The following letter,
sent to the President of the APA in support of
Raymond Cattell's Gold Medal Award nomination, documents misleading
statements and distortions made by Dr. Cattell's critics:
October 11, 1997
Raymond D. Fowler, Ph.D.
Chief Executive Officer
American Psychological Association
750 First Street, N.E.
Washington, D.C. 200024242
Now that I have taken the time to go through the material you sent me and compared it with the sources I have here, I am ready to supply some tentative answers to your queries in your letter of September 29. Let me say that I have limited resources, at least temporarily, for I cannot find in either the LSU or Baton Rouge library systems the earlier works of Cattell which Tucker cites, except for one book edited by Cattell and two colleagues in 1938 which is not cited in Tucker, i.e., Human Affairs in which are some of the authorities to whom Tucker refers negatively. So, the conclusions to which I have come depend mostly on my comparing Tucker's references to Cattell in the earlier version of Cattell's A new morality from science: Beyondism and the text of the book itself, and thus may be only partially accurate in respect to the remainder of Tucker's treatment of Cattell's work.
After reading your letter and the glowing tributes to Tucker's volume by people I respect, including Ashley Montagu and Lew Killian, my former colleague at Florida State, I prepared mentally to compose an open letter to Cattell saying in essence, "Ray, I am sorry, but I think the APF was right in postponing your award, for I have had to change my mind about your racism and fascism on the basis of the evidence in this book by Tucker." As I faxed you my immediate response, "If there is evidence supporting his (Tucker's) claims, you know me well enough to know that I shall fully acknowledge the fact and my best judgment about the course APA should pursue
However, now that I have had the opportunity to make the comparison between Tucker's quotations in the one book, a very important part of his critique of Cattell's position, and what actually is in the text he quotes, I am prepared to do no such thing. In fact, I am prepared to charge Tucker with obfuscation, quotation out of context, and placing quotations in contexts which distort the meaning of the original; indeed, I assert that the part of the book which I have been able to examine critically shows evidence of dishonest scholarship. I have more than a dozen instances to document my assertions. Of course, I have no way of judging the remainder of his text, but if the part I have examined closely is a representative sample, the book must be judged to be a shoddy piece of work.
Before taking up what my opinion of Cattell's position is, let me express my belief as to why responsible reviewer's have come to such positive judgments about The science and politics of racial research. I wonder if any of the reviewers took the time and effort to do what I have done, examine every page to which Tucker refers and compare it with the original. In the first place, even though I do have a fair representation of Cattell's writings at hand, I do not have access to the earlier writings to which reference is made in Tucker; if I, who have been a colleague and admirer of Cattell's immense scholarship and quality productivity (with significant objections to some of his scholarly output as well as other of his work) and have collected so many of his works, do not have these earlier writings, I doubt seriously that any of the reviewers have either, including the scholarly U. of I. reviewers, so they could not have done what I have done. Supposing that they did not have Cattell's earlier works, but that they did have Cattell's later writings at hand, I doubt also that any would have time or patience to make the effort I have made. It took me two full days to cover just the small portion of Tucker's references for which I do have the original Cattell text.
For one thing, Tucker has the extremely annoying and misleading habit of citing his pages in what seems like random order, e.g., in one reference to Beyondism, here is the order: 38,xii,426,429,45152,36363,175,411,340. In order to follow the citations to the Cattell book I had to copy the Tucker references and examine the pages of Cattell's text closely with that copy in hand and collate both of them with Tucker's text; it was an exhausting task, one that I seriously doubt anyone else has undertaken. My conclusion as to why the reviewers did not find the problems I have found is that the documentation Tucker provides looks so impressive that it might fool the best of them.
Tucker takes a quotation or idea from one place and combines it with something from another. For just one example of one paragraph only:
The passages from which Tucker takes the above came from these
In other words, it is not the charitable actions of one group to
another which are "heresy," but universalistic expansionism of
religions which is such, from a Beyondist standpoint, which is to say
from an evolutionary point of view. But Tucker neglects to record that
Cattell urges all to cooperate and sustain evolutionarily produced
differences to test out which have sustainable characteristics, which
he makes clear elsewhere may be anything, including but not at limited
to intellectual functioning.
Again, Tucker's paragraph refers to the following passage from Beyondism:
It should be noted that in context the "immoral acts" of charity
between groups are those which encourage "defective" groups, with
social and genetic defects, which may or may not include intellectual
"defects" but are principally social. "Failure to control birthrate"
might refer to black groups, but in the light of Cattell's long (at
least from 1936-7) belief that English lower classes multiply faster
than its elite classes, any specific reference to blacks has to be read
into the term. "Unwillingness to sacrifice luxuries to education" is
virtually a colorblind expression. "Adherence to superstitions" has a
strong implication in Cattellian thought of conventional religion,
again without any racial significance at all.
Finally, although it is not clear just what point Tucker is attempting to get at, his reference in this one paragraph of his is to the following Beyondism passage (in relation to scientists with an ideal of an international sharing of science faced with the realistic situation of statements requiring "top secrets" and businesses' requiring patenting of discoveries):
Tucker's references to *restriction of discoveries" and "childlike
enthusiasm" are taken out of context and made to seem what they are
Ray, if the manner in which Tucker has used his source in this one instance is replicated in his treatment of other sources, and if what he has done is scholarship, then my 60 years of scholarly endeavor (including my earning a master's degree in history from Northwestern University) have been wasted in frivolous undertakings. It is not that I am opposed to exposing the political character of some supposedly scholarly research or that my sympathies do not lie with Tucker's position. What I said in one of my communications, that in respect to racial superiorities or inferiorities, quod non erat demonstrandum. I do not agree with Cattell in his position in these matters. But as I also stated, if anyone thinks his position does not have a great deal of support, he/she does not know the evidence.
Turning, then, to my assessment of Cattell visavis his being a racist or fascist, let me point out that he came into his scholarly career when it was almost universally believed among white folk that Negroid and Australoid people were inferior to whites. And thinking persons in Europe and America were deeply concerned that the wonderful (1) civilization created by especially north Europeans (ignoring, of course, the tremendous foundation for that civilization coming from other "races,", yes, even including African) would be lost if the "inferior" races intermingled with the white "race." Among those were the eugenicists (who called themselves "eugenists" for some reason) who had many schemes for keeping the white race "pure." Some of them were the mentors or models for Cattell. I do not know whether Cattell wrote the things you quote or not. If he did, they were wrong, according to my view. As I also stated in my now abbreviated letter to the Editor, Cattell has acknowledged some of his errors. He has not recanted, as far as I know, of his hereditarian bent. But isolated statements of his, as I demonstrate above, might be interpreted differently if quoted in context.
One aspect of the matter needs to be considered in respect to Cattell's moderating his outlook from earlier times, which indeed he has. When I came to the South in 1949, at least 90 percent of the white folk and many of the black ones held a firm belief in the inferiority of black people. Across the years, however, as artificial barriers were lifted, like the bumblebee who flies in spite of the laws of aerodynamics as once understood, black people began to succeed in business and the professions from which they had been excluded and for which they were honestly supposed not to be capable (the chair of our Chemistry Department is a black scientist!), Southern folk took a fresh look. Although there are no doubt a goodly number who still hold to the old views, and express them obliquely by attacks on such programs as affirmative action, there are not many who express inferiority beliefs openly now, and many, especially in the churches, who before were rigid segregationists now truly believe their former opinions were wrong. Would APA (or APF as we both know is confused with APA and the latter gets opprobrium for acts of the former) refuse to honor other scholars from South or North because they once held to segregationist ideas and practices?
Let me address a couple of the issues of which you write in respect to the process by which the award was offered and withdrawn. That the APF awards committee did not know of Cattell's position on racial matters seems almost unbelievable. That he may once have had an extreme position which, as you state, nearly all members of APA would reject, may well be true. That he presently holds such a position is false. The fact that the committee did not know either situation is not excusable from both a scholarly and procedural stance. One would suppose that an awards committee would sample the work of a prospective awardee adequately to know what his positions were and have been; with Cattell I could not expect a committee to have read all his writings, for they are too voluminous. Yet, if as you point out the award is for lifetime achievements, then it behooved the committee to have sampled Cattell's work for his lifetime career, not just from his, say, post-WWII career. Even if they confined themselves to that latter period, however, they should have known from his open endorsement of Jensen and more lately Herrnstein and Murray that he holds views that differ from most of ours. I agree with you that Cattell has not held his social views apart from his scholarly work, so they should be taken into account in awarding for lifetime achievement. But that the committee did not know his social views when they have been expressed so openly across so many years is, as I iterate, inexcusable.
As for the procedural mistake, being confronted with information they did not know but from the nature of the award they should have known, they made the wrong decision. I do not agree that Cattell's scholarly achievements should be considered apart from his social views. Nevertheless, after discovering that they had blundered in not knowing and were blindsided by the charges, they decided to risk the scorn of the scholarly world which has utilized a number of instruments Cattell has created and applied a number of his investigations to their endeavors. I do not exculpate on the ground that they had to make a difficult decision. My judgment is that they panicked and made a wrong procedural move. They erred on the side of inhumaneness instead of humaneness.
On both accounts, scholarly and procedurally, I should say that the APF has a lot for which to be castigated.
What should I say that I believe Cattell's position is that might help in evaluating his work? First, Cattell is an elitist, not a racist or fascist. He holds to a belief in a power which certainly is not the Jewish or Christian deity but which is experimenting with the universe and especially with man (Cattell continues to use "man" as a generic term with its sexist connotation). These experiments are heading toward some ideally perfect state which Cattell does not profess to identify. Anything which interferes with that grand design, if one can call evolutionary "progress" a design, is "immoral." With no specific prejudice (which he might have entertained at one time) toward any group, those groups which have not proven contributory to evolutionary progress ought not to be given help in their "defective" actions. At one time, indeed, Cattell inveighed against the black races for their "defects," but even he has had to admit that Africans have more potential for "progress" than he once thought. one minor consideration should be taken into account in Cattell's unfortunate habit of swinging haymakers at his opponents. In his supreme confidence in his own right ideas (which might conceal something like its opposite) he has a hard time believing that others' different ideas have much value. So he has earned enemies who have reacted strongly. This is, I say, only a minor consideration but has been instrumental in APA's not recognizing him for his scholarly achievements ere this.
I stated that I would make a recommendation for APA to pursue in this matter. Selecting a blue ribbon panel with somewhere nearly the stature of Cattell's is imperative. To that panel I should like to suggest that, if Tucker's book is the main buttress of the charges against Cattell, the panel assign different parts of Tucker's references to panel members and carry out the same analysis which I have carried out, going back to the works which I could not find, as well as covering the same ones I have covered. The investigation cannot be as superficial as I find Tucker's product to be in the limited area in which I have examined it.
I am faxing this letter to you because I think that time is of the essence in terms of the appointing of the panel. Again, thanks much for responding in extenso to my communications.