Barry Mehler

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Barry Alan Mehler (born March 18, 1947) is a Jewish-American professor of humanities at Ferris State University who founded the Institute for the Study of Academic Racism (ISAR).[1] He earned his B.A. from Yeshiva University in 1970, his M.A. from City College of New York in 1972, and his Ph.D. from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1988. His dissertation was entitled, "A history of the American Eugenics Society, 1921-1940." Mehler has been a professor at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan since 1988.

Cattell controversy[edit]

In 1997 Mehler was a driving force behind a successful campaign to have an American Psychological Association lifetime achievement award for Raymond B. Cattell postponed because of claims that some of his writings were 'racist'.[2] Mehler's most cited article was written that year and examined Cattell's concept of "beyondism".[3]

Criticisms of Mehler and the ISAR[edit]

Hereditarians such as Glayde Whitney have criticized Mehler for employing what they perceive as 'inflammatory' and 'inquisitional' anti-racist rhetoric in an effort to spur activism and discredit controversial scientists through the 'manipulation' of popular opinion [4] Controversial researchers singled out for criticism by Mehler have included hereditarian psychologists, such as Cattell and Richard Lynn. Whitney has further claimed that Mehler primarily challenges those he accuses of racism through popular rather than scientific channels, e.g. via periodicals and mass-market TV programs, such as The Geraldo Show. Roger Pearson once accused Mehler of "activist Lysenkoism." [4]

Committee to Free Russell Smith[edit]

In his early career, in 1977 Mehler was the founder of the Committee to Free Russell Smith, later the International Committee to Free Russell Smith (ICFRS). Smith was one of the "Marion Brothers", a group of prisoners kept in long-term segregation and illegal solitary confinement in the Control Unit of the U.S. Penitentiary in Marion, Illinois. Smith and the rest of the Marion Brothers proved that they were illegally locked down due to their political activities in prison rather than misbehavior or failing to observe prison rules. Smith had been active in organizing prisoners to fight against prisoner rape. After his release from the Control Unit, Smith was again raped. He retaliated in what he claimed was a necessary defense against further assaults, and prison officials charged him with assault.

Mehler and the committee (ICFRS) supported Smith during his trial following charges of assault. They also provided a home for him after his release from federal prison in 1980.

Using the resources of the ICFRS, Smith formed the grass-roots "People Organized to Stop Rape of Imprisoned Persons" (POSRIP). Smith and Mehler did not continue working together, as Smith disappeared in the 1980s was Bi-Polar and suffered from PTSD to the point that he became a recluse in South Carolina.[5]

About 1983 Tom Cahill and Stephen Donaldson resurrected POSRIP, in the 1990s incorporating it as Just Detention International.[5] Donaldson, who used the pseudonym "Donnie the Punk", died in 1996 as a result of AIDS which was contracted during a prison rape. Donnie the Punk, his preferred name, is remembered as a brilliant man who did much to transform POSRIP into a fighting foundation bringing light to the whole issue of prison rape.

Selected bibliography[edit]

  • Mehler, Barry. "Controlling Human Heredity: 1865 to the Present" (book review). Isis, Vol. 88, No. 2 (Jun 1997), p. 369
  • Mehler, Barry. "The Rise of Statistical Thinking, 1820-1900", Journal of Interdisciplinary History, Vol. 19, No. 2 (Autumn 1988), pp. 294–296


  1. ^ "Barry Mehler profile", Genes on Trial: Genetics, Behavior, and the Law, PBS.
  2. ^ Hilts, Philip J. (August 15, 1997). "Racism Accusations and Award Is Delayed", New York Times
  3. ^ Mehler, Barry."Beyondism: Raymond B. Cattell and the new eugenics", Genetica, 1997;99(2-3):153-63
  4. ^ a b Whitney, Glayde (Fall 1997). Raymond B. Cattell and The Fourth Inquisition. Mankind Quarterly, vol. 38, #1 & 2, Fall/Winter 1997, p. 99-124.
  5. ^ a b Philip Weiss, "Uncovered Prison Rapes Show Failure of Media", New York Observer, 29 Apr 2001, accessed 8 Jan 2009

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