The Pioneer Fund, the Behavioral Sciences, and the Media's False Stories

by HARRY F. WEYHER, The Pioneer Fund, New York, NY, USA

Since World War I, political controversies have complicated the long-standing "nature vs. nurture" debate, especially the question of the source of the observed mean difference in intelligence between whites and blacks. The Pioneer Fund, one of the only nonprofit foundations making grants for study and research into human individual and race differences, along with many of the scientists it has funded, has been widely and unfairly attacked in the media, often with false charges. In this editorial, the president of Pioneer provides a unique perspective on some of the controversies.--Matt Nuenke

The false charge of racism is simply a tactic to choke off rational discussion, a strategy of intimidation to silence expression . . . It is based on a shrewd calculation of the moral cowardice of man . . . fearful of becoming the target of such abuse.--Sidney Hook

Imagine it's the 21st century. UNESCO has commissioned scholars around the world to summarize the state of knowledge in every discipline. Their summaries will be placed on the Worldwide Web for use by the emerging global information society. You have been appointed to head the committee preparing the Web pages on: Adoption Studies; Behavioral Genetics; Brain Size and IQ; Crime and IQ; Cultural Bias and Cultural Fairness; Cultural Differences; Demographics and Fertility; Dysgenics and Eugenics; Employment and IQ; Gifted and Talented Children; Group Differences; Heritability, Heredity, and Environment; Intelligence and Individual Differences; the Jensen Effect; Personality and Temperament; Population and the Environment; Race Differences; Reaction Time and IQ; Sex Differences; Sociology of Intelligence; Spearman's Hypothesis; Twin and Kinship Studies.

In the computer literature search provided to your committee you find no mention of the following:

#     John C. Flanagan's pioneering Air Corps study that later evolved into the famous Project TALENT, an on-going follow-up investigation of the vocational attitudes, abilities, and career objectives of more than 400,000 US high school students.

#     Thomas J. Bouchard, Jr. and his colleagues David T. Lykken, Matthew McGue, Nancy L. Segal, and Auke Tellegen's Minnesota Twin Project showing that identical twins reared apart are far more similar than are fraternal twins reared together in IQ, personality, vocational interest, religiosity, and at times remarkably alike, even to the names of their spouses, children or pets.

#     Arthur R. Jensen's documentation of the failure of compensatory education programs to raise either school achievement or IQ scores, his demonstration that culture bias is not a factor affecting relative IQ test performance in the US, and his confirmation of Charles Spearman's hypothesis that the differences in average IQ score between blacks and whites are greatest on the most g-loaded subtests.

#     Hans J. Eysenck's post-1980s work promoting the trait approach to personality; his post-1980s development and use of the University of London Twin Register to demonstrate the heritability of intelligence, personality, and social attitudes; and much of his research program on the biological basis of intelligence (as summarized in his posthumous book Intelligence: The New Look).

#     Lloyd G. Humphreys's continuing work on mathematical giftedness and commensurate levels of socio-economic status, on the construct of general intelligence, and on the validity of achievement and ability tests as predictors of life outcomes for both blacks and whites.

#     Philip E. Vernon, Richard Lynn, and J. Philippe Rushton's demonstration that East Asians, both in their homelands and as immigrants, obtain average IQ scores above those of Europeans and European-Americans; Rushton's further demonstration that a similar pattern applies worldwide, not only for cognitive test scores, but for over 60 behavioral and physical traits.

#     Eysenck, Jensen, Lynn, T. Edward Reed, and Philip A. Vernon's confirmation of Sir Francis Galton's insight that IQ score is significantly related to reaction time, and demonstration of a relationship between IQ score and evoked brain potential.

#     Jensen and Rushton's finding that the most g-loaded IQ subtests are also the most heritable, and that the amount of inbreeding depression as measured on IQ tests of Japanese in Japan predicts the amount of regression to the mean and the amount of difference between blacks and whites in the US.

#     Jensen, Lynn, Rushton, and P.A. Vernon's finding that brain size is related to IQ score, including use of state-of-the-art Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) techniques; Jensen and Vernon's finding that the relationship between brain size and IQ holds within-families (among siblings) as well as between-families; Rushton's series of studies showing the oriental-white-black gradient in average brain size parallels the one in mean IQ.

#     Garrett Hardin's extension of his "Tragedy of the Commons" and "Living on a Lifeboat" metaphors to questions of the environment, population size, and immigration policy.

#     Audrey Shuey's compilation of what has become the standard sourcebook of every major study of intelligence scores among African-Americans (later updated by Frank C.J. McGurk and R. Travis Osborne); McGurk's finding that the racial gap on IQ scores has not lessened for later generations with the narrowing of the socioeconomic gap.

#     Rushton and Osborne's demonstration that heritability estimates are about the same for different groups in the US.

#     Robert A. Gordon's evidence that the IQ requirements of daily activities produce differential rates across populations of undesirable social outcomes such as crime, poverty, and HIV infection, thereby intensifying racial politics.

#     Finally, Linda S. Gottfredson's work showing how the effects of intelligence level pervade everyday life, and tracing dilemmas in social policy that arise from individual and group mean differences in intelligence, such as that between racial representativeness and competence in police hiring.

All this research missing? Are you the lead character in a special 21St century re-make of The Twilight Zone? Has a politically correct supercomputer purged the database of all potentially "sensitive and disturbing" information?

No, you're simply looking at what the state of knowledge in behavioral sciences would be today, minus things funded by or associated with the Pioneer Fund and the scientists it has supported. This is critical research by world-class scholars, much of which was published in this journal, and was landmark research which probably would not have been funded by government agencies or the larger foundations. Yet, if one were to believe some important segments of the media, this research was funded by an evil foundation and done by evil scientists, and is unfit for public dissemination.

I am told that it is unusual for a non-academic to be asked to write an editorial for "Intelligence." I hope to justify the editor's granting me standing here by giving the readers an inside view of what the Pioneer Fund really is, what it most certainly is not, and how its grantees have helped shape the face of the behavioral sciences as we know them today. While it is a labor of love to recount the foregoing, I think it is my duty also to review especially the mistreatment Pioneer and many of its grantees have received in the media.


"When the facts are not on your side, argue a point of law; when the law is not on your side, argue the facts; when neither the facts nor the law is on your side, attack the character of your opponent!"

I first heard that "trick of the trade," which of course is not in the law books, back when I was a student at Harvard Law School years ago. I'm sure it goes back long before that, maybe to the ancient Greeks. Given human nature, such a tactic can be expected occasionally in our legal system, which by definition is an adversarial contest between advocates for opposing parties. But in our legal system you also have a presiding judge and courts of appeal, who, in theory at least, work to keep the contest free of such tricks and within the agreed upon rules.

The world of science has a different set of rules that governs contests between opposing attempts to explain nature--statistical testing against alternative hypotheses, peer review, and independent replication of results.

But in the world of journalism, or at least a large part of it, there are no effective means of enforcing rules against unethical and misleading practices. Thus, journalism has persisted in following the "egalitarian orthodoxy," a credo described by Garrett (1961) and now called "political correctness" or "P.C.," which among many other things denies or downplays the possibility of genetic influence on race, sex, and individual differences in psychological traits (personality, ability, interests, etc.) (Rushton, 1994). Journalistic media persist in this orthodoxy despite the fact, as will be pointed out later, that the bulk of the evidence points to the opposite conclusions, and virtually all scientists, contrary to the media's assertions, agree that some genetic influence exists.

In addition to the P.C. orthodoxy, a second force propels some parts of the media into false reporting. That is the common tabloid ethic that says anything goes that sells papers or boosts ratings. Thus this sector of the media can kill two birds with one stone: push its own P.C. position of genetic equality and simultaneously generate reader excitement by personal attacks on scientists who have merely published their findings honestly, and also attacks on the funder of research by those scientists.

The misrepresentation of the Pioneer Fund and the scientists it has supported--including some of the most cited and honored in their respective fields, and the research they have conducted, research that almost certainly would not have been funded by Federal agencies or other foundations--is revealing. It shows the inability and, in many cases, deliberate unwillingness of much of a politicized media industry, print and even more so electronic, to play by any set of fair rules. Instead, media play as if in a "blood sport" or in a "feeding frenzy," to invoke the titles of two books (Sabato, 1991; Stewart, 1996) documenting how the substantive shallowness, banality, and irrelevance of attack journalism have tragically transformed the dissemination of information in our society.

Abusive media treatment of scientists in these fields has long existed, and it may be worse than ever today. There was a furious and unfair media attack on Jensen in 1969 and Eysenck in 1971 (Pearson, 1997, pp. 18-58). But the media furors in the late 1980s and early 1990s over Gottfredson, Gordon, Rushton, Michael Levin, William Shockley, Edward 0. Wilson, Richard Herrnstein, and Charles Murray, seem to have become even worse.

Exactly what is this "political correctness," which dictates the abuse of scientists? One dictionary defines it as: "orthodox liberal opinion on matters of sexuality, race, . . .; usually used disparagingly to connote dogmatism, excessive sensitivity to minority causes. . . . (Webster's New World Dictionary of American English, 1994)

Newsweek said on 24 December 1990 in a cover story: "P.C. is Marxist in origin, in the broad sense of attempting to redistribute power from the privileged class (white males) to the oppressed masses. It represents the values of social equality and social justice over that of free speech."

P.C. is commonly associated with the generations of campus radicals who grew up in the 1960s and have now achieved positions of academic influence as well as high positions in the media industry.

Sadly, the media's adherence to P.C. includes also a widespread ban on publishing materials about individual or racial differences in intelligence, even where the materials represent the mainstream of scientific thought. Pioneer witnessed this as early as the 1950s, when publishers refused Shuey's landmark book on Negro intelligence (Shuey, 1958, 1966), forcing her to go to private printers and private distribution. Nearly half a century later Jensen, in the opinion of many the world's leading expert on mental ability, submitted his manuscript The g Factor, a truly landmark book on intelligence, to three major publishing houses in succession. Each of these initially indicated great interest but then without explanation to him lapsed into silence for months, neither accepting nor rejecting the book (Murray, 1997), until the long silence forced him each time to go to another publisher and finally to a smaller one independent of P.C. pressures.

Similarly, Rushton, Levin, and others have had difficulty in finding publishers. Christopher Brand actually was "depublished," with his book being withdrawn by the publisher a few days after publication. Murray (1997) in looking at this behavior, said that publishing houses, "have come to see themselves not as deliverers of great scholarship to the world, but as gatekeepers for the politically correct. (p. 40)"

Evidence of media misbehavior? Case histories? Yes, and here they are given below.

The Jensen Case: A furor erupted over the monograph by Jensen (1969) in the Harvard Educational Review entitled "How Much Can We Boost IQ and Scholastic Achievement?" Jensen, who had not been funded by Pioneer, argued that the evidence supported the following propositions: (1) IQ tests measure a general-ability dimension of great social relevance; (2) individual differences on this dimension have a high heritability; (3) compensatory education programs such as Head Start have proved generally ineffective in changing the relative status of individuals and groups on this dimension; (4) social mobility is linked to ability, so social-class differences in IQ likely reflect some genetic component; and (5) black-white differences in IQ likely reflect some genetic component. The outcry about Jensen's points included a widespread denunciation throughout the media, disruptive protests at the University of California, Berkeley, leading to the necessity for armed escorts, and resolutions passed against Jensen at professional societies. The Review abruptly suspended sales of the issue (Jensen, 1972, pp. 24-25). The present writer was one of those whose purchase order was refused.

The furor over Jensen pulled in Pioneer when some of Jensen's opponents discovered that Pioneer, although it had not funded Jensen's research to that point, had funded earlier research into the black-white intelligence gap. Although this earlier work by Garrett, Shuey, McGurk, and Osborne had previously attracted less attention than Jensen's Harvard Educational Review article, Pioneer now was given increasing attention in the media and linked with research on the politically charged race-IQ issue. The words "racist" and "Nazi" were thrown about when Pioneer was the subject and often were copied by others in the "frenzy" journalism that followed.

The Rushton Case: In 1989 Pioneer found itself in the midst of a new media furor. At a January meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), psychology Professor J. Philippe Rushton of the University of Western Ontario presented his research on racial evolution that went beyond IQ and showed that Africans and Asians are consistently at opposite ends of a continuum on over 60 anatomical and social variables, with Europeans consistently intermediate (Rushton, 1989, 1992). The variables included brain size, sexual behavior, fertility, personality and temperament, speed of maturation, and longevity. Rushton, a fellow of the AAAS, and of the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, and also a recipient of Pioneer support, went on to make international headlines. In the media Pioneer was widely associated with Rushton's supposed evil-doings, and was called "racist" and "Nazi" in countless news stories. As a result of the media's hue and cry over Rushton's paper, the premier of Ontario publicly called for him to be fired, the Ontario Provincial Police threatened him with incarceration, and the Ontario Human Rights Commission investigated him.

Perhaps worse, Rushton became the target of some of the University administrators. His dean, a physical anthropologist, publicly declared that Rushton had lost his scientific credibility, and issued a series of preemptive statements making plain her negative opinion of him and his work. Her statements were widely interpreted in the media as a refutation by his "boss." Next, the chair of Rushton's department gave him an annual performance rating of "unsatisfactory" citing his "insensitivity." This was a remarkable turnaround because it occurred for the same year in which Rushton had been made a Fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation. His previous 12 years of annual ratings had been "good" to "excellent," and indeed his earlier noncontroversial work had made him one of the most cited scholars at his University. Because unsatisfactory ratings can lead to dismissal, even for a tenured professor like Rushton, he was forced to contest the rating through various levels of grievance. As part of his defense Rushton received over 50 strong letters of support from important scholars around the world, many endorsing the evidence he had presented. One of these, Thomas J. Bouchard, Jr., then chair of his department at the University of Minnesota, found Rushton's performance to be superb on the scale used for his own faculty (Bouchard, 1998). Rushton eventually won his appeal against the dean and the chair, and two separate grievance committees chastised them for their actions against him. The media took little notice of Rushton's victories before the committees. Rushton's annual performance ratings currently are back to "good" and "excellent" (Pearson, 1997, pp. 225-257).

The most frightening part of Rushton's story is how Canada's hate literature laws were used in an attempt to silence him and spike his research. While in the United States our Founding Fathers gave us the protection of the First Amendment, this is not so in most of the world. Great Britain, Canada, Germany, and many other Western European nations have laws against free speech, ostensibly enacted to inhibit "hate" and the spreading of "false news." In Rushton's case Canada Customs seized a copy of his book, Race, Evolution and Behavior, holding it for nine months while their lawyers read it over to determine if it was "hate literature."

The potentially chilling effect of hate literature laws on scientific research goes well beyond the race issue. Scholars in the social sciences examining any biological or historical question regarding groups, defined not only by race, but by ethnic identity, sex, age, or sexual orientation are potential targets. Despite the First Amendment and America's tradition of academic freedom, the campaign against Rushton in Canada was used as a jumping off point to attack the academic freedom of Robert Gordon and Linda Gottfredson in the United States, as described above, and to prevent Pioneer from funding their research. This was so even though Gottfredson and Gordon have never taken a position as to the genetic component in race differences, but only demonstrated the existence of the differences and the pragmatic consequences for industry and academia, whatever the cause.

The Delaware Case: The foregoing disputes involving Jensen and Rushton led to investigations or renewed investigations of Pioneer in varying degrees at the University of Western Ontario in Canada (over Rushton's research), at the University of London in England (over research by Eysenck), and at several US institutions, including especially at Smith College (over work by Seymour W. Itzkoff) and at the University of Minnesota (over twin studies by Bouchard and others, with accompanying innuendo that Professor Nancy Segal was making improper use of Holocaust data). But the single biggest investigation started in October 1989 at the University of Delaware over research supported by Pioneer on employment qualification tests being carried out by Gottfredson (1986) and Jan Blits (Blits & Gottfredson, 1990a,b), in collaboration with Gordon.

Paradoxically, none of the research at Delaware related to genetics. However, because Pioneer grants had gone to Rushton and a few others doing research on race and genetic differences, Pioneer's whole program of grants was considered suspect in some quarters. A professor in the Linguistics Department at Delaware wrote a letter to the University president leveling a series of charges against Pioneer, including "racism" and "Nazism," and citing as support two long-time antihereditarian activists, Jerry Hirsch and Barry Mehler, a total of 28 times (Frawley, 1989).

The present writer had worked as a young lawyer for John M. Harlan (later a Justice of the US Supreme Court), one of Pioneer's founders, and also later became the attorney and close friend of Wickliffe Preston Draper, another Pioneer founder, and had great admiration for both men. This writer, therefore, was aghast to read in Frawley's letter and in tracts written by Mehier and distributed on the Delaware campus, the false claim that these two men, both war veterans and both highly intelligent and patriotic, had secretly associated themselves with Nazi sympathizers and racists, and were furthering a sinister program based on Hitler's precepts (Mehler, 1989, 1989-90).

False or not, the furor led the president of the University of Delaware to ban further research grants from Pioneer (Blits, 1991). The commotion also led to a series of punitive actions being taken against Gottfredson and Blits, including the attempted denial of promotions (Colp, 1991; Curley, 1991). When this writer, acting as president of the Pioneer Fund, wrote letters of protest to the individual trustees of the University, he received a reply from the chairman that: "No matter whether [racism] is in fact the orientation of the Pioneer Fund or not, that is perceived as the orientation of the Fund by at least a material number of our faculty, staff, and students. Without judging the merits of this perception, the board's objective of increasing minority presence at the University could . . . be hampered if the University chose to seek funds from the Pioneer Fund at this time." (Kirkpatrick, 1990)

Just how far opponents of the Pioneer Fund departed from reality can be seen in Mehler's remarks regarding the Delaware ban in his speech at a conference on "What's Wrong With Race Research?" hosted by the African Students Association during Africa Week at the University of Western Ontario (Canada) on 8 February 1991, as follows (in language that typified his style of discourse): "[T]he depression. . . brought us Hitler, who took these theories to their ultimate conclusion. . , that if you don't got it in your genes then we got a place for you. We can make you into pillowcases and lightshades and we can take the gold out of your teeth . . . . Now you see because the University of Delaware recently decided that they will not accept the Pioneer Fund money. They said -- in fact they called it "dirty money" -- that's what they called it -- "dirty money" -- And they don't want to have anything to do with it . . . . I don't think I have to say anything more. I keep saying the same point and try to make it in different ways. We are talking about the foundation for a new fascism. These ideas led to sterilization, immigration restriction, death camps and breeding farms." (Mehler, 1991, pp. 3, 15)

The ensuing 2 years saw additional harassment of Gottfredson and Blits by the University, their lodging of formal complaints in response, and outside bodies coming to their support. The two scientists prevailed in all hearings before independent panels. The University Faculty Senate's Committee on Faculty Welfare and Privileges held that Gottfredson and Blits had been evaluated dishonestly and their academic freedom had been violated (Committee on Faculty Welfare and Privileges, 199la,b); a national arbitrator ruled that the University's funding ban "curtailed . . . academic freedom" and ordered it rescinded (Strongin, 1991); and the American Association of University Professors announced that such bans violate academic freedom no less than would prohibiting the research itself (Gorman, 1992). All this resulted eventually in an out-of-court settlement with the University, one provision being a year's paid leave of absence for both professors to conduct research (Holden, 1992). Pioneer grants were resumed.

The media treatment of this affair was extensive and was focused on the banning of Pioneer grants and on the black-white differences in scores on job qualification tests, seeming to blame the scientists for the latter findings. Pioneer again was subjected to much name calling for funding the scientists. Conversely, there was relatively little media acknowledgement of the eventual outcome in favor of Gottfredson, Blits, and Gordon.

The Bell Curve Case: In 1994 another torrent of media abuse was unleashed with the simultaneous appearance of three books all addressing the issues of genetics and IQ: Itzkoff's (1994) The Decline of Intelligence in America; Rushton's (1995) Race, Evolution, and Behavior; and Herrnstein and Murray's (1994) The Bell Curve. The first two researchers were supported, in part, by grants from Pioneer, but Herrnstein and Murray were not. Malcolm Browne, science writer at the New York limes, reviewed all three books together in the New York limes Book Review (16 October 1994) and concluded that "the government or society that persists in sweeping their subject matter under the rug will do so at its peril."

Some writers did not share the evaluation of the New York limes Book Review, especially when Pioneer was mentioned. One article entitled "Professors of HATE" (in 5" letters!) appeared in Rolling Stone magazine (Miller, 1994). Taking up the entire next page was a photograph of Rushton's face, darkened and superimposed on a Gothic university tower -- the overall effect was a sinister portrayal. On the following page a photograph of Michael Levin, a Pioneer-supported Professor of Philosophy at City University of New York and the author of Why Race Matters (Levin, 1997), showed Levin with a darkened beard bending forward across a metal desk into an eerie blue-green light, almost matching the description of him in the text as "dress[ed]. . .in a well-worn undershirt" and "coiled, ready to pounce" (pp. 106, 108). The accompanying story claimed "Pioneer Fund researchers have promoted many of the same policies for tailoring the gene pool as did their Nazi precursors" (p. 108). It ended with Pioneer-funded demographer Daniel R. Vining, who is confined to a wheelchair, saying that under a Nazi-eugenics policy "I probably would have been exterminated myself" (p. 114).

In another long piece entitled "The Mentality Bunker" which appeared in Gentleman's Quarterly (Sedgwick, 1994), John Sedgwick repeated false stories originated largely by Mehler as if Sedgwick himself had "uncovered" them, and then stated separately, as if it were an endorsement, that "historian Barry Mehler sees the Pioneer Fund as laying a pseudo-rationale for fascism" (p. 231). Photographs were published in brown tint reminiscent of vintage photos from Hitler's times, and some were doctored to fit the theme. The Gentlemen 's Quarterly 's photo of Gottfredson, for example, had been retouched, apparently in an effort to make her look like a witch.

Although one might think such tabloid treatments would not be cited by scholars, both articles were reprinted in Jacoby and Glauberman's (1995) The Bell Curve Debate (pp. 144-178) and have been cited in books such as Stefancic and Delgado's (1996) No Mercy (pp. 37-44), and Howe's (1997) IQ in Question (pp. 67-68, 77).

The enormous media attention given to The Bell Curve might have been directed to serve a valuable educational purpose, but was largely directed to other ends. The book reported original analyzes of 11,878 youths (3,022 of whom were African-American) from the 12-year National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY) and found that most 17-year-olds with high scores on the Armed Forces Qualification Test (black as well as white) went on to occupational success by their late 20s and early 30s. Many of those with low scores, on the other hand, went on to welfare dependency. Once more media criticism of the book focused almost exclusively on the approximately 70 pages relating to the black-white difference and its probable basis in part in genetics, out of 850 pages.

The furor led the American Psychological Association (APA) to establish an 11-person Task Force (Neisser et al., 1996). It accepted the substantial heritability found for IQ from studies of monozygotic twins reared apart and other kinship studies. On the origin of the average IQ difference between races, however, the Task Force concluded, "There is certainly no [empirical] support for a genetic interpretation." (p. 97). This conclusion, on its face, is at variance with the survey of expert opinion conducted by Snyder man & Rothman (1987, 1988) and initially reported in the American Psychologist, the official journal of the APA.

The findings of Snyderman and Rothman, who surveyed 1,020 persons with mental test expertise from a broad range of disciplines in the 1980s, never were cited by critics of The Bell Curve. These findings, after initial publication in the American Psychologist (Snyderman & Rothman, 1987), were published in a book, The IQ Controversy: The Media and Public Policy (Snyderman & Rothman, 1988). Of the experts, 53% agreed that there is a consensus among psychologists and educators as to the kind of behaviors labeled as "intelligent" (p. 55); 60% agreed that IQ is an important determinant of socio-economic status (p. 66); 58% agreed that intelligence is a general ability rather than a multiplicity of separate faculties (p. 71); a majority agreed that there is a substantial within-group heritability for intelligence (p. 95); and a plurality agreed that part of the black-white difference in average IQ is genetic in origin (p. 128) (Snyderman & Rothman, 1988).

In response to what they felt was an overall misleading treatment of The Bell Curve by the media, 52 scholars (15 of whom had received Pioneer support) signed a statement in the Wall Street Journal (13 December 1994) supporting The Bell Curve's general position on the IQ controversy and specifically on the average black-white difference. Later, Gottfredson (1997) served as guest editor of a special issue of this journal on the subject of "Intelligence and Social Policy," in which a number of leading researchers (some Pioneer grantees, some not) dispelled fallacies about the concept, the nature, and the societal importance of intelligence that appeared in the popular media following the publication of The Bell Curve.

Pioneer had never funded either Herrnstein or Murray (who were supported by the Bradley Foundation), but nonetheless Pioneer was publicly stated to be a source for the book. Lane (1994), now editor and then a senior editor at The New Republic, stated in the New York Review of Books that The Bell Curve was not so much about IQ but was really about race, and relied on "tainted funding" by Pioneer (p. 15).

Lane, a political writer rather than a scientist, was especially critical of Pioneer-funded Richard Lynn, whose review of the world-wide literature up to 1990 on IQ in two 1991 issues of Mankind Quarterly (Lynn 1991a,b) reported that the mean IQ score of blacks in Africa shown by 11 studies was 70, compared to the mean IQ score of 85 typically found for African-Americans. The tests used included the Progressive Matrices, Colored Progressive Matrices, Army Beta, Junior Aptitude, and Culture Fair. Lane's criticism was repeated, not only in Jacoby and Glauberman's (1995) edited volume The Bell Curve Debate but also (again by Lane) in the August 1995 issue of Commentary, an influential journal of opinion (Lane, 1995).

Murray et al. (1995) replied to Lane and his other critics in this same issue and defended both Pioneer and the accuracy of the average IQ score of sub-Saharan Africans reported by Lynn. Subsequently Lynn (1997) has expanded his, review to include seven additional studies published between 1985 and 1996, two of which were based on more than 1000 blacks aged 15 and 16 and the other five on blacks aged 12-16 or adults. These studies used the Standard Progressive Matrices, the Colored Progressive Matrices, and the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (Revised). The results were that the mean IQ scores of the seven samples lay in the range of 58 to 74. These additional results were consistent with Lynn's earlier estimate that the mean IQ score of African blacks is a little below 70.

On 22 November 1994, ABC's televised broadcast World News Tonight with Peter Jennings devoted its feature headed "The American Agenda," half to The Bell Curve and half to Pioneer. Partisan scientists, most from extraneous fields, belittled the scientific research funded by Pioneer. Hitler was portrayed as interested in such science, and Nazi death camp scenes were shown. The announcer stated that "many established scientists charge that what the Pioneer Fund pays for is not good science." Both Murray and this writer refused invitations to be taped for the show, but file pictures of both were flashed on the screen after the foregoing, creating the impression that they had been discredited. This broadcast was subjected to a detailed analysis in an open letter by Robert A. Gordon dated June 17, 1997, which may be found on the Worldwide Web at Gordon concluded that the ABC News "broadcast was . . . slick political propaganda tricked up as news" (Gordon, 1997). The broadcast transcript and Gordon's letter were mailed by Pioneer to 452 journalism schools.


Where do such false stories come from? The media create some, but others originate in academe and may reflect dislike of the idea that intelligence is heritable, denial of racial differences, desire for recognition, and the like. Whatever the source, the tabloid segment of the media loves the stories.

In their 1988 book, Snyderman and Rothman concluded, not surprisingly, that the news media falsely leave readers and viewers with the very clear impression that expert opinion is decidedly environmentalist and anti-testing. Our survey of experts demonstrates that this is not the case. The news media have allowed themselves to be influenced by a minority of vocal psychologists and educators whose radical views are consistent with a set of journalistic values emphasizing human equipotentiality and equality of outcome. (pp. 233-234)

The Snyderman and Rothman survey was concerned only with false reporting about the science itself, but the book's conclusion extends easily to the media's eager grasping at false stories about scientists personally and their funder.

One embittered scientist told me that, at least as far as research on race is concerned, the media is on a "search and destroy" mission. Much of the media accepts the minority radical views mentioned by. Snyderman and Rothman -- a dislike of the ideas that intelligence is highly heritable and that races have different average scores. Coupled with this P.C. view is the desire to "sell papers," or in television and radio, to gather an audience, or in the case of an individual writer, to make a "scoop." Little attempt is made in many cases to separate truth from fiction, and instead there is a rush to publish exciting items which also are safely on the side of political correctness.

Consider the Peter Jennings broadcast of 22 November 1994 mentioned above. About two weeks earlier, on 9 November, Mehler faxed an acquaintance as follows: "ABC Evening News with Peter Jennings is very interested in this story. I have spend [sic] a dozen hours with them already, including a whole day of shooting and interviewing with Bill Blackmore [Blakemore]. This is a special project and scheduled for next week Thursday (although that may change)." (Mehler, 1994)

Thus the outline of the 8-mm "expose" was set some days before the Peter Jennings staff questioned the persons named below, who furnished firsthand facts contradicting Mehler. Even though the truth thus became available before its broadcast, the staff opted to stick to the more exciting Mehler story.

After the planning period with Mehler, the Peter Jennings staff taped (but never used except for a few seconds) many hours of interviews with such scholars as Gordon, Gottfredson, Levin, Rushton, and perhaps others, but then ignored all their contradictions of Mehler. The staff also opted to ignore many pages of written answers this writer and other directors furnished them in response to written questions, along with countless pages of other materials on Pioneer's history and operations, plus the offer to put them into contact with many other scientists who had worked with Pioneer over the years and knew it well. The staff's options were open until the day of the broadcast, because the staff was still faxing questions to this writer on that morning.

Moreover, the Peter Jennings staff could have discovered easily, if they did not already know it, that Mehler has no proof for his claims of Nazism and the like. He has no original documents or other credible evidence supporting him, because no such evidence ever existed. He has never met a single one of Pioneer's 20 directors, and has met only one Pioneer-funded scientist (briefly on the Geraldo T.V. show and again on the Donohue T.V. show), and perhaps another (by standing and disrupting -- with shouts about genocide -- a ceremony honoring Professor Lloyd Humphreys). In short, Mehler never has had any first-hand knowledge about Pioneer, nor any non-hearsay proof of his charges. But the Peter Jennings staff ignored this, and opted to tell the exciting Mehler story -- the false story.

While a few of the media pieces about Pioneer in this decade have been straightforward, a majority, like the one by Peter Jennings, parroted the more exciting false charges, and supplemented these with a sprinkling of innuendo, guilt by remote association, claims by anonymous sources, and the like.

Some of the false charges are complex narrations built up by layers added over the years, such as the following. In a story very commonly repeated (a) some 1917 research by H.H. Goddard (not connected to Pioneer) was falsely described (first by Kamin, 1974, and later by Gould, 1981) as funding 80% of Jewish immigrants to be "feebleminded," (b) the false version of Goddard's research was then falsely said (by Gould) to have affected immigration legislation, (c) the false version was also falsely said (by Miller, 1994, and by Lee, 1997) to have been included in the Congressional testimony of Harry H. Laughlin of the Pioneer Fund, thus dragging Pioneer into the tale, and (d) all this was then falsely said (by Tucker, 1994) to have resulted in the return to death camps of refugees allegedly waiting in an unidentified ship off the Florida coast. Tucker apparently was trying to insert the voyage of the St. Louis into his false narrative. This oft-repeated story, evolved from Kamin through Tucker, is false from beginning to end!

Fortunately, accurate accounts of these events are readily available. Franz Samelson's 1975 review of Kamin's book in the journal Social Research pointed out Kamin's errors (Samelson, 1975, 1982). Mark Snyderman and the late Richard J. Herrnstein in 1983 in the American Psychologist (Snyderman & Herrnstein, 1983) concurred with Samelson and added two further important points: (1) early IQ testers did not argue that their empirical findings supported restrictive immigration policies; and (2) the Congressional debates of the time contain virtually no mention of IQ. Snyderman and Rothman (1988) examined the same ground again. Biologist Bernard D. Davis in his 1986 book Storm Over Biology (Davis, 1986; pp. 118-120) reviewed the Kamin and Gould charges, and again found them not accurate. Seligman's (1992), book A Question of Intelligence (pp. 128-130) and Herrnstein and Murray's (1994) The Bell Curve (p. 5) provide more popular corrective treatments of the issue, as does Rushton (1 997a,b).  Simpler false charges leveled against Pioneer alleged association with unnamed Nazis, funding of research to prove white supremacy, advocating sterilization of black mothers on welfare, favoring repatriation of blacks and the like. All untrue! For those who want more detail, Pioneer has enumerated the most common false charges and answered them on the Worldwide Web at, and readers are invited to look there.

It should be noted that some of the media acted in a responsible manner when attention was called to errors. The New York Times (21 February 1996), the Wall Street Journal (9 January 1995 and 22 June 1999), and the Economist (24 January 1998), for example, promptly published letters from this writer correcting the record. But others were reluctant to "admit" error, and two of them -- the Sacramento Bee and London's The Independent on Sunday -- required prodding by Pioneer's lawyers before they would publish the correcting letters (9 March 1996 and 8 July 1990, respectively).

The media's false stories about Pioneer have found their way into many archives, and a researcher might stumble across them by computer searches or in person. Pioneer's denials, usually in letters from this author, from Pioneer's counsel, or from scientists, are in the record also but far more difficult to access. Even well intentioned academic figures have been misled, while doing their research, into unknowingly repeating the false charges, and sadly a few of these researchers refused later to retract the falsehoods.

When Pioneer filed a formal complaint against a professor of psychology and against his friend as an editor of the American Journal of Psychology for refusing to retract falsehoods, the APA Office of Ethics eventually replied with a letter to the effect that it had determined that an ethics charge could not be opened against the two men, and that the Office of Ethics's policy was not to disclose the reason (Carliner, 1997). Although these two professors never made any retraction and, as far as this writer knows, never were disciplined by the APA Office of Ethics, the American Journal of Psychology, after separate negotiations, published a letter from this writer correcting the falsehoods in part.

The truth is that Pioneer never has been in contact with any Nazis. It has no political agenda, and has taken no positions. It does not issue statements, or publish literature. Its sole activity except for the Flanagan project in the 1930s has been to make hands-off grants to non-profit institutions for unfettered research on projects suggested by the institutions and for publication of the findings.

To be unmistakably clear, let me add that there are no cleverly focussed answers in this editorial, nor any dissemblances, nor any sophisms. I am saying flat out that Pioneer is not, and never has been, guilty of any of these allegations.



The Pioneer Fund was founded in 1937 by wealthy investor Wickliffe Preston Draper and four other individuals interested in genetics and evolution as the keys to understanding human nature, both the similarities between individuals and groups and their differences. For the ensuing 60 years, it has funded research on the nature of human nature -- the hereditary basis of intelligence, personality, and social organization, including both individual and group differences.

Qualifications of Scientists

In considering grant proposals, the Fund has always sought excellence in the researchers, and checks new applicants as to scholastic background, extent of field research, published writings and frequency of citations of those writings, and reputation among peers. Pioneer grantees have been recognized by their peers by being elected as the presidents of the American Psychological Association, the British Psychological Association, the Behavior Genetics Association, the Psychometric Society, the Society for Psychophysiological Research, the American Educational Research Association, and the National Council on Measurement of Education. One grantee had won a Nobel prize, two are Guggenheim Fellows (one for doing Pioneer-funded work), and three more were selected by the Galton Society of the United Kingdom to give the annual Galton Lectures for 1983, 1995 (also on the basis of Pioneer-funded work), and 1999 (based in part on Pioneer-funded work). Three were among the 11 recent biographees in the Encyclopedia of Human Intelligence, and 10 of the articles in that two-volume work were written by grantees. Grantees have served on the editorial boards of major academic journals, including three on the board of Personality and Individual Differences and three more on the editorial board of Intelligence.

Most of the Pioneer grantees hold Fellow status in one or more of their respective scientific organizations, and many have won academic honors for their research or other distinguished contributions from, among others, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Educational Research Association, Mensa, Educational Testing Service, and the American Psychological Association. In some cases Pioneer had funded the very research for which the academic honors were awarded.

Thirty Pioneer grantees of recent times, in psychology and other fields, have together published close to 200 scholarly books and 2000 scientific articles, mostly in the leading peer-reviewed journals, and these passed review processes, involving hundreds of additional scientists.

Past Grants

The Fund has made grants to over 60 different institutions located in eight countries, including some of the most prominent universities in these countries. Some of these grantees have received, and still do receive, annual grants sustaining ongoing programs. Although it has been impossible to do justice here to all the discoveries made with the aid of Pioneer funding, some of the most important have been highlighted at the beginning of this editorial. All four of the scientific areas funded by Pioneer -- behavioral genetics, intelligence, demographics, and racial variation -- were actively avoided for a long time by larger foundations as too controversial, and some of the research might never have been done but for Pioneer's funding. Pioneer is proud of its success in helping to reshape the face of social science and in helping to make mainstream again some important and previously tabooed topics. This is the case in behavioral genetics and intelligence, where the topics are mainstream today. But some topics in demographics and racial variation are still highly politicized, making research sensitive.

The Fund's affairs are conducted directly by a five person board of unrelated directors, all of whom have donated their time and have not been compensated for their work as directors. All the 20 directors since the Fund's incorporation in 1937, including its five founders, have been executives, scientists, or professionals of some recognition in their fields. None of them has any skeletons, big or small, in his or her closet to our knowledge. All their names, and some identification, are on the Web site mentioned above.

Operating Policies

With limited capital, not to be mentioned in the same breath as the capital of Ford, Rockefeller, and Carnegie, the board members decided early to run a tight ship, and ensure that as much as possible of the available funds would go directly into research. To that end the Fund has never had a paid staff and has never had an office of its own. Its mail goes to a P.O. box, and its telephone listing is with an answering service. It owns no property (except bank accounts in its name), not even a desk or typewriter, and its letters and faxes originate from others' equipment. It is audited annually by a major accounting firm to guarantee the integrity of its financial records.

The Fund's procedures are likewise kept simple. It makes no grants to individuals but only to research institutions, including universities. The Fund has no forms or specifications for grant applications, but acts on letters from institutions briefly summarizing proposals and the researchers' qualifications.

Various general policies were developed over the years to keep the Fund on the "high road" and eliminate any grounds for legitimate criticism. Moreover, the policies were designed to prevent even the appearance of being able to influence scientists and, beyond that, to make the grant conditions so sterile that any false charges of tampering would be ridiculous on their face. These general policies were set out as follows in several memos to directors.

#     Make grants to the best universities and research institutions, and avoid small inexpert organizations.

#     Deal only with the top experts, and avoid contrarians who happen to be pursuing similar research topics.

#     Never originate or suggest research projects, but merely accept or reject proposals made by individual scholars in universities or research institutions.

#     Avoid actions that might appear to pressure a grantee. Do not request any reports or accountings from scientists at universities, and require only the mandatory IRS information from others.

#     Reject proposals that are peripheral to our main focus. Avoid advisors who advocate a shift of focus.

#     Avoid taking policy positions. Leave to others the decisions on how to use the research, and generally avoid grantees with social agendas to push.

#     Avoid arguments with or on behalf of ethnic, religious, or political groups. Let the scientific results speak for themselves.

#     Avoid overhead buildup -- we're too small.

This editorial began by asking you to imagine what contemporary social science would be like without any of the cutting-edge research by Pioneer grantees. It then described some of the more outrageous media attacks against the Pioneer Fund, and the scientists it has supported, and told how the Fund operates.

Now this editorial will end by asking you to contemplate the future of the behavioral sciences if the false charges the popular media have made against the Pioneer Fund and Pioneer grantees were allowed by Pioneer to stand, unquestioned and uncorrected, or if Pioneer were to allow itself to be driven from its present fields and into some less confrontational philanthropic area where it would not be a target. I think that, from that point forward, some scientists would no longer be able to find funding, either from Pioneer or from other grantors who would have been aware of the Pioneer experience. Also, scientists doing research in any potentially politically-sensitive area, be it psychology, behavioral genetics, or any field that inquires into the nature of humankind and of human differences, might well be the next names on the media's "blood sport" list. What is now Pioneer's defense of itself, and of its grantees, might become your defense of yourself. In many instances the science itself -- the research and the reporting of the results -- might be stopped dead, or at least seriously curtailed because of intimidation, lack of funding, or in some cases the chilling effect of hate literature laws. Humankind, including you, would be the loser. The Twilight Zone's politically correct supercomputer, or the media's simulation of it, will have become a reality.

Although warnings are often voiced that research on taboo topics such as intelligence, genetics, and race differences represents a "slippery slope" toward evil social policies, it has been Pioneer's position all along that a more dangerous slippery slope is one created by substituting well-intentioned ignorance for knowledge humanely applied to the solution of real human problems. Once such a slide begins, it tends to drag with it ever-widening fields of critically needed research on the nature of mankind.

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