chapter  12
10 Pages

Cyril Burt as the Victim of Scientific Hoax

ByJ. Philippe Rushton

Cyril Burt's report of a preponderant genetic contribution to mental ability in monozygotic twins raised apart, countercheck two of this century's most powerful ideas: environmentalism and genetic equali-tarianism. Cyril Burt is featured in many psychology textbooks, not for his scientific discoveries, which were many, but for his alleged misrepresentation of data. Examination of the relationship of brain size to intelligence, and of race, sex, and social rank differences in brain size, suggest that Henry Garrett was correct to label the equalitarian dogma "the scientific hoax of the century". Cyril Burt was one of many victims of this hoax. It is interesting that the hoax about genetic equality has been perpetuated for so long. For some, work on the genetics of intelligence, and racial differences therein, challenges the Enlightenment assumption that knowledge is always better than ignorance. The disparagement of Cyril Burt is the extraordinary case of counterfeit charges in the history of academic psychology, if not all of science.