Puritan intelligence: the ideological background to IQ

Anti-IQ academic "blames" intelligence testing and eugenics on Puritans and Quakers.

John White. Puritan intelligence: the ideological background to IQ. Oxford Review of Education, Volume 31, Issue 3 September 2005 , pages 423 - 442.
Given well-known difficulties in justifying the Galtonian conception of intelligence as innate general intellectual capacity, a historical explanation is required of why this problematic notion became so prominent in Britain and in the USA in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Parallels are drawn between it and various features of the thought-world of the Puritans, including ideas of predestination, the elect, salvation, vocation, and intellectual education. An examination of the family backgrounds of the leading pioneers of intelligence and intelligence testing reveals that most, if not all, of them had puritan roots. A final section focuses on the tight connexion made between Galtonian intelligence and abstract thinking. It suggests that this may be linked with the central role of logic in puritan thought and its alliance with 'pneumatology', the forerunner of scientific psychology.
More excerpts within:

Galton first published his idea about individual differences in ability in a magazine article in 1865 (Galton, 1865). He spent the rest of his life seeking evidence for it, beginning with his Hereditary Genius of 1869 and its surveys of family-related eminent achievements. The idea was the cornerstone of something much grander. Galton had read his cousin Charles Darwin's The Origin of Species (1859) and wished to apply Darwin's ideas to the evolution of human beings. While the evolution of our own species would take place anyway, Galton believed that we could help the process by deliberate intervention. We could—and not only could, but should—encourage our finest intellectual stock to breed and discourage our meanest from doing so. The idea with which we began—that there are innate, and limiting, differences in intellectual ability—is a basic assumption in this proposal.

Galton later came to call his scheme 'eugenics'. He devoted his later years to the eugenics movement, of which Pearson, Burt, Goddard and Terman became enthusiastic adherents. Terman's approach is typical for this group:
… all the available facts that science has to offer support the Galtonian theory that mental abilities are chiefly a matter of original endowment … It is to the highest 25 percent. of our population, and more especially to the top 5 percent., that we must look for the production of leaders who will advance science, art, government, education, and social welfare generally … The least intelligent 15 or 20 percent. of our population… are democracy's ballast, not always useless but always a potential liability. (Terman, 1922 paper, quoted in Minton, 1988, p. 99)
[. . .] In an article for the Times Educational Supplement in 1969 I wrote:
The proposition that all men have genetically determined intelligence is not unlike the Calvinist belief that for all of us our future state is predestined by God. In both, one finds the notion of a mysterious something, either 'out there' or 'in the genes', which sets limits to what men will do.

The official doctrine of intelligence is a modern re-edition of an older Puritanism. Nature has replaced God; an elite, the elect; Mensa the community of the saved; and intelligence testers, the Puritan high priests. It is time we shook such primitive notions out of our minds. (White, 1969, p. 4)
I found out recently that the comparison I made with predestination had—famously—been made in 1922-3 by Walter Lippman, the American columnist. He wrote:
… most of the prominent testers claim not only that they are really measuring intelligence, but that intelligence is innate, hereditary, and predetermined. They believe that they are measuring the capacity of a human being for all time and that this capacity is fatally fixed by the child's heredity. Intelligence testing in the hands of men who hold this dogma could not but lead to an intellectual caste system in which the task of education had given way to the doctrine of predestination and infant damnation. (The New Republic 15 November 1922).
Are comments about predestination, the elect, and damnation anything more than journalistic flourishes? Perhaps not. There are certainly parallels between the Galtonian doctrine of intelligence and the thought-world of the Puritans.

The predestinarian doctrine was prominent in English and, later, American Protestantism from the late sixteenth century, especially in its more radically Calvinist circles. It has a double aspect: some are predestined to salvation, the others to damnation. There is no middle ground. The saved, moreover, are few in number and the many are damned. The saved are the 'elect', those whom God has selected for eternal life. The damned are those of whom the Protestant came to say, formerly with more literalness than most of those using the phrase today, 'There but for the grace of God go I' (George & George, 1961, p. 55). [. . .]

This section has explored various parallels between ideas associated with Galtonian intelligence and intelligence testing on the one hand, and with Puritan thinking on the other. There are similarities between the Calvinist notion of predestination and the idea that one's degree of innate intelligence may rule out for one the possibility of a professional career and with it a certain standard of living. There are similarities between the puritan obsession with salvation on the one hand and the intelligence theorists' preoccupation with 'eminence', 'reputation', 'giftedness', 'rescuing' bright working-class youngsters through IQ tests and the scholarship system. Both groups were attached to the virtues of the work ethic and had no time for the idleness and moral looseness associated with the reprobate in the one case and those of low IQ in the other. Both saw the conjugal family as an important institution for the transmission of desirable features across generations: in the religious case, a presumption of salvation, and in the psychological, a presumption of high intelligence. Both favoured an intellectually demanding education for its favoured group; and both saw it as equipping its recipients for a worthwhile vocation.

All these are at most parallels, echoes across the centuries which may, or may not, be coincidental. Is more than coincidence at work?


All the early psychologists of intelligence had puritan family roots. I begin with the British.

Francis Galton (1822-1911)

Until he read The Origin of Species in 1859 or later, Galton was a believing Anglican, who had married into an eminent Anglican family (Fancher, 2001, p. 4). His father had also been an Anglican, having originated as a Quaker. Beyond that point, Galton's Quaker roots stretch back in impressive lineage to the early days of the movement in the mid-seventeenth century. Of his 16 great-great-great grandparents on the paternal side, at least 11 and possibly 13 were early members of the Society of Friends (Pearson, 1914-30, Vol 1, p. 27). They include the influential seventeenth-century Scottish Quaker Robert Barclay, for whom salvation was dependent on obedience to the inner light in passive waiting on God (Watts, 1978, p. 461). Other Barclays on that side of the family set up and developed Barclays Bank. By the eighteenth century the Galtons had interests in the manufacture of guns and in the slave trade. In 1795 Galton's grandfather, Samuel Galton F.R.S, was disowned by the Quakers for his gunmaking activities, although he went on attending meetings until his death in 1832. He and his wife, Lucy Barclay, 'lived and died as Quakers' (Pearson 1914-30, Vol 1, p. 45). After his disowning he went into banking, as did Galton's father, Samuel Tertius Galton. The elder Samuel was a member of the celebrated Lunar Society of Birmingham, which devoted itself to scientific and technological advance. Here he was a colleague of Erasmus Darwin F.R.S., grandfather to Charles Darwin and also to Francis Galton, since the latter's father had married Erasmus Darwin's daughter.

To what extent did Galton's Quaker background help to shape his thinking? His Quaker biographer, Karl Pearson, sometimes mentions its effect on his character, as in his reference to Galton's 'Quaker stubbornness' (Pearson, 1914-30, Vol I, p. 57). More generally, the standpoint from which both the 1865 article and Hereditary Genius are written is that of a comfortably-off author who sees himself as belonging to a small, highly educated elite and who draws a sharp distinction between that elite and the shapeless, potentially dangerous mass below. He is someone who has a lot of time for achievement—especially intellectual achievement—of a high order, for 'reputation'. As he writes in Hereditary Genius (p. 6), 'I look upon social and professional life as a continuous examination. All are candidates for the good opinions of others, and for success in their several professions'. These are qualities found in the high-class Quaker society from which he sprang. In a critique of his own community in 1859 John Rowntree:
revealed that what underpinned the Society of Friends was the assumption that the Quaker way of life was a route to [material] success. It comprised in effect an lite of preselected personal and social qualities which, while replenishing itself from generation to generation, had proved itself incapable of maintaining popular support. A wide base to the Society would have undermined that success. (Walvin, 1997, p. 132)
Although Galton gave up his Christian beliefs after reading Darwin, he remained religious for the rest of his life. The ending of Hereditary Genius is sympathetic to the view that,
the constitution of the living Universe is a pure theism, and … its form of activity is what may be described as cooperative … all life is single in its essence, but various, ever varying, and interactive in its manifestations, and … men and all other living animals are active workers and sharers in a vastly more extended system of cosmic action than any of ourselves, much less of them, can possibly comprehend … they may contribute, more or less unconsciously, to the manifestation of a far higher life than our own, somewhat as—I do not propose to push the metaphor too far—the individual cells of one of the more complex animals contribute to the manifestation of its higher order of personality. (Galton, 1978, p. 376)
Man has already furthered evolution very considerably, half unconsciously, and for his own personal advantages, but he has not yet risen to the conviction that it is his religious duty to do so deliberately and systematically. (Galton, 1907, p. 198)
Pearson confirms this:
It was a great revolution in thought that Galton was proposing and probably few grasped its extent in 1883. He had in mind a new religion, a religion which should not depend on revelation … Man was to study the purpose of the universe in its past evolution, and by working to the same end, he was to make its progress less slow and less painful in the future….If the purpose of the Deity be manifested in the development of the universe, then the aim of man should be, with such limited powers as he may at present possess, to facilitate the divine purpose. (Pearson, 1914-30, Vol II, p. 261)
Galton's new religion shared with that of his dissenting ancestors the notion that it is one's religious duty to be socially useful and thereby to promote God's purposes.

Cyril Burt (1883-1971)

Cyril Burt was also of Puritan stock, as with Galton on his father's side. He tells us in his autobiographical sketch (Burt, 1952, p. 55) that his mother was an Anglican and that his father, along with most of his, Cyril's, other male relatives, was a Congregationalist.

His childhood passed more directly under the influence of Congregationalism than Galton's did under that of Quakerism. His father was in the medical profession. 'In his eyes', Burt tells us (Burt, 1952, p. 55), 'I was, like my sister, unquestionably destined from birth to follow him as a doctor.' The father was a keen classical scholar, who taught Burt 'the Latin declensions morning by morning while still in my cot, with stories from Livy or Nepos as a reward'. His grandfather on his father's side was also a Congregationalist. He was as keen on early learning as his son, since a few years later than the cot experience, 'my grandfather, who was a great admirer of German science and philosophy, made me learn the German declensions and recite the song from Wilhelm Tell' (p. 55). Of all the Puritan groups, the Congregationalists had been traditionally been the most committed to learning and teaching—across a broad range, not only in theology. This seems clearly reflected in Burt's own family. His early education reminds one of the Congregationalist belief in seventeenth-century New England, that 'Satan never hesitated to begin his assaults upon children in their infancy, “and therefore if you would prevent him, do not you delay, but be dropping in instruction as they are able, and as soon as they are able to understand any thing”' (Morgan, 1944, p. 53). 'Children were taught as fast as they could learn'.

Burt tells us that 'the last six generations have included six surgeons or physicians, three ministers of the church on the male side' (p. 54). Connexions between science and religion thus go deep into his family past. In the dissenting tradition, the two were closely linked, since science, it was held, revealed the structure of God's created world. This is especially true of the Congregationalists, who were the leading organisers of Dissenting Academies from the seventeenth through to the nineteenth century. Science gained more and more prominence in their curricula as the eighteenth century progressed.

Burt's elitist social and political attitudes are consonant with his Congregationalist background. The Congregationalists were the direct descendants of the predestinarian Calvinists of the first Elizabeth's reign. Like the Quakers, they believed they belonged to the elect—dubbed by Chesterton 'the awful aristocracy of the elect' (Routley, 1961, p. 63) They restricted membership of their church accordingly (Watts, 1978, pp. 169, 291); and like the Quakers, they traditionally tried to keep marriage within their faith (pp. 329-330). They also tended, again like the Quakers, to look after their own poor (p. 337) while being indifferent to poverty in general, seeing it as part of the Providential plan (Jones, 1962, p. 192). Socially, from the seventeenth century 'Congregationalism was very much the religion of the economically independent' (p. 126), including merchants and tradesmen. Like the Quakers, they made up for their exclusion from much of public life by 'a fervent devotion to business' (p. 127). By the nineteenth century they 'found themselves joining in the general adulation of worldly success' (p. 288). It was the Congregationalists who became particularly associated with the defence of the 'Victorian virtues' of hard work, thrift, teetotalism, sabbatarianism, respect towards the family, and suspicion of the theatre (pp. 290-294). An observer in 1902 wrote that their denomination was 'more than any other the Church of the middle classes' (quoted in Bebbington, 1989, p. 110). By contrast, the Baptists 'had a more proletarian profile' (Briggs 1994: 265-6; see also 268-278).

We have already seen how the exclusionist attitudes of the Quakers—their inclination to see themselves as a religiously privileged group, sure of their own salvation—appear to be reflected in Galton's preoccupation with evolutionarily privileged people. It would not be surprising, if so, if Galton's eugenic vision also appealed to Congregationalists, with their own adulation of success and similar sense of innately given specialness.

William McDougall (1871-1938) and Karl Pearson (1857-1936)

In his autobiographical sketch Burt mentions William McDougall and Karl Pearson as significant figures in his early training as a psychologist of the Galtonian school (Burt, 1952, pp. 60-62). [. . .]

McDougall, like Burt, came from dissenting stock. His father, who ran a profitable chemical business, 'was successively a member of most of the leading Christian sects' (p. 191). He shared the views of other northern manufacturers, who were 'class-conscious, conscious of power and of their peculiar interests', and attached to the Liberal party. McDougall remembered his paternal grandfather, who had founded the chemical business, as 'a stern and very pious old gentleman whose hobby was the writing of articles to show that the Bible miracles were compatible with the teachings of science' (p. 191). [. . .]

Karl Pearson was Galton's biographer and, like Burt, a disciple. He was a professor at University College London from 1884 until 1933, at first in Applied Mathematics and Mechanics and then, from 1911 until 1933, as the first Galton Professor of Eugenics, a chair endowed by Galton. In 1901 he joined Galton and a colleague from UCL in founding the journal Biometrika. He was 'an active socialist … But he was more a socialist in the abstract and, as an intellectual snob, believed that social progress would inevitably favour those who worked mainly with their brains rather than their hands' (Gillham, 2001, p. 273). [. . .]

Karl Pearson, like Galton, was of Quaker stock on his father's side. [. . .]

Henry Herbert Goddard (1866-1957)

H.H. Goddard was America's first intelligence tester, a eugenicist, and author of The Kallikak Family (Goddard, 1912).

He was born in New England, of Quaker parents who could both trace their families back to English roots in the seventeenth century (Zenderland, 1998, p. 16). His father had been a farmer but was reduced to being a day labourer. He died when Herbert was nine and 'were it not' he wrote, 'for the Society of Friends (Quakers) it would probably have gone hard with us … The Friends always take care of their poor.' (p. 17). His mother was a committed Quaker; and her commitment grew during Herbert's childhood in the wake of nation-wide Quaker revivalism in the 1870s which deeply affected their Maine community. The 'great change' which had been wrought in her caused the local Friends to recognise her 'gift in the ministry' (she preached in the local Congregational Church among other places). [. . .]

It was while at Oak Grove that Goddard heard an address to local teachers given by G. Stanley Hall, one of the first American psychologists and at that time president of Clark University (p. 28). Goddard was inspired, as were many others, by Clark's child-centred, science-based approach to education and in 1896 went to Clark University to study with him, gaining a doctorate within three years. In an ethos of free enquiry, Hall inducted Goddard into scientific thinking, especially in evolutionary psychology.

Despite the stark differences distinguishing Quaker from Clark pedagogy, Goddard's education in science remained surprisingly consistent. Like other Protestants, Goddard's Quaker teachers had taught a version of natural theology, in which the order found in the physical world illuminated God's orderly mind. Science, Goddard learned, meant discovering the laws of nature. (p. 30)

Goddard's Quaker schooling in Providence had included classes in geology based on evolutionary ideas deriving from Darwin. This prepared him well for his later studies, 'for he evidently perceived no open warfare between his Christian heritage and his new career as a scientist studying evolutionary theory' (p. 31).

The intellectual autonomy of Hall's regime did nothing to shake Goddard's faith, given that Hall himself, brought up on strict Congregationalist lines as a child (Ross, 1972, ch. 1), had recently returned to Christianity and now saw himself as providing a psychological reinterpretation of Christian ideals, supplying, as he put it, 'modern methods of studying the soul'. [. . .]
By the time he graduated, Goddard had found his vocation. He left Clark in 1899 a disciple less of the church's version of the Gospels than of G. Stanley Hall's. Moreover, Goddard embraced his new psychological calling with an evangelical zeal which matched his mother's. He now believed in an evolutionary version of the faith of his fathers. (p. 43)
Zenderland's biography shows abundant evidence of the further intertwining of Goddard's commitment to both science and religion in his early work as an educator, especially in his work in the Child Study movement (pp. 46-49). What is more pertinent to the present investigation is the tenacity of his belief in the eugenic significance of individual differences in intelligence and the zeal with which he developed and promoted intelligence testing. We may note his belief in these tests as a way of identifying the 'feeble-minded', not least among immigrants arriving in America; his polarisation of the highly able virtuous and the moronic vicious in the Kallikak book; and his vision of a society in which everyone pursues his vocation at his own mental level. [. . .]

Lewis Terman (1877-1956)

Lewis Terman was also a pupil of G. Stanley Hall at Clark University and a Galtonian. He developed and publicised the Stanford-Binet test, applied it to tracking systems in school, and worked for many years on the intellectually gifted. He, too, was a eugenicist with a polarised interest in producing leaders at one end of the ability spectrum and curtailing feeble-mindedness at the other.

Like the other psychologists who shared his social outlook, Terman came from Protestant stock. He was born and brought up on a farm in Indiana. His father enjoyed reading the Bible although seldom attended church (Seacoe, 1975, p. 2). Each side of his family could trace its roots in America to around 1700. The fact that his paternal grandfather, John H. Tarman, of Scots-Irish descent, had changed his name to John Bunyan Terman (Minton, 1988, p. 3) indicates a Puritan connexion. Terman's mother was of protestant ancestry on both sides of her family—German (Pennsylvanian 'Dutch') and French Huguenot. Along with her husband she was firm on protestant family virtues like order and discipline and hard work (Seacoe, 1975, p. 3). In his late teens, as a young teacher, Lewis Terman lost all interest in organised religion and became increasingly agnostic (p. 6).

Other American psychologists

G. Stanley Hall (1844-1924) was, as we have seen, the teacher of both Goddard and Terman at Clark University. His Congregational background has been already mentioned. He was a pioneer of American scientific psychology, having launched the first psychological laboratory in the USA, its first journal of psychology, and the American Psychological Association (Schultz & Schultz 2000, p. 201). His particular interest was in evolutionary theory especially as applied to child psychology. His most influential work is Adolescence (1904). This includes his famous 'recapitulation theory', that children's development repeats the life history of the human race, from near-savagery to civilisation.

James McKeen Cattell (1860-1944) was also a pupil of G.S. Hall and an early devotee of mental tests following his meeting with Galton, who inspired him to investigate individual differences. Cattell's father was a Presbyterian minister and President of Lafayette College, an institution with Presbyterian connexions where Cattell himself studied. Of other famous American psychologists associated with intelligence studies, R.S. Woodworth's father was a Congregational minister (Woodworth, 1932, p. 359), Thorndike's a Methodist minister (Jonich, 1968, ch. 1), and Thurstone's a Lutheran minister in Sweden (Thurstone, 1952, p. 295). Yerkes was greatly influenced by his mother. She 'wished me to enter the church. Almost certainly she would have become a foreign missionary had she been free to choose a career' (Yerkes, 1932, p. 385)


Goddard apart, there is no conclusive evidence for any of these men of the influence of puritan beliefs on their psychological and educational work. But the fact, coupled with their own social attitudes, already outlined, that all of their families shared a similar thought-world—mainly in the more exclusivist forms of puritan-inspired belief—may point in that direction. [. . .]

A word, finally, on Jean Piaget (1896-1980). Although he is not in the Galtonian tradition, he is a psychologist of intelligence who began work in intelligence testing at the Simon-Binet laboratory in Paris, using tests devised by Cyril Burt. His writings have several features in common with work of the Galtonians: an element of predestinarianism in his biological notion of stages of mental development which cannot be attained until previous stages have been completed; and an interest in general, abstract-logical aspects of mental life. Piaget's mother, Rebecca, ne Jackson, was of English origin. One of her ancestors, James Jackson (1772-1829), was a Quaker (Jackson, 1893, p. 152), who ran a steel-works in Birmingham. He was invited by the French Government in 1814 to move to France and bring his industrial expertise with him. He set up a family steel-making business in Saint-Etienne (Barrelet & Perret-Clermont, 1996, p. 42). Belonging to an upper middle class protestant family, Rebecca herself was very devout (Piaget, 1952, p. 239). She became a member of the free evangelical church of Neuchtel (Barrelet & Perret-Clermont, 1996, p. 23). She passed on her Christian Socialist ideas and activist orientation to her son. Jean Piaget was brought up in a rigorous Protestant faith (p. 112), which generated his earliest book La mission de l'ide in 1915 (pp. 112-113).


Godfrey Thomson (1947, p. 17) wrote that 'although intelligence expresses itself in different forms, in its highest aspects it is always concerned with abstractions and concepts and relationships'. The content of intelligence tests, with their prominent logical, linguistic and mathematical items, mirrors this widely held definition. Why is it that Galtonian intelligence has come to have this feature—despite the patent truth that intelligent behaviour can take countless forms, few of which require the ability to handle abstractions?

The fact that so many of the intelligence pioneers, from Galton onwards, were themselves trained in abstract thinking, especially in mathematics, may well be relevant. A deeper and more general point is that abstract thinking was especially prized within the Puritan communities. Look at Perry Miller's account of social arrangements in seventeenth-century New England:
Whether arguing from right reason or from the law of Scripture, Puritan leaders came to the same conclusion, to an authoritarian state, a society of distinct classes, ruled by a few basic laws administered by the wise and learned of the upper class through their mastery of logic, their deductions from the basic laws being as valid as the laws themselves, and resistance to their conclusions being the most exorbitant sin of which the lower classes were capable. (Miller, 1939, p. 429)
What stands out here is the reference to 'a mastery of logic'. To modern readers, at least to those not caught up in Galtonian eugenics, this looks odd in the extreme. Why should logic, that most abstract of intellectual fields, be so socially important?

To understand this, we have to grasp the crucial importance of logic in the Puritan world view. The origins of this are in the sixteenth century, but 'the reign of logic … continued unbroken' until the nineteenth (Miller, 1939, p. 115). Harriet Beecher Stowe, writing in 1869 about an older generation of New Englanders, says:
If there is a golden calf worshipped in our sanctified New England, its name is Logic; and my good friend the parson burns incense before it with a most sacred innocence of intention. He believes that sinners can be converted by logic, and that, if he could once get me into one of these neat little traps aforesaid, the salvation of my soul would be assured. He has caught numbers of the shrewdest infidel foxes among the farmers around, and I must say that there is no trap for the Yankee like the logic trap. (Stowe, 1869, p. 224, quoted in Miller, 1939, p. 115)
[. . .] With the progress of the scientific revolution, the Puritans gradually abandoned Ramism as a key to understanding the universe. In the eighteenth century the Puritans' educational establishments, not least the English Dissenting Academies and the Scottish universities, began to teach science proper as the way of revealing God's creation. Yet the attachment to logic—no longer Ramus's as in the earlier Academies—continued, as an inspection of the curricula of these institutions well into the nineteenth century will show. Attachment to abstract thinking had become a central feature of the thought world of Dissent. [. . .]

The Janus-nature of Puritan logic, looking one way outwards to the observable world, the other inwards to the mind, helps to explain the later dissenters' fascination with science on the one hand and with what was called in their colleges 'pneumatology'—the science of spirits—on the other. This was a hybrid subject, one part of it concerned with 'the Powers and Faculties of the Human Mind, and the Instinct of Brutes'; and the other with 'the Being of God, and his natural Perfections' (Doddridge, 1763). Understanding the essence of the human soul to reside in that power of abstraction which distinguishes men from beasts helps one to fathom the nature of the divine mind.

There is no direct evidence that I know that pneumatology—the well-attested precursor of scientific psychology—influenced Galton's conception of the mind. All that is clear is that his notion of inherited mental abilities could not well have derived from the prevailing associationist psychology of his time, with its rejection of innate factors. How far was Galton influenced by the psychology of his ancestral culture—the pneumatology that his grandfather Samuel Galton no doubt studied at his dissenting academy in Warrington?

Whatever we might say about Galton—and for that matter, Pearson and Burt, there is firmer evidence of a direct link between Puritan psychology (and logic) and the first scientific psychologists in America. The traditional Puritan preoccupation with the soul or mind was carried through into the Mental and Moral Philosophy curriculum, which had become a compulsory course in American universities and colleges in the early nineteenth century. 'The reason for this was that these institutions (invariably having denominational affiliations, most frequently Presbyterian) felt it necessary to counter the materialist and atheist arguments of many leading European thinkers by demonstrating the consistency of Christianity with philosophy and logic' (Richards, 2002, p. 53). [. . .]

One of the most celebrated college presidents of the late nineteenth century was G Stanley Hall of Clark University. As a charismatic teacher indebted to his puritan heritage and eager to found a new scientific psychology, he bridged the old world and the new.


How far has the argument proved that the psychology of intelligence had roots in Puritanism? At the very least, I would suggest, it has shown it to be a plausible hypothesis, stronger in some cases—perhaps in Goddard's—than in others. I am aware that the—to me—surprising discovery that virtually all the major players in the story had Puritan connexions may prove, after all, to be no more than coincidence. Meanwhile, the hypothesis looks worthy of further pursuit. (For a fuller discussion, see White, 2006.)


TGGP said...

From Half Sigma: All the HBDers are Jews
The "all" is exaggerated for comic effect.

Anonymous said...

What I find really fascinating is the connection between Mormonism and eugenics. The Mormons (who of course are an offshoot of the Puritans) were well ahead of their secular counterparts in advocating race betterment:


Anonymous said...

I should add, the Mormons are still practicing eugenics to this very day, breeding a blond-haired, blue-eyed, high-IQ race in the deserts of Utah, but nobody seems to care or even notice since they have disguised themselves as just a bunch of religious kooks who wear an extra set of underpants.

Anonymous said...

I should add, the Mormons are still practicing eugenics to this very day, breeding a blond-haired, blue-eyed, high-IQ race in the deserts of Utah, but nobody seems to care or even notice since they have disguised themselves as just a bunch of religious kooks who wear an extra set of underpants.

Um, well, let's hope your right, especially given the Mormon's strident proclivity to try to proselytise every and any species of 'mankind'.

*Although I must say that I felt like I went back in time to the 1950's when I visited Salt Lake City just over three years ago :)

persona au gratin said...

Ironically, Walter Lippman, who's quoted in the paper as a corroborator of the author's premise, was an elitist. He thought that the average man is incapable of participating in government and that the masses need to be ruled by a managerial class.

n/a said...

"The point is that people with Jewish ancestry, who are less than 4% of the U.S. population, seem to be about 20% of prominent HBD researchers."

What percent of those prominent in shutting down discussion of "HBD" (long before anyone called "HBD") were Jews?

n/a said...

"Ironically, Walter Lippman, who's quoted in the paper as a corroborator of the author's premise, was an elitist."

Doesn't he feature in Carroll Quigley's supposed international "Anglo-Saxon" conspiracy?

Anonymous said...

TGGP said...

From Half Sigma: All the HBDers are Jews
The "all" is exaggerated for comic effect.

Look, it's the most obnoxious (and likely autistic) troll of the HBD-sphere posting one of his usual inane, off-topic, and worshipfully philo-Semitic comments!

I wonder if the reason why most "HBDers" are Jews could have anything to do with the fact that white nationalists and critics of Jewish behavior who believe in racial differences are not counted as "HBDers"? You start including people like William Shockley, Wilmot Robertson, Jared Taylor, Kevin MacDonald, Richard Lynn, David Duke, Nicholas Wade, and other prominent writers and the list stops looking so Jewish, doesn't it?

Furthermore, his list is suspect: Jensen is 1/4th Jewish, Herrnstein was a fairly minor figure in the movement, Pinker is not really HBD and to the extent that he talks about it, he's mainly there to try to sanitize it and make it safe for Jews (see his attacks on MacDonald without having read MacDonald's work). Half Sigma falls mainly into the same category as Pinker.

Anonymous said...

Herrnstein was hardly a "fairly minor" figure in the "movement".

Ever hear of something called The Bell Curve?

Maybe he didn't do an overly good job of passing around fliers or whatever it was that made you a part of the HBD "movement", but that's beside the point.

Anonymous said...

>I should add, the Mormons are still practicing eugenics to this very day, breeding a blond-haired, blue-eyed, high-IQ race in the deserts of Utah...

There's no evidence the Mormons have tried to make themselves more blond haired or blue eyed.

Not sure if they've tried to increase their IQ or not.

Anonymous said...

You start including people like William Shockley, Wilmot Robertson, Jared Taylor, Kevin MacDonald, Richard Lynn, David Duke, Nicholas Wade, and other prominent writers and the list stops looking so Jewish, doesn't it?

And Francis Galton, Charles Davenport, Harry Laughlin, Madison Grant, Carleton Coon, Carleton Putnam, Eugen Fischer, Glayde Whitney, Frank Salter, etc.

On the other side, we have Franz Boas, Ashley Montagu, Richard Lewontin, Leon Kamin, Steven Rose, Stephen Jay Gould, Jared Diamond, Jonathan Marks, Barry Mehler, etc.

Michael Gormley said...

I was saved, I am saved and I am being saved. Yes, but only GOD knows who they are.

Michael Gormley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Where is the control group to show if other areas of science of the time were any different in the Puritan ancestry of the eminent figures?

You are going to be hard put to find WASPs among eminent experts recently going on the record about IQ differences. The only really important one was Eysenck ( who taught Jensen )BOTH 1/4 Jewish

n/a said...

Where do you get that Eysenck was 1/4 Jewish?

"You are going to be hard put to find WASPs among eminent experts recently going on the record about IQ differences."

Off the top of my head: Richard Lynn, J.P. Rushton, Charles Murray. Ralph Scott, Linda Gottfredson (nee Howarth). Earlier: William Shockley, Carleton Coon, Carleton Putnam, etc.

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