Glayde Whitney

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Glayde Whitney
Born 1939
Montana, United States
Died January 8, 2002 (aged 62–63)
Tallahassee, Florida, United States
Citizenship United States
Alma mater University of Minnesota
Scientific career
Fields Behavior genetics
Institutions Florida State University

Glayde D. Whitney (1939 – 8 January 2002) was an American behavioral geneticist and psychologist. He was professor at Florida State University. Beyond his work into the genetics of sensory system function in mice, in his later life he supported David Duke as well as research into race and intelligence and eugenics.


Whitney was born in Montana and grew up in Minnesota.[1] He earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Minnesota, as well as his doctorate from there in 1966. He then enlisted in the United States Air Force and served until 1969. He subsequently worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Behavioral Genetics (University of Colorado at Boulder), under Gerald McClearn and John C. DeFries.[2]

In 1970, Whitney was hired by Florida State University to represent behavioral genetics in the psychobiology program, where he stayed until his death at the age of 62 on January 8, 2002, after contracting a severe cold that aggravated emphysema.[2] He considered himself to be a "Hubert Humphrey liberal."[1]

Work in behavioral genetics[edit]

Whitney was the author of over 60 papers on the genetics of taste sensitivity in inbred mice. Support for some of this work came from a prestigious Claude Pepper Award for Research Excellence from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders and in 1994 he received the Manheimer Lectureship Award from the Monell Chemical Senses Center, which recognizes career achievements of individuals in the chemosensory sciences.[2] At the height of his genetics career, he was the president of the Behavior Genetics Association from 1994 to 1995.[3]

Political controversies[edit]

The later years of his career were embroiled in controversy. Whitney was a frequent contributor to magazines such as Mankind Quarterly, The g Factor Newsletter and The William McDougall Newsletter. While outgoing president of the Behavior Genetics Association in 1995, some members of this group demanded his resignation after his presidential address suggested the need to investigate the possibility of genetic factors behind the high incidence of black crime in America.[4][5][6][7][8][9]

Whitney generated further controversy in August 1998 when he wrote the foreword for My Awakening, an autobiography by David Duke, a politician and former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. In the book, Duke uses genetic science to push for the re-segregation of schools – arguing it is better to group children "in line with their natural abilities." Though Whitney declined to endorse Duke's re-segregation plan,[10] his foreword supported the value of the book, despite the reputation of Duke, as a collection of scientific evidence, describing it as "a painstakingly documented, academically excellent work of sociobiological-political history ... provid[ing] on the order of a thousand references and footnotes."

Whitney spoke against a putative disparity in expert and public opinion regarding race behavioral genetics, and claimed private discussions at scientific meetings had become disjointed from public pronouncements. He argued that opponents of such research are positioned against the scientific tradition of open inquiry, maintained even when one detests another's subject. Whitney praised the scientific achievements of Jews, but accused "organized Jewry" of playing a prominent role in suppressing race behavioral genetics in response to racism directed toward them, resulting in a "dishonest and hypocritical version of egalitarianism." Whitney was a member of the Institute for Historical Review, a Holocaust denial organization, and he made the case for its views.

In reading Duke's work, Whitney noted, "I discovered that Duke's 'racism' was not born of hatred, but of science and history." Whitney made a hereditarian argument for the racial IQ disparity found in intelligence research, and regarded affirmative action as the result of a larger disparity between public rhetoric and scientific realities.

"As the hard scientific data came in, it became more certain that genetic differences (heredity) played a large role in the discrepancy. But in public it became politically incorrect to even acknowledge that there was a difference."

In the controversy following, Whitney received death threats. He felt that the controversy distracted from what was meant to be a scientific discussion and stated that "races are different for many genetic systems that influence everything from behavior and psychology to physiology, medicine and sports [...] Screaming nasty words does not change the reality."[10] Whitney's views regarding race and intelligence prompted the Florida Senate to pass Resolution 2742 in 1999, "condemning the racism and bigotry espoused by Florida State University Professor Glayde Whitney."[10]


  1. ^ a b Whitney, Glayde. Foreword[permanent dead link], in: Duke, David Ernest (2000). My Awakening: a Path to Racial Understanding. Covington, LA: Free Speech Press. ISBN 1-892796-00-7.
  2. ^ a b c "Glayde Whitney". Homepage. Association for Chemoreception Sciences. Archived from the original on 2007-08-22. Retrieved 2011-08-22.
  3. ^ "25th Annual Meeting" (PDF). Behavior Genetics Association. 1995. p. 2.
  4. ^ Loehlin, John (2009-04-01). "History of behavior genetics". In Kim, Yong-Kyu. Handbook of Behavior Genetics. Berlin: Springer. pp. 3–11. ISBN 978-0-387-76726-0.
  5. ^ Holden, C. (1995). "Specter at the Feast". Science. 269 (5220): 35. doi:10.1126/science.269.5220.35-a.
  6. ^ Butler D. (November 1995). "Geneticist quits in protest at 'genes and violence' claim". Nature. 378 (6554): 224. doi:10.1038/378224b0. PMID 7477332.
  7. ^ Holden, C. (November 1995). "Behavior geneticists shun colleague". Science. 270 (5239): 1125. doi:10.1126/science.270.5239.1123.
  8. ^ Secretary's Report on The 25th Annual Meeting of the Behavior Genetics Association, Richmond, Virginia
  9. ^ Panofsky, Aaron (2014). Misbehaving Science. Controversy and the Development of Behavior Genetics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-05831-3.
  10. ^ a b c Chris Colin (1999-04-26). "Reading genes in black and white". Salon Books. Retrieved 2011-08-22.

Further reading[edit]

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