Pioneer Fundophobia

Few scientific studies besides Jane Goodall`s chimp research are beloved by the public. One that comes close is the famous Minnesota Study of Identical Twins Reared Apart (better known as the Minnesota Twins project), which reunited separated twins from around the world. Researchers at the University of Minnesota, lead by Thomas Bouchard and including David Lykken and Nancy Segal, flew in 62 pairs of genetically identical and 43 pairs of fraternal twins, many of whom had not seen each other since infancy, for a week of testing.

The public was amazed and delighted by the similarities found among the identical twins raised apart. In his lively book A Question of Intelligence, Dan Seligman described the extreme case of the famous “Nazi and Jew” twins: permanently separated shortly after birth, one was raised as a Nazi in the Sudetenland, the other as a Jew in Trinidad. Yet both turned out to have an extraordinary range of traits – and eccentricities – in common.

Twin studies go back to St. Augustine. He pointed to the differences between fraternal twins, such as Jacob and Esau in the Old Testament, to disprove the central tenet of astrology – that time of birth determines personality and fate. It was also long recognized that twins who look alike (for example, Ann Landers and Dear Abby) tended to act more alike than those who look different – for instance, the smooth mama`s boy Jacob and his twin, the hairy hunter Esau.

But did identical twins act more alike because they were treated more alike? The Minnesota Twins study largely solved that methodological problem. Bouchard found that, on quantitative tests of IQ and personality, identical twins reared apart were systematically much more similar than fraternal twins raised apart. Remarkably, separated identical twins were more similar than fraternal twins raised in the same home.

Along with the Texas Adoption Project`s finding that adoptees are much more like their biological mothers than their adoptive families, this nailed down the answer to the ancient nature vs. nurture debate. Heredity does indeed play a major (though by no means complete) role in human differences.

Few charitable foundations that give money to scientists are fanatically hated by the chattering class. Yet the New York-based Pioneer Fund has managed to attract countless spittle-emitting enemies. Just go to Google.com, type in “pioneer fund” and “racist,” and see all the fulminations. Seldom mentioned is that the Pioneer Fund gave more money to that much-loved Minnesota Twins study than anything else in its 64-year history. (Pioneer also helped fund the Texas Adoption Project.)

Perhaps the most bizarre example of Pioneer Fundophobia was the Wall Street Journal`s front-page “news” article of June 11, 1999, which attacked Morgan Guaranty Trust for having several decades ago allowed Pioneer Fund founder Wickliffe Preston Draper to withdraw his own dollars from his own Morgan bank account to give to the Pioneer Fund.  The WSJ said this “highlight[s] the ethical issues that confront an institution like Morgan Guaranty, the private-banking unit of J.P. Morgan & Co., when it is drawn, even unwittingly, into a client`s support for repugnant causes.”

In other words, if your bank doesn`t agree politically with what you want to do with your own money, it should not let you have it (i.e. should steal it from you). Note that Pioneer Fundophobia is so mind-warping that this wholly absurd (not to mention totalitarian) “ethical issue” was raised, not in Mother Jones, but on the front page of the Wall Street Journal!

Richard Lynn, the first scientist to prove that Northeastern Asians average higher on IQ tests than Europeans, has now written The Science of Human Diversity: A History of the Pioneer Fund. The book contains brief biographies of 32 scientists funded by Pioneer. I must say I wonder about the prudence of making it so easy for the foam-at-the-mouth crowd to find out at whom to scream “Nazi”. But Lynn`s book certainly makes for impressive reading. It`s a painless way of becoming familiar with these great issues, attractively succinct and tastily garnished with some human interest.

In the book`s Preface, the Pioneer Fund`s president, Harry F. Weyher, offers a list of what has befallen some Pioneer-funded scientists:

One scientist [presumably the great Arthur Jensen] had to be accompanied by an armed guard on his own campus, as well as guarded in his own home. Another scientist was required by his university to teach his classes by closed circuit television, supposedly in order to prevent a riot breaking out in his class. Several scientists had university and other speaking engagements canceled or interrupted by gangs of students or outside toughs. … Two scientists who had speaking engagements in Australia needed 50 policemen to rescue them from a mob. At one major university a professor invaded the class of another professor, led a raucous demonstration there, and had to be removed by campus police. The son of one of Pioneer`s directors agreed to succeed his father on the Pioneer board, but then withdrew when the son`s wife objected, citing social ostracism and physical danger.

Other examples of the intimidation of Pioneer-funded scientists include the 1973 beating of Britain`s best-known psychologist Hans J. Eysenck as he attempted to lecture at the London School of Economics. In 1990, the Dean of the Institute of Psychiatry in London, where Eysenck had been for 44 years, prohibited him from receiving any further support from the Pioneer Fund. Yet that was the same year that a survey of leading American psychologists and historians named Eysenck among the top ten most influential psychologists in the world.

This hysteria has an unquestionable chilling effect on scientific research. Lynn mentions that one promising Pioneer-Funded expert on ethnocentrism, A. James Gregor, a Professor of Political Science at Berkeley, abruptly abandoned all research into this subject in the Goldwater year of 1964 and built an entire new career for himself in topics having nothing to do with race.

I have a personal example of how Pioneer Fundophobia hurts science. The world`s leading expert on the physiology of running emailed me from Africa a couple of years ago. Even though his initial research into the fascinating question of why certain Kenyan tribes so dominate distance running had proven highly popular with Africans of all races – because they are rightfully proud of their continent`s Olympic success – he was having trouble finding anyone to fund further research. He asked me if I thought he should apply for a Pioneer Fund grant. The amazing success of the Kalenjin – “The Running Tribe” as an upcoming book calls them – has long been one of my favorite topics in human biodiversity studies. But I had to caution him to think hard before subjecting himself to Fundophobia.

So what`s the story behind Pioneer Fundophobia?

It`s undeniable that Draper (1891-1972) was an ethnocentric Anglo-American. Not being of pioneer stock myself, I can`t get terribly enthusiastic about the man`s ethnic bias. On the other hand, I can`t think of any general moral principle justifying his critics` presumption that, while black or Irish or Jewish ethnocentric foundations are hunky-dory, the early Pioneer Fund`s WASP ethnocentrism was the blackest sin imaginable. Further, that was a long time ago. I don`t think my friend Nancy Segal of twins fame is a Daughter of the American Revolution (or a Nazi, for that matter).

Draper was also enthusiastic about eugenics. So were other Americans of the time, such as Teddy Roosevelt, Margaret Sanger, and Oliver Wendell Holmes. My experience is that everybody is, personally, a eugenicist. They all look for the best genes for their offspring. Trust me on this one – I got turned down for a lot of dates.

I`m much less sanguine about the long run impact of eugenics than Draper was. My 1999 Thatcher Presentation on the future of the human race pointed out the unsettling fact that the new genetic technologies are finally making eugenics practical enough to be popular with couples. This will only accelerate. Through genetic selection and modification, private couples will be able to transform human nature, for better . . . or worse.

Will this be good for humanity or bad? Beats me, but it definitely demands careful study. We should not walk into the coming era of individualist eugenics with our eyes closed. Yet how can we reasonably forecast the effect of the changes in gene frequencies that the new genetic technologies will bring? The only way is to study, honestly, the naturally-occurring human genetic diversity we see all around us – and learn how it already affects society.

And that`s the Pioneer Fund`s real sin: supporting scientific research into human biodiversity. Around 1930, the curtain began coming down (to use John R. Baker`s phrase in his magisterial study Race) on this entire area of science. This is usually attributed to revulsion against Hitler. However, that explanation doesn`t stand up fully. Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot murdered even more millions in the name of equality than Hitler murdered in the name of inequality, but somehow that has failed to blacken the names of people like the Marxist egalitarianoid Stephen Jay Gould.

The historical record shows that leftist ideologues like anthropologist Franz Boas, the sponsor of Margaret Mead`s notorious 1928 Samoan hoax, were already gaining the upper hand in academe well before Hitler came to power. Perhaps the Depression was the key event, just as it made Marx-inspired thought dominant in much else of the intellectual world. (See feminist historian Carl N. Degler`s award-winning In Search of Human Nature: The Decline and Revival of Darwinism in American Social Thought for documentation.) 

It was precisely because no-one else would fund research into human biodiversity that the Pioneer Fund had the playing field to itself.  Thus Audrey M. Shuey was otherwise completely unable to find a commercial or academic publisher for her 1958 metastudy The Testing Of Negro Intelligence. But it is now recognized as having “swayed the balance,” as Hans J. Eysenck later put it, so that it was no longer possible to deny the role of genetics. Under these unfortunate circumstances, it is simply undeniable that no organization has done more than the Pioneer Fund to develop scientific knowledge about human biodiversity.

I`ll just list some of the most important Pioneer-funded scientists, along with links to interesting articles. Two of the five most cited psychologists are IQ researcher Jensen (my review “The Half Full glass” of his last book is particularly useful for understanding the future of IQ research) and the British giant Eysenck, who published 1,000 scholarly articles. Garrett Hardin is the inventor of the phrase “Tragedy of the Commons,” which first grounded environmentalism in a solid understanding of market economics. Linda Gottfredson is the leading expert on the important role IQ plays in the job market. J. Philippe Rushton is a fount of fascinating ideas. (For example, I just used his Genetic Similarity Theory to explain in my movie review of Spy Game why Robert Redford takes such an avuncular interest in Brad Pitt.)

Allow me to end by issuing a challenge to the enemies of the Pioneer Fund. Rather than devoting so much time and furious energy to trying to prevent scientific research, if you don`t like what these scientists are discovering, go fund your own research.

Conduct your own twin and adoption studies. See what you find for yourself.

That sounds reasonable, doesn`t it?

But I`m not going to hold my breath waiting for the Fundophobes to conduct any science of their own.

They already know what they`d find.

[Steve Sailer [email him] is founder of the Human Biodiversity Institute and movie critic for The American Conservative. His website www.iSteve.blogspot.com features his daily blog.]

December 12, 2001