The Race-Research Funder

Steve Buist, Science Reporter
The Hamilton (Ontario) Spectator
April 17, 2000

CONTROVERSIAL BACKER: J. Philippe Rushton's work to compare the intelligence of different racial groups, which is criticized by other scientists, receives funding from an American organization with a long history of support for race research and eugenics, the controversial study of racial improvement.

It's a short, throwaway line that barely attracts attention at the conclusion of J. Philippe Rushton's preface to his book, Race, Evolution and Behavior: Special Abridged Edition.

"Finally, I would like to thank Harry F. Weyher and The Pioneer Fund, for their continuing support," Rushton writes.

Rushton That innocuous line probably reveals more about Race, Evolution and Behavior: Special Abridged Edition than anything contained in the eight chapters that follow, as inflammatory as that might be.

The recent distribution of 35,000 copies of the booklet to psychologists, sociologists and anthropologists across Canada and the United States has rekindled the academic debate over Rushton, the controversial professor at the University of Western Ontario.

The 108-page booklet is a disturbing, plain-language distillation of Rushton's 1995 full-length book of the same name, which expands on his highly criticized theory that East Asians are more intelligent than whites, who, in turn, are more intelligent than blacks.

But what's just as intriguing as Rushton's racially charged work is how such research ever sees the light of day in the first place.

Which brings us back to Harry F. Weyher and the Pioneer Fund.

Since its inception in 1937, the Pioneer Fund has handed out tens of millions of dollars throughout North America and Europe to fund research that explores differences between races, particularly those that might be related to intelligence.

At best, the work supported by the Pioneer Fund has been described as controversial. At worst, it has been attacked by critics as racist and sinister.

Rushton, it turns out, has been one of the Pioneer Fund's top grant recipients. Over the past two decades, he has received more than $1 million US for his research.

The Pioneer Fund was established by a reclusive New England millionaire named Wickliffe Draper, heir to a Massachusetts family that made its fortune in the textile machinery business.

Draper was born in 1891 and graduated from Harvard in 1913. A decade later, he inherited half of his father's estate, worth $11 million US at the time.

Draper served as a volunteer in the British Army during the First World War, then travelled from the Amazonian forests to Africa to Mongolia shooting big game.

By the mid-1930s, Draper had developed a fascination with the subject of racial genetics. Later in his life, Draper lived reclusively in a large Manhattan penthouse apartment surrounded by walls adorned with hunting guns and mounted animal heads. He would pay prominent geneticists of the time to come to his apartment and tutor him privately.

One university professor from Virginia Tech who tutored Draper for $10 an hour in the years after the Second World War said later that Draper, who died in 1972, was preoccupied with racial superiority and inferiority.

"I don't think he would have placed blacks among the superior," the retired professor told the Wall Street Journal last year.

Draper didn't just restrict his financial support to the Pioneer Fund. When a U.S. federal judge ordered 130,000 secret files opened in 1998, it was discovered that Draper had been anonymously -- and privately -- funding a campaign in Mississippi during the 1960s to fight the civil rights movement and maintain racial segregation.

According to the original charter of the Pioneer Fund, the organization would support research that was directed at "race betterment," with special consideration given to scholarship programs aimed at "children who are deemed to be descended predominantly from white persons who settled in the original 13 states."

In fact, one of the Pioneer Fund's first efforts was to offer $4,000 in scholarship money to any U.S. Air Corps pilot having a fourth child during 1940.

The Pioneer Fund directors wanted to promote a higher birth rate among what was seen as the best of the white race. At the time, blacks were barred from the all-white Air Corps.

In exchange, the Air Corps provided the fund's psychologists with extensive records on its officers, including training, parentage, race and religion.

Two of the Pioneer Fund's first directors were prominent supporters of the eugenics movement in the United States. Eugenics is the controversial science of improving the qualities of a race by controlling inherited characteristics.

Frederick Osborn was the secretary of the American Eugenics Society, and once stated publicly that the sterilization program in Nazi Germany was "perhaps the most important social program which has ever been tried."

Harry Laughlin was director of the Carnegie Institute's Eugenics Record Office, and an advocate of sterilization for those he believed were genetically unfit. In 1936, he was honoured by Hitler's Third Reich for his contributions to Nazi eugenic programs.

In its infancy, the fund reportedly imported two copies of a Nazi propaganda film entitled "Applied Eugenics in Present-Day Germany" and added English subtitles for the American audience.

Henry Garrett, a Pioneer Fund director during the 1970s, organized an international group of scholars dedicated to preventing the mixing of races, preserving segregation and promoting the principles of what was described as "race hygiene."

Weyher, a New York lawyer, has been president of the Pioneer Fund for just over 40 years. He was also Draper's personal attorney, and has publicly stated his opposition to the U.S. Supreme Court decision that desegregated the American school system.

Welcome to the Pioneer Fund.

Looking into the Pioneer Fund is much like peeking inside one of those ornate Russian dolls.

Take the top off the outer doll and there's another inside that looks identical. Take the top off that one and there's yet another waiting. Repeat as necessary.

For an organization that's obsessed with issues of genetic superiority, it's surprising how much inbreeding exists between the Pioneer Fund's grant recipients.

Consider Race, Evolution and Behavior: Special Abridged Edition.

Check just inside the front cover and you'll find two pages of academic acclaim for the booklet.

At first glance, it looks like a ringing endorsement for Rushton and his views.

But check closer. Smell something fishy?

According to Arthur Jensen of the University of California at Berkeley, "this brilliant book is the most impressive theory-based study ... of the psychological and behavioural differences between the major racial groups that I have encountered in the world literature on this subject."

High praise, indeed.

But wait a second. Jensen just happens to be an even larger recipient of money from the Pioneer Fund than Rushton, which is no easy task.

Jensen's research on blacks and low IQ scores has been attacked for being just as racially sensitive and pseudoscientific as Rushton's work.

In a 1994 article that touched on eugenics and sterilization, Jensen was quoted in the magazine Newsday as saying, "Which is worse, to deprive someone of having a child, or to deprive the child of having a decent set of parents?"

Perhaps it's not surprising to learn that Rushton has reciprocated with a flattering review of a 1998 book written by Jensen. Rushton describes Jensen's career as "brilliant" and the book as "awesome" and "monumental."

Or how about this praise from Professor Hans Eysenck of the University of London: "Professor Rushton is widely known and respected for the unusual combination of rigour and originality in his work."

Put aside for a second the fact that Rushton does almost no original research of his own and that critics have attacked his "rigour" because he uses the bits of old data that support his hypothesis while ignoring those bits that aren't as flattering.

Rushton attended the University of London as a student and Eysenck was his mentor. Eysenck, who died in 1997, was also a Pioneer Fund grant recipient.

Here's what Richard Lynn has to say about Rushton: He "should, if there is any justice, receive a Nobel Prize."

Lynn is associated with the right-wing Ulster Institute for Social Research in Northern Ireland and was second only to Rushton as the Pioneer Fund's top grant recipient from 1994-96.

Lynn has tried to suggest that IQ scores for black Africans average 70, a level that is equated with some mental impairment.

There are also endorsements from Linda Gottfredson of the University of Delaware and Thomas Bouchard of the University of Minnesota, both major recipients of cash from the Pioneer Fund.

But perhaps the most odious plug comes from Glayde Whitney, a professor at Florida State University.

In a review of his work, Whitney says Rushton has been persecuted and then equates the resistance to racial science with the Inquisition.

"Astronomy and the physical sciences had their Copernicus, Kepler and Galileo a few centuries ago," Whitney writes. "Psychology and the social sciences today have their Darwin, Galton and Rushton."

Imagine that: Galileo and Rushton in the same breath.

Here is perhaps all you need to know about Whitney: he wrote the foreword for David Duke's autobiography, calling it an "excellent work ... that has the potential to change the very course of history."

Duke is a white supremacist from Louisiana and the former National Director of the Ku Klux Klan. He then went on to form the National Association for the Advancement of White People.

Duke is now the president of NOFEAR -- the National Organization for European American Rights -- an organization "dedicated to protecting the rights and heritage of people of European descent in America," according to Duke's official Web site.

Welcome to the people who support Philippe Rushton.

Flip all the way to the back of Rushton's booklet and there's one final interesting tidbit.

The single-copy price of Race, Evolution and Behavior: Special Abridged Edition is $5.95 U.S.

But bulk rates are also available. Fifty copies of the booklet will only set you back $75 U.S.

Order 1,000 copies of the booklet and the cost drops to just 60 cents each.

One question: Why would anyone, aside from, say, a white supremacist organization, want to order 1,000 copies of the pocket-sized booklet?

In fact, Rushton's work is either reviewed or cited on a number of white supremacist Web sites, including Duke's official international Web site, the National Alliance site and the Stormfront "White Pride World Wide" site.

Rushton, not surprisingly, has attempted to distance himself from individuals or groups who might want to use his work in a more sinister way.

"I don't really have any comment on people who support me or political groups that oppose me," said Rushton. "They're in the realm of politics and I'm in the realm of science.

"My view on policy and politics is to stay as far away from it as I possibly can. I don't condemn policies, I don't praise them.

"In fact, I'm not even sure what policies I would advocate if I was required to do so," added Rushton.

It's also not surprising that Rushton defends the money he receives from the Pioneer Fund.

"They are a perfectly legitimate funding agency just as I am a perfectly legitimate scientist," said Rushton. "Because it's very difficult to attack my data, it's much easier for my opponents to attack groups that I am allegedly associated with or the funding agency that gives me money.

"The Pioneer Fund is much-maligned unfairly."

But to some academics who have attempted to untangle Rushton's work, there's a bigger question than whether or not a scientist received money from an organization like the Pioneer Fund.

"Scientists can sometimes be incredibly arrogant," said Dr. Fred Weizmann, "because they think they are exempt from being influenced by those who fund them.

"The real question is not did the Pioneer Fund make you alter your scientific findings but why did the Pioneer Fund fund you?"

Weizmann is a psychology professor at York University who has analysed the scientific data used by Rushton. He describes Rushton's work as "lousy science."

"It's not so much a question of whether or not they influence an individual scientist but rather the scientists they choose to fund in the first place," Weizmann added.

"I think evolutionary psychologists -- the straight ones -- are very embarrassed by all this. It's like a dog trying to outrun its shadow. It never seems to be able to fully escape it."

Which leads to the final question. Perhaps it's a question that can never be answered.

Is it possible to objectively explore whether there is a link between race, genetics and some shapeless, yet vital, human characteristic such as intelligence?

"Some people claim you can't do good science on it," said Weizmann. "It's just too explosive no matter what you do.

"One can even question why people are interested in it. Scientific topics are not random. Why is there so much interest in group differences?

"I think that in itself is a reflection of the climate we live in," Weizmann added. "There are lots of scientific questions one could ask but there's a limited amount of money for research in science.

"Why do these topics become hot and get published?"

Buist, Steve. "The race-research funder." The Hamilton (Ontario) Spectator. 17 Apr. 2000. For Fee$$