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Shockley and Cattell

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William Shockley and Raymond Cattell were some of the most prolific eugenicists of the 20th century. In that time, both men put forth the notion that breeding should be restricted based on the results of IQ testing. Both men, however, were motivated not by science—so much—as they were by racial biases. Historian Constance Hilliard discusses Shockley in her book Straightening the Bell Curve: How Stereotypes About Black Masculinity Drive Research on Race and Intelligence (Hilliard, 2012: Chapter 3), while psychologist William H. Tucker wrote a book on Cattell and the eugenic views he held called The Cattell Controversy: Race, Science, and Ideology (Tucker, 2009). This article will discuss the views of both men.

Shockley

When Shockley was 51 he was in a near-fatal car accident. He was thrown many feet away from the car that he, his wife and their son were in. Their son escaped the accident with minor injuries but Shockley had a crushed pelvis and was in a body cast for months in the hospital. Hilliard (2012: 20) writes:

Chapter 3 details Shockley’s transformation from physicist to modern-day eugenicist, preoccupied with race and the superiority of white genes. Some colleagues believed that the car accident that crushed Dr. Shockley’s pelvis and left him disabled might have triggered mental changes in him as well. Whatever the case, not long after returning home from the hospital, Shockley began directing his anger toward the reckless driver who maimed him into racial formulations. His ideas began to coalesce around the notion of an inverse correlation between blacks’ cognition and physical prowess. Later, in donating his sperm at the age of seventy to a sperm bank for geniuses, Shockley suggested to an interviewer for Playboy that women who would otherwise pay little attention to his lack of physical appeal would compete for his cognitively superior sperm. But the sperm banks’ owner apparently concealed from Shockley a painful truth. Women employing its services rejected the sperm of the short, balding Shockley in favor of that from younger, taller, more physically attractive men, whatever their IQ.

Shockley was a short, small man, standing at 5 foot 6 inches, weighing 150 pounds. How ironic that his belief that women would want his “cognitively superior sperm” (whatever that means) was rebuffed by the fact that women didn’t want a small, short balding man and wanted a young, attractive man’s sperm irrespective of their IQ. How funny, these eugenicists are.

Shockley’s views, of course, were not just science-driven. He harbored racial biases against certain groups. He disowned his son for marrying a Costa Rican woman, stated that his children had “regressed to the mean”, and stated that while stating that the so horrible misfortune of his children’s genetics were due to his first wife since she was not as academically inclined as he. Hilliard (2012: 48-49) writes:

Shockley’s growing preoccupation with eugenics and selective breeding was not simply an intellectual one. He disowned his eldest son for his involvement with a Costa Rican woman since this relationship, according to Professor Shockley, threatened to contaminate the family’s white gene pool. He also described his children to a reporter “as a significant regression” even though one possessed a PhD from the University of Southern California and another held a degree from Harvard College. Shockley even went as far as to blame this “genetic misfortune” on his first wife, who according to the scientist, “had no as high an academic achievement standing as I had.”

It’s funny because Shockley described himself as a “lady’s man”, but they didn’t want the sperm of a small, balding manlet (short man, at 5 foot 6 inches weighing 150 pounds). I wonder how he would have reacted to this news?

This is the mark of a scientist who just has intellectual curiosity on “cognitive differences” between racial groups, of course. Racial—and other—biases, of course, have driven many research programmes over the decades, and it seems that, like most “intelligence researchers” Shockley was privy to such biases as well.

One of Shockley’s former colleagues attributed his shift in research focus to the accident he had, stating that the “intense and (to my mind) ill-conceived concentration on socio-genetic matters occurred after a head-on automobile collison in which he was almost killed” (quoted in Hilliard: 2012: 48). Though we, of course, can’t know the reason for Shockley’s change in research focus (from legitimate science to pseudoscience), racial biases were quite obviously a driver in his research-shift.

Hilliard (2012: 47) claims that “had it not been for the near fatal car accident [that occurred to Shockley] … the twentieth century’s preoccupation with pairing cognition and physical attributes might have faded from view. It much not have been so much the car crash as the damage it did to Shockley’s sense of self that changed the course of race science.” Evidence for this claim comes from the fact that Jensen was drawn to Shockley’s lectures. Hilliard (2012: 51-52) writes:

Jensen, who had described himself as a “frustrated symphony conductor,” may have had his own reasons for reverencing Shockley’s every word. The younger psychologist had been forced to abandon a career in music because his own considerable talents in that area nevertheless lacked “soul,” or the emotional intensity needed to succeed in so competitive a profession. He decided on psychology as a second choice, carrying along with him a grudge against those American subcultures perceived as being “more expressive” than white culture from white he sprang.

So, it seems that had Shockley passed away, one of the “IQ giants” would have not have become an IQ-ist and Jensenism would not exist. Then, maybe, we would not have this IQ pseudoscience that America is “obsessed with” (Castles, 2013).

Cattell

Raymond B. Cattell is one of the most influential psychologists of the 20th century. Tucker (2009) shows how Cattell’s racial biases drove his research programs and how Cattell outlined his radical eugenic thoughts in numerous papers on personality and social psychology. Tucker describes Cattell’s acceptance of an award from the APA. However, the APA then got word of Cattell’s views and what drove his research a few days before Cattell was to fly to Hawaii to accept the award. It was said to the APA that Cattell harbored racist views which drove his research. Cattell even created a religion called “Beyondism” which is a “neo-fascist contrivance” (Mehler, 1997) in which eugenics was a part, but only on a voluntary basis.

Cattell titled a book on the matter A New Morality from Science: Beyondism (Cattell, 1972). It’s almost as if he’s saying that there can be a science of morality, but there cannot be one (contra Sam Harris). Cattell, in his book, thought of how to create a system in which ecologically sustainable eugenic programs could be established. He also published Beyondism: Religion from Science in 1987 (Cattell, 1987). Cattell’s eugenic beliefs were so strong that he actually created a “religion” based on it. It is indeed ironic, since many HBDers are religious in their views.

Tucker (2009: 14) was one of two psychologists to explain to the APA that “this was not a case of a scientist who, parenthetically, happened to have objectionable political opinions; Cattell’s political ideology and his science were inseparable from each other.” So the APA postponed the award ceremony for Cattell. Tucker (2009: 15) demonstrated “that [Cattell’s] impressive body of accomplishments in the former domain [his “scienctific” accomplishments] was always intended to serve the goal of the latter [his eugenic/political beliefs].”

Cattell’s religion was based on evolution. A believer in group selection, he claimed that racial groups were selected by “natural selection“, thusly being married to a form of group selection. Where Beyondism strayed from other religious movements is interesting and is the main point of Cattell’s new religion: compassion was seen by Cattell as “evil.” Tucker (2009: 136) writes:

Cattell finally published A New Morality From Science: Beyondism, a 480-page prolix tome describing his religious thought in detail; fifteen years later Beyondism: Religion from Science provided some elaboration of Beyondist principles. Together these two books constituted the most comprehensive statement of his sociomoral beliefs and their relation to social science. Despite the adjective in the title of the earlier volume, Beyondism showed no significant discontinuity from the “evolutionary ethics” of the 1930s. If anything, the intervening decades had made all the traditonal approaches to morality more contemptible than ever to Cattell. “The notion of ‘human rights'” was nothing more than “an instance of rigid, childish, subjective thinking,” and other humanistic principles “such … as ‘social justice and equality,’ ‘basic freedom’ and ‘human dignity,'” he dismissed as “whore phrases.” As always, conventional religion was the worst offender of all in his eyes, one of its “chief rasions detre [sic]” being the “succorance of failure of error” by prolonging the duration of genetic failures—both individuals and groups—which, “from the perspective Beyondism,” Cattell called “positively evil.” In contrast, in a religion based on evolution as the central purpose of humankind, “religious and scientific truth [would] be ultimately reducible to one truth … [obtained] by scientific discovery … therefore … developing morality out of science. Embodying this unified truth, Beyondism would be “the finest ways to spend our lives.”

So intergroup competition, to Cattell, was the mechanism for “evolutionary progress” (whatever that means; see my most recent essay on the matter). The within-group eugenic policies that Beyondism would put onto racial groups was not only for increasing the race’s quality of life, but to increase the chance of that race’s being judged “successful” in Cattell’s eyes.

Another main tenet of Beyondism is that one culture should not borrow from another, termed “cultural borrowing”. This separated “rewards” from their “genetic origins” which then “confused the process of natural selection between groups.” So Beyondism required the steady elimination of “failing” races which was essential if the earth was “not to be choked with … more primitive forerunners” (Cattell, quoted in Tucker, 2009: 146). Cattell did not use the term “genocide”, which he saved only for the literal killing off of the members of a group; he created a neologism called “genthanasia” which was the process of ““phasing out” a “moribund culture … by educational and birth measures, without a single member dying before his time” (Cattell, quoted in Tucker, 2009: 146). So, quite obviously, Beyondism could not be practiced by one individual; it needed groups—societies—to adhere to its tenets for it to be truly effective. To Cattell, the main draw of Beyondism was that intergroup competition was a necessary moral postulate while he used psychological data to parse out “winners” and “losers.”

Cattell was then put on the Editorial Advisory Board of Mankind Quarterly, which was formerly a journal populated by individuals who opposed civil rights and supported German National Socialism. Cattell, though, finally had a spot where he could publish his thoughts in a “journal” on what should be done in regard to his Beyondism religion. Tucker (2009: 153) writes:

… in an article titled “Virtue in ‘Racism’?” he offered an analysis similar to Pearson’s, arguing that racism was an innate “evolutionary force—a tendency to like the like and distrust the different” that in most cases had to be respected as ” a virtuous gift”; the mere fact that society “has had to battel racism” was for Cattell “sufficient evidence that an innate drive exists.” And rather than regarding such natural inclination as a “perversion,” the appropriate response to racism, in his opinion, was “to shape society to adjust to it,” no doubt keeping groups separate from each other.

One of Cattell’s colleagues—Oliver Robertson (a man who criticized Hitler for failing)—wrote a book in 1992 titled The Ethnostate: An Unblinkered Perspective for an Advanced Statecraft in which he detailed his plan for the balkanization (the division of one large region into many smaller, sometimes hostile, ones) which was Cattellian in nature. It seemed like The Ethnostate was just a whole bunch of Cattell’s ideas, packaged up into a “plan” for the balkanization of America. So he wanted to divide America into ethnostates. Recall how Cattell eschewed “cultural borrowing”; well so did Robertson. Tucker (2009: 166) writes:

Most important of all, in the competition between the different ethnostates each group was to rely solely “upon its own capabilities and resources,” prohibited from “borrowing” from more complex cultures advancements that “it could not create under its own power” or otherwise benefitting from outside assistance.

[…]

A critique of Cattell’s ethical system based in part on his involvement with others espousinig odious opinions naturally runs the risk of charging guilt by association. But the argument advanced here is more substantative. It is not merely that he has cited a long list of Far Right authors and activists as significant influences on his own work, including arguably the three most important English-speaking Nazi theorists of the last thirty years—Pearson, Oliver, and Robertson. It is that, in addition to citing their writing as support for his own ideology, Cattell has acknowledged their ideas as “integrable”—that is, compatible—with his thought; expressed his gratitude for their influence these ideas have had on the evolution of Beyondism; graced the pages of their journals with his own contributions, thus lending his considerable prestige to publications dedicated to keeping blacks in second-class status; registered no objection when schemes of racial balkanization were predicated expressly on his writing—and indeed edited a publication that praised such a scheme for its intellectual indebtedness to his thought and called for its implementaion; and provided a friendly interview to a periodical [American Rennaisance] directly advocating that constituonally protected rights be withheld from blacks. This is not guilt by association but rather guilt by collaboration: a core set of beliefs and a common vision of an ethnically cleansed future, and that his support for such a society has lent his academic prominence, consciosuly and deliberately, to their intolerable goals. (Tucker, 2009: 171)

Conclusion

The types of views these two men held, quite obviously, drove their “scientific aspirations”; and their racial biases permeated their scientific thought. Shockley’s sudden shift in his thought after his car accident is quite possibly how and why Jensen published his seminal article in 1969 which opened the race/”intelligence” debate back up. Shockley’s racial biases permeated into his familial life when his son married a Costa Rican woman; along with his thoughts on how his children “regressed to the mean” due to his first wife’s lack of educational attainment shows the kind of great guy that Shockley was. It also shows how his biases drove his thought.

The same with Cattell. Cattell’s religion Beyondism grew out of his extreme racial biases; his collaboration with National Socialists and those opposed to desegregation further shows how his political/racial beliefs drove his research. Beyondist propaganda stated that evolutionary “progress” occurred between competing groups. So this is when Robertson pretty much took all of Cattell’s ideas and wrote a book on how America will be balkanized into ethnostates where there would be no cultural borrowing. Further, he stated that the most appropriate response to racism was to shape society to adjust to racism, rather than attempt to eliminate it entirely.

The stories of these two men’s beliefs are why, in my opinion, we should know the past and motivations of why individuals push anything—no matter what type of field it is. Because biases—due to political beliefs—everywhere cloud people’s judgment. Although, holding such views was prevalent at the time (like with Henry Goddard and his Kallikak family (see Zenderland, 1998).

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2 Comments

  1. Horus says:

    Sperm banks that disproportionately favor certain ethnic groups stock on the basis of IQ. = egregious, immoral, bad and based on false beliefs of evolutionary theory.

    Sperm banks that disproportionately favor taller, more attractive men = Common sense, normative, good, and based on true beliefs of evolutionary theory.

    K

    Like

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