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The Cattell Controversy: Race, Science, and Ideology Hardcover – March 20, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

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"A masterful contextualization of the life of a major contributor to psychology whose work spanned a dramatic era of growth in experimental psychology."--Journal of the History of Medicine


“A thought provoking and systematically laid out argument. . . . Recommended reading to anyone with an interest in the history of the relationship between scientific methods, Western politics and culture.”--Leonardo On-Line



 

“Clearly and meticulously documents Cattell’s segregationist views. . . . Tucker grapples with issues of the relationship between science and political ideology, and the ethical obligations of scientists to the uses of their work. Highly recommended.”--Choice

Book Description

Raymond Cattell, the father of personality trait measurement, was one of the most influential psychologists in the twentieth century, with a professional career that spanned almost seventy years. In August 1997, the American Psychological Association announced that Cattell had been selected the recipient of the American Psychological Foundation Gold Medal Award for Life Achievement in Psychological Science. Then, only two days before the scheduled ceremony, the APF abruptly postponed the presentation of the award due to concerns involving Cattell's views on racial segregation and eugenics. In addition to his mainstream research, in his publications Cattell had also posited evolutionary progress as the ultimate goal of human existence and argued that scientific criteria should be used to distinguish "successful" from "failing" racial groups so that the latter might be gradually "phased out" by non-violent methods such as regulation of birth control.

The Cattell Controversy discusses the controversy that arose within the field in response to the award's postponement, after which Cattell withdrew his name from consideration for the award but insisted that his position had been distorted by taking statements out of context. Reflecting on these events, William H. Tucker concludes with a discussion of the complex question of whether and how a scientist's ideological views should ever be a relevant factor in determining the value of his or her contributions to the field.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 280 pages
  • Publisher: University of Illinois Press; 1st Edition edition (March 20, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0252034007
  • ISBN-13: 978-0252034008
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,133,077 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Chris Brand on January 4, 2010
Format: Hardcover
While admiring Professor Tucker's scholarhip, I have defended Raymond Cattell at my blog, IQ & PC, January 2010, against the charge, made expressly by Barry Mehler, that he was a Fascist, let alone Nazi. Rather, I argue Cattell was a race realist (or 'scientific racist' as the left has liked to say) whose view of the world's achievements and problems (especially those, respectively, of Asia and Africa in recent times) has proved singularly percipient. Notably, as Richard Lynn and Phil Rushton have pointed out, the main psychological differences (in intelligence, lawabidingness and sexual restraint) between the big three human races replicate wherever the groups are found. Of course, as Tucker says, Cattell provided the backbone of most of the modern consensus on personality dimensions in differential psychology. Funny if he could have been such a genius about individual differences yet be scorned for his views about human groups? -- Chris Brand (Edinburgh, author of 'The g Factor' 1996/2000).
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9 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Barry Mehler on April 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover
In August 1997, Raymond B. Cattell was denied the highest honor of his career, the American Psychological Associations, Gold Medal Award for Life Achievement. The Cattell Controversy examines the heated debate over the accusations made against Cattell, who Tucker characterizes as one of the "leading academic racists of the twentieth century."

What followed was a year-long controversy over Cattell's views and the appropriateness of honoring a man for his scientific achievements and ignoring his social and political views. The controversy raged across the U.S. and Europe in both academic circles and the popular media, dying down only after Dr. Cattell passed away in February 1998. In this engrossing book, Tucker sets out to examine in detail the historical context of this controversy.

Two facts are incontrovertible: Cattell was a brilliant academic and a major fascist ideologue. Cattell was an early and enthusiastic supporter of German national socialism and formulated his fascist notions as Hitler rose to power in Germany. Despite the revelations of the Holocaust, Cattell continued to argue the case for the elimination of inferior races, coining the term, "genthanasia," in the 1970s to refer to the intentional phasing out of inferior racial, ethnic and national groups. Here was a man whose entire academic career was devoted to the propagation of some of the most destructive ideas of the twentieth century and no one in the academic establishment seemed to notice. Those who were close to him and were familiar with his social thought, either found them unobjectionable or quietly supported them.

It is truly remarkable, the extent to which Cattell's academic career remained untarred by his racist, pro-Nazi politics.
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