The Parrot and the Igloo Notes


204   “with the urgency”: Hill and Knowlton, “Notes on Minutes of the Tobacco Industry Research Committee Meeting – December 28, 1953,” December 28, 1953. Bates No. 3990734500-3990752698.


204   reached forty-three million people: Stanford’s Robert Proctor puts the exact number at 43,245,000, a kind of media anti-landmark. “The ‘Frank Statement’ may well be the most widely publicized—and expensive—single-page advertisement up to that point in human history.” The ad ran that day in 258 cities.

Robert Proctor, Golden Holocaust: Origins of the Cigarette Catastrophe and the Case for Abolition, University of California Press 2012. Chapter 16, “The Council for Tobacco Research: Distraction Research, Decoy Research, Filibuster Research,” 259.

Kenneth E. Warner, “Tobacco Industry Scientific Advisors: Serving Society Or Selling Cigarettes?”, American Journal of Public Health, July 1991.


204   “this group will be known as”: Tobacco Industry Research Committee, “A Frank Statement to Cigarette Smokers,” January 1954 Bates No. 86017454.


204   “Next to that we are”: Bruce Barton, The Man Nobody Knows, Bobbs-Merrill 1925, 140.


204   “a scientist of unimpeachable integrity”: “A Frank Statement to Cigarette Smokers,” Tobacco Industry Research Committee, January 1954 Bates No. 86017454.


204   “real challenge”: Hill and Knowlton, Inc., “Public Relations Proposals for the Tobacco Industry,” Draft for Discussion, July 9, 1959, Bates Number: 682782909-2922.

One of those bracingly candid documents sometimes left behind by people embarked on a gray enterprise. “At the time of the formation of the Tobacco industry Research Committee in early 1954, the tobacco industry was bombarded with widespread and sensational publicity that often left the impression with the public that cigarette smoking—and indeed, this alone—was established as the cause of increasing lung cancer incidence. The formation of the TIRC to support research on the problem and to supply facts to the public on tobacco and health provided a sound basis for industry efforts . . . and to some extent, a counter offensive.”


205      Clarence Cook Little: Siddhartha Mukherjee expresses this with tartness and poise in The Emperor of Maladies: “After a protracted search, the TIRC announced that it had finally chosen a director, who had—as the institute never failed to remind the public—been ushered in from the deepest realms of science.”

The Emperor of All Maladies, Part Four, “Prevention is the Cure,” 253.


205      “handsome numbskull”: Time Magazine, “Advancement of Science,” January 11, 1937.

A fellow geneticist, with whom Little had spent a quarter century “bickering over the heritability of cancer.”


205      set the mold: The public relations scholar Scott Cutlip takes a dim view of Clarence Little: “Dr. Little brought impressive credentials if not much competence to the job.” This is from Chapter 16, “John Hill’s Two Major Battles,” of Cutlip’s fascinating The Unseen Power. 487. This is perhaps the academic pronunciation of “Handsome numbskull.”


205      “Not proven”: Robert Proctor, Golden Holocaust, Chapter 16, “The Council for Tobacco Research: Distraction Research, Decoy Research, Filibuster Research,” 261. Proctor has tobacco allies—specifically British American Tobacco Company—complaining about “not proven.”

The frontispiece to Proctor’s chapter is Dr. Little’s (absurd) testimony at a 1960 trial. “Your questions were: ‘Have we tried to find carcinogenic substances in tobacco smoke?’ And we have not because we do not believe that they are there.” Similarly, Proctor quotes Alton Ochsner saying about tobacco in 1954 just what observers would about fossil fuel companies by the 1990s: the approach was intended “to postpone a day of reckoning for the industry.” Golden Holocaust, 261.

Peter Pringle, Cornered: Big Tobacco at the Bar of Justice, Henry Holt, 1998. Chapter Six, “The Sweet Smell of Gain,” 118. “Little adhered absurdly to his ‘not proven’ line. Some of his sayings were almost too good to be true . . . How could a company continue to repeat Dr. Little’s maxim of ‘not proven’ when they had research of their own showing there was a link between smoking and cancer?”

Chapter Seven, “Kings of Concealment,” 142. “ . . . a stark choice: either continue to lie about the health risks, or tell the truth about what they knew. The industry could abandon Dr. Little’s ‘not proven’ dictum and admit publicly what its in-house research showed . . . that smoking causes lung cancer and heart disease.”

Allan Brandt, The Cigarette Century, Chapter Nine, “Your Cigarette is Killing Me,” 307. “C. C. Little’s dogmatic assertions of ‘not proven’ . . . ”


The Consumers Union (detailed in Scott Cutlip’s The Unseen Power) complained, “Whenever a new finding implicating cigarettes has been announced . . . Dr. Little has come forth to deny that it is true or new or meaningful.” Cutlip, Unseen Power, 502. This is from their 1963 The Consumers Union Report on Smoking and the Public Interest. In The Cigarette Century, Allan Brandt offers an additional Clarence Little phrase: “no proof”: “By the 1960s even Little’s allies in the industry complained that his constant refrain of ‘no proof’ increasingly lacked credibility.” Chapter Six, “Constructing Controversy,” 190.

For an in-house tobacco industry response, see Brown & Williamson attorney Addison Yeaman’s July 17, 1963 memo: “One would suppose we would not repeat Dr. Little’s oft-repeated ‘not proven.’”

Addison Yeaman, Report, “Implications of Battelle Hippo I & II And The Griffith Filter,” Addison Yeaman, Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp., July 17, 1963. U.S Exhibit 56,986.


205      the actor portraying the bank manager: Photo at the site below, second page. George Snell, “Clarence Cook Little: 1888—1971,” Biographical Memoirs XLVI, The National Academy of Sciences, 1975.
Accessed 6-10-22.


205      Paul Revere: George Snell, “Clarence Cook Little: 1888 –1971,” Biographical Memoirs Volume XLVI, The National Academy of Sciences 1975.


205      Three degrees from Harvard: Time, “Jobless Little,” February 4, 1929.


205      had to take his doctoral exam twice: Time, “Dr. Little’s Doing,” February 6, 1928. Apparently, Time really liked to cover Clarence Little.


205      first breeder of Scots Terriers: Time, “Cancer Army,” March 22, 1937.


205      popular judge at dog shows: Snell, “Clarence C. Little,” Biographical Memoirs.


205      the University of Maine: Little was just thirty-three and a half when assuming the post. He was also, as George Snell points out “at this time the youngest college president in the country.” (George Snell, “Clarence Cook Little: 1888—1971,” Biographical Memoirs Volume XLVI, The National Academy of Sciences, 1975.) Little lasted at Maine just three years.


205      the University of Michigan: New York Times, “Dr. Little Installed As Michigan’s Head,” November 3, 1925. The Michigan Alumnus, March 1981, “Presidential Profiles,” Howard H. Peckham; Time has him in general as “the youngest university president of his time,” in “Cancer Army,” Time, March 22, 1937. Richard Kluger, in Ashes to Ashes, 141, as “the youngest head of a major American center of higher learning.”


205      Mount Desert Island: Walter E. Heston, “Obituary, Clarence Cook Little,” Cancer Research, June 1972. “He went back to Maine and, at Bar Harbor on his beloved Mt. Desert Island and on the very land where he and his students from Maine had had a summer school and studied the migration of carrion beetles and other ecological phenomena, he built the Roscoe B. Jackson Memorial Laboratory.”


205      research laboratory: The Jackson Laboratory. Photos and history here:
Accessed 7-4-22.

Richard Kluger writes in Ashes to Ashes that the compound was “affectionately called ‘Mousetown’ by its staff.” Also that margins were so tight Dr. Little “had to ask staffers to go fishing once a week to help keep themselves fed.” 142.


205      head over heels for genetics: Snell, “Clarence Cook Little,” Biographical Memoirs. “During his senior year at Harvard, Pete, as he was known by his college friends, was captain of the track team. Dr. [William E.] Castle related later how this handsome team captain signed up for his genetics course and soon had persuaded most of the team to sign up with him.”


205      “nibble at the edge of stale ideas”: F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby (Scribner, 1925), Chapter One, 20.


206      “the cross between any of the three”: Madison Grant, The Passing of the Great Race or the Racial Basis of European History, Scribner’s, 1916.

Amusingly, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Grant shared a publisher; the kind of thing a writer like Fitzgerald would notice. They shared an editor, too: Maxwell Perkins. Who seems to have edited just about everything—Hemingway, for that matter—at Scribner. These quotes come from pages 15-16. Disturbingly, the passage in my library copy was covered with exclamations, underlinings, and stars.

“Whether we like to admit it or not, the result of the mixture of two races, in the long run, gives us a race reverting to the more ancient, generalized and lower type. The cross between a white man and an Indian is an Indian; the cross between a white man and a Negro is a Negro; the cross between a white man and a Hindu is a Hindu; and the cross between any of the three European races and a Jew is a Jew.” The full quote was too ugly and dumb to include in text.


206      Theodore Roosevelt praised him: Daniel Okrent, The Guarded Gate: Bigotry, Eugenics, and the Law That Kept Two Generations of Jews, Italians, and Other European Immigrants Out of America, 215.

Published by Scribner in 2019—a century after Madison Grant, as if making up for it.

Roosevelt had been an ex-President for about seven years. This quote would be like getting a blurb from Barack Obama. “The book is a capital book; in purpose, in vision, in grasp of the facts our people most need to realize. It shows an extraordinary range of reading and a wide scholarship . . . and all Americans should be sincerely grateful to you for writing it.”


206      “The book is my bible”: Jonathan Peter Spiro, Defending the Master Race, University of Vermont, 2009. Chapter 14, “The Ever-Widening Circle: The Third Reich,” 415.

“Hitler himself,” Spiro notes, “sent Grant a letter thanking him for writing The Passing of the Great Race and telling him that, ‘the book is my Bible.’ Mein Kampf is riddled with passages that seem directly inspired by The Passing of the Great Race.”

It didn’t go unnoticed by contemporary observers. Annie Nathan Meyer, a founder of Barnard College, wrote in the journal Opinion, that “it was no longer possible to ignore the fact that ‘the leader of the German Reich lifted the whole of his racial creed’ from The Passing of the Great Race.” Spiro, 368. Quoting Annie Nathan Meyer, “A Little Hitler in the New York Zoo,” Opinion: A Journal of Jewish Life and Letters, May 1935.


206      Eugenics Committee of the United States: Spiro, Defending the Master Race. Chapter Eight, “Grant’s Disciples,” 236.


206      enthusiastic member: Spiro, Defending the Master Race, Chapter 12, “Nordic and Anti-Nordic,” 306. A founding member but not a founder.

“The membership roster soon included the elite of the eugenic establishment, including paleontologist William Diller Matthew . . . biologists Harry H. Laughlin, C. C. Little, Raymond Pearl . . . ” The three founders were Charles B. Davenport, Henry Fairfield Osborn, and of course Grant himself. (Davenport was Clarence Little’s boss, at the Eugenics Record Office in Cold Spring Harbor, New York.)


206      Grant’s Galton Society: Michael Kohlman, “Galton Society of America,” Eugenics Archive, August 16, 2014. “The Society had a huge influence over science and its funding during the progressive-era, even beyond the narrow confines of eugenics.”

Accessed 7-25-22.

Spiro, Defending the Master Race. Chapter 12, “Nordic and Anti-Nordic,” 305. “Grant was adamant that membership in the Galton Society . . . would be ‘confined to native Americans, who are anthropologically, socially, and politically sound.’”


206      race-proud: The writer Ian Frazier wrote a wonderful thing about this terrible period in The New Yorker. (Crucial terrible surprise: “Grant took pride in the Nazis’ use of his book and sent them copies of a subsequent one.” What would you even put as the address?)


In the borough where he did a lot for New York’s civic improvement, nothing is named for Madison Grant.

“The Passing of the Great Race” is probably why. It became one of the most famous racist books ever written, and today it’s considered part of a modern genre that began with Arthur de Gobineau’s “The Inequality of Human Races,” published in 1853-55. Hitler read “The Passing of the Great Race” in translation, admired what Grant had to say about the great “Nordic race,” and wrote the author a fan letter, calling the book “my Bible.” Grant took pride in the Nazis’ use of his book and sent them copies of a subsequent one, about how American Nordics like himself had conquered North America. He also was a director of the American Eugenics Society, thought “worthless” individuals should be sterilized, and considered his lobbying for the Johnson-Reed Immigration Act of 1924, which shut down most immigration to the U.S., to be one of the great achievements of his life.

The preposterousness of “The Passing of the Great Race” approaches the sublime. To summarize: according to Grant, all of Western civilization was created by a race of tall, blond, warlike people who ventured down from Northern Europe every so often to help start great cultures, such as ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome, before retiring into their northern forests. Over time, a lot of these Nordics became “mongrelized” by mixing with “inferior races” (Grant’s books cannot be described without the use of many quotation marks), or else they killed one another off in internecine wars because of their bravery and their love of fighting, as they were doing at that very moment in the Great War. By Grant’s reckoning, the greatest men in Western history had been Nordics. Among the stars he claimed for the team, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Dante all clearly possessed Nordic blood, as he had determined by careful study of the shapes of their heads in busts.


This is the thinking that impressed and attracted Clarence Cook Little, handsome numbskull.

Ian Frazier, “When W. E. B. Du Bois Made a Laughingstock of a White Supremacist,” The New Yorker, August 26, 2019.


206      the clubhouse bonus: Spiro, Defending the Master Race, Chapter 12, “Nordic and Anti-Nordic,” 307. “The purpose of the Galton Society was not to conduct new research but to provide a Judenfrei sanctuary,” Spiro writes, “where hereditarian-minded researchers could meet in a noncontentious atmosphere to share their findings with others of their kind. And in this respect the society succeeded admirably.”


206      president of the American Eugenics Society: Nancy Ordover, American Eugenics: Race, Queer Anatomy, and the Science of Nationalism, University of Minnesota Press, 2003. 144. A “eugenic luminary” is Ordover’s description of Little. She points out the Eugenics Society boasted nearly a thousand members, in 45 states, with operating expenses provided by such financial luminaries as John D. Rockefeller.

The New Yorker’s Jill Lepore points out that “only passionately committed eugenicists remained undaunted” as long as Clarence Little did. Lepore, The Mansion of Happiness, Knopf 2012. 91.


206      featured in headlines: William L. Laurence, “Sees a Super Race Evolved by Science: Dr. C.C. Little Tells Ithacans Laws to Weed Out Misfits Are ‘Just Around the Corner.’ Heredity An Iron Law Knowledge of It Must Be Used For Nation’s Good, He Says,” The New York Times, August 25, 1932.


206      delivered pro-sterilization speeches: The New York Herald, New York Tribune, “Birth Control Backed by Head of Michigan U.; Sterilization of Criminals and Defectives Obvious Remedy for Increasing Crisis, Adds Dr. Little; He Terms It ‘Christian,’” November 19, 1925.

Davis, Secret War on Cancer. Chapter Five, “Fear Sells,” 112.


206      “We favor legislation to restrict.”: Brandt, The Cigarette Century, Chapter Six, “Constructing Controversy,” 176.


206      “America is based on the false premise”: The New York Times, “Dr. Little Decries Materialistic Aim,” June 5, 1936.


206      Accepting the League presidency: New York Herald Tribune, “56 Doctors Link Health of Public To Birth Control,” Jan 24, 1936.


206      “the gentlemen who rule”: The New York Times, “Dr. Little Accepts Birth Control Post: New President of League Foresees Hard Fight On ‘Unsound’ Relief Policy,” January 24, 1936.


206      lavish budgets: Time, “Academic Search Complete,” July 13, 1925.

Stuart Auerbach, “Clarence Cook Little Dies; Leading Cancer Researcher,”

The Washington Post, December 24, 1971.


206      broader avenues for misfortune: Weirdly, Little lasted the same three years at Michigan: this seems to have been his fixed presidency limit. This is from Waldo Abbot, “Michigan’s ‘Tyrant Genius’: Dr. Clarence C. Little Has Resigned,” New York Herald Tribune, March 24, 1929.


206      “It’s difficult to see Little’s career”: Christopher Zboorzek, “The Strange Career of C. C. Little,” Michigan Daily, September 26, 2006.
Accessed 7-14-22.

Dr. Little’s name was purged from a university science building in 2018. The eugenics, also the tobacco work. Lauren Love, “U-M to remove Little, Winchell names from campus facilities,” The University Record, March 29, 2018.


207      “petting”: Waldo Abbot, “Michigan’s ‘Tyrant Genius’: Dr. Clarence C. Little Has Resigned,” New York Herald Tribune; March 24, 1929.


207      “the car parked outside”: Hartford Courant, “College Head Sees Too Much Petting: Overshadows Scholastic Aims, Says Michigan’s New President; Supports Present Athletic System; Thinks It Is the Only Cure for Over-Emphasis Placed on Jazz,” November 3, 1925. Which does have that thing antique headlines do, taking you with one swoop into another era.


207      The last straw: This is from Little’s slightly utopian University how-to The Awakening College, Norton, 1930, 96. Sample: “There are available for easy diversion more carefree and conformable members of the gentler sex than ever before. These maidens, moreover, have learned from many books, magazines, movies, and plays that a lady is no lady unless she has at some time or times come perilously near not being one.”

Written by a university president conducting a multi-year extramarital affair with one of his students.

In Ashes to Ashes, 166, Richard Kluger draws the veil of modesty and just calls this “moral misconduct.”


207      affair with a student: Brandt, The Cigarette Century, Chapter Six., “Constructing Controversy,” 177. “At the time of his resignation, it had also become widely known that his first marriage of eighteen years was ending in divorce and that he had become romantically involved with a student.”

The affair seems to have occasioned Dr. Little’s divorce. This was alluded to in Time, which used to carry a special section that covered weddings and divorce. Time, August 26, 1929, September 30, 1929. (Grounds were cruelty and desertion.) The section ran entries such as this: “Divorced. William Ashley Sunday Jr., son of the hot-shouting evangelist; by Mrs. Julia Mae Sunday; at Los Angeles, Calif. Grounds: mental cruelty.”

Other coverage had a slightly sharper edge. The New York Times, “Dr. C. C. Little Divorced: Former Head of University of Michigan Gets Degree for Cruelty,” August 18, 1929. Different era.


207      The first straw: “Dr. Little’s Doing.” Time Magazine, February 6, 1928; Los Angeles Times, “University Head Who Urged Birth Control Warned,” November 30, 1925.


207      Michigan’s governor: Abbot, “Michigan’s ‘Tyrant Genius,’” New York Herald Tribune.


207      Little was invited to resign: Time makes clear this voluntary gesture was mandatory. “Forced to resign” is their phrase. Time, “Dr. Cabot Demoted,” February 17, 1930. The Herald Tribune offered, as if speaking of a swooning Victorian heroine, “his surrender was inevitable.”


207      the same invitation next decade: See Ashes to Ashes, Golden Holocaust, and The Unseen Power. Cutlip’s Unseen Power is the funniest. “In those years, Dr. Little had done little”—I didn’t hear the pun until entering this note—“to arouse the public to the dangers of cancer or to muster much research into cancer’s causes.” From that same Chapter 16, 487.


207      “this Society is too small”: Davis, Secret History of the War on Cancer, Chapter Five, “Fear Sells,” 130.

That same industrialist—Elmer Bobst— later endowed the New York University library where much of this research about Clarence Little was conducted. Which I imagine might have brought the industrialist happiness.


207      “Events a decade later”: Kluger, Ashes to Ashes. Chapter Six, “The Filter Tip and Other Placebos,” 144.


207      which in 1947 burned to the ground: Time, “Mouse Hunt,” November 17, 1947.


207      They totted it up to bitterness: Kluger, Ashes to Ashes, Chapter Six, 167. “While some at the American Cancer Society remembered Little as a rather emotional man, somewhat distant and formal—one publicist termed him ‘a self-conscious bigshot’—his appointment to run the tobacco industry’s research program came as a shock to many at the society. The suspicion was that he had taken the job out of lingering bitterness over having been jettisoned by the cancer society.”

Kluger quotes another former colleague. Little’s decision in the simplest terms: the eugenicist “must have been pretty hard up” that accepting the tobacco job was “purely a mercenary kind of thing,” a senior-years financial survival strategy.

Dr. Evarts Graham wrote the pioneer epidemiologist A. Bradford Hill. “You may be surprised to know that Dr. C. C. Little was willing to become the chairman of that Committee.” The doctor added, “It seems astonishing to me.” Allan Brandt, “Inventing Conflicts of Interest: A History of Tobacco Industry Tactics,” American Journal of Public Health, January 2012, Vol. 102, No. 1.


207      “I would like to go to New York”: Little’s friend is the oncologist Freddy Homburger. These remarks are from Deposition of Freddy Homburger, M.D., May 28, 1997, “Norma Broin et al. v. Philip Morris, Inc.,” 1997 May 28.


208      “A bought mind”: George Orwell, “The Prevention of Literature,” Polemic, January 1946.


208      “But I didn’t trust his judgment”: Deposition, Freddy Homburger, M.D.

The Parrot and the Igloo by David Lipsky