are not the only borders put forward between human groups. Intelligence,
as another attribute of human species, long has been used as
a scientific tool by intellectuals of the 19th and 20th centuries
for the rationalization of racism, sexism, anti-Semitism and
a number of their relatives to form intellectual borders among
people. Perhaps, today’s militarization states have some
shares in racist intellectual practices, as well. Gould (1981)
argued that opinions for slavery, racial differences, class
structures or sex roles have found grounds mainly under the
banner of science, of which, according to the present author,
craniometric and psychometric modes of inquiry have been the
most widely-used scientific discrimination tools.
racism has been practiced both between races (e.g., blacks vs.
whites) and within races (e.g., males vs. females). The former
started in the nineteenth century giving birth to the latter
in the twentieth century. Here, I like to borrow Gould’s
argument of intellectual racism to carry out my discussion on
how our intellectual capital has been used as borders between
and within human groups. Intellectual racism has found supports
from scientists particularly in three disciplines: Naturalists,
craniologists and psychologists. First, I will discuss historical
development of intellectual racism and its proponents, and then
will argue contrary opinions followed by research findings.
Intellectual racism had pre- and pro evolutionary supporters
among scientific communities. Pre-evolutionary scientists were
mostly naturalist, frequently utilizing distributions of species
on the earth as soft-data to support their opinions about racial
inequalities in intelligence. Evolutionist scientists, however,
included psychologists along with naturalists, who used scientific
hard-data on human skulls and intelligence to prove the doctrine
of intellectual inequalities both between races and within race.
According to Gould (1981), pre-evolutionary scientists, some
of whom were monogenists and some were polygenists, used both
science and religion to support their opinions about intellectual
inequalities between races. According to monogenist view, human
races were degeneration from the perfection of Adam and Eve
and races declined to diverse qualities, with whites the least
and the blacks the most. For example, John Bachman, a prominent
naturalist, used monogenist doctrine to defend slavery (Gould,
pp.70): “In intellectual power the African is an inferior
variety of our species. His whole history affords evidence that
he is incapable of self-government. Our child that we lead by
the hand, and who looks to us for protection and support is
still of our own blood notwithstanding his weakness and ignorance.”
monogenists, polygenists believed that human species were children
of different Adams from the beginning; therefore, the inferior,
such as blacks and Indians, would not be equal to the superior,
such as whites. Buffon, a naturalist of eighteenth century in
France, stated that “the most temperate climate lies between
the 40th and the 50th degree of latitude, and it produces the
most handsome and beautiful men. It is from this climate that
the ideas of the genuine color of mankind, and of the various
degrees of beauty ought to be derived (Gould, 1991, pp.40).”
David Hume went on more marginally by including all other human
species except the white in the inferior class: “There
never was a civilized nation of other complexion than the white,
nor even any individual eminent either in action or speculation.
No ingenious manufacturers amongst them, no arts, no sciences…In
Jamaica they talk of one negro as a man of parts and learning;
but ‘tis likely he is admired for every slender accomplishments
like a parrot who speaks a few words plainly (pp.41).”
The doctrine of polygeny played an important role in craniological
research on races. Luis Agassiz, a 19th century Swiss naturalist
immigrating to America later in his life, studied the geographic
distribution of animals and plants and developed a theory about
centers of creation. He also applied the theory to humans. According
to Gould (pp.44), Agassiz became polygenist after he saw black
people in America. Consider the following piece of the letter
Agassiz wrote to her mother: “I experienced pity at the
sight of this degraded and degenerate race…it is impossible
for me to repress the feeling that they are not of the same
blood as us. In seeing their black faces with their thick lips
and grimacing teeth…I could not take my eyes off their
face in order to tell them to stay far away.”
Agassiz developed the scientific foundation of research later
carried out on human skulls by craniologists, he did not do
empirical research to support his thoughts. Morton, an American
distinguished scientist, was the first who conducted extensive
research on human skulls. Morton collected more than 1000 skulls
of whites, blacks, Indians, Mongolians and of other races to
prove his hypothesis: Races can be ranked objectively based
on characteristics of their brains. Therefore, he set out to
order races according to their heads’ sizes. He filled
the cranial cavity of skulls with sifted white mustard seeds;
however, this method did not work since seeds were mot objective
measures so he switched to lead shot. He published several studies,
indicating average skull volumes by race. According to Gould
(1981), Morton’s studies were reprinted several times
as hard data on the intellectual value of human races –
whites on the top, American Indians in the middle and Blacks
on the bottom, and among whites Anglo-Saxon on the top, the
Jew in the middle and the Hindu on the bottom. For example,
Morton found the average cranial capacity of the Caucasian 87
cubic inches, the Mongolian with 83 cubic inches, the Indian
with 82 cubic inches, and the Black with 78 cubic inches.
Darwin’s evolutionary theory, both monogenists and polygenists
revised their doctrines, replacing creationist views with evolutionary
ideas, and maintained that humans had lived in different parts
of the earth long enough to develop radical differences in intelligence.
The shining pioneer of this era was Paul Broca, a prominent
scientist on human brains. Broca measured both weights of brains
and circumferences of skulls along with cranial capacities to
relate intellectual inequalities to differences in brain sizes
of different groups, including males and females. He claimed
that the brain is larger in mature adults than in the elderly,
in man than in woman, in the superior race than in the inferior
race, and he further asserted that there is a strong relationship
between the development of intelligence and the size of the
brain provided that other factors are equal.
and Morton’s research were as objective as it was subjective
as those of other craniologists since they set out their research
with a prejudice of inferior races and superior races. Indeed,
Gould (1981) argued that their findings were the result of an
a priori conviction about racial inequalities so they worked
selectively; that is, they saw what they wanted to see. Gould
also found miscalculations, manipulations, and misinterpretations
in their findings.
Although research on human skulls provided hard data for 19th
century scientists, such as Broca and Morton, to relate differences
in head sizes and volumes to intellectual differences, they
were unable to directly analyze relationships between intelligence
and the capacity or the size of skulls of different races. The
problem originated largely from two sources: the paucity of
reliable instruments to measure intelligence and the lack of
statistical techniques to analyze data. The development of first
intelligence test by Binet and Simon in 1905 in France to identify
children who might fail in the school provided brain scientists
with the tool to measure intelligence. Correlation coefficient,
invented by Sir Francis Galton in 1888, who was a genius and
is recognized as the father of scientific studies of intelligence
and the pioneer in statistics, was the perfect mode of analysis
for “skull” scientists to desiderate relationships
between skulls and intelligence.
the development of the theory of general intelligence by Spearman
(1904) concurred in the same era. Therefore, the search for
intellectual inequalities between groups found better scientific
instruments, and consequently inspired more audience from a
spectrum of disciplines.
advent of IQ tests opened up new avenues for those who were
interested in intellectual differences between races albeit
the purpose of IQ tests was never and has never been to raise
racial prejudices. Intellectual discrimination gained an incredible
number of supporters among scientific communities particularly
in the United States after the appearance of Eugenics who, in
the first half of the twentieth century, vehemently worked to
develop a research agenda and subsequent intellectual groups
to set intellectual borders between human groups to improve
human species through so called “selective breeding.”
Galton made up the term eugenics in 1883 from the Greek eugene,
meaning good stock, and propagated the idea of improving the
physical and mental makeup of human species by selective parenthood.
What really was intended by improving human races either reflected
the racism of the Eugenicists or turned out to be a racist movement?
Target groups included Africans, Jews, Eastern and Southern
Europeans, and people with mental deficits who performed poorly
on IQ tests.
probably was the hardest working supporter of the eugenic movement.
He translated Binet-Simon intelligence scale and started to
test natives and immigrants in America.
(1917) relied on one single score on IQ tests to classify people
as moron or normal, believing that a single gene made the difference.
He proposed the prohibition of breeding of feebleminded people
and closing doors or deporting foreigners to maintain American
good stock. Then, Goddard with his team started to test immigrants
at New York Harbor and on Ellis Island. Of the tested immigrants
in one testing, most were found moron, with 87% of Russians,
83% of Jews, 80% of Hungarians, and 79% of Italians.
Intellectual racism has had supporters from diverse human agencies,
including governmental institutions in the United States. Consider
the following case: “It is better for all the world …
[if] society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from
continuing their kind … Three generations of imbeciles
is enough,” said Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes in 1927
Buck vs. Bell case in the Supreme Court that upheld a Virginia
law mandating the sterilization of the feebleminded.
to Black (2003), mandatory sterilization laws were enacted in
twenty-seven states to preclude targeted people from reproducing
their genes. Marriage prohibition laws spread throughout the
country to discontinue race mixing. State governments under
the authority of these laws sterilized thousands of Americans.
Most of those sterilized were poor children being cared for
in various state institutions. People with mental problems were
other most frequent victims of this systematic gene cleansing
program. Sterilizations frequently were conducted on Blacks
in the South mostly by white medical establishments. They are
known as Mississippi appendectomies.
Although a significant number of scientific findings exists,
supporting craniologists and eugenicists, most findings are
rather artifacts resulting from biased samples, instruments
and analytical techniques. For example, Goddard’s subjects
were immigrants who came from rather deprived environments,
and who even did not speak English albeit the intelligence test
Goddard used was constructed according to white-western culture.
between intelligence and head circumference and cranial capacity
vary from .02 to .54 with a mean of .19 (Vernon, Wickett, Bazana,
and Stelmack, 2000), which means only 5 to 25 percent of intelligence
can be accounted for by head sizes.
in mind that correlation implies association not causality.
Moreover, modern neurophysiologists and neuropsychologists have
found remarkable relationships between the working of the brain
and intelligence. Instead of measuring head size or volume,
they observed cortical activation, blood flow, neural coherence
and hemisphericity while experimental participants were solving
problems. The resulting theory is the “neural efficiency”
not the “head size” (Vernon, 1993). The underlying
principle is that smart minds are those that work efficiently
while establishing neural cooperation between different regions
of the brain. For example, gifted and creative individuals were
repeatedly found to have more efficient cooperation between
the regions of the brain related to intellectual tasks (Jausovec,
addition, racial differences on IQ tests were found to result
from environmental differences. For example, IQ has shown a
rise from generation to generation, ranging from 5 to 25 IQ
points across countries as a result of improvements in life
conditions. This tendency for measured intelligence to increase
each generation is known as the Flynn effect (Flynn, 1987).
Lastly, too many controversies have existed whether IQ tests
are true measures of intelligence or not. The present author’s
opinion is that they are no more than a measure of abstract-analytical
reasoning, and of context-depended knowledge. It should be noted
that humans posses many more qualities, such as artistic ability,
than only abstract thinking.
spite of strong controversies and egalitarian movements, the
eugenic movement has spread not only among those so called superior
races but also among those whose ancestors, once, experienced
the greatest racism ever. To listen to the voice of the former,
consider the following statement put forward by a leading European
psychologist Helmuth Nyborg (The Telegraph, 2003), who asked
government agencies to promote the selective reproduction of
children from intelligent parents and to prevent less gifted
parents from having children: “The 15 to 20 percent of
those at the lower levels of society – those who are not
able to manage even the simplest tasks and often not their children
– should be dissuaded from having children…the fact
is that they are having more children and the intelligent ones
are having fewer." To listen to opinions of the latter,
read the following. The Jewish author MacDonald (1994) claimed
that Jews have higher IQs than any other nations on the earth
because of a group evolutionary strategy; that is, the prohibition
of inter-racial marriages among Jews, or selective parenthood
as called by eugenicists, maintained their racial purity while
preventing outsiders to penetrate into Jewish race.
20th century witnessed a large body of scientific research carried
out on skulls, intelligence and their relationships with human
races, and a number of racist practices building intellectual
borders between and within human groups. I think that everyone
appreciates the early research on intelligence that pioneered
advances in hard sciences, but no one is pleased about the ways
research findings were used, except those who misused them to
oppress and segregate those who were not alike. As some intelligence
researchers were called eugenicists, I wish your permission
to entertain a few craniologists with some humor by calling
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Telegraph. (2003). Furry over call for selective breeding. Available
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(2000). The neuropsychology and Neurophysiology of human intelligence.
In R. J. Sternberg (Ed). Handbook of Intelligence,
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by Jacob Holdt