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The Scientist, Vol:8, #19, pg. 13, October 3, 1994

For the past decade or so, as many people are aware, my research has focused on assessing racial differences as manifested in brain size and intelligence. Startling and, I have come to understand, alarming to many people is my challenge to the prevailing view that if all people were treated the same, most race differences would disappear. I have found, for example, that Asians and Africans average at opposite ends of a continuum ranging over 60 anatomical and social variables, with Europeans intermediate. Based on my studies, I have proposed a gene-based evolutionary theory of racial patterns.

I can understand why, for nonscientists, some of my findings have become an object of scorn; indeed, some critics believe that my research should be banned. And this is disturbing to me, of course. But of real concern is the behavior of many in the scientific community, who repress publication of my admittedly controversial ideas.

I am not alone in being victimized, and what profoundly worries me is the threat posed to the sacred traditions of science--traditions that foster progress through honest intellectual investigation and the free publication of results.

The political fallout from my work has been intense. After my findings became public at the 1989 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the premier of Ontario called for my dismissal. A six-month investigation of whether I had contravened "hate laws" was pursued by the Ontario attorney general's office. I was excoriated in the media. And disruptions at the university culminated in my being forced by the administration to teach classes by videotape.

The repression of my work continues to this day. Recently, the publisher of a neuroscience journal returned to me as unprintable a study showing race differences in brain size. This rejection came despite a protest by an editor, who had completed an elaborate peer-review process that lasted several months. The editor told me there was nothing he could do, because, as he said, "they" own the journal. (Fortunately, the paper--after another lengthy review process--is now scheduled for December publication in the journal Intelligence.)

This was not an isolated incident. Indeed, I could fill a volume with instances of such harassment. During the last two years, for example, one major scientific society has flagged my conference abstracts and demanded word changes on the grounds that my material was too "sensitive." (In the title of one abstract, I was requested to change cranial "capacity" to cranial "size," even though the former is the usual scientific term.) Even such bastions of scientific scholarship as Science and Nature have repeatedly shut me out.

The sorry truth is that, irrespective of religious background or political affiliation, virtually all American intellectuals adhere to what Johns Hopkins University sociologist Robert Gordon calls "one-party science." A prime example is that only politically correct hypotheses, centering on cultural disadvantages, are now acceptably postulated to explain differential representation of minorities in science. Analyses of aptitude test scores and behavioral genetics are taboo.

Of course, it could be worse. In many countries, people are jailed and/or executed for voicing unacceptable scholarly opinions. Let us hope that this never happens in North America (although in Canada and Western Europe, so-called hate laws already allow for imprisonment). If more scientists expressed openly their findings and opinions that, out of intimidation, they now voice only in private, our scientific community would become not only a safer place, but also a more enlightened one.

Even researchers who find my conclusions beyond the pale should realize that they too could be victimized if the projects they work on happen to be at variance with common wisdom, offensive to public morality, in violation of political correctness, or threatening to previously hallowed scientific conclusions.

J. Philippe Rushton is a professor of psychology at the University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada. His latest book, Race, Evolution and Behavior, was recently released by Transaction Publishers, New Brunswick, N.J.

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