Crick's letter to the evolutionary biologist Ernst Mayr was written in reference to the contemporary debate in the United
States about the role of genetics, race, and environment in human behavior. The debate was triggered by the Nobel Prize winning
physicist William Shockley, who argued that the lag in educational achievements of black Americans could be accounted for
by inherited racial traits, namely a lower IQ.
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1971-04-21 (April 21, 1971)
Original Repository: Wellcome Library for the History and Understanding of Medicine. Francis Harry Compton Crick Papers
I agree enthusiastically with practically everything you say, but I still feel that the present position which has arisen
because of Shockley is unfortunate. What I would like to see is a good programme of research supported by people like yourself.
You will have to reconcile yourself to the fact that whatever you do will have political implications and repercussion.
Incidentally what do you think of my suggestion for a Twins Institute?
As to racism, what about negative racism? That is, the acceptance by Universities (like Harvard) of students with considerably
lower standards merely because they are black. This policy is certainly going to lead to trouble. Either many of them will
drop out, or they will have to be given degrees where white people would be failed. There was a recent article in Science
I bought your book, Populations, Species and Evolution, the other day, and look forward to reading it during the summer.
I hadn't heard about the kibbutzin results. Do send me the reference when you have it.
I myself do not feel very strongly either way about the Black-White distinction. If I have a prejudice it is against the
poor, and in favour of the rich, but such an attitude is almost equally unacceptable to most people.