Raymond B. Cattell
and The Fourth Inquisition
Florida State University
This paper originally appeared in The
Mankind Quarterly , vol. 38, #1 & 2, Fall/Winter
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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).
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 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 1900.
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
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 B. Cattell.
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 preceeding 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
The New York Times for August 15 reported
an interview with Rhea Farberman, director of communications for
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 for years.
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,
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
non-psychologists, 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, 1997).
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 issue".
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
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
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,
Barry Mehler. 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). (p. 262).
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"
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
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
"expos�s" 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 it "Beyondism".
[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
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 justifiable
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
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 expos� 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
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 Learning:
"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 outspoken colleagues.
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
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
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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