Raymond B. Cattell and The Fourth Inquisition

By Glayde Whitney
Florida State University
This paper originally appeared in The Mankind Quarterly , vol. 38, #1 & 2, Fall/Winter 1997, p.99-124.

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 approach.

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).

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 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, p. 336).

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 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 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 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, 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 non-psychologists, to review the award.

The Accusers

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 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 God".

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).

Pearson continues:


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. 259-260).

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

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 "exposÚs" 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 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 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 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 exposÚ 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.

Another View

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 scholarship.

(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 opposite.

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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