Arthur Jensen The Bell Curve Controversy Race and IQ Arguments Enviornment

About the college professor Arthur Jensen who proposed that the races are unequal in regards to IQ and follow a bell curve pattern, arguments for and against Jensen.


Anti-Jensen: The socioeconomic conditions under which blacks live have had more effect on their intelligence than Jensen thinks. Black babies are probably born with potential mental abilities equal to whites, but never get the chance to develop those abilities. Benjamin Bloom of the University of Chicago estimates that living in a poor environment can lower an IQ as much as 20 points.

Experience changes the brain. For instance, at the University of California at Berkeley in the 1950s, researchers found evidence that problem solving changes the level of a brain enzyme important in learning and that trained brains are heavier than untrained ones. According to some physiologists, mental activity encourages the growth of myelin, a substance the brain needs in order to function.

Is it possible then that many slum children (and more slum children are black than white) are born with genetically normal brains that fail to develop because their experiences do not give them the opportunities for mental exercise? Study after study has shown that stimulation in infancy, early language experiences, and preparation for reading affect the development of intelligence. The following are just 2 of the numerous studies that show this:

1. Professor Rick Heber of the University of Wisconsin believes that many slum children are not genetically retarded. They become that way, he thinks, because they are starved for stimulation and have to live with mothers who are retarded. To prove his theory, he took black babies with an expected mean IQ of around 80 and put them in a special school every day. Social workers picked the babies up, talked to them, played with them, and taught them-at 1st on a one-to-one basis and then, as they grew up, in larger and larger groups. By the time they were 4, these children had a mean IQ of around 130. The children in the control group scored as expected-in the 80s.

2. In a New York nursery school, 3- and 4-year-olds were tutored individually for 15 minutes a day. Other children were given 15 minutes too, but that 15 minutes consisted merely of attention. The children who were tutored gained 14 IQ points in 4 months. The others gained only 2 points.

Pro-Jensen: If environment changes IQ, then why do American Indians, who live in poorer socio-economic conditions than blacks, score higher than blacks? Why haven't school busing and desegregation changed the performance of blacks on IQ tests? Why have so many compensatory education programs failed in the black ghettos? Experiments with deprived children are dramatic, but are the results lasting? Do they not represent a kind of hothouse forcing?

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