The Science and Politics of I.Q.

The Science and Politics of I.Q.

The Science and Politics of I.Q.

The Science and Politics of I.Q.

Excerpt

In psychology as in politics, the pendulum of fashion swings to and fro; and the vacillations roughly synchronize. During the nineteenth century, the associationists preached an egalitarian doctrine, and three reform bills were passed.

--Sir Cyril Burt, 1955

This book is concerned with a single major question: are scores on intelligence tests (I.Q.'s) heritable? The answer, in the consensus view of most intelligence testers, is that about eighty percent of individual variation in I.Q. scores is genetically determined. That is not a new conclusion. Pearson, writing in 1906, before the widespread use of the I.Q. test, observed that "the influence of environment is nowhere more than one-fifth that of heredity, and quite possibly not one-tenth of it." Herrnstein, reviewing the history of intelligence testing to 1971, concluded, "We may, therefore, say that 80 to 85 percent of the variation in I.Q. among whites is due to the genes."

The present work arrives at two conclusions. The first stems from a detailed examination of the empirical evidence which has been adduced in support of the idea of heritability, and it can be stated simply. There exist no data which should lead a prudent man to accept the hypothesis that I.Q. test scores are in any degree heritable. That conclusion is so much at odds with prevailing wisdom that it is necessary to ask, how can so many psychologists believe the opposite?

The answer, I believe, is related to the second major conclusion of this work. The I.Q. test in America, and the way in which we think about it, has been fostered . . .

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