Rushton and race
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Mon Jan 31 15:22:18 MST 2000
A few months ago, a contributor to this list complained of receiving an unsolicited
racist book from University
of Western Ontario professor J. Philippe Rushton. Apparantly he wasn't alone. The
following is an article from
today's National Post (Toronto) on the mailouts and the reaction.
Monday, January 31, 2000
Academics take aim at 'racist science'
Outrage over Rushton
J. Philippe Rushton, the University of Western Ontario psychologist frequently branded
a bigot for his theories
of racial hierarchies, is provoking
controversy after sending out what has been described as a "really disgusting piece of
racist science" to
academics across Canada and the United States.
Prof. Rushton's work places characteristics such as brain size, intelligence, crime
rates, sexual frequency and
penis size along a racial continuum. "On
average, Orientals are ... less sexually active, have larger brains and higher IQ
scores. Blacks are at the
opposite end in each of these areas. Whites fall
in the middle, often close to Orientals," Prof. Rushton writes in a summary of his
views on Amazon.com. Not just
environment, but genes and evolution
are the cause of this, he believes.
Receiving a work advancing such ideas outraged many academics.
Prof. Rushton's mass mailing of a new, special edition of one of his books has
resulted in calls for his
publisher, Transaction Books, to cease
publishing "racist hatred," and angered academic bodies that claim their mailing lists
were obtained under false
In late November and early December, sociologists, anthropologists and psychologists
across the United States
found copies of a "special abridged
edition" of Race, Evolution and Behavior in their campus mailboxes.
In 1995, Transaction Publishers, an academic press located at Rutgers University in
Piscataway, N.J., published
a longer book of the same title.
Prof. Rushton said he simultaneously sent copies of the shorter, 108-page edition to
and sociology departments at Ontario
universities with graduate schools," mentioning by name the University of Toronto,
York, Queen's, Waterloo,
Windsor, McMaster, Lakehead, Guelph
Prof. Rushton said he focused on Ontario because of the free mailing privileges among
Ontario universities, but
also sent copies to Western Canada:
"UBC, Simon Fraser, Alberta, Manitoba psychology departments for sure."
Altogether he mailed between 3,500 and 4,000 in Canada, Prof. Rushton said, while his
publisher sent out about
35,000 copies in the U.S.
"[Rushton] is essentially peddling racist hatred," said Professor Steven Rosenthal, a
sociologist at Hampton
University in Hampton, Va. He has called
for Transaction to be barred from selling books at academic conventions, and wants the
Association (ASA) to "publicly
question" Transaction over its publishing policies.
"I think a book that puts forward the claim that black people are a distinct
biologically inferior race, that
should not be published, that no publisher
should publish those books," Prof. Rosenthal said.
After Prof. Rushton's booklet arrived, Prof. Rosenthal and others logged on to the
Internet to debate how to
respond to what one online posting called a
"really disgusting piece of racist science." Some contributors wanted to ignore Prof.
Rushton so as not to grant
him publicity, while others urged he be
In the U.S., the book arrived without a return address, but with mailing labels
similar to those used by the ASA
and the equivalent organizations for
psychologists and anthropologists.
Representatives of all three professional associations said last week that their
mailing lists were used, but
they did not know Race, Evolution and
Behavior was being sent.
The normal practice is to receive a sample copy of what the list will be used to
distribute, said Felice J.
Levine, executive officer of the American
Sociological Association, but Transaction showed her organization only a flyer with an
advertisement for the
1995 book when requesting their list.
"We request copies of what's going to be mailed, and we're not going to sell our list
to Hustler or something,"
concurred Susan Skomal, editor of
Anthropology News, an American Anthropological Association publication. Her
organization also saw only the
flyer, Ms. Skomal said.
On its Web site, the ASA has posted a letter sent to its members noting its "grave
concern" over the
"unauthorized use" of its list.
Irving L. Horowitz, editorial director for Transaction, declined a request for an
interview last week, but
instead sent out a package of documents,
including a published exchange between Prof. Rushton and himself indicating his
rejection of Prof. Rushton's
Included also were letters by Prof. Horowitz to Transaction and Rutgers staff. One of
the letters said: "The
issue is not list-rental policy of a
professional association, but is in fact the rights and responsibilities of a
scholarly publisher in a free
A second letter says while Transaction did publish Prof. Rushton's 1995 version of
Race, Evolution and Behavior,
"we did not publish his pamphlet of
the same name, which many consider to be race baiting and propagandistic."
Prof. Horowitz's package says Prof. Rushton's 1995 volume withstood peer review, but
the new booklet -- which
targets a popular audience -- would
The booklet lists Transaction as its copyright holder and contains ads for bulk copies
contact information, but Prof. Horowitz's
letters refer to these as "incorrect."
Prof. Rushton disputes Prof. Horowitz's statement that Transaction did not publish the
"Transaction was completely involved," he said.
"They sent me a contract, which I signed and which we negotiated, and subsequently
their production department
handled the whole thing, including
sending me page proofs," he said. "What is he saying? That Transaction published a
book that they didn't read? I
mean come on."
Prof. Rushton says the purpose of the mailing was to surmount the "knee-jerk response
and dismissal" of his
views, but "the exact opposite of what I
wanted happened and it speaks to the degree of entrenchment of political correctness
Other academics disputed this.
"If he maintains that this was necessary to do on his part because he's not being
heard, that's incorrect," said
Ms. Skomal, noting Anthropology News
has published letters by Prof. Rushton twice. "I'd like that to be on the record. He
has had access."
In his booklet, Prof. Rushton cites a description of himself as "the 22nd most
published psychologist between
1986 and 1990 and the 11th most cited."
Peter N. Peregrine, an anthropologist at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wis., said
he was somewhat
disappointed by colleagues who responded to
Prof. Rushton's mailing with anger. The best approach was to calmly point out the
illogical and unsupported
nature of Prof. Rushton's claims, he said.
Prof. Peregrine said if Prof. Rushton's premise of three distinct racial groups having
evolved 40,000 years ago
was true, "then the sexual and social
behaviour of all the people in the Americas should be the same. That is, Mayans and
Eskimos should have the same
sexual behaviour ... and that's just
Prof. Peregrine says he will use Prof. Rushton's booklet in class as an example of
"ideas that just don't work."
Professor Kenneth Little, chairman of York University's anthropology department, said
three members of York's
department will also conduct
classroom eviscerations of Prof. Rushton's booklet.
The majority however, ripped off Prof. Rushton's covers and sent them back to him,
Prof. Little said, "so that
they can't be used again."
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