Distillations podcast

Deep Dives into Science Stories, Both Serious and Eccentric
February 21, 2023 People & Politics

Keepers of the Flame

For decades, nearly all race science was funded by one man. His goal? To ensure the intellectual continuity of a dubious field.

Collage illustration showing news clipping from Neo-Nazi publication, academic article about race science, and image of Barry Mehler and Philipe Rushton.

Many of this season’s stories talk about racism in terms of how it’s systemic—baked into science and medicine in subtle ways. This episode examines a much more overt kind of scientific racism: by telling the story of a racist, wealthy, underground confederacy that has funded nearly every race scientist out there. 

About Innate: How Science Invented the Myth of Race

“Keepers of the Flame” is Episode 3 of Innate: How Science Invented the Myth of Racea podcast and magazine project that explores the historical roots and persistent legacies of racism in American science and medicine. Published through Distillations, the Science History Institute’s highly acclaimed digital content platform, the project examines the scientific origins of support for racist theories, practices, and policies. Innate is made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities: Democracy demands wisdom.

Credits

Hosts: Alexis Pedrick and Elisabeth Berry Drago
Senior Producer: Mariel Carr
Producer: Rigoberto Hernandez
Associate Producer: Padmini Raghunath
Audio Engineer: Jonathan Pfeffer
“Innate Theme” composed by Jonathan Pfeffer. Additional music by Blue Dot Sessions.

Resource List

‘The American Breed’: Nazi Eugenics and the Origins of the Pioneer Fund by Paul Lombardo 

The Funding of Scientific Racism: Wickliffe Draper and the Pioneer Fund by William Tucker

The New Eugenics: Academic Racism in the U.S. Today by Barry Mehler 

The Phil Donahue Show 

Superior: The Return of Race Science by Angela Saini

Transcript

Lisa: Welcome to Innate: How science invented the Myth of Race: This is episode three: Keepers of the Flame.

Rigo: Hi, Lisa.

Lisa: Hi, Rigo. So Rigo, you’re one of our producers on our show, Distillations, and you’ve come in with a story today for us, right?

Rigo: Yeah. So I want to take you back to the 1990s with this video that I found on YouTube.

Lisa: What is this, Wheel of Fortune? The Price is Right?

Rigo: Close. It’s the Phil Donahue Show, one of the ’90s most watched talk shows. This is an episode from the spring of 1990. Donahue’s guests are two middle aged men who could really pass as accountants.

Lisa: But since this is Distillations, I’m guessing they’re not.

Rigo: No. The guy on the left is Philippe Rushton. He’s a psychologist and a professor who’s won a bunch of awards. I mean, he was a Guggenheim Fellow, so this guy’s very prestigious, and he’s come to Donahue to mouth off theories about biological differences between racial groups.

Lisa: Okay. So a ’90s race scientist has come to the Phil Donahue Show. 

Phillipe Rushton on Donohue: And what I’m saying is there might be something inherent in populations that make people behave differently in temperament or intelligence, or what have you. 

Lisa: Let me guess the angle here. To me, it seems like he’s trying to present himself as a reasonable, well spoken guy who’s just asking questions, all in the name of academic curiosity, of course.

Rigo: Exactly, but he does it in a very polished away. He’s even polished when he starts talking about things like sex. Listen to this.

Phillipe Rushton on Donohue: Oriental populations have less sexual partners than do whites. Whites have fewer sexual partners than do blacks.

Rigo: Now, Rushton tries to avoid mentioning the crux of the argument, but Donahue kind of does a translation.

Donahue: So what you mean a bigger brain means a smarter person 

Phillipe Rushton on Donohue slightly so yes, on average 

Donahue: and a big and larger genitals mean more promiscuity.

Lisa: Wow, this is delightful daytime content. Let’s switch gears and talk about the bearded guy on the right, who has amazing muttonchops.

Rigo: Yeah. This is Barry Mehler. He’s an academic like Rushton, but less prestigious. He teaches at a college no one’s heard of, and he’s on a Donahue to debate Rushton.

Lisa: Presumably he’s not also a race scientist?

Rigo: No, not at all. In fact, he spent his whole career going after people like Rushton, poking holes at their arguments, trying to get people to see them for what they really are, racist scientists.

Lisa: So this is kind of a David and Goliath situation, Guggenheim Fellow versus academic underdog.

Rigo: Exactly. Mehler’s the underdog, and his style was very direct. He’s unorthodox, and he points out how Rushton’s ideas are kind of ridiculous.

Barry Mehler on Donohue: He’s got a study that compares Nigerian medical students. To Czech army officers. We show that the Nigerians have longer penises. The Czech army officers have more conference penises. So which is bigger, long or fat.

Rigo: So I had a chance to Barry Mehler recently, and I asked him about the appearance on Phil Donahue three decades ago.

Barry: I had to really refrain from, um, speculating on Phil Rushton’s penis size, but here was a guy who, “They may have bigger penises, but I’ve got a bigger brain.” You know? [laughter] I mean, that’s the…

I mean, that’s, uh, you know… It was part of his insecurity, but the data for this was so stupid. I mean, it’s just like the whole nature of the argument, you really want to take the most vulgar, racist argument and dress it up with the most foolish threadbare data points in order to make the claim that, that Black people have large genitalia and small brains.

Lisa: I appreciate how clearly Barry Mehler gets to the heart of the issue. It’s like Rushton wants to dress it up in jargon so you don’t notice how hateful the premise is, but Mehler just cuts right to the chase.

Rigo: One of the things that I really appreciate is how he pivots from being funny to serious very quickly, like the humor gets people’s attention, and then he sneaks in some truth.

Lisa: I feel like you’re about to play me an example.

Rigo: I am, and he starts out telling a sort of funny story about seeing Rushton at a conference, but then he gets really serious.

Barry Mehler on Donohue: I gave a press conference and he came to hear me and I gave a paper and afterwards we sat down for a cup of coffee together and he said, “Barry, you made some excellent points, but this Neo Nazi business, I mean, I know these people, you talking about stand up guys.” And I said, “Phil, you’re in a stand up. And you’re a Neo Nazi “and he added you back. And  he said, “I don’t understand”. You know, he’s really surprised. And, and I know he doesn’t understand, the movement that he’s a part of begins in the Hitler and the institutions that Phil belongs to grow right out of the Hitler era      

Barry: I want you to know that it was extremely important to me to make the connection to Nazis because that’s what people understood. Talk about context and urgency, that is what people understood, and that’s why they were so upset at what I was doing.

And I wasn’t just calling them Nazis, I was putting out a context to show that this was a fascist endeavor, and that these people were not only Neo Nazis, but they were just old fashioned Nazis, and I think that it was one of the reasons why they hated me so much.

I was a minor academic in a tiny little institution, and Rushton was a Simon Guggenheim Fellow. People were throwing money at him. He had a much more prestigious position than, than I had. Stuff was pouring off the presses from him.

He was the great scholar, [laughs] and I was just this annoying fly who was, uh, pointing out things that were embarrassing and disturbing to them, and it was the nature of what I was pointing out that was embarrassing to them, not who I was.

Lisa: So it strikes me as we’re watching this footage of the Phil Donahue Show that the audience is not responding the way Rushton would like them to, I think. I mean, uh, there’s a lot of skepticism, he’s getting a lot of dirty looks from people in the audience. [laughs]

I, I think they hate him, which raises the question for me, you know, he might be this prestigious academic, but if he’s not popular, if his ideas are this controversial, how does he keep having the platform that he has? How does he keep getting the chance to put these ideas forward? Who’s funding him? 

Rigo: Yeah. That’s the question is, uh, who is funding Philippe Rushton?

Lisa: And why?

Chapter One: The Colonel.

Rigo: When Barry Mehler said guys like Philippe Rushton aren’t just Neo Nazis, they’re old fashioned Nazis, he was serious. Over the years, he was trying to show the world that there was a direct line from Nazis in World War II to race scientists like Philippe Rushton, and it all comes back to the funding source.

Lisa: Which is?

Rigo: It’s called The Pioneer Fund, and over the years, it has bankrolled dozens of race scientists and other academics who push these kind of views.

Lisa: Rigo, I feel like you’re about to tell me that there’s a secret clique or confederacy …if you will… of rich racists sitting in a basement somewhere funding every racist academic.

Rigo: Honestly, you’re not that far off. This season we’re going to talk about how racism and white supremacy have been baked into science , and how it’s not about individual racists, or it’s not about individual bad people, but in this story, there actually are individual bad people funding bad things.

Lisa: Okay. So where does all of this start?

Rigo: The seed of The Pioneer Fund starts in the early 1900s, with a guy named Wickliffe Preston Draper.

Lisa: Wickliffe Preston Draper. Okay, I don’t want to make fun of the name in case there’s somebody out there who’s totally harmless who shares it, but of course that’s the name of our rich racist villain.

Rigo: Yeah. It’s kind of a fitting name because he was born into a wealthy family in 1891. He stumbles his way into Harvard but he has very mediocre grades, and he eventually joins the Army, where he works his way up to the rank of Colonel.

This is Bill Tucker. He wrote the Funding of Scientific Racism. He wants us to mention that he has throat cancer, and that his voice is strained.

Bill: He liked to be referred to as Colonel Draper, or the Colonel. He seemed to be enamored of his Army experience, and that was his primary identification all his life, especially since he never really had a job of any sort.

Paul Lombardo: His father left 11 million dollars, um, which was quite a fortune in, in those days.

Rigo: That was Paul Lombardo, a legal historian who studied The Pioneer Fund.

Paul Lombardo: It still is, but even ore so then.

Lisa: Back up a second. I’m sorry, 11 million dollars in 1920s money?

Rigo: Yeah. I did the math, and it would be like, something like 160 million in today’s money, so when I say his family was wealthy, I meant it, like their ancestral home was a castle in Scotland.

Rigo: So he thought of himself as being well bred, and of good stock. These things meant a lot to him, and he has a huge inheritance burning a hole in his pocket, so he’s looking around for a great social cause to pour his money into, so he becomes drawn to what else but eugenics.

So, Lisa, I know that you’ve done some research on eugenics because we’ve done other episodes that touch on it. Can you give us TLDR synopsis of it?

Lisa: Sure. Well, the idea of eugenics is basically a belief that the human race could or should be quote, unquote, “improved” by selective breeding. It’s kind of a misunderstanding, or a misuse of Darwin’s theory of evolution, and it’s actually interesting that it’s Darwin’s cousin, his half cousin, Sir Francis Galton, who really advocates for this idea of genetic determinism.

That is that your genes, your genetics, determine not only your biological makeup but your character, personality, intelligence level, and so on. So, a lot of really terrible people adopt eugenics because it allows them to do things like build fake racial hierarchies based on intelligence or aptitude, and then use that to argue against interracial marriage, or integrated schools, or to argue for the sterilization of so called undesirables.

Essentially, it gave racists a cover story. “No, we’re not passing racist laws because we hate people who are different from us, we’re just following the science.” Even though, to be frank, it’s also bad science. It’s been debunked a million times but we’re still living with the legacies of these ideas.

Rigo: What’s interesting about eugenics is that it’s a dirty word now, but in the 1920s and the early 1930s, they were mainstream ideas, they were in vogue. Respectable scientists and academics were promoting these ideas, which is why Draper starts making friends in high up places in the eugenics world, and he kind of finds an ideological soulmate in a man named Harry Laughlin.

His claim to fame was being an expert witness in Buck v. Bell, where the Supreme Court ruled in favor of allowing states to force sterilizations on people with intellectual disabilities.

Lisa: The quote that everyone remembers from that trial is when Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “Three generations of imbeciles are enough.” Unquote.

Rigo: And Laughlin was on that wave length. And by now, it’s 1930s, and guess who else likes the idea of sterilizing people they deem to be inferior?

Lisa: The Nazis.

Rigo: Exactly, and he liked what they were doing with eugenics, and that admiration was actually mutual.

Paul Lombardo: He is eventually recognized by the Nazi government in 1936, both because of his work in the sterilization area, but also because he was a major proponent of the so called Racial Integrity Laws, the laws that prohibited people from being married if they were from different races.

Laughlin gave them a kind of eugenics spin, giving them a kind of scientific veneer that they didn’t have before the Eugenics Movement came along. And then he has a long and thorough correspondence and involvement with people in Germany both before and after the Nazi ascendancy.

Rigo: Something that a lot of people don’t know is that the Nazis got the ideas about eugenics from the United States. We were the leaders in the field. Germany modeled its involuntary sterilization laws on ours.

And actually, they found ours a bit too strict.

Bill: What they saw was that many… Especially of the southern, southern states in the United States had this one drop rule. If there was one drop of quote, “negro blood” then you were automatically a negro.

Ironically, the Third Reich thought that this was too extreme for them, and so they didn’t use the one drop of Jewish blood made you Jewish. Instead, they used various combinations. If you were less than one quarter Jewish then you could be considered, uh, to be Aryan, which was much more lenient than the one drop rule in the United States.

Lisa: So on one hand, you have a very bored, uh, very racist wealthy boy, and on the other, you have a rising American Nazi. Boy, they must have hit it off right away.

Rigo: Exactly, and you know what comes next is that Drape becomes a cash cow for Laughlin’s schemes.

Paul Lombardo: Laughlin had the in roads, uh, the contact with legislators, the machinery of propaganda, and Draper had the money, and those two things went together to make Laughlin the first president of the foundation that was formed by Draper.

Rigo: They named it The Pioneer Fund, but sometimes people called it the Draper Fund because it was all of his money, and they funded whatever he wanted.

Paul Lombardo: The word pioneer has a real meaning to these people. Uh, Laughlin uses it in conjunction with the phrase the American breed to kind of capture all of that, the stalwarts who are… They’re on the frontier, you know, beating back the wilderness, um, killing off the Natives. Those are the people who are the pioneers.

Rigo: In 1935, before the Pioneer Fund is official,  Laughlin sends Wycliffe Draper to a eugenics academic conference in Berlin. 

Paul Lombardo: And while he’s in Europe Draper quite literally pals around with Nazis. He travels to Spain. Um, Literally rides on a Nazi tank, into the city of Bilbao, uh, at the time when Franco’s army is laying seeds to the place, uh, only a few weeks after the infamous bombing of the, of the city of Akaka in the Basque region,

Rigo: The Spanish Civil War was used by the Nazi’s as a military testing ground and Draper wanted to be part of it. He doesn’t actually stay to fight the war with the Nazis, but he brags about his military tourism. So he’s not just in academic conferences with Nazis, he’s also quite literally on the battlefield with them.

Paul Lombardo: And then writes about it in an, a newspaper article that is syndicated and sent to a number of places around the country. So Draper he’s very proud of that. “

Rigo: So Laughlin comes up with their first endeavor. They distributed one of Hitler’s propaganda films to American high schools with English subtitles.

ABC News Archive on Laughlin: It was called Erbkrant, which means hereditary, defective. 

Rigo: This is a clip of the film itself translated in English.

Archive of Erbkrant:  You find it a specially high percentage of mentally air among the Jewish population.

Lisa: Ah, charming. I’m sure the teenagers loved it. Actually, this brings something up for me. How did people receive this? I would imagine that some opinions are changing as the war drags on.

Rigo: Yeah. Americans were getting spooked by what they saw in Germany. Ultimately, the Holocaust showed the world the inevitable consequences of eugenics, and there was a great moral reckoning, which led to in agreement about race and race science.

Angela Saint: And the consensus was set in stone really by UNESCO, um, in the 1950s in a set of declarations in which they essentially stated that race is a social construct, it doesn’t have any biological validity, and that was signed by a number of scientists, anthropologists, policymakers all over the world.

Rigo: That was Angela Saini, the author of the book Superior: The Return of Race Science. She says that this is something anthropologists have been saying for years, that the category of race itself wasn’t a real scientific category but race scientists weren’t ready to let it go.

Angela: If, you know, the basis of the study of human difference for a couple of hundred years has been that race is real, you don’t let go of it overnight, and so of course they didn’t let go of it, uh… Of it overnight.

Rigo: Draper’s view stayed the same, but he knew enough to realize that the world’s views had changed.

Barry: So he knows in 1937, when The Pioneer Fund starts, he knows that there’s a… There’s a cost to negative publicity, and that maybe he’s learned that, uh, there is a way of funding the kinds of, um, activities that he’s, uh, in favor of without making them very prominent.

And then… And then keeping them available as information that can be used when the atmosphere is more favorable to his kinds of ideas in eugenics.

Lisa: So they really do move underground. I was right about the cabal in the basement.

Rigo: Kind of, yeah. They understood that tides were turning but they weren’t ready to go away.

Lisa: They just have to keep at it ’til the temperature changes.

Rigo: Exactly, and they develop a playbook to ensure their survival.

Lisa: Playbook you say? Lay it on me.

Rigo: Okay. So, method one is fund scientists who agree with their eugenics world view. Most of it was junk race science, but some of the research and researchers were arguably legitimate so that if someone accused them of being a racist, they could point to legitimate research they funded.

Lisa: So real science as a shield for junk science, got it.

Rigo: And method number two is hide the funding source. They made a lot of anonymous donations, or passed the money through foundations and non profits.

Lisa: Because they don’t want to take credit for their deeply held beliefs in public.

Rigo: Right. And apparently Draper was also kind of shy.

Lisa: I have no sympathy, Rigo, let’s keep going.

Rigo: So method three was the most important and consistent. They printed and mail unsolicited propaganda to scientists, politicians, and other influential people. In 1936, Draper paid to reprint 1,000 copies of the book called White America to send to politicians.

Lisa: I can only imagine what a book with that title is gonna be about.

Rigo: Yeah, and it claimed that Black people were a threat to civilization, and that they should be repatriated back to Africa.

Barry: This kind of propaganda, and this kind of advocacy goes on for some time. It goes on so prominently that, uh, when this book arrives on the desk of members of Congress, Theodore, uh, Bilbo, infamous Mississippi senator known by his biographer as the arch angel of white supremacy, he praises the book, and he actually takes it to the floor of Congress and reads it while the filibuster is going on to prevent federal law against lynching being passed.

So Cox, and Laughlin, and Draper all have a hand in this racist advocacy right up to the floor of, of the Senate, as well as over in Germany.

Rigo: So, clearly method three achieved the desired effect, to find powerful like minded racists.

Lisa: It works sort of like a bat signal, but instead of attracting superheroes, you uncover white supremacists.

Rigo: Exactly.

Bill: And this was the first instance of what became Draper’s trademark, um, maneuver throughout the rest of his life. And even after his death, Pioneer continued the same tradition, which was the distribution of unsolicited works to various individuals in the hopes that it would influence public policy.

Lisa: Okay, let me zoom out a little bit. A eugenics cabal forms with this eugenics interested rich guy, and we get The Pioneer Fund, and they begin implementing this playbook, but at the same time, they’ve kind of been driven underground because public attitudes about eugenics are shifting so they want to keep doing this work, but they’ve got to do it on the down low. Please tell me someone noticed that this was happening. Is this a secret conspiracy, or is any of it happening in the open?

Rigo: They’re successful in keeping their names out of the press, and no one ties the race science they fund to them. That is, until Barry Mehler starts connecting the dots.

Lisa: Chapter Two: The Mankind Quarterly.

Ah, Barry Mehler. Okay, so how did he get involved?

Rigo: Yeah. So the short story is that for Barry Mehler, all of this is personal, so when I ask him how he fell into this work, he took me back to his childhood in 1960s New York, where he was just a regular Jewish kid.

Barry: When I was 13, you know, we have a bar mitzvah and, you know, a Jewish boy becomes a man, and there’s a big party, and, you know, I have five brothers so I’m in middle, and so this was the first time they made a big fuss over me and I was the center of everybody’s attention.

And I thought, “Wow, this is terrific.” And I decided I wanted to become a rabbi, and my father thought that was a terrific idea, and, and I transferred to a Jewish parochial school, and I began to wear the kippah on my head.

And it was a dramatic transformation. Suddenly I’m in the suburbs of New York, and I’m walking down, uh, a street and a car drives by, and there’s, uh, a, a father and his son, and the son screams out the window at me, you know, something like, “You dirty [expletive].” The father is just driving along proud of his son.

Rigo: Orthodox Jewish men and boys wear a kippah, or a skullcap every day. Barry’s Jewish identity was visible to everyone all the time. The name calling incident was a rude awakening, but things would unfortunately get worse from there.

Barry: One day walking on the street, it was a beautiful spring day, and I was daydreaming, and unbeknownst to me, two boys run up behind me, and one of them just punched me in the back, sent me flying, you know, stars, and, you know, and then, then they run on.

And as I got up, uh, a question began to form that really took me really the rest of my life to contemplate, which was why do they hate me? They, they didn’t know me at all. What is this about? Wh- why is there all this hatred? It was clear that the anti Semitism was everywhere about me.

Rigo: So this incident sent Mehler on a path. He started learning about the Klu Klux Klan, the right wing fascism and neo Nazis, and the thought about this stuff more and more until he reached a conclusion.

Barry: Most people had this view that we were making progress, that everything was getting better, and that World War II was just another move on the road towards progress, and I really didn’t see it that way.

Rigo: And since then, Mehler has always operated under the assumption that Nazis never really went away, and as it turns out, he’s right. At this point, Barry Mehler decides not to become a rabbi, and instead pursues the history of science, and in particular, the history of Nazis and race science.

He started researching eugenics in grad school, and his methods were not typical to say the least. He took off his kippah and pretended he wasn’t Jewish, and he embedded himself with neo Nazis. He went to rallies and talked to white supremacists. He wanted to understand their philosophy.

Barry: I took the racists seriously and I listened directly to them, and what I would simply do is, um, I would join. I would send in a membership. I had a subscription to all these, you know, Nazi newspapers.

All this stuff would arrive at my door, you know, and no other name, I just, you know, myself and but, but I was no-… Nobody knew me.

Rigo: Mehler not only sent out his subscriptions, but he was also a due paying member of white supremacist organizations.

Lisa: So basically Mehler’s kitchen table would have been filled with racist propaganda hate mail 24/7 365? [laughs]

Rigo: Some of it was just completely bonkers.

Barry: So I got a mailing from Canada from Ernst Zundel. it’s an offer that, uh, for $9,999, I can go with him on a tour of Antarctica to tour the Nazi’s secret flying saucer base, or for $9.99, I could get a replica, a model of the… Of the Nazi flying saucer which was a Frisbee with a swastika on it. [laughs]

And it was… So when, when I… When I looked at that, I said, “Here, finally, is a Nazi I don’t have to worry about. This guy is so off his rocker. This is so bizarre that nobody will ever be able to take this guy seriously.”

Rigo: That guy went on to become the world’s largest publisher of neo Nazi material in Canada. He was also tracking another person who raised red flags for him, someone who was very important to The Pioneer Fund and the neo Nazi movement.

Barry: I came across Roger Pearson right away, I mean really early on. What Pearson had done was he brought together all of these fascist intellectuals, academics that had been orphaned by the war, and they needed a place to come together.

Lisa: So tell me about Roger Pearson. He sounds like a major player.

Rigo: Roger Pearson was a British guy who starting in 1958 ran a neo Nazi publication called Northern World out of a British tea plantation in Kolkata, India. He was inspired by Hans F. K. Günther, the Third Reich’s most prominent race scientist.

Barry: And he puts this thing together which immediately is picked up by the American racist right, and the networking is incredible.

Rigo: In 1961, he co founded a journal called the Mankind Quarterly, and guess who’s funding the journal?

Lisa: Oh, this is another opportunity for me to go Wickliffe Preston Draper, isn’t it?

Rigo: Of course, it had to be him. Sometimes he goes through The Pioneer Fund, and sometimes he just gives money directly. Bottom line, Wickliffe Draper’s money makes the journal possible.

Bill: The Mankind Quarterly is a very interesting publication. It brought together two different groups, those American scientists who were opposed to the civil rights movement, and who wanted to emphasize the inferiority of Blacks, and European scientists who were still promoting the kind of racial hygiene that had been at the core of the policies instituted by the Third Reich.

Rigo: It was a journal for racists by racists, a home for race scientists who had been rejected by other more mainstream journals. And since these race scientists all knew each other, the journal became kind of like an echo chamber, and they all praised and cited each other’s work to give it the veneer of legitimate science.

Lisa: This is that method one you mentioned, right? Use science to shield the race science.

Barry: They have their own printing presses, their own journals. They review each other’s books, they write for each other’s journals, so it creates a kind of universe, academic universe within a bubble that outside the bubble, no one takes them seriously, but inside the bubble, they can have a resume that looks rather impressive.

And that’s one of the things that The Pioneer Fund was able to do was to create outlets so that they could publish, they could review each other, they could support each other, and they could create this sense that this is a legitimate academic enterprise when, in fact, in the legitimate academic world, nobody was even aware that they existed.

Rigo: One way that the Mankind Quarterly differs from other journals is their use of pseudonyms, which I’m guessing is it not normal in academia?

Lisa: No. Why would I publish under a pseudonym? I want my name to be associated with my work.

Rigo: Right. They wanted the ideas out but not their name. This was also done to make it seem like there were more race scientists than there actually were. Roger Pearson, for example, had at least a dozen names that he used, and Barry Mehler and his mentor, Jerry Hirsch, help uncover the deception.

Barry: Jerry Hirsch sued Roger Pearson, so we were able to get a deposition under oath, and I prepared a list for Jerry’s attorney to simply ask, uh, Pearson, “Have you published under this name, this name, this name, this name?” And we just went down a whole list, and, you know, and he confirmed that he was all those people.

Rigo: So the Mankind Quarterly was not taken seriously by their academics, and you can see that in their impact score.

Lisa: I’m gonna pull my academic hat on for a second and say an impact score is basically something that measures the importance of a given journal, so the higher the impact score, the more influential it is, so you measure that by citations and references, who’s used the journal and cited it in their work.

The more citations, the more funding, the more chances to become tenured. You want to publish if you can in a journal with a higher impact score rather than a lower impact score.

Rigo: Right, exactly. Just to give you an example of how this works, the journal Nature currently has an impact score of 40, and the Mankind Quarterly sits below one, but none of this mattered to the people in the Mankind Quarterly.

Their goal was just to have a platform for their ideas to live on. Funding wasn’t an issue for them, they had Wickliffe Draper.

Lisa: So you’re telling me they didn’t have to apply for grants, or have funding cycles, or write proposals. The Pioneer Fund was just handing over cash.

Rigo: Yeah, and in fact the Pioneer Fund was very pro-active in finding these race scientists. 

Bill: Usually people wanting their research to be funded take the initiative to contact funding agency and say, “Hey, look. Here’s the work I’m doing. I really hope this will be of interest to you.” And here the relationship was reversed, in which Pioneer or Draper would contact these people and say, “Oh, I see you’re doing things. Here’s money for you. You don’t have to apply. Here’s money we’ll send you.”

And in a number of cases, it wasn’t even money for the research, it was just money for the individuals, gifts, large gifts of personal checks to the people who carry on this research. “Here’s some money for you because we like what you’re doing.”

Rigo: [laughs] Yeah. It was interesting to learn that they would… Draper would send them, like, Christmas presents basically, like literal, like, “Here’s $50. Here’s $100. Here’s $1,000.” It’s almost like, uh… Like a racist Santa Claus.

Bill: Yes. Yes, and then these checks were often for ample amounts in the thousands of dollars to people, uh, just because Draper or Pioneer liked what they were doing.

Rigo: One of the people to receive the most money from Draper and the Pioneer Fund was the founder of the Mankind Quarterly, Roger Pearson. All together, he received about a million dollars.

Lisa: So what does he do with the money?

Rigo: So he actually publishes a lot, and one of the things he published was an article in a Nazi magazine. And when I say a Nazi magazine, the logo literally had a swastika in it, and then he wrote an article that claimed that Jews had started World War II, and they were trying to exterminate the Germans so they were the victims.

Bill: He went on then to become the editor of a publication called The New Patriot. With Pioneer funding, he produced one of these strange extremist publication after another.

Rigo: And here’s the really crazy part.

Lisa: Sorry, Rigo, we haven’t gotten to the really crazy part yet?

Rigo: Yeah. It gets stranger. Despite what most people would agree were really problematic endeavors, Pearson did not have trouble finding a job in academia. In 1971, he became the chair of the Department of Anthropology and Comparative Religious Studies at the University of Southern Mississippi.

He fired almost all of the current faculty, and made openings for other neo Nazi scientists. And before you try to tell me that he’s still on the fringes, listen to this.

Barry: And he’s endorsed by President Ronald Reagan, uh, right? He’s, he’s got this letter from the president saying that, you know, he’s a terrific guy and you should support his publication. That’s amazing amount of territory to traverse when you are one of the leading fascist academic and organizers in the world.

What was striking was the more extreme you were, the more successful you seemed to be in this whole world, and what I found interesting was that you could have, uh, a very mainstream sort of academic career, and then you could be on the editorial board of Roger Pearson’s Mankind Quarterly, and nobody would notice that.

No one asked any embarrassing questions, you know-

Rigo: Why do you think that is? Is it because the Mankind Quarterly wasn’t as known, like you kind of had to, like, know what it was?

Barry: You know when you don’t want to know? Nobody wants to know that stuff, and nobody is really offended by it. You know, he’s a brilliant guy, and he’s got these ideas, and after all, he’s probably right.

Lisa: And in the case of Pearson, if someone did try to attack him, he’d use the idea of academic freedom to fight against it, you know, and, and certainly it seems like he was keeping his Mankind Quarterly work more on the down low and using his other academic work to build a shield around himself.

Rigo: Right, exactly. Do you want to know what else was in Barry Mehler’s mailbox?

Lisa: Oh my God, I’m afraid to ask, Rigo, but you’re gonna tell me.

Chapter Three: Pioneer Stars.

Rigo: One of Barry Mehler’s racist subscriptions was a newspaper called The Thunderbolt. The group behind it bombed a synagogue in 1958, just to give you a sense of who they were.

Lisa: Not surprised to hear that they’re not just spewing hateful ideas, they’re acting on them. This is why Barry Mehler was so adamant that white supremacy was such a serious problem. He was in deep. He knew exactly what they were up to.

Rigo: Exactly. And one day while he was reading The Thunderbolt, Barry sees a familiar name, William Shockley.

Lisa: Ah, the infamous William Shockley. So this guy was a revered physicist at Stanford. He won a Nobel Prize for his work on semiconductors. He was a legend in Silicon Valley.

Rigo: Until a dark side came out. He was an avowed racist, and pretty public about it.

Archival of Shockley: My research leads me inescapably to the opinion that the major cause of the American Negro’s intellectual and social deficits is hereditary and racially genetic in origin. And thus not remediable to major degrees by practical improvements in the environment.   

Barry: It’s one thing to, you know… You listen to, you hear some kind of quote from William Shockley, but then to see a full page, you know, layout in The Thunderbolt, I mean they were just overtly racist, and William Shockley was their hero.

Rigo: William Shockley didn’t try to hide his connection to The Thunderbolt. He openly endorsed it. Lisa, could you read this quote from him? It’s from an interview he did in Playboy Magazine.

Lisa: Oh, great. What’s it gonna be? Okay. Let me read this. Quote, “On two points, I put The Thunderbolt ahead of much of the American press. First, I believe it is not hypocritical, though it does sometimes express erroneous views. Second, it sometimes publishes valid news that I don’t find elsewhere.” Unquote.

Wow, William Shockley. I mean, that’s some classic, “Oh, at least these guys tell it how it is.” Stuff.

Barry: Here was, uh, a guy who subscribed to The Thunderbolt. He and I were both reading The Thunderbolt, right? And so you know where his head’s at. This is vile and viscous racist anti Semitic stuff, and he finds news there that he doesn’t get anywhere else.

Rigo: To polite society, it looked like professor’s doing some perhaps questionable work on the side, but nothing that would warrant negative attention, but most people weren’t really reading The Thunderbolt.

They weren’t seeing the things that Barry was seeing, so Mehler goes down the rabbit hole of white supremacist literature, and what he finds shocks him even more. He uncovers dozens of academics with double lives. Some are big name academics at big name universities.

Lisa: Give me a taste of who we’re talking about there.

Rigo: Okay, here’s one. Have you ever heard of Arthur Jensen?

Lisa: He’s a psychologist. Is he the psychologist whose work is cited in The Bell Curve?

Rigo: Yeah. So I’m gonna go back to that book in a bit. Jensen was a renowned psychologist at UC Berkeley. This is one of the most liberal institutions in the country, so when he suggested intelligence was inherited, people got a little ruffled, but that’s not a firable offense in itself, right?

Lisa: Right. I mean, it sort of falls under the category of yikes. [laughs] You’d probably groan and hope you, like, you could avoid him at a faculty mixer, right? You’d, you’d just hope you didn’t cross over with him on any committees.

Rigo: Right. But what Barry Mehler did was to go deeper. He knows there must be more there, and sure enough, he was right. While he was doing research in Germany in 1978, he discovered that Arthur Jensen had been writing for a new Nazi publication called New Anthropology.

Lisa: That blows right past yikes into holy crap territory. That’s an entirely other level of bad.

Rigo: And there’s more. He was a member of the magazine’s advisory board. Mehler connected the dots. Jensen’s vague ideas about intelligence being inherited were explicitly connected to the growing neo Nazi movement.

Barry: What I noticed immediately was how important these academics were. There’s two things that were going on. One is that they were enormously important to the racists because they legitimated their views, and especially after World War II, when the Nazis had been defeated, you had very little support for these kinds of ideas. It was very important for them to be able to find a place where they would be appreciated.

Rigo: Shockley, and Jensen, and dozens of other academics share more than just dangerous ideas. They also share the same funding source.

Lisa: Wickliffe Preston Draper.

Rigo: Exactly. It is around this time in the early 1970s that something happened that could have been the end of The Pioneer Fund. Wickliffe Draper died in 1972, but his death didn’t mean the end of The Pioneer Fund.

The opposite, in fact. He left most of his money to The Pioneer Fund, much to the chagrin of his close family, and The Pioneer Fund handed out more money two years after his death than in the entire period of 1937 to 1972.

So up until this point, The Pioneer Fund is secretly funding race scientists who are on the fringes who needed financial support, and a place to publish, like the Mankind Quarterly. But with the emergence of Shockley, they had a mainstream scientist on their team now, and they funded him lavishly from the quote, unquote, “Throne in New York” As they called Wickliffe Draper’s house.

Bill: In general, Pioneer funded two different groups of recipients. One were actual scientists working on projects that Pioneer though w- would have results that could be exploited for their political agenda.

And on the other hand were the political people who did the actual exploiting. Whenever Pioneer was asked about their choice of projects, the first thing they did was point to the actual… The real scientists.

Rigo: When Bill Tucker was doing research for his book, The Funding of Scientific Racism, he made a list of all the American scientists he could think of who were promoting theories of black inferiority or segregation, and then he went to the various archives to see if he could find connections between them and The Pioneer Fund.

Bill: I figured, okay. I’m gonna take a trip to each of these places to see, and I thought some of these trips might be wasted because there would be nothing there. I never wasted a trip. Every place I went for a scientist, uh, or a- an activist who had been involved in these issues, there was connections between them and Draper and Pioneer.

So, what it suggested was that Draper and Pioneer really took the initiative in every case, and reached out to these people, and tried to subsidize them once it realized that these were people who were doing things that would be of interest to Pioneer’s agenda.

Rigo: Bill Tucket says that when Shockley came out as a racist in the 1960s, The Pioneer Fund must have felt like they won the lottery without even buying a ticket.

Lisa: In a way, this kind of makes sense for how academia works. When you do research, funded research, you’re kind of beholden to your funder in certain ways, right? So Pioneer Fund works hard to prop up scientists that they think are going to continue their message, and it gives the ideas credibility in a sense, right, because if they’re continuing to get funding then their ideas must not be all that controversial. It’s giving these ideas air, right?

Rigo: Yeah, and The Pioneer Fund steers their work too. They decided that Jensen and Shockley should work together, and throughout that partnership, Jensen’s ideas change. He originally thought any difference in intelligence Black and white people were from environmental factors, but after working with Shockley, Jensen started arguing that intelligence was inherited.

Lisa: So really what The Pioneer Fund is doing is making bad ideas even worse.

Barry: Jensen and Shockley were stars, were, were Pioneer stars, and they received huge amounts of money from The Pioneer Fund.

Rigo: Arthur Jensen in particular got more than a million dollars from them.

Barry:  The Pioneer was looking for scholars who were willing to take a stand, and that’s what Jensen was willing to do. Jensen was willing to take a stand, and he knew what he was doing.

Uh, the Harvard Educational Review article that he wrote, How Much Can We Boost IQ, you know, there was… At the time, I was working at little Head Start in Spanish Harlem, and we would feed the children breakfast, and Arthur Jensen was argued, “It really isn’t gonna change their IQ whether you feed them breakfast or not.”

You know, for God’s sakes, we’re feeding them breakfast. You’ve got… You have something wrong with that? [laughs] And, you know, and he’s arguing that you can’t boost their IQ by, uh, any kind of environmental changes, which is kind of an absurd argument anyway to make.

And remember, the Harvard Educational Review, they published it. The Pioneer paid for it, but the Harvard Educational Review published it. So here is a guy who’s wiling to take a stand for racism, and the Pioneer was willing to give him anything to help him spread that news.

Rigo: The Pioneer Fund only cared about upholding white supremacy. They didn’t really care about the science, but they relied on the science to give some sort of validity to their claims of racial inferiority, and Arthur Jensen was literally a star. He had his own moment on the Phil Donahue Show in 1980.

Donohue: if you’re going to present a thesis, which places uh, places are race at the bottom of the IQ. Then I, I trust you believe there are others. There are somebody who’s at the top. 

Jensen on Donahue: The, the white population of the United States score is higher on all kinds of mental tests, not just IQ tests, but every kind of mental test, 

Then the black population in the United States on the average,

Lisa: Why does Phil Donahue have so many race scientists on his show?

Rigo: It seems like it’s, like, um, kind of click bait-y television for the time.

Lisa: Controversial views? [laughs]

Rigo: I guess so.

Lisa: It’s also stunning to me that when Barry Mehler investigates The Pioneer Fund in the 1980s, they’re still pushing the exact same ideas, and the exact same framing as they were in 1937. Decades later, it still sounds the same.

Rigo: Yeah. It’s like they were safe guarding race science ideology all these years.

Bill: There is this long tradition of academic racism which Pioneer has continued. It was much more prevalent in the earlier part of the 20th Century, but as it has become less and less popular among, uh, the academic mainstream, the few people who still adhere to it are those funded by Pioneer. And so, Pioneer has been the keeper of the flame, in this case.

Rigo: By keeping the race science flame alive, they created a foundation for the current wave of race scientists to build on. There’s like, an intellectual continuity, so that theory Mehler had as a 13 year old boy, that the Nazis didn’t just suddenly disappear, he was right.

Lisa: Okay. So The Pioneer Fund doesn’t really care about the science. It doesn’t care if it’s good science, certainly, and you don’t have to be the most productive academic in the world to get money from them. Is there anything that can get you cut off?

Rigo: Yes, and here’s an example of that. William Shockley wasn’t really producing anything new with their money, and he had a really prickly personality, so when his character got in the way of the message, The Pioneer Fund actually cut him off.

Bill: Shockley was a very difficult person to work with, and eventually Pioneer ended his funding because he was just turning people off that Pioneer wanted to influence. Um, but most of the money that Shockley got… Well, in fact, really all of the money that Shockley got had nothing to do with research.

Rigo: While some of The Pioneer Fund scientists like Shockley are public facing, the Pioneer itself liked to remain out of the spotlight.

Bill: Draper guarded his own identity very, very carefully so that very few people knew of who was this, uh, multimillionaire who behind the scenes was putting up the money.

Lisa: That makes sense. I mean, they hid themselves for decades, right, behind the scenes so they don’t want someone who’s gonna be a lightening rod for controversy. It makes me think of the Donahue interview with Rushton.

I mean, he’s, he’s this well spoken fellow in a nice suit. This is the Nazis in suits strategy that was so part of their message.

Lisa: Chapter Four: The Bell Curve.

Lisa: Okay. So up until now, we’ve been talking about the neo Nazi propaganda that Barry Mehler gets in the mail, but what does he actually do with all the information he’s collecting?

Rigo: So he writes a series of articles in the late 1970s exposing people like Jensen, and then in 1983, he writes a paper called The New Eugenics in which he puts all these race academics into context.

He was the first person to really call them out publicly. His work inspired others like Bill Tucker to follow the money, and the thing that really stood out to me about Mehler’s writing was that there was a sense of urgency. It was as if one person had finally realized what was going on, and he was sending out the warning signal.

Barry: I’ve had a sense of urgency that goes back a very, very long time. And so, they always had first, a, a sense of assurity that they were right, and also a sense of urgency, the same sense of urgency that I felt.

They are acutely aware that they’re talking about the survival of the white race the same way as we talk about the survival of the polar bears, you know, and of the whales, and of the elephants. The white race is absolutely endangered, and the Jews have absolutely control over the mind of Americans.

The challenge is to try… It’s to get the message out, “You can’t go through the Jews because they distort everything.”

Rigo: So he names names, Pearson, Jensen, Shockley, and its newest Pioneer star, Phillip Rushton, and because of this, he’s called onto television shows like the Phil Donahue Show.

Lisa: So just setting the scene again for people listening, we’re watching The Phil Donahue Show. This is another clip where Berry Mehler and J. P. Rushton are sitting next to each other debating.

Phillipe Rushton on Donohue: This is the thing Dr. Mehler and all my opponents don’t have to answer the intellectual argument.All they have to do is start throwing words around like Nazi and racist and fascist. And it’s a label they pin on people and then you don’t even attend to what the person said. What he’s just been talking about. There’s a load of absolute rubish.

Lisa: You can really tell from the clip that Mehler’s getting under their skin.

Rigo: Even though his work was only in left leaning publications, the TV appearances were a big platform for Mehler to refute their ideas, but he says that might have been for nothing.

Barry: It was apparent to me that we were putting on a show, and that I was part of this show, and I was performing a- an important task for the racist platform because they couldn’t do it without me.

They had to have two talking heads, and, and somebody had to speak for the other side for them to get their message out, and not only did I understand that, but I don’t think that we run this.

For example, when I went on the shows, you know, the audience was overwhelmingly on my side. They would boo, they would hiss, they would clap for me, and then boo for him. You know, so but that, you know, uh, ultimately, uh, I, I don’t think I won anybody over with any of that. Uh, they had the platform.

Rigo: They’ve already won-

Barry: That’s right.

Rigo: Just by being there.

Lisa: I really take Mehler’s point there. The ideology, the quote, unquote, “scientific support for racial hierarchy,” This stuff is getting mainstreamed in the 1990s, isn’t it? I mean the first thing that comes to mind for me is The Bell Curve by Charles Murray, which was huge.

Rigo: Yeah, that’s completely right. The Bell Curve was The Pioneer Fund’s biggest win when it was published in 1994.

McNeil/Leher Report: Race remains one of this country’s most divisive topics and a controversial book with racially charged findings hasn’t helped the debate. The thesis advanced by authors, Charles Murray and the late Richard Herrnstein in the bell curve is that I Q is the best predictor of a person’s success

Lisa: Yeah. This was everywhere, [laughs] uh, while I was growing up. I mean at the time it was released, The Bell Curve, I, I know was widely discredited by a lot of mainstream scientists. Scientists pushed back against this hard, but Murray still gets tons of attention from the press, and it gets legitimized.

Rigo: Yeah, and he got cover stories in the New York Times magazine, Newsweek, and The New Republic.

McNeil/Leher Report: What has landed the bell curve on the cover of many magazines and Charles Murray on numerous talk shows is that the book also links IQ with race on Mary’s bell curve of IQ scores, blacks as a group have an average IQ of 85 whites, 100 Asians, 105. This is why the book claims blacks are disproportionately living in poverty and also more likely to commit crime.

Lisa: So is The Pioneer Fund involved with Murray and The Bell Curve?

Rigo: They were very entangled. First, on the idea front. As critics at the time put it, these were old racist ideas with a new coat of paint. This becomes very clear when you start looking into the citations of the book.

The book has 57 pages of bibliography, many from mainstream scientific journals, but some of them are far from reputable. Murray told the New York Times that, quote, “Some of the things we read to do this work, we literally had to hide when we were on planes and trains.”

And the thing he had to hide were 17 citations that came from a little known journal called the Mankind Quarterly.

Lisa: Ah, the pseudonym journal strikes again.

Rigo: Right, and Murray and his coauthor also credited Richard Lynn for providing expertise on the book. Richard Lynn was the editor of the Mankind Quarterly at this time. The Bell Curve was one of The Pioneer Fund’s greatest hits for two reasons.

One, it immediately made its way to the mainstream press, and gave the impression that there was now new genetic evidence to prove that there was a difference in intelligence among races. The political implications of this is that if Black people are intellectually inferior, why bother having a social safety net?

Lisa: Oh, right. So this is essentially what Arthur Jensen is arguing, you know, why serve breakfast to school kids if it’s not going to improve their performance?

Rigo: Exactly. And the second reason why The Bell Curve is so important to The Pioneer Fund is that it had staying power. Although it was widely dismissed, it is still cited today as evidence that white people are smarter than Black people, and it’s all biological.

Lisa: This is exactly what The Pioneer Fund ultimately wanted, right? To create this kind of intellectual continuity, this current that bridges the eugenics in the 1930s to the present day.

Rigo: Yes. There were some consequences, though. The publication of the book put The Pioneer Fund and Barry Mehler on the spotlight.

News archive: Some of the ideas found in the book, the bell curve are not new. Our agenda to port bill Blakemore has been looking into a fairly obscure research fund that has drawn attention because of this book, the bell curve, a fund.

historian, very mailer charges that the pioneer funds interest in race differences made the Bell Curve’s arguments. 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. 

Rigo: Barry Mehler’s TV appearances made Roger Pearson furious. Remember, Pearson is one of the founders of the Mankind Quarterly. And in one of the books that he was writing, he devoted an entire chapter to Barry Mehler. He called it The Case of Barry Mehler. He accuses Mehler of character assassination, bias, and of being a left wing nut.

Lisa: All pretty common accusations that anyone who is coming against neo Nazis, even today.

Barry: One of the things that Roger Pearson writes about me in his chapter, The Strange Case of Barry Mehler, was that I mail out my stuff in envelopes and I sent them around surreptitiously to all kinds of people, which is, of course, not true.

I’ve never mailed my stuff out, but that was exactly what The Pioneer Fund was doing, and, and it was a, a strategy that they had to disseminate their information. And I really don’t think that that was a winning strategy.

Lisa: Ah, the classic he who smelt it, dealt it maneuver.

Rigo: They’re projecting, obviously. But unfortunately for Mehler, this was not the end of it. He really started to feel their wrath. By being the first and most vocal critical of The Pioneer Fund and neo Nazis, it made him a target.

Barry: We had DEFCON levels at my house, levels of security. So when things got hot, you wanted to make sure everything was locked down. If I was on a national public radio program, that’s fine. You might get something, but raise that up to 25 million to a really public place where i- it’s the same thing as w- wearing the kippah.

You know, when I started walking on the streets and people could see who I was, that’s… So they could see it. So now my anti racism was, was visible, very visible. And, um, my son picked up the phone one day, and this, uh, guy said to him, um, “I’m gonna kill you, chop you up into pieces, and mail you back to your dad in boxes.”

Rigo: Somebody painted a swastika on his mailbox.

Barry: At the time, we had been getting a lot of death threats, and so… And by the way, I wouldn’t go to the police. I went to the police about the swastika on the mailbox and they said, “Yeah, you know, that’s just kids, you know, and look, they didn’t even do it right. They painted the swastika backwards.” So, [laughter] that’s how I knew the police didn’t do it, because if they had done it, they would have done it right.

Rigo: So instead of going to the police, Barry asked his friends who used to be Marines to come live in his house with their guns and their 125 pound rottweiler. He recalled one instance when his grade school son, Isaac, wanted to go play in the woods with his friend, but his volunteer body guard stopped him from going.

Barry: And Ron said to Issac, “Isaac, there are some people who might want to harm your father. The worst thing they could do would be to harm you, and I’m here to make sure that doesn’t happen, so for now, you just… We have to stick together.”

Rigo: No one has proven that these threats came from The Pioneer Fund, but what we do know is that The Pioneer Fund actually hired a private investigation firm.

Barry: I really got under their skin. I mean, I annoyed them a lot, and so, the- they’re calling up civil rights groups, the people that might know me, and trying to, uh, get information, and they said this in their investigation, you know, uh, for a possible lawsuit.

They wanted to sue me for libel, and throughout my career, I have been at risk of being sued for libel because, you know, you, you call people Nazis, and, you know, they get upset, and no one has ever been happy that I exposed their racist and right wing connections.

Rigo: In the end, he did not get sued for libel, but he did remain a thorn in the side of The Pioneer Fund. After the publishing of The Bell Curve, and the controversy surrounding it, The Pioneer Fund decided to step out of the spotlight and continue doing the things they knew how to do well since 1937, which was to mail out unsolicited propaganda to prominent scientists and politicians.

Lisa: There’s no resolution. I can’t imagine how Barry Mehler feels watching this all explode and then kind of die down and become less controversial again. These ideas just stay in the public consciousness, they don’t go away again, and all the work that he did to expose it doesn’t really make it stop.

Rigo: Yeah. And the whole thing in a way does confirm what Barry Mehler had an inkling of since he was a boy.

Barry: I mean, to this day I can’t, you know, tell you what that does to me. Not only was the war not over, but the Nazis were still out to get my son. That’s what it was all about, they wanted to resurrect their movement to come after my son. That’s how I felt.

Lisa: So what happened to The Pioneer Fund? Is it still around?

Rigo: They are still around. Their last known grant was in 2019 to an organization based in Ohio whose president has written extensively about racial differences. Normally in my reporting process this is the part where I reach out to the Pioneer Fund or mankind Quarterly -which is also still around today — But i didn’t … and theres a very specific reason why that is.

It’s standard journalism practice to reach out to people if you’re gonna talk about them.

However, The Pioneer Fund and the Mankind Quarterly are not just any other source. Their desire is to have a platform to disseminate their ideas, and we would be giving them platform if we allow them to speak to here.

I think it’s important to acknowledge that what they’re gonna say is intellectually dishonest, and therefor it doesn’t provide a better understanding of them or their ideas. Having said that, The Pioneer Fund succeeded in their eugenic ideas surviving.

In April 2017, author and neuroscientist Sam Harris published an episode on his popular podcast called Waking Up with an alluring title, Forbidden Knowledge. His guest for the episode was Charles Murray, who co-authored the 1994 book, The Bell Curve. In this episode, Harris explains his reasoning for having Murray on the show.

Sam Harris: People don’t want to hear that intelligence is a real thing, and that some people have more of it than others, and they certainly don’t want to hear the average IQ differs across races and ethnic groups. Now, for better or worse, these are all facts.

Rigo: And this is perhaps the greatest achievement of The Pioneer Fund, is by keeping the race science flame alive, there is an intellectual continuity for people like Sam Harris, and they don’t have to start from scratch.

Lisa: So, and this is really just personal curiosity, what about Barry Mehler? What’s going on with him?

Rigo: So just to give you an update on what Mehler’s been up to recently, I asked him about some hot water he got into, and I’ll play you some tape.

WZZM: We begin tonight with that viral video filled with profanity made by a long time Ferris state university, professor 

 the video in question is 14 minute long course introduction that he sent out to his students students earlier this month.

Now, while the video, the language in that video is profane. Some say, it’s just part of his teaching style. In a 14 minute video mailers heard using profane language directed at both his students.

But if you want to go complain to your Dean, you go ahead. I’m retiring at the end of this year. And I couldn’t give a flying any longer and to the administration and no limit of an administrator is going to tell me how to teach my classes because I’m a tenured professor. Expressing frustration over teaching in person during the pandemic of viewers sent me the video upset about the language, but a couple of Ferris state students stand by mailer.

Lisa: Wow. It’s kind of an unfortunate reason for Barry Mehler to have gone viral, right? I mean, I wish that some of the millions of people who watch that video would, like, learn about his work, his life’s work.

Rigo: So I asked Barry Mehler about the video. Recently, you were, uh… Ferris State University suspended you for publishing a profanity based video. If a white supremacist wanted to discredit what you have to say, they, they might say, “Barry Mehler is a unreliable narrator because look at what happened.” I’m curious about how you would respond to that.

Barry: I don’t need to have credit. Uh, you know, I, I don’t need to be credited, and if you want to discredit me, they were always able to discredit me. I mean, I was never anybody really important.

You have a position at Johns Hopkins. I have a position at Ferris State University. I mean, I was never anybody really. You know, the only thing I had was the fact that I was able to articulate a context, and a vision that nobody else really had.

I was the only one really putting together these strands because I was reading the racist newspapers. It was because I was not a mainstream scholar that I was able to get away with all the things that I was able to, to do, and I did survive.

And not only survive, but was able to, um, make significant contribution to our understanding of what is actually going on.

Rigo: Barry Mehler is 75 years old now, and he’s retired from teaching. He still does anti fascist work posting on his YouTube channel and mentoring young scholars to pick up where he left off because the neo Nazi fascists are still out there.

Barry: They’re the ones who are winning. We’re losing. This… We’re not making progress here. You see, I don’t see it in terms of we’re making progress, and these people are on the run. We were on the run. 


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