with an interest in why our world is the way it is owes
a debt of gratitude to Richard Lynn, the indefatigable
psychometrician best known for his studies of how human intelligence various by
country, race, and sex, as well as over time. He has provided ironclad
documentation of the differences themselves, theorized about their evolutionary
origins, and (with some help from his late Finnish colleague
Tatu Vanhanen) demonstrated their explanatory value in relation to economics
and politics. Lynn has now written an account of his life, Memoirs of a Dissident
work has made him many enemies, and as science seems to be moving into anew Dark Age,
things seem to be getting worse. Two years ago, long after Lynn’s retirement he
was formally stripped of his (purely honorific) emeritus status at the University of Ulster where
he had created a psychology department from scratch and taught for twenty-three
years. This was in response to
a students’ union resolution accusing
Lynn of advocating “racist and sexist” views. Of course, Lynn never simply
“advocated views,” but rather published findings: a distinction apparently lost
on both students and university authorities.
of a lifelong attraction to “big ideas.” In his youth, this meant joining
the Young Communist League. There
he learned that capitalist countries
needed two parties, one to represent the capitalists and one the workers—but
that the Soviet Union, having overcome class conflict, only required one.
Within about a year, he began developing doubts about Communism,
but he remained a socialist for some time.
Lynn was still a schoolboy, his father—a scientist and world expert on the
genetics of cotton—gave him Wilfred Trotter’s Instincts of the Herd in
Peace and War, a study of the human tendency to identify
with groups, and suggested he consider studying psychology. The young Lynn had
been attracted to history, but eventually he became dissatisfied with the
discipline “because it was impossible to find the patterns that can be found in
the sciences.” He was drawn to psychology as a way of getting at the ultimate
wellsprings of such human behavior as warfare.
a stint of
Army service before he went to Cambridge, Lynn also found time to read Francis
Galton’s Hereditary Genius(1869).
Galton believed, and subsequent research has verified, that intelligence is a
single entity and largely hereditary. He observed that in advanced
civilizations the more intelligent individuals tend to have fewer children,
with the result that the intelligence of the population declines. Lynn writes:
“I found all this very interesting and it confirmed my intention to take
psychology when I went up to Cambridge.”
He was to
be disappointed. The intellectual heirs of Galton at this time were known
as the “London School” of experimental
psychology, led by Sir Cyril Burt and Hans Eysenck,
but the entire psychology faculty at King’s College, Cambridge, where Lynn
studied, detested them:
never tired of deriding this group. My father told me that Sir Cyril Burt was
nominated for fellowship of the Royal Society from time to time, but Bartlett [chairman
of the King’s College Psychology Department] invariably blackballed him.
the first time I had heard this view and as Gates was a Fellow of the Royal
Society and a distinguished geneticist I took
it seriously. Gates also asked me my opinion about eugenics and I told him I
had read the studies by Burt and Cattell showing
that intelligence was declining and I agreed with Cattell that eugenic measures
were needed to correct this. He told me that he took the same view.
also concerned about the Commonwealth Citizens Act
of 1948 which gave all Commonwealth citizens the right to
come and live in Britain. As there were about a billion of these I doubted
whether this was sensible. When the wisdom of this was questioned in the House
of Commons by a conservative, a Labour minister assured him that very few would
actually come. A week or two after the act was passed the first immigrants from
Jamaica arrived on the Empire Windrush.
for the first time, Lynn voted for the governing Conservative Party because
to restrict the immigration from our colonies. I thought this was sensible
because I believed it could be anticipated from Herbert Spencer’s in-group-amity out-group
enmity principle, rebranded as ethnocentrism by William Sumner in his 1906
book Folkways, that there would
be tension and conflict between the immigrants and the indigenous population.
1960s, Lynn joined the British Eugenics Society in
an effort to find independent-minded people like himself, but this proved a
disappointment. By this time, the Society was running scared. Within
a few years they removed the word “eugenics” from their name and that of their
journal, and took to limiting their focus to such bland subject matter as contraception in
Third World countries.
carry out research on the economic and social problems of Ireland. Foremost
among these was that Ireland was quite economically backward compared with
Britain, and I researched the literature to see what contribution I could make.
It was not long before I discovered a study that reported that the IQ of Irish
12-year-olds was 90 compared with 100 in Britain.
independently confirmed this, but with uncharacteristic caution decided not to
publish on the subject at that point.
also at ESRI that he met the son of John C. Raven, developer
of one of the world’s most widely used intelligence tests, Raven’s Progressive
junior had a large collection of results from a number of countries but it
apparently never occurred to him to calculate national IQs from these. He made
these available to me and later I used many of them to calculate IQs for a
number of countries and show that these are a major determinant of national
differences in per capita incomes.
were the seeds from which Lynn’s later book IQ and
the Wealth of Nations(2002) would
on to establish a new Psychology Department at the University of Ulster and
taught there for twenty-three years. In 1991 he published a theory that the Ice
Age had increased European and Northeast Asian IQ by applying selective pressure
for intelligence. In response,
coaches of people from the Anti-Nazi League came
to the university and
disrupted my lecture and put up posters demanding “Sack racist Lynn”. The
university administrators did not call the police or make any attempt to stop
added. The current crisis in the West’s universities has been thirty years in
slightly less uncivilized incident involved Lynn’s attendance at an academic
conference where he was outnumbered by colleagues who favored environmental
explanations of human behavior. One of these asked him whether he felt he was
I said I
didn’t because I have never thought of these environmentalists as enemies and
it is difficult for me to understand that this is how many of them regard me
and others who regard genetic factors as important. Work on race differences
excites a huge hostile emotional reaction in many people. This has always been
difficult for me to understand, since for me race differences are simply a
matter of scientific interest and I have never felt any emotion about the
Lynn once pointed to his demonstration that Northeast Asians had higher average
IQs than Europeans as one of his three most significant scientific achievements.
(The other two items were 1) discovering that the black African IQ was about 70
rather than similar to the Black American average of 85; and 2) his compilation
of studies on race and IQ around the world along with the “cold winters” theory
of their origin.) [Race, Dysgenics, And The
Survival Of The West, The Occidental
Quarterly, Fall 2007] Yet this disinterested approach to knowledge appears
unintelligible to Lynn’s critics, who continue to accuse him of “trying to
prove” the superiority of his own race.
egalitarians have not been the only force working against Lynn’s ideas. Another
challenge has been the intellectual inertia and small-mindedness of most
academics. In 1998, Lynn delivered a paper on dysgenic fertility. He recalls:
the audience expressed any interest. I had expected someone would say: “You
mean the national intelligence is deteriorating genetically? Wow! This sounds
really serious. What could be done about this?” But I did not get a single
question. My paper was greeted with total indifference. This confirmed my
previous experience that one of the strange things about psychology is that
there are a few really interesting and important questions but hardly anyone is
interested in them. I have always found that at psychology conferences
virtually all the papers are concerned with trivia.
academic mentality goes far to explain such anomalies as Hans Eysenck’s failure
to be elected a fellow of the British Psychological Society, or Arthur Jensen’s never
receiving “any of the many medals that the American Psychological Association
hands out each year to nonentities.”
asked Jensen about his willingness to dissent from popular orthodoxies:
replied that he thought the explanation was that he didn’t mind being disliked
by a lot of people. Most people, he said, have a dread of being disliked, but
this was not something that bothered him. On another occasion, he told me that
he had never had any interest in team sports. This is likely attributable to
Jensen’s lack of identification with groups and is a further expression of his
independence of mind.
reports a similar indifference in his own youth as to whether his school won or
lost athletic matches. He contrasts this with the behavior he observed in many
graduates of English “public” (i.e.
elite private) schools, where boys were beatenfor
even trivial breaches of the rules:
objective was to instill a respect for authority and fear of stepping out of
line. This was frequently effective and perhaps a good discipline for those who
would later enter the armed services, civil service or the church and generally
stood them in good stead in their subsequent careers.
course, it is notably fair of Lynn to point this out. But, as he goes on,
not so good for the few who became academics who have to be breakers of the
conventional consensus if they are to do good original work. I have noticed
that several of those who attended one of these public schools retained a
lifelong fear of breaking the conventional consensus and have a strong aversion
to others who do so.
universities are increasingly authoritarian institutions designed for
conformists. It is hard to see that a young Richard Lynn would succeed in