Racism in psychology

By Michael Billig

(See here for the history of this article)

SO FAR connections have been demonstrated between respectable scientists and those semi-academic, semi-political magazines, like The Mankind Quarterly, Nouvelle Ecole and Neue Anthropologie, which are actively promoting a racist culture; there have even been contacts with more overtly fascist and racist publications. Given such contacts, it is possible that ideas, originating from undeniably racist sources, are percolating into the academic arena.

Audrey M. Shuey's book The Testing of Negro Intelligence(77) offers a good example of the interconnections between political and academic racism. This mammoth book, which runs to nearly 600 pages, is a compendium of the research conducted into black IQ. Shuey's conclusion is that there are "native differences between negroes and whites as determined by intelligence tests": in other words blacks are less intelligent than whites.

Shuey's book contains an introduction by Henry Garrett, whose extremist views and connections have already been described. Garrett's contribution to Shuey's work goes further than writing a laudatory introduction. Shuey in her preface goes out of her way to thank Garrett: "Special thanks are due to Dr. Henry E. Garrett, for encouraging the writing of this book". Not altogether too surprisingly Shuey leans quite heavily in parts on Garrett's work.

If the motivation behind Shuey's work came from Garrett, whose political views were hardly inimical to the conclusions of The Testing of Negro Intelligence, nevertheless the work has had a deep impact on respectable psychologists.

For instance, Eysenck in Race, Intelligence and Education praises Shuey's work in most generous terms. His chapter on 'The intelligence of American negroes' is based on Shuey's work, as Eysenck is the first to admit:

"In surveying the results of work in this field, I have done little but paraphrase the scholarly, extensive and very reliable summary published by Audrey M. Shuey, entitled 'The Testing of Negro Intelligence'. . .It would clearly be impossible to go into similar detail here, as well as being supererogatory - such a job needed to be done, but having been well done, requires no repetition. Readers who wish to consult the references on which my own summaries and conclusions are based can do no better than read Shuey" (pp.87-88).

It is perhaps worthwhile to mention that Shuey, like Eysenck, is an Honorary Editorial Advisor to The Mankind Quarterly.

Shuey's conclusions are returned to racist circles, when Eysenck recommends her book during his Beacon interview. He mentioned that he used to believe that racial IQ differences were the product of environmental causes, but he changed his mind: "Then came first of all that book by Shuey and that I found really convincing".

Shuey in the preface of her book refers to 'Racial Psychology'. The growth of such 'Racial Psychology' (and Shuey includes her own work and those of other psychologists researching into racial differences in IQ) has led to a climate where racialist assumptions can be found in so-called objective psychological science. Eysenck's own department at the Institute of Psychiatry, Maudsley Hospital, London, is one where Racial Psychology can be said to be flourishing.

Jensen himself has contacts with the Institute of Psychiatry. Between 1956 and 1958 he worked as a Research Fellow at the Institute. His contacts with Eysenck have continued since then.

It was at a conference in the Institute of Psychiatry that Jensen delivered a highly publicised talk in August 1970, discussing the IQ of American blacks and Mexican-Americans. This talk was later to form the basis of Jensen's book Educability and Group Differences. In his book Race, Intelligence and Education (p.16), Eysenck went out of his way to thank the organiser of the conference: none other than A.J. Gregor (formerly of The Mankind Quarterly, the IAAEE and Oswald Mosley's European).

A good example of the way racialist presuppositions intrude into research at the Institute of Psychiatry is provided by Dr Glenn Wilson, who is a lecturer there. Wilson has collaborated with Eysenck on a number of books, including a recent work on the psychology of politics.(78)

Wilson's own research has nothing to do with Eysenck's theories of racial differences in IQ; Wilson is in fact a social psychologist concerned with the study of attitudes. His book The Psychology of Conservatism(79) is ostensibly a scientific study of Right-wing political attitudes. It includes a commendatory preface by Eysenck, as well as some revealing assumptions.

Wilson starts The Psychology of Conservatism by saying that he prefers to use the term 'conservative' to 'fascist'. His reasons are that "most people would quite reasonably take exception to being described as 'fascist'" (p.4). Moreover, argues Wilson, the term 'conservative,' unlike 'fascist', "is relatively free of derogatory value-tone" (i.e., is not insulting).

Therefore Wilson, in order not to offend anyone, uses the term 'conservative' throughout his book, rather than fascist. The absurdity of this is that he uses 'conservative' even when talking about obvious fascists; for instance on page 7 he specifically refers to the National Front as a conservative organisation.

Wilson's concern not to offend does not, it seems, extend to all equally. On page 88 Wilson describes a questionnaire scale which he designed to measure 'realism'. Labelling a set of beliefs as 'realistic' and describing the believers as 'realists' indicates, at least implicitly, something about the scientist's own assumptions.

According to Wilson's scale, realists support 'white supremacy' and 'apartheid'; realists also reject 'coloured immigration'.(80) Wilson does not discuss any "derogatory value-tone" associated with this labelling.

In contrast to some of the academics already mentioned, it is highly unlikely that Wilson is consciously promoting racial theories or deliberately exonerating fascism. In fact, it is Wilson's lack of any conscious motivation which makes his remarks so disturbing. The proponents of racial theories hope to create an intellectual climate in which racialist assumptions are accepted as second-nature, even by those with no particular axe to grind. When large numbers of well-intentioned people fail to question racist assumptions, then racism can truly flourish.

It should be mentioned that Wilson's Psychology of Conservatism has been much quoted since its publication. Reviewers of the book, and psychologists studying Wilson's work, do not appear to have noticed anything untoward in Wilson's assumptions.

If Wilson represents an example of how racist presuppositions can be unthinkingly accepted, then the Institute of Psychiatry can also offer a more extreme example of racial psychology: that of a psychologist who uses psychology to justify his prejudices.


One of the contributors to Wilson's Psychology of Conservatism is Dr John J. Ray, lecturer at the University of New South Wales in Australia. During 1977 and 1978 Ray however was on sabbatical leave at the Institute of Psychiatry, where no doubt he found the intellectual atmosphere congenial to his research. Probably Ray was attracted by the fame of Eysenck, whom Ray had described as "the world's most eminent living psychologist".

Ray himself holds some forthright views on racism. His book Conservatism as heresy(81) includes chapters with such appetising titles as 'Rhodesia: in defence of Mr Smith' and 'In defence of the White Australia policy'. Ray also argues that it is "moralistic nonsense" to denounce racism.

Well might Ray defend racism. He does not mince his words when he writes about Australian Aborigines. Ray says that "aborigines are characterised by behaviour that in a white we would find despicable . . . White backlash is then reasonable. Unless we expect whites to forget overnight the cultural values that they have learned and practised all their lives, they will find the proximity of aboriginals unpleasant" (p.58).

Ray has conducted a number of academic surveys in order to bolster his prejudices. For instance Ray assumes that it is natural that whites should develop an antipathy towards Aborigines:

"If, for instance, people suddenly find themselves living in close contact with Aborigines and Aborigines happen to be in fact rather unhygienic in their habits, some people previously without prejudice will start to say that they don't like Aborigines." (p.261.)

Therefore Ray designed a survey to measure white Australians' attitudes towards Aborigines, comparing those who lived near Aborigines with those who lived further away.

The results of his survey failed to confirm his prediction; Ray did not find that whites living near Aborigines were in fact more prejudiced. Ray described his results as "disappointing" (p.267). Instead of discarding his hypothesis, Ray still strove to maintain his own prejudices; he searched around for reasons why his questionnaire might not have obtained the correct results. Thus, even in the face of negative results, Ray clings to what he calls his 'rational prejudice model'.

Ray's prejudices do not just relate to Aborigines. Dr. Ray enjoins us to "face the fact that large numbers of even educated Australians do not like Jews or 'Wogs'." (p.70.) Ray writes approvingly of people who will

"among friends, exchange mocking misnomers for suburbs in which Jews have settled: Bellevue Hill becomes 'Bellejew Hill' and Rose Bay becomes 'Nose Bay'; Dover Heights becomes 'Jehova Heights'." (p.71.)

Ray obviously has sympathy with the racists and anti-Semites. Many of the people who make the comments Ray cites, are according to our Australian psychologist "superbly functioning and well-adjusted Australians". In Ray's opinion such people will "justly deny being racists" (p.70): n.b. the give-away word 'justly'.

The main reason why Ray does not find such attitudes racist is that he considers them perfectly logical. Thus he asserts that people "who don't like sloth . . . may object to Aborigines. People who do not like grasping materialism, will certainly find no fault with Aborigines but they may find fault with Jews" (p.265).

It seems that Dr Ray, in an academic paper about psychology, is repeating the racist and anti-Semitic assumptions that Aborigines are lazy and Jews are 'grasping materialists'. It is hard to find any other explanation for Ray's continual defence of prejudice.

In his academic papers Ray has a tendency to use some curious turns of phrase. Thus when he criticises, as he often does, the classic work in the psychology of fascism, The Authoritarian Personality by Adorno, Frenkel-Brunswick, Levinson and Sanford, he refers to "the work of these Jewish authors" (see, for instance, the start of Ray's article in the distinguished social science journal Human Relations).(82) This is not the standard way of describing opponents' research, at least not since the days of Nazi Germany.

But there again Ray is not exactly ignorant of the ways of Nazism. During the 1960s Ray was a member of various Australian Nazi parties. In fact Ray has openly described his seven-year association with Nazism (see, for instance, his article 'What are Australian Nazis really like?' in The Bridge, August 1972).



By John Ray

The above is a copy of an article that has been on the internet for some years now -- by an obviously Leftist Michael Billig -- that presents criticisms of a number of "Racist" psychologists -- among whom I am of course listed. To a Leftist, just mentioning the word "race" makes you immediately suspect. And I have never hesitated to say that I believe that race is real and that it does make a difference. And that is one reason why I have never bothered to reply to that specific article until now. By the weird lights of the far Left my realistic stance IS racist.

I do NOT however believe that people should be judged by their race and be either advantaged or disadvantaged because of it. I believe that each person must be judged on his/her individual merits wherever there is sufficient information to do so. So in any sober assessment I am in fact ANTI-racist.

As just one indication of how far-Left Billig's article is, it may be noted that even the cheery Glenn Wilson gets lumped in with the bad guys because of a few things he said in his book The psychology of conservatism that were not sufficiently rabid for the Leftists. The irony of that is that it is precisely the theory Glenn put forward in his book that was treated with adulation in the now infamous "Berkeley" study of conservatism by Jost et al. The Jost group provoked a worldwide storm of criticism by claiming that all possible baddies in the world (including Communists like Castro and Khrushchev) were conservatives. It must be some sort of highpoint of one-eyed Leftist psychology. Yet even the work that they favoured is apparently not correct enough for Billig.

Billig then goes on to make some detailed criticisms of my work but I have answered similar criticisms from him years ago (Ray, 1985) so will refer readers to that rather than rehash everything here. I will, however, make a few comments.

Billig notes that in one of my research studies I found no effect of interracial contact on attitude to blacks. Billig seems to regard it as highly suspicious that I attributed this result to a sampling error. But as I have shown elsewhere, there is a vast body of data showing that interracial contact DOES have an effect on attitudes to other races so it would in fact be surprising if my results in that one particular study were NOT the result of some fault in the study.

Billig also is highly critical of my view that negative attitudes to other groups can be a reasonable response to real differences between groups. That mainly shows how dated Billig's article is. At the time I wrote the article that Billig particularly refers to, my comments to that effect were rather bold and ice-breaking but subsequent research and writing on the topic by other social scientists have made my comments rather moderate. The realistic group conflict theorists such as Hechter (1986 & 1987) in fact claim that ALL intergroup conflict is rational -- which is rather further than I would go. Brown in his 1986 introductory social psychology textbook also describes ethnocentrism, racism and their associated phenomena as "universal ineradicable psychological processes" and the eminent Leftist French anthropologist Levi-Straus (1983) even goes so far as to see ethnocentrism as desirable. And the stereotyping literature (reviewed here and here) is emphatic that racial and other stereotypes are highly responsive to evidence about the group concerned. The old Leftist view (dating from Adorno et al., 1950) that seeing real differences between races is a sign of mental problems is fortunately now as outdated as it was always blind.

For a detailed review of the various academic theories that have been put forward to explain racism and why I think that racial attitudes are usually rational responses to real racial differences see here and here

Billig also seems to find some awful significance in the fact that I referred to the Adorno group as "Jewish". He is perfectly right that one would not normally refer to the ethnicity of an academic author unless it was particularly relevant in some way. But in this case it IS relevant. The whole focus of the Adorno work was to explain Nazism and the extraordinarily poor fit of their explanation to reality requires some explanation in turn. One obvious explanation is that it was a big ask to expect Jews to be objective about Nazism. The editors of the academic journal in which the remark concerned appeared obviously agreed with that or they would have asked me to delete it. Anyone who has submitted articles to academic journals knows how quick they are to request revisions. So Billig's desperation to find grounds for criticism of me involves him in criticizing a perfectly respectable academic journal as well.

Billig also says that I write "approvingly" of people who use mocking names for Jews. That tends to suggest that I approve of such names. I do not. But I do find that many of the people who use such names are normal and non-psychopathological. In other words I approve of such people as psychologically healthy. I do not approve of their language. But such distinctions are obviously too demanding for the black-and-white thinking of Billig.

Basically, however, most of what Billig says is simply characteristic Leftist reality denial. He seems to want to pretend that there are NO differences between the races whereas I would say that blind Freddy can see that there are. For instance, I think it is sheer reality denial to say that Jews and blacks do not differ in degree of material success. Anybody who thinks that blacks do as well economically as Jews is the one who is suffering from some form of psychopathology as far as I can see. So when I note that people tend to see Jews as "grasping materialists" and blacks as "lazy", I do regard them as interpreting reality, whereas Billig seems to think that there is no reality there to interpret.

In the end, however, I believe that readers should judge for themselves how right or wrong my contentions are and since the chapters in my book that Billig concentrates his fire on are all now online, people can readily do that. I believe that people who read what I actually wrote rather than Billig's attempted distortions may not agree with me but will nonetheless see that I have a reasonable case to make.

I cannot leave the matter, however, without saying something about Billig's parting shot -- that I am or was a Nazi. I have dealt with that accusation before but the charge is such a serious one that I believe I should say at least something about it here.


The most successful "big lie" of the 20th century is undoubtedly the Leftist myth that Nazism is just a more extreme form of conservatism. Leftists really hate it when you point out that it was the Conservative Winston Churchill who was Hitler's most unrelenting foe and that Hitler and Stalin were allies until Hitler tried to grab Russia. That conservatives did and do oppose Nazism as much as they oppose any other form of socialism or totalitarianism just cannot be fitted into the Leftist worldview. From the Marxist psychologist Adorno onwards (writing in 1950), the Leftist line has always been to ignore the socialist nature of Nazism and to assert fervently that Nazis and conservatives are allies, not enemies.

As an outspoken conservative myself, I too have obviously been the target of such dishonest accusations. Any outspoken conservative (including of course President Bush) will get called a "Nazi" by Leftists sooner or later and I have certainly been called that many times. I am inclined to think that such accusations are in fact a badge of honour: they show that you are an effective opponent of the Left.

In fact, however, I have been more of an enemy of Nazism than most people. Leftists just sit in their armchairs and condemn Nazism in order to make themselves feel good without actually doing anything practical about it. I, on the other hand have actively tried to combat and undermine Nazism. Part of that effort has been in the academic journals for over 30 years -- my sociological observations of Australian neo-Nazis -- in which I went out and got to know lots of actual real-life neo-Nazis in order to describe and analyse what they are really like and what motivates them (see here and here). The first step in combatting something is to understand it and I put a lot of time and effort into understanding what makes modern-day Nazis tick in the hope that it might help me understand Nazi Germany better. The usual Leftist explanations of Nazism are rendered worthless by their perverse determination to identify it with conservatism. And all my work on the subject was published in Jewish academic journals, as it happens. So the occasional Leftist claim that my work was sympathetic to Nazism is the height of absurdity.

Until recently, however, I have kept my mouth shut about another very active way I have combatted Nazism -- my role as a police agent reporting on them. My sociological studies of Australian neo-Nazis yielded not only information of psychological and sociological interest but information of interest to the police too. And I gladly supplied that information to the police -- in order to assist the police in preventing any Nazi thuggery. Since over 30 years have now passed since that time, however, I think any need for secrecy is at an end and I have recently gone VERY public about my police role by telling all to my local Sunday newspaper (Backup copy here). The reporter who interviewed me seemed to know a lot about the matters concerned and I was able to give him enough detailed information about my police and Nazi contacts to enable him to authenticate what I said.

So, far from being a Nazi, I have done far more to combat REAL Nazism than any Leftist I know. But that just makes me a good conservative -- contrary to what the Leftists would have you believe. And, in case anybody thinks that studies of Nazism/Fascism are irrelevant to the modern-day world, they should have a closer look at how things are going in Russia.


Adorno,T.W., Frenkel-Brunswik, E., Levinson, D.J. & Sanford, R.N. (1950) The authoritarian personality. N.Y.: Harper.

Brown, R.(1986) Social psychology (2nd. Ed.) N.Y.: Free Press.

Hechter, M. (1986) Rational choice theory and the study of race and ethnic relations. Ch. 12 in J. Rex & D. Mason (Eds.) "Theories of race and ethnic relations" Cambridge: U.P.

Hechter, M. (1987) Nationalism as group solidarity. "Ethnic & Racial Studies" 10, 415-426.

Hechter, M., Friedman, D. & Appelbaum, M. (1982) A theory of ethnic collective action. "International Migration Review" 16, 412-434.

Levi-Strauss, C. (1983) "Le Regard Eloigne" Paris: Plon.

Ray, J.J. (1985) Racism and rationality: A reply to Billig. "Ethnic & Racial Studies", 8, 441-443.


1). Although originally written by Michael Billig (whom I have met), the article above was in fact posted to the net by Dr. Barry Mehler as part of his ISAR project. For an amusing comparison of the photos of Mehler and myself, click HERE.

2). Billig has objected on a previous occasion to my referring to him or his "Searchlight" publication as "Trotskyist". The intricacies of Far-Left theology are of no interest to me, however, so I have simply referred to him above as a "Far-Leftist". As far as I can see, however, Billig is broadly of the Trotskyist persuasion.

3). It will be apparent from what I have written above that I regard Billig's criticisms of me as being no more than cheap shots. I am amused therefore to note that "Billig" is an Ashkenazi name which in fact means "cheap".

4). Now that Leftists are once again (as in Hitler's time) often antisemitic, I wonder how Jewish Leftists such as Billig and Mehler now feel about staunch conservative supporters of Israel such as myself. Any sign of penitence for past oversimplifications, I wonder?

How amusing it is that Leftists accuse conservatives of "black-and-white thinking" or "intolerance of ambiguity". The Leftist account of "racism" as being monolithic and "Rightist" could hardly be more "black-and-white" or intolerant of ambiguity. Worst of all, it is intolerant of reality.

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