Table of Contents

with chapter summaries

 sports, race, and IQ...

'Blacks' do not have a genetic advantage in sports.

'Blacks' do not have a genetic intellectual disadvantage.

Human races do not exist.

The IQ literature is a series of frauds.


Some academics and others peddle pseudo-science in order to allege that blacks are good at sports and bad at thinking. Resurrecting Racism answers them with proper science. The first half of the book shows that blacks do not have superior sports ability and that biologists, using the latest genetic data, have concluded that human races do not exist, contrary to what racists would like to believe. The second half of the book (beginning in chapter 6) traces the history of IQ testing, documenting that the IQ literature was built by committing outright fraud. IQ 'research' has been used to allege that blacks have inferior 'intelligence,' but those who developed the IQ literature turned the purpose of the original tests upside down, twisted their statistics, made up their math, and invented nonexistent researchers, publishing fake studies under phony names. These 'researchers' were also the major propagandists of the eugenics movement, which movement is responsible for creating the German Nazis. This is also documented in the second half of Resurrecting Racism, as is the fact that today's IQ 'researchers' continue this fraudulent and dangerous tradition.

Resurrecting Racism: The modern attack on black people using phony science.  © 2004 Francisco Gil-White

Table of Contents: http://www.hirhome.com/rr/rrcontents.htm

Chapter 7

Intelligence testing as tool of the eugenic program of extermination

The eugenics ideology began in the head of a British thinker, an originator of what would become known as the discipline of ‘psychology’: Francis Galton. His ideas had some success in Britain, but this success was somewhat limited. Where eugenics really became a spectacular success was the United States, and then even more so in Germany under the Nazis. So-called ‘intelligence testing’ played a central role in this movement. Here I will review first how ‘intelligence testing’ began with British eugenics, and then I shall take a look at the American version.

The British school of eugenics, and the birth of fraudulent intelligence testing

Since Francis Galton was the intellectual father of eugenics, the fact that “In 1883 Galton established what amounted to an intelligence test center in London…”[1] makes it clear that, from the very beginning, eugenics and ‘intelligence testing’ were yoked together.

Galton argued that if a person’s mind was good at one thing it would be equally good at other things; conversely, bad at one thing, bad at everything. Mental performance, in his view, was a unitary, general thing, and therefore ‘intelligence’ was pretty much anything that the brain was called to do. This theory of Galton’s was in no way accidental. He believed that the minds of white aristocrats were superior to other humans in everything, and so he naturally thought that if you tested anything mental, white aristocrats would show up as the best. According to Galton, ‘intelligence’ was the very thing that distinguished his own exalted self from the “degenerates,” as he called them.

In his recent history of the eugenics movement, War against the weak: Eugenics and America's campaign to create a master race, the source I rely on for this topic, historian Edwin Black writes the following.

[Quote from War against the Weak starts here]

“Could not the undesirables be got rid of and the desirables multiplied?” [Galton] asked.

…He played with many names… Finally, he scrawled Greek letters on a hand-sized scrap of paper, and next to them the two English fragments he would join into one. The Greek word for well was abutted to the Greek word for born… The word he wrote on that small piece of paper was eugenics.

…Above all, Galton concluded that the caliber of progeny always reflected its distant ancestry. Good lineage did not improve bad blood. On the contrary, in any match, undesirable traits would eventually outweigh desirable qualities. Hence, when eugenically preferred persons mated with one another, their offspring were even more valuable. But mixing eugenically well-endowed humans with inferior mates would not strengthen succeeding generations. Rather, it would promote a downward biological spiral. What was worse, two people of bad blood would only create progressively more defective offspring.

…Galton asserted, “…by means of isolation, or some other drastic yet adequate measure, a stop should be put to the production of families of children likely to include degenerates.”[2]

[Quote from War against the Weak ends here]

The definition of “degenerate” was…whatever Galton thought it was, but according to him degenerates were especially common in the lower classes.

After Francis Galton came Charles Spearman. In The Intelligence Men: Makers of the IQ Controversy, psychologist Raymond Fancher writes that

“Impressed by [Francis] Galton’s case for the importance of intelligence testing, Spearman started some small-scale experiments of his own in his spare time.

…The immediate inspiration for Spearman’s first crucial experiments was Galton’s belief that differences in intelligence should be reflected by corresponding differences in sensory acuity.”[3]

Why should ‘intelligence’ have anything to do with sensory acuity? Because, according to Galton, ‘intelligence’ affected anything that a brain did, and if this quantity ‘intelligence’ was higher, the brain did everything bettereven perceive.

Amazingly, this Galtonian theory had already been refuted when Spearman began his enthusiastic pro-Galtonian work. You see, the American psychologist James McKeen Cattell had gotten interested in Galton, and he had eventually

“...established an anthropometry laboratory similar to Galton's [and] got to know Galton personally. ...Cattell published the details of his research program, and introduced the catchy term 'mental test' into the psychologist's lexicon, in an 1890 article entitled 'Mental Tests and Measurements.' His basic ten tests, ...he acknowledged, owed much to Galton's previous work...”[3a]

These were tests of perception measured by reaction time, memory, and such, and they were supposed to correlate with measures of academic performance, according to Galton's theory.

“...Gradually, however, it became evident that there was something seriously wrong... The crowning blow was struck in 1901 by Clark Wissler, one of Cattell's own graduate students...

Wissler's devastating results indicated that the 'mental tests' [the tests of perception] showed virtually no tendency to correlate with academic achievement...”[3b]

In fact, some of these perceptual measures correlated negatively with academic achievement. Thus, when Charles Spearman made a case for Galton’s theory in 1904, he was doing it against results that seriously called it into question.

Spearman contributed a letter to baptize Galton’s idea with: g (for ‘general intelligence’). This was the supposed ‘principal component,’ the underlying substance responsible for mental performance in different domains. It was important for Galtonian theory to reduce mental performance to this one, underlying substance because it would allow the identification of “degenerates,” the better to prevent their reproduction “by means of isolation, or some other drastic yet adequate measure”; Spearman, as we also saw, got involved in ‘intelligence testing’ because he was “[i]mpressed by Galton’s case for the importance of intelligence testing.”

What was the effect of Charles Spearman's defense of Francis Galton's theory?

“In 1904, Spearman published…a paper in The American Journal of Psychology, entitled ‘General Intelligence,’ Objectively Determined and Measured. The paper attracted much attention from the start, and in 1906 Spearman was rewarded with a junior academic appointment at University College London. Soon afterward he became that institution’s first professor of psychology, and spent the rest of his career there developing and promoting the theory of General Intelligence.”[4]

In 1905, one year after Spearman published his much acclaimed paper, the French psychologist Alfred Binet, the acknowledged pioneer in the measurement of academic performance (see chapter 6), published a short review of Spearman's work, which I reproduce below in full. This review comments first on a methods paper that Spearman published likewise in 1904, and then on the paper in which Spearman defends his idea of 'General Intelligence.' Binet’s ironic style is deliciously dry and understated, so it bears a close reading (the italics are his).

“These two articles are mighty interesting. In the first, choking with equations, Spearman studies the methods capable of establishing whether a correlation between two facts is due to a coincidence or to a law. His exposition involves for the most part two methods, that of Pearson, and that which I once imagined with V. Henri, or the method of rank. He discusses these methods and makes lots of ingenious remarks.

The second work is more original. The author begins by observing that the correlations found so far between the various intellectual functions are anything but unanimous, and so he bravely and doggedly attempts to show the mistakes of other experimenters. Very interesting, as spectacle; and it might induce despair if one were not reminded that every study is not of the same value, and some are simply worthless. The author [Spearman] believes that all of the contradictions result from four mistakes that experimenters have been making: a precise quantitative expression of the phenomena is hardly ever obtained, the probability of error has not been ascertained, there has not been sufficient attention to age-related errors and, well, people have made errors of observation. The author [Spearman] believes he has avoided these errors. He presents studies consistent with the search for a relationship between general intelligence, subjectively determined by teachers from the various tasks a child performs, and the manner in which the child reacts to purely sensory experiences; and he finds that the correlation is so great that it is equal to 1. [Spearman] judges [his] conclusion as profoundly important. It is possible. We ourselves are profoundly astonished at it, because of the defective character of the author’s sensory experiments, and of the way in which he rated or secured ratings of general intelligence. Before pronouncing judgment it is necessary to wait for other investigators to obtain similar results.”

Let's unpack it, shall we?

Despite the superabundance of equations in Spearman’s methods paper, Binet points out, there is nothing new here. (By comparison, “the second work is more original.”) And yet Spearman had managed to make some clever remarks in the methods paper. Devastating. But Binet is only whetting our appetite.

Moving to the second paper, on Spearman’s theory of General Intelligence, Binet reports on Spearman’s amazing claim: that, since nobody has found the consistent correlations between sensory ability and other forms of mental ability that Spearman’s (i.e. Galton’s) theory of General Intelligence requires, this must mean that nobody but Spearman knows how to do a proper experiment: other scientists are quantifying poorly, disregarding error probabilities, missing age-related errors or, well, just making errors of observation (how Spearman could know this last point, it is impossible to say). And how was Spearman improving on his competition? He was letting “general intelligence [to be] subjectively determined by teachers.” Ah. “Very interesting, as spectacle,” Binet winks sardonically, “and it might induce despair,” he adds, “if one were not reminded that every study is not of the same value, and some are simply worthless.”

He is not done. “The author,” says Binet, “believes he has avoided these errors.” And how. In Spearman's own study the correlations that find no real unanimity inthe work of others “is so great that it is equal to 1.” A perfect correlation. A correlation anywhere near 1 (let alone equal to 1), for any two traits measured by a social psychologist, is preposterous. In fact, a correlation equal to 1 is preposterous no matter what the question, because chance error will affect any measurement, whether by a psychologist or an atom physicist.

With violent sarcasm, Binet delivers the death blow:

“[Spearman] judges [his] conclusion as profoundly important. It is possible. We ourselves are profoundly astonished at it, because of the defective character of the author’s sensory experiments, and of the way in which he rated or secured ratings of general intelligence. Before pronouncing judgment it is necessary to wait for other investigators to obtain similar results.”

No honest scientist can possibly replicate Spearman’s purported result.

Binet was right, of course: Spearman had cooked his math. Raymond Fancher explains in The Intelligence Men, with reference to Binet's slamming of Spearman’s 1904 paper on General Intelligence, that,

“Had he lived, Binet would have found some justification for his doubts… While we cannot explain the reason for these strange mistakes in Spearman’s original calculations, they seem to suggest that he had a tendency to see what he wanted to in his data, sometimes at the expense of what was really there.”[6]

But notice that Raymond Fancher has completely defanged Binet, because the French psychologist was not expressing “doubts.” I find it curious that Fancher should add that “we cannot explain the reason for these strange mistakes in Spearman’s original calculations.” Why can't we? Is Fancher using the verb in the sense that we shouldn't? Because it is not as if we are lacking a perfectly obvious hypothesis. An observation by Peter Shoneman in ‘Psychometrics of Intelligence’ will suggest it:

“Spearman left no doubt about how he felt [concerning] the social relevance of his presumed discovery: ‘Citizens, instead of choosing their careers at almost blind hazard, will undertake just the professions suited to their capacities. One can even conceive the establishment of a minimum index to qualify for parliamentary vote, and above all for the right to have offspring.’”[7]

So given that Spearman, just like Galton, wanted to disenfranchise and “above all” to curtail the reproduction of certain classes of people (those whom Galton called “degenerates”), perhaps this is what really mattered to Spearman. This may explain any apparent dishonesty in his numbers.

Spearman’s theory of General Intelligence received a mortal blow (that is, another one) in 1916, when British statistician Godfrey Thomson demonstrated that even if the correlations Spearman claimed to see in his data had really come out the way he alleged, it was entirely possible to get such patterns without Spearman’s imagined unitary and general faculty of ‘intelligence.’ Multiple independent mental abilities for different specific things.[8]  This appears to be the same point that Stephen J. Gould would later explain for a lay audience: one can use Spearman's factor analysis technique to identify a 'principal component' underlying the correlations he finds, but that hardly means this mathematical artifact corresponds to a real 'general intelligence.' It may or it may not. The fact that a statistical technique will draw a principal component does not mean that it exists in the world, just as a correlation between two things does not necessarily mean they have a common cause.[8a]

So the famous correlations that are the basis of the entire IQ enterprise, even if one could find them honestly, would not demonstrate that cognitive performance is produced by an underlying, unitary, general, mental ability.

As if three mortal blows (Clark Wissler’s, Alfred Binet’s, and now this one) were not enough, in 1928 came another.

“E.B. Wilson, a polymath whose stature Spearman instantly acknowledged, wryly observed...that Spearman's theory did not suffice to define g uniquely because it postulated more independent factors than observed tests. As a result, many widely different 'intelligence scores' can be assigned to the same subject on the basis of his or her observed test scores.”[8b]

This is known as the 'factor indeterminacy' problem. It is a problem because a non-negotiable claim of Spearman's is that one and only one intelligence score can be assigned to each person. Spearman had refuted himself.

In a logical world, one mortal embarrassment should be quite sufficent to dispense with a theory. “Nevertheless,” says Fancher,

“Spearman’s conception of General Intelligence has had lasting appeal and influence. A unidimensional and inherited general ability was just what workers in the Galtonian tradition were hoping to find and measure...”[9]

Spearman’s cultural success has had more to do with the promotion of the aristocratic eugenics ideology -- what Fancher calls “the Galtonian tradition.” -- than anything else.

Now let's finish the sentence I left hanging:

“A unidimensional and inherited general ability was just what workers in the Galtonian tradition were hoping to find and measure, and Spearman’s theory gave them a rationale for interpreting Binet test results as just that.” [my emphasis]

So what the eugenicists managed to do, as we saw already in chapter 6, was pretend that the tests devised by Alfred Binet supposedly measured Spearman’s nonexistent g. That's worth a pause.

Spearman's enduring importance

The eugenic method became simply to insist—despite the multitude of refutations—that Spearman was right anyway.

As you may recall from chapter 6, after the WWII Holocaust the eugenicists were in intellectual retreat for two decades. But then it was Arthur Jensen who revived 'intelligence testing' in 1969. Psychologist Peter Shoneman explains his platform:

“Undeterred by his detractors, Jensen…[claimed that] Spearman had been right all alongg does exist and intelligence can be measured.”[10]

But the religious fervor for Spearman’s eugenic nonsense is not Jensen’s monopoly. Robert J. Sternberg, who is prominent among those who run IQ tests, wrote as recently as 1998 that,

“There is a fundamental finding in psychology that is perhaps better replicated than any other single finding in the field: Scores on all tests of cognitive abilities tend to correlate positively with each other, [f]irst observed by Spearman (1904)...”[11]

Three things deserve comment here.

First, notice that Sternberg is talking about Spearman’s 1904 paper; the one with “strange mistakes in Spearman’s original calculations” that allowed Spearman to get “what he wanted to in his data…at the expense of what was really there.” This is the one where Spearman claimed a correlation equal to 1. So how can Sternberg say that Spearman's supposed “finding” has been replicated? It is bad enough that those claiming to have replicated Spearman’s findings, such as Cyril Burt, were making up their data (see chapter 6), but one simply cannot replicate—even in principle!—what was not found in the first place. And yet Sternberg has really gone out on a limb, stating not merely that Spearman’s ‘finding’ has supposedly been replicated, but that nothing else in psychology has been replicated this well...

Second, as we saw, Godfrey Thomson demonstrated in 1916 that such a result would yield no information about how ‘intelligence’ really worked. This, together with E.B. Wilson’s 1928 demonstration that there wasn’t even such a thing as ‘the intelligence’ of a person within Spearman’s own absurd theory, means that Spearman’s purported finding could not be “fundamental”—as Sternberg claims—even if it really had been found.

The third and larger point is this: while Arthur Jensen has a reputation as a racist, Robert Sternberg is supposed to be respectableand yet they both absurdly rely on Spearman’s fraudulent and self-refuting work. This suggests that, across the spectrum, ‘intelligence testing’ is just cloaked eugenics.

After Charles Spearman came Cyril Burt

After Spearman, the next major intelligence tester of the British School was…Cyril Burt. This psychologist was also a starry-eyed fan of Francis Galton, the father of eugenics, and this hero-worship of Galton he got directly from his own father. 

“[Cyril Burt recalled] ‘...Francis Galton. . .[as] my father’s supreme example of the ideal man. . .’ Further inspired by a personal meeting with Galton when he accompanied his father on his [medical] rounds, Burt obtained Galton’s Inquiries into Human Faculty from his school library and observed ‘with a superstitious thrill’ that it had been published in 1883, the year of his own birth.”[12]

As Raymond Fancher goes on to explain, Burt studied ‘mental philosophy’ at Oxford with William McDougall, who “knew and admired the aging Francis Galton, and was a strong supporter of the eugenics movement.” McDougall put Burt to work on intelligence tests. “While doing so, Burt met another McDougall protégé, the fast-rising Charles Spearman who had just recently introduced the concept of General Intelligence.” Then a job opening presented itself for a lecturer in experimental psychology at the University of Liverpool. “[Despite having] little formal psychological training, …Burt won the job.”[13]

Burt immediately began running tests along Spearman’s lines and claimed that they gave further evidence for Spearman’s gthe supposed ‘general intelligence factor,’ which according to Burt was entirely hereditary. In 1913 Cyril Burt “was hired as Britain’s first professional educational psychologist by the London County Council, the agency that ran all of London’s publicly funded schools.”

And this is chilling, because Burt was also a big fan of Francis Galton.

“…Galton believed that eugenics was too broad a societal quest to be left to individual whim… [so his] definition of eugenics wed the [pseudo-]biology to governmental action. ‘Eugenics, asserted Galton, ‘is the study of all agencies under social control which can improve or impair the racial quality of future generations.’”[14]

Once hired by the London County Council which, I must emphasize, “ran all of London’s publicly funded schools,” Cyril Burt had an opportunity to fulfill Galton's dream by making the eugenics ideology an instrument of government policy. As we saw in chapter 6, he claimed that members of the upper classes were innately smarter, and argued for segregating children into smart and retarded schools on the basis of his tests. During the late 1920s and early 30s “the British Broadcasting Corporation [BBC, which is owned by the British government]. . .began employing him as a psychological commentator in its radio broadcasts.”[15]

But Cyril Burt was not done rising.

When Charles Spearman retired, in 1932, from his prestigious post at University College London, Burt was appointed to replace him.

“. . .University College London had a long association with the Galtonian approach to psychology. . . Spearman’s work on General Intelligence had of course been inspired by Galton’s writings [and] Burt [had an] . . .almost reverential attitude toward Galton. . ., [so Burt] had little hesitation in deciding to maintain the tradition.”[16]

Burt became heavily involved in factor analysis, the kind of analysis that Spearman had cooked his data in order to defend, and which British statistician Godfrey Thomson demonstrated, in 1916, could not in fact help Spearman establish that ‘General Intelligence’or gexisted even if Spearman managed honestly to get the numbers he wanted.

In a footnote to a 1937 article, Burt claimed that he had invented a particular formula for factor analysis, trying fraudulently to take the credit for Spearman’s nonsense. No honor among thieves. This did not amuse Spearman, who was quite proud of his nonsense, so he wrote Burt a letter and the latter apologized.[17] But when Spearman died, Burt

“. . .took great advantage of the fact that he was editor of the British Journal of Statistical Psychology, publishing many of his own unrefereed papers there, which inflated his own role in the history of factor analysis and minimized Spearman’s.”[18]

In 1946, in the aftermath of the WWII genocides which Burt’s own eugenics ideology had encouraged, he was knighted Sir Cyril Burt by the British crown, which made it politically difficult for people to question his integrity. This was convenient for him because, as we saw in chapter 6, Cyril Burt resorted to widespread and blatant fabrications, making up both his nonexistent data and his nonexistent research assistants (under whose names he published), in addition to completely misrepresenting what the Binet-Simon tests measured. In the service of what? In the service of the claim that the wealthy classes had innately superior intelligence, and therefore that the ones slated for extermination should be others: the eugenic mantra.

Modern American intelligence testing is partly an intellectual descendant of the British eugenics movement because Cyril Burt, Spearman’s heir, trained Hans Eysenck, another eugenicist, who in turn trained Arthur Jensen, the man responsible for reviving IQ-testing in the United States in 1969. As we saw in in chapter 6, Jensen did this by resuscitating the frauds of both Charles Spearman and Cyril Burt in order to make his case that blacks were supposedly innately inferior intellects; then he added some frauds of his own. However, there had been a homegrown American ‘intelligence testing’ tradition of longstanding before 1969, and I turn to this next.

Henry Goddard, and the mainstreaming of fraudulent ‘intelligence testing’ in the US

I noted above that good statistical science was not on Spearman’s side, because Godfrey Thomson demonstrated in 1916 that different mental abilities for different things could also produce the correlations that Spearman fabricated to defend his hypothesized general factor g. Perhaps aware of this problem, German psychologist William Stern tried a different tack: just pretend that the total score of a Binet-Simon test is Spearman’s g. Yes, of course, the same total score may be obtained by different combinations of individual task scores, and therefore pretending that if two people get the same total score they have the same putative ‘general intelligence’ would be an obvious fraud, but so what? Pretend anyway. This ridiculous pretense is what became known as the ‘Intelligence Quotient’ or IQ statistic.

[Quote from The Intelligence Men starts here]

Offering an apparently unitary and standard scale of measurement, intelligence quotients were readily interpretable as a measure of something like Spearman’s g… A whole new research industry was born with this quantification of Binet test results.

…[Alfred] Binet was no longer alive in 1912 to criticize the quotient concept, but his collaborator [Theophile] Simon later called it a betrayal (‘trahison’) of their scale’s original objectives.

It seems that Stern himself came to have second thoughts about his influential brainchild… When Stern came to America shortly before his death, in 1936, he confided to [his student Gordon] Allport that a principal aim of his visit was to advocate his mature personalistic psychology as a counterbalance to the ‘pernicious influence’ of his earlier invention, the intelligence quotient.

Any such regrets came far too late, however, because by then, for better or for worse, the IQ idea was here to stay. Intelligence testing had firmly entered the public consciousness, and had become a big business. The first foundation for this public acceptance of intelligence testing had been laid by the popular writings of the American psychologist Henry H. Goddard (1866-1957), which moreover reunited the themes of intelligence testing and eugenics.”[19]

[Quote from The Intelligence Men ends here]

Indeed, Goddard was a major eugenicist.

It was in 1916 that Goddard had the complete Binet and Simon papers translated to English and advocated the use of their tests in the United States. “Through these efforts,” says Fancher, “Goddard became the world’s leading proponent of Binet’s testing methods, following the latter’s death in 1911.”[20] But Raymond Fancher’s way of putting it is false. Goddard was not a proponent of Binet.

Just consider that in order to translate Binet and Simon’s French term débile (meaning ‘weak’) to refer to the most common category of people who scored relatively low in their tests, Goddard coined the term ‘moron’: “It was derived from moros, the Greek for ‘stupid and foolish.’”[21] This is more than a clue as to what Goddard was about, and it should therefore not come as a surprise to learn that Goddard disregarded entirely the purpose of the Binet-Simon tests, as Fancher himself concedes:

“But while he was enthusiastic about Binet’s methods, Goddard like Spearman was far from appreciating the Frenchman’s rather loose and pragmatic theory of intelligence. Instead he…conceptualized the vast majority of cases of ‘feeblemindedness’ or moronity as inherited conditions caused by a single recessive gene.”[22]

But Goddard was not “enthusiastic about Binet’s testing methods”this is, once again, the opposite of the truth. The French psychologist's testing methods are what Goddard scorned. The American was casting his net as widely as possible, trying to get as many people as he could categorized ‘morons’also called ‘feebleminded’about whom nothing could be done (since they had that pesky recessive gene that made them feebleminded people about whom nothing could be done).

Says Fancher,

“Here was a conception of intelligence more unitary than Spearman’s, and more exclusively hereditarian than Galton’sexpressed by a man who was the world’s leading advocate of Binet’s approach to tests! If ever there were a case of the disciple transforming his master’s message in the retelling, this was it.”[23]

That’s one way of putting it. Another is to state the simple truth: 1) that Henry Goddard was not a disciple of Alfred Binet in the least, 2) that Goddard knew perfectly well that he was radically misusing Binet’s tests because he is the one who had Binet’s papers translated into English, and 3) that Goddard’s single recessive gene ‘theory’ was a lot of feebleminded nonsense.

But what Goddard suffered from in incoherence he more than made up for in sheer energy.

“Convinced that most feeblemindedness was caused by a single recessive gene, he believed that this scourge could theoretically be eliminated if only the genetically defective could be prevented from having children for a few generations… To illustrate and dramatize his case, Goddard published a book in 1912 entitled The Kallikak Family: A Study in the Heredity of Feeblemindedness.[24]

Goddard’s book on the Kallikak family was his attempt to convince ordinary Americans that there were lots of genetically stupid people out there, that nothing could be done about them, and that their bad genes were polluting ‘society’ (a code word for ‘aristocratic society’). Goddard pronounced individual members of his case-study family, the Kallikaks, intelligent or stupid, choosing them so that the family tree would make it look as though the supposedly stupid ones were such because of the imaginary recessive gene that Goddard wanted to weed out of the human species. His book on the Kallikaks, which was “addressed to the lay reader…, quickly became a psychological best-seller, and effectively helped shape a new public appreciation for mental testing and eugenics.”[25] With his book on the Kallikaks, Goddard became the most important propagandist for the American version of the eugenics movement.

But was Goddard merely incoherent, or was he, in keeping with the tradition of his British ‘intelligence testing’ predecessors, and his later American successors, also a fraud? Goddard gave the answer to that question himself, candidly, in print. In the preface to his book on the Kallikak family, he explained to his readers that he was writing propaganda:

“We have made rather dogmatic statements and drawn conclusions that do not seem scientifically warranted by the data. We have done this because it seems necessary to make these statements and conclusions for the benefit of the lay reader…”[26]

This is so utterly blunt it’s charming: we are a bunch of dogmatists with zero data, and what we say is not scientifically warranted, but we are writing for lay readers who don’t know any better and the point is to indoctrinate them (for their own 'benefit'). Goddard was not exactly bending over backwards to show respect for the intelligence of his audience, was he? But rather than get offended, his audience turned him into a best-selling author.

And the above admission by Goddard was not even as candid as it seems, because the problem with his book was not merely that he had no real data, as he admitted, but that what little passed for such in his book had actually been faked. For example, as Stephen J. Gould discovered, and as he explains in The Mismeasure of Man, “Goddard altered photographs to suggest mental retardation in the Kallikaks.”[27]

And what was the point of deceiving the American public with these frauds?

“…Goddard asked, ‘What will be the effect upon the community in the spread of debauchery and disease through having within it a group of people who are thus free to gratify their instincts without fear of consequences in the form of children? …The feebleminded seldom exercise restraint in any case.’

His answer: mass incarceration in special colonies. ‘Segregation through colonization seems in the present state of our knowledge to be the ideal and perfectly satisfactory method.’”[28]

Oh, the things that those bad German Nazis believed, right? This was the United States. Goddard was a cultural icon, and his 1912 book had a big impact.

The institutionalization of eugenics in the US

It is important to understand that, as prominent as Henry Goddard was, he was only a cog in a vast movement that had lavish financial support from the American wealthy classes, and widespread and enthusiastic assistance from the US government at the highest levels. Consider the following summary from Edwin Black’s recent history of eugenics, entitled War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America’s Campaign to Create a Master Race.

[Quote from War Against the Weak begins here]

Throughout the first six decades of the twentieth century, hundreds of thousands of Americans and untold numbers of others were not permitted to continue their families by reproducing. Selected because of their ancestry, national origin, race or religion, they were forcibly sterilized, wrongly committed to mental institutions where they died in great numbers, prohibited from marrying, and sometimes even unmarried by state bureaucrats. In America, this battle to wipe out whole ethnic groups was fought not by armies with guns nor by hate sects at the margins. Rather, this pernicious white-gloved war was prosecuted by esteemed professors, elite universities, wealthy industrialists and government officials colluding in a racist, pseudoscientific movement called eugenics. The purpose: create a superior Nordic race.

…The victims of eugenics were poor urban dwellers and rural “white trash” from New England to California, immigrants from across Europe, Blacks, Jews, Mexicans, Native Americans, epileptics, alcoholics, petty criminals, the mentally ill and anyone else who did not resemble the blond and blue-eyed Nordic ideal the eugenics movement glorified.

…Eventually, America’s eugenic movement spread to Germany as well, where it caught the fascination of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi movement. Under Hitler, eugenics careened beyond any American eugenicist’s dream. National Socialism transduced America’s quest for a “superior Nordic race” into Hitler’s drive for an “Aryan master race.” The Nazis were fond of saying “National Socialism is nothing but applied biology,” and in 1934 the Richmond Times-Dispatch quoted a prominent American eugenicist as saying, “The Germans are beating us at our own game.”

…[T]he scientific rationales that drove killer doctors at Auschwitz were first concocted on Long Island at the Carnegie Institution’s eugenic enterprise at Cold Spring Harbor. …[D]uring the prewar Hitler regime, the Carnegie Institution, through its Cold Spring Harbor complex, enthusiastically propagandized for the Nazi regime and even distributed anti-Semitic Nazi Party films to American high schools. …[T]he Rockefeller Foundation’s massive financial grants [are linked to] the German scientific establishment that began the eugenic programs that were finished by Mengele at Auschwitz.[29]

[Quote from War Against the Weak ends here]

Given the atrocious state of education in American schools, where almost no real American history of the 20th century is taught, much of the above summary may come as a shock.

It was the richest Americans funding the eugenics movement: celebrated names. John D. Rockefeller, according to the Forbes "First Rich List" of 1918, was the wealthiest American by far.[29a] Andrew Carnegie was the third richest. And Mrs. Harriman, who worked very closely with top eugenicist Charles Davenport, and funded his efforts generously, was the eleventh richest. But when I say that the American ruling class sponsored the eugenics movement I am not referring only to people such as these. Also heavily involved were those who ran the US government. Consider only how Edwin Black explains the official status of the Carnegie Institution:

“The entity was so wealthy that in 1904, Washington agreed to reincorporate the charity by special act of Congress, chartering the new name “Carnegie Institution of Washington,” This made the Carnegie Institution a joint incarnation of the steel man’s [Andrew Carnegie’s] money and the United States government’s cachet.”[30]

Why does this matter?

It matters because it was the Carnegie Institution that launched American eugenics in the same year of 1904 with the creation of “what [Carnegie] called the Station for Experimental Evolution at the Carnegie Institution at bucolic Cold Spring Harbor”—which suggests, of course, that it was not the wealth of the Carnegie Institution that prompted the US government to make it official, but its aims.

(And 1904, I remind you, is also the year that Charles Spearman published the 'theory' that would underlie this entire pseudo-scientific effort.)

In his formal proposal to the Carnegie trustees, biologist Charles Davenport, the top pseudo-scientist in the American eugenic structure, explained that the purpose of this experimental center would be “the analytic and experimental study of…race change.” Thus, “from the very start, the trustees of the Carnegie Institution understood that Davenport’s plan was a turning-point plan for racial breeding.” And because “[t]he men of Carnegie were impressed,” they gave Davenport very large sums of money indeed, with which Davenport went about creating the pseudoscientific and political lobbying structure that became the American eugenics movement.[30]

I remind you that,

“…Galton believed that eugenics was too broad a societal quest to be left to individual whim… [so his] definition of eugenics wed the [pseudo-]biology to governmental action. ‘Eugenics,’ asserted Galton, ‘is the study of all agencies under social control which can improve or impair the racial quality of future generations.’”[31]

Francis Galton’s dream was coming true in America, thanks to biologist Charles Davenport, who was a starry-eyed fan of the British eugenicist. One of the people who sat on the board of trustees at Carnegie was none other than US Secretary of War Elihu Root, so there is no question that when the US government gave its imprimatur to the Carnegie Institution in 1904, the same year that Carnegie launched the eugenics movement, it knew precisely what it was doing.[32]

The US government went out of its way to sponsor eugenics.

With the help of additional millions from railroad magnate E.H. Harriman’s widow, Davenport also created the Eugenics Record Office (ERO) in order to collect data from all Americans, the better to decide which ones to exterminate.

“Clearly, the ERO seemed like an adjunct to the Carnegie Institution’s existing facility. But in fact it would function independently, as a joint project of Mrs. Harriman and the American Breeders Association’s eugenic section… Indeed, all of Davenport’s numerous and highly detailed reports to Mrs. Harriman were written on American Breeder’s Association eugenic section letterhead. Moreover, the ABA’s eugenics committee letterhead itself conveyed the impression of a semiofficial US government agency. Prominently featured at the top of the stationery were the names of ABA president James Wilson, who was also secretary of the Department of Agriculture, and ABA secretary W.M. Hays, assistant secretary of the Department of Agriculture. In fact, the words “U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington D.C.” appeared next to Hays’s name, as a credential.”[33]

Everywhere you looked, the structure of eugenics had the fingerprints of the US government all over it. It would also be covered in the fingerprints of the German Nazi government.

“Because the German and American wings [of the eugenics movement] collaborated so closely, the German archives clearly traced the development of German race hygiene as it emulated the American program. More importantly, because the American and German movements functioned as a binary, their leaders bragged to one another and exchanged information constantly.”[34]

This affinity between the American aristocrats and the German Nazis was no coincidence; the creator of American eugenics, Charles Davenport, believed in the ‘Nordic race’ ideology that would later become so closely identified in the public mind with the Nazis.

“Most of the non-Nordic types, in Davenport’s view, swam at the bottom of the hereditary pool, each featuring its own distinct and indelible adverse genetic features. Italians were predisposed to personal violence. The Irish had ‘considerable mental defectiveness,’ while Germans were ‘thrifty, intelligent, and honest.’”[35]

For us the main point is this: the entire eugenics movement was pseudo-scientific, which means that it was not scientific at all though it certainly pretended to be. So the eugenicists needed a handy test that would give the appearance of science and would point the finger at those whom they wished to exterminate as being of irreparably ‘low quality.’

The Binet-Simon tests undermined the entire eugenics project and made a powerful argument for policies promoting equality of opportunity, because Binet had demonstrated that with proper pedagogic attention students from social backgrounds that put them at a disadvantage could improve their scores (see chapter 6). Precisely for this reason, as we saw in the previous chapter, Binet’s methodology had demonstrated “surprising inequalities in intelligence…which depend on the environment,” and this fact led him to say that it was “absolutely certain” that “children from wealthy families…will answer better on average,” coming as they did from a privileged environment with superior educational opportunities. It had nothing to do with their genes.

But what if the public could be convinced of the lie that the Binet-Simon tests supposedly measured an innate ability? If this were achieved, then the fact that “children from wealthy families…will answer better on average” could be sold as innate superiority. And presto. The trick for the eugenicists was to make sure that they used the very same word as Alfred Binet did for his environmentally determined construct, ‘intelligence,’ and also that they insist on the claim that this term stood for something innate and unalterable. Once the public had been convinced that Alfred Binet's tests were measuring something innate and unalterable, testing people from different backgrounds would ‘show’ that the upper classes were supposedly innately superior, and then the ones to be exterminated would be the members of the lower classes. With enough backing from the aristocratic Establishment, which had a political interest in the maneuver so as to entrench the power of the ruling classes against the growing power of the workers, it could be done.

To see the justice of this analysis of eugenics as class warfare, consider that a frantic Cora Hodson, secretary of Britain’s Eugenics Education Society, remarked in 1927 that American eugenicists had calculated that “1,000 college graduates will have scarcely 200 grown up great-grandsons, whilst 1,000 miners will have 3,700….” As Edwin Black observes, “The nation was still reeling from a devastating coal miner’s strike and Hodson’s letter was surely designed to inflame.”[35a] Precisely. The late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were a time when workers began to make the power of their numbers felt. To get a sense for the drama of this trend, consider what Michael S. Kimmel, a sociologist of revolution, says: “the twentieth century has witnessed more revolutionary upheavals than any previous century, and more, perhaps, than all other centuries combined.”[35b] In the midst of this trend, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, many among the spectacularly rich began to fret that, if members of the lower classes produced more children than members of the upper classes, then, given that workers had bravely won for themselves greater political participation, their demographic growth would soon put control of society in the hands of those who should have it: the majority. Eugenics was a desperate aristocratic effort to roll back the modern world.

The eugenic textbook was Charles Davenport's Heredity in Relation to Eugenics, published in 1911. In the introduction to the 1972 reprint of this textbook, Charles Rosenberg explains the author's ideology:

“Attempts to improve man by changing his environment were, Davenport believed, doomed to futility. The efforts of social workers, even of medicine and public health, were ultimately contrary to the direction of evolution. Particular individuals and particular races were carriers of hereditary factors which inevitably brought on antisocial or simply inadequate behavior. 'Barring a few highly exceptional conditions,' Davenport explained in Heredity in Relation to Eugenics, 'poverty means relative inefficiency, and this in turn usually means mental inferiority.' Wages and salaries, profits, and honors were rewards given by society to its 'effective' and moral members. The principle of equality was a biological absurdity.”[36a]

So this was class war, plain and simple, and it is of course no coincidence that eugenics was lavishly funded and promoted by the American robber-barons and their upper class allies. Neither is it a coincidence that Davenport's diagnostic tool of choice became the fraudulent use of 'intelligence tests,' which were so strongly biased in favor of the upper classes. Edwin Black explains that,

“Davenport’s textbook strongly advocated for mass compulsory sterilization and incarceration of the unfit, a proliferation of marriage restriction laws, and plenty of government money to study whether intelligence testing would justify such measures against a mere 8 percent of America’s children or as many as 38 percent.”[36]

Davenport did argue for compulsory sterilization and incarceration of the unfit, but Edwin Black appears to suggest that Davenport wanted to do this to a full 38% of the country. That's not what I get from reading the passage Black cites, because Davenport argued that sterilizing even 8 per cent of the population without proper study might be “reckless.” However, the way in which he made this point underscores the general argument that this was class war, because Davenport's worry was that if the Binet-Simon tests were not used carefully, then the legislators who passed laws to forcibly sterilize the 'feebleminded' might end up sterilizing some of their own children. Davenport asked:

“Shall we sterilize or forbid marriage to all children whose mental development is retarded as much as one year? That would include 38 per cent of all children, and one of yours, O legislator!”[36b]

In other words, Davenport was concerned to find a method that would protect members of the ruling classes (the poor were not legislating anything, as they also aren't today). At the same time, it is interesting that Davenport advocated a method that would offer the state maximum flexibility if its goal was to use these policies to coerce and cow the citizenry: incarceration of the 'unfit.' Thus, Davenport explained,

“If, under the good environment of institutional life, they show that their retarded development is a result merely of bad conditions they may be released and permitted to marry. But such as show a protoplasmic defect should be kept in the institution, the sexes separated, until the reproductive period is passed.”[36c]

Any government given the power to incarcerate people with "protoplasmic defect" will discover that its political opponents suffer disproportionately from the affliction; in the case of an aristocratic government, these will be the lower classes. But a person who has been sterilized, has been sterilized. How much better to incarcerate this person, as it gives one the possibility to discover, after some study, that he had merely suffered from a bad environment, and that henceforth he will give no further trouble. Stick and carrot.

If total freedom could be had in the diagnosis of the supposedly feebleminded people, then the mechanism would be maximally effective as a tool of oppression. It was IQ-testing meister Henry Goddard who would supply that, because he ended up in charge of the diagnoses, and he not merely misused the Binet-Simon tests, but also ignored them entirely whenever he felt like it (see below).

Two years after Charles Davenport published his eugenic textbook, and one year after Goddard published his best-selling book on the Kallikaks, in 1913, the eugenic leader included the 'intelligence tester' in the newly created Eugenics Research Association (ERA), which according to Edwin Black became the most extreme radical wing of the American eugenics movement.

“Like many other eugenic groups, this association [ERA] was also dominated by [Charles] Davenport and [Harry Hamilton] Laughlin …[and] determined to escalate its ‘research’ into legislative and administrative action, and public propaganda for the causes of eugenics, raceology and Nordic race supremacy. …[Its] fifty-one charter members included men and women from the senior echelons of psychology, such as [Robert] Yerkes and Adolf Meyer; later [Henry] Goddard, [Carl] Brigham, [Lewis] Terman and other intelligence measurement authorities would join up.”[37]

To see how mainstream this all was, consider that, in the previous year, 1912, Woodrow Wilson had been elected president after finishing his term as governor of New Jersey, where he had pioneered one of the first state eugenic laws, passed in 1911. These were sweeping. “Chapter 190 of [the New Jersey Law’s] statutory code created a special three-man ‘Board of Examiners of Feebleminded, Epileptics and Other Defectives’”; the category “Other Defectives” was left deliberately ambiguous so as to create a wide catchment area.

In Woodrow Wilson’s eugenic New Jersey,

“The administrative hearing was held within the institution itself [state orphanage or some such], not in a courtroom under a judge’s gavel. Moreover, the court-designated counsel for the patient was given only five days before the sterilization decision was sealed. Thus, the process would be swift, and certainly beyond the grasp of the confused children dwelling within state shelters.”[38]

None of this was out of character for Woodrow Wilson, who is remembered as a ‘liberal’ only because that word itself is entirely meaningless in American politics. In fact, Woodrow Wilson was the most extreme racist and it was not a secret.

“His own published work was peppered with Lost Cause visions of a happy antebellum [pre-Civil War] South. As president of Princeton [before becoming governor of New Jersey], he had turned away black applicants, regarding their desire for education to be ‘unwarranted.’”[39]

Once he became president of the US, Wilson’s cabinet put an end to the hiring of black people by the federal government, thus “bringing Jim Crow [institutionalized anti-black discrimination] to Washington.” Soon the toilets, cafeterias, and work areas of government departments were segregated, numerous black federal officials in the South were removed from their posts, and the Washington police and fire departments stopped hiring blacks.

“[Woodrow Wilson] embraced the poisonous message of D.W. Griffith’s 1915 film, The Birth of a Nation… Griffith’s notorious film portrays the overthrow of debasing black rule in the Reconstructionist [post-Civil War] South by the rise of the Ku Klux Klan. The film’s black characters (most of them white actors in blackface) are either servile or savages; Klan members are represented as both heroic and romantic. The movie was based primarily on The Clansman, a novel written by Thomas Dixon in 1905. Not only was Dixon a personal friend of Wilson’s, he had been pushing for a Wilson presidency for years, and Wilson regarded himself as being in Dixon’s debt. Wilson discharged that debt by helping Dixon and Griffith publicize their movie.”[40]

So this is the environment in which Henry Goddard’s eugenic propaganda, his book on the Kallikaks, became a bestseller. Soon Harvard, Princeton, the University of Chicago, Northwestern, NYU, and Stanfordthey all began teaching eugenics courses. Princeton’s course was taught by Harry Laughlin, Charles Davenport’s right-hand man himself.

“By 1914, some forty-four major institutions offered eugenic instruction. Within a decade, that number would swell to hundreds, reaching some 20,000 students annually. High schools quickly adopted eugenic textbooks as well.”[42]

The mid-twentieth century, in which frightful extermination campaigns were unleashed all over Europe, is easier to understand when the ideological climate of the preceding decades is properly explored. For as you may recall, it was the American eugenics movement that helped fund the rise of its German Nazi counterpart.

The money that Henry Goddard needed to launch intelligence testing on a grand scale he got from Charles Davenport, which is to say from Carnegie, which is to say with the backing of the US government.[43] Eventually, hundreds of thousands of innocent people (you read correctly) were forcibly sterilized and/or incarcerated in the United States. And why? Because Goddard said they were ‘feebleminded.’ Policemen came to their homes, and took them by force to state hospitals and clinics, where they were surgically altered so they would not be able to have a family. Many of them died in the operations.

Aspects of the Virginia experience were repeated in two dozen American states.

[Quote from War Against the Weak starts here]

Western State Hospital in Staunton was not Virginia’s only sterilization mill. Others dotted the state’s map, including the Colony for Epileptics and the Feebleminded near Lynchburg, the nation’s largest facility of its kind and the state’s greatest center of sterilization. Lynchburg and Western were augmented by hospitals at Petersburg, Williamsburg and Marion. Lower-class white boys and girls from the mountains, from the outskirts of small towns and big city slums were sterilized in assembly line fashion. So were American Indians, Blacks, epileptics and those suffering from certain maladies - day after day, thousands of them as though orchestrated by some giant machine.

Retired Montgomery County Welfare Director Kate Bolton recalled with pride, “The children were legally committed by the court for being feebleminded, and there was a waiting list from here to Lynchburg.” She added, “If you’ve seen as much suffering and depravity as I have, you can only hope and pray no one else goes through something like that. We had to stop it at the root.”[44]

[Quote from War Against the Weak ends here]

Kate Bolton was describing the program of extermination through sterilizationthe one she herself oversawas a cleansing or weeding operation. That’s how the Nazis also talked. The people whom Bolton was helping exterminate were those categorized by the system as ‘feebleminded.’

But who were the ‘feebleminded’?

To get a sense for how the category ‘feebleminded’ was used, and also for the degree to which the US government involved itself in eugenics, it is instructive to look at the crucial test case, which was appealed all the way to the Supreme Court, and which launched the extermination program all over the United States with the full backing of the US’s most prestigious legal mind: Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes. This is the case of the unfortunate Carrie Buck.

Emma Buck, Carrie’s mother, was a resident of Charlottesville, Virginia. She was widowed and economically marginalized, and to the eugenicists this meant she could be branded ‘feebleminded’ with relative impunity.

“On April, 1, 1920, Emma was hauled before a so-called Commission on Feeblemindedness. Justice of the Peace C.D. Shackleford convened the very brief hearing required. A few minutes later, Emma was officially deemed feebleminded… Five days later, Emma was driven to the Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded. There she was consigned to Ward Five. She would remain at the colony for the rest of her life.”[45]

Justice Shackleford gave Emma’s three-year-old daughter Carrie to one of the people working with him, local peace officer J.T. Dobbs. There is no other way to say it: Justice Shackleford used the power of the state to make the gift of a slave to another government employee.

“There were no formal adoption proceedings. Charlottesville peace officer J.T. Dobbs and his wife simply took the child… Mrs. Dobbs needed extra help with the chores. Carrie was good at her chores, and also did well in school [my emphasis] ... But when Carrie was in sixth grade, the Dobbses withdrew the girl from school so she could concentrate on the increasing load of houseworknot only for their home on Grove Street, but for others in the neighborhood that Carrie was ‘loaned’ to.”[46]

When she was seventeen Carrie was found to be pregnant. She claimed she had been raped but the Dobbses hardly cared. The only issue for them was that they didn’t want to be providing for the slave and her child. They took the girl back to Justice Shackleford, who obliged them by convening a brief hearing. “The Dobbses testified that Carrie had experienced ‘hallucinations and…outbreaks of temper’ and had engaged in ‘peculiar actions.’” So Carrie was quickly declared feebleminded and packed to the same Colony for Epileptics and the Feebleminded where her mother had also been sent to languish.[47] Carrie was not allowed to keep her child, Vivian, whom the Dobbses took in as a replacement slave for Carrie.[48]

The superintendent of the Colony for Epileptics and the Feebleminded was one Dr. Albert Priddy. Even before forced sterilizations became legal in Virginia, Priddy had been practicing them, but he much preferred that the government openly endorse what he was doing. In 1922, Harry Laughlin, Charles Davenport’s right-hand man, would come to Priddy’s aid, for in this year Laughlin published Eugenical Sterilization in the United States.

“The dense volume, bristling with state-by-state legal analysis, included what lawyers and eugenicists unanimously declared to be a new ‘model sterilization law’… It was indeed the complete legislator’s guide… [The volume] was not issued by any of the Cold Spring Harbor [i.e. Carnegie/Harriman] entities, but was distributed as an official document of the Municipal Court of Chicago. Judge Olson, who headed Chicago’s Municipal Court, concomitantly served as president of the Eugenics Research Association. Olson even wrote the introduction, saluting Laughlin, who ‘rendered the nation a signal service in the preparation of this work…’ Laughlin personally sent a copy to Priddy. Now Priddy and his fellow Virginia eugenicists would carefully follow Laughlin’s advice.”[49]

Virginia’s eugenic law, drafted by Priddy on the model Laughlin had provided, was scheduled to take effect on June 17, 1924, just a few days after Carrie Buck arrived at the Colony for Epileptics and the Feebleminded on June 4. Priddy and Co. promptly declared that she needed to be sterilized, and it now merely remained to be seen whether this would stand up in court. The point was to make sure that Carrie’s sterilization got appealed all the way up to the Supreme Court, and the appeal defeated, so the way would be cleared for mass sterilizations all over the country.

It would be a staged fight, with the eugenicists firmly in control of both sides, and the American people for dupes.

The colony’s attorney, one Mr. Strode, had Carrie’s legal guardian, Robert Shelton, appeal the decision to sterilize Carrie Buck. Since Shelton worked for Strode, and therefore for the colony, it is not exactly surprising that Shelton retained the services of attorney Irving Whitehead to represent Carrie, because Whitehead had been “appointed by the governor to manage the colony when it was established in 1910.” In other words, “Whitehead…[was] a staunch eugenicist…and an advocate of sterilization.” As you might expect, “Whitehead’s brief [in Carrie’s supposed behalf] was brief indeed, just five pages long.” By contrast, “colony attorney Strode filed a forty-page brief carefully documenting the state’s police powers and its need to protect public health and safety.”[50]

To bolster the colony’s case, Priddy had Carrie’s daughter Vivian declared feebleminded even though she was only a few months old and nobody had yet bothered to create a fraudulent test for children of that age. Priddy’s expert testimony was given by…top eugenicist Harry Laughlin, Charles Davenport’s right-hand man, who testified that since Emma, the grandmother, was feebleminded, and so was Carrie, then it follows that Vivian was feebleminded, and since she was…so was Carrie.

In a staged fight, the result is never in doubt for those who’ve colluded to ‘fix’ it:

“Virginia’s Court of Appeals upheld the colony’s decision to sterilize Carrie, denying all claims of cruel and unusual punishment or lack of due process… The circle of friends staging a collusive Constitutional challenge…were now ready for their final step. Carrie’s case was appealed to the highest court in America, the United States Supreme Court.”[51]

The man who would write that court’s opinion, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, was an avid reader of Herbert Spencer, whose thinking was very close to Francis Galton, the father of eugenics.

“Spencer argued the strong over the weak, and believed that human entitlements and charity itself were false and against nature. Indeed, Holmes’ 1881 lecture series in The Common Law also asserted that the idea of inherent rights was ‘intrinsically absurd.’”[52]

In addition, Oliver Wendell Holmes expressed approval for the idea of mindless obedience to authority, the same idea that would so seduce Adolf Hitler. He said,

“I do not know what is true. I do not know the meaning of the universe. But in the midst of doubt, in the collapse of creeds, there is one thing I do not doubt…that the faith is true and adorable which leads a soldier to throw away his life in obedience to a blindly accepted duty, in a cause he little understands, in a plan of a campaign of which he has no notion, under tactics of which he does not see the use.”[53]

Even more to the point, Holmes sometimes sounded like an explicit advocate of extermination via murder and forced sterilization:

“…all society rests on the death of men. If you don’t kill ’em one way you kill ’em anotheror prevent their being born.”[54]

Not surprisingly, then, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes was a willing participant in the phony appeal. In writing for the Supreme Court majority (there was only one dissenting opinion), he upheld the forced sterilization of Carrie Buck, and whatever ambiguity there may have been in Holmes’ earlier statements now vanished. He pronounced himself clearly and explicitly in favor of eugenics:

“It is better for all the world, if instead of wanting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind. The principle that sustains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting the Fallopian tubes. Three generations of imbeciles is enough.”[54a]

And with this, the floodgates opened, and eugenics was made both mainstream and utterly official. Hundreds of thousands of innocent people all over the US were as a result incarcerated and/or forcibly sterilized (some were even killed, as they died in the operations). Why? Because they were pronounced ‘feebleminded.’

And who pronounced them so?

That would be top psychologist Henry Goddard, because he was the ‘theorist,’ he was the one running the so-called ‘intelligence’ tests, and he was the one with the supposedly technical definition of ‘feeblemindedness.’ He was quite liberal in the application of this term. Raymond Fancher comments:

“[Goddard] did not say exactly how all his diagnoses of feeblemindedness were made, but apparently only a few were based on actual Binet tests, while the majority came from possibly unreliable personal impressions.”[55]

But Fancher completely misrepresents the truth when he softens Goddard’s grotesque prejudices into “possibly unreliable personal impressions.” In fact, “[Goddard] believed in the ‘unmistakable look of the feebleminded,’ bragging that to spot the feebleminded, just ‘a glance sufficed.’” Henry Goddard was simply getting everybody he didn’t like exterminated and calling it ‘psychology.’ Just to give you an idea, when Goddard’s staff was sent to Ellis Island to ‘test’ the immigrants coming into the United States, he wrote that “60 percent of the [Jewish immigrants] classify as morons.”[56]

But there is no question that the appearance of science was important, because eugenics sold itself to the public as a scientific movement, and so tests of some sort, and an apparently technical definition of ‘feeblemindedness,’ were both important to the image of the extermination program.

“Goddard’s version of Binet’s test, and the new term moron [= ‘feebleminded’], began to proliferate throughout eugenic, educational, custodial, psychological and other scientific circles as a validif still developingform of intelligence testing. Mental testing, under different names and on different scales, quickly emerged as a fixture of social science, frequently linked to eugenic investigation and sterilization efforts. Such tests were invariably exploited by the ERO [Davenport’s Eugenics Record Office] for its own eugenic agenda.”[57]

And as a result “hundreds of thousands of Americans and untold numbers of others were not permitted to continue their families by reproducing.”[57a]

Meanwhile, Carrie Buck’s daughter Vivian, who had been quickly pronounced ‘feebleminded’ by the system, just as her mother and grandmother had been, went on to do quite well in school, just as her mother had done, and “earned a place in the honor roll.”[58]

»» Continue to Chapter 8:


[1] Black, E. 2003. War against the weak: Eugenics and America'scampaign to create a master race. New York: Four Walls Eight Windows. (p.76)

[2] War against the weak (the quotations are taken from chapter 2: pp. 16, 17, and 18).

[3] Fancher, R. 1985. The intelligence men: Makers of the IQ controversy. New York: Norton. (p.87)

[3a] The intelligence men (pp.45-46)

[3b] The intelligence men (pp.48)

[4] The intelligence men (p.93)

[5] Binet, A. 1905. Analyse de C.E. Spearman, ‘The Proof and Measurement of Association between Two Things’ and ‘General Intelligence Objectively Determined and Measured,’. L’année Psychologique 11:623-624. (My translation.)

[6] The intelligence men (p.96)

[7] Shonemann, P. H. 2005. "Psychometrics of intelligence," in Encyclopedia of social measurement, vol. 3, pp. 193-201: Elsevier. (p.194)

Shoneman is quoting the following paper: Hart, B., and C. Spearman. 1912. General ability: Its existence and nature. British Journal of Psychology 5:51-84.

[8] The intelligence men (p.97). See also Shonemann, P. H. 2005. "Psychometrics of intelligence," in Encyclopedia of social measurement, vol. 3, pp. 193-201: Elsevier.

[8a] Gould, S. J. 1981. The Mismeasure of Man. New York: Norton.(ch. 6)

[8b] Shonemann, P. H. 2005. "Psychometrics of intelligence," in Encyclopedia of social measurement, vol. 3, pp. 193-201: Elsevier. (pp.194-195)

[9] The intelligence men (p.98)

[10] Shonemann, P. H. 2005. "Psychometrics of intelligence," in Encyclopedia of social measurement, vol. 3, pp. 193-201: Elsevier. (p.199)

[11] Sternberg, R. J., and J. Pardo. 1998. Intelligence as a Unifying Theme for Teaching Cognitive Psychology. Teaching of Psychology 25:293-296. (p.294)

[12] The intelligence men (p.170)

[13] The intelligence men (pp.171-172)

[14] War against the weak (p.18)

[15] The intelligence men (pp.172-175)

[16] The intelligence men (p.176)

[17] The intelligence men (p.177)

[18] The intelligence men (p.178)

[19] The intelligence men (pp. 103-104)

[20] The intelligence men (p.107)

[21] War against the weak (p.78).

[22] The intelligence men (p.107)

[23] The intelligence men (p.108)

[24] The intelligence men (p.108)

[25] The intelligence men (p.108)

[26] Quoted in War against the weak (p.107).

[27] Gould, S. J. 1981. The Mismeasure of Man. New York: Norton.(p.27)

[28] War against the weak (p.78)

[29] War against the weak (pp.xv-xvii)

[29a] http://www.forbes.com/2002/09/27/0927richest_15.html

[30] War Against the Weak (p.31)

[31] War against the weak (p.18)

[32] War Against the Weak (pp. 31, 36, 40)

[33] War Against the Weak (p.47)

[34] War Against the Weak (p.xix)

[35] War Against the Weak (p.35)

[35a] War Against the Weak (p.226)

[35b] Kimmel, M. S. 1990. Revolution: A sociological interpretation. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. (p.47)

[36] War against the weak (p.75)

[36a] Davenport, Charles (1972[1911]) Heredity in relation to eugenics. New York: Arno Press & The New York Times.

[36b] Heredity in relation to eugenics. (p.258)

[36c] Heredity in relation to eugenics. (p.259)

[37] War against the weak (p.90).

[38] War against the weak (p.68).

[39]  “Dixiecrats Triumphant: The menacing Mr. Wilson”; By Charles Paul Freund; Reason; December 18, 2002.

To read about the history of Jim Crow, visit this link:

[40] “Dixiecrats triumphant” (see above).

[42] War against the weak (p.75)

[43] War against the weak (p.78)

[44] War against the weak (p.5)

[45] War against the weak (pp.108-109)

[46] War against the weak (pp.109)

[47] War against the weak (pp.109-110)

[48] War against the weak (p.113)

[49] War against the weak (p.113)

[50] War against the weak (pp.113-114)

[51] War against the weak (pp.116-117)

[52] War against the weak (p.119)

[53] Quoted in War against the weak (p.119)

[54] Quoted in War against the weak (p.120)

[54a] Quoted in War against the weak (p.120)

[55] The intelligence men (p.114)

[56] Quoted in War against the weak (p.78)

[57] War against the weak (p.79)

[57a] War against the weak (p.xv)

[58] War against the weak (p.122)