Arthur Jensen The Bell Curve Controversy Race and IQ History

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

Arthur Jensen--Right or Wrong?

BERKELEY'S HITLER--WHO?

"Hitler is alive and well and spreading racist propaganda," reads a pamphlet from the Students for a Democratic Society. The "Hitler" to whom the pamphlet refers is Arthur Jensen, a respected psychologist and professor at the University of California at Berkeley. In 1969, after making a study of material in the field, he published an article in which he stated that, on the average, blacks score 15 points lower on intelligence tests than whites, Orientals, and American Indians.

This conclusion brought forth intensely hostile reactions. Some of his opponents have called for his censure by the university; others, more extreme, have wanted him hanged. When a sign appeared on his office door--saying, "Jensen must perish"--bodyguards were assigned to him, and campus police began to guard his files. Sound trucks on campus blared, "Fight racism! Fire Jensen!" When members of the SDS broke into his classes and disrupted his lectures, he resorted to holding secret seminars for his students.

The violent, almost irrational response to Jensen's article may have come from its implied threat to the cherished American belief in the equality of all individuals and races. Many liberals and radicals believed that Jensen's "findings" would be a dangerous weapon in the hands of those who were against equal educational opportunity. Blacks might be left to stew in their own juice in the ghettoes.

Jensen says, "Research into possible genetic influence on intelligence has been academically and socially taboo. The orthodox environmental theories have been accepted because they harmonize so well with our democratic belief in human equality." When those who opposed him mentioned that his study might be misused, Jensen replied by saying, in essence, look what happens when science is made subservient to political ideology; look at the Nazis.

In May, 1969, the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI) questioned Jensen's scientific accuracy and the validity of his conclusions. It also warned that his "views may be seriously misinterpreted, particularly in their application to social policy."

To counter the SPSSI, 50 prominent academicians signed a declaration defending Jensen's right to study the relationships between heredity and human behavior and to publicize his findings. The declaration compared Jensen with men like Galileo and Einstein, who had been oppressed because of their views.

WHAT IS THE STUDY REALLY ABOUT?

Jensen's work is a study of studies-some 50 of them from 18 countries-on the relationship of genetics and education to intelligence. The results, as interpreted by Jensen, show that:

1. Blacks score 15 points lower than whites on intelligence tests. Only about 16% of blacks do better than the average white.

2. Individuals in the lower economic and social classes have lower IQs than those in the upper classes.

3. Our genes determine intelligence much more than education and environment do. Heredity is responsible for 80% of the IQ score.

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