I mean, the average psychologist on the street.
Last year when the whole Watson fiasco hit the fan, I found myself patiently explaining to my outraged relatives that there was actually an IQ gap, and showing them the signed statement to that effect that was recognised by mainstream psychologists.
Dec. 13, 1994 Wall Street Journal p A18
Mainstream Science on Intelligence
Since the publication of “The Bell Curve,” many commentators have offered opinions about human intelligence that misstate current scientific evidence. Some conclusions dismissed in the media as discredited are actually firmly supported.
This statement outlines conclusions regarded as mainstream among researchers on intelligence, in particular, on the nature, origins, and practical consequences of individual and group differences in intelligence. Its aim is to promote more reasoned discussion of the vexing phenomenon that the research has revealed in recent decades. The following conclusions are fully described in the major textbooks, professional journals and encyclopedias in intelligence.
The Meaning and Measurement of Intelligence
Intelligence is a very general mental capability that, among other things, involves the ability to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend complex ideas, learn quickly and learn from experience. It is not merely book learning, a narrow academic skill, or test-taking smarts. Rather, it reflects a broader and deeper capability for comprehending our surroundings–“catching on,” “making sense” of things, or “figuring out” what to do.
Intelligence, so defined, can be measured, and intelligence tests measure it well. They are among the most accurate (in technical terms, reliable and valid) of all psychological tests and assessments. They do not measure creativity, character personality, or other important differences among individuals, nor are they intended to.
While there are different types of intelligence tests, they all measure the same intelligence. Some use words or numbers and require specific cultural knowledge (like vocabulary). Others do not, and instead use shapes or designs and require knowledge of only simple, universal concepts (many/few, open/closed, up/down).
The spread of people along the IQ continuum, from low to high, can be represented well by the bell curve (in statistical jargon, the “normal curve”). Most people cluster around the average (IQ 100). Few are either very bright or very dull: About 3% of Americans score above IQ 130 (often considered the threshold for “giftedness”), with about the same percentage below IQ 70 (IQ 70-75 often being considered the threshold for mental retardation).
Intelligence tests are not culturally biased against American blacks or other native-born, English-speaking peoples in the U.S. Rather, IQ scores predict equally accurately for all such Americans, regardless of race and social class. Individuals who do not understand English well can be given either a nonverbal test or one in their native language.
The brain processes underlying intelligence are still little understood. Current research looks, for example, at speed of neural transmission, glucose (energy) uptake, and electrical activity of the brain, uptake, and electrical activity of the brain.
Members of all racial-ethnic groups can be found at every IQ level. The bell curves of different groups overlap considerably, but groups often differ in where their members tend to cluster along the IQ line. The bell curves for some groups (Jews and East Asians) are centered somewhat higher than for whites in general. Other groups (blacks and Hispanics) are centered somewhat lower than non-Hispanic whites.
The bell curve for whites is centered roughly around IQ 100; the bell curve for American blacks roughly around 85; and those for different subgroups of Hispanics roughly midway between those for whites and blacks. The evidence is less definitive for exactly where above IQ 100 the bell curves for Jews and Asians are centered.
IQ is strongly related, probably more so than any other single measurable human trait, to many important educational, occupational, economic, and social outcomes. Its relation to the welfare and performance of individuals is very strong in some arenas in life (education, military training), moderate but robust in others (social competence), and modest but consistent in others (law-abidingness). Whatever IQ tests measure, it is of great practical and social importance.
A high IQ is an advantage in life because virtually all activities require some reasoning and decision-making. Conversely, a low IQ is often a disadvantage, especially in disorganized environments. Of course, a high IQ no more guarantees success than a low IQ guarantees failure in life. There are many exceptions, but the odds for success in our society greatly favor individuals with higher IQs.
The practical advantages of having a higher IQ increase as life settings become more complex (novel, ambiguous, changing, unpredictable, or multifaceted). For example, a high IQ is generally necessary to perform well in highly complex or fluid jobs (the professions, management): it is a considerable advantage in moderately complex jobs (crafts, clerical and police work); but it provides less advantage in settings that require only routine decision making or simple problem solving (unskilled work).
Differences in intelligence certainly are not the only factor affecting performance in education, training, and highly complex jobs (no one claims they are), but intelligence is often the most important. When individuals have already been selected for high (or low) intelligence and so do not differ as much in IQ, as in graduate school (or special education), other influences on performance loom larger in comparison.
Certain personality traits, special talents, aptitudes, physical capabilities, experience, and the like are important (sometimes essential) for successful performance in many jobs, but they have narrower (or unknown) applicability or “transferability” across tasks and settings compared with general intelligence. Some scholars choose to refer to these other human traits as other “intelligences.”
Source and Stability of Within-Group Differences
Individuals differ in intelligence due to differences in both their environments and genetic heritage. Heritability estimates range from 0.4 to 0.8 (on a scale from 0 to 1), most thereby indicating that genetics plays a bigger role than does environment in creating IQ differences among individuals. (Heritability is the squared correlation of phenotype with genotype.) If all environments were to become equal for everyone, heritability would rise to 100% because all remaining differences in IQ would necessarily be genetic in origin.
Members of the same family also tend to differ substantially in intelligence (by an average of about 12 IQ points) for both genetic and environmental reasons. They differ genetically because biological brothers and sisters share exactly half their genes with each parent and, on the average, only half with each other. They also differ in IQ because they experience different environments within the same family.
That IQ may be highly heritable does not mean that it is not affected by the environment. Individuals are not born with fixed, unchangeable levels of intelligence (no one claims they are). IQs do gradually stabilize during childhood, however, and generally change little thereafter.
Although the environment is important in creating IQ differences, we do not know yet how to manipulate it to raise low IQs permanently. Whether recent attempts show promise is still a matter of considerable scientific debate.
Genetically caused differences are not necessarily irremediable (consider diabetes, poor vision, and phenal keton uria), nor are environmentally caused ones necessarily remediable (consider injuries, poisons, severe neglect, and some diseases). Both may be preventable to some extent.
Source and Stability of Between-Group Differences
There is no persuasive evidence that the IQ bell curves for different racial-ethnic groups are converging. Surveys in some years show that gaps in academic achievement have narrowed a bit for some races, ages, school subjects and skill levels, but this picture seems too mixed to reflect a general shift in IQ levels themselves.
Racial-ethnic differences in IQ bell curves are essentially the same when youngsters leave high school as when they enter first grade. However, because bright youngsters learn faster than slow learners, these same IQ differences lead to growing disparities in amount learned as youngsters progress from grades one to 12. As large national surveys continue to show, black 17- year-olds perform, on the average, more like white 13-year-olds in reading, math, and science, with Hispanics in between.
The reasons that blacks differ among themselves in intelligence appear to be basically the same as those for why whites (or Asians or Hispanics) differ among themselves. Both environment and genetic heredity are involved.
There is no definitive answer to why IQ bell curves differ across racial-ethnic groups. The reasons for these IQ differences between groups may be markedly different from the reasons for why individuals differ among themselves within any particular group (whites or blacks or Asians). In fact, it is wrong to assume, as many do, that the reason why some individuals in a population have high IQs but others have low IQs must be the same reason why some populations contain more such high (or low) IQ individuals than others. Most experts believe that environment is important in pushing the bell curves apart, but that genetics could be involved too.
Racial-ethnic differences are somewhat smaller but still substantial for individuals from the same socioeconomic backgrounds. To illustrate, black students from prosperous families tend to score higher in IQ than blacks from poor families, but they score no higher, on average, than whites from poor families.
Almost all Americans who identify themselves as black have white ancestors-the white admixture is about 20%, on average–and many self-designated whites, Hispanics, and others likewise have mixed ancestry. Because research on intelligence relies on self- classification into distinct racial categories, as does most other social-science research, its findings likewise relate to some unclear mixture of social and biological distinctions among groups (no one claims otherwise).
Implications for Social Policy
The research findings neither dictate nor preclude any particular social policy, because they can never determine our goals. They can, however, help us estimate the likely success and side-effects of pursuing those goals via different means.
The following professors-all experts in intelligence an allied fields-have signed this statement:
Richard D. Arvey, University of Minnesota Thomas J. Bouchard, Jr., University of Minnesota John B. Carroll, U.N.C. at Chapel Hill, Raymond B. Cattell, University of Hawaii ,David B. Cohen, U.T. at Austin Rene W. Dawis, University of Minnesota Douglas K. Detterman, Case Western Reserve U.Marvin Dunnette,University of Minnesota Hans Eysenck, University of London Jack Feldman, Georgia Institute of Technology Edwin A. Fleishman, George Mason University Grover C. Gilmore, Case Western Reserve U.Robert A. Gordon, Johns Hopkins University Linda S. Gottfredsen, University of Delaware Richard J. Haier, U.C. Irvine
Garrett Hardin,U.C. Berkeley Robert Hogan,University of Tulsa Joseph M. Horn, U.T. at Austin Lloyd G. Humphreys, U.Ill. at Champaign-Urbana John E. Hunter, Michigan State University Seymour W. Itzkoff,Smith College Douglas N. Jackson, U. of Western Ontario James J. Jenkins, U. of South Florida Arthur R. Jensen, U.C. Berkeley Alan S. Kaufman, University of Alabama Nadeen L. Kaufman, Cal. School of Prof. Pshch., S.D.Timothy Z. Keith, Alfred University Nadine Lambert,U.C. Berkeley John C. Loehlin, U.T. at Austin David Lubinski, Iowa State University David T. Lykken, University of Minnesota Richard Lynn, University of Ulster at Coleraine Paul E. Meehl, University of Minnesota R. Travis Osborne, University of Georgia Robert Perloff, University of Pittsburg Robert Plomin, Institute of Psychiatry, London Cecil R. Reynolds Texas A&M University David C. Rowe University of Arizona J. Philippe Rushton U. of Western Ontario Vincent Sarich, U.C. BerkeleySandra Scarr, University of Virginia Frank L. Schmidt University of Iowa Lyle F. Schoenfeldt, Texas A&M University James C. Sharf,George Washington University Julian C. Stanley, Johns Hopkins University Del Theissen, U.T. at Austin Lee A. Thompson,Case Western Reserve U.Robert M. Thorndike, Western Washington University Philip Anthony Vernon, U. of Western Ontario Lee Willerman
It was actually quite amusing watching the media trying to tip toe around the well known fact that black Americans IQ’s are about 20 points lower than Asian Americans. Also, most people think that IQ tests have been shown to be meaningless and not a good measure of intelligence, probably due to Gould being promoted as ‘right’. Which is strange, since among Goulds qualifications, I don’t recall seeing a psychology degree.
Upon a scan through the WIki item on IQ and race (hey, I needed to find the name of something) I found an interesting study on how the media reports on matters to do with IQ and race, called the Snyderman and Rothman study. It was carried out in 1987, surveying 1,020 scholars in specialties that would give them reason to be knowledgeable about IQ. The report stated…
This is perhaps the central question in the IQ controversy. Respondents were asked to express their opinion of the role of genetic differences in the black-white IQ differential. Forty-five percent believe the difference to be a product of both genetic and environmental variation, compared to only 15% who feel the difference is entirely due to environmental variation. Twenty-four percent of experts do not believe there are sufficient data to support any reasonable opinion, and 14% did not respond to the question. Eight experts (1%) indicate a belief in an entirely genetic determination.
Interestingly, the respondents placed themselves as slightly left wing politically. The study claimed that the media misrepresented the views of the mainstream scientists (as it does with race). It put forward the views of people like Gould as the mainstream (ie; no such thing as race, g is meaningless, no racial differences in IQ) but claimed people like Jensen were a minority, when they were actually the mainstream.
Also interesting, in a similar vein, was that in the nineties when polled, 65% of anthropologists supported race as a concept, but the media resolutely insisted that they claimed the opposite. Probably because the American anthropological society released a statement saying ‘there’s no such thing as race’ around the same time. I’m guessing, politics was driving that statement.
My biggest argument against it ‘all being environment’ is that semi-literate malnourished Asian peasants score better than black Americans. What environmental argument can account for that?
Anyway, here is a letter from Linda Gottfredson (renowned and respected psychologist), who wrote on the subject.
Egalitarian fiction and collective fraud.
Linda S. Gottfredson
Society, March-April 1994 v31 n3 p53(7)
Linda S. Gottfredson is professor of educational studies at the University of Delaware and co-director of the Project for the Study of Intelligence and Society. She has published widely on fairness in testing and racial inequality, focusing most recently on race-norming and the dilemmas in managing workforce diversity. Her current work examines social policy based on the egalitarian fiction.
Social science today condones and perpetuates a great falsehood – one that undergirds much current social policy. This falsehood, or “egalitarian fiction,” holds that racial-ethnic groups never differ in average developed intelligence (or, in technical terms, g, the general mental ability factor). While scientists have not yet determined their source, the existence of sometimes large group differences in intelligence is as well-established as any fact in the social sciences. How and why then is this falsehood perpetrated on the public? What part do social scientists themselves play, deliberately or inadvertently, in creating and maintaining it? Are some of them involved in what might be termed “collective fraud?” Intellectual dishonesty among scientists and scholars is, of course, nothing new. But watchdogs of scientific integrity have traditionally focused on dishonesty of individual scientists, while giving little attention to the ways in which collectivities of scientists, each knowingly shaving or shading the truth in small but similar ways, have perpetuated frauds on the scientific community and the public at large. Perhaps none of the individuals involved in the egalitarian fiction could be accused of fraud in the usual sense of the term. Indeed, I would be the first to say that, like other scientists, most of these scholars are generally honest. Yet, their seemingly minor distortions, untruths, evasions, and biases collectively produce and maintain a witting falsehood. Accordingly, my concern here is to explore the social process by which many otherwise honest scholars facilitate, or feel compelled to endorse, a scientific lie.
The Egalitarian Fiction
It is impossible here to review the voluminous evidence showing that racial-ethnic differences in intelligence are the rule rather than the exception (some groups performing better than whites and others worse), and that the well-documented black-white gap is especially striking. All groups span the continuum of intelligence, but some groups contain greater proportions of individuals that are either gifted or dull than others. Three facts regarding these group differences are of particular importance here for together they contradict the claim that there are no meaningful group differences. Racial-ethnic differences in intelligence are real. The large average group differences in mental test scores in the United States do not result from test bias, which is minuscule overall, as even a National Academy of Science panel concluded in 1982. Moreover, intelligence and aptitude tests measure general mental abilities, such as reasoning and problem solving, not merely accumulated bits of knowledge – and thus tap what experts and laymen alike view as “intelligence.”
Regardless of how we choose to construe them, differences in intelligence are of great practical importance. Overall they predict performance in school and on the job better than any other single attribute or condition we have been able to measure. Intelligence certainly is not the only factor that affects performance, but higher levels of intelligence greatly increase people’s odds of success in many life settings. Group disparities in intelligence are stubborn. Although individuals fluctuate somewhat in intelligence during their lives, differences among groups seem quite stable. The average black-white difference, for example, which appears by age six, has remained at about 18 Stanford-Binet IQ points since it was first measured in large national samples over seventy years ago. It is not clear yet why the disparities among groups are so stubborn – the reasons could be environmental, genetic, or a combination of both – but so far they have resisted attempts to narrow them. Although these facts may seem surprising, most experts on intelligence believe them to be true but few will acknowledge their truth publicly.
Misrepresentation of Expert Opinion
The 1988 book The IQ Controversy: The Media and Public Policy by psychologist-lawyer Mark Snyderman and political scientist Stanley Rothman provides strong evidence that the general public receives a highly distorted view of opinion among “IQ experts.” In essence, say Snyderman and Rothman, accounts in major national newspapers, newsmagazines, and television reports have painted a portrait of expert opinion that leaves the impression that “the majority of experts in the field believe it is impossible to adequately define intelligence, that intelligence tests do not measure anything that is relevant to life performance, and that they are biased against minorities, primarily blacks and Hispanics, as well as against the poor.” However, say the authors, the survey of experts revealed quite the opposite: On the whole, scholars with any expertise in the area of intelligence and intelligence testing … share a common view of [what constitute] the most important components of intelligence, and are convinced that [intelligence] can be measured with some degree of accuracy. An overwhelming majority also believe that individual genetic inheritance contributes to variations in IQ within the white community, and a smaller majority express the same view about the black-white and SES [socioeconomic] differences in IQ.
Unfortunately, such wholesale misrepresentation of expert opinion is not limited to the field of intelligence, as Rothman has shown in parallel studies of other policy-related fields such as nuclear energy or environmental cancer research. However, the study of IQ experts revealed something quite surprising. Most experts’ private opinions mirrored the conclusions of psychologist Arthur Jensen, whom the media have consistently painted as extreme and marginal for holding precisely those views. As Snyderman and Rothman point out, the experts disclosed their agreement with this “controversial” and putatively marginal position only under cover of anonymity. No one, not even Jensen himself, had any inkling that his views now defined the mainstream of expert belief. Although Jensen regularly received private expressions of agreement, he and others had been, as Snyderman and Rothman note, widely castigated by the expert community for expressing some of those views.
Several decades ago, most experts, among them even Jensen, believed many of the views that the media now wrongly describe as mainstream – for example, that cultural bias accounts for the large black-white differences in mental test scores. While the private consensus among IQ experts has shifted to meet Jensen’s “controversial” views, the public impression of their views has not moved at all. Indeed, the now-refuted claim that tests are hopelessly biased is treated as a truism in public life today. The shift in private, if not public, beliefs among IQ experts is undoubtedly a response to the overwhelming weight of evidence which has accumulated in recent decades on die reality and practical importance of racial-ethnic differences in intelligence. This shift is by all indications a begrudging one, and certainly no flight into “racism.”
Snyderman and Rothman found that as many IQ experts as journalists and science editors (two out of three) agreed with the statement that “strong affirmative action measures should be used in hiring to assure black representation.” Fully 63 percent of the IQ experts described themselves as liberal politically, 17 percent as middle of the road, and 20 percent as conservative – not much different than the results for journalists (respectively, 64, 21, and 16 percent). Moreover, as Snyderman and Rothman suggest (and as is consistent with personal accounts by Jensen and others), many of the surveyed experts, while agreeing with Jensen’s conclusions, may disapprove of his expressing these conclusions openly. Consistent with this, when queried about their respect for the work of fourteen individuals who have written about intelligence or intelligence testing, the IQ experts rated Jensen only above the widely but apparently unjustly) vilified Cyril Burt. Despite the fact that most agreed with Jensen, they rated him far lower than often like-minded psychometricians who had generally stayed clear of the fray. Jensen even received significantly lower ratings than his vocal critics, such as psychologist Leon Kamin, whose scientific views are marginal by the experts’ own conclusions. By contrast, the experts in environmental cancer research behaved as one would expect; they gave higher reputational ratings to peers who are closer to the mainstream than to high-profile critics. Snyderman’s and Rothman’s findings therefore suggest that a high proportion of experts are misrepresenting their beliefs or are keeping silent in the face of a public falsehood. It is no wonder that the public remains misinformed on this issue.
Living Within a Lie
IQ experts feel enormous pressure to “live within a lie,” to use a phrase by Czech writer and leader Vaclav Havel characterizing daily life under communist rule n Eastern Europe. Havel argued, in The Power of the Powerless, that, by living a lie, ordinary citizens were complicit in their own tyranny. Every greengrocer, every clerk who agreed to display official slogans not reflecting his own beliefs, or who voted in elections known to be farcical, or who feigned agreement at political meetings, normalized falsification and tightened the regime’s grip on thought. Each individual who lived the lie, who capitulated to “ideological pseudo-reality,” became a petty instrument of the regime. As many commentators have noted, Americans may not speak certain truths about racial matters today. To adapt a phrase, there is a “structured silence.”
Social scientists had already begun subordinating scientific norms to political preferences and creating much of our current pseudo-reality on race by the mid-1960s. Sociologist Eleanor Wolf, in a 1972 article in Race, for example, detailed her distress at how fellow social scientists were misusing research data to support particular positions on civil rights policy: presenting inconclusive data as if it were decisive; lacking candor about “touchy” subjects (such as the undesirable behavior of lower-class students); blurring or shaping definitions (segregation, discrimination, racism) to suit “propagandistic” purposes; making exaggerated claims about the success of favored policies (compensatory education and school integration) while minimizing or ignoring contrary evidence. As a result, social science and social policy are now dominated by the theory that discrimination accounts for all racial disparities in achievements and well-being. This theory collapses, however, if deprived of the egalitarian fiction, as does the credibility of much current social policy. Neither could survive intact if their central premise were scrutinized.
No wonder, then, that IQ researchers find themselves under great professional and institutional pressure to avoid not only engaging in such scrutiny but even appearing to countenance it. The scrutiny itself must be discredited; the egalitarian fiction must be raised above serious scientific question. Scientists must at least appear to believe the dogma. As was the case in Havel’s communist-dominated Eastern Europe, in American academe feigned belief in the official version of reality is maintained largely by routine obeisance of academics as they pursue their own ambitions.
Scholars realize their scholarly ambitions primarily through other scholars. Peer recognition is the currency of academic and scientific life. It is crucial to a scholarly reputation and all the steps toward status and success – publications, professional invitations and awards, promotion, tenure, grants, fellowships, election to professional office, appointment to prestigious panels. One’s ability even to carry out certain kinds of research, funded or not, may be contingent upon peer recognition and respect – for instance, getting collaborators, subjects, or cooperation from potential research sites. Just as in personal life, a high professional reputation depends upon a sustained history of “appropriate” behavior, and it may be irreparably damaged by hints of scandal or impropriety. Similarly, the reputations of scientists and their organizations are enhanced or degraded by those for whom they show regard and approval. Associating oneself with highly regarded individuals or ideas enhances, even if slightly, one’s own status.
Awarding an honor to a luminary can enhance the reputation of one’s own organization, especially if the recipient accepts the honor with genuine appreciation. By the same token, one risks “staining” one’s reputation by associating with, honoring, defending, or even failing to condemn the “wrong” sort of individual or idea. In short, how one gives or withholds one’s regard is important for one’s professional reputation because it affects the regard one receives. Such a social system enhances the integrity of science and is furthered by personal ambition when the members of the community base their regard on scholarly norms, such as competence, creativity, and intellectual rigor. However, such a system breeds intellectual corruption when members systematically subordinate scientific norms to other considerations – money, politics, religion, fear. This is what appears to be happening today in the social sciences on matters of race and intelligence. As sociologist Robert Gordon argues, social science has become “one-party science.”
Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, virtually all American intellectuals publicly adhere to, if not espouse, the egalitarian fiction. And many demonstrate their party loyalty by enforcing the fiction in myriad small ways in their academic routine, say, by off-handedly dismissing racial differences in intelligence as “a racist claim, of course,” criticizing authors for “blaming the victim,” or discouraging students and colleagues from doing “sensitive” research. One can feel the gradient of collective alarm and disapproval like a deepening chill as one approaches the forbidden area. Researchers who cross the line occasionally face overt censorship, or calls for it. For example, one prominent (neoconservative) editor rejected an author’s paper, despite finding it scientifically sound, because there are social “considerations” which “overweigh the claims of social science.” Another eminent editor, after asking an author to soften the discussion in his article, recently published the revised paper with an editorial postscript admonishing scientists in the field to find a “balance” between the need for free exchange of research results on intelligence and the (presumably comparable) “need” that “no segment of our society. . .feel threatened” by it.
Covert and Overt Censorship
Whether motivated by a sincere concern over supposedly “dangerous” ideas or by a desire to distance themselves publicly from unpopular ideas, editors who use such non-academic standards discourage candor and stifle debate. They deaden social science by choking off one source of the genuine differences of opinion that are its lifeblood. Overt censorship of research is uncommon, probably because it is an obvious affront to academic norms. Less striking forms of censorship directly affect many more academics, however, and so may be more important. Easier to practice without detection and to disguise as “academic judgment,” they serve to keep scholars from pursuing ideas that might undermine the egalitarian dogma.
A less obvious form of censorship, which has become somewhat common recently, is indirect censorship. It is accomplished when academic or scientific organizations approve some views but repudiate or burden others on ideological grounds. Sometimes the ideological grounds are explicit Campus speech codes are a well-known example which, had they been upheld in the courts, would have made repudiation of the egalitarian fiction a punishable offense on some campuses. The earlier (unsuccessful) attempt to include possible “offense to minority communities” as grounds for refusing human subjects approval is another example.
Gordon reports yet others, including the National Institutes of Health’s new extra layer of review for politically “sensitive” grant proposals and the University of Delaware’s recent policy (reversed by a national arbitrator) of banning a particular funding source because, so the university claimed, it supports research on race which “conflicts with the university’s mission to promote racial and cultural diversity.” Gordon also outlines in detail – as political scientist Jan Blits has done – the covert application of ideological standards to facilitate expression of some views but burden others. This form of indirect censorship, also falling under the rubric of “political correctness,” occurs when university administrators, faculty, or officers of professional associations disguise as “professional judgment” an ideological bias in their enforcing of organizational rules, extending faculty privileges, protecting faculty rights, and weighing evidence in faculty promotions and grievances.
Recently, some American universities have invoked “professional judgment” as a pretext for reclassifying “controversial” scholarly publications in their annual merit reviews as “non-research,” to misrepresent outside peer reviews in evaluating controversial professionals up for promotion, and to limit student access to these professors. Such thinly veiled bias publicly demonstrates the officials’ own adherence to the prescribed institutional attitudes and their willingness to enforce them, not only protecting those officials from protest but also encouraging fellow members of the institution to toe the line.
Covert censorship is far more common than overt or indirect censorship. It consists of bias in the application of scientific norms when reviewers evaluate their peers’ work for funding, publication, presentation, or dissemination. Individual ideological biases are found in all fields, of course, but the hope is that such biases remain small and will cancel each other out over the long run-hence the importance of a free and open exchange of data, theories, and results. What I have in mind is systematic bias and a pervasive double standard which impedes one line of research and accords another undeserved hegemony. In one-party science, the disfavored line of work is subjected to intense scrutiny and nearly impossible standards, while the favored line of work is held to lax standards in which flaws are overlooked (called “oversight bias” in the psychological literature). Similarly, the disfavored idea is rejected unless it is “balanced” by including proponents of the favored view (even if that view is the equivalent of “flat-earth theory”), where the favored line of work is readily accepted for publication or presentation, even when it totally ignores the opposing literature. Getting a controversial paper accepted under such circumstances often becomes a test of endurance between the editor and reviewers (in coming up with criticisms) and the author (in rebutting them). Submitting IQ research or grant proposals outside the narrowest professional confines exposes intelligence researchers to yet other biases, usually of the kind to which reviewers of the proposals will accept no rebuttal.
The broader circle of critics in the social sciences often implicitly dismisses the legitimacy of research on intelligence itself by arguing that “intelligence” is undefinable or unmeasurable – as if the critics’ own favored constructs (social class, culture, self-concept, anxiety, and so on) were as well validated and operationalized. Others now also seek to deny IQ researchers (but not themselves) use of the concept “race” because, they assert, race is not a biological condition, but is socially constructed. The double standards can even ricochet back and forth, depending on the particular question being considered. Gordon recalls how sociologists failed to criticize sociologist James Coleman for omitting student ability from his analyses of school integration (which led to overstating the impact of integrated schools on black achievement-for sociologists a favorable outcome), but how they criticized him roundly for the very same omission in analyses of private versus public schools,(which led to overstating the impact of private schools on black achievement – an unfavorable outcome). In short, in one-party science, scientific regard flows like political patronage to loyal and active party members, who can demonstrate their loyalty by being alert to hints of dissidence. Like all one-party political systems, one-party science becomes intellectually corrupt and arrogant as it gains confidence in its power.
The most insidious corruption to which one-party science leads is pervasive self-censorship, what involved researchers generally prefer to regard as “prudence” or “avoiding unnecessary trouble.” Coleman has drawn particular attention to the problem of “self-suppression “the impulse not to ask the crucial question” – in research on race. In an example from his own research for the influential “Coleman Report,” he describes his failure to conduct important analyses that might have produced embarrassing findings about the abilities of black teachers. Another way of avoiding unwanted results is to ignore certain data, subjects, or variables. Or unwanted results can be omitted, buried in footnotes, explained away, or simply ignored in one’s conclusions. The most subtle form of self-censorship is deliberate avoidance of making crucial connections, or denying them. Psychologist Richard Herrnstein has noted that it was his drawing out the implications of one such connection, namely, that some portion of (white) social class differences in intelligence is genetic, that sparked his public excoriation in the 1970s.
Normally, scholars are eager to explicate illuminating connections between subspecialties. They are reluctant to do so, however, when these connections put in question the egalitarian dogma on race. Virtually all sociologists and economists ignore the literature on intelligence despite its central importance to core issues in their disciplines, such as inequalities in occupation and income. Researchers in the various subfields of intelligence obviously cannot ignore the literature with impunity. Yet they, too, often prefer to stay strictly within the confines of their specialties rather than making crucial, but unpopular, connections, or they use language that obscures what otherwise would be quite obvious.
Many psychometricians, especially those working for large testing organizations, avoid referring to “intelligence” and often seem reluctant to say much about the practical or theoretical meaning of the racial differences they observe on unbiased tests. But even remaining within one’s subfield is often not enough, for the field of intelligence itself is widely suspect. Hence some scholars explicitly disavow unpopular connections that critics might attribute to them. For example, they will argue in favor of the importance of intelligence for scholastic performance but then assure their readers, over-optimistically, that the racial gap “seems to be closing rapidly.” The tenor of these preemptive disclaimers is clear. While researchers in any field may lightly dismiss the credibility of key connections regarding race and intelligence, no one ever lightly endorses their credibility with impunity. Even those of us committed to candor are exceedingly cautious when expressing informed opinions on certain topics, especially the genetics of race. Thus, publicly stated opinions of researchers about matters outside their subfields tend in one direction – to dispute or undercut the facts necessary for toppling the egalitarian fiction. What may be tolerable behavior at the individual level becomes intolerable bias at the aggregate level. Censorship – even self-censorship – requires justification, or at least apparent justification.
On the whole, those who would squelch open inquiry of the egalitarian fiction base their justification on two assertions: 1) Research on racial differences in intelligence has already been scientifically “discredited.” 2) Inquiry into racial differences is immoral.
Point one asserts that the egalitarian premise is absolute truth and hence beyond scientific scrutiny. Point two is indifferent to its truth. Both counsel outrage at the very thought of the research. The claim that the research has been discredited rests largely on extensive misrepresentation that is often embarrassingly crude or casual – for example, contradicting arguments an author never made, while ignoring what was actually stated; attributing policy preferences to an author which are opposite of what the author actually expressed; or simply alleging fraud or gross incompetence without any substantiation whatsoever. The claim that the research is immoral rests squarely on the view that, regardless of the truth, the study itself can only be harmful. In fact, some critics assert (mostly privately) that the greater the truth, the greater the danger it poses to lower-scoring groups, and thus the greater the need to suppress it.
Despite their differences, both justifications for censorship often take the form of demonizing open inquiry by labeling it (and the people who practice it) as “dangerous,” “fascist,” “ideological,” or “racist.” The study of race and intelligence is something, they tell us, that no decent person – let alone a serious scientist – would ever do and that every decent person and serious researcher would oppose. Thus, in a kind of Orwellian inversion, marked by what Gordon calls “high talk and low blows,” the suppression of science presents itself as science itself. Intellectual dishonesty becomes the handmaiden of social conscience, and ideology is declared knowledge while knowledge is dismissed as mere ideology. Neither social policy, nor science, nor society itself is served well by scientific silence on racial differences in intelligence.
Enforcement of the egalitarian fiction has tragic consequences, especially for blacks. The outcomes are even worse than researchers of intelligence predicted two decades ago. The falsehood, because it tries to defy a reality that has conspicuous repercussions in daily life, is doing precisely what it was meant to avoid: producing pejorative racial stereotypes, fostering racial tensions, stripping members of lower-scoring groups of their dignity and incentives to achieve, and creating permanent social inequalities between the races. Enforcement of the lie is gradually distorting and degrading all institutions and processes where intelligence is at least somewhat important (which is practically everywhere) but especially where it is most important (in public schools, higher education, the professions, and high-level executive work). The falsehood requires that there be racial preferences and that their use be disguised, wherever intelligence has at least moderate importance. Society is thus being shaped to meet the dictates of a collective fraud. The fiction is aiding and abetting bigots to a fat greater degree than any truth ever could, because its specific side-effects – racial preferences, official mendacity, free-wielding accusations of racism, and falling standards – are creating deep cynicism and broad resentment against minorities, blacks in particular, among the citizenry.
Enforcement of the egalitarian fiction is not a moral or scientific imperative; it is merely political. It is terribly short-sighted, for it corrupts both science and society. However, just as the fiction is sustained by small untruths, so can it be broken down by many small acts of scientific integrity. This requires no particular heroism. All that is required is for scientists to act like scientists-to demand, clearly and consistently, respect for truth and for free inquiry in their own settings, and to resist the temptation to win easy approval by endorsing a comfortable lie.
Go Linda. Nothing based on a lie will fare well.