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Benoist on J. Philippe Rushton 
Interview on the Human Sciences, Part 3


J. Philippe Rushton

823 words

Part 3 of 4

Translated by Greg Johnson

In his book Race, Evolution, and Behavior: A Life History Perspective [2] (2000), J. Philippe Rushton drew up a list of a whole series of significant statistical differences between blacks, whites, and Asians, which reveals a continuum in which whites regularly occupy an intermediate position between Asians and blacks.

He cites, in particular, cranial capacity, the number of neurons in the brain, the results obtained by IQ tests, cultural achievements, the proportion of monozygotic twins per 1000 births,  hormonal levels, sexual organs, the frequency of sexual relations, permissive attitudes, the rate of sexually transmitted diseases, aggressiveness, impulsiveness, self-image, sociability, the gestation period, motor development, the development of teeth and the skeleton, the median age of the first sexual relations, the median age of the first pregnancy, life expectancy, the stability of marriages, the propensity to obey the law, and mental health.

Are you in agreement with Richard J. Herrnstein and Charles Murray, for whom “Rushton’s work is not that of a crackpot or a bigot . . . it is plainly science” (Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life [3], 1994, p. 643) or do you think, like Cavalli-Sforza and his collaborators, that “the classification of the races appeared a futile exercise for reasons that were already obvious for Darwin” (The History and Geography of Human Genes [4], 1996)? Could Rushton’s work provide a scientific base to the “differentialist antiracism” of the New Right?

J. Philippe Rushton is certainly not “a crackpot or a bigot,” and those who think he is deserve only contempt. The statistical correlations that he highlights are data that must be discussed calmly. The question is what conclusion to draw. The classification of races is one thing, their hierarchization quite another. For my part, I do not believe for an instant that there exists an overarching criterion that makes possible an absolute hierarchy of races. Any attempt to show that A is inferior to B amounts to saying that A is less B than B itself, which is merely a tautology.

Any criterion rests on a subjective choice. Rushton kept a certain number of criteria and set others aside. He says nothing, for example, about the color of the eyes, skin, and hair, which are the phenotypical traits by which the eye immediately distinguishes between the races. And in these three fields, Europeans are by no means “intermediate” compared to the Asians and the blacks. The same goes for many pathological factors or diseases, for which the “continuum” postulated by Rushton does not appear.

Among the criteria retained by Rushton, some are of a doubtful nature: the age of the onset of puberty or the first sexual relations dropped considerably in Europe during the last decades without its population changing “biologically.” “Sociability” is an extremely fuzzy concept, which does not have the same meaning in Norway and Greece. And the great number of early maternities among English teenagers (white ones) is certainly not explained by their ethnic membership. As for the frequency of multiple births among African women, it is certainly an interesting datum—less interesting, however, in my opinion, than the comparison of the myths relating to twinhood among various cultures.

Rushton is also the author of work on the reproductive differences entailed by the r strategy [high fertility and low parental investment] and the K strategy [low fertility and high parental investment], which he connects with average IQ (the K strategy positively correlates with a higher IQ).

This work can also be disputed if one takes account of the speed with which the birth and fertility rates can change inside a “homogeneous” population. The adoption of the K strategy by European populations is really only a relatively recent phenomenon: for centuries, in these populations as elsewhere, the large family was the rule. To me it seems imprudent to conclude that Europeans of Antiquity or the Middle Ages had a much lower IQ than we do today.

In Quebec, 200 years ago, the fertility rate was one of highest in the world, whereas today it is one of the lowest. This drop is certainly not explained by the collapse of IQ! In the United States, the white birth rate in 1800 was 55 births per year per 1000 inhabitants, whereas in 1980, it was no more than 14.9 births per annum. Should we think that the first figure expresses a K strategy when it is double the current birth rate of black Americans? Or should we think that American whites 200 years ago were twice as “r-selected” as black Americans today?

Moreover, if one examines the sexual strategies of males and females—a favorite subject of evolutionary psychology—one notes immediately that women tend to adopt the K strategy whereas men, being more naturally polygamous, tend to adopt the r strategy. If one accepts the reasoning suggested by Rushton, the average IQ of women should thus definitely be higher than that of men. But this is not the case.