattell, 1972), followed by
Beyondism: Religion from Science (Cattell, 1987).
The invective is contemptible. Mehler tells us
that "`Beyondism' is a neo-fascist contrivance. Cattell promulgates
ideas that he formulated within a demimonde of radical eugenicists
and neo-fascists ... it is striking for its extremism, racism,
and virulent bias".
Of course the underlying heresy here, a belief
in the well-established truth of genetic influence on individual
differences, is totally at odds with the radical egalitarianism
that is the Inquisition's most sacred dogma. Only with genetic
causes would most of the practices advocated as eugenics be effective.
People who have studied the life and works of Sir Francis Galton
know that his original "eugenics" has since divided
into two parts. One part, the basic science, has developed into
what is today known as genetics and human genetics. The second
part, the application of hereditary knowledge for the good of
man and society, has developed into the largely voluntary genetic
counseling of today (Whitney, 1990). Even Cattell is quoted as
saying that his ideas have evolved and he is today an advocate
of voluntary eugenics.
Contrary to Mehler's attempts to invoke wrath
at the alleged anti-Semitism inherent in research into heredity,
he should recognise, as so many Jewish scientists do, that the
Jewish community has benefited from hereditarian research and
eugenical practices at least as much as any other population.
The case of population screening for carriers of Tay Sachs disease,
followed by amniocentesis for heterozygous couples and voluntary
abortion of affected fetuses, has been hailed as a great "life-giving".
Parents can now choose to have a healthy baby instead of suffering
through the agonizing death of a Tay Sachs affected child. For
many years screening for Tay Sachs was limited to members of the
Ashkenazim because they are the only population group with a relatively
high frequency of the gene for Tay Sachs disease (Kaback, 1977).
This is applied genetics – eugenics – in action. So too is the
recently announced screening for the first identified gene that
is causally linked to colorectal cancer. The screening is to be
limited to Ashkenazim, the only group yet found to harbor the
gene (Hopkins, 1997a, 1997b; Laken, et. al., 1997). Again, eugenics
in action. It is hard to understand how such hereditarian research
and application – eugenics – is in any way "anti-Semitic",
as Mehler has claimed.
Other sources list many advocates in making the
point that back into the 1930s and before, many social progressives
of both the right and the left were enthusiastic eugenicists (Pearson,
1996). One only has to think of H. G. Wells, J. B. S. Haldane,
Sidney and Beatrice Webb, and Herman J. Muller. It has also been
emphasized elsewhere that the painting of eugenics with the tar
brush of a slippery slope to Nazism is post-war propaganda that
is largely devoid of substance (Whitney, 1996). The very recent
"exposés" in the newspapers of governmental sponsored
eugenic programs in various social democratic countries even into
the 1970s (e.g. Canada, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Switzerland)
serves to underscore the lack of relationship.
The charge published in The New York Times
that Cattell is "a man who has, whatever his other achievements,
exhibited a lifelong commitment to racial supremacy theories"
(Hilts, 1997) needs translation out of political invectese. Yes,
it is true that as an outstanding scientist with many other achievements,
Cattell has exhibited a lifelong commitment to attempting to understand
the causes of both individual and group differences. Cattell is
guilty of being a scientist with an interest in the causes of
individual differences. As such he has followed the empirical
data wherever it may have lead. As just one example of suspected
environmental effects, cognitive scientists have in recent decades
been very interested in the so-called Flynn effect. The finding
that in industrialized societies there seems to be taking place
a substantial and prolonged increase in the level of intellectual
functioning (Flynn, 1987). This is a phenomenon that Cattell empirically
found and reported decades ago (Cattell, 1951).
Cattell is only guilty of advocating a version
of secular humanism incorporating aspects of morality and ethics
that would be informed by knowledge from modern science. He named
[B] Blasphemy. Mehler plays the Hitler
card in order to underscore Cattell's reprehensibleness:
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 Volkswagen, which he designed himself for the average family.
(The Beyondist, 1994, p. 2).
This is simply an attempt to smear Cattell by
making him out to be a fan. Mehler is essentially quoting out
of context. He omits the next and concluding sentence of Cattell's
passage, which was:
The man turned out evil in his militarism and his
treatment of the Jews and dissident Catholics, but that does not
justify, to a rational person, calling all his attitudes mistaken.
If we were to respond flippantly to Mehler's nonsense,
we could point out that according to customer information at the
Volkswagen Company (phone 1-800-822-8987), through March of 1996,
21,276,932 persons have voted with their purchase in agreement
with Cattell that in the Volkswagen Hitler did a good thing.
But on a much more serious note, here it is only
Mehler that is guilty of blaspheme. Mehler in effect trivializes
the Holocaust by his loose and inappropriate invocation of Hitler.
[C] Cavorting with Devils. Mehler freely
engages in guilt-by- association. Quite a few, mostly obscure
or effectively marginalized, persons are named.
Wilmot Robertson seems to be the worst of the
lot. Mehler says "To my knowledge, Cattell is the only major
academic willing to be forthright about his association with Robertson."
We are informed that Wilmot Robertson has written a few books,
including one entitled The Dispossessed Majority, and that
he publishes a "neo-fascist magazine" that is targeted
toward an educated audience that is named Instauration.
But that may be as it may be. Cattell is certainly not responsible
for anything Robertson may write or publish. Neither is any interest
he may or may not have in reading Robertson's publications a justifable
reason for denying him a well-earned award for his contributions
to science. The recent behavior of the APA seems to indicate that
science is still subject to politics under the current rule of
the Fourth Inquisition.
Mehler even attacks Cattell's association with
The Mankind Quarterly, protesting that: "Cattell has
published numerous times in Pearson's Mankind Quarterly
and Pearson has published a number of Cattell's monographs."
Cattell has served on the editorial board of The Mankind Quarterly
for many years. Although that journal does not always bend to
comply with the dogma of modern politicized liberalism, there
is nothing even remotely anti-Semitic about its contents. Mehler
may understandably resent Pearson's exposé of his own writings
(see Pearson, 1991). but Cattell's willingness to lend his name
to the advisory board of The Mankind Quarterly in no way
impugns Cattell's own status as a scholar, reflecting only to
the credit of The Mankind Quarterly.
An eminent student of the human condition, the
recently deceased Hans J. Eysenck, once addressed the very issues
that now face the Blue Ribbon Panel convened by the APF to look
into Cattell's Gold Medal:
This, then, is the "trahison des clercs"
of which I make complaint: that both students and their elders
and betters have begun to play a child's game of goodies and baddies,
in which a man's work is judged, not in terms of its scientific
content, or on any rational, empirical basis, but in terms of
whether it agrees with the critic's preconceptions.
And my suggestion for the future is that which
Sir Francis Bacon gave centuries ago in The Advancement of
"To have the true testimonies of learning
to be better heard, without the interruption of tacit objection,
I think good to deliver it from the discredits and disgraces
it hath received, all from ignorance; but ignorance severally
disguised; appearing sometimes in the zeal and jealousy of devines;
sometimes in the severity and arrogance of politiques; and sometimes
in the errors and imperfections of learned men themselves ..."
However that may be, there are of course difficult
ethical and moral problems and dilemmas involved in the discussion,
and the exhortations of militant Leftists should not preclude
serious discussion of these problems. Note first of all a `Resolution
in Scientific Freedom,' signed by 50 eminent scientists, among
them: Francis H.C. Crick, Nobel Prize-winner, Cambridge University;
Jacques Monod, Nobel Prize-winner, College de France; Arthur
R. Jensen, University of California; Richard Herrnstein, Harvard
University; C.D. Darlington, Oxford University; and John C.
Kendrew, Nobel Prize-winner, Cambridge University. The Resolution
reads as follows:
"The history of civilization shows many
periods when scientific research or teaching was censured, punished,
or suppressed for non-scientific reasons, usually for seeming
to contradict some religious or political belief. Well-known
scientist victims include: Galileo in orthodox Italy; Darwin,
in Victorian England; Einstein, in Hitler's Germany; and Mendelian
biologists, in Stalin's Russia."
"Today, a similar suppression, censure,
punishment, and defamation are being applied against scientists
who emphasize the role of heredity in human behavior. Published
positions are often misquoted and misrepresented; emotional
appeals replace scientific reasoning; arguments are directed
against the man rather than against the evidence (e.g. a scientist
is called `fascist', and his arguments are ignored).
"A large number of attacks come from non-scientists,
or even anti-scientists, among the political militants on campus.
Other attackers include academics committed to environmentalism
in their explanation of almost all human differences. And a
large number of scientists, who have studied the evidence and
are persuaded of the great role played by heredity in human
behavior, are silent, neither expressing their beliefs clearly
in public, nor rallying strongly to the defence of their more
"The results are seen in the present academy;
it is virtually heresy to express a hereditarian view, or to
recommend further study of the biological bases of behavior.
A kind of orthodox environmentalism dominates the liberal academy,
and strongly inhibits teachers, researchers, and scholars from
turning to biological explanations or efforts. Now, therefore,
we the undersigned scientists from a variety of fields, declare
the following beliefs and principles:
"(1) We have investigated much evidence
concerning the possible role of inheritance in human abilities
and behaviors, and "we believe such hereditary influences"
are very strong.
"(2) We wish strongly to encourage research
into the biological and hereditary bases of behavior, as a major
complement to the environmental efforts at explanation.
"(3) We strongly defend the right, and
emphasize the scholarly duty, of the teacher to discuss hereditary
influences on behavior, in appropriate settings and with responsible
"(4) We deplore the evasion of hereditary
reasoning in current textbooks, and the failure to give responsible
weight to heredity in disciplines such as sociology, social
psychology, social anthropology, educational psychology, psychological
measurement, and many others.
"(5) We call upon liberal academics - upon
faculty senates, upon professional and learned societies, upon
the American Association of University Professors, upon the
American Civil Liberties Union, upon the University Centres
for Rational Alternatives, upon presidents and boards of trustees,
upon departments of science, and upon the editors of scholarly
journals - to insist upon the openness of social science to
the well-grounded claims of the bio-behavioral reasoning, and
to protect vigilantly any qualified faculty members who responsibly
teach, research, or publish concerning such reasoning.
"We so urge because as scientists we believe
that human problems may best be remedied by increased human
knowledge, and that such increases in knowledge lead much more
probably to the enhancement of human happiness, than to the
I was asked by the British Association for the
Advancement of Science to contribute an article on the ethics
of science and the duties of scientists, with special reference
to these events. What I wrote then I still believe to be right,
and consequently the body of the text of my contribution is
reprinted here in full. This is what I said:
"It used to be taken for granted that it
was not only ethically `right' for scientists to make public
their discoveries; it was regarded as their `duty' to do so.
Secrecy, the withholding of information, and the refusal to
communicate knowledge were rightly regarded as cardinal sins
against the scientific ethos. This is true no more. In recent
years it has been argued, more and more vociferously, that scientists
should have regard for the social consequences of their discoveries,
and of their pronouncements; if these consequences are undesirable,
the research in the area involved should be terminated, and
results already achieved should not be publicized. The area
which has seen most of this kind of argumentation is of course
that concerned with the inheritance of intelligence, and with
racial differences in ability; many even of those who acknowledge
that Jensen's arguments are scientifically correct have argued
that he was wrong (and that Herrnstein and I were wrong) in
actually publishing the conclusions to which all the experimental
work was leading. Stressing the possible hereditary nature of
the IQ deficit of American blacks, as compared with American
whites, might have serious consequences in jeopardizing the
integration between the races so earnestly desired by both sides
to the argument; carrying out further research might offend
liberal opinion, and lead to further dispute, strife, and even
bloodshed. What good could come of work along these lines, it
was frequently argued; the results would be of purely academic
interest as both sides were agreed that there was much overlap
in ability between the two races, so that each individual would
still have to be judged in terms of his particular pattern of
abilities, rather than as a member of a particular race. Better
let sleeping dogs lie and studiously turn a blind eye to such
facts and theories as might impinge on the general belief in
universal egalitarianism, and threaten its very foundations.
"I believe that there are powerful arguments
against this modern belief in the opportunistic silencing of
inconvenient theories, and the refusal to support research which
might unearth equally inconvenient facts, all in the supposed
interests of society. The first argument by itself, I would
suggest, is quite conclusive; it is based on the impossibility
of forecasting the social consequences (or even the scientific
consequences) of one's findings and theories. It is impossible
to read the history of science without becoming aware of the
fact that even the greatest scientists were incapable of looking
ahead even a few years and predicting the consequences of their
actions." (Eysenck, 1997, pp 45-48).
Guilty as Charged
With regard to Giordano Bruno, "His reward
indeed came – even for his faulty utterances – when, toward
the end of the nineteenth century, thoughtful men from all parts
of the world united in erecting his statue on the spot where
he had been burned by the Roman Inquisition nearly three hundred
years before." (White, 1896/1965, p.80).
We can only hope that the Blue Ribbon Panel
of the APF can render its verdict with regard to Raymond B.
Cattell in a more timely fashion.
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