Allan Chase discusses "The Legacy of Malthus"
BROADCAST: Apr. 25, 1977 | DURATION: 00:52:41
Discussing the book "The legacy of Malthus" with the author Allen Chase.
Tap within the transcript to jump to that part of the audio.
Studs Terkel You know, I've always wondered how come the year 1976, 1977, some respectable magazines, indeed educators take seriously the findings of say Dr. Shockley and Dr. Jensen You know now, one Dr. Shockley won the Nobel Prize I believe in a field of engineering of some sort. Allan Chase is my guest, of him in a moment and his book, but why -- their findings, so-called findings are taken seriously, that is the, they can indicate or prove and have others to help them that the Blacks are genetically inferior, genetically inferior to whites, and use intelligence tests as a proof of this. And I was thinking as a kid years ago I remember, some of the comments of a couple of academic clowns named Lothrop Stoddard and Madison Grant, who had a similar theories and they were demolished by perhaps America's greatest anthropologist, Franz Boas. And I thought how come, since they were demolished and the serious scientific community laughed at them, except well of course Hitler didn't, he adopted Madison Grant's approach pretty much. A Nordicism. But how come it's [written? been?] revived in the '70s, '60s and '70s, in magazines such as "The Atlantic Monthly", seriously carry the writings of Hernstein similar in nature to that of Shockley and Jensen, "World News Report", of course, and "Newsweek" carry this stuff very seriously. And Eric Sevareid, who is about as profound as a pie plate, offers it very seriously, too, on the air, and that perhaps the government should alter its policy somewhat, because it's a matter of genetics, a matter of hereditary, not a matter of environment or social aspects and then, so in any event, my guest is Allan Chase who has written what Ashley Montagu says is "the one book you should read if you read no other book this year." It's called "The Legacy of Malthus", and the subtitle is "The Social Costs of the New Scientific Racism", Alfred Knopf the publishers, and it's an overwhelming work. It's gripping and the beginnings indeed how, beginnings of this whole approach, how it began. Aside from Malthus and Sir Francis Galton how it began and came to Shockley and Jensen today, as against everything involving, involving science, what science has learned, and how so many people subscribe to it. The idea. So it's the first complete revelation of the function of scientific racism in American life, its origins, propagandists, and their purposes. An account of the long struggle of legitimate science to expose a politically and socially motivated pseudoscience which argues that the poor, the dispossessed, and various ethnic groups are genetically inferior and thus unworthy of social concern. Not only benign neglect, some might say a malignant neglect. And so Alfred A, Knopf the publishers, Allan Chase my guest in just a moment after this message from our sponsors. [pause in recording] I was looking, we were talking about how the pseudoscience came to be taken seriously, and I told you about this woman I met in the South during the [summer of Montgomery?], a white woman very moving her story and quite brilliant, has gone through college, was very active in the '30s, '40s, '50s, Molly Dobbs, and she remembers, says "My childhood impressions are very vivid. Yearning for a textbook in high school. I begged for one. Had one with missing pages, so happy to have it. When I graduated with honors, they were amazed. When I wanted to go to college, my father said "Sure," others were puzzled. And here's the part: "It disturbed the professor of psychology at Birmingham Southern, who said children of farmers and workers have lower IQs than children of professionals. He thought I was a freak. I suppose." And then she adds, "That year the Eskimos had the lowest IQ."
Allan Chase That's right. The Eskimos succeeded the Jews and the Italians. But let's go back a bit to the origins of that myth. In the United States. First, IQ is simply a method of marking the intelligence tests that were created some years earlier. IQ came in in 1912, but it was simply a method of marking the old intelligence tests. Now, the first of the intelligence tests were introduced in France by Alfred Binet around the turn of the century, and the function of those tests was to keep children who are not mentally retarded from being mislabeled as mentally retarded and then warehoused in institutions for the mentally retarded. Binet was a very interesting man, he was a man who had two daughters, and he realized very early in life how differently they approached the whole matter of learning, and out of that really came what we know today as differential psychology, which accents the differences between people, even of the same genetic stock and the same parents. And the function of Binet's intelligence tests were to help children grow up. When the eugenicists took over, you know eugenics was the pseudoscientific cult that was founded by Galton oh, around 1869 in England, and Galton was a dilettante in the sciences, he's described as a scientist, which he was not. He was
Studs Terkel By the way, while we're at it I want to comes back to the tests Binet and the progression of those tests, about genetics and -- eugenics rather and Galton. A great many people whom you and I admire -- by the way of all are political feeling, right or left, went for this big, you know, in fact some
Allan Chase It was quite a cult. You see, Galton himself, his idea was that most people in this world were mediocrities and ineffective. So those are those are the words he used, and the function of eugenics was to bring about the sterilization, the sexual sterilization of the of the mass of mankind so that the elite, infer-- the elite minority, which of course he was part, could then multiply and really take over. But what happened was at the turn of the century, eugenics became a cult among three classes of people. It became a cult among the ultra-reactionaries who saw in it a means of limiting taxes for social benefits such as schools and hospitals. Then it became a cult among pseudointellectuals or even intellectuals but who knew absolutely nothing about biology
Studs Terkel Well,
Allan Chase Most of the Fabian socialists, for example. The whole Bloomsbury crowd. They were they were eugenicists because they were all of course atheists, and they saw -- they couldn't say that God made them smarter than ordinary people who didn't write book reviews and edit literary journals, so they found in eugenics a so-called evolutionary explanation for their own innate superiority over the mass of mankind. And then of course there was there was a third branch of that cult among people in bohemian types who saw in eugenics a very, very good excuse for wholesale lechery, and out of that branch of the eugenics movement came the wonderful story which unfortunately is apocryphal, of the proposition that Isadora Duncan made to Bernard Shaw that they mate and have a child with his mind and her body, and his answer well I suppose was, "My body and your mind."
Studs Terkel By the way, your book takes off on a good number of a good number of approaches and theories to which by the way a great number of people seemingly enlightened indeed in many [very?] respects subscribe to. We'll hit that as we go along. So Binet then envisioned certain kinds of ways of
Allan Chase Binet believed in the plasticity of the human mind. He compared it to a to a field in which a farmer could produce a better crop by using better methods and more fertilizer or more rain and better seed. He resented the idea that intelligence is fixed at birth. However, the eugenicists who said everything is fixed at birth, not only intelligence, but the ability to be rich or poor, in fact poverty, they didn't call poverty, they called it pauperism, which was a genetic trait. If you had the gene for pauperism you were finished
Allan Chase Yes, what happened is that there was the great fight in biology in 17th, 18th century Europe was between the preformationists, who said that the entire human being is completely re-- preformed in microscopic form, and it simply grows larger during pregnancy so that the baby is a is a young version, a young stage of the homunculus, and then finally you know, when you grow older, well, you're fully formed. As against the epigenesists, who said that life develops -- they didn't understand at that time the difference between an egg cell and a sperm cell, but they said life develops in stages, which is now, we know to be to be the fact. But the point is if you were born fully preformed, then there was really nothing one could do about changing human character, it was fixed for life.
Allan Chase Yes, that's right. In other words, as I pointed out the, that eugenics is simply, and scientific racism is simply a continuation of preformation by other names. And the opposite of preformation, the epigenisists, is simply a continuation of modern biology.
Allan Chase Yes
Studs Terkel From
Allan Chase Now, when Henry Herbert Goddard, who was a, both a psychologist and a eugenicist, adapted the Binet test for use in the United States, he didn't see it as a test that would test one's ability. He saw it as something that would test one's genes. And he, and he originally used it on the white Anglo-Saxon poor in South Jersey in the Pine Barrens. Now, there was a reason for doing
Allan Chase Yes. You see, what had happened was one of the branches of scientific racism was the cult of Teutonism, which later became the cult of the Nordic, which said all superior people are Nordics from Northern Europe, which was fine. The only trouble was, most of the Nordics in the United States as in all the northern European countries, were [bone? born?] poor. So you had to account for the fact that within the superior Nordics there was inferior strains, and one of them was given the pseudonym of the Jukes, this is in the late 1880s, and then subsequently when Goddard, who was working as a psychologist in a home for the feeble-minded in Vineland, New Jersey began his studies, his so-called studies, he began tracing ancestry back to one big family in New Jersey to whom he gave the
Studs Terkel Name
Allan Chase Pseudonym of the Kallikaks, meaning the good and the bad, the bad and the beautiful. And he said, "Oh, both strains descended from one man named Martin Kallikak, who was a soldier in the American Revolutionary War, now he had a dalliance with a tavern doxy, and out of that came a whole line for generations unto generations of degenerates, and people with low IQ test scores, and that the other
Studs Terkel What's shocking about this clown approach is that it is taken serious today, and you have this picture of the 19, 1961 textbook, Columbia -- by the way, put out by the chairman of the Columbia University Department of psychology. Here it is, and it's a picture of Martin Kallikak, and this, you know this clownish approach, on one side of him is the is the retarded side, because of the dalliance with a feeble-minded girl, on the other side is the noble side because he had married a worthy Quakeress, and so you have brilliant people on one side and decent law-abiding people and the other side of them are those dirty horrible outcast people. But this is still
Allan Chase This is still being taught in college. Now, when I -- you see, that particular picture, I wanted to make a copy of it. And I have a kind of officer status at Columbia University, and when I went into the into the shop what, you know where that work is done, the technologist who did it for me suddenly screamed, he says, "Hey, I had this in college in Virginia," and he was he was a man I would say in his early, in his mid-30s. He says, "This is what we were taught." Can you imagine?
Allan Chase Yes.
Allan Chase The majority. The vast majority. Then they had cousins, the poor white trash of the South which we'll come back to I think later, but then you had -- there was a, concurrently there was a great crusade going on which was led by the educated scientific racists, and many of these people were university presidents and college professors in conjunction with the Ku Klux Klan types, the gutter rowdies, and the American Federation of Labor, and they were all trying to end the immigration of non-Nordic immigrants.
Allan Chase Well, they put Eastern Europeans are better than Southern Europeans, but what they meant essentially were Jews and Italians. And they, they made no bones about it. In fact, the less education they had, the more open they were.
Allan Chase The Irish, yes of course, and as a matter of fact one of the leading Teutonists, Edward Freeman who was Professor of History at Oxford, when he came to this country in 1880, '81, his favorite mo-- and he panicked these audiences with, they loved it. But these audiences were all at universities and at the university lyceums, when he had said "The great solution to what ails America would be if every Irishman should kill a Negro and then be hung for it."
Allan Chase That was considered great wit. But what happened with the Irish was that as America became urbanized, the Irish took control of municipal politics in many cities that were at that time enormous customers for everything that the WASP establishment had to sell, from real estate to trolley franchises to copper wire to plumbing to building materials, so that overnight the Irish ceased to be a menace and became actually founding fathers of
Studs Terkel I think one of the points you're making here in this book is that reality is destroying the myth. They were considered inferior but were very good politically, and so it goes the Italians and the Jews. In each case you had people who had to -- you know, who by means of having a good chance to demonstrate what they could do, having equal opportunity came through okay, therefore they had to be unusual.
Allan Chase That's
Allan Chase That's
Allan Chase Yes, let me come back to tests. So here is here is Goddard, then he takes this test [after?] from South Jersey where he proved that most Nordics were idiots. He now takes his test to Ellis Island and he tests, with the cooperation of the immigration commission, the U.S. immigration commissioner, he tests all of the steerage immigrants, and lo and behold, he comes out and he publishes his findings in a journal called "The Journal of Delinquency", which I cannot resist noting was published in a town called Whittier, California. But in this journal he prints his results, and what the results show was that between 80 and 94 percent of all Jews, Italians, Poles, Hungarians and Russians, were either idiots or morons or imbeciles. Now, funny as this might sound today, it was to have very tragic consequences, because that helped build a scientific case against the immigration of Jews and Italians in the minds of the decent, educated people who could not be swayed by the xenophobic and nasty and racist arguments of the Ku Klux Klan types who were demanding the same thing. And, well we went to war in 1917, Goddard, Lewis Terman of Stanford, and Robert Yerkes of Harvard, now these were all three eugenicists. In fact, Yerkes was chairman of the Commission on the Inheritance of Mental Traits of the American Eugenics Committee, and they were the three men who in six weeks put together the so-called army intelligence as to World War One, under which two thousand -- two million, close to two million recruits were tested. Now, out of these came from myths that still plague us, that were taught in American colleges to the people who were later to make American laws for the next 50 years. Myth number one, that the average American has the intelligence of a 13-and-a-half-year-old child. Myth number two, that the average Jewish and Italian-born recruit had the intelligence of a child between the ages of 10-and-a-half and 11, myth number three that the average Southern Black recruit had the intelligence of a 10-year-old child. And so that what you had then was, and this was published by the National Academy of Sciences, by the United States government, in memoir 15 called
Allan Chase Published in 19 what, 21, wasn't it, I have it in there. But the point is that what they showed with charts and statistics, very much you know like Shockley's and Jensen's charts and statistics, that a small minority of the total population of the United States had the intelligence to get through high school, that the rest were between retarded children and
Studs Terkel This -- we come back to the nature of the intelligence, so-called intelligence tests, that the questions are certain kinds of questions having nothing to do with heredi-- with the genetic inferior or superior, have questions to do with something with acquired knowledge.
Allan Chase Oh, totally. But you see that that's a little trap, because it's true that the thing that was wrong with the tests per se was that they tested only your experiences in American culture. For example, some of the questions had to do with what a certain advertising slogans referred to. There was a question I remember about Christy Mathewson. Well, who was Christy Mathewson? Well, if you were a Giant fan as I was at the age of eight
Studs Terkel Oh, by, you point out later on in later years how some Chicano kids were given tests, did very poorly they knew very little English, later on the tests were given in Spanish, did very well indeed.
Studs Terkel Recently.
Allan Chase This was Jane Mercer, who was a sociologist at University of California. She tested three populations in Riverside, California, which is right outside Los Angeles. It was an Anglo population, a Chicano population, and a Black population. And what she found of course that the IQ tests were higher the closer the family came to what she called the "modal norm," in other words to the white middle-class standard of life and income. But with the Chicano kids, who the year and two or three years before had been found to be morons by the Wechsler scale, which was one of the modern intelligence IQ tests, and put into schools for the retarded, where of course you do become retarded, when these same children were tested not merely with the official Spanish translation of the Wechsler scale, which is in very glorious textbook Spanish, but in vernacular Chicano Spanish, what happened was the IQ jumped like something by something like 25 percent. Twenty-five points, and it turned out that none of these kids who were labeled as retarded by the IQ test in English
Studs Terkel Yeah.
Studs Terkel I'm thinking, before we take a break, Allan Chase is my guest, and his book is "The Legacy of Malthus", we haven't talked about Malthus and how his name came to be used here. It's remarkable to me that these -- how people seriously still speak of the genetic inferiority of people as a result of IQ tests. We know certain kinds of people make up the test. Predominantly at least in the past has been middle age, middle class white males have made up the tests, and the variations on that theme, and therefore they have a certain kind of experience. They don't have the experience that all of a different group of people, now a different group of people takes that test and doesn't do very well by the experience of these guys. But suppose other questions were asked; as you say, Einstein would flunk a sort of army intelligence
Studs Terkel Involving "What's this mean?" "I can't believe I ate the whole thing." See, now what would that mean to Einstein? Well, every kid watching one of the Alka-Seltzer commercials would know what it means.
Allan Chase Well, there's a very interesting thing about Einstein in relation to that. Terman's original cohort, the high IQ kids, were originally chosen by schoolteachers in Southern California. In Northern California. Einstein, when he went to school, his older sister -- and he was having problems in school -- went to speak to his teacher, and the teacher told Einstein's sister, "This boy is an idiot. He will never get anywhere academically. The best thing to do is to teach him a trade." So that Einstein would not have even have been selected by a teacher as a candidate for being given a high IQ test score.
Studs Terkel We have to return in a moment to Allan Chase, the book "The Legacy of Malthus", and the subtitle tells us indeed why it one that is so applicable unfortunately today. "The Social Costs of the New Scientific Racism". And of course what astonishes me is how this came to be revived, the question asked at the beginning of this program remembering as a kid when Franz Boas, whom all serious scientists admired, the father of American anthropology, is he not? Father of modern anthropology.
Studs Terkel Aptly demolished a couple of academic clowns named Madison Grant and Lothrop Stoddard and how Grant and Stoddard live again. Are alive and well and living in "The Atlantic Monthly" and at times elsewhere.
Allan Chase Absolutely.
Studs Terkel And the name of Shockley and Jensen, and so we'll return in a moment after this message. [pause in recording] Returning to Allan Chase and the book "The Legacy of Malthus". Oh, by the -- the title. Malthusianism.
Allan Chase Well, Malthus was the founder of scientific racism in that he was the first person at the time that Bible, that the Bible was losing its authority as a rationale for poverty and the lack of upward mobility, you needed a scientific explanation, and Malthus provided the first of them with his so-called ratios, which he said that we produce babies at a much faster rate than we produce food. It simply is not so, and in the book I go into a long background, the agricultural revolution which started half a century before Malthus was born, and which was to quadruple European food production by the time his essay on population came out in 1798 is still on, and the, to this day we still cannot produce babies as fast as we actually do produce food. If there is starvation, it is not because of lack of food, but because of lack of money to buy food and lack of proper distribution. But so Malthus invented these laws, and then he said, "Well, since we have a surplus population, they have a choice of doing one thing: they cannot marry and not have children, because we have too many children, but if they persist, then the only way to get rid of them is through nature's checks, and what he described as nature's checks were war and pestilence, and therefore he was against from the very beginning not merely
Studs Terkel Reform.
Allan Chase Not really any reform in the way of wages and hours, but he was a great and open and leading enemy of increased wages, of higher wages, of living wages if you please. He was an enemy of any social reform that would lead to the betterment of life of the people who were working in the mines, in the mills, of the new industrial revolution and creating the wealth.
Allan Chase Well, the point is, the great, one of the great assets of the industrial revolution was cheap labor, and a byproduct of cheap labor called child labor. And these were the two things that Malthus held sacred, and therefore the whole Malthusian theory was based on a) it was based on a lie about agricultural production, about scarcity of food, about the limits of agricultural growth, and that lie was then used to justify low wages and the lack of any upward mobility. Now, subsequently scientific racism was to have added to it the wing of Teutonism which after the World War One became Nordicism, which was Gobineau, which was an essentially and frankly an openly
Allan Chase The intermediary was the German composer Richard Wagner, who was Chamberlain's father-in-law. Wagner met Gobineau and founded the Gobineau Society to publish his works in German and other languages all over Europe, and then Houston Stewart Chamberlain, whose father was a British admiral actually, who became an ultra-German, married Wagner's daughter. And then he wrote a book called "The Myth of the 19th Century", and he was a he had a great influence on both the Kaiser and upon Hitler. The third wing was eugenics, which we've discussed before, which was Francis Galton, and then the fourth wing, the major wing, was Social Darwinism, which was Herbert Spencer, which was neither social nor Darwinian.
Allan Chase Yes,
Studs Terkel Intelligence
Studs Terkel "Survival
Allan Chase "Survival of the fittest" was Spencer, not Darwin. Darwin had an utter contempt for Spencer, but the point is "survival of the fittest" meant anybody that proposed a law that says a house must be fit to live in, or anybody that proposed minimum wage, minimum hours and maximum wage acts, anyone that proposed any social legislation providing medical care was committing a crime against society, because that way he was enabling the unfit to survive, although nature had already marked them for destruction, so that this was the pap that was fed in American colleges for nearly a century to the people who were to make policy for a century, and it was fed as legitimate scientific thought and legitimate scientific findings. Many people to this day will argue that Malthus' ratio still holds. That was the basis of this pseudoscientific population explosion hysteria we had, when while on the one hand the extremists were yelling the population is exploding, the Bureau of the Census, taking censuses in the United States showed we were in the midst of the greatest decline in live birth rates in our history.
Allan Chase Oh, no, I don't argue with -- look. Let's make a distinction between birth control, which is individual and which is for the benefit of the individual woman and the individual family, and population control, which is a state imposing forced birth control on people. Now, you saw what happened recently in India. Now, that was population control. But Planned Parenthood
Allan Chase you Of course! You know, when it was at the end of a bayonet. Don't forget, this is what Galton proposed. He was the man who first proposed sterilization in 1891. And don't forget that in this country because of Galton we passed the first state sterilization law in 1907 and by 1944, 30 other, 29 other states had passed such laws.
Studs Terkel Well, the reason this has so much -- it's so complicated. It's simple and yet complicated, because you have people you respect very much who are part of this, the decision of the Supreme Court that okayed sterilization of someone seemingly retarded by the state, was written by Oliver Wendell Holmes.
Allan Chase Yes, and now it was a very funny decision, very interesting decision because here at a time -- that, that decision was written in 1927 and the test -- testing the constitutionality of the Forced Sterilization Act that was passed in Virginia in 1924. Now, in the year that that act was passed, Walter E. Fernald, who was our great authority on mental retardation was elected for a second term as the president of the American Association for the Feebleminded. He was then an old man, when he was a young man he was the first president of the association. And in his talk he reviewed all the knowledge that had been accumulated in the years between both of his presidencies, and he spelled out the fact that mental retardation we now know is not hereditary. We now know that epilepsy is not hereditary. We now know that diseases that are preventable, infectious diseases cause considerable mental retardation, and we also know that the person who is epileptic or mentally retarded is not necessarily a criminal or a violent type. And if it is genetic, then what do you do in a family where only one child is retarded? Which is very common, and we know now why. For example, one of the most basic causes of mental retardation is a rubella infection of the mother during pregnancy. Now she might not have
Allan Chase That's right. And today of course it is completely social because now we have a vaccine that prevents rubella, which is German measles. But here was Fernald in 1924 speaking for the scientific community, but it didn't filter through to the Supreme Court. So that in 1927, when the Supreme Court ruled on it, the brief for the State of Virginia included what was called a eugenic analysis of the woman whom they proposed to sterilize. It was a white Anglo-Saxon girl. And what happened was, here it comes to the Supreme Court, which theoretically are the best brains in the country. And Oliver Wendell Holmes, who was by repute the brightest of all Supreme Court justices, and he really was, this is a man of towering intellect. But he was also a prisoner of his times, and so he accepted this brief that was prepared by Harry Hamilton Laughlin, who was not only the supervisor of the Eugenics Record Office, but also had an official title in Washington. He was the expert eugenics agent of the House Committee on Immigration.
Studs Terkel So I'm thinking you said here is Holmes who was a prisoner of thoughts of his time, of myths of his time. Brilliant though he was, but now it's 50 years later, and the knowledge has accumulated since then, and yet again people whom you and I respect, who we'd meet on occasion now and then, or respect less perhaps, that discuss seriously Hernstein and well, perhaps Shockley and Jensen of perhaps too outrageous, but discuss Banfield and the others, you know, "The Unheavenly City".
Allan Chase Yes.
Allan Chase Well, I'll tell you. Pasteur explained it years ago when he said, "The easiest thing to find in an experiment is what you most hope to find." And the difference between a real scientist and a dilettante in the sciences is that the real scientist doesn't trust that kind of finding, he says it's too easy, there's something wrong. Don't forget, nothing occurs in a social or a historical vacuum. During and after World War Two, we had a tremendous population shift in this country. The farms in the Midwest became changed from family farms to huge agribusiness combines, and the small family farm was practically extinguished, which meant that this tremendous population which is primarily white Anglo-Saxon Nordic, the small farmers from the Midwest, began to shift both to California and to the industrial cities. They came to Chicago, for example. Then you had this shift from the south of the Appalachian whites as the coal industry was wrecked, and the Blacks who worked in cotton and cotton became mechanized. And this tremendous shift of population, which incidentally numerically, the whites outnumber the Blacks, and there's new inmigration. These created problems in the cities. They created welfare problems, they created housing problems, they created -- any, you name any social problem that is involved with a sudden migration of poor people, they
Studs Terkel So if there is -- so therefore if there are problems there's -- money has to be spent for social welfare for that problem. Money has to be spent for medical care for a national health program
Allan Chase Thou art cooking with gas. That's exactly what happened. And so the people with the best liberal background nevertheless hated to pay taxes as much as the people with the worst reactionary background. And so they were prone to precisely this kind of argument. Now you must remember that even though the United States military used the intelligence tests of the eugenicists in World War One, they were so thoroughly discredited by World War Two that the Army didn't use them. The Army used aptitude tests. And nobody took them seriously except the publishers of IQ tests, for whom it's a very, very lucrative business. And what happened is after the decision in Brown vs. Board of Education, the people that revived the IQ test mystique were the White Citizens Councils.
Studs Terkel Now we come to something. Now, every time something big happens in the world, a technological advance of some sort or other or a social advance, it involves it involves further involvement on the part of a great many people. Sometimes it involves money. It also involves an upsurge of feeling, an upsurge of awareness on the part of those who are pretty much down. And every time -- it could be an industrial revolution or the agricultural revolution and along comes Malthus. The 1954 Supreme Court decision then.
Allan Chase Yes.
Allan Chase That started it, and then what exacerbated it in the North, exacerbated it terribly, was the Vietnam War, because with the Vietnam War the monetary demands of that war were so enormous. You know, just simply in out of pocket we spent over 150 billion dollars. That is while the war was on and the military costs of the war. Well, that money had to be taken from somewhere, and where it was taken from was from the social budgets. It was taken from federal support for state and municipal social programs from education and medicine on upward.
Allan Chase Precisely.
Allan Chase Exactly. Exactly. And so for example the title of Jensen's 1969 essay was, "How Much Can We Raise IQ Test Scores?" and then he answered "Not Much." You see, and therefore why do you need Headstart programs? Why do you need special education?
Allan Chase Yes. Well, what happened briefly was this: as part of the cult of the Nordic you had to show that Nordics who were poor came from an inferior strain of Nordics, and one of the most notorious of these inferior strains of Nordic were the poor white people of the South, they weren't called people, they were called 'poor white trash.' Now, toward the turn of the century, a Southern doctor working in the in the mental asylum system discovered that an enormous proportion of patients in the county madhouses, and these were all white people, were pellagrans, they were sufferers from pellagra, now, pellagra at that time was not understood in terms of what caused it, but you could recognize a pellagran. He broke out in a terrible rash. He developed a terrible lethargy, and if he had it long enough, he went mad.
Allan Chase That's right. Well, this comes a bit early. The germ of laziness was hookworm. But that's part of this story, you see. You had to account for the fact that the poor white trash was lazy and ineffective. Now, in about 1908, an absolutely wonderful man named Stiles.
Studs Terkel Stiles.
Allan Chase Who was a protozoologist, he discovered that hookworm was the cause of much of the so-called Southern lethargy, and when he did, the "New York Sun" picked it up, and they said, "This man discovered the germ of laziness," and a tremendous campaign started. Now, you know hookworm, without going into too much detail, is a disease which if you walk barefoot in a hot sandy soil it'll crawl through the skin of your toes and get into your bloodstream and then you have a parasite so you have to feed both the worm and yourself. And that doesn't work, particularly for poor people who can't even feed themselves. He had -- he was with the U.S. Public Health Service, and that was the beginning of the destruction of the myth of the genetic inferiority of the poor whites of the South. Now, at that time the most brilliant epidemiologist in the U.S. Public Health Service was a Hungarian-born immigrant who came here at the age of six from a very, very Orthodox Jewish family, lived on the East Side, and his name was Joseph Goldberger. And Goldberger in 1914 was put at the head of a task force by the U.S. Public Health Service, "Find the cause of pellagra." Now, at the same time the New York Postgraduate Hospital Medical School had set up a pellagra commission with which the government was cooperating. In fact, they turned over a hospital to them in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Well, Goldberger, he said, "Well we have to find out whether this is transmissible," and he got biological materials from pellagrans and he shot them into monkeys in his lab in Washington and nothing happened. And having come from poverty, he understood poverty diseases very well. So what he did when he set up his task force, he included a statistician named Edgar Sydenstricker. And while the doctors were looking at what doctors look at, Sydenstricker was looking into the income of the people who had pellagra and the income of people who didn't have pellagra. Meanwhile, Goldberger discovered that pellagra could hardly be, as most people thought, a contagious disease, because in all the hospitals were pellagrans were kept, the staff never got pellagra. The nurses, the doctors, nobody got pellagra. He said, "This doesn't happen, because in tuberculosis hospitals," and so forth, and he in fact, he as an epidemiologist had caught every disease he was ever investigating, so that Goldberger very quickly learned and was able to prove, and it's a marvelous story, that pellagra was caused by the absence of what he called a pellagra preventive factor in the diet, and he knew it was found in fresh fruits and vegetables, and he knew it was found in protein foods, meat, milk, eggs, and so forth, and we now know that it's niacin, which is a fragment of Vitamin B-2 complex, and you either get it from fresh fruits and vegetables or you get it from the amino acid that is the metabolic precursor of niacin which is found in protein foods.
Allan Chase That's right. So in 1914 he not only was able to prove that, but he was able to cause pellagra in convict volunteers, he was able to cure it, he was able to prevent it, and as far as the scientific community is concerned, Goldberger had conquered pellagra, and in 1915 he delivered the Cutter Lecture at Harvard but, the head of the American Eugenics Movement, Charles Benedict Davenport, he got himself appointed to the Thompson-McFadden Pellagra Commission, which was in the New York Postgraduate Hospital, and he wrote -- published an article in "The Archives of Internal Medicine" in 1916 called "The Hereditary Factor in Pellagra" and after Goldberger proved what had happened, all of the Army and Navy doctors who were working on the Commission, they resigned! They congratulated
Allan Chase That's right. What happened is Davenport carried the day. And one of the reasons he carried the day, by the way, was at that time we still did not have a medical community that was properly trained. You see.
Studs Terkel But today, you see, today to me it's so much so much more unforgivable today, [wondering?] that today the theories of Shockley and Jensen and Herrnstein and Banfield are publicized, discussed as though they can be taken seriously, whereas the findings of say Jane Mercer are hardly even known.
Allan Chase And what actually of course what happened was that -- Jensen and Shockley made no findings. They reported on other people's findings. Herrnstein based everything he wrote on Jensen, so that what you were dealing with was secondhand information at best, and information that nobody in the scientific disciplines that deal with human behavior and that deal with human mentality and that deal with human biology ever took seriously, which is the great difference between now and then, and as a matter of fact when Bob Friedrichs at Williams College, he's a prize-winning sociologist, did a survey after Jensen's work came out of the members of the American Psychological Association, a nice big cross-section, "What do you think of Jensen, do you agree with Jensen that most intelligence is hereditary?" and 68 percent said "No." And the interesting thing about that is, the younger they were, and the more recent their education, the more opposed they were, because it's -- and why not. Because the more modern knowledge increases, the more discredited these ideas of Jensen and Schockley and Herrnstein become, because don't forget they were originally discredited in the mid-1920s.
Studs Terkel We're watching, we're watching TV, CBS News, and the grey eminence of CBS News, Eric Sevareid, is speak slowly and thus is a matter of profundity, is quoting -- was it Banfield or Herrnstein?
Allan Chase Herrnstein!
Allan Chase He said, "Well, now that it has been shown that intelligence is hereditary, we have to go through an agonizing reappraisal of our entire educational system." Now, I wanted to quote that in my book, and I wrote to him for an answer. I went there for a copy of it so I could quote it accurately, and I was answered by CBS, who sent me something he had said about Shockley and then we had a long correspondence. And I said, "Fellows, that's not what I want. I want what he said after 'The Atlantic Monthly' article by Herrnstein came out," and I never did get it. So the only thing I have in my file is a letter from Alfred Mirsky saying, "Hey, did you hear that the other day?"
Allan Chase Yes.
Studs Terkel And I'm thinking, let's see, I'm trying to think who my guru is, I gotta figure this one out. Let's see, if Sevareid's their guru, I gotta find me a guru. This is unbel-- by the way. I'm emphasizing, I'm thinking about Eric Sevareid for a number of reasons, 'cause this is the voice for the years. There's a great many people who would like to be considered intelligent, or somewhat aware, and he speaks very slowly, and now and then uses a polysyllable, and the assumption is he knows what's going on.
Studs Terkel That's true. By the way, you used the flat earth theory here pretty much, that was for a long time taken seriously long after Galileo, and so we have Madison Grant. If I go back to my childhood again
Allan Chase Yes.
Studs Terkel It's 1923. I am 11 years old, and somebody says to me, "There are two men. One is named Madison Grant, other named Lothrop Stoddard, and they say, they say that you," meaning me, "are inferior and dumb and stupid. Of course, you're a certain ethnic group, do you see? And they also say that as a group called the Nordicists who are the most bright and brilliant of all the people. And along comes Franz Boas, the great anthropologist, who absolutely demolishes them. But Boas himself, toward the end of his life was pretty much neglected by the established university heads and everything, was
Allan Chase Well, it was worse than that. He was retired from Columbia University at the lowest pension that any full professor ever received. And when my wife and I knew him in his last years, he was forced to live with his daughter, and this is one of the greatest men in the history of American science.
Allan Chase Yes, and functioning in Cambridge, Massachusetts and Berkeley, California. But, I want to match you. It's 1921 and I'm 8 years old, and we used to, my father and I used to go to the American Museum of Natural History on Saturdays to see these explorers with the [Tapiz? toppies?] and the bears and the lectures. And we arrived there one Saturday and we couldn't get in, and my father said, "Oh, I forgot, it's the second International Congress of Eugenics," and I was furious, I said, "Pop, what's eugenics?" He said, "It's to kill Jews."
Studs Terkel So coming back to, so there's a little Black kid and he doesn't quite know what's going on, so much is happening, and he's selling the "Baltimore Afro-American," this is during the, during the march in Washington, and he's full of life and vitality, and he says, "This is a great something happening! It's bootiful," he says, and people are coming out and streaming in and Martin Luther King, "It's bootiful," and he's full of vitality in life. Now, is he retarded because he cannot pass the intelligence tests that someone like Banfield or Herrnstein wrote? This is what we come to, don't we?
Allan Chase That's one of the things we come to, the answer of course he is not retarded. I've always felt that people who judge people on the basis of skin color and IQ test scores, they are the ones who are really retarded.
Studs Terkel And so this is -- by the, all we do is just in a very cursory fashion deal with this very powerful book. It cites chapter and verse, too and it's dramatic one of, one of the hoaxes of our day. "The Legacy of Malthus: Social Costs of the New Scientific Racism". My guests have been Allan Chase, and Alfred Knopf the publishers, now if I could find that one quote of Molly Dobbs again, the Southern white woman I met in Montgomery and her memory of being a child who wanted to learn and how people around her could neither read nor write, and she felt so bad, and want -- she -- they wanted to read, these all whites, all poor whites living in the piney woods, and Molly, toward the end when she passed the examination and went to college, astonished that professor of psychology at Birmingham, who said children of farmers and workers have lower IQs than children of professionals. Write Molly, "He thought I was a freak. And that year the Eskimos had the lowest IQ," and then she goes on to speak of all the possibilities in the people she knew. And that's what it's about, isn't it?