Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Wickliffe Draper: The Philanthropic Wellspring Of American Race Science

undark  | The web woven by Wickliffe Draper in the 20th century, when he could count on august leaders of scientific institutions to support his segregationist and eugenicist causes, is far less distinguished today. But it hasn’t been wiped out completely. Stealthy back-scratching continues among The Mankind Quarterly contributors with scant academic credentials and those in mainstream academia and publishing.

‍In early 2018, I reported for The Guardian newspaper in the U.K. that there were at least two individuals sitting on the editorial board of the Elsevier journal Intelligence who failed to meet the publisher’s own professional benchmarks. One of them was editor for The Mankind Quarterly, Gerhard Meisenberg. The other was Richard Lynn, then assistant editor of The Mankind Quarterly, and the president of Draper’s Pioneer Fund. Lynn was an emeritus professor of psychology at Ulster University in Northern Ireland, but a few months into 2018 that title would be withdrawn, following a motion by its student union that his views were “racist and sexist in nature.” (Since 2015, The Mankind Quarterly has been published by the Ulster Institute for Social Research, a think tank headed by Lynn.)

At the time, Haier, the editor of Intelligence, defended Lynn and Meisenberg. “I have read some quotes, indirect quotes, that disturb me,” he told me, “but throwing people off an editorial board for expressing an opinion really kind of puts us in a dicey area.” Yet, by the end of 2018 — after the piece in The Guardian was published — the journal’s editorial board went through a dramatic reshuffle and Lynn and Meisenberg were both gone. 

A spokesperson for Elsevier told Undark that it is policy “to rotate Editorial Board members from time to time” and that “Elsevier’s journals operate under the guidance of an Editor-in-Chief and an Editorial Board. Editors-in-Chief are established researchers with a broad interest in their field and are well connected and respected in their subject community.”

Publishing is one side of the research coin. The other is funding. And following a temporary hiatus, Wickliffe Draper’s Pioneer Fund is still in business. In 2013, following the death of its president Jean-Philippe Rushton, only a small fraction of the fund’s assets remained. By 2020, though, they had risen again to almost $300,000 — suggesting that money was coming in from somewhere.

The Pioneer Fund’s U.S. tax records show that its most recent grant was given in 2019, totalling $15,000 to support an organization known as the Human Phenome Diversity Foundation, based in Ohio. This foundation’s president was listed as Bryan Pesta, then a tenured business professor at Cleveland State University in Ohio. In 2016, Pesta published a paper in which he predicted that as the IQ level required to do a job increases, “the percent of White and Asian workers will increase, while the percent of Black workers will decrease.” This was published in Open Differential Psychology, an open-access online journal edited by a right-wing blogger with no known reputable academic affiliations, who is — like Pesta — a contributor to The Mankind Quarterly.

In 2020, Pesta also published research in Intelligence on racial and ethnic group differences in the heritability of intelligence. Roughly a year later, the University of Virginia psychologists Evan Giangrande and Eric Turkheimer responded, stating that the work of Pesta and his colleagues in this paper served “as an example of how racially motivated and poorly executed work can find its way into a mainstream scientific journal, underscoring the importance of robust peer review and rigorous editorial judgment.”

In 2021, Pesta worked on another paper, this time trying to look for correlations between race and behavioral traits using data from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development database, a long-term study of brain development in American children supported by the National Institutes of Health. The paper analyzed the DNA of almost 10,000 of the children in the study to calculate the percentage of five broad population groups each one might statistically belong to, in a similar way to modern-day genetic ancestry tests. Children were labelled as 10 percent or less African, for example, or 90 percent or less European. The goal was to see if differences in rates of depression, educational attainment, and other factors could be linked proportionately to a child’s race.

In 2021, after losing all respectable academic affiliations, Lynn went on to co-author a paper in another Elsevier journal, Personality and Individual Differences, comparing the processing speeds of people in the United States and Taiwan. He made the unverified claim that part of any gap could be attributed to genetic differences between population groups. Lynn sat on the editorial advisory board of Personality and Individual Differences as recently as 2018. The journal’s editor published a review of his memoirs in 2021.


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