The G Factor: The Book and the Controversy

Article excerpt

Edward M. Miller 1 University of New Orleans

The g Factor

General Intelligence and Its Implications Christopher Brand John Wiley & Sons 1996. 253pp. (Withdrawn 1996)

In late March of this year, a book by Christopher Brand titled The g Factor: General Intelligence and its Implications appeared in UK bookstores. It was published by John Wiley and Sons, Chichester, England. On April 17, the New York office of John Wiley announced in an unprecedented action that "After careful consideration of the statements made recently by author Christopher Brand (as reported in the British press), as well as some of the views presented in his work ..., we have decided to withdraw the book from publication. (Wiley) does not want to support these views by disseminating them or be associated with a book that makes assertions that we find repellant" (Holden, 1996).

It is very unusual for a publisher to break a contract with an author and announce that the reason for this action is to prevent the dissemination of certain views. The question naturally arises as to what are the views whose dissemination they wish to prevent, and what is the evidence for these views? While Wiley has not been specific as to just what views that it was to prevent the dissemination of, one presumes they have to do with racial differences in intelligence and the implications for economics and for educational policy. Wiley announced (McMillen 1996) that they acted because of "deep ethical beliefs", but what these were was not revealed. One suspects they were that racial differences and eugenics should not be discussed, but that is merely a guess.

Fortunately, the author of this review article had seen the Wiley prepublication publicity planned for the jacket (now available at http://laboratory.psy.ed.ac.uk/DOCS/crb/new.htm) and decided to review the book. He had obtained a copy, and started this review when the book was withdrawn. The fact that this book was withdrawn in an announced attempt to prevent the dissemination of certain ideas will modify somewhat the nature of this review. It will be longer than the usual review so that the reader will have the opportunity to know what Brand had to say. Also references will be provided so that the reader will be able to find the sources for what Brand claimed.

Incidentally, the views contained in Brand's book were based on well established science. Brand's book is not primarily about racial differences or eugenics (the major policy recommendations relate to educational policy). However, since considerable controversy has resulted from Wiley's action, and most commentators have assumed that it was media attention focussing on Brand's observations about the statistical correlation between race and intelligence that prompted Wiley to withdraw the book, a somewhat disproportionate part of this review will be devoted to these aspects. There are several interesting features of Wiley's actions. In many countries there has been concern about domination of the economy by companies headquartered abroad. This concern has been especially strong with regard to national culture, and the industries that directly affect it, including publishing, motion pictures, broadcasting, etc. Usually a multinational firm tries to leave the impression that key decisions affecting the culture or the economy are made in the country affected.

Wiley's decision is unusual in that it was announced in New York and made in the name of the chief executive, Mr. Ellis, even though the major effect was to cause the withdrawal of a book from British bookstores and to hurt a Scottish author. The very few hours between the adverse publicity in Britain and the decision of Wiley's New York executives to withdraw the book makes it unlikely that anyone in New York had studied the book in detail.

An interesting aspect of the Brand case is that the Scottish Nationalist party, which is understood to believe that Scotland should not be ruled in all details from London, might have been expected to take the lead in preventing Scotland from being ruled from America. …

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