Race, Evolution, and Behavior

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Race, Evolution and Behavior
Race, Evolution, and Behavior, first edition.jpg
Cover of the first edition
AuthorJ. Philippe Rushton
CountryUnited States
Human evolution
Human intelligence
PublisherTransaction Books, later The Charles Darwin Research Institute
Publication date
1995, 1997, 2000
Media typePrint

Race, Evolution, and Behavior: A Life History Perspective is a book by Canadian psychologist and author J. Philippe Rushton. He served as a professor of psychology at the University of Western Ontario for many years, and he also served, until his death from cancer on October 2, 2012, as the head of the Pioneer Fund. The first unabridged edition of the book came out in 1995, and the third, latest unabridged edition came out in 2000; abridged versions were also distributed.

Rushton argues that race is a valid biological concept and that racial differences frequently arrange in a continuum across 60 different behavioral and anatomical variables, with Mongoloids (East Asians) at one end of the continuum, Negroids (Sub-Saharan Black Africans) at the opposite extreme, and Caucasoids (Europeans) in the middle.[1]

The book was generally received negatively, its methodology and conclusions being criticized by many experts. The aggressive marketing strategy also received a lot of criticism. The book received positive reviews by some researchers, many of whom were personally associated with Rushton and with the Pioneer Fund which funded much of Rushton's research.[2] The book has been examined as an example of Pioneer's funding of "scientific racist" research,[2][3] while psychologist Michael Howe has identified the book as part of a movement, begun in the 1990s, to promote a racial agenda in social policy.[4]

Summary and book contents[edit]

The book grew out of Rushton's 1989 paper, "Evolutionary Biology and Heritable Traits (With Reference to Oriental-White-Black Difference)".[5] The 1st unabridged edition was published in 1995, the 2nd unabridged edition in 1997, and the 3rd unabridged edition in 2000.

Rushton argues that Mongoloid, Caucasoid and Negroid populations fall consistently into the same one-two-three way pattern when compared on a list of sixty distinctly different behavioral and anatomical traits and variables.[6]

Rushton uses averages of hundreds of studies, modern and historical, to assert the existence of this pattern. Rushton's book is focused on what he considers the three broadest racial groups, and does not address other populations such as Southeast Asians and Australian aboriginals. The book argues that Mongoloids, on average, are at one end of a continuum, that Negroids, on average, are at the opposite end of that continuum, and that Caucasoids rank in between Mongoloids and Negroids, but closer to Mongoloids. His continuum includes both external physical characteristics and personality traits.[1]

Citing genetic research by the Italian geneticist Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza, the African Eve hypothesis, and the out of Africa theory, Rushton writes that Negroids branched off first (200,000 years ago), Caucasoids second (110,000 years ago), and Mongoloids last (41,000 years ago), arguing that throughout all of evolution, more ancient forms of life (i.e. plants, bacteria, reptiles) are less evolved than more recent forms of life (i.e. mammals, primates, humans) and that the much smaller variation in the races is consistent with this trend. "One theoretical possibility," said Rushton "is that evolution is progressive and that some populations are more advanced than others". Rushton argues that this evolutionary history correlates with, and is responsible for, a consistent global racial pattern which explains many variables such as worldwide crime statistics or the global distribution of AIDS.

In specific terms, Rushton argues that the three broad racial groups that he's defined have fundamental biological differences going back through evolutionary history that cause clear-cut distinctions in modern everyday life, as well stating that generalizations about these broad groups are justified given the large nature of the gaps. He generally describes the differences as largely negative in the case of "Negroids" while being neutral or positive in the case of non-"Negroids". He writes in particular, "Whites and East Asians have wider hips than Blacks... because they give birth to larger brained babies." He also argues that "hormones that give Blacks an edge at sports makes them restless in school and prone to crime".[1]


According to Richard R. Valencia, the response to the first edition of Rushton's book was "overwhelmingly negative", with only a small number of supporters, many being, like Rushton, Pioneer Fund grantees, such as psychologists Arthur Jensen, Michael Levin and Richard Lynn.[7]

Valencia identified the main areas of criticism as focusing on Rushton's use of "race" as a biological concept, a failure to appreciate the extent of variation within populations compared with that between populations, a false separation of genetics and environment, poor statistical methodology, a failure to consider alternative hypotheses, and the use of unreliable and inappropriate data to draw conclusions about the relationship between brain size and intelligence. According to Valencia, "experts in life history conclude that Rushton's (1995) work is pseudoscientific and racist."

A more favorable review of the book came from American psychologist Linda Gottfredson, who wrote in Politics and the Life Sciences that the book "confronts us as few books have with the dilemmas wrought in a democratic society by individual and group differences in key human traits".[8] Another favorable review of the book appeared in the National Review.[9]

Validity of the concept of race[edit]

Richard Lewontin (1996) argued that in claiming the existence of "major races", and that these categories reflected large biological differences, "Rushton moves in the opposite direction from the entire development of physical anthropology and human genetics for the last thirty years. Anthropologists no longer regard "race" as a useful concept in understanding human evolution and variation."[10] The anthropologist C. Loring Brace (1996) concurred, stating that the book was an amalgamation of bad biology and inexcusable anthropology. It is not science but advocacy, and advocacy of 'racialism'".[11] Similarly, anthropologist John Relethford (1995) criticized Rushton's model as "faulty at many points."[12]

Mailing controversy[edit]

The 1st special abridged edition published under the Transaction Press name in 1999 caused considerable controversy when 40,000 copies were "mailed, unsolicited, to psychologists, anthropologists, and sociologists, many of whom were angered when they discovered that their identities and addresses had been obtained from their respective professional associations' mailing lists."[13] The director of Transaction Press Irving Louis Horowitz, although he had defended the original edition of the book, "condemned the abridged edition as a 'pamphlet' that he had never seen or approved prior to its publication."[13] A subsequent 2nd special abridged edition was published in 2000 with a rejoinder to Horowitz's criticisms under a new entity called The Charles Darwin Research Institute.[13]

According to Tucker, many academics who received the book unsolicited were outraged at its content, calling it "racial pornography" and a "vile piece of work"; at least one insisting on returning it to the publisher.[3] Hermann Helmuth, a professor of anthropology at Trent University, said, "It is in a way personal and political propaganda. There is no basis to his scientific research."[14]

As an example of Pioneer Fund activity[edit]

Race, Evolution, and Behavior has been cited as an example of the Pioneer Fund's activities in promoting "Scientific racism". Valencia notes that many of the supportive comments for the book come from Pioneer grantees like Rushton himself, and that a 100,000 copy print-run of the third edition was financed by Pioneer.[7] The book is cited by psychologist William H. Tucker as an example of the Pioneer Fund's continued role "to subsidize the creation and distribution of literature to support racial superiority and racial purity." The mass distribution of the abridged third edition he described as part of a "public relations effort", and "the latest attempt to convince the nation of 'the completely different nature' of blacks and whites." He notes that bulk rates were offered "for distribution to media figures, especially columnists who write on race issues".[3]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Rushton, J. P. (1995). Race, Evolution, and Behavior: A Life History Perspective (2nd special abridged ed.). Port Huron, MI: Charles Darwin Research Institute. ISBN 1-56000-320-0.
  2. ^ a b Valencia, Richard R. (2010). Dismantling contemporary deficit thinking: educational thought and practice. Taylor & Francis. p. 53.
  3. ^ a b c William H. Tucker (2002). The funding of scientific racism: Wickliffe Draper and the Pioneer Fund. University of Illinois Press. ISBN 978-0-252-02762-8.
  4. ^ Howe, Michael J. A (1997). IQ in question: the truth about intelligence. Sage.
  5. ^ Presented at the Symposium on Evolutionary Theory, Economics and Political Science, AAAS Annual Meeting (San Francisco, CA, January 19, 1989)
  6. ^ The terms Mongoloid, Caucasoid, and Negroid used by Rushton (2000) was in wide use in mainstream literature until the 1990s at least, e.g. by Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza. Since the 2000s, these terms have been deprecated in by some authorities. For example, the recommended Medical Subject Headings as of 2004 was "Oriental Continental Ancestry Group, "African Continental Ancestry Group" and "European Continental Ancestry Group" for "Mongoloid", "Caucasoid" and "Negroid", respectively. The MeSH descriptor Racial Stocks, and its four children (Australoid Race, Caucasoid Race, Mongoloid Race, and Negroid Race) have been deleted from MeSH in 2004 along with Blacks and Whites. Race and ethnicity have been used as categories in biomedical research and clinical medicine. Recent genetic research indicates that the degree of genetic heterogeneity within groups and homogeneity across groups make race per se a less compelling predictor.
  7. ^ a b Richard R. Valencia, Dismantling contemporary deficit thinking: educational thought and practice. Taylor & Francis, 2010, pg. 55
  8. ^ Gottfredson, Linda (March 1996). "Race, Evolution and Behavior: A Life History Perspective" (PDF). Politics and the Life Sciences.
  9. ^ Lind, Michael (1994-10-16). "Calling All Crackpots". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2017-11-09.
  10. ^ "Review: Of Genes and Genitals". Transition. 0 (69): 178–193. 1996. JSTOR 2935246.
  11. ^ "Review: Racialism and Racist Agendas". American Anthropologist. New Series. 98 (1): 176–7. March 1996. doi:10.1525/aa.1996.98.1.02a00250. JSTOR 682972.
  12. ^ Relethford, John H. (September 1995). "Race, evolution, and behavior: A life history perspective. By J. Philippe Rushton. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction. 1995. 334 pp. ISBN1-56000-146-1. $34.95 (cloth)". American Journal of Physical Anthropology. 98 (1): 91–94. doi:10.1002/ajpa.1330980110.
  13. ^ a b c Weizmann, Fredric (November 2001). "Race, Evolution, and Behaviour: A Life History Perspective (Review)". Canadian Psychology.
  14. ^ UWO Gazette Volume 93, Issue 68 Tuesday, February 1, 2000 Archived May 15, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. Psych prof accused of racism

External links[edit]