Beyondism: Raymond B. Cattell and the New Eugenics
by Barry Mehler

Originally published in Genetica 99: 153-163 (1997). Revised for posting on ISAR web page, Copyright �, ISAR, January 1998.


A significant confusion has arisen out of the mass of work done on the history of eugenics in the last two decades. Early scholars of the subject treated eugenics as a marginalized or obsolete movement of the radical right. Subsequent research has shown that eugenic ideas were adopted in diverse national settings by very different groups, including - among others - liberals, communists and Catholics, as well as radical rightists. This complexity is sometimes taken to mean that eugenics has no special ideological associations, that it is historically and potentially a beast of a thousand heads. It is not. Although people of varied ideological commitments have been attracted to eugenics, ideologues of the radical right, and above all interwar fascists, have been uniquely and centrally involved in its development. Fascism and the radical right are also complex entities, but for all the heterogeneity of both eugenics and fascism, the special historical relationship between the two cannot be ignored. This relationship is exemplified in the work of the influential psychologist, Raymond B. Cattell. Cattell was an early supporter of German national socialism and his work should be understood in the context of interwar fascism. The new religious movement that he founded, "Beyondism," is a neo-fascist contrivance. Cattell now promulgates ideas that he first formulated within a demimonde of radical eugenists and neo-fascists that includes such associates as Revilo Oliver, Roger Pearson, Wilmot Robertson and Robert K. Graham. These ideas and Cattell's role in the history of eugenics deserve deeper analysis than they have hitherto received. Far from being of merely antiquarian interest, his work currently encourages the propagation of radical eugenist ideology. It is unconscionable for scholars to permit these ideas to go unchallenged, and indeed honored and emulated by a new generation of ideologues and academicians whose work helps to dignify the most destructive political ideas of the twentieth century.


"...the Atlantic democracies are bewildered, envious, and hostile at the rise of Germany, Italy, and Japan, countries in which individuals have disciplined their indulgences as to a religious purpose. These nationals fear the gods even though they are partly false gods, in comparison with the vast numbers in our democracies lacking any super-personal aim. Their rise should be welcomed by the religious man as reassuring evidence that in spite of modern wealth and ease, we shall not be allowed to sink into stagnation or adopt foolish social practices in fatal detachment from the stream of evolution." (Cattell, 1938, p. 149)

"The mention of eugenics frequently evokes in uneducated people the response 'Oh, that’s what Hitler did.' This accident is the major obstacle to the proper understanding of the goals and methods of eugenics. Hitler actually shared many values of the average American. He aimed at full employment, family values, raising the standard of living, and countless other things, including the Volkswagen, which he designed himself for the average family. The man turned out evil in his militarism and his treatment of Jews and dissident Catholics, but that does not justify, to a rational person, calling all his attitudes mistaken. His attempt at eugenics broke the first law of eugenics: that it is the humane substitute for natural selection. It favors preventing births of those who would inevitably be miserable and incapable of living a normal happy life. It encourages the birth of those able to look after themselves and others, who invent and enrich the culture, who create jobs and who remain independent and self supporting. (The Beyondist, 1994, p. 2)

An exemplary career in psychology

Raymond B. Cattell is a world-renowned psychologist known primarily for his work in IQ and personality testing. At ninety-two years old, he is the author of some 41 books and 450 research articles. Along with a large number of students and collaborators, he has developed many of the standardized tests of personality and ability in use today. Over six decades after the beginning of his career, he continues to be one of the most frequently cited psychologists in the academic literature. His technical innovations have been formulated within the context of a broader, largely unchanging worldview that is expressed in an important stream of publications dating from the 1930s. He has been the recipient of numerous prestigious academic awards including the Darwin Fellowship, the Wenner-Gren Prize of the New York Academy of Science, the Psychometric Award of APA/Educational Testing Service, and the Dobzhansky Award for lifetime achievement of the Behavior Genetics Society. In 1997, he was chosen to receive psychology's highest honor, the Gold Medal Award for Lifetime Achievement, from the American Psychology Foundation. This final honor was withheld after the material in this article came to public notice.(1) Cattell is the founder of the Society for Multivariate Experimental Psychology (SMEP); the Cattell Institute, and The Trust for the Advancement of Beyondism. Each year the American Educational Research Association honors one its members with the Raymond B. Cattell Award, and SMEP bestows the Cattell Award for Distinguished Multivariate Behavioral Research. In sum, he is among the most influential psychologists of the twentieth century.

Beyondism: a new religious movement

Through the whole course of his career, Cattell has promulgated a new religious movement, a distinctive reformulation of the theological elements of classical Galtonian eugenics. Galton conceived eugenics as both a science and the foundation for a civic religion that he hoped would replace Christianity and "provide a secular substitute for traditional religion" (Kevles, 1985, especially pp. 3-20; p. 68).

The basic elements of this worldview are fully developed in Cattell's first published works (Cattell, 1933; Bramwell, 1933; Cattell, 1938). He subsequently named his movement 'Beyondism' to emphasize its transcendental character (the first reference to the term is found in Cattell, 1950, pp. 21-27). He has devoted two major books to the subject, A New Morality from Science: Beyondism (Cattell, 1972) and Beyondism: Religion from Science (Cattell, 1987); established The Trust for the Advancement of Beyondism and a journal, The Beyondist to further promulgate his theology.

Cattell begins with a critique of Christianity, which he views as the denial of the 'urge to evolution' encouraging 'the increase of the unfit,' and thus the destruction of western civilization (Cattell, 1937, p. 131). Beyondism, by contrast, purports to be a rational religion based on evolutionary theory which says the fittest should inherit the earth. Any soft-hearted amelioration of the struggle for existence can only lead to the survival of the unfit and the demise of civilization. Rather than wasting time and money helping the unfit, it would be far better to give them "a merciful little push over the cliffs of perdition" (Bannister, 1979, p. 178). While the eugenics movement has been studied from many different perspectives and much attention has been placed on eugenics as an outgrowth of genetics and psychology, there has been little serious work on the religious component to the eugenics movement and almost no mention of Beyondism. This is extremely unfortunate. The history of 'evolutionary ethics' has yet to be written while the history of the other facets of eugenics have been largely overwritten.

Cattell first outlined his 'evolutionary ethic' based on natural selection in Psychology and Social Progress (1933). Expressing ideas that were commonplace among intellectuals of the 1930s, he argued that poverty and disease were part of the natural selection process which kept a race healthy. Modern social welfare and private charity "abolished the checks" natural selection imposed on biological systems. Instilling the discipline of evolutionary ethics into the population was essential for the health of the state. This is still Cattell’s basic argument. 'Every national calamity is in truth a reward of sin, though unfortunately only the scientist, and not the Church supposed to govern the public conscience, is clearly aware of this conception of sin' (Cattell, 1933, p. 149). The calamities of 'war, famine, or other acute evils' in which the lives of millions are sometimes lost often arise from "people of conscience following fundamentally false ethics" (Cattell, 1933, p. 149).

According to Cattell, the salvation of Western society was to be found in bringing social ethics into conformity with the demands of reality by stigmatizing ignorance, lack of foresight, intellectual insincerity, mental defect, and carelessness (Cattell, 1933). Cattell called for three major modifications in social mores and law: (1) The prohibition of miscegenation; (2) increasing the distance between people of dissimilar race; (3) promoting competition and eugenic selection (Cattell, 1933, p. 151).

While Cattell's Beyondist ideology is hardly original, it is striking for its extremism, racism, and virulent bias against the poor. It is extremist both in its empirical claims and in its policy recommendations. Cattell believes that people are poor largely because they are incompetent and unintelligent. Furthermore, human intelligence is declining precipitously and only extreme measures will save humanity. According to Cattell, society faces the 'looming threat' of being swamped by incompetents. Fortunately, eugenics provides a humane way of promoting progressive evolution 'without allowing many short and miserable lives to be sacrificed.' What is demanded is 'an educated control of reproduction, especially in the lower social classes' - those 'with IQs in the 70 to 100 range,' who 'have no conception that sexual control is part of citizenship' (The Beyondist, 1994, p. 1).

Translated into policy Beyondists recommend that First World countries allow Third World countries 'to go to the wall' when they collapse into chaos, mass famine, and genocide. Foreign aid to under-developed third-world countries is a mistake. Incompetent and obsolete societies are not fit for the competitive struggle for existence. "What is called for here is not genocide, the killing off of the populations of incompetent cultures. But we do need to think realistically in terms of 'phasing out of such peoples'" (Cattell, 1972, p. 221; Lynn, 1974, p. 207).

In order to make room for "better humans" the obsolete and incompetent must "make way... Evolutionary progress means the extinction of the less competent. To think otherwise is mere sentimentality" (Lynn, 1974, p. 207). This means that nations must compete in a fierce struggle for survival of the fittest. Racial and ethnic groups must preserve their purity. Immigration must be stopped. Isolation will "give rise to societies with greater diversity and individuality, both culturally and genetically. Indeed, it would be desirable if the human race could evolve several different non-interbreeding species, since this would increase the options for evolution to work on." Furthermore, immigration usually ends up encouraging "people of low genetic quality" who simply burden the genetically fit. We need to stop coddling the poor (Lynn, 1974, p. 207).

Cattell's ethic involves engineering an evolutionary jump to a new larger brained human. From Cattell's perspective the vast majority of humans on the planet are 'obsolete.' He can sympathize with the desire to save rare animals, including various primitive human groups, but the earth will be "choked with the more primitive forerunners" unless a way is found to eliminate them. "Unfortunately, wherever a question of relative reduction of a population is concerned the word 'genocide' is ... bandied about as a propaganda term. ... Clarity of discussion ... would be greatly aided if genocide were reserved for a literal killing off of all living members of a people, as in several instances in the Old Testament, and genthanasia for what has been above called 'phasing out,' in which a moribund culture is ended, by educational and birth control measures... " (Cattell, 1972, p. 220).

It should be noted that Cattell's definition of genocide exonerates the Nazis who did not "kill off all living members of a people," and leaves only the Jews as perpetrators of the crime. Cattell is left calling for "genthanasia," a humane form of genocide, essential to the elimination of "moribund" cultures.

The London School

Raymond B. Cattell was one of the fathers of the "London School" of psychology. Belief in the overriding importance of heredity is a major theme in the work of London School academics. This was more an article of faith than a hypothesis to be tested. Thus Cyril Burt, in one of his earliest published papers in Eugenics Review in 1912, declared that "the fact of mental inheritance ... can no longer be contested, and its importance can scarcely be over-estimated" (Burt, 1912, p. 183).

Galton established the institutional base for the London School by establishing the Chair of Eugenics at the University of London’s Galton Laboratory and appointing his disciple, Karl Pearson to the position. Pearson was succeeded by Charles Spearman and Cyril Burt - both mentors of Cattell. Together with R.A. Fisher, these men formed the intellectual foundation of the London School. These men would dominate the field of psychology in England and America for the next several decades. J. Philippe Rushton’s latest monograph, Race, Evolution, and Behavior (Rushton, 1995) opens with a quote from Francis Galton and acknowledgment that "This work belongs in the ‘London School’ tradition founded by Sir Francis Galton." Rushton defines the London School tradition as a "unique amalgam of evolutionary biology, behavioral genetics, psychometrics, and neuroscience" (Rushton, 1995, p. xvii).

General Intelligence and Eugenics

In The Fight for Our National Intelligence, Cattell summarized the scientific principles that formed the foundation of the London School's determinist views (Cattell, 1937a). A key element of this approach was Charles Spearman's concept of "g" or "general intelligence." For Spearman's essay on general intelligence see, Spearman (1904). For a discussion of the importance of this concept in the history of eugenics see, McGuire and Hirsch (1977, pp. 25-72). Spearman obtained four measures of intelligence and postulated that there must be a general factor common to the various measures. He called this "general intelligence" or g.

Spearman recognized the importance of "g" to the future of eugenics. The "eugenicist would be seriously hindered" if intelligence was composed of numerous independent factors, the "efforts to better the race" would be "dissipated in hunting after innumerable independent abilities" (Spearman, 1914, pp. 220-21). According to Cattell "the great majority of psychologists," were convinced that the "g" factor was "largely inborn and constitutional, like the colour of the person's eyes or the shape of his skull." Environment has little effect on intelligence. Identical twins reared apart have practically identical IQ scores and the feeble minded remain feeble-minded "whatever influences of environment," mental stimulation, or nutrition are brought to bear. Furthermore, "intelligence tests point to significant differences between races" - a dangerous doctrine - "to be covered at once by a fog of casuistry" (Cattell, 1937a, p. 24-27).

While our understanding of heredity might be rough and empirical, Cattell argued that it was time to act. "We are all grateful... that Francis Drake did not defer to using cannon against the Armada on the grounds that there then existed only 'a rough empirical knowledge' of gunpowder or that Jenner did not defer attacking the scourge of small-pox because the physiology of vaccine was not then fully understood." "We must distinguish between the laboratory... and the adventure of living in which the wise man is he who can discern and act upon a strong probability. The affairs of the nation are in the second category and the happiness of each one us depends upon those in control being wise enough to encourage scientific research and apply it at the first opportunity" (Cattell, 1937a, p. 38).

In the book, Cattell examines changes in IQ over generations. While many eugenics advocates postulated a dysgenic trend in births, Cattell argued he had proven not only the reality of this decline, but the extraordinary seriousness of the situation. Most eugenist argued that intelligence was falling over generations. Cattell found the magnitude of the decline so great that it could be measured in a single decade. Extrapolating from his "data" he claimed that survey data showed a 30% increase in mental deficiency. The most troubling news, however, was the catastrophic loss of genius. Cattell claimed that rural children with IQs above 140 would be cut in half in single generation. Those "who wish to proceed to further refinements and critical accuracy in this melancholy calculation may do so, ... but ... I say it is enough for me that a decline is occurring ... at a critical era of civilization when every available understanding is needed for reconstructive efforts." Even if this decline were arrested immediately - "a utopian dream" considering the scientific illiteracy of political leaders - the damage would already have been done. "It behooves us as realists to face this decline, for the effects will be much more pervasive than most people imagine and will turn up in strange and unexpected places" (Cattell, 1937a, pp. 43-46).

Socialist or Fascist?

In a 1974 memoir, Cattell says he "was a socialist student in the heyday of Shavian and Wellsian socialism." Jonathan Harwood (1980) cites this passage in criticism of Searle (1979) for referring to Cattell as a "right-wing extremist," a label, Harwood argues, ignores "Cattell's admiration for the socialism of Shaw and Wells in the 1920s & 1930s" (Harwood, 1980, p. 124 n. 22). He does, however, acknowledge that Cattell (1972) is a "right wing eugenic fantasy". While Harwood is right about the heterogeneity of interwar eugenics, he understates the ambiguity and fluidity of ideological conflict during this period and exaggerates the distance between the "progressivism" that influenced Cattell and the characteristic concerns of the radical right. As Sternhell (1986) has pointed out, "the sources of the fascist movement, as well as its leaders, were to be found as much on the left as on the right." In fact, Oswald Mosley, the leader of the British Union of Fascists had been a Labour minister (Sternhell, 1986, p. 14). Indeed, Cattell's eugenic views were much closer to Pareto, than to Shaw or Wells and his flirtation with the left should not cause confusion. Searle also notes Cattell's suggestion for relief during the depression: "No public assistance without control of birth rates" (Searle, 1979, p. 162; Cattell, 1937a, pp. 69, 75 note 6).

More generally, historians of eugenics have over-stressed the importance of the diversity of eugenic support. It is true that some communists and Catholics supported eugenics. However, there is a difference between the tangential relationship between eugenics and the Catholic Church and the fundamental relationship between eugenics and fascism. Similarly, communists ideologies might accommodate eugenics, but communist ideology was not based on Social Darwinist notions. On the other hand, notions of race and eugenics were essential parts of the core definition of fascism. As the French fascist D�at wrote in 1944, " not just something to be preserved, it is the point of departure for the conquest of a future." To purify the racial identity of the state, "to practice eugenics," is the key to insuring the "ideological survival" of the state, "preserve its spirit and maintain its historical role" (Sternhell, 1986, p. 24). Progressives in the United States were extremely keen on eugenics. By 1933, the United States was leading the world in eugenic legislation and sterilizations. After the Nazis took power in Germany that changed. One can hardly compare the relationship between eugenics and National Socialism and eugenics and progressivism. In the United States it is estimated that about 60,000 eugenic sterilizations took place from 1907 to the 1960s. The Nazis sterilized a three and half million between 1933 and 1945 (Reilly, 1991, pp. 97-109).

Cattell's Association with Nazi Race Science

Cattell openly supported fascism in the 1930s. While British eugenists of the 1930s were often critical of Nazi eugenics and especially of Nazi race science, Raymond Cattell was generally an enthusiastic supporter. As William Tucker points out, Cattell gave "due acknowledgment, not only to G�nther, but even to Count Joseph Arthur de Gobineau." G�nther was one of the leaders of the Nordicist school of racial philosophy in Nazi Germany. His works, like Rassenkunde des Deutschen Volkes were deeply racist and anti-Semitic and he was a regular contributor to Nazi party magazines. G�nther "was widely read in Nazi Germany and was much admired by leading Nazi politicians such as Alfred Rosenberg, who in 1941 formally honored G�nther with the Goethe medal (Tucker, 1994, p. 239; Searchlight, 1984, p. 3).

Cattell blithely speaks of German colonial policy as the "annihilation ... of backward and obstreperous savages" by machine gun which he contrasted favorably with the less effective, but still useful, British method of destruction of primitive tribes by "lethal ideas." The South Sea islanders, for example, were decimated by "being taught the habits of Western civilization, habits destructive of their own well-adapted culture on which their living, marrying and reproduction depended." "It is possible," Cattell argued, "to kill off a class of people in a wholesale fashion by means of an idea" and "it would be a very important piece of work by social psychologists... to study lethal ideas, especially with a view to decreasing the number of sub-cultural persons." Cattell believed that the "lower sub-cultural" types would probably have to be sterilized, but the "very numerous group of low-average middle class" could probably be "led by the nose by opportunities of leisure and diversion to forget the satisfactions of family life..." (Cattell, 1937a, p. 137-138).

Cattell’s critical remarks about Hitler in later years trivialize the horrors of the past and the dangers inherent in fascist ideology. In Cattell (1972, p. 406), for example, he compares Hitler to "the murderous Hippie cults of California." Between 1933 and 1938, the world witnessed an orchestrated anti-Semitic campaign of unprecedented ferocity; the ousting of Jewish students from German schools; laws denying Jews the right to serve in the army or civil service; Kristallnacht, and the first concentration camps. No one in England during these years could be oblivious to these events. Atrocities committed by the Japanese in China and the Italians in Ethiopia were also well publicized. Despite this, Cattell could write in 1938 that the "envy" and "hostility" of the "Atlantic Democracies" over "the rise of Germany, Italy, and Japan," was uncalled-for. Citizens in these fascist states had "disciplined their indulgences" and focused their energies on "a religious purpose." The rise of fascist Italy and Nazi Germany "should be welcomed by the religious man as reassuring evidence that in spite of modern wealth and ease, we shall not be allowed to sink into stagnation or adopt foolish social practices in fatal detachment from the stream of evolution" (Cattell, 1938, p. 149). After five decades of reflection, Cattell has concluded that the legacy of this catastrophe has been a mental "disorder" he calls "ignoracism" - the inability "to consider the scientific possibility that races may show statistically significant differences" (Cattell, 1972, p. 262). In other words, the Nazis created such a revulsion to racism that it resulted in "ignoracism" - the refusal to accept the reality of racial differences!

On the Neo-Nazi Fringe Today

Cattell's ideas, formed in the 1930s, have remained remarkably consistent during the intervening years. He has repeated the same themes over and again in major academic journals and at talks before scholarly audiences. For example, one of Cattell’s strongest supporters on the contemporary neo-Nazi fringe is Wilmot Robertson. Robertson runs his own publishing house and his books are distributed primarily through extremist groups and direct mail order. Wilmot Robertson is an alias and no names are ever published in Instauration. While Instauration can be vulgar at times, it is largely aimed at an academic reading audience. None of Robertson’s publications are advertised in mainstream academic journals or mass media. No one simply stumbles upon Robertson’s publications. You are either a white supremacist or an expert on the far right. To my knowledge, Cattell is the only major academic willing to be forthright about his association with Robertson.

Robertson believes that "the essence of history is the rise and fall of races" (Robertson, 1996, p. 535). In the grand design of evolution, one race will ultimately survive to give birth to "a new species, the better-than-man." The race best suited to shoulder this burden is the Northern European. Unfortunately, the "American Majority" has been dispossessed by the Jews who have taken control of American culture (Robertson, 1973, p. 536). His latest work, The Ethnostate argues that the Northern and Western European elements of the population have lost any chance of recapturing America. Robertson, therefore, calls for small ethnically unified "ethnostates." (Robertson, 1992, pp. ix-x). The Ethnostate was called "a timely supplement to the argument of the Beyondist" in the first issue of Cattell’s quarterly (The Beyondist, 1993, p. 2). Cattell, thanks Robertson in the preface of his 1987 monograph, Beyondism: Religion from Science, and Robertson honored Cattell with a cover story and long laudatory review of Beyondism in Instauration (Instauration, 1989, pp. 5-7).

Advocates of the ethnostate have been given a great boost since the demise of the Soviet Union. Many racial nationalist groups now advocate the splintering of the United States into smaller units. Michael Hill, for example, professor of History at Stillman College and President of the Southern League calls for secession (Shea, 1995, p. A8-9). Jared Taylor's American Renaissance group openly declares that racial integration has failed and promotes the division of the U.S. into racially separate states. Even Dinesh D’Sousa, who contends that racism is dead, recognized Taylor and his organization as white supremacists. D’Sousa was not surprised when he met David Duke in the elevator while attending a conference of the American Renaissance in Atlanta. Nor was he surprised to see Duke and Taylor chatting together several times during the weekend (D’Souza, 1995, pp. 387-89). American Renaissance magazine published an interview with Cattell in October 1995 and came to his defense in October 1997 attacking this writer as "a hyperactive opponent of 'racism.'" The American Renaissance Internet page ( features a wide array of academic racists and eugenic advocates, many of whom acknowledge their debt to Cattell.

Another life-long lifelong friend and colleague was Revilo Oliver, emeritus professor of classics at the University of Illinois who died in August 1994. Cattell, not only acknowledged his debt to Oliver in the preface of his 1987 book, Beyondism: Religion from Science (Cattell, 1987, p. x), but cited two of Oliver’s most virulently anti-Semitic works (Oliver, 1973; Oliver 1981). For a summary of Oliver's career see Mintz, (1985, pp. 163-179). Oliver served on the editorial review board of the Institute for Historical Review, established with the aim of legitimizing the idea that the Holocaust was myth. He also contributed to the virulently neo-Nazi National Vanguard. In one 1984 comment, Oliver attacked the "crazed abolitionist" who "were not bright enough to know" that they were promoting "the immediate abolition of slavery and the eventual abolition of our race." Had the abolitionist been "a little more alert racially" they would have known "that there must be some deadly poison in any movement that the Jews were subsidizing and zealously fostering." (Oliver, August 1984, pp. 3-4).

Dreaming of annihilation

Cattell's rabid racism and disdain for the great masses of genetically inferior humanity must be understand in the context of the great intellectual revolt against "the masses" brilliantly described in John Carey's The Intellectuals & the Masses (1992). Carey describes the "hatred of mankind" common to many of the intelligentsia before the Second World War. D.H. Lawrence, for example wrote:

"If I had my way, I would build a lethal chamber as big as the Crystal Palace, with a military band playing softly, and a Cinematograph working brightly; then I'd go out in the back streets and main streets and bring them in, all the sick, the halt, and the maimed; I would lead them gently, and they would smile me a weary thanks and the band would softly bubble out the 'Hallelujah Chorus'" (Carey, 1992, p. 12).

In 1939, after reading The Fight for Our National Intelligence (Cattell, 1937), Yeats,

records the conviction of a 'well-known specialist' (i.e. Cattell) that the principle European nations are all degenerating in body and mind, though the evidence for this has been hushed up by the newspapers lest it harm circulation. Following Cattell, Yeats reports that innate intelligence can now be measured, especially in children, with great accuracy, and tests prove that it is hereditary. If for example, you take a group of slum children and give them better food, light and air, it will not increase their intelligence. It follows that education and social reform are hopeless as improvers of the breed. 'Sooner or later we must limit the families of the unintelligent classes.' This is the more urgent, Yeats warns, because these classes are breeding so rapidly: 'Since about 1900 the better stocks have not been replacing their numbers, while the stupider and less healthy have been more than replacing theirs.' The results are already apparent, Yeats suggests ... (Carey, 1992, p. 13-14).

Carey concludes: "Dreaming of the extermination or sterilization of the mass, or denying that the masses were real people, was, then, an imaginative refuge for early twentieth-century intellectuals" (Carey, 1992, p. 15).

For Cattell the greatest threat to civilization was not the relatively small group of mental defectives. Rather, it was the millions of "dull" individuals, a demographically huge segment of the population incapable of comprehending history, geography, biology or civic responsibility - "which alone make full citizenship possible." Unfit for citizenship they created a "painful dislocation between the needs of the community and the education of its citizens." Cattell feared the "victory of the pervasive average." The swamping of the elite minority by the "preponderance of low intelligence" who have made life "intolerable for that minority." These were not the feebleminded or the mentally unstable. Cattell's nightmares were filled with the millions upon millions of ordinary human beings - the common masses of humanity (Cattell, 1937a, pp. 47-48; 54).

Thus, Cattell's contempt for the masses was common among European intellectuals of the period. Nietzsche, D.H. Lawrence, T.S. Eliot, W.B. Yeats were among the most prominent members of the genocidal chorus harmonizing with the rising tide of fascism. Nietzsche insisted that "the great majority of men have no right to existence." They were to blame for the corruption of the European races, bringing misfortune to higher men. The breeding of the future master race would entail the "annihilation of millions of failures." (Carey, 1992, p. 12).

Flying under the Radar

Very few mainstream scholars of eugenics have paid much attention to Cattell. Unlike Arthur Jensen, William Shockley or more recently, J. Philippe Rushton, Cattell has been largely ignored. None of the major histories of eugenics even mention Cattell. For example, there is no reference to Cattell in the indexes of Allan Chase (1980), Mark Haller (1963), Kenneth Ludmerer (1972), or Daniel Kevles (1985). Indeed, he is not even mentioned in Michael M. Sokal's Psychological Testing and American Society, despite the fact that he is most prominent as a psychometrician (Sokal, 1987). The most extensive examination of Cattell in a monograph on American eugenics is a ten page summary of Cattell's ideas in William H. Tucker's The Science and Politics of Racial Research (Tucker, 1994, pp. 239-249). This neglect becomes even more curious when one glances at the works of eugenics advocates. Cattell is cited and discussed in such works as Herrnstein and Murray's The Bell Curve (1994); J. Philippe Rushton's Race, Evolution, and Behavior (1995); Seymour W. Itzkoff's The Decline of Intelligence in America (1994); and Robert Klark Graham's The Future of Man (1981).

It is truly remarkable, the extent to which Cattell's academic career has remained untarred by his racist, pro-Nazi politics. Even those studies which mention him and recognize his importance to the eugenics movement, don't give any indication of his general standing in academia. Michael Billig, Gretta Jones, G.R. Searle, and more recently, William Tucker all refer to Cattell as a eugenic extremist. Many of them note his fascist associations, but none provide an understanding of his importance outside the world of eugenics. Thus, he is presented out of context, as a man whose only significance is his place on the right wing fringe of the eugenics movement.

One reason that Cattell may be flying under the radar for most mainstream critics of eugenics may be his writing style. Cattell is one of the few people I think ought to be tried for crimes against the English language. Even Horn, his most loyal follower, admits that his writing is "almost guaranteed to irritate" and that he "is about as exciting as reading (the white pages of) an unalphabetized phone book." Cattell's immodesty "is breathtaking" and his understanding of others "is often superficial." He has no patience at all for learning other people's systems and often ignores "definitions commonly used by other psychologists." Finally, you must add to all this the fact that "large segments of his writing are often disjointed" and you get some idea of what Horn calls the "Cattellian" style (Horn, April & July 1984, pp. 119-20). Here is one example of that style:

"Moral and morality are, of course, distinguishable concepts, but social psychological research, alike in small (Cattell & Stice, 1960) and in larger national groups, shows that the morale of a group, as shown in its cohesion in face of attempts to dissolve and destroy the group, is appreciably correlated with the level of interindividual morality." (Cattell, 1987, p. 13).

Only the most dedicated followers will be willing to wade through three hundred pages of such prose. A graduate student who worked with Cattell and his prot�g�s remarked in an interview for this project that the circle around Cattell is much like a cult. After leaving the group, he remarked, it was hard to understand how he once could have been swept up in it.

Another reason may be that, Cattell has taken pains to avoid the kind of high profile exposure which Shockley, Jensen, Rushton and others have actively sought. Indeed, part of the theory of Beyondism is that the general public does not have the intelligence to appreciate the importance of eugenics. Since these lower intelligence people will not understand the theory, Cattell argues, it is best not to share it because the general public will be outraged. This is a movement that is secretive by designed. They hope to appeal to an intellectual elite. Thus, Cattell has never sought public attention.

Cattell believes that there is a desperate need for "a new type" of "hybrid of the scientist and the politician." Unfortunately, scientists "suffer" from "the irrationalities and stupidity that the present immovable organization of politics and public education makes unavoidable" (Cattell, 1987, p. 229).

NCAA Scandal

In December 1993 Congresswoman Cardis Collins (D-IL), chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Task Force on Intercollegiate Athletics, discovered that the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), as part of the on going evaluation of eligibility requirements, had employed a data analysis work group (DAWG), as a consulting team. Ms. Collins

"... criticized the National Collegiate Athletic Association for hiring a closely-knit group of researchers who were members of an extremist organization, known as Beyondism, which favors such policies as eugenic, or hereditary improvement by genetic control" (Collins, 12/14/93).

According to Ms. Collins, three members of the nine person group, J.J. McArdle, John L. Horn and J.R. Nesselroade, were associated with Cattell's Beyondism Foundation. She concluded:

"These statisticians hold some views that are truly scary, and now they are controlling the data that can effect millions of students and their opportunities to go to college."

McArdle, chair of the data analysis working group, was quick to respond. In an interview published in the Chronicle of Higher Education he said that he and his colleagues found the ideas of Beyondism "abhorrent," and "reject the racist and elitist implications" of eugenics. McArdle said that "while he and the other researchers might have ties to Mr. Cattell ... those ties never included a belief in his ideas about eugenics" (Blum, 5 January 1994, p. A47). In an earlier interview, McArdle explained that he attended a Beyondism meeting in August 1993 but "did not agree with everything I heard..." Later, he said, both he and Horn "decided we did not wish to take part in the proposed group" since eugenics "was so complex and so easily confused with racism" (USA Today, 14 December 1993).

McArdle's denials were not credible. One of Cattell’s closest disciples, he was mentored by John Horn, Cattell’s most devoted student. In a 1984 essay, McArdle finds Cattell outspoken in his "chastizements (sic!) of the unexpecting (sic!) mainstream psychologists." Cattell "has also lashed out" at the "lost souls" who "have failed to heed other storm warnings he foresees (sic!)." McArdle clearly indicates in this essay that Beyondism is a "New Atlantis" - i.e. the raison d'�tre of the entire enterprise. A common refrain from Cattell's more ardent supporters is that his Beyondist ideas may be quirky, but they are peripheral to the main corpus of his scientific work in multivariate analysis. But here are McArdle’s own words:

In discussing his futuristic plans for mixing multivariate methods with experimental data, Cattell can be enthusiastic and entertaining. Many experimentalist, clinicians, and quantitative scientists get caught up in his vision of a marvelous journey through the uncharted psychological territory, and his promise of the wild riches which await only the most serious factor analyst. For some, such talk of a brave new world evokes the science fiction vision of a Hari Seldon statistically planning for the "psycho-historians" of a "Second Foundation" (Asimov, 1982). Others view Cattell as having the prescience of a modern day Bacon – with a "Novum Organum" called "scientific factor analysis," and a "New Atlantis" called "Beyondism."...."While this may be madness, I am convinced it is the madness of great wisdom." (McArdle, 1984, p. 265-267).

In 1987 Cattell thanked McArdle, Horn, and Nesselroade, for "improvements and clarifications over the first volume of Beyondism..." which was published in 1972 (Cattell, 1987, p. x). In September 1993, John Horn addresses a memo to "Members of the Executive Committee Beyondism Foundation." Horn lists McArdle and Nesselroade as members of this group. Horn conveys "Ray's suggestion for the first Newsletter of the Beyondism Society" and notes that "it needs some editing, some modifications, some shortening," before it is sent out, and he is willing to do the editing, "but not without the Executive Board approving..." (Horn, J.L., 1993. Memorandum to Members of the Executive Committee of the Beyondist Foundation). Other members of the Executive Board included, Robert Graham, John Gillis, and Richard Gorsuch.

The memo that Horn distributed was drafted by Cattell. It called for promoting the "ideals" of Beyondism in "what is presently a hostile atmosphere." However, with the decay of "universalistic, superstitious religions society has drifted" into a vague mixture of humanistic, egalitarian and humanitarian beliefs in human decency. This decay has opened the door for a new ethic whose "first plank" is eugenics. Basically, eugenic selection must be based on the success of a given culture. But "racial and cultural experiments" must also be tried.

In the draft statement of the Beyondist which Horn distributed, Cattell actually refers to Robertson's "ethnostates" as an "experimental array" of separate groups. In fact, Cattell raises the question whether "the more successful [groups should] bolster up the less successful (as the U.S. does Somalia)..." Beyondism, of course, "is an increasing acceptance of reality, and that involves dropping the emotional support of a loving omnipotent god. Humans are not the 'apple of G-d's eye' but only a chance species, whose survival depends upon their own efforts."

McArdle spoke for both himself and John Horn. Horn could not possibly make such denials himself since his support for Cattell's eugenic endeavors is multifaceted and goes back decades. For example, Horn served with Cattell on the editorial advisory board of Pearson's Mankind Quarterly from 1974 to 1988. Horn claimed that his involvement was minimal, and it probably was, but there is no denying that he lent his name to a number of eugenic endeavors including contributing to (Osborne, 1978) and "providing generous counsel" in the preparation of (Graham, 1981, p. x).

Even amidst scandal, the nation's leading psychologists gathered to honor Cattell for his "lifetime achievements in the study of human abilities" at the "Human Cognitive Abilities Conference," held at the University of Virginia in September 1994 (Human Cognitive Abilities Conference, 22-24 September, 1994). McArdle was a key organizer of the Conference, held in the historic Dome Room of the Rotunda, the conference was called to honor Cattell for his "lifetime achievements in the study of human abilities" (Conference Brochure, 22 September, p. 1).

Naturally, Cattell gave a keynote presentation on the morning of the first day of the conference. Introduced by John Horn as "psychology's master strategist" who ranks among the twentieth century's "most influential behavior scientists", (Horn, J.L., 1994. Comments at Human Cognitive Abilities Conference, University of Virginia), Cattell declared that we must accept "the results of psychological science" which show that "much of mankind is obsolete" and that to continue "the past course of evolution from Australopithecus to Cro-Magnon -- we need to go beyond ourselves." The "only real advance" Cattell maintained, "is going occur through the breeding for brain size." "Enormities this huge," Cattell concluded, "I call Beyondism." None of those in attendance seemed troubled by this call for a eugenic program of Hitlerian dimensions.

Sandra Scarr, attentively listening to Cattell babble about breeding for brain size, typified the illustrious group assembled to honor Cattell. She was introduced as the University of Virginia’s Commonwealth Professor of Psychology, winner of the 1985 National Book Award of the APA for the book, Mother Care, Other Care; fellow of the American Academy of Arts; and the American Association for the Advancement of Science; as well as past president of the Society for Research in Child Development and the Behavior Genetics Society. She has served on a number of prestigious editorial boards including the American Psychologist (associate editor) and Developmental Psychology (editor). The next day she presented a paper entitled, "Theories of Intellectual Development," in which she argued that a genetic model of intelligence fits the data far better than any other model.

What can one make of the difference in perspective between Sandra Scarr and Congresswoman Collins, who described Cattell’s Beyondist notions as "scary," or Rudy Washington, executive director of the Black Coaches Association who commented that Cattell had the "same basic ideas" that led to the Holocaust (Collins, 12/14/93; Blum, 5 January 1994, p. A47). Why is it Congresswoman Collins and coach Washington immediately recognized the neo-fascist nature of Cattell’s Beyondist ideology, while a roomful of prominent psychologists saw only one of "the twentieth century's most influential behavior scientists", (Human Cognitive Abilities Conference, 23-24 September 1994). Moreover, Sandra Scarr not only paid tribute to Cattell, her talk supported the main assumptions of the hereditarian model (Scarr, "Theories of Intellectual Development: A Critical Review of Socialization and Behavior Genetic Theories and Observations," 24 September 1994).


Cattell is a major figure in the history of eugenics, who has legions of dedicated students with considerable influence in a number of academic fields, including intelligence and personality testing, behavior genetics, education, and theology. Most of his prot�g�es, when publicly confronted with Cattell’s Beyondist ideology contend that Cattell’s contribution to multivariate analysis is the core of his contribution to psychology and genetics and that his eugenic ideas are insignificant - the inevitable product of a brilliant mind forever spinning out ideas, some of which are naturally a little quirky. It is my contention that none of those who have worked closely with Cattell and remained loyal to him are unaware of the centrality of Cattell’s Beyondist ideology. In fact, multivariate analysis is a means to an end, not the end in itself, and those close to Cattell know this. It is my belief that Cattell’s students deliberately obsfucate the political and social implications of their mentor’s ideology.

In the radical right demimonde, on the other hand, the political implications of Cattell’s work and its significance for contemporary fascism is recognized, acknowledged and openly embraced. He is considered a leading theorist of contemporary eugenics, and is certainly the most prominent academician in the extremist camp. It is this unique combination of academic legitimacy and extremists ideology that explains Cattell’s importance to contemporary fascist and eugenic advocates.


(1) Philip J. Hilts, "Group Delays Achievement Award to Psychologist Accused of Fascist and Racist Views," New York Times (8/15/97) p. A10; Scott Sleek, "Lifetime achievement award is questioned," Monitor (Oct 1997); Henry Saeman, Editor. "The Cattell Convention," The National Psychologist (Sept/Oct 1997); The National Psychologist, "Scientists, colleagues defend Cattell" (January/February 1998). For the original announcement of the award see, The Monitor, "APF recognizes psychologists for lifetime achievement," (July 1997) p. 48.



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