User:Klortho/snapshots/Race and intelligence (history)

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In the 19th and early 20th centuries research on race and intelligence was often used to argue that one race was superior to another, justifying poor outcomes and treatment for the "inferior race".[1] Some early opinions about the differences among races grew out of stereotypes about non-whites developed during the period of colonialism and slavery.[2][3][4][5]

Francisco Gil-White, author of Resurrecting Racism: The Modern Attack on Black People Using Phony Science and Stephen Jay Gould author of The Mismeasure of Man have suggested that some modern research has similar motives.

Slavery and colonialism[edit]

Sir Francis Galton wrote on eugenics and psychometrics in the 19th C.
Anthropologist Franz Boas was a prominent 20th C. critic of claims that intelligence differed among races.
Ruth Benedict was an anthropologist who challenged the idea that people of different races had different inherent intelligences.

Because the Atlantic slave trade raised moral questions from its inception, scientific theories about the mental capacities of Black people were provided to justify the enslavement of Africans. According to Alexander Thomas and Samuell Sillen, during this time period the Black man was described as uniquely fitted for bondage because of what researchers at the time called "his primitive psychological organization."[6] Hence, a well-known physician of the antebellum South, Samuel Cartwright of Louisiana, had a psychiatric explanation for runaway slaves. He diagnosed their attempts to gain freedom as a mental illness and coined the term "drapetomania" to describe it.[7]

Scientific arguments about the mental inferiority of Black people were instrumental in keeping slavery alive as an institution in the United States. It was widely regarded that Black people lacked the mental capacity to handle freedom. Secretary of State John C. Calhoun arguing for the extension of slavery in 1844 said, "Here (scientific confirmation) is proof of the necessity of slavery. The African is incapable of self-care and sinks into lunacy under the burden of freedom. It is a mercy to give him the guardianship and protection from mental death."

The writings of Sir Francis Galton, a British psychologist, spurred interest in the study of mental abilities, particularly as they relate to heredity and eugenics.[8] Galton estimated from his field observations in Africa that the African people were "two grades" below Anglo-Saxons' position in the normal frequency distribution of general mental ability. His work was seen as scientific validation of Africans' mental inferiority compared with Anglo-Saxons.[9]

Immigration and segregation[edit]

In the 19th and 20th centuries research on race and intelligence has still been used to argue that one race is superior to another, justifying poor outcomes and treatment for the "inferior race".[10] Researchers such as Amanda Thompson and Elazar Barkan have suggested that "Scientific racism" has been used to perpetuate the idea of the intellectual inferiority of African Americans and that it was used to justify segregated education in America.

The scientific debate on the contribution of nature versus nurture to individual and group differences in intelligence can be traced to at least the mid-19th century.[11] Charles Darwin wrote in his Descent of Man (VII, On the races of Man): "Their mental characteristics are likewise very distinct; chiefly as it would appear in their emotional, but partly in their intellectual faculties."

Lewis Terman wrote in The measurement of intelligence in 1916

"(Black and other ethnic minority children) are uneducable beyond the nearest rudiments of training. No amount of school instruction will ever make them intelligent voters or capable citizens in the sense of the world…their dullness seems to be racial, or at least inherent in the family stock from which they come…Children of this group should be segregated in special classes and be given instruction which is concrete and practical. They cannot master abstractions, but they can be made efficient workers…There is no possibility at present of convincing society that they should not be allowed to reproduce, although from a eugenic point of view they constitute a grave problem because of their unusual prolific breeding."

The opinion that there are differences in the brain sizes and brain structures of different racial and ethnic groups was widely held and studied during the 19th century and early 20th century.[12] Average ethnic and racial group differences in IQ were first directly observed when analyzing the data from standardized mental tests administered on large scales during World War I. For example, in this test "Southern Whites", scored below "Northern Negroes."[13] These results inspired the first theories of environmental influences on intelligence. An early advocate of these ideas was Ruth Benedict, who in her book, The Races of Mankind challenged the idea that people of different races had different inherent intelligences.

The difference arose because of differences of income, education, cultural advantages, and other opportunities. --Ruth Benedict

Foremost amongst those researching this was Stanley Porteus, who although not a staff member, gave some lectures at the University of Melbourne, devised his maze test as early as 1913, later applying it in his study of the Aborigines in the Kimberley region and Northern Territory of Australia (1929) and later the Kalahari tribesmen of southern Africa (1934). He also used it to assess the results of pre-frontal brain surgery on mental performance, publishing his results in 1931.[14]

W.O. Brown, writing in The Journal of Negro History in 1931, wrote regarding early intelligence tests:

After the World War and during the severe agitation for the restriction of immigration, aimed especially at the Southeastern Europeans, tests came into a new usage. ..the tests revealed the inferior intelligence of various racial and nationality groups. ..The Southeastern Europeans and the Negroes especially came of badly in these tests. ..The results of the tests elevated their dogma of racial inequality from a mere prejudice to the dignity of a scientifically validated opinion.[15]

Dorthy Roberts writes that the history of the eugenics movement in America was strongly tied to the older scientific racism used to justify slavery. Roberts writes that paralleling the development of eugenic theory was the acceptance of intelligence as the primary indicator of human value. Eugenicists claimed that the IQ test could quantify innate human ability in a single measurement, despite the objections of the creator of the test, Alfred Binet.[16] Beginning in the 1930s, race difference research and hereditarianism — the belief that genetics are the primary cause of differences in intelligence among human groups — began to fall out of favor in psychology and anthropology after major internal debates.[17] In anthropology this occurred in part due to the advocacy of Franz Boas, who in his 1938 edition of The Mind of Primitive Man wrote, "there is nothing at all that could be interpreted as suggesting any material difference in the mental capacity of the bulk of the Negro population as compared with the bulk of the White population."[18] The hereditarian position was challenged by Boas' claim that cranial vault size had increased significantly in the U.S. from one generation to the next, because racial differences in such characteristics had been among the strongest arguments for a genetic role.

Inspired by the American eugenics movement, Nazi Germany implemented the T-4 Euthanasia Program in which roughly 200,000 mentally and physically disabled Germans were killed, and about 400,000 sterilized. The association of hereditarianism with Nazi Germany created a modern academic environment that has been very skeptical of suggestions that there are racial or ethnic differences in measures of intellectual or academic ability and that these differences are primarily determined by genetic factors.[19]

Modern work[edit]

File:Charles Murray.gif
Charles Murray (pictured) and Richard Herrnstein started the contemporary debate with The Bell Curve in 1994.

The contemporary scholarly debate on race and intelligence may be traced to Arthur Jensen's 1969 publication in the Harvard Educational Review of "How Much Can We Boost IQ and School Achievement?"[20] In this paper, he wrote on some of the major issues that characterize the genetic hypothesis[21] of racial IQ differences, and on compensatory educational programs. Reports on Jensen's article appeared in Time, Newsweek, Life, U.S. News & World Report, and The New York Times Magazine.

In the 1980s Nobel Prize winner for his work on the development of transistors, William Shockley, postulated that the higher rate of reproduction among US African Americans was having what he termed a "dysgenic" effect (meaning an opposite of eugenics), ; especially as influenced by welfare subsidies (e.g., AFDC), which he opined, unintentionally encouraged childbearing by less productive mothers.[22] He described this work as the most important work of his career, even though it severely tarnished his reputation. Shockley's published writings on this topic, were largely based on the research of Cyril Burt. Shockley also proposed that individuals with IQs below 100 be paid to undergo voluntary sterilization.[23] He was subsequently criticized by the media; however his involvement brought public recognition to several controversial topics.[24]

Press attention returned to the issue of race and intelligence in 1994 with the publication of The Bell Curve, which included two chapters on the subject of racial difference in intelligence and related life outcomes. In response to The Bell Curve, Stephen Jay Gould updated The Mismeasure of Man in 1996.[25] Among other things, he criticized the IQ test as a measure of intelligence, citing what he perceived as inherent racial and social biases as well as systematic flaws in the testing process.


  1. ^ Social Darwinism, Scientific Racism, and the Metaphysics of Race Rutledge M. Dennis The Journal of Negro Education, Vol. 64, No. 3, Myths and Realities: African Americans and the Measurement of Human Abilities (Summer, 1995), pp. 243-252
  2. ^ A History of Race/ism Produced By: Tim McCaskell Toronto District School Board
  3. ^ Jalata, Asafa 1954- "Race and Ethnicity in East Africa (review)" Africa Today - Volume 48, Number 4, Winter 2001, pp. 134-136 Indiana University Press
  4. ^ The Invention of the White Race By Chantal Mouffe, Theodore (Theodore W.) Allen
  5. ^ Media, Stereotypes and the Perpetuation of Racism in Canada by James Crawford

    Indians were seen as a homogeneous group of savages despite the fact that individual groups varied extensively and had several well developed social systems. Black people were also portrayed as savage, uncivilized and having low intelligence. By creating these social constructs, expansion into North America was justified.

  6. ^ Alexander Thomas and Samuell Sillen (1972). Racism and Psychiatry. New York: Carol Publishing Group.
  7. ^ Samual A. Cartwright, "Diseases and Peculiarities of the Negro Race", DeBow's Review—Southern and Western States, Volume XI, New Orleans, 1851
  8. ^ Eugenics: America's Darkest Days
  9. ^ Francis Galton:British Psychologist
  10. ^ Social Darwinism, Scientific Racism, and the Metaphysics of Race Rutledge M. Dennis The Journal of Negro Education, Vol. 64, No. 3, Myths and Realities: African Americans and the Measurement of Human Abilities (Summer, 1995), pp. 243-252
  11. ^ Degler 1992; Loehlin et al. 1975
  12. ^ Broca 1873, Bean 1906, Mall 1909, Morton 1839, Pearl 1934, Vint 1934
  13. ^ Outcome-Based Tyranny: Teaching Compliance While Testing Like A State IQ tests administered to the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) in World War I. Anthropological Quarterly - Volume 76, Number 4, Fall 2003, pp. 715-730
  14. ^ Porteus, Stanley. The Psychology of a Primitive People, 1931.
  15. ^ Racial Inequality: Fact or Myth W. O. Brown, The Journal of Negro History, Vol. 16, No. 1. (Jan., 1931), pp. 49
  16. ^ Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty by Dorothy Roberts. Page 63. December 1998 ISBN 0679758690
  17. ^ According to historian of psychology Graham Richards there was widespread critical debate within psychology about the conceptual underpinnings of this early race difference research (Richards 1997). These include Estabrooks (1928) two papers on the limitations of methodology used in the research; Dearborn and Long’s (1934) overview of the criticisms by several psychologists (Garth, Thompson, Peterson, Pinter, Herskovits, Daniel, Price, Wilkerson, Freeman, Rosenthal and C.E. Smith) in a collection they edited and Klineburg, who wrote three major critiques, one in 1928, and two in 1935. Richards also notes that with over a 1000 publications within psychology during the interwar years there had been a large internal debate. Towards the end of the time period almost all those publishing, including most of those who began with a pro-race differences stance, were firmly arguing against race differences research. Richards regards the scientific controversy to be dead at this point, although he also suggests reasons for its re-emergence in the late nineteen sixties.
  18. ^ Boas 1938
  19. ^ Garrett 1961; Lynn 2001, pp. 45–54
  20. ^ Jensen 1969
  21. ^ Explaining Race Differences in IQ: The Logic, the Methodology, and the Evidence American Psychologist, November 1984, Brian Mackenzie. Mackenzie writes of Jensen's hereditarian position as a "genetic model", in contrast to a "jointly genetic/environmental" model. Jensen often uses the term "partly-genetic" to describe his position, even though his views aren't seen as congruent with the "jointly genetic/environmental" model described by Mackenzie.
  22. ^ George Bush: The Unauthorized Biography by Webster Griffin Tarpley and Anton Chaitkin, 1992 Executive Intelligence Review, Chapter 11
  23. ^ George Bush: The Unauthorized Biography by Webster Griffin Tarpley and Anton Chaitkin, 1992 Executive Intelligence Review, Chapter 11
  24. ^ {{This paragraph includes excerpts from William Shockley; however editors of this page have expressed concern over the lack of citations at that article. A request for citation has been placed there. Please refer to discussion page before further editing etc}}
  25. ^ Gould 1996

Commenting out the categories

{{Race and intelligence}} [[Category:Race and intelligence controversy| ]]