Intelligence, Race, And Genetics: Conversations With Arthur R. Jensen

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Avalon Publishing, Apr 21, 2009 - Psychology - 288 pages
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In a series of provocative conversations with Skeptic magazine Ssenior editor Frank Miele, renowned University of California-Berkeley psychologist Arthur R. Jensen details the evolution of his thoughts on the nature of intelligence, tracing an intellectual odyssey that leads from the programs of the Great Society to the Bell Curve Wars and beyond. Miele cross-examines Jensen's views on general intelligence (the g factor), racial differences in IQ, cultural bias in IQ tests, and whether differences in IQ are due primarily to heredity or to remediable factors such as poverty and discrimination. With characteristic frankness, Jensen also presents his view of the proper role of scientific facts in establishing public policy, such as Affirmative Action.“Jensenism,” the assertion that heredity plays an undeniably greater role than environmental factors in racial (and other) IQ differences, has entered the dictionary and also made Jensen a bitterly controversial figure. Nevertheless, Intelligence, Race, and Genetics carefully underscores the dedicated lifetime of scrupulously scientific research that supports Jensen's conclusions.
 

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Among personal characteristics of any individual, none is more sensitive topic of discuss than that of intelligence. We all have a somewhat schizophrenic attitude towards it, at the same time considering everyone to be equal while constantly measuring ourselves to others. And, of course, we all think that we are above the average when it comes to intelligence. However, all our scientifically based attempts to quantify intelligence have shown what all of us would expect to find if we were just more honest with ourselves: intelligence varies, sometimes substantially, it is fairly stable throughout our lives, and it has a large heritable component. It is possible to conceive that these psychometric findings would have been accepted by now in public discourse were it not for the persistent and sometimes significant race and sex differences. These differences go against everything that our PC culture has taught us, and people who dare to even hint at them are permanently branded as racist and sexist in public discourse. Even being in top echelons of intellectual elite does not inoculate you from this, as a president of Harvard and co-discoverer of DNA have recently found out. In the light of this, it is not surprising that Arthur Jensen, one of the foremost authorities on individual differences in cognitive ability, has been one of the most controversial figures in science for the past forty years. A former University of California at Berkeley professor of Psychology, he became almost a household name in the late 60s upon the publication of an article in which he speculated about the genetic basis of large racial differences in IQ. Ever since then his scientific work and has been maligned in popular press, and the term "jensenism" entered the English language. The aim of this book is to provide a critical look at this controversy, and to provide an opportunity for Jensen himself to answer some of his critics. The book consists of a series of interviews, conducted by Frank Miele, through which most of Jensen's controversial research and statements are examined. Miele does not pull any punches, and throws almost every at Jensen almost every criticism that he had been faced with over the past several decades. Jensen, meanwhile, passes all the challenges. He provides us with very convincing and well-researched arguments that strongly support his position.
One of the most controversial aspects of the intelligence research is the existence of general intelligence, or the so called "g-factor." This is the idea that all of our mental abilities are very strongly correlated with each other, and the ability to excel at one set of mental tasks is the best predictor of our ability to excel at others. There is over a century of hard quantitative research that strongly supports this view, and Jensen in his answers to the critics provides all the relevant information showing why that is the case. Even though g-factor has been inferred from statistical analysis, it is not an artifact of mathematical sleigh-of-hand, but a very well documented real property of human mind. Recent neurological research has only served to further confirm and strengthen this hypothesis.
Jensen also does not shy away from actual and verifiable fact that races are indeed real, and not culturally constructed. It is rather surprising, although maybe in hindsight it ought not to be, that the racial grouping that was found based on the genetic research matches perfectly with the racial classification that had been developed in the nineteenth century. It serves no purpose to try to brush these findings under the carpet, as it is too often done in present day academia. It only leads to the schizophrenic situation where at one hand we are "celebrating diversity" and promoting people based on their skin color, while at the same time claiming that races are nothing but cultural artifacts.
The last chapter of the book may be its weakest. Here Jensen is asked to provide his own ideas for public policy, and one gets sense that here
 

Contents

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About the author (2009)

Frank Miele'shighly regarded Skeptic interviews include conversations with evolutionists Richard Dawkins and E. O. Wilson, anthropologists Donald Johanson, Lionel Tiger, and Robin Fox, ecologist Garrett Hardin, and psychologist Robert Sternberg. His articles have appeared on many web pages, including those of the Human Behavior and Evolution Society. He lives in Sunnyvale, California, with his Great Dane, Payce

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