[CSUEB] Petition Against Tenured Racist Faculty/Lecturers

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Gregory Christiansen is a Professor Emeritus in the Economics Department of California State University, East Bay (CSUEB) who is teaching Principles of Macroeconomics (ECON 205), Intro to Urban Economics (ECON 225), and Managerial Economics and Business Strategy (ECON 380) in Fall 2020. For the last 10 years, his research has focused on the genetic determination of intelligence in a literature known as “race realism” to which we dissect later in this petition. These concepts have been consistently condemned as pseudoscience that attempts to justify racial and gender stereotypes through the use of statistics. Yet just as alarming, Christiansen’s journals have been allocated funds from the CSUEB College of Business and Economics (CBE) to cover fees for publications.

With growing concerns about racial injustice, we call upon our University to reanalyze their workforce and put an end to institutionalized racism starting with the termination of Prof. Gregory Christiansen’s emeritus status with CSUEB.

CSUEB was ranked the most diverse college campus in the West in 2018 and received the highest diversity score of any university in the country. In August 2020, the AB 1460 bill was passed to make a 3-unit ethnic studies class a CSU Requirement for all students. And in light of #BLM protests earlier this year, the CSU is claiming allyship to fight racism and eradicate ethnic discrimination. But how much progress can really be achieved when inequality and bias haven’t been addressed on an institutional level?

One of CSUEB’s Shared Strategic Commitments commits to “enhance our inclusive campus, responding to the backgrounds and interests of our diverse community and promoting their academic, professional and personal development,” yet the significant disparity between Faculty-to-Student demographics show otherwise:  37.1% students identify as Latinx, 22.6% as Asian, and 14.1% White, etc. And although the University has a diverse student body, the campus is lacking in diverse faculty/lecturers with a great difference between White faculty/lecturers (63.1%) and Black and Hispanic faculty/lecturers (both 6.7%). If our campus prides itself on celebrating and embracing diversity, the faculty and staff should ideally reflect the diversity of our student body.

  • We call upon the CSUEB to strip Gregory Christiansen of his title of Professor Emeritus. 
  • We call for the CSUEB College of Business and Economics (CBE) intensively review its funding allocations to revert funding away from sponsoring controversial journal publications; and instead allocate that funding towards supporting CBE students including, but not limited to, more student scholarships, financial support and funding for CBE student organizations/clubs. 
  • We call for additional policies to stop such institutionalized prejudice in tenured/untenured faculty/staff and for tenure to not be an obstacle in faculty/staff removal when it comes to racist behavior. 
  • We call for CSUEB to finally implement more student resource centers geared towards ethnic support for minorities: Black Student Resource Center and Undocumented/DACA Resource Center.
  • And lastly, we call for CSUEB to implement comprehensive diversity and inclusion training for all CSUEB staff and faculty.

Here are some examples from his publications:

From “Biology, Immigration, and Public Policy” (2012) - “If there are no significant biological differences among races - and no significant differences between male and female brains - why on average are there very different labor market outcomes for races and genders?”  “There is now a consensus (...) that the average level of intelligence in the sub-Saharan Africa is quite low,” however, “the more pressing issue for Europe concerns the intelligence of immigrants of North African and Middle Eastern/South Asian origin, including Turks” since “the host country must now support dependent communities for an indefinite period.” Apparently in the US, “Hispanics (primarily mestizos)... score poorly on intelligence tests (on average), tend to have less massive brains than whites… and have a high rate of dependency.” Christainsen is concerned that immigration undermines social cooperation because “a certain threshold of intelligence may have to be crossed for cooperation to occur.” Somehow, “The more ethnically diverse the community, the less that cooperation tends to take place.” He concludes that, “it is possible that a disposition toward low intelligence of impulsiveness can be remediated by certain programs in cost-effective wars,” but current efforts are not working. He fails to mention what those programs would entail but we are left to ponder how, “in intellectual circles, support for eugenics and for rankings of races on human traits went out of fashion with the end of Nazism.” He often cites the founder of eugenics, Francis Galton in this paper. 

From “IQ and the Wealth of Nations” (Intelligence 2013 edited by the controversial International Society for Intelligence Research) - Christainsen presented this paper on December 15, 2012 at the Society’s conference in San Antonio and asks “After controlling for differences in living conditions, to what extent do average IQ differences reflect differences in ethnicity?” to where he cites data from Richard Lynn who is “one of the most unapologetic and raw ‘scientific’ racists operating today” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, and funded by the Pioneer Fund - the Southern Poverty Law Center links the Pioneer fund to white supremacist ideologies and hate groups while Foreign Policy magazine also criticized Lynn’s work as inherently racist. He states “even after controlling for living conditions, there is a 27.2 point difference in average IQ between Northeast Asians and sub-Saharan Africans. There is a 18.7 point difference between Europeans and sub-Saharan Africans. There is a 8.5 point difference between Northeast Asians and Europeans.” He continued to call Nigeria “obviously handicapped” and “to some extent, it may be that a pervasive presence of parasites is the effect of low IQ rather than a cause… it can be argued that Nigerians (average IQ <80) failed to deal effectively with parasites, whereas highly-intelligent people in Singapore (average IQ > 100) implemented successful eradication programs.” And concludes that “as far as IQ and the wealth of nations are concerned, causality appears to run mostly from the former to the latter. Region of ancestry is the main influence... and not simply… a proxy for impacts coming from malnutrition, parasites, or other factors in the social or natural environment.” This article has been cited at stromfront.org, a white supremacy and neonazi forum to support African American inferiority. 

From “Admixture in the Americas: Social Differences as a Reflection of Human Biodiversity” (2016) - Christainsen shares his journal as an invited contribution to the Mankind Quarterly. While access to the articles in this journal requires a subscription, the abstract reveals that it is an enthusiastic endorsement of “Admixture in the Americas” by Fuerst and Kirkegaard, another article in the Mankind Quarterly. Fuerst and Kirkegaard argue that European ancestry strongly predicts cognitive ability and other desirable traits. Kirkegaard was described by the UK’s New Statesman as “a self-taught eugenicist.” Prof. Christainsen’s abstract reads: “Admixture in the Americas is the best and most comprehensive treatment of its subject matter ever attempted. The study has important implications for racial inequalities in the Americas and the economic development of the entire Latin American region. It constitutes a major step forward in the application of biological and psychometric research to economic and social questions.” The Mankind Quarterly is described by The New Statesman and The Guardian (January 22, 2018, “Racism Is Creeping Back Into Mainstream Science – We Have to Stop It”) as an outlet that aims to give scientific credibility to racist and white nationalist thought.

More recently in January 2019, Christainsen commented publicly on an online news article about James Watson’s racists beliefs. Christainsen stated “For those of you who are unfamiliar with intelligence research, the main survey of the testing that has been done of sub-Saharan Africans concluded that their average IQ was 75 (where British IQ has been set equal to 100). New data are about the be published that include the most recent test results, and the scores continue to be abysmal. Moreover, researchers have been unable to account statistically for African test scores simply by referring to their living conditions – years of education, malnutrition, parasite prevalence, other factors affecting health, etc. Indeed, the living conditions appear to be due in large part to low IQ: the direction of cause and effect is mostly opposite from what is commonly assumed. The annual conference of International Society of Intelligence Research will be in July if anyone is interested in learning more from the principal researchers in the field.”

In 2020 Christainsen published a paper in the Mankind Quarterly in summer 2020. It strikes a similar note to the other recent writings of his, and one can get a sense of the scientific credibility. In one passage, he discusses possible evidence contrary to the view that African children's mental faculties are genetically impaired, and dismisses it off-hand: "Rushton (1997, p. 149) often mentioned Daniel Freedman’s finding that, on average, black children walk at 11 months, whites at 12 months, and East Asians at 13 months. There is a period of time during which racial differences in physical maturity may mask emerging, early-age differences in cognitive ability." (p. 458) Elsewhere he writes "High average IQ is another factor that merits attention as a factor in China’s growth, raising questions as to what the IQ level was during earlier decades” (p. 467). I.e., rather than conclude (as the economics literature on growth does) that policy shifts must have caused China's extraordinary variation in growth rates over the second half of the 20th century, he seems to suggest that genetically determined intelligence might have drastically changed there around 1980. These kinds of statements would never pass a genuine peer review by qualified economists, which is why they appear in a journal like Mankind Quarterly, where we do not publish or referee articles. The arbitrary nature of "behavioral intelligence" research is also reflected in the following quote: "People of sub-Saharan African (SSA) descent tend to have significantly smaller brain volumes on average than ethnic Chinese even in cases where the SSA’s have been somewhat better nourished, a difference of about 8 percent. On average, SSA’s score reasonably well on tests of short-term memory —probably better than Amerindians — but when asked to recite a series of digits in reverse order, the performance of SSA’s relative to other population groups deteriorates." (p. 480) Christainsen repeatedly alludes to "smart countries" (p. 467, p. 477), based on differences in IQ test scores, interpreting a specific data point with lots of validity issues as a broad measure of population "quality." As in other articles, Christainsen maintains that a higher European component in one's heritage means higher intelligence: "Among African-Americans with various amounts of European admixture, Lasker et al. (2019) found higher European admixture to have a positive effect on cognitive ability." The Lasker et al. paper he refers to involves Emil Kirkegaard (a well-known eugenicist), whose help Christainsen also acknowledges at the end of his own article (p. 481). 

We have to talk about the arguments eugenicists actually make, what they are trying to persuade people, not just the abstract concepts most of us already reject. There is probably a large population that silently believes there is some truth in all this. They need to see, by their own standards of evidence and logic, that this is not valid science, and the people who write this stuff are simply airing their biases in a costume of pseudo-scholarly language.

Works Cited:

  1. Christainsen, G. (2012), “Biology, Immigration, and Public Policy,” Kyklos 65 (2), 164-178.
  2. Christainsen, G. (2013), “IQ and the Wealth of Nations: How Much Reverse Causality?” Intelligence 41, 688-698.
  3. Christainsen, G. (2016), “Admixture in the Americas: Social Differences as a Reflection of Human Biodiversity,” Mankind Quarterly 56 (3), 404-410.
  4. Christainsen, G. (2020), “Rushton, Jensen, and the Wealth of Nations: Biogeography and Public Policy as Determinants of Economic Growth,” Mankind Quarterly 60:4 458-486.