The Science and Politics of I.Q.

By Leon J. Kamin | Go to book overview

We see today that the psychologists who provided "expert" and "scientific" teaching relevant to the immigration debate did so on the basis of pitifully inadequate data. There is probably no living psychologist who would view the World War I Army data as relevant to the heritable I.Q. of European "races." There are few who now seem much impressed by the data on "Italians in America" summarized by Rudolf Pintner in his 1923 text, Intelligence Testing. 24 Professor Pintner had called attention to the "remarkable agreement in the median I.Q. for the Italian children" in six separate studies. That median I.Q. was 84, a full 16 points below the average American. There is probably no psychometrician today prepared to assert that that 16-point deficit was produced by inferior Italian I.Q. genes. That does not prevent the same mental testers from pointing gravely to the possible genetic significance of Professor Jensen's recent survey of the contemporary I.Q. literature. That survey led Jensen to report: "The basic data are well known: on the average, Negroes test about 1 standard deviation (15 IQ points) below the average of the white population, and this finding is fairly uniform across the 81 different tests of intellectual ability used in these studies. . . ."25 This kind of finding, like Goddard's earlier report that 83 percent of Jewish immigrants were feeble-minded, cannot be ignored by thoughtful citizens.

There is, of course, the theoretical possibility that the genetic theorists are correct. Perhaps I.Q. is highly heritable; and perhaps differences between races, as well as among individuals, are in large measure due to heredity. There are serious scholars who have assumed this, and who have labored to adduce supporting evidence. Their data ought not to be ignored, and they deserve a careful scrutiny. That scrutiny is a scientific necessity, even though the social and political policies advocated by many hereditarian theorists are in no sense compelled or justified by the facts which they assert to be true.

The remaining chapters of this book are not primarily concerned with questions of social policy. They ask, instead, whether the policy recommendations of today's mental testers are any more surely grounded in scientific knowledge than were those of their predecessors in the 1920's. What kind of evidence in fact supports the wide-spread assertion that I.Q. test scores are heritable? That is a straightforward scientific question, one which can be answered by a logical analysis of the data. The following chapters attempt such an analysis, and are concerned with the merit and quality of the actual I.Q. data, and with their logical interpretation. The social functions served by the data do not in principle affect their scientific validity. The social history of I.Q. testing has told us something about psychologists, and science, and society; but only the data can tell us the truth about I.Q. The following chapters deal successively with the major types of evidence which have been asserted to demonstrate that I.Q. test scores are heritable.


NOTES TO CHAPTER TWO
1.
K. Young, "Intelligence Tests of Certain Immigrant Groups," Scientific Monthly, 15, ( 1922), 434.

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The Science and Politics of I.Q.
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Introduction 1
  • NOTES TO INTRODUCTION 4
  • 1 - The Pioneers of I.Q. Testing in America 5
  • NOTES TO CHAPTER ONE 12
  • 2 - Psychology and the Immigrant 15
  • NOTES TO CHAPTER TWO 30
  • 3 - Separated Identical Twins 33
  • 4 - Kinship Correlations 73
  • NOTES TO CHAPTER FOUR 105
  • 5 - Studies of Adopted Children 111
  • NOTES TO CHAPTER FIVE 133
  • 6 - The Accuracy of Secondary Sources 135
  • NOTES TO CHAPTER SIX 157
  • 7 - I.Q. in the Uterus 161
  • NOTES TO CHAPTER SEVEN 173
  • Conclusion 175
  • NOTES TO CONCLUSION 179
  • Author Index 181
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