Jean Philippe Rushton, one of recent history’s most controversial, even hated, ‘scientists’ has died, leaving behind a cesspool of overly-simplistic theories in the field of race and intelligence. His research ignored the complexities of genetic variance, mutation and of course the social and environmental factors that indeed change genes in a lifetime, and the myriad of factors affecting IQ testing from education and income to the various testing methods themselves. His contrived conclusions harken back to the days of phrenology, eugenics and social Darwinism.
As moral philosopher James Flynn points out, mere inheritance would not explain why study replications get different results, why we’re all getting smarter so much faster today, how blacks could be so rapidly ‘catching up’, or how women seem to have even surpassed men by some testing measures. And even if intelligence were directly linked to the genes, and testing methods were perfect, researchers like Chris Chabris and David Laibson are finding more and more that “social science traits are complex. There is no single gene causation like .. Huntington’s disease. There are probably multiple or even hundreds of genes at play.”
IQ testing, and our understanding of the nature of intelligence itself, is spotty at best.
Rushton’s myopic bias was clear in his claims of an inversely proportionate brain-to-penis size ratio, as represented by blacks, whites and asians (with a lack of logical mechanisms linking each of those faulty premises to one another and IQ). His ‘academic racism’ will have its legacy in heated pseudoscientific web comments, fooling themselves at to what the consensus view in science is, as well as policy-makers and police who exist trapped in a worldview of hatred and prejudice.
His remaining acolytes will continue to consider his work both ‘ground-breaking’ and ‘persecuted’, when he was neither. His science was very simply bad.
Don Terry writes about the despicably misleading work of Academic Rushton at Hatewatch:
Rushton taught psychology at the University of Western Ontario for 25 years and began his academic career investigating the basis of altruism – why one person sometimes aids another, even at personal risk. But it was in the fields of biology and genetics, academic disciplines unrelated to his training, that Rushton made his biggest mark — and left his largest stain.
Rushton’s infamous theory about race and intelligence can be summed up in two words: size matters.
He postulated that brain and genital size are inversely related, implying that whites are more intelligent than blacks and that Asians are the smartest of all.
Saying that Rushton’s ideas were “monstrous” and “simply do not qualify as science,” David Suzuki, an actual geneticist, debated Rushton on the Western Ontario campus in 1989 before 2,000 students and more than 100 reporters and television crews. Security was tight inside and out of the auditorium.
“I did not want to be here,” Suzuki told the audience. “I do not believe that we should dignify this man and his ideas in public debate.” A few minutes later, he added, “There will always be Rushtons in the world. We must be prepared to root them out.”
Brian Timney, dean of social science, which includes the psychology department where Rushton actually worked, said Rushton’s legacy “was not a great one.” “His research was not highly thought of,” Timney said. “I work in neuroscience and I expect some academic vigor. He was not vigorous.”
While simultaneously defending his academic freedom, University of Western Ontario officials twice reprimanded Rushton for conducting research on human subjects in 1988 without required prior approval, according to a Southern Poverty Law Center profile of Rushton. In the first incident, Rushton surveyed first-year psychology students, asking questions about penis length, distance of ejaculation and number of sex partners.
While it would be unscientific to ignore findings of the differences between IQ in different races, it is not unreasonable to refute the findings of a prejudiced fraud with hack methodology. Read the whole article at the Southern Poverty Law Center.
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