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Shockley and Cattell
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.
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).
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)
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).
Do Genes and Polymorphisms Explain the Differences between Eastern and Western Societies?
In 2012, biologist Hippokratis Kiaris published a book titled Genes, Polymorphisms, and the Making of Societies: How Genetic Behavioral Traits Influence Human Cultures. His main point is that “the presence of different genes in the corresponding people has actually dictated the acquisition of these distinct cultural and historical lines, and that an alternative outcome might be unlikely” (Kiaris, 2012: 9). This is a book that I have not seen discussed in any HBD blog, and based on the premise of the book (how it purports to explain behavioral/societal outcomes between Eastern and Western society) you would think it would be. The book is short, and he speaks with a lot of determinist language. (It’s worth noting he does not discuss IQ at all.)
In the book, he discusses how genes “affect” and “dictate” behavior which then affects “collective decisions and actions” while also stating that it is “conceivable” that history, and what affects human decision-making and reactions, are also “affected by the genetic identity of the people involved” (Kiaris, 2012: 11). Kiaris argues that genetic differences between Easterners and Westerners are driven by “specific environmental conditions that apparently drove the selection of specific alleles in certain populations, which in turn developed particular cultural attitudes and norms” (Kiaris, 2012: 91).
Kiaris attempts to explain the societal differences between the peoples who adopted Platonic thought and those who adopted Confucian thought. He argues that differences between Eastern and Western societies “are not random and stochastic” but are “dictated—or if this is too strong an argument, they are influenced considerably—by the genes that these people carry.” So, Kiaris says, “what we view as a choice is rather the complex and collective outcome of the influence of people’s specific genes combined with the effects of their specific environment … [which] makes the probability for rendering a certain choice distinct between different populations” (Kiaris, 2012: 50).
The first thing that Kiaris discusses (behavior wise) is DRD4. This allele has been associated with miles migrated from Africa (with a correlation of .85) along with novelty-seeking and hyperactivity (which may cause the association found with DRD4 frequency and miles migrated from Africa (Chen et al, 1999). Kiaris notes, of course, that the DRD4 alleles are unevenly distributed across the globe, with people who have migrated further from Africa having a higher frequency of these alleles. Europeans were more likely to have the “novelty-seeking” DRD7 compared to Asian populations (Chang et al, 1996). But, Kiaris (2012: 68) wisely writes (emphasis mine):
Whether these differences [in DRD alleles] represent the collective and cumulative result of selective pressure or they are due to founder effects related to the genetic composition of the early populations that inhabited the corresponding areas remains elusive and is actually impossible to prove or disprove with certainty.
Kiaris then discusses differences between Eastern and Western societies and how we might understand these differences between societies as regards novelty-seeking and the DRD4-7 distribution across the globe. Westerners are more individualistic and this concept of individuality is actually a cornerstone of Western civilization. The “increased excitability and attraction to extravagance” of Westerners, according to Kiaris, is linked to this novelty-seeking behavior which is also related to individualism “and the tendency to constantly seek for means to obtain satisfaction” (Kiaris, 2012: 68). We know that Westerners do not shy away from exploration; after all, the West discovered the East and not vice versa.
Easterners, on the other hand, are more passive and have “an attitude that reflects a certain degree of stoicism and makes life within larger—and likely collectivistic—groups of people more convenient“. Easterners, compared to Westerners, take things “the way they are” which “probably reflects their belief that there is not much one can or should do to change them. This is probably the reason that these people appear rigid against life and loyal, a fact that is also reflected historically in their relatively high political stability” (Kiaris, 2012: 68-69).
Kiaris describes DRD4 as a “prototype Westerner’s gene” (pg 83), stating that the 7R allele of this gene is found more frequently in Europeans compares to Asians. The gene has been associated with increased novelty-seeking, exploratory activity and human migrations, along with liberal ideology. These, of course, are cornerstones of Western civilization and thought, and so, Kiaris argues that the higher frequency of this allele in Europeans—in part—explains certain societal differences between the East and West. Kiaris (2012: 83) then makes a bold claim:
All these features [novelty-seeking, exploratory activity and migration] indeed tend to characterize Westerners and the culutral norms they developed, posing the intriguing possibility that DRD4 can actually represent a single gene that can “predispose” for what we understand as the stereotypic Western-type behavior. Thus, we could imagine that an individual beating the 7-repeat allele functions more efficiently in Western society while the one without this allele would probably be better suited to a society with Eastern-like structure. Alternatively, we could propose that a society with more individuals bearing the 7-repeat allele is more likely to have followed historical lines and choices more typical of a Western society, while a population with a lower number (or deficient as it is the actual case with Easterners) of individuals with the 7-repeat allele would more likely attend to the collective historical outcome of Eaasterners.
Kiaris (2012: 84) is, importantly, skeptical that having a high number of “novelty-seekers” and “explorers” would lead to higher scientific achievement. This is because “attempts to extrapolate from individual characteristics to those of a group of people and societies possess certain dangers and conceptual limitations.”
Kiaris (2012: 86) says that “collectivistic behavior … is related to the activity of serotonin.” He then goes on to cite a few instances of other polymorphisms which are associated with collective behavior as well. Goldman et al (2010) show ethnic differences in the l and s alleles (from Kiaris, 2012: 86):
It should also be noted that populations (Easterners) that had a higher frequency of the s allele had a lower prevalence of depression than Westerners. So Western societies are more likely to “suffer more frequently from various manifestations of depression and general mood disorders than those of Eastern cultures (Chiao & Blizinsky, 2010)” (Kiaris, 2012: 89).
As can be seen from the table above, Westerners are more likely to have the l allele than Easterners, which should subsequently predict higher levels of happiness in Western compared to Eastern populations. However, “happiness” is, in many ways, subjective; so how would one find an objective way to measure “happiness” cross-culturally? However, Kiaris (2012: 94) writes: “Intuitively speaking, though, I have to admit that I would rather expect Asians to be happier, in general, than Westerners. I cannot support this by specific arguments, but I think the reason for that is related to the individualistic approach of life that the people possess in Western societies: By operating under individualistic norms, it is unavoidably stressful, a condition that operates at the expense of the perception of individuals’ happiness.”
Kiaris discusses catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT), which is an enzyme responsible for the inactivation of catecholamines. Catecholamines are the hormones dopamine, adrenaline, and noradrenaline. These hormones regulate the “fight or flight” function (Goldstein, 2011). So since catecholamines play a regulatory role in the “fight or flight” mechanism, increased COMT activity results in lower dopamine levels, which is then associated with better performance.
“Warriors” and “worriers” are intrinsically linked to the “fight or flight” mechanism. A “warrior” is someone who performs better under stress, achieves maximal performance despite threat and pain, and is more likely to act efficiently in a threatening environment. A “worrier” is “someone that has an advantage in memory and attention tasks, is more exploratory and efficient in complex environments, but who exhibits worse performance under stressful conditions (Stein et al., 2006)” (Kiaris, 2012: 102).
Kiaris (2012: 107) states that “at the level of society, it can be argued that the specific Met-bearing COMT allele contributes to the buildup of Western individualism. Opposed to this, Easterners’ increased frequency of the Val-bearing “altruistic” allele fits quite well with the construction of a collectivistic society: You have to be an altruist at some degree in order to understand the benefits of collectivism. By being a pure individualist, you only understand “good” as defined and reflected by your sole existence.”
So, Kiaris’ whole point is thus: there are differences in polymorphic genes between Easterners and Westerners (and are unevenly distributed) and that differences in these polymorphisms (DRD4, HTT, MAOA, and COMT) explain behavioral differences between behaviors in Eastern and Western societies. So the genetic polymorphisms associated with “Western behavior” (DRD4) are associated with increased novelty-seeking, tendency for financial risk-taking, distance of OoA migration, and liberal ideology. Numerous different MAOA and 5-HTT polymorphisms are associated with collectivism (e.g., Way and Lieberman, 2006 for MAOA and collectivism). The polymorphism in COMT more likely to be found in Westerners predisposes for “worrier’s behavior”. Furthermore, certain polymorphisms of the CHRNB3 gene are more common in all of the populations that migrated out of Africa, which predisposed for leaders—and not follower—behavior.
|Novelty seeking||DRD4||7-repeat novelty seeking allele more common in the West|
|Migration||DRD4||7-repeat allele is associated with distance from Africa migration|
|Nomads/settlers||DRD4||7-repeat allele is associated with nomadic life|
|Political ideology||DRD4||7-repeat allele is more common in liberals|
|Financial risk taking||DRD4||7-repeat allele is more common in risk takers|
|Individualism/Collectivism||HTT||s allele (collectivistic) of 5-HTT is more common in the East|
|Happiness||HTT||l allele has higher prevalence in individuals happy with their life|
|Individualism/Collectivism||MAOA||3-repeat allele (collectivistic) more common in the East)|
|Warrior/Worrier||COMT||A-allele (worrier) more common in the West|
|Altruism||COMT||G-allele (warrior) associated with altruism|
|Leader/Follower||CHRBN3||A-allele (leader) more common in populations Out-of-Africa|
The table above is from Kiaris (2012: 117) who lays out the genes/polymorphisms discussed in his book—what supposedly shows how and why Eastern and Western societies are so different.
Kiaris (2012: 141) then makes a bold claim: “Since we know now that at least a fraction (and likely more than that) of our behavior is due to our genes“, actually “we” don’t “know” this “now”.
The takeaways from the book are: (1) populations differ genetically; (2) since populations differ genetically, then genetic differences correlated with behavior should show frequency differences between populations; (3) since these populations show both behavioral/societal differences and they also differ in genetic polymorphisms which are then associated with that behavior, then those polymorphisms are, in part, a cause of that society and the behavior found in it; (4) therefore, differences in Eastern and Western societies are explained by (some) of these polymorphisms discussed.
Now for a simple rebuttal of the book:
“B iff G” (behavior B is possible if and only if a specific genotype G is instantiated) or “if G, then necessarily B” (genotype G is a sufficient cause for behavior B). Both claims are false; genes are neither a sufficient or necessary cause for any behavior. Genes are, of course, a necessary pre-condition for behavior, but they are not needed for a specific behavior to be instantiated; genes can be said to be difference makers (Sterelny and Kitcher, 1988) (but see Godfrey-Smith and Lewontin, 1993 for a response). These claims cannot be substantiated; therefore, the claims that “if G, then necessarily B” and “B iff G” are false, it cannot be shown that genes are difference makers in regard to behavior, nor can it be shown that particular genes or whatnot.
I’m surprised that I have not come across a book like this sooner; you would expect that there would be a lot more written on this. This book is short, it discusses some good resources, but the conclusions that Kiaris draws, in my opinion, will not come to pass because genes are not neccesary nor sufficient cause of any type of behavior, nor can it be shown that genes are causes of any behavior B. Behavioral differences between Eastern and Western societies, logically, cannot come down to differences in genes, since they are neither necessary nor sufficient causes of behavior (genes are neccessary pre-conditions for behavior, since without genes there is no organism, but genes cannot explain behavior).
Kiaris attempts to show how and why Eastern and Western societies became so different, how and why Western societies are dominated by “Aristotle’s reason and logic”, while Eastern lines of thought “has been dominated by Confucious’s harmony, collectivism, and context dependency” (Kiaris, 2012: 9). While the book is well-written and researched (he talks about nothing new if you’re familiar with the literature), Kiaris fails to prove his ultimate point: that differences in genetic polymorphisms between individuals in different societies explain how and why the societies in question are so different. Though, it is not logically possible for genes to be a necessary nor sufficient cause for any behavior. Kiaris talks like a determinist, since he says that “the presence of different genes in the corresponding people has actually dictated the acquisition of these distinct cultural and historical lines, and that an alternative outcome might be unlikely” (Kiaris, 2012: 9), though that is just wishful thinking: if we were able to start history over again, things would occur differently, “the presence of different genes in the corresponding people” be dammed, since genes do not cause behavior.