Pioneer Fund

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Pioneer Fund
FormationMarch 11, 1937
Typenonprofit foundation
Key people
Wickliffe Preston Draper
Harry Laughlin
Frederick Osborn
Malcolm Donald
John Marshall Harlan II
J. Philippe Rushton
Richard Lynn

Pioneer Fund is an American non-profit foundation established in 1937 "to advance the scientific study of heredity and human differences". The organization has been described as racist and white supremacist in nature,[1][2][3] and as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.[4] One of its first projects was to fund the distribution in US churches and schools of a Nazi propaganda film about eugenics.[5]

From 2002 until his death in October 2012, the Pioneer Fund was headed by psychology professor J. Philippe Rushton. Rushton was succeeded by Richard Lynn.[6][7]

Two of the best known studies funded by Pioneer Fund are the Minnesota Study of Twins Reared Apart[8] and the Texas Adoption Project, which studied the similarities and differences of identical twins and other children adopted into non-biological families.

Research backed by the fund on race and intelligence has generated controversy and criticism, such as the 1994 book The Bell Curve, which drew heavily from Pioneer-funded research. The fund also has ties to eugenics,[9] and has both current and former links to white supremacist groups such as American Renaissance and Mankind Quarterly.


Pioneer Fund was incorporated on March 11, 1937. The first five directors were:

The 1937 incorporation documents of the Pioneer Fund list two purposes. The first, modeled on the Nazi Lebensborn breeding program,[16] was aimed at encouraging the propagation of those "descended predominantly from white persons who settled in the original thirteen states prior to the adoption of the Constitution of the United States and/or from related stocks, or to classes of children, the majority of whom are deemed to be so descended". Its second purpose was to support academic research and the "dissemination of information, into the 'problem of heredity and eugenics'" and "the problems of race betterment".[15] The Pioneer Fund argues the "race betterment" has always referred to the "human race" referred to earlier in the sentence, and critics argue it referred to racial groups. The document was amended in 1985 and the phrase changed to "human race betterment."[17]

The Pioneer Fund supported the distribution of a eugenics film titled Erbkrank ("Hereditary Defective" or "Hereditary Illness") which was published by the pre-war 1930s Nazi Party. William Draper obtained the film from the predecessor to the Nazi Office of Racial Policy (Rassenpolitisches Amt) prior to the founding of the Pioneer Fund.[2] According to the Pioneer Fund site, all founders capable of doing so participated in the war against the Nazis.[18]

Draper secretly met C. Nash Herndon of Bowman Gray School of Medicine at Wake Forest University in 1949. Little is known about their meetings, but Herndon was playing a major role in the expansion of the compulsory sterilization program in North Carolina.[19]

Corporate lawyer Harry F. Weyher Jr. was president of the Pioneer Fund from 1958 until his death in 2002.[20]

In the 1950s and 1960s, Draper supported two government committees that gave grants for both anti-immigration and genetics research. The committee members included Representative Francis E. Walter (chair of the House Un-American Activities Committee and head of the Draper Immigration Committee), Henry E. Garrett (an educator known for his belief in the genetic inferiority of blacks), and Senator James O. Eastland of Mississippi, head of the Draper Genetics Committee.[21]

Following Jesse Helms's 1984 Senate re-election bid, The Washington Post journalists Thomas B. Edsall and David A. Vise reported that both Helms and Thomas F. Ellis were linked to the Pioneer Fund, which was described as having "financed research into 'racial betterment' by scientists seeking to prove that blacks are genetically inferior to whites."[22]:A16 1

Later directors included Marion A. Parrott (1973–2000),[23] and Richard Lynn and Gerhard Meisenberg (as of 2019).[24]

Recipients of funding[edit]

Pioneer Fund's figures are from 1971 to 1996 and are adjusted to 1997 USD.[25]


Many of the researchers whose findings support the hereditarian hypothesis of racial IQ disparity have received grants of varying sizes from the Pioneer Fund.[26] Large grantees, in order of amount received, are:

  • Thomas J. Bouchard at the University of Minnesota.[27]
  • Arthur Jensen at the University of California, Berkeley ($1,096,094 as of 1994).[28]
  • J. Philippe Rushton at the University of Western Ontario was head of the fund from 2002 to his death in 2012. In 1999, Rushton used some of his grant money from the Pioneer Fund to send out tens of thousands of copies of an abridged version of his book Race, Evolution and Behavior to social scientists in anthropology, psychology, and sociology, causing a controversy.[29] Tax records from 2000 show that his Charles Darwin Institute received $473,835 – 73% of that year's grants.[30]
  • Roger Pearson at the Institute for the Study of Man: eugenicist[citation needed] and anthropologist, founder of the Journal of Indo-European Studies,[31] received over a million dollars in grants in the 1980s and 1990s.[2][26] Using the pseudonym of Stephan Langton, Pearson was the editor of The New Patriot, a short-lived magazine published in 1966–67 to conduct "a responsible but penetrating inquiry into every aspect of the Jewish Question", which included articles such as "Zionists and the Plot Against South Africa", "Early Jews and the Rise of Jewish Money Power", and "Swindlers of the Crematoria".[26] The Northern League, an organization founded in England in 1958 by Pearson, supported Nazi ideologies and included former members of the Nazi Party.[2]
  • Michael Levin of the City College of New York ($124,500 as of 1994)[28]
  • Richard Lynn at Ulster Institute for Social Research ($325,000 as of 1994)[28]
  • Linda Gottfredson at the University of Delaware ($267,000 as of 1994)[28]

Other notable recipients of funding include:

Political, publishing and legal funding[edit]

The fund gave the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) a total of $1.3 million between 1985 and 1994.[35] Among the grants was $150,000 for "studies in connection with immigration policies".[10] Funding was dropped after negative publicity during the campaign for California's Proposition 187 linked the Pioneer Fund to ads purchased by FAIR.[36][37] Other immigration reduction groups that have received donations from the Pioneer Fund include ProjectUSA[38] and American Immigration Control Foundation.[39]

One of the grantees is the paleoconservative and white supremacist journalist Jared Taylor, the editor of American Renaissance and a member the advisory board of the white nationalist publication the Occidental Quarterly. Another is Roger Pearson's Institute for the Study of Man.[4] Many of the key academic white nationalists in both Right Now! and American Renaissance have been funded by the Pioneer Fund, which was also directly involved in funding the parent organization of American Renaissance, the New Century Foundation.[26]

Founder Wickliffe Draper secretly funded the 1960 launch of Mankind Quarterly, to clandestinely serve as a publishing arm for its segregationist founders.[40]


The Pioneer Fund has also been criticized by scientists, journalists, and in various peer-reviewed academic articles. Critics of the fund include the Southern Poverty Law Center, professor of psychology William H. Tucker, and historian Barry Mehler and his Institute for the Study of Academic Racism.

The Pioneer Fund was described by the London Sunday Telegraph (March 12, 1989) as a "neo-Nazi organization closely integrated with the far right in American politics."[41]

In 2003, the Southern Poverty Law Center listed the Pioneer Fund as a hate group, citing the fund's history, its funding of race and intelligence research, and its connections with racist individuals.[4][42]

The Center for New Community, a human rights advocacy organization, mentioned the Pioneer Fund in an article on their website. They characterize the Pioneer Fund as "a white supremacist foundation that specializes in funding 'science' dedicated to demonstrating white intellectual and moral superiority." They draw particular attention to Rushton's theories about differences between races as evidence of the racial slant which they claim accompanies much of the research which is backed by the Fund.[43]

In accord with the tax regulations governing nonprofit corporations, Pioneer does not fund individuals; under the law only other nonprofit organizations are appropriate grantees. As a consequence, many of the fund's awards go not to the researchers themselves but to the universities that employ them, a standard procedure for supporting work by scientists affiliated to academic institutions. In addition to these awards to the universities where its grantees are based, Pioneer has made a number of grants to other nonprofit organizations and corporations Tucker feels have been created to channel resources to a particular academic recipient while circumventing the institution where the researcher is employed.[2][44]

In 2002, William H. Tucker criticized the Pioneer's grant-funding techniques:

Pioneer's administrative procedures are as unusual as its charter. Although the fund typically gives away more than half a million dollars per year, there is no application form or set of guidelines. Instead, according to Weyher, an applicant merely submits "a letter containing a brief description of the nature of the research and the amount of the grant requested." There is no requirement for peer review of any kind; Pioneer's board of directors – two attorneys, two engineers, and an investment broker – decides, sometimes within a day, whether a particular research proposal merits funding. Once the grant has been made, there is no requirement for an interim or final report or even for an acknowledgment by a grantee that Pioneer has been the source of support, all atypical practices in comparison to other organizations that support scientific research.[2]

Rushton, who headed Pioneer until 2012, spoke at conferences of the American Renaissance (AR) magazine, in which he has also published articles.[45] Anti-racist Searchlight magazine described one such AR conference as a "veritable 'who's who' of American white supremacy."[46]

Hampton University sociology professor Steven J. Rosenthal described the fund in 1995 as a "Nazi endowment specializing in production of justifications for eugenics since 1937, the Pioneer Fund is embedded in a network of right-wing foundations, think tanks, religious fundamentalists, and global anti-Communist coalitions".[47]

Responses to criticisms[edit]

Pioneer Fund president and lawyer Harry F. Weyher Jr. wrote a defense of the Pioneer Fund in 1998, which was published as an editorial in the journal Intelligence.[48][20]

Behavioral geneticist David T. Lykken has defended his acceptance of money from the fund, writing "If you can find me some rich villains that want to contribute to my research – Qaddafi, the Mafia, whoever – the worse they are, the better I'll like it. I'm doing a social good by taking their money ... Any money of theirs that I spend in a legitimate and honorable way, they can't spend in a dishonorable way".[49]

Science writer Morton Hunt received Pioneer funding for his book and wrote: "One could spend hundreds of pages on the pros and cons of the case of the Pioneer Fund, but what matters to me – and should matter to my readers – is that I have been totally free to research and write as I chose. I alerted Pioneer to my political views when making the grant proposal for this book but its directors never blinked."[50]

In a review of Richard Lynn's book on the Pioneer Fund, psychologist Ulrich Neisser, who had headed the American Psychological Association task force that responded to Murray's The Bell Curve with the consensus report Intelligence: Knowns and Unknowns, writes: "All things considered, I doubt that the Pioneer Fund's political activities have made much difference one way or the other. The world would have been much the same without them. On the other hand, Lynn reminds us that Pioneer has sometimes sponsored useful research – research that otherwise might not have been done at all. By that reckoning, I would give it a weak plus."[51]

Charles Murray defended the use of studies supported by the fund in his book The Bell Curve by stating: "Never mind that the relationship between the founder of the Pioneer Fund and today's Pioneer Fund is roughly analogous to the relationship between Henry Ford's antisemitism and today's Ford Foundation. The charges have been made, they have wide currency, and some people will always believe that The Bell Curve rests on data concocted by neo-Nazi eugenicists."[52]

Grant recipient Robert A. Gordon replied to media criticisms: "Politically correct disinformation about science appears to spread like wildfire among literary intellectuals and other nonspecialists, who have few disciplinary constraints on what they say about science and about particular scientists and on what they allow themselves to believe."[53]


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