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William Shockley

William Shockley (1910 - 1989) was a professor of engineering and applied sciences at Stanford University. Known for inventing the transistor, Shockley was an influential physicist who worked at various laboratories before teaching at Stanford until his retirement in 1975. 

Besides his work in physics, Shockley obsessed over intelligence and heredity. Towards the end of his life, Shockley became obsessed with proving the intellectual superiority of white people, using IQ data to “prove” the existence of an intellectual deficiency among black people. 

Shockley cited David Starr Jordan as an inspiration for his beliefs, sharing many of the same worries about the decline of American racial health. 


Seeking to pass on his “superior” genes, Shockley donated his sperm to the eugenic organization Repository for Germinal Choice which sought to collect and pass on the “superior” genes of Nobel Laureates. Shockley was the only Nobel Laureate who admitted to donating sperm to the organization.

Alongside other public intellectuals such as Charles Murray, Shockley re-popularized eugenic-esque thinking in the 1980s and 1990s, writing extensively on eugenics and the heritability of intelligence. Shockley feared that unintelligent populations (especially non-white populations) were reproducing at a rate faster than their intelligent peers.

A black and white photo of William Shockley. He is balding, wearing a shirt in tie, as he poses in front of a blackboard covered in mathematical equations.
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