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The background knowledge for genetic racial intelligence differences

 
Abel Dean
 
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Abel Dean
Total Posts:  427
Joined  03-11-2017
 
 
 
03 March 2019 11:31
 

I recommend the 2017 book by Richard J. Haier (who was or is the editor of the journal Intelligence), titled, The Neuroscience of Intelligence. I copied an excerpt from his book about the adverse relationship of the scientific field to the remainder of academia on the matter of racial intelligence differences, as follows:

  2.2 Early Failures to Boost IQ
 
The failure hit the fan in 1969 without warning. In the early 1960s, President Lyndon Johnson committed the USA to a war on poverty. One aspect of this admirable federal effort was aimed at a major concern that had been observed for decades. Poor children, especially from minority groups, tended to score lower on cognitive tests, including IQ tests. At the time the consensus among most educators, psychologists, and policy makers was that any cognitive gaps revealed by tests, especially for intelligence, were due mostly or entirely to educational disadvantages and therefore could be eliminated if poor children got the same early education opportunities that middle- and upper-class families routinely provided. Such opportunities were virtually unavailable to the poor, especially prior to the 1954 Supreme Court decision striking down race-based separate but equal approaches to education. The solution for eliminating any cognitive gaps seemed obvious and the idea of compensatory education resulted in the federally funded Head Start Program. Prior to Head Start, several different compensatory education demonstration projects had been implemented on a limited basis. Some of these projects were reporting encouraging and even dramatic positive results at reducing cognitive gaps and increasing IQ scores. These efforts were the basis for the optimistic view that Head Start would be a great success at eliminating the gaps. 

The Harvard Educational Review asked Arthur Jensen, a noted educational psychologist, to review the claims of these early compensatory efforts (Head Start had not yet been implemented long enough to be included in this review). Jensen’s article (1969) was entitled, “How much can we boost IQ and scholastic achievement?” Here is the opening sentence: “Compensatory education has been tried and it apparently has failed.” Jensen continued with over 100 pages of detailed analysis of intelligence research that revealed little if any lasting effect of the early compensatory efforts on either IQ scores or school achievement. That alone was bad enough in the political context of widespread enthusiasm for the nascent Head Start Program, but the article got worse when Jensen discussed genetics. He first reviewed studies of environmental effects on intelligence. He concluded that the empirical evidence for any major environmental effects on intelligence in general, and especially for the g-factor, was actually quite weak. He then argued that one reason for this would be that variance in intelligence, especially the g-factor, was mostly genetic. He summarized genetic studies that appeared to validate this view. In 1969, this conclusion was a bit of a stretch given the paucity of both environmental and genetic studies with large samples and solid research designs. However, the article, already offensive to the majority view that intelligence derived mostly from environment, went even further with a controversial suggestion, and controversial is an understatement. Because IQ scores appeared to be impervious to compensatory efforts and because genes played an important role, Jensen asserted the hypothesis that the average intelligence differences found for some racial groups compared to whites (he focused on black/white differences) might have a genetic component. And with the publication of that hypothesis, research on intelligence all but ended for more than a generation. 

The negative response to Jensen’s review article was ferocious. The most vicious responses were directed to the inflammatory inference that blacks were intellectually inferior because of their genetic makeup and to the general idea that genes played a major role in intelligence and the environment did not. Jensen’s concluding paragraphs about the importance of adjusting teaching methods to match the learning capabilities of individual students to maximize school achievement for all children received virtually no attention (see Section 6.6). In any case, critics have spent decades attacking Jensen personally and his arguments. As mentioned briefly in the last chapter, another book published in 1973, IQ in the Meritocracy (Herrnstein, 1973) created a similar firestorm regarding the role of genetics in intelligence. Given the racial inferences and the hot emotional atmosphere, few researchers or their students opted to focus their careers on any questions at all about intelligence. Getting federal research support for researching intelligence became virtually impossible. Almost overnight, intelligence research became radioactive. 

Head Start pushed ahead and similar compensatory research efforts included increasingly intensive interventions. In the 1970s and 1980s, Jensen’s critics attacked the validity of IQ tests and scores, the existence of the g-factor, quantitative genetics in principle, and even the integrity and motivation of individual researchers. One simple argument was that any average group differences in intelligence test scores were most likely due to test bias and had no meaning. The bias hypothesis, as noted in the previous chapter, has been studied extensively and has little empirical support. As far as test scores being without real meaning, there is extensive evidence, as noted in Chapter 1, that scores predict many aspects of life (Deary et al., 2010; Gottfredson, 1997b). Moreover, in the next two chapters, neuroimaging shows that intelligence test scores are correlated to a variety of structural and functional measures of the brain; findings that would be impossible if the test scores were meaningless. Some critics challenged whether the g- factor was merely a statistical artifact, a view not supported by many sophisticated psychometric studies (Jensen, 1998; Johnson et al., 2008b). Other critics went beyond debate about data and attacked Jensen and some behavior genetic researchers with ad hominem charges of explicit racism. Jensen was once asked directly if he was a racist. His answer was, “I’ve thought about this a lot and I have come to the conclusion that it’s irrelevant” (Arden, 2003, p. 549). I knew Jensen for many years and I understand his point was that his interpretation of data, even if it was motivated by unconscious racism, was testable and falsifiable by objective scientific methods. He was confident that future research could potentially refute any of his hypotheses. He was, as far as most observers could perceive, unflappable in the face of personal attacks because he was completely driven by data. In my view, he would not have been disappointed at all if new data showed him to be wrong. 

The point in summarizing this incendiary period in the history of intelligence research is to help explain the origin of the negative valence that intelligence research still carries to some extent today. The modern neuroscience studies that are the focus of this book have helped the field move beyond these old destructive controversies. While the basis of average group differences on psychometric tests of intelligence and other cognitive abilities is still unsettled, the major role of genetics for explaining intelligence differences among individuals is firmly established, as detailed in the next section. It is also the case that the weight of evidence from modern studies of intensive compensatory education, now rebranded as early childhood education, still fails to find lasting effects on IQ scores and even short-lived increases are not clearly related to the g-factor (te Nijenhuis et al., 2014). Contrary to Jensen’s review, newer, more intensive studies indicate that some important aspects of academic achievement, like graduation rates, apparently do improve (Barnett & Hustedt, 2005; Campbell et al., 2001; Ramey & Ramey, 2004). There also are some quantitatively sophisticated estimated projections that IQ scores for disadvantaged children potentially could increase dramatically given the right program components at early ages (Duncan & Sojourner, 2013), although no such gains have been realized let alone tested for durability. It is my view that there are many good reasons to support early childhood education that do not depend on whether IQ scores change or not due to genetics or other reasons. Including IQ in the discussion about early education probably doesn’t help make the case. More about the neuroscience potential for increasing intelligence will be detailed in Chapter 5. 

With respect to both a genetic basis for intelligence and the failure of early education to boost IQ, it is fair to say that Jensen’s hypotheses have not yet been refuted by another 45 years of new data. The interested reader is referred to the references at the end of this chapter for sources that delve into the Jensen controversies in greater detail (Snyderman & Rothman, 1988). Steven Pinker’s The Blank Slate is a terrific book and I highly recommend it for understanding the broader historical and philosophical context of intelligence research criticism. I also strongly recommend that any student interested in pursuing a career in intelligence research using neuroscience or other approaches read Jensen’s 1969 article. It is often cited, often misrepresented, and in my view, a classic work of psychology that still suggests important ideas and hypotheses to test with modern methods.

 
burt
 
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burt
Total Posts:  15891
Joined  17-12-2006
 
 
 
03 March 2019 15:23
 

You are back pushing your initial opinions, without thought. You seem more and more like a robot that is only able to repeat the same thing over and over. SAD.

 
Abel Dean
 
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Abel Dean
Total Posts:  427
Joined  03-11-2017
 
 
 
03 March 2019 15:26
 
burt - 03 March 2019 03:23 PM

You are back pushing your initial opinions, without thought. You seem more and more like a robot that is only able to repeat the same thing over and over. SAD.

Is there anything you would like to talk with me about?

 
burt
 
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burt
Total Posts:  15891
Joined  17-12-2006
 
 
 
03 March 2019 18:47
 
Abel Dean - 03 March 2019 03:26 PM
burt - 03 March 2019 03:23 PM

You are back pushing your initial opinions, without thought. You seem more and more like a robot that is only able to repeat the same thing over and over. SAD.

Is there anything you would like to talk with me about?

I’ve already said all that I have to say on the subject, in several different threads.

 
Abel Dean
 
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Abel Dean
Total Posts:  427
Joined  03-11-2017
 
 
 
03 March 2019 18:56
 

Yeah, like a robot.

 
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