Science Fiction Project - Free Culture
Analog - All editorials - John Wood Campbell
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I am strongly in favor of rigidly segregated schools, and I believe that you are, in fact, in agreement with me - that it is absolutely necessary for the continuation of the United States in the terms we know it that our schools be segregated considerably more rigidly than they are today.
The liberals and do-gooders and those with special advantages to be gained have brought about changes in our schools, in our entire educational system, that is becoming an acute menace to America - and the Supreme Court decision such as the Brown vs. Board of Education case (the basic case in the integration cases in the southern schools during the last decade) was a serious mistake.
In the above statements, I am not referring to racial segregation, however. I'm referring instead to the overlooked and enormously critical problem of segregation by individual student ability.
The reason why the Negro segregation case, Brown vs. Board of Education, is so unfortunately tied up in the mess, is that it has been the basis for suits that do, in fact, make for improper integration of students of completely different, and non-compatible inherent learning ability.
The tremendous fuss and furore going on throughout the nation over Negro integration - racial integration in general - has so concentrated attention on that one completely unimportant factor that the really important factors of inherent individual differences have been violently suppressed.
And when I say that racial difference is a "completely unimportant factor" I mean that - and that proposition is, in actuality, what the most rabid integrationist NAACP member holds, too. That racial differences are not important.
The trouble underlying all this boiling-over racism is a complicated mass of snarled-up thinking, and horribly ill-defined terms. No one of the groups most violently involved in the dispute has done a half-way honest job of analysis of the facts involved; each is acting on violently emotional Doctrines, Dogmas, and Principles. And none of those doctrines, dogmas or principles has been defined well enough, by any one of the contending groups, to make sense of their own position, or that of any of the other groups.
The result is bad enough with respect to general living conditions; its effect on the educational system is not merely bad; it's disastrous.
I quite deliberately started off this editorial by making a statement that was practically certain to arouse strong antipathy in many readers - for the specific purpose of making it clear that you, too, have been suckered into falling for a propagandist's definition of "segregation" to such an extent that it's almost impossible today to read a statement without reacting to that propaganda-value. Just what does "segregation" mean? What's "a segregated school"?
Any non-co-educational school is segregated by sex.
We have rigidly segregated washrooms all over this country, not just in the South. Segregated by sex. And don't get sloppy in your thinking and say, "But that's natural! How else could it be?" Remember that neither the highly civilized Japanese, nor the Finns consider it "natural".
I noticed in a Savannah, Georgia, paper the other day that a Negro and a white woman were contending for some elective office in a local campaign. A century ago, both contenders would "naturally" have been barred.
"Segregation" means Negro-vs-white, does it? For Pete's sake, friend, please straighten up your thinking and your terminology enough so that rational communication, outside of the propaganda-broadside method, is possible!
"To segregate" means nothing more than separation of a mixed collection into groups having determinably different characteristics. Like segregating ripe fruit from green fruit.
The Brown vs. Board of Education case didn't make segregation, as such, illegal; it made segregation on the basis of race alone illegal. It's still perfectly legal to have a school rigidly segregated on the basis of sex, of course. Or segregated on the basis of blindness, or on the basis of requiring that all registrants have graduate degrees before being admitted.
The trouble with the Brown vs. Board of Education decision stems not from law, but from libertarian assumptions that were built into that case, and from "scientific evidence" that seems to be definitely inadequate, and which has been attacked as actually fraudulent.
Propaganda can produce some results that are straight out of fantasy, fairy stories, and the Alice books. Propaganda has the wonderful characteristic that Adolf Hitler - one of history's most expert and effective propagandists - very clearly stated; a lie told often and loud enough will overcome truth. Particularly if a considerable number of people would like to have it be true. Then the Big Lie becomes That Which Should Be True Whether It Is Or Not... and dedicated believers in the lie arise to make it true.
Among the Big Lies of current cultural propaganda are a set of meaningless noises that sound like important, deeply philosophical Truths - because they strike many people as being desirable.
Among examples are:
"Everyone has a right to his own opinion, so long as it doesn't interfere with anyone else".
"All men are equal".
"What goes up must come down".
"There's nothing new under the Sun".
You can extend that list of philosophical-sounding noises almost as far as the trajectory of Mariner II... which went up, isn't going to come down, and is a new satellite of the Sun. They all sound important, and they can be quoted with the philosophical-authoritative pompousness appropriate at various times when they support your dearly-beloved position, so they tend to seem as though they ought to be true whether they are or not, so they just must be true.
That business about opinions, now; what does the stupid thing mean? That you are free to think anything you want to, no matter how insane it may be, so long as no one else has the slightest interest in what you think. So long as your ideas aren't of any importance whatever, to anyone else, and don't influence your behavior in any degree that bothers anyone else, you can think anything you darned well like, and nobody will give a damn.
Note carefully that if you decide you want to be a hermit, however, that interferes with other people's opinions; they have the opinion you should work for a living, for instance, so under that doctrine of no-interference, you do not have a right to the opinion "I want to be a hermit" since it does interfere with someone else.
The problem is, was, and always will be "What rights exist between people when opinions do interfere?" Obviously there's no problem so long as opinions don't clash! That silly-season statement about non-interfering opinions is, of course, a perfectly sound proposition to answer a problem that never exists.
So... let's have some thinking about what to do when opinions do seriously, definitely, interfere; that is the real, human problem.
As to "all men are equal" that bit of nonsense is equally meaningless. Can you tell me one, single respect in which men are equal? Equal before God? Not if you accept any of the religions which hold that God segregates sinners from saints! And offhand I can't think of any religion which holds that God (or the Gods) don't judge, evaluate, and make distinctions between men.
"Equal before the Law?" Oh... yeah...? You mean a man of IQ 50 is held to have the same responsibilities and duties as a man of IQ 150? That all men must pay equal taxes? That some men, who are licensed doctors, don't have, under the law, special rights and special duties? That attorneys don't have special rights, privileges and duties before the law (an attorney can't be summoned to jury duty)?
The difficulty is that God decided for reasons not clear to us that men should not be equal - and He created them with inherent differences. And men cannot undo that fact. But doctrinaires can sure try!
The deadly part of it is that men can make unequal individuals equal by one method; they can cripple the strong, until the best has been sabotaged down to the level of the worst. They can take away the "unfair advantage" of the intelligent by crippling his abilities, punishing his achievements, and destroying his powers, until he is less competent than the normal. In times past, Kings and Tyrants held that they held the "power of Life and Death"; no King or Tyrant in all history has ever held the power of Life. They have, however, held the power of death and destruction and crippling.
The doctrinaire - the Tyrant Liberal - today, holds that ancient power of Death and Destruction - and that is his weapon to achieve what he Just Knows is Right and Just - to make all men equal, despite Gods unfairness in making some men more capable than others.
In the current cultural situation, it's been made easy to see that intransigent southern segregationists are seeking to suppress the competent individual Negro, to make him less-than-equal to the not-so-bright whites.
What's not so easy to see in the fog of emotionalism, is that the libertarians and do-gooders are seeking to suppress the unusually competent individual of any race for the achievement of their doctrinal ideal of equality.
Here's where the trouble comes: a school system that "rewards" the more-competent student with more work, harder tasks - and no increased privilege, no increased status or desirable reward is, in fact, effectively punishing his display of ability. Suppose the reward for superior achievement in the classroom - finishing the assigned tasks more quickly - was being given the "privilege" of scrubbing the floors, polishing the windows, and tending the school grounds. Or running errands for the students who were slower and hadn't finished their assignments yet.
Who would, obviously, be the "second-class citizens" of that school? The students who were so stupid they acted bright, of course!
Such a system of punishment-for-extra-achievement is almost inevitable in a school not segregated by intelligence and ability. For any individual, a certain level of problem represents a stimulating challenge; a higher level of difficulty becomes an overwhelming task that defeats him, discourages, and drives him to withdraw his effort. A too-low level of task simply bores him, and he will seek more interesting tasks, or seek to do the assigned task in some more stimulating manner.
The extra-competent, in a randomly selected class, will present to the normal and subnormal the fact that the work can be done with ease, quickly, and simply - that it can be done offhand as a sort of game. They slap the dullards in the face with the clear fact that children their own age - not just teachers! - can do that work offhand. The honors student who finally gets around to doing the term paper the last weekend before it's due... and earns an A+ for one afternoon's work, while the rest of the class spent four to six weeks researching and rewriting to get a passable paper.
The super-competent, too, can earn the enmity of the teacher in a normal school. Karl Frederick Gauss, for instance, could have expected to be punished for one trick he pulled. In a grade-school arithmetic class, when he was about seven, the teacher had told the class to add all the numbers from 1 to 100 - this being a good way to keep the children usefully busy while the teacher got some of his own work done.
Young Karl Frederick, however, was up with his answer in about two minutes. Young Karl Frederick had not added all the numbers from 1 to 100; he'd developed for himself the formula for the sum of a series of numbers, and instead of working the problem, had solved it - in a matter of seconds. His answer was, of course, absolutely correct - which took the teacher some minutes to check.
But young Gauss was lucky beyond expectation; that teacher was wise. He recommended Gauss to the local Duke as a proper subject for patronage; Gauss' family was poor and could not have given him an education.
In an educational system dedicated to the problem of producing equality - such a teacher is out of place. That teacher was not producing equality; by seeing that Gauss got special reward for remarkable ability, the teacher exaggerated an already existant inequality.
Unsegregated schools are injurious to the subnormal and the geniuses alike. The subnormal, discouraged and overwhelmed by the equality-for-all problems presented them, withdraw from the hopeless effort of education, and achieve far less than their already limited potentials. An equality-for-all school does not allow the less-talented to develop the maximum of the abilities they do have.
And it does not allow the abnormally competent to develop their high talents. It's stupid to expect a normal school teacher, herself oriented to everybody-ought-to-be-equal and nobody-has-a-right-to-special-advantages, to welcome the idea of some ten-year-old who can outthink her, penetrate the errors of her logic, call her on sloppy statements, and do a job of research in the library such that the teacher is forced to acknowledge her lack of information on her subject.
But... now we run into a very nasty aspect of the Brown vs. Board of Education decision, and its subsequent development.
Recently, several towns in New Jersey have been forced to "integrate" their "segregated" schools; the basis of the NAACP suit was that one school had a ninety per cent Negro enrollment, and the other a ninety per cent white enrollment. This, they contended, constituted de facto racial segregation.
That particular town had a population distribution by areas that made that the natural result. The NAACP was, of course, just as hotly against that sort of population distribution - but that wasn't the legal point in the case.
It was decided that because of the fact that registration did not show a proportional representation by race, that therefore there was de facto segregation.
That is not a logical or valid conclusion.
It certainly falls in the class of "data insufficient for the conclusion proposed".
Yet that is an accepted proposition - and that proposition alone would be enough to cause great difficulty in setting up segregated-by-student-ability schools.
There is a never rigorously proven assumption that's thrown around in all racial arguments that all races show the same distribution curve of intelligence and ability. That has not been proven.
There's adequate evidence to the contrary, available from a number of lines of analysis. First, in a normal distribution curve, the number of individuals - in a statistically significant large population - in any one range gives the scale of the curve; from the curve, then, the number in any other range can be predicted. That is, if we find one hundred twenty-five high geniuses at IQ 180, knowing the shape of the distribution curve, we can predict how many individuals of IQ 100 there will be in this population, et cetera.
Now if all races have the same distribution curve, then knowing the population of the group, we can predict how many super-high geniuses will appear.
Something seems to be wrong; some gears slipped somewhere. The assumptions don't match the facts. The Caucasian race has produced super-high geniuses by the dozen in the last five thousand years; the Oriental race has, also. The Negro race has not. And it's the super-high geniuses, not the ordinary, or run-of-the-mill geniuses, that lift a people from one level of civilization to another. The Industrial Revolution, for example, depended on a number of super-high geniuses, backed up by a corps of high geniuses, working with an army of geniuses. The super-high geniuses are never educated; they educate themselves, because there's no one around to teach them. Who could teach Abraham Lincoln, for instance? Who could teach Leonardo da Vinci? Certainly Newton did have formal schooling - but the schools he attended were attended by a lot of other young men, and there does not seem to have been any sudden flood of Newtons coming from them. "Educational opportunities" never exist anywhere for the super-high geniuses.
The fact that the Caucasian race has produced more super-high geniuses in the last five thousand years suggests that the distribution curve for the Caucasian race does not in fact match that of other races.
I'm not talking about text-book type psychological-testing geniuses here; I'm talking about the individual of super-high, unmatchable pragmatic achievement. Anyone who says that Newton wasn't a super-high genius is off his rocker.
These super-high geniuses produced achievement that promoted the survival ability and adaptability of their race. Pasteur made it possible for men to adapt to disease-saturated areas by intellectual act that had, theretofore, been uninhabitable save by the slow process of genetic selection and evolution. This achievement made men more adaptable.
You don't have to rate those achievements in any special cultural terms - increased adaptability is the pay-off coin in the evolution of living things! The great chemists made it possible for human beings to eat rocks, drink petroleum, and be nourished. The race is more adaptable because of their genius - and that is a positive gain in absolute, not merely cultural, terms!
There is an indication, then, that the white race may in actual fact have a distribution curve that does not match that of the Negro.
Note the important factor in citing the super-high geniuses; educational opportunities play no part whatever in the development of any super-high genius. There is not, never was, and never can be anywhere or anywhen, in any land or race, a school for educating super-high geniuses. The thing that characterize the super-high genius is his ability to self-educate to totally new and hitherto undiscovered horizons. They are always self-made men. Newton needed calculus to solve his gravitational problems - and he lacked the educational opportunity. Nobody ever taught him calculus. So he had to invent it.
Karl Frederick Gauss wasn't taught to find the sum of a series of numbers; he invented it.
The super-high genius, then, is an indicator of a people that is not dependent on educational opportunities - because the opportunities never exist for any of them!
And there is other and more ordinary evidence that proportional representation of races is not the right answer.
To carry out a really wide-spread, long-continued, massive testing program, involving tens of thousands of individuals, and keeping track of them for some years, is an expensive proposition. The money for such a program is not easy to come by.
Most of the discussions of racial distribution of intelligence has been based on pretty limited samples, or quite inadequate testing.
The old WWI Army Alpha intelligence test results, for instance, are still among the few massive test-score result records, and are still being used simply because they're available.
The schools system of Savannah, Georgia, since 1954, has carried out a massive testing program. Standard IQ tests, Mental maturity tests, and scholastic achievement tests were given to all students in the Savannah school system, and punched-card records kept for nine years, and the results computer analyzed.
The results showed that, at beginning grade-school level, the Negro children had a fifteen per cent crossover with the white children's scores (that is, fifteen per cent of the Negro children scored at or above the level of the norm of the white children). At high school level, the crossover had dropped to two per cent.
Now let's just consider for a moment the emotional fireworks that would result from setting up a school system that was strictly, honestly segregated purely by individual student competence, simply using those figures for discussion purposes.
Assume that we have a city with a fifty-fifty distribution of Negro and white population, and that we set up two school systems; one for those above the white norm, and one for those below that norm.
The Doctrine, Dogma and Principles boys will be out for Hell and hallelujah. Both sides will be. The intransigent white segregationists will be shrieking in defense of their violated Principle of the Color Bar. Their howls of rage will be exceeded, however, by the violent anguish of the NAACP, at the destruction of their Principle of Proportional Representation. But those howls won't be audible above the far louder and angrier screams of the parents of the children who have been officially designated "incompetent; second-class citizen". The whites will, of course, be peculiarly violent about that, because that's precisely what they've been afraid of for a century or so - the admission that some Negroes are superior to some whites.
The acute psychological pain resulting from such a system will be very real indeed - and will, curiously, bring the underlying principles of the Brown vs. Board of Education case into the thing in a sort of back-handed manner!
The basis for the Supreme Court's decision in Brown vs. Board of Education was testimony by a psychologist that segregation imposed psychological hurt on the rejected Negro children.
The Court's decision, then, was, in effect, that it was illegal to cause someone psychological hurt.
So we now have a very interesting question that needs resolution; if it hurts an individual to be told the truth, is it illegal - unconstitutional - to make him aware of that truth? Of course, that general idea is part of our present cultural philosophy - the poor, misguided sadist shouldn't be made unhappy about his misdeeds. And this poor, disturbed child shouldn't get severe punishment just because he slugged the corner cigar-store owner, stole his money, and set fire to his place. It isn't nice to hurt people; it should never be done, because it isn't Kind and Good and Brotherly.
So... if it's unconstitutional to cause psychological discomfort, we can't have segregated-by-intelligence schools; they'll make some people extremely unhappy.
And if segregation-by-student-ability turns out - as we have reason to expect - to produce a system in which proportional representation of races does not exist... why, we can't have segregation by ability for that reason either.
Then, of course, the liberal-do-gooder group just knows everybody should be equal, whether they are or not, and they know that schools are intended to produce equality, not education anyway.
All in all, practically everybody has motivations for wanting the present unsegregated school system to continue in American education.
The problem the United States faces is very simple: we have developed the highest standard of living the world has ever known, by developing the potentials of technology - of applied education.
But this process has certain penalties; it is, in a very real sense, a specialization in the evolutionary sense. Now we have developed this technology, we cannot do without it. The population which we are, today, supporting in luxury could not be supported, even at a subsistence level, without technology. Those wheat surpluses that are troubling the nation aren't due to the innate fertility of the soil; they're due to applied agricultural science - to biochemistry and genetic science and soil technology.
The civilization that we in America know today is based on and dependent on high-level technology - and that of course means high-level technicians.
Inasmuch as men are not equal, not all boys can be trained to be technicians - and it is the sheerest insanity, the sheerest refusal to face reality, to believe for a moment that all children can be so trained. Only those children originally gifted with the required potentials can have those potentials developed into the needed abilities.
Now an educational system dedicated to the proposition that if all men aren't equal, we're gonna teach 'em to be, can only equalize men downward - it has the power of death, but not the power of life. The power of Life is reserved to God - and any people that mistakes itself for a collective form of Diety is doomed.
Today, despite long and loud campaigns for more young scientists, our technical schools are getting fewer applicants than they were before - fewer registrants from an increasing population!
The medical profession is having serious troubles, too. The doctors in most communities now are working fifty hours a week routinely, and sixty hours a week commonly - and they do not do so because they get paid time and a half for overtime. I mentioned that doctors represent a group of men who are not equal before the law; their inequality seems to be resented. Certainly the public is making life miserable for them. A doctor is required by law to stop and render aid if he passes a highway accident - and today they hate to do so, because it quite commonly means a malpractice suit. The man the doctor saves by his emergency treatment is quite apt to sue for a few hundred thousand dollars; you see everybody knows that doctors carry insurance, and you can always get somebody to get on the stand and prove that his hindsight is better than the sued doctor's foresight, and testify that if such and such had been done, maybe the patient wouldn't have the scars he has.
In the Great American Lottery - suing after an accident - it pays better to sue the doctor that saved your life than the man who nearly killed you; doctors carry bigger insurance policies.
And besides, them there rich doctors oughta pay for things; nobody's got any business being rich, cause people are equal, ain't they?
Medical schools for some reason are having difficulty getting enough registrants - even when they rather desperately lower their standards for admittance. Anybody who chooses medicine as a career today has to be pretty much of a peculiar type; his reward for saving lives is malpractice suits. He's required to work fifty to sixty hours a week...
Then we have another interesting technological problem. It's the problem of interconnections and interactions among communicating units. The telephone people ran into it long ago; when you double the number of telephone subscribers, you don't just double the number of switching connections required - it increases exponentially. The original system was handled by human operators; as it became more complex, machine-switching became essential. As of now, to handle the telephone switching problem in New York City, even if all employable women in the service area were employed as operators, the system would be unable to function.
As intercommunication increases, the problem of switching increases drastically.
That's happening in the problem of business organization. The number of interacting businesses in this country today is so great that the number of business executives required is also straining the limits of our capacity. But the "switching" involved there is decision-making, judgment-application - which is the factor machines can't handle.
It takes human beings of trained potential - men trained to think, think accurately and quickly.
A breakdown in any one of those three areas - science technology, medical technology or business technology - will mean a collapse that will be most interesting to historians of the future.
It will be the first time in history that a culture collapsed because of the failure of the educational system.
Never before has a culture been dependent on efficient education, so it has never before been possible.
It won't be at all interesting to those involved. Old-timers will be talking about the good old happy days of the early 1930s, when all we had to worry about was a Depression.
If the Supreme Court finds that the Constitution forbids segregated schools that make the incompetent unhappy - then it's time to start a campaign for a constitutional amendment that holds that Truth is never illegal, no matter how painful it may be.
"You're probably dead..."|
1. Statistics show that over 98 per cent of all individuals born are now dead.
2. Therefore you're probably dead now.
Well...? It's perfectly logical isn't it?