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Subject: 'Bell Curve' and eugenics foundation -- ABC TV

The Bell Curve and the Pioneer Fund

ABC World News Tonight. November 22, 1994

Following is a transcript of the ABC World News Tonight story on The Bell Curve and the Pioneer Fund. It aired November 22, 1994. We are also responding directly by e-mail to requests but this may save everyone some time.

Thanks for the interest.


There is more to this controversy about intelligence and race. Some of the ideas found in the book, The Bell Curve, are not new. Our Agenda reporter Bill Blakemore has been looking into a fairly obscure research fund that has drawn attention because of this book, The Bell Curve - a fund with a history.


(VO) - This mailbox service in Manhattan is the official address for the Pioneer Fund. There is no office. The fund's president and four directors avoid publicity and rarely talk to journalists. Ever since 1937, the Pioneer Fund has promoted the study of racial purity as a an ideal. Over the past 10 years, according to public documents, the Pioneer Fund contributed $3.5 million to researchers cited in The Bell Curve.

Psychologist Arthur Jensen received $1.1 million from the Pioneer Fund. Twenty five years ago, he started writing that blacks may be genetically less intelligent than whites. Psychologist Philippe Rushton received $656,000. He says his researchers show small genitalia may be a sign of superior intelligence. Psychologist Richard Lynn, $325,000 from the fund. He has written that incompetent cultures should be phased out. Close to half the footnotes citing authors who support The Bell Curve's most controversial chapter that suggests some races are naturally smarter than others, refer to Pioneer Fund recipients. Historian Berry Mehler charges that the Pioneer Fund's interest in race differences made The Bell Curve's arguments possible.


The Pioneer Fund has been the key source of funding for the last 20 years of scientists who have produced the material that is the foundation for the claims that African American people on average are intellectually inferior to whites.


(VO) Bell Curve co author Charles Murray, who declined an on camera interview for this report, told us that he knew very little about the Pioneer Fund; had never taken its money and knew of only two researchers cited in his book who had. Nonetheless, controversy around The Bell Curve is focusing attention on this obscure fund. (on camera) To understand how the Pioneer Fund got started, we came here to Cold Spring Harbor, just outside New York City, where the Pioneer Fund's first president, Harry Laughlin, spent many years.

(VO) From 1910 till 1940, this was the headquarters of the American EUGENICS Movement. Eugenics means roughly 'breeding for good genes.' Laughlin wanted the lowest 10 percent of Americans sterilized to, quote, 'eradicate inferior people.' That did not happen, but by 1931, 30 states had sterilization laws.

In the 1930's, together with a wealthy entrepreneur named Wickliffe Draper, Laughlin forged links with researchers in Germany who were also increasingly enthusiastic about Eugenics, racial superiority and inferiority. In 1936, the year before they set up the fund, the two men distributed one of Hitler's propaganda films to American high schools. It was called Erbkrank, which means 'Hereditary Defective.'


You find an especially high percentage of mentally ill among the Jewish population.


Go back to Adolf Hitler and take a look at what somebody who is serious about Eugenics did.


(VO) As the horror of the Nazi death camps became known, the science of Eugenics was discredited. Nevertheless, after the war, back in the US, the Pioneer Fund, bankrolled by Wickliffe Draper, continued to pay for research in race betterment. One recent Pioneer funded study, for example, examined the IQ of non white immigrants. The fund also funnels money to anti immigration organizations. Its officers and researchers have also fought school desegregation. Professor Michael Levin, who recently got $124,000 from the Pioneer Fund, says black people should be detained under some circumstances simply because they're black.


I don't really see what's so outrageous if, say, a policeman is walking by two stores. He sees three Asian boys go into one and he sees three blacks go into another and he wants to prevent shoplifting and he's got to choose which one to maybe walk into. Why he couldn't use race as a factor?


(VO) Professor Robert Gordon, a fund recipient cited in The Bell Curve, is writing a book that defends the fund. He argues the fund is misunderstood.


The Pioneer Fund is the last remaining source of funding for people who might be interested in why there are race differences in crime and why there are race differences in poverty rates and who don't adopt the standard sociological line on that.


(VO) But many established scientists charge that what the Pioneer Fund pays for is not good science.


I think it's important to realize that most of the people doing this work are not geneticists. And that if you ask people in the mainstream genetics community, you are not going to find much support for this work.


(VO) The man who has been president of the Pioneer fund since the 1950's, Harry F Wehyer, refused to appear on camera. He wrote us that it is the fund's, quote, 'noble intent to better the lot of mankind.' And that the fund's stated goal to promote race betterment refers to human race betterment and has no implications for minorities.


As for The Bell Curve's co author, Charles Murray, when we told him what we'd found out about the Pioneer Fund, he accused us of being on an intellectual witch hunt that would have a pernicious effect on research.

Bill Blakemore, ABC News, New York.

ABC News Investigative unit
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