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Phil Rushton’s Credo And The New Dark Age
Four days after Professor J. Philippe Rushton’s death on October 2, Salon regurgitated uncritically the $PLC’s postmortem smear (Leading race ‘scientist’ dies in Canada, by Don Terry, originally posted on the Southern Poverty Law Center website October 5.). This quoted Ferris State University professor and Marxist ideologue Barry Mehler [Email him]: “He’s the end of an era of academic racists of his style and notoriety”.
The $PLC’s recycled smear was the usual abuse: “Rushton’s infamous theory about race and intelligence,” “prominent elder [of] academic racism,” Rushton’s “monstrous” ideas, “Rushton’s ‘highly suspect’ research,” “author of a handful of academic tomes,” “Rushton was pushing old-fashioned racism,” and (best of all!) Rushton “often published on racist websites, including the anti-immigrant hate site VDARE.com”. [VDARE.com note: link proudly added].
The $PLC’s Terry concluded his tirade of hate with a swipe at Rushton’s ratings based on student comments posted at RateMyProfessors.com. He noted that, although a few students posted favorable ratings, a “majority of the reviewers rated him ‘poor quality’”.
But the comments quoted (here and here) reflected ideological disagreement rather than poor instruction. And, typically, the $PLC failed to disclose Barry Mehler’s own mediocre ratings also posted at RateMyProfessor.com:
“This guy is so incredibly hard to follow, it’s ridiculous…. He made us buy two books, one of which we NEVER used and the other which was more of a novel spreading propaganda about how America is an evil empire”; “I dropped this class after the first day! He did not say a word about History and rambled on about how our country was thriving when everyone smoked Camel cigarettes”; “horribly boring”; “Dr. Mehler is one of the worst teachers I’ve ever had! He re-wrote the text book online so everything is his opinion, and if you don’t agree you fail”.
As Rushton often said, racial egalitarian academics are held to different standards.
There have been notably few MSM comments on Rushton’s death outside of Canada. The New York Times, which in 1994 published a joint notice of his masterwork Race, Evolution, and Behavior along with The Bell Curve on the front page of its Book Review, [What Is Intelligence, and Who Has It?, By Malcolm W. Browne, October 16, 1994] has said nothing. National Review, which under John O’Sullivan’s editorship published Rushton’s devastating critique of Stephen Jay Gould (The Mismeasures of Gould, September 15, 1997), has not even mentioned him since 2007.
Unquestionably this is due to cowardice—to the chilling effect of the relentless Cultural Marxist assault on Rushton. He well described the “moralistic aggression” of his adversaries in a paper published back in 1990 in Psychologische Beiträge:
I can personally attest to the extreme egalitarianism that dominates and censures this area. On January 19, 1989, I presented the r/K theory of racial group differences at a Symposium on Evolution at the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Francisco. The news media picked this up making a short report of it in the United States. In Canada, however, the story created a firestorm. An enterprising reporter took a version of my views to a local activist group, the Urban Alliance on Race Relations, and asked them for their opinion. Predictably enough, they said I should be fired for promoting hatred. This made headlines and I became a target for moralistic aggression.
The University President gave a press conference to argue that academic freedom protected me and that I was a serious scholar. Students and activist groups were not satisfied and daily demanded a public forum to air my iniquities. Newspapers ran cartoons of me with a Ku Klux Klan hood on and having a telephone conversation with a delighted Adolf Hitler. The Premier of the Province, while acknowledging that he did not have the power to do so said that he would fire me if he could. David Suzuki, a well-known Canadian geneticist and media person challenged me to a two hour TV debate which was held at my university in front of 2,300 people, in which he emotionally called for me to be fired. Radical professors from nearby universities came to denounce me and social activist groups organized sit-ins and demonstrations, once even bringing in a spokesperson from the African National Congress to berate the university for supporting me and apartheid in South Africa. Campaigns were mounted for me to be investigated—my ethical clearance for previous studies, my grant applications, my completion of bureaucratic forms on previous projects, etc. It bordered on becoming a witch-hunt and I was the centre of media and political attention for many weeks.
[Why we should study race differences, J. Philippe Rushton, Psychologische Beiträge, (pay archive) Band 32, 1990: 135]
One particularly egregious example of the difficulties that Rushton encountered: the nine-month hold-up of a shipment of Race, Evolution, and Behavior by Canadian customs officials. The book was “widely available in university bookstores in Canada,” according to The Globe and Mail. Mary Curtis, executive vice president and publisher of Rushton’s U.S. publisher Transaction, said, “It’s unbelievable. I can’t remember another incident when anything of this nature has ever occurred”. Eventually Canada Customs conceded that it was not “hate literature”. [See The New Enemies of Evolutionary Science, by J. Philippe Rushton, Liberty, March 1998; Customs officials delayed Rushton book for 9 months, By Rudy Platiel, Toronto Globe and Mail, January 3, 1996 (not online)]; Contemptible Canadian Customs Laws, American Renaissance, March 1996.
I well remember Phil Rushton as the featured banquet speaker at the second bi-annual American Renaissance conference in Louisville, Kentucky (back in the days when AR was allowed to have conferences). His address captivated the AR attendees. He began with slides of slanderous cartoons published in the Canadian press, receiving thunderous applause when he revealed that the threat of a lawsuit halted additional depictions of him in Klan garb. (Order on video from Amren.com).
Afterwards, a number of us had the opportunity to meet Rushton informally. He answered the questions of well-informed admirers, who covered a full range of related academic topics involving race differences, the validity of Carleton Coon’s multiregional theory of evolutionary racial origins, his own relationship with other notable researchers, and a range of mutually interesting topics. He was always gracious and polite—a true gentleman and scholar. Even enemies acknowledged this—including Mehler, who admitted in the Salon piece quoted above, “he never got flustered”.
Similarly, in the highly-publicized 1989 debate with geneticist David Suzuki, Rushton delivered the case for genetic-based race differences in a calm, rational way, in dramatic contrast to the disheveled, emotion-driven Suzuki.
A number of prominent academics defended him in the 1989 crisis: C. Davis Ankney, University of Western Ontario; Jack Block, University of California at Berkeley; Arthur R. Jensen, University of California at Berkeley; Richard Lynn, University of Ulster; Hiram P. Caton, Griffith University, Australia; Irenaus Eibl-Eibesfeldt, Max Planck Institute for Human Ethology, Germany; James R. Flynn, University of Otago, New Zealand; Barry R. Gross, CUNY; Richard J. Herrnstein, Harvard University; Henry L. Roediger, Rice University; Ronald C. Johnson, University of Hawaii; David K. B. Nias, City of London Polytechnic; Gerald M. Phillips, Pennsylvania State University; Edward O. Wilson, Harvard University; James Q. Wilson, UCLA; David C. Rowe, University of Arizona; Lee Sechrest, University of Arizona; Pierre L. van den Berghe; University of Washington, etc.
One frequent charge echo-chambered by Rushton’s critics was that his thesis on race differences is uncorroborated by other scientific studies. But the distinguished psychologist Arthur R. Jensen, answered this definitively in a May 11, 1989 letter to the Ontario Press Council:
I wish to register my strongest possible condemnation of The Toronto Star’s grossly vicious and malicious defamation of Professor J. Philippe Rushton. I refer especially to The Star’s editorials of March 9 and March 26, 1989. I doubt that I have ever before seen such a patently libelous attack on a scientist or scholar, with its charges of “charlatan”, “discredited”, “academic fraud”, and “racism”. This seems especially reprehensible when it is so unwarranted and is combined with flagrant misrepresentation of Professor Rushton’s position. The Star’s articles, editorial, and cartoon on Rushton were obviously calculated to discredit him and to inflame its readers, rather than to accurately inform them.
For over twenty years I have been doing research on several of the topics that enter into Professor Rushton’s research on the nature and explanation of racial differences in a variety of traits. My own studies of individual and group differences in human mental abilities have been published in five books and nearly 300 articles in reputable scientific and scholarly journals, and there are two books by other authors concerning my work.
I have read virtually everything that Professor Rushton has written on the issues in question. Rushton’s research papers have appeared in reputable, refereed psychological journals, have been exposed to published critiques by other scholars, and is itself based on an impressive quantity and quality of scholarship, generally of greater thoroughness and accuracy than that of its critics. Having read all of the published critiques of Rushton’s theory and its supporting evidence, I can say that The Toronto Star’s claim that it has been “discredited” is simply false. Although not everyone accepts every point of Rushton’s work, and Rushton himself openly recognizes the gaps and anomalies in the evidence related to certain points in his theory, it is a fact that informed psychologists, geneticists, and sociobiologists consider Rushton’s work worthy of serious consideration. It has been, and is still being, discussed and debated at scientific meetings here and abroad, just as other controversial topics on the frontiers of science are being debated. Professor Rushton operates within this well-established scientific tradition.
Anyone who is at all familiar with this venerable scientific tradition and with Rushton’s scientific work would, I’m sure, agree that the use of such terms as those used by The Star in reference to Professor Rushton or his research publications as “charlatan” and “fraud” is absolutely outrageous and wholly uncalled for…
Phil Rushton’s problems were not limited to the MSM. He had to contend with Politically Correct elements within the scientific community.
In February 1989, three past presidents, the treasurer, and secretary of the Behavior Genetics Association (J. C. DeFries, D. W. Fulker, S. G. Vandenberg, G. Carey, and J. R. Wilson) expressed “concern about recent articles on human race differences published by BGA member J. Philippe Rushton”. They asserted:
The study of individual differences deepens our understanding and respect for human individuality. Compared to the range of human variation observed within groups, group differences are relatively small. Rushton’s compilations of group differences and his attribution of them to heredity fuel the fires of prejudice. We find this to be both insensitive and repugnant. Thus, we disavow unequivocally any support for the theory espoused in these [referenced] articles or in his more recent public pronouncements.
Rushton responded to this critique with a detailed reply to the BGA on April 27 1989:
It goes without saying but it is necessary to say that I believe that the average differences that I am observing provide no grounds for social discrimination among races, and that people must be judged on their merits. I have taken great pains to emphasize, although this is often ignored by my opponents, that there are wide differences within races and individual should not be judged on the basis of racial averages or indeed any of my findings. Nor have I suggested any policy that should flow from my research.
In seeking an understanding of the genetic and evolutionary basis of individual and group behavior I have found it useful to study race differences. Ultimately the study of racial differences may help us to appreciate more fully the nature of human diversity as well as the binding commonalities we share with other species. That, too, would be one of the legacies of the Darwinian perspective.
With respect to differences in sexuality, Weinberg and Williams (1988) have confirmed many of my observations with respect to black-white differences in attitudes and behavior, and Harvey and May (1989) have verified Oriental-white differences in genital morphology. It will not do to cast anger or ridicule on these statements, not to turn away in embarrassment, for there are sobering consequences. Both inter- and intra-national comparisons show that the world-wide prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases such as syphilis, gonorrhea, hepatitis B and herpes is Oriental < white < black. Since this is also the pattern for the deadly HIV-1 pandemic, the implications of the group differences in correlated traits should not be underestimated (Rushton & Bogaert, 1989).
New ideas that have the capacity to disturb the established orthodoxy almost necessarily provoke concern and spirited resistance. That across populations brain size negatively correlates with gamete production (indexed, for example, by dizygotic twinning rate), and that both covary with a suite of life history attributes, the whole being predicted on the basis of evolutionary theory backed by empirical studies of animals and plants, is unlikely to be credibly dismissed by appeals to authority and morality.
Many have noted that nothing can be more chilling to science than moralistic judgment. As Fermi remarked, “Whatever nature has in store for mankind, unpleasant as it may be, men must accept, for ignorance is never better than knowledge”. The danger comes when we violate Fermi’s adjuration (often with humanitarian arguments), not when honest scholars discuss ideas freely and openly.
Phil Rushton stood firm in his conviction that ultimately what mattered was scientific truth. In “The Equalitarian Dogma Revisited”, he outlined four core principles, attributing them to fellow IQ researcher Linda Gottfredson:
1. Seek the truth and speak it as you know it, directly and not in code.
2. Do not speculate about motives unless you have very good grounds for doing so. Integrity is the only character trait that is of concern when evaluating ideas and their impact.
3. Do not apologize for or act embarrassed about racially-sensitive research or its results. To do so lends credence to the belief that you think you are doing something wrong.
4. Zealously protect freedom of scientific inquiry.
This credo is Phil Rushton’s legacy in what, it is increasingly apparent, is a new Dark Age.
Spencer Davenport [Email him] writes from the Washington D.C. area.