The Intelligence Men: Makers of the IQ Controversy

The Intelligence Men: Makers of the IQ Controversy

The Intelligence Men: Makers of the IQ Controversy

The Intelligence Men: Makers of the IQ Controversy

Excerpt

Few scientific issues arouse as much public interest, emotional heat, or general confusion as the so-called "IQ controversy." Indeed, those who have ventured to express opinions about the meanings or causes of individual differences in intelligence test scores have sometimes found themselves embroiled in disputes considerably more violent than they bargained for. Consider, for example, the experience of Harvard psychologist Richard Herrnstein, who in 1971 attempted to summarize some basic facts about IQ tests in an article for the popular Atlantic Monthly magazine.

Here, Herrnstein argued that IQ scores have proven to be reasonably accurate predictors of people's occupational levels, and thus of differences in social class. He also cited evidence which seemed to indicate that genetic factors are more important than environmental ones in producing different IQ scores, and hence differences in social class. Further, he warned that, ironically enough, this apparent prepotency of heredity over environment might become even greater if social progress were to be made toward the equalization of all people's environments. That is, if everyone has the same environmental advantages, then differences in their innate abilities will perhaps loom proportionately even larger than they do now.

Herrnstein did not advocate this as a desirable consequence of greater environmental equality, but simply pointed to it as a pos-

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