Philippe Rushton, R.I.P.

Philippe Rushton, one of the pioneering researchers and writers on race in our time, has passed away at age 68. I did not know he was ill. As I said to him in 1995 concerning his book, Race, Evolution, and Behavior which I had just read, he had discovered a fundamental fact about racial differences, and, while it seemed radical now, it would eventually become part of the common, accepted understanding of the nature of humanity. This was, of course (to quote Wikipedia), his application of “inter-species r/K selection theory to the much smaller inter-racial differences within the human species.”

The horrible abuse and attacks that he endured over his work, including a campaign, ultimately unsuccessful, to get him fired from his university teaching job, comprise an epic. Through it all, he kept his cool.

Rushton, a Canadian, was a soft-spoken, gentlemanly man, a reminder of the purer strain of Britishness that still exists, or used to exist, north of the border. However, in my last, brief conversation with him, at the February 2009 Preserving Western Civilization conference near Baltimore where we were both speakers, I did something that inadvertently disturbed his usual equanimity. We were gathering in a hotel bar after the conclusion of the conference, and I said something to the effect that I did not believe in Darwinian evolution, meaning that I did not believe in the evolution of new life forms by random genetic mutations and natural selection. He immediately became very upset and ended the conversation. For the record, Phil (if I may address you in the Beyond in which you did not believe), and to put your spirit at ease on this point, I was not challenging the idea, central to your work, that intra-species differences, such as the differences between sub-Saharan Africans and Scandinavians, may occur through natural selection, but rather the Darwinian claim that entirely new species have come into existence through random mutation and natural selection.

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Dan R. writes:

I met Philippe Rushton briefly at the 2002 American Renaissance Conference, and then we bumped into each other later at the airport, on the trip home. He recognized me and we proceeded to have a friendly conversation. When we realized we were each on the same flight, he asked if I wouldn’t mind having our seats changed so we could sit together. Needless to say, I was thrilled, especially given the awkwardness it would have entailed for me to have made the request. During the course of the two-hour flight we spoke about a variety of things—nothing technical, but more everyday kind of stuff—and throughout it all he was just a wonderful guy. I am saddened to learn of his death. R.I.P., Dr. Rushton. You will be missed.

BLS writes:

I never met the man, but his work has influenced my life. A tragic loss for his family, and a tragic loss for independent scientific discovery and education. How will he ever be replaced in today’s environment?

He will be missed.

Susan G. writes:

I was distressed to hear the news about Phil Rushton. Although we never met in person, we corresponded occasionally over the years.

According to Steve Sailer, he died of Addison’s disease; this puzzled me, as the disease is usually manageable with daily doses of corticosteroids. (John F. Kennedy had Addison’s, although his condition was kept secret during his presidency.)

Posted by Lawrence Auster at October 03, 2012 07:52 PM | Send

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