Date: Fri, 21 Apr 1995 07:05:05 -0700
From: Nathan Newman
Subject: ABC News Transcript: The Pioneer Fund and the Bell Curve (fwd)
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
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.
BILL BLAKEMORE, ABC NEWS
(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
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.
BERRY MEHLER, HISTORIAN
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.'
VOICE OF TRANSLATOR
You find an especially high percentage of mentally ill among the
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.
PROF MICHAEL LEVIN, CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK
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
PROF ROBERT GORDON, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY
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.
PROF JONATHAN BECKWITH, HARVARD UNIVERSITY GENETICIST
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
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
Bill Blakemore, ABC News, New York.
ABC News Investigative unit
47 West 66 th st.
New York NY
voice: 212 456-2400
fax: 212 456 4066