W. D. Hamilton On Dysgenics, Eugenics, and Educational Romanticism
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October 24, 2010, 11:06 PM
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The late W. D. Hamilton wrote a fascinating review of Richard Lynn`s  Dysgenics which Kevin Lamb referred to when writing about Cyril Burt. The review is still online:Annals of Human Genetics, (2000)Volume 64, Issue 4 [PDF] . When I read it, I thought of blogging about it in order to share it with readers, and I found that Steve Sailer had already done so: From beyond the grave September 13, 2005.

However, I am going to reprint a couple of paragraphs, because some of what he wrote is what I was talking about in "Eugenics" Is What Happens When Cousins Don`t Marry, and some is what Robert Weissberg is talking about in Bad Students, Not Bad Schools. Oh, and see what Charles Murray has to say about "Educational Romanticism."

"Demagogues by definition have to be popular; almost equally they have to paint all those who speak out against them as deluded doom-sayers, scheming or fearful rightists, and the like. All of this sketches a background—a steep slope of average human preference—lying behind all the topics covered in Richard Lynn`s Dysgenics. His very title guarantees demagogues to be girding against him; it is important to note, however, that among these will be not just the movers and shakers who write the `PC` books with titles like The Iniquities of IQ, and Wonderbrained Woman, even if such authors are the most influential; others girding in gentler ways are simply the sunny optimist we all know in the office, and the neighbour at home telling us, almost without thinking, `Believe me, it wasn`t your Tom who failed, it was the school`.

One has to be brave, thick-skinned, and very persistent to swim against such popular antirealistic currents.

Richard Lynn, discussing the large bank of evidence that still steadily accumulates on heritability of aptitudes and differentials of fertility, shows in this book that almost all of the worries of the early eugenicists were wellfounded in spite of the relative paucity of their evidence at the time. Correct both in their intuitions and in their assessment of the tentative data available, for most of the past hundred years Lynn shows that they have been unfairly derided.

The concerns they had about declines in health, intelligence and conscientiousness are matters that we should still be much concerned with; yet at the same time he admits the blunt and contrary fact that all over the world where it is measured, intelligence, or cognitive ability as it is now more commonly called, seems to be shooting up, thus confounding at least the most direct versions of the selection formulas that he and others have all been using. Something is evidently wrong here and I will come back to it at length.

First, however, let me make clear that by the `early eugenicists` above I mean mainly such pioneers as Galton and Pearson and their true followers, not those polQitical demagogues who simultaneously created their own interpretation of Darwinism and chose immediate, forceful action in various directions without much consideration or data.

Many new activists who claimed to follow Darwin or Galton were indeed sometimes absurdly bigoted and far more radical in their proposals than any evidence of their time justified. It was they who caused the unfortunate political movements to one side or another which ended in the mid-century giving the whole field of eugenics a bad name."