22

HOW HERITABILITY MISLEADS ABOUT RACE

Ned Block

The Bell Curve's main argument for black genetic inferiority in IQ depends for its persuasive force on conceptual confusions that have been tacitly accepted to some degree even by many of the book's sharpest critics. The book contains two lines of thought. One, which I will accept for present purposes, is: that IQ tests substantially measure "general intelligence," that IQ is socially important, and that IQ is sixty percent heritable within whites. (I'll explain heritability below.) The second main line of thought—which I will be contesting—is the argument for genetic inferiority of American blacks. Before I get to their argument for this conclusion, I want to be clear about the conclusion itself. Murray has recently complained about misinterpretation in an article entitled "The Real Bell Curve" (Murray 1994). He grumbles about critics, such as Stephen Jay Gould, who read the book as saying that racial differences in IQ are mostly genetic. He quotes from the book:

If the reader is now convinced that either the genetic or environmental explanations have won out to the exclusion of the other, we have not done a sufficiently good job of presenting one side or the other. It seems highly likely to us that both genes and environment have something to do with racial differences. What might the mix be? We are

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Reprinted with permission from The Journal of Cognition, published by Elsevier Science B. V. Copyright ©I995 by Elsevier Science B. V.

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