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Race, Evolution and Behavior

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Rushton's ordering of the human races (excerpt)
Blacks Whites Orientals¹
Brain size
Cranial capacity (cm³) 1,267 1,347 1,364
Cortical neurons (millions) 13,185 13,685 13,767
IQ² 85 100 106
Decision times Slower Intermediate Faster
Cultural achievements Low High High
Maturation rate
Age of first intercourse Earlier Intermediate Later
Age of first pregnancy Earlier Intermediate Later
Dental development Earlier Intermediate Later
Gestation time Shorter Longer  ?
Motor development Earlier Intermediate Later
Lifespan Shorter Intermediate Longer
Skeletal development Earlier Intermediate Later
2-egg twinning³ 16 8 4
Hormone levels Higher Intermediate Lower
Intercourse frequency Higher Intermediate Lower
Sexual Characteristics Larger Intermediate Smaller
Sexually transmitted diseases Higher Intermediate Lower
Activity level Higher Intermediate Lower
Aggressiveness Higher Intermediate Lower
Cautiousness Lower Intermediate Higher
Dominance Higher Intermediate Lower
Impulsivity Higher Intermediate Lower
Self-concept Higher Intermediate Lower
Sociability Higher Intermediate Lower
Social organization
Administrative capacity Lower Higher Higher
Law abidingness Lower Intermediate Higher
Marital stability Lower Intermediate Higher
Mental health Lower Intermediate Higher
¹ See Notes
² All figures are group averages
³ Per 1000 births
Source: [2]

'Race, Evolution And Behavior: A Life History Perspective' is a controversial book written by J. Philippe Rushton in which he draws attention to the existence of many racial differences, including behavioral ones, and shows that they are frequently arranged in a continuum of Mongoloids (Orientalsm East Asians) at one extreme, Negroids (blacks, Africans) at the opposite extreme, and Caucasoids (whites, Europeans) in the middle.[3] Rushton defines mongoloids as those with most of their recent ancestors from East Asia, Caucasoids as those with most of their recent ancestors from Europe, the Middle East, and much of South Asia, and Negroids as those with most of their recent ancetors from sub-Saharan Africa. Rushton's study is focused on the three broadest racial groups, and his study is not concerned with smaller populations like the negritoes of South East Asia or Australian aboriginals. The book uses averages of hundreds of studies, modern and historical to demonstrate this pattern. The book grew out of his earlier paper, Evolutionary Biology and Heritable Traits (With Reference to Oriental[1]-White-Black Difference), which was presented at the Symposium on Evolutionary Theory, Economics and Political Science, AAAS Annual Meeting (San Francisco, CA, January 19, 1989).


The book claims that of the three races it is concerned with (Negroids, Caucasoids, and Mongoloids), Mongoloids average the highest IQ scores and greatest historical civilization (see race and intelligence), have the lowest crime rates, have the highest social organization, work hardest, are the least promiscuous, the least aggressive, the most introverted, have the largest brain size, lowest ratio of twins to births, the slowest maturation rates, greatest parental investment in child-rearing, the lowest rates of sexually transmitted diseases, the longest life span, the greatest mental stability, the least testosterone, the smallest penises, vaginas, and smallest secondary sexual characteristics like breasts and buttocks. The book claims that Negroids average at the opposite end on all of these scales, and Caucasoids rank in between Mongoloids and Negroids, but closer to Mongoloids. Rushton further concluded that:

"this orderly tri-level hierarchy of races...had its roots not only in economic, cultural, familial, and other environmental forces but also, to a far greater extent than mainstream social science would suggest, in ancient, gene-mediated evolutionary ones. Heredity, or nature...was every bit as important as environment or nurture, often more so."

Rushton and Ankney (2000, Fig. 4) plotted the cranial capacities and approximate time of evolutionary emergence of the three major human races along with those of some of humans' evolutionary ancestors (above)
PhloxBotAdded by PhloxBot

The ancient evolutionary origin for the tri-level hierarchy Rushton claimed to haved discovered had it roots, claimed Rushton, in the sequential order in which each of the three major races branched off the main trunk or the human evolutionary tree, and this first, second, and third chronological sequence was responsible for the three races consistent global multi-dimensional pattern. Citing genetic research in the African Eve hypothesis, and Out of Africa theory, Rushton concludes that Negroids branched off first (200,000 years ago), Caucasoids second (110,000 years ago) and Mongoloids last (41,000 years ago), arguing that throughout all of evolution, more ancient forms of life (i.e. plants, bacteria, reptiles) tend to be more genetically primitive and less evolved than newer forms of life (i.e. mammals, primates, humans)and the much smaller racial variation within the human species is consistent with this trend. "One theoretical possibility," said Ruston, "is that evolution is progressive, and that some populations are more advanced than others". Rushton believes that more advanced organisms[How to reference and link to summary or text] have evolved a K reproductive strategy (fewer offspring, more parental care) and less evolved organism have evolved an r strategy (more offspring, less parental care), and that the consistent racial pattern of traits he claims to have discovered can be parsimoniously explained by the r/K scale. He also believes that the survival challenges of keeping warm, bulding shelter and clothes, hunting, and storing food in the cold artic environment in which mongoloids and to a lesser extent caucasoids evolved, selected for greater intelligence, social order and family stability compared to the African environment in which negroids evolved.

Rushton viewed his theory as having global implications and in 1989 he made two predictions about the course of world history. First the Oriental populations could be expected to outdistance the predominantly Caucasoid populations of the Western world, and second, peoples of predominantly Sub-Saharan African ancestry, given their alleged statistical bent toward sexual activity and social chaos, would be especially afflicted by AIDS.

Although Rushton acknowledges socio-economic and cultural factors, he believes they are more likely to be the product than the cause of the differences he describes, such as the fact that, for example, 'Negroid' Americans have higher death rates than do white Americans or that many African-American youth have adopted a culture of anti-intellectualism. While Rushton acknowledges alternative interpretations, he believes that such a diverse collection of world-wide data is most elegantly explained by his r-K theory. While Rushton agrees that contemporary social and economic trends obviously confound the data he describes within any particular time and place (for example, 20th Century America), he claims that there's behavioral consistency of the races all over the world, and throughout the course of world history, along with anatomical analogues such as brain weight and penis size, and sees this as evidence of an ancient gene-mediated evolutionary hierarchy.

Controversy and criticismEdit

Popular science commentator David Suzuki protested Rushton's racial theories and spoke out against Rushton in a live televised debate at the University of Western Ontario. "There will always be Rushtons in science," Suzuki said "and we must always be prepared to root them out!". Rushton is accused by critics of advocating a new eugenics movement,[2] and is openly praised by proponents of eugenics.[3]

After mass mailing a booklet to psychology, sociology and anthropology professors across North America based on his racial papers, Hermann Helmuth, a professor of anthropology at Trent University, said, "It is in a way personal and political propaganda. There is no basis to his scientific research."[4]

Since 2002, Rushton has been the president of the controversial Pioneer Fund, which aims "to advance the scientific study of heredity and human differences." Rushton's work has received grants from the fund totalling over $1 million USD since 1981.

Rushton has sometimes been criticized for using the word "Oriental", when most North Americans use the term "Asian" instead. Since the 1990s, Asian American activists have begun campaigns to stop people from using the word Oriental, claiming the term has offensive connotations. However, the term is widely used non-pejoratively in Great Britain to denote people of Chinese, Japanese, or Korean ancestry, since the term "Asian" there has historically referred to people from the Indian Subcontinent.

Rushton's sources, such as semi-pornographic books and the Penthouse magazine, have been dismissed by other researchers, or have been criticized as extremely biased and inadequate reviews of the literature, or simply false [4]. There have also been many other criticisms of the theory [5][6][7][8][9][10][11]. Some recent data show that blacks are not more psychopathic [12], nor do they differ from whites when testing for the big five personality traits [13], differences in sex hormones between whites and East Asians are best explained by environmental differences [14], and the fundamental prediction of the theory that blacks have a higher frequency of twins is disputed by some sources [15]. However, the rate of twin births in the US has doubled since 1971, the time of the study Rushton cited, due to older mothers (for which twin births are naturally more common) and fertility treatments,[16] both demographic characteristics that are more common among Whites.[17]

Professional opinionsEdit


Some scientists have come to Rushton's defense, including Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson who said:

I think Phil is an honest and capable researcher ... The basic reasoning by Rushton is solid evolutionary reasoning; that is it's logically sound. If he had seen some apparent geographic variation for a non-human species-a species of sparrow or sparrow hawk, for example-no one would have batted an eye.[How to reference and link to summary or text]

Psychologist and Pioneer Fund scholar Arthur Jensen said:

This brilliant book is the most impressive theory-based study...of the psychological and behavioral differences between the major racial groups that I have encountered in the world literature on this subject.[How to reference and link to summary or text]

Pioneer Fund grantee Hans Eysenck of the University of London said:

Professor Rushton is widely known and respected for the unusual combination of rigour and originality in his work....Few concerned with understanding the problems associated with race can afford to disregard this storehouse of well-integrated information which gives rise to a remarkable synthesis.[How to reference and link to summary or text]

Pioneer Fund grantee, psychologist, and associate editor of the journal "Mankind Quarterly" Richard Lynn wrote:

Should, if there is any justice, receive a Nobel Prize.[How to reference and link to summary or text]

Pioneer Fund scholar Christopher Brand said:

The media and even the scientists themselves can hedge and fudge all they like, but their favorite "post-modern" pretense that there is no such thing as race is looking sillier all the time.[How to reference and link to summary or text]


Psychologist and Peace Studies Researcher David P. Barash wrote in a scholarly review:

I don't know which is worse, Rushton's scientific failings or his blatant racism. [...] At least Rushton has a theory, namely, r- and K-selection. In brief, he argues that `Negroids' are relatively r-selected, `Mongoloids' K-selected, and `Caucasoids' in between. All racial distinctions are then seen to derive from this grand pattern, from differences in genital anatomy, to reproductive regimes, to IQ, etc. He even points to the higher frequency of low birth weight babies among black Americans, data that are undeniably consistent with an r-selection regime, but which might also be attributed to poor nutrition and insufficient prenatal care, and which, not coincidentally, have other implications for behaviour, IQ not the least. [...] I suspect that r- and K-selection does in fact have some relevance to variations in human behaviour, notably the so-called demographic transition, whereby economic development characteristically leads to reduced family size, and, moreover, a greater reliance on a variety of `K-type' traits. But this is a pan-human phenomenon, a flexible, adaptive response to changed environmental conditions of lowered mortality and greater pay-off attendant upon concentrating parental investment in a smaller number of offspring [...] Rushton wields r- and K-selection as a Procrustean bed, doing what he can to make the available data fit[...]. Bad science and virulent racial prejudice drip like pus from nearly every page of this despicable book"[5]

Humanities educator Dr. Barry Mehler [6], wrote critically of Rushton, stating:

"Rushton's theories are a bizarre mélange of nineteenth century anthro-pometrism and twentieth century eugenics. Although there is no evidence showing different cranial sizes between races, Rushton has cited the genetic distance studies of Allen Wilson of the University of California to claim that Africans have smaller brains and are more primitive than whites and orientals, who evolved to cope with the more demanding northern climes. Wilson commented: 'He is misrepresenting our findings'. These 'show that Asians are as closely related to modern Africans as Europeans are'. When asked if he was aware of any anthropological evidence at all that might support Rushton's claim, he replied, 'I'm not aware of any such evidence. The claim shocks and dismays me'.[7]

Dr. Marcus W. Feldman [8], Stanford University Population Biologist and recognized authority on r/K selection theory, claims that r/K is "absolutely inapplicable" to differences between humans.


  1. Rushton has sometimes been criticized for using the word "Oriental", when most North Americans use the term "Asian" instead. Since the 1990s, Asian American activists have begun campaigns to stop people from using the word Oriental, claiming the term has offensive connotations. However, the term is widely used non-pejoratively in Great Britain to denote people of Chinese, Japanese, or Korean ancestry, since the term "Asian" there has historically referred to people from the Indian Subcontinent.
  2. [1]
  3. Website including prominent reference to Rushton's works
  4. UWO Gazette Volume 93, Issue 68 Tuesday, February 1, 2000 Psych prof accused of racism
  5. Barash D.P (1995) Book review: Race, Evolution, and Behavior. Animal Behaviour 49:1131-1133.
  6. Resume of Dr. Barry Mehler at Ferris State University
  7. Foundation for Fascism: the New Eugenics Movement in the United States, Patterns of Prejudice by Dr. Barry Mehler

See alsoEdit


  • Barash D.P (1995) Book review: Race, Evolution, and Behavior. Animal Behaviour 49:1131-1133.
  • Lynn, Richard. The Science of Human Diversity: A History of the Pioneer Fund. University Press of America, 2001.
  • Brace, C. Loring (1996). Racialism and Racist Agendas. American Anthropologist 91 (1): 96-97.
  • Rushton, J. P. (1995). Race, Evolution, and Behavior: A Life History Perspective, 2nd special abridged edition, Port Huron, MI: Charles Darwin Research Institute.
  • Rushton, J. P. (2000). Race, Evolution, and Behavior: A Life History Perspective, 3rd, Port Huron, MI: Charles Darwin Research Institute. ISBN 0965683613.
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