William B. Shockley is a short, gentle-looking 63-year-old professor of electrical engineering at Stanford. In the 1940s he helped develop the transistor and won the Nobel Prize for his work. In the mid-60s, Shockley shifted his focus from his field of expertise to an area he knew almost nothing about--genetics.
Shockley eventually decided that blacks are genetically less intelligent than whites, and that intelligence in blacks is directly proportional to their percentage of what he calls "Caucasian blood," at the approximate rate of one per cent white blood to one I.Q. point.
His theories were never especially well-grounded in fact, but Shockley believes in them with a near-religious passion. For the last five or six years he has devoted practically all his time to trumpeting his views around the country and proselytizing for his "voluntary sterilization bonus plan," in which the government would give cash bonuses to people with below-average I.Q. scores who voluntarily undergo sterilization.
Shockley has also become something of an eccentric of late; he tape-records all his conversations and likes to give reporters impromptu I.Q. tests before granting interviews.
This would all be very amusing if nobody took Shockley seriously. But for some reason, groups at almost all the Ivy League colleges have expressed some interest in inviting him to speak--and fair Harvard led the pack.
The Law School Forum set up a debate for mid-October between Shockley and Roy Innis, national director of the Congress on Racial Equality. The debate was Innis's idea; he thought he could humiliate Shockley and discredit him.
A week before the scheduled debate, the Law Forum abruptly cancelled it, citing pressure for cancellation, black law students and professors and the SDS. Innis and Shockley both blasted the forum's decision.
Shockley bounced back fast from his initial setback at Harvard. In December, the Whig-Cliosophic Society, a Princeton University debating club, set up a Shockley-Innis debate of its own.
Shockley stayed busy all spring, debating on television several times, once against Dr. Alvin F. Poussaint, assistant dean of student affairs at the Medical School. After he spoke at Yale, the Yale administration suspended nine students who protested his appearance.
Stanford won't let Shockley teach genetics, so the self-appointed "raceologist" will have to keep looking for speaking engagements. Maybe by next year universities will have gotten sick of him; college life is bad enough without Shockley around to make it worse.