Two articles appear below::
1 The Fallacy of Racism
2 On Race

The Fallacy of Racism

Kirk Straughen

(Investigator 155, 2014 March)

Racism is the belief that there are fundamental differences in intelligence between the various races of Mankind, and that these differences have determined their respective cultures. In addition, there is also the associated belief that there are superior races (usually ones' own) that have the right to exploit those who are deemed to be lesser breeds of men.

These ideas are exemplified by such works as the Reverend Buckner H Payne's The Negro: What is His Ethnological Status? (1867), in which he arrived at the conclusion that Negroes were soulless animals; Charles Carroll's The Negro a Beast (1900) and The Tempter of Eve (1902), in which he argued that Negroes were merely higher apes created to serve the white race, that the Serpent was a Negro, and that Negroes should be considered more animal than man. Unfortunately, some of Carroll's views still find favour in parts of the American South.

As can be seen, Negroes have been subjected to considerable discrimination, therefore this article will focus on the claims made concerning their alleged inferiority, and address the following questions: Are Negroes, or for that matter any other race, more like apes than men? Is there such a thing as racial purity or a Master Race? Are there differences in intelligence between the various races of Mankind? If so, then is the cause heredity, environment or both?

The Nature of Race

Because the word "race" is often misunderstood and misused, it is essential that I correct any misconceptions people may have before proceeding further:
"Very broadly speaking a race is a population of individuals of similar physical type occupying the same area, habitually interbreeding and having historical continuity. Modern anthropologists recognise about thirty of such races, although the number could be made much higher or lower according to the criteria used." (R. Carrington: A Million Years of Man, page 119)
Mankind can be divided into the following groups: (l) Major Geographical Races - the populations of the Earth's continents. (2) Local Races - the distinguishable populations within continental divisions. (3) Micro-races - the distinguishable populations within local races.

In this article, I shall only list the major geographical races, which are as follows: (1) Amerindian. (2) Polynesian. (3) Micronesian. (4) Melanesian-Papuan. (5) Australoid. (6) Asiatic. (7) Indian. (8) European. (9) African, commonly referred to as Negro, or Black.

As can be seen, race refers to purely physical characteristics. Culture and mental attributes such as intelligence and temperament do not enter the definition. Indeed, racial differences are merely physical adaptations to different environments — skin colour (the primary source of prejudice), for example, is due to different concentrations of the pigment melanin, that helps protect our skin from the harmful effects of ultraviolet light which, in excessive amounts, can cause skin cancer.

Not surprisingly, races with high concentrations of melanin, and therefore dark skin, are usually found in the equatorial regions of the world where sunlight is more intense, whereas pale skinned races are usually native to less sunny climes. Naturally, there are variations in the skin colour of people inhabiting hot climates. For example, the people of the North African desert region have skin colours ranging from light tan to almost black, and from this fact it is clear there are additional factors responsible for Mankind's variety of skin colours, one of which is probably the intermarriage between different racial groups in antiquity.

From a biological point of view, there is no such thing as an inferior race, as each one is suited to the environmental conditions that led to its development. Unfortunately, these facts are ignored by racists who often claim that Negroes display ape-like characteristics, and are therefore less evolved than Europeans. This belief is totally unjustifiable because the human evolutionary line diverged from that of all other primates approximately 35 million years ago. Indeed, all modern races are descended from fully human ancestors:

"All human varieties living at present derived from a relatively small group of early men of the Homo sapiens type, originating perhaps half a million years ago. As this small but variable group increased numerically, and segments moved into different climatic and geographical regions, genetic isolation and differential selection probably led to the formation of numerous population strains. These, in turn gave rise to further races down to the present time. With continuous changes taking place, clearly no contemporary population exactly resembles the original Homo sapiens men, nor can it be claimed that any particular races are purer or less changed than others." (P.J. Fisher: The Universe, Life & Man, page 211)

Racists fail to realise that because of our evolutionary heritage, all human beings, irrespective of race, have ape-like features. For example, the features of Whites that most resemble those of apes are our thin lips and extensive body hair, whereas these features are least ape-like in Negroes. Given that this is so, is it justifiable to claim that Whites can be classified as subhuman because of these facts? Is it logical to deny a person their humanity on such spurious grounds as the colour of their skin, or the size of their lips?

Race & Intelligence

Intelligence tests have shown that there are differences in intelligence quotients (IQ) between Negroes and Whites. However, the question is: are these differences the result of environment or heredity. Before I examine this question, it will be helpful if I outline some of the assumptions associated with intelligence and intelligence tests.

The first assumption many people make is that intelligence is an unchanging innate cognitive ability that can be measured independently of environmental factors, and that IQ scores accurately reflect mental abilities. This belief is erroneous.

Research has shown that there is a link between IQ scores and the level of education of the person tested. For example, during World War I the psychologist Robert M Yerkes persuaded the United States Army to conduct intelligence tests on recruits. The data obtained from the tests indicated that Blacks scored much lower than Whites, and this was taken as evidence that the result was due to genetic factors.

However, when the data was re-examined by Ashley Montagu in 1945, he found that there was a direct correlation between education and IQ score
50% of Negro recruits from Northern states had reached 5th grade and 25% had completed primary school, whereas in the South, 50% had not gone beyond 3rd grade and only 7% had completed primary school. As a consequence, the average scores for Negroes from the four highest Northern states exceeded the White mean for nine Southern states. Moreover, there was also a high correlation between the education expenditure of a state, and the average score of its recruits.

Additional evidence that IQ scores measure education, rather than innate intelligence, comes from such studies as the one conducted by Professor IH. Rohrer on the Osage Amerindians, and published in the Journal of Social Psychology, in 1942.

The Osage Indians were very fortunate in that oil was discovered on their reservation after the land was given to them by the US government. As a result of the income derived from this find, the Osage were able to attain social, educational and economic standards well in advance of most Amerindian communities. The results of the test, and conclusions are as follows:
"On two different tests, one a non-language test, the second depending on language, they obtained average IQs of 104 and 100 respectively. The apparent inferiority of American Indian children disappeared completely; if anything, they were slightly superior to the white children. There can be no doubt in this case that when American Indian children are given educational opportunities comparable to those of whites, their test results improve correspondingly." (O. Klineberg: Race and Psychology, page 193 in Race Science and Society)

In view of the fact that the degree and quality of education, and other environmental factors play a role in determining IQ scores, it is more accurate to say that these tests measure scholastic achievement rather than genetically determined innate intelligence:
“IQ is not, and could not be, a measure of cognitive abilities abstracted from all social and motivational factors. In as much as IQ tests measure anything, they measure the likelihood of educational and social success in a particular society. This is not to deny that cognitive abilities do contribute to such success, but rather to claim that it is impossible to consider such abilities in isolation from their social determination and expression. The assumption on the part of intelligence-test constructors that this is possible, combined with their preoccupation with the technical details of test construction, has given the concept of IQ a quite spurious aura of scientific respectability." (J. Ryan: IQ - The Illusion of Objectivity, page 54 in Race, Culture and Intelligence)

As well as sociological factors, there are also psychological factors that can influence IQ test scores, and this is demonstrated by the fact that the race of the person supervising the test can influence the performance of the subjects — Negroes in America score, on average, six points lower when tested by Whites than when tested by members of their own race:
"As early as 1936 it was known that when the IQ of American Negroes was tested by white and Negro testers, the Negroes scored, on average, six points lower when tested by whites than by Negroes ... between 1936 and the 1960s at least two other studies had shown results strikingly similar to this earlier one." (P. Watson: Can Racial Discrimination Affect IQ?, page 59 in Race, Culture and Intelligence.)

In 1968 and 1971 experiments were conducted by Peter Watson on West Indian students in Britain with similar results — the Black students produced scores several points higher when a Black person was conducting the test when compared to when a White person was conducting the test. These results suggest the following:- Many Blacks are aware that some Whites have a poor opinion of their abilities, and when placed in a situation where they feel they have to "prove" their intelligence to a White person, become intimidated, and the resulting stress diminishes their performance.

Naturally, some people may still maintain that differences in IQ scores between Negroes and Whites indicate a difference in innate genetically determined intelligence. This belief, which can be called a hereditarian theory of IQ, is unsound because it rests on two basic fallacies:
"The hereditarian fallacy is not the simple claim that IQ is to some degree "heritable" ... The hereditarian fallacy resides in two false implications drawn from this basic fact: The equation of "heritable" with "inevitable." To a biologist, heritability refers to the passage of traits or tendencies along family lines as a result of genetic transmission. It says little about the range of environmental modification to which these traits are subject...

2. The confusion of within — and between — group heredity... The common fallacy consists in assuming that if heredity explains a certain percentage of variation among individuals within a group, it must also explain a similar percentage of the difference in average IQ between groups — Whites and Blacks, for example. But variation among individuals within a group and differences in mean values between groups are entirely separate phenomena. One item provides no licence for speculation about the other." (S.J. Gould: The Mismeasure of Man, pages 155-156.)

Because Negroes are subjected to different environmental influences (due to discrimination) than Whites, it is not logically possible to make a connection between biological differences in race and differences in IQ scores between the races. This becomes apparent when we use a less emotive example:- If a bag of seeds is divided equally into two groups — Sl and S2, with Sl being planted in fertile soil and S2 in barren soil. Naturally, the plants that develop from S1 flourish while those from S2 are stunted.

Now, if we study the height of the Sl and S2plants, in an attempt to determine the extent to which heredity is responsible, we are likely to find genetic differences between these plants and the parent plant from which the seed was harvested, as well as genetic differences between Sl and S2. However, these differences can't be linked to differences in their respective height as this is due to different environmental conditions. The same situation applies to the difference in QI scores between Negroes and Whites.

Race, Geography and Culture

Racists often assume that the level of technology is an indicator of superiority/inferiority, and their argument usually runs something like this: "The various cultures of Africa were not as technologically advanced as that of Europeans. Their culture was backward because it was the product of inferior minds." This belief is false because there is more to civilization than the ability to manufacture fast cars or atomic bombs. Indeed, the findings of those anthropologists, archaeologists and historians who have studied the cultures of Africa can be broadly summarised as follows:
"Though far behind Europe in their technical knowledge, Africans are now known to have been skilfully inventive in many ways. They developed tropical farming techniques that have scarcely been bettered to this day. They were good miners and metalworkers, producing, among other things, a steady supply of the gold that went into medieval European currencies, and without which those currencies might well have been impossible. They were astute businessmen, as more than one non-African merchant had occasion to know. They operated political and social systems of considerable flexibility and sophistication. They were superb sculptors." (B. Davidson: African Kingdoms, page 22.)

The civilisations of Africa, at the time of their discovery by Europeans, were not as technologically advanced as those of Western people; however, this is not an indication that African people were incapable of achieving an advanced culture. The level of technical achievement is dependent on other factors that will become apparent when we consider the following brief sketch of Western civilization's indebtedness to other cultures.

Our culture's art, ethics, philosophy, politics and science are all derived from, or have been influenced by the ideas from ancient Greek civilization, and the Greeks, in turn, were stimulated by contact with the older civilizations of Egypt and Mesopotamia. Rome and her empire were also influenced by Greek thought, and to the Romans we owe much in the way of law, administration and engineering.

With the collapse of the Roman Empire, Western Europe declined, and only fragmentary classical texts on science were preserved. For example, Plato's Timaeus (first 53 chapters), some of Aristotle's logical works (Logica Vetus), Dioscorides' Materia Medica, excerpts of Lucretius' De Rerum Natura, Vitruvius' De Architectura, Seneca's Quaestiones Naturales, and Pliny's Historia Naturalis.

Fortunately, a large amount of Greek learning was transmitted to Islamic civilization. The Arabs in turn were stimulated by Greek ideas, and also by their contact with Indian civilization. Sicily and Spain became the chief centres of Arabic and Greek science, and from here knowledge flowed back into Europe so that by about 1000 to 1100 AD the following Latin translations of Arabic texts were known (note, this is not a complete list):

The Jabir ibn Hayyan corpus (various works on chemistry); Al¬Khwarizmi's Liber Ysagogarum Alchorismi (arithmetic), Astronomical tables (trigonometry), Algebra; Alkindi's De Umbris Aspectibus, De Umbris et de Diversitate Aspectuum; Thabit ibn Qurra's Liber Charastonis (on the Roman balance); Rhaze's De Aluminibus et Salibus (a work on chemistry), Liber Continens (a medical encyclopedia); Alfarabis' Distinctio super Librum Aristotelis de Naturali Auditu; Haly Abbas' Liber Regalis (a medical encyclopedia); a pseudo-Aristotle work - De Proprietatibus Elementorum (an Arabic work on geology); Alhazen's Opticae Thesaurus; Avicenna's physical and philosophical part of the Kitab al-Shifa (a commentary on Aristotle), De Mineralibus (geological and alchemical part of the Kitab al-Shifa), Canon (a medical encyclopedia); Alpetragius' Liber Astronomiae (Aristotelian concentric system); Averroes' commentaries on Physica, De Caelo et Mundo, De Anima and other works; and finally Liber Abaci by Leonardo Fibonacci of Pisa, the first complete account of Hindu numerals.

This flow of ideas from Greek and Islamic culture stimulated European civilization and eventually led to the Renaissance, and the beginnings of modern science in the 17th and 18th centuries. As can be seen, Western civilization achieved its greatness because it was able to build on the achievements of other cultures. The reason why African peoples never developed a civilization comparable to our own is because they were geographically isolated from the intellectual ferment that stimulated Europe and produced the culture we enjoy today.

Another factor that can hinder the development of a culture is the absence of domesticable plants and animals — the very foundations of civilization. For example, the Australian Aborigines have often been considered inferior because they did not develop beyond the hunter-gatherer stage. However, what native Australian plant could fill the role wheat played in the development of civilization in the Near East? And what native Australian animal could fill the role horses played in agriculture and warfare?

In the Near East there were more than twelve varieties of plants that were highly productive in the wild, and therefore easily domesticated and transformed into cereals such as wheat. In addition there were domesticable animals such as horses, cows, pigs and goats. By contrast, Australia had none of these species, and it is little wonder that in their absence, Aboriginal culture never advanced beyond the hunter-gatherer stage:
"Continental differences in civilization, then, weren't an accident caused by a few individual geniuses. Nor were they the result of average differences in inventiveness among whole peoples. Instead, they were determined by geography, which sets ground rules for the biology of all plant and animal species, including our own. In the long run, and on a broad scale, where we live makes us who we are." (J. Diamond: The Accidental Conqueror, page 76 in Discover, Vol. 10 No. 12.)

Racism: Its Origin and Cause

Finally, no essay on racism would be complete without some attempt to get to the heart of the matter and address the following question: What is the origin and cause of racism? However, before I begin to outline the origins of racism, it is best to list the three basic conditions that can give rise to the phenomena:
1. There must be two or more social groups, identifiable by their visible physical characteristics or cultural practices. Unless people are aware of differences between the groups and are able to identify people as belonging to one group rather than another, racism cannot develop.

2. There must be competition between groups for valued resources, such as power, land, or jobs. In this situation, members of one group will be inclined to secure their own interests by denying members of the other groups full access to resources.

3. The groups must be unequal in power, enabling one of them to make good its claim over scarce resources at the expense of the other group or groups. At this stage inequalities become structured into society." (I. Robertson: Sociology, page 287)

Racist ideas started to develop after European powers seized vast tracts of land in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, thus fulfilling condition 1 — contact between different cultures and peoples.

This in turn led to condition 2 — Europeans wanted the resources of those lands they invaded and, as they were more technologically advanced, could easily dominate the indigenous population, thus fulfilling condition 3.

Racism, then, originally arose from the sociological and psychological factors associated with colonialism, where Europeans subjugated non-Europeans and, as a consequence, were forced to justify their actions — it is easier to dominate, enslave and abuse other human beings if you can convince yourself that they are little better than animals.

No evidence exists that is capable of supporting the assumption that Mankind can be divided into superior and inferior races. Indeed, those who claim to be superior have, on the whole, treated those they deemed to be inferior in such a reprehensible manner, that their very actions have negated all claims to a higher rank among human beings.


Carrington, R. A. Million Years of Man, The New American Library of World Literature Inc., New York, 1964.

Crombie, A.C.  Augustine to Galileo, Mercury Books, London, 1964.

Davidson, B. African Kingdoms, Time-Life International, 1967.

Diamond. J. The Accidental Conqueror, Discover, Vol. 10 No. 12, Discover Publications Inc., New York, 1989.

Fisher, P.J. The Universe, Life & Man, William Heinemann Ltd., London, 1970.

Gardner, M. Fads & Fallacies in the Name of Science, Dover Publications Inc., New York, 1957.
Gould, M. The Mismeasure of Man, W.W. Norton & Co., New York. 1981.

Klineberg, O. Race and Psychology, in Kuper, L. (Ed) Race Science and Society, George Allen & Unwin Ltd., London. 1975.

Robertson, I.  Sociology, 2nd Edition, Worth Publishers Inc., New York, 1977.

Swartz. M.J & Anthropology: Perspective on Humanity, John Wiley & Sons, Jordan, D.K. Inc., New York, 1976.

Watson, P. Can Racial Discrimination Affect IQ, in Richardson, K. (Ed) & Spears, D. (Ed), Race, Culture & Intelligence, Penguin Books Ltd., England, 1973.



(Investigator 156, 2014 May)

Mr Straughen (#155) argues that no "races" are inferior to other races.

He accepts that distinct races exist and lists nine of them but has relied excessively on older books published 40 or 50 years ago.

Gail Vines in New Scientist (1 July 1995) reviews Jonathan Marks' book Human Biodiversity and writes:
Marks uses a combination of history and biology to show that conventional notions of human "races", as well as scientific theories current earlier this century, are and were intellectually bankrupt; modern molecular genetics has established that genetic profiles cannot divide humanity into any definitive types. There are no genetic markers for "race" or "ethnicity": even the few genes apparently found only among "Africans" or "Jews" or "Chinese", for instance, are by no means possessed by all the individuals designated to such groups…the very idea of "race" is biological nonsense.
Scientific American (September 2003) says:
…individuals from different populations are, on average, just slightly more different from one another than are individuals from the same population.

Polymorphisms [small variations in DNA] that occur at different frequencies around the world can, however, be used to sort people roughly into groups…

Given that people can be sorted broadly into groups using genetic data, do common notions of race correspond to underlying genetic, differences? In some cases they do, but often they don't. For instance, skin color or facial features — traits influenced by natural selection — are routinely used to divide people into races. But groups with similar physical characteristics can be quite different genetically. Individuals from sub-Saharan African and Australian Aborigines might have similar skin pigmentation…but genetically they are quite dissimilar.  (pp 52, 53, 55)