Controversial social psychologist J. Philippe Rushton, whose name was indelibly linked with his theories of race and brain size, has died at the age of 68.
Rushton, who was a professor at the University of Western Ontario from 1977, died Tuesday at the London Health Sciences Centre palliative care ward of Addison’s disease.
The British-born Rushton published more than 200 academic papers and five books during his long career but was best known for “Race, evolution and behavior: A Life history perspective” (see a review here).
The uproar caused by his 1989 paper that led to the book provoked then-Ontario premier David Peterson to say he should be fired. Rushton and environmentalist David Suzuki argued the theories in a highly publicized 1989 debate.
Rushton presented his notorious findings to the American Association for Advance of Science convention in mid-January, 1989, where he was “hit with a hailstorm of hostile questions,” the Star reported at the time.
He contended that the three races ranked in 1-2-3 order, were Asians, first in brain size, intelligence, family stability, sexual restraint and mental stability, followed by whites and then blacks.
Right-wing commentator Greg Johnson, commemorating Rushton on the website North American New Right, said the social scientist “endured decades of social ostracism, professional discrimination, grotesque smears, mentally unhinged stalkers, attempts to have him fired from his job and even physical assaults at the hands of Canada’s egalitarian peace and love mongers.”
Rushton also promoted his theories on the website he founded in 1989, Charles Darwin Research.
He wrote on the Darwin site: “Why the attempt to trash or suppress this book? Because there is no stronger taboo today than talking about race.”
Actually, there is no taboo against “talking about race”, unless it’s the kind of talk that goes “nigger, nigger, nigger”. And even that’s not taboo; it’s just grounds for a well-deserved thrashing. Which the book got, but Rushton himself did not. Despite his right-wing defenders’ assertions, there was not one reported incident in which Rushton ever got beaten up by anyone, he was never removed from his tenured office at Western, he was never in physical danger from evil liberals, and his death is due to natural causes. He led a life of privilege and often unearned distinction. (White privilege: something you won’t see a racist “scientist” ferreting out any “rational” explanations for, EVER.)
Rushton was a sociologist, not a geneticist, and his methods were widely condemned as unscientific. In one instance, they consisted of paying shoppers in Toronto’s Eaton Centre to fill out a survey about their sexual proclivities. In another, he asked similar questions of his students. The whole business was, in the words of his own university president, George Pederson, “a serious breach of scholarly procedure”.
Rushton was not a sexologist either, so one can only wonder what his motives for asking about penis size, number of sex partners, and ejaculation might have been. (Also, the exclusion of females from these surveys is strange. Why no questions about their sex partners, or the size of their vulvae, or how often they had multiple orgasms?) It sure smells as though Rushton was looking for “scientific evidence” to defend the outmoded (but still persistent, even to this day) image of the black man as “thug rapist”, with a huge penis to match his sexual appetite, and a correspondingly small brain (no doubt sapped of vital strength by those huge and rapacious testicles). I doubt very much whether the eminent professor considered the rape of black slave women by white male plantation owners to be a factor in all of this.
One thing that’s not in doubt is that Rushton himself was a racist. Despite all his denials and equivocations, the company he kept gave the game away. According to his own Wikipedia entry,
Since 2002, Rushton has been the president of the Pioneer Fund. Tax records from 2000 show in that year that his Charles Darwin Research Institute was awarded $473,835, or 73% of the fund’s total grants that year. The Southern Poverty Law Center, an American civil rights organization, characterizes the Pioneer Fund as a hate group. Rushton has spoken on eugenics several times at conferences of the American Renaissance magazine, a monthly racialist magazine, in which he has also published a number of general articles.
Rushton has published articles on the website VDARE, which advocates reduced immigration into the United States. Stefan Kühl wrote in his book, The Nazi Connection: Eugenics, American Racism, and German National Socialism (2002), that Rushton was part of the revival in the 1980s of public interest in scientific racism.
William H. Tucker, a professor of psychology who writes histories of scientific racism, noted in 2002:
Rushton has not only contributed to American Renaissance publications and graced their conferences with his presence but also offered praise and support for the “scholarly” work on racial differences of Henry Garrett, who spent the last two decades of his life opposing the extension of the Constitution to blacks on the basis that the “normal” black resembled a European after frontal lobotomy. Informed of Garrett’s assertion that blacks were not entitled to equality because their “ancestors were … savages in an African jungle,” Rushton dismissed the observation as quoted “selectively from Garrett’s writing”, finding nothing opprobrious in such sentiments because the leader of the scientific opposition to civil rights had made other statements about black inferiority that were, according to Rushton, “quite objective in tone and backed by standard social science evidence.” Quite apart from the questionable logic in defending a blatant call to deprive citizens of their rights by citing Garrett’s less offensive writing—as if it were evidence of Ted Bundy’s innocence that there were some women he had met and not killed—there was no sense on Rushton’s part that all of Garrett’s assertions, whether or not “objective,” were utterly irrelevant to constitutional guarantees, which are not predicated on scientific demonstrations of intellectual equality.
If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and waddles and shits green like a duck, what do you suppose it could be?
Let’s call Rushton’s racism by its proper name, and put it in its proper perspective.
As the London Free Press reports today, Rushton’s theories “died with him.” They were intellectually fraudulent, and so was he.
May they all rot in disgrace.