Race, Evolution, and Behavior

Claimed Average Differences Among Blacks, Whites, and Orientals
from Race, Evolution, and Behavior
Blacks Whites Orientals¹
Brain size
Cranial capacity 1,267 1,347 1,364
Cortical neurons (millions) 13,185 13,665 13,767
IQ test scores 85 100 106
Cultural achievements Low High High
2-egg twinning (per 1000 births) 16 8 4
Hormone levels Higher Intermediate Lower
Sex characteristics Larger Intermediate Smaller
Intercourse frequencies Higher Intermediate Lower
Permissive attitudes Higher Intermediate Lower
Sexually transmitted diseases Higher Intermediate Lower
Aggressiveness Higher Intermediate Lower
Cautiousness Lower Intermediate Higher
Impulsivity Higher Intermediate Lower
Self-concept Higher Intermediate Lower
Sociability Higher Intermediate Lower
Gestation time Shorter Longer Longer
Skeletal development Earlier Intermediate Later
Motor development Earlier Intermediate Later
Dental development Earlier Intermediate Later
Age of first intercourse Earlier Intermediate Later
Age of first pregnancy Earlier Intermediate Later
Lifespan Shorter Intermediate Longer
Social organization
Marital stability Lower Intermediate Higher
Law abidingness Lower Intermediate Higher
Mental health Low Intermediate Higher
Source: Unabridged edition, ''Race, Evolution, and Behavior (p. 5).

Race, Evolution, and Behavior: A Life History Perspective is a controversial book written by J. Philippe Rushton, a professor of psychology at the University of Western Ontario, and the current head of the Pioneer fund. Rushton argues that race is a valid biological concept and that racial differences frequently arrange in a continuum of Mongoloids (Orientals, East Asians) at one extreme, Negroids (blacks, Africans) at the opposite extreme, and Caucasoids (whites, Europeans) in the middle. Rushton's book is focused on what he considers the three broadest racial groups, and does not address other populations such as South East Asians or Australian aboriginals. The book grew out of his earlier paper, Evolutionary Biology and Heritable Traits (With Reference to Oriental-White-Black Difference).

The 1st unabridged edition was published in 1995 and the 2nd unabridged edition was published in 1997.

The 1st abridged edition published under the Transaction Press name in 1999 caused considerable controversy. The 2nd abridged edition was published under the name of The Charles Darwin Research Institute in 2000, and contained some response to the criticism of the 1st abridged edition. (see Mailing Controversy below)


Rushton argues that Mongoloids, Caucasoids, and Negroids fall consistently into the same one-two-three pattern when compared on a list of 60 different behavioral and anatomical variables. (Rushton's 2000 book, like other population history works (e.g. Cavalli-Sforza 1994) uses the terms Mongoloid, Caucasoid, and Negroid to describe these groups broadly conceived, but these terms have since been replaced in the scientific literature - the MeSH terminology as of 2004 is Asian Continental Ancestry Group, African Continental Ancestry Group and European Continental Ancestry Group.) Rushton uses averages of hundreds of studies, modern and historical, to assert the existence of this pattern.

The book argues that Mongoloids, on average, are at one end of a continuum, that Negroids, on average, are at the opposite end of that continuum, and that Caucasoids rank in between Mongoloids and Negroids, but closer to Mongoloids. His continuum includes both external physical characteristics and personality traits.

Citing genetic research by Cavalli-Sforza, the African Eve hypothesis, and the out of Africa theory, Rushton concludes that Negroids branched off first (200,000 years ago, Caucasoids second 110,000 years ago, and Mongoloids last 41,000 years ago), arguing that throughout all of evolution, more ancient forms of life (i.e. plants, bacteria, reptiles) are less evolved than more recent forms of life (i.e. mammals, primates, humans) and that the much smaller variation in the races is consistent with this trend. "One theoretical possibility," said Rushton "is that evolution is progressive and that some populations are more advanced than others". Rushton argues that this first, second, and third chronological sequence perfectly correlates with, and is responsible for, a consistent global multi-dimensional racial pattern on everything from worldwide crime statistics, the global distribution of AIDS, to personality.

Rushton says that his collection of 60 different variables can be unified by a single evolutionary dimension known as the r and K scale. His theory attempts to apply the inter-species r/K selection theory to the much smaller inter-racial differences within the human species. While all humans display extremely K-selected behavior, Rushton believes the races vary in the degree to which they exhibit that behavior. He asserts that Negroids use a strategy more toward an r-selected strategy (produce more offspring, but provide less care for them) while Mongoloids use the K strategy most (produce fewer offspring but provide more care for them), with Caucasoids exhibiting intermediate tendencies in this area. He further asserts that Caucasoids evolved more toward a K-selected breeding strategy than Negroids because of the harsher and colder weather encountered in Europe, while the same held true to a greater extent for Mongoloids. Rushton argues that the survival challenges of making warm clothes, building durable shelter, preserving food, and strategically hunting large animals all selected genes for greater intelligence and social organization among the populations that migrated to cold climates.

Rushton invokes genetics to explain his data arguing that purely environmental theories fail to elegantly explain what he sees as such a consistent pattern of both behavioral and physiological differences, but instead just provide a long list of ad hoc explanations. Rushton argues that science strives to organize and simplify data, and seeks the simplest explanation possible, and claims that r/K selection theory explains all his data quite parsimoniously.


Validity of the methodology of aggregation

In Race, Evolution and Behavior, Rushton uses a methodology he calls "aggregation" of evidence, in which he averages hundreds of studies, modern and historical, with equal weight regardless of the quality of the data to demonstrate the racial patterns he asserts. He says that by averaging many studies the results one gets can be very accurate. He argues that measurement errors typically cancel out when multiple studies are averaged, and that his approach is less biased than the work of researchers who selectively pick and choose from the worldwide literature based on critical analysis.

A number of scientists however find sufficient problems with his methodology to completely dismiss his conclusions. Douglas Wahlsten, a biologist, criticized Rushton's book in a review writing:

averaging does nothing to reduce bias in sampling and measurement, and such flaws are abundant in the cited literature. For example, among the 38 reports on brain weight, all but two gave figures for only one group, with most cases being people living in the nation of their ancestors, such as an article on Japanese living in Japan and another on Kenyans living in Kenya. The obvious differences in environment make all of these data of dubious worth for testing hypotheses about genetic causes of group differences.

Wahlsten also further criticizes Rushton's particular use of data in the same book review:

The author is an earnest believer in genetically determined race differences, and he vows to cling tenaciously to his world view unless his opponents can provide conclusive proof to the contrary. In my opinion, this is the kind of approach to be expected from religious zealots and politicians, not professional scientists. A rigorous evaluation of the evidence cited by Rushton reveals the methods in most studies were seriously flawed and render the data inconclusive. If the evidence is so poor, the proper action for a scientist is to suspend judgment. In reality, there is not one properly controlled study of brain size comparing representative samples of races in the entire world literature.

As Wahlsten points out, Rushton's only defense of his methodology is challenging his critics to explain how his averaging all the studies in the world-wide literature has produced a pattern on such a diverse collection of variables with Negroids and Mongoloids falling so persistently at opposite extremes and Caucasoids always in the middle. Rushton dismisses any critical analysis of the data he has used, and instead suggests that the onus is on his critics to gather new data using modern techniques. Rushton has stated, "Identifying potential problems in particular studies should lead to calls for additional research, not trenchant acceptance of the null hypothesis. Deconstructing data has led to erroneous dismissal of fascinating brain-behavior relationships for six decades."

David P. Barash, a University of Washington psychology professor, also harshly criticises the 'principle of aggregation' in his review:

...Rushton argues at length for what he calls the 'principle of aggregation', which in his hands, means the pious hope that by combining numerous little turds of variously tainted data, one can obtain a valuable result; but in fact, the outcome is merely a larger than average pile of shit

In a review of Rushton's book, anthropologist C. Loring Brace wrote:

"Race, Evolution, and Behavior is an amalgamation of bad biology and inexcusable anthropology. It is not science but advocacy, and advocacy of 'racialism'"

Brace argues that Rushton assumes the existence of three biological races with no evidence except Rushton's speculation as to what an extraterrestrial visitor to Earth would think. Brace also disagrees with Rushton applying the concept of heritability (normally applied in the context of individuals) to groups. Finally, Brace claims Rushton makes unsupported claims about sub-Saharan African societies.

Other critics have also charged that his interpretations, conclusions and methods are "sloppy" and "unscientific. For example, Rushton's diagram of cranial capacities is in error, as Neanderthal in fact had a greater cranial capacity than modern humans . Genetic studies also show that there is greater genetic diversity within African populations (for example between Khoisanid Capoid, Mbuti pygmy, Sudanese Nuba, West African Negro and Ethiopian Cushitic populations, than there is amongst any two groups outside Africa rendering aggregation methods applied here nul and void .

Validity of the concept of race

Cavalli-Sforza, whose genetic research is cited in Race, Evolution and Behavior, considers all racial classifications to be arbitrary. Rushton, however, argues that the genetic linkage trees that Cavalli-Sforza provides clearly show distinct branches for all the three main races he describes. Gil-White, responding to these claims wrote:

Cavalli-Sforza’s trees show, for any geographically defined human population (say, North Asians) whether it is genetically closer to a second population (e.g. South Asians) than it is to a third (e.g. Europeans). But what these trees lack entirely is any information concerning the magnitude and sharpness of the differences between any two populations, and it is precisely this information that is needed to decide if a population is a biological race.

To see this a little better, consider the following. It stands to reason that my brother and I are more genetically similar than either of us is to our third cousin, but that hardly means my brother and I are in one race, and our third cousin in another. The same is true with populations. Cavalli-Sforza’s trees are a bit like the genealogical tree that would show my brother and I as more closely related to each other than to our third cousin: they show that two local populations are more genetically similar than either is to a third population which is farther away. However, these trees include no information about the magnitude of genetic differences between populations, which is why they can neither support nor undermine the claim that biological human races exist.

In a review of Rushton's book, Richard Lewontin wrote:

The first problem for his theory is that there need to be major races. That is, the differences between "Oriental," "Black," and "White" need to be more than skin deep. In claiming that these old racial categories correspond to large biological differences, Rushton moves in the opposite direction from the entire development of physical anthropology and human genetics for the last thirty years. Anthropologists no longer regard "race" as a useful concept in understanding human evolution and variation.

Failure of predictions

In a response to Rushton's book, Peregrine found, even though using "three versions of the ‘race’ variable, each representing one of the apparent definitions that Rushton used", that "Rushton’s predictions do not find much support, regardless of how ‘race’ is operationalized.

Gil-White, writing in regards to Peregrine's work, states:

The authors are not doing justice to their own findings. It is not true that "Rushton’s predictions do not find much support"; what is true is that Rushton’s predictions are completely contradicted.

The Flynn effect

The most serious challenge to Rushton's aggregated data on IQ scores in Race, Evolution and Behavior concerns the Flynn effect and the now well-documented fact that industrialization and urbanization causes the average IQ of entire countries to rise very significantly over decades. In the Rising Curve, James Flynn argues that whites born in the 19th century were scoring lower not only than contemporary African Americans but obtaining scores perhaps even lower than some contemporary black populations in the third world. This directly contradicts Rushton's claim that Negroids are lower on the IQ scale than Caucasoids.

Rushton has responded to the Flynn Effect by arguing that the low IQ's of pre-WWII whites have little to do with general intelligence (the g factor), whereas the low IQ's obtained by contemporary blacks (even in the third world) are valid reflections of cognitive functioning. Defending his position, Rushton wrote:

principal components analysis shows that whereas the IQ gains over time on the WISC-R and the WISC-III do cluster, suggesting they are a reliable phenomenon, they are independent of the cluster of Black-White differences, inbreeding depression scores, and g factor loadings

Inappropriate application of r/K

Psychologist Zack Cernovsky offers criticism of Rushton's application of r/K dimensions:

The r/K dimension is derived from an extremely wide range of species. Its dogmatic application to the drastically reduced variance within contemporary Homo sapiens is statistically naive (for more detailed explanations, see Cernovsky, at 1992). It is not even necessary to be a competent statistician to avoid similar errors. If Rushton (1988, 1990a) could heed Jerison's (1973) warning that racial differences in brain size are at most minor and "probably of no significance for intellectual differences," he would not attempt to extend Jerison' s findings across species to subgroups within modern mankind. Instead, Rushton (1991) misleadingly refers to Jerison in a manner that implies an expert support from this famous comparative neuropsychologist, without mentioning their disagreement on the most central issue.

Other criticisms

Rushton's application of r/K theory has been severely criticized: for example, by noting that many animal species do not follow the predictions of r/K theory. Rushton, whom the Southern Poverty Law Center characterizes as an "academic racist, heads the Pioneer Fund, a nonprofit organization Tucker (2002) accused of misusing social science to politically fuel oppression and funding specialized research to "prove [what it alleges as] the genetic and intellectual inferiority of blacks. Despite such accusations, Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson (one of the two cofounders of r/K selection theory) states "I think Phil [Rushton] is an honest and capable researcher ... The basic reasoning by Rushton is solid evolutionary reasoning; that is it's logically sound. If he had seen some apparent geographic variation for a non-human species - a species of sparrow or sparrow hawk, for example - no one would have batted an eye.

Richard Lynn has developed similar theories and argues that the ice age that took place in East Asia from about 28,000 to 12,000 years ago acted as a selection force on East Asians to increase intelligence by requiring the building of shelter, making clothes, and making fires, and selected especially strongly for spatial skills such as those needed to hunt large prey and build the tools necessary to do so. (Lynn 1991) Rushton (1996) has cited the fact that the order in Blacks, Whites, and East Asians appeared is the same as the order of their respective brain sizes as additional evidence. Critics argue that tropical rain-forest conditions, being more constant, would favor K-selection, while seasonal Arctic environments would be less predictable and associated with r-selection, exactly the opposite of what Rushton has argued for. Rushton has responded that it is the East African savanna that should be compared to the Arctic. Critics respond that Northern mice, foxes, and deer are not better endowed intellectually than their tropical relatives, and the same is true for virtually all other animals with Arctic and tropical representatives. However, even assuming that the savanna vs. the Arctic has such an effect, this means that Rushton selectively chooses only a very few of the wide variety of habitats humans have lived in for a long time, but then makes general clams for much larger areas with many different habitats such as Africa and all blacks. Similarly, the theory has difficulty explaining why Native Americans, who appeared even later and emigrated from the northernmost parts of Asia, do not currently have high scores on IQ tests. On the other hand, Rushton (1995) argues that lower scores of Native Americans can be attributed to the evolutionary relaxation of cognitive demands due to the more temperate environment and comparative ease with which North American fauna could be hunted. But it can be argued that life along the fertile river plains in China was not particularly harsh. It is also questionable that conditions in deserts are no less harsh but people living there do not currently score high on IQ tests.

The theory is directly contradicted by the only comparative study on IQ scores in different European nations that showed a statistically insignificant association between the average IQ and latitude of various European nations. In contrast, Beals et al. (1984) p. 309, reported a correlation of 0.62 (p=0.00001) between latitude and cranial capacity in samples worldwide, and reported that each degree of latitude was associated with an increase of 2.5 cm³ in cranial volume. A more recent study finds this pattern only when including a Siberian population living in extremely cold condition. The explanation may be natural selection for a thermoregulatory capacity in extremely cold environments, resulting in brachycephalization, rather than a selection for intelligence.

Scott MacEachern suggests that through the study of archaeology one may test Rushton's assertions that African populations suffer severe cognitive deficits when compared to other modern humans. Rushton wrote that mental deficits are visible in an evolutionary context, advancing environmental explanations for such deficits, and asserting that such cognitive differences existed prehistorically as well. Scott MacEachern writes that examination of the archaeological record does not support the claims made by these researchers; rather, it suggests that regional differences in IQ test score results should not be ascribed to variations in human evolutionary development.

Research on racial differences in twinning and testis size was the subject of a review by author and scientist Jared Diamond (1986) in the journal Nature, in which he investigated correlations between possible racial variations in testicular size and hormone levels, and reported on one study suggesting that dead Danish men at autopsy have larger testicles than dead Chinese men. Some studies also suggested lower hormone levels and frequency of twins among Asians than Africans. However, Diamond notes that smaller testicle size among Koreans was not associated with a lower frequency of sexual intercourse, which contradicts the Rushton rK-theory. Higher frequency of twins in certain African populations can be explained by large scale consumption of Yams, which in rats produce such results.

Rushton's sources, such as a "semi-pornographic book" and Penthouse magazine, have been dismissed by other researchers, criticized as extremely biased with inadequate reviews of the literature, as misreporting the results, or as simply false. There have also been many other criticisms of the theory.

One study examining the National Center for Health Statistics of 1985 in California found standardized Dizygotic twinning rates of approximately 3.7, 6.6, and 9.7 per 1000 for Asians, whites, and blacks, respectively. More recent, US-wide studies from data gathered over several years show that the racial gap in twinning rates has vanished. This goes counter to a basic assumption in Rushton's claims. However, the rate of twin births in the US has doubled since 1971, the time of the study Rushton cited, due to older mothers (for which twin births are naturally more common) and fertility treatments, both demographic characteristics that are more common among Whites. A scholarly article reviewing Rushton's claims regarding twinning makes various criticisms and concludes: "Moreover, Rushton misinterprets a number of relevant aspects related to the biology of twinning. The claim that ethnic differences in twinning rates provide evidence for an r/K typology in human populations with respect to reproductive strategies does not appear to be warranted.

A meta-analysis shows that blacks are not more psychopathic, that differences in sex hormones between whites and East Asians are best explained by environmental differences, and that blacks do not differ from whites when testing for the big five personality traits.

Controversy and criticism

Popular science commentator David Suzuki protested Rushton's racial theories and spoke out against Rushton in a live televised debate at the University of Western Ontario. "There will always be Rushtons in science," Suzuki said "and we must always be prepared to root them out!". Rushton is accused by critics of advocating a new eugenics movement, and is openly praised by proponents of eugenics.

After mass mailing his book to psychology, sociology and anthropology professors across North America based on his racial papers, Hermann Helmuth, a professor of anthropology at Trent University, said, "It is in a way personal and political propaganda. There is no basis to his scientific research.

Francisco Gil-White wrote disparagingly of Race, Evolution and Behavior, stating, "Race, Evolution, and Behavior is a tiny, self-published book (a pamphlet, really), that Rushton takes the trouble to mail to people who never requested a copy, such as myself.

Professional opinions


Pioneer Fund grantees
Most of the favourable criticism on this work has come from researchers who, like Rushton, have been Pioneer Fund grantees. Paul Lombardo, Director of the Program in Law and Medicine, Center for Biomedical Ethics, University of Virginia, describes the Pioneer Fund this way:
Pioneer represents a missing link in the history of eugenics that connects the racial radical branch of American eugenics in the first third of the century, to eugenics in 1930s Germany, and to hereditarian politics of recent years as exemplified in books like The Bell Curve.

Psychologist Arthur Jensen said:

This brilliant book is the most impressive theory-based study...of the psychological and behavioral differences between the major racial groups that I have encountered in the world literature on this subject.

Journalist Jared Taylor, editor of the American Renaissance (magazine) and self-professed racialist said:

Anyone who wants to understand the world as it is, and to base policy on facts rather than on fantasies, must read this very important book.

Hans Eysenck of the University of London said:

Professor Rushton is widely known and respected for the unusual combination of rigour and originality in his work....Few concerned with understanding the problems associated with race can afford to disregard this storehouse of well-integrated information which gives rise to a remarkable synthesis.

Psychologist, and associate editor of the journal "Mankind Quarterly" Richard Lynn wrote:

Should, if there is any justice, receive a Nobel Prize.
Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson (one of the two cofounders of r/K selection theory) states:

I think Phil is an honest and capable researcher ... The basic reasoning by Rushton is solid evolutionary reasoning; that is it's logically sound. If he had seen some apparent geographic variation for a non-human species-a species of sparrow or sparrow hawk, for example-no one would have batted an eye.


Psychologist and Peace Studies Researcher David P. Barash wrote in a scholarly review of Race, Evolution and Behavior:

I don't know which is worse, Rushton's scientific failings or his blatant racism. [...] At least Rushton has a theory, namely, r- and K-selection. In brief, he argues that `Negroids' are relatively r-selected, `Mongoloids' K-selected, and `Caucasoids' in between. All racial distinctions are then seen to derive from this grand pattern, from differences in genital anatomy, to reproductive regimes, to IQ, etc. He even points to the higher frequency of low birth weight babies among black Americans, data that are undeniably consistent with an r-selection regime, but which might also be attributed to poor nutrition and insufficient prenatal care, and which, not coincidentally, have other implications for behaviour, IQ not the least. [...] I suspect that r- and K-selection does in fact have some relevance to variations in human behaviour, notably the so-called demographic transition, whereby economic development characteristically leads to reduced family size, and, moreover, a greater reliance on a variety of `K-type' traits. But this is a pan-human phenomenon, a flexible, adaptive response to changed environmental conditions of lowered mortality and greater pay-off attendant upon concentrating parental investment in a smaller number of offspring [...] Rushton wields r- and K-selection as a Procrustean bed, doing what he can to make the available data fit[...]. Bad science and virulent racial prejudice drip like pus from nearly every page of this despicable book"

Humanities educator Dr. Barry Mehler , wrote critically of Rushton's book, stating:

"Rushton's theories are a bizarre mélange of nineteenth century anthro-pometrism and twentieth century eugenics. Although there is no evidence showing different cranial sizes between races, Rushton has cited the genetic distance studies of Allen Wilson of the University of California to claim that Africans have smaller brains and are more primitive than whites and orientals, who evolved to cope with the more demanding northern climes. Wilson commented: 'He is misrepresenting our findings'. These 'show that Asians are as closely related to modern Africans as Europeans are'. When asked if he was aware of any anthropological evidence at all that might support Rushton's claim, he replied, 'I'm not aware of any such evidence. The claim shocks and dismays me'.

Dr. Marcus W. Feldman , Stanford University Population Biologist and recognized authority on r/K selection theory, claims that r/K is "absolutely inapplicable" to differences between humans.

Leonard Lieberman, professor of Anthropology at Central Michigan University wrote regarding Rushton's book:

"Rushton seldom carries out direct measurements and does not adequately explain his selective use of the research and writing of others."

Professor Zack Z. Cernovsky:

In summary, although Rushton's writings and public speeches instill the vision of Blacks as small-brained, oversexed criminals who multiply at a fast rate and are afflicted with mental disease, his views are neither based on a bona fide scientific review of literature nor on contemporary scientific methodology. His dogma of bioevolutionary inferiority of Negroids is not supported by empirical evidence. Acceptance of similar theories should not be based on racist prejudice but on objective standards, that is, conceptual and logical consistency and integrity, quality of methods and data, and an analysis of disconfirmatory trends. Rushton's racial theory does not meet any of these standards.

Professor Joseph L Graves:

This article examines both the flaws in the general theory, and specifically Rushton's application of that same theory to human data. It concludes that neither Rushton's use of the theory nor the data that he has assembled could possibly test any meaningful hypotheses concerning human evolution and/or the distribution of genetic variation relating to reproductive strategies or 'intelligence', however defined.

Mailing Controversy

The 1st special abridged edition published under the Transaction Press name in 1999 caused considerable controversy when 40,000 copies were "mailed, unsolicited, to psychologists, anthropologists, and sociologists, many of whom were angered when they discovered that their identities and addresses had been obtained from their respective professional associations' mailing lists." The director of Transaction Press, Irving Louis Horowitz "condemned the abridged edition as a 'pamphlet' that he had never seen or approved prior to its publication." A subsequent 2nd special abridged edition was published in 2000 with a rejoinder to Horowitz's criticisms under a new entity called The Charles Darwin Research Institute.


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