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This little book of about 200 pages
consists mainly of passages from an extended interview conducted by e-mail with
Arthur Jensen, the infamous psychologist.
Following a brief Prelude that
tells us a little about Jensen the man, are six chapters, each on a particular
topic. Five of these chapters focus on
Jensens controversial contributions to the study of intelligence; one chapter,
the last, concerns his views about public policy. Each chapter begins with a summary of the conversation to follow
and ends with a bibliography. The authors frank and forthright questions are
admirably intelligent, well informed, and clearas are Jensens frank and
forthright replies. The book ends with
a complete bibliography of Jensens prolific writings, a brief summary of what
he and a group of his fellow psychometricians take to be the results of
mainstream science on intelligence. There
is also an index. Anyone who wants a non-technical but lucid exposition of
Jensens views about the relations between IQ, genes, and race will find it
Since the statements made in this book are already
simplifiedthough never simplisticsummaries of highly complex issues, I will
not try here to simplify them still further.
Since these statements have also been the subject of heated controversy
in which I do not wish here to become embroiled, I will also not give you my
opinions about them. Instead, I will
limit this review to listing the issues that are discussed. Chapter 1, Jensenism, recounts the story
of the dismayed and intemperate reaction to Jensens now infamous, 1969 essay
in the Harvard Educational Review declaring that, since much of the 15 point IQ
gap between blacks and whites is due to genetic differences, only a small part
of it can be eradicated by education.
The chapter also contains Jensens assurance that his motives in saying
so were not political. Chapter 2, What
is Intelligence, contains a discussion of intelligence and the success of IQ
tests in measuring it. Here, Jensen
gives us his reasons for believing that Carl Pearsons famous gfor general intelligenceis real and
important. Chapter 3, Nature, Nurture,
or Both contains the clearest and simplest discussion of the concept of
heritability that I have ever seen. It
also offers a summary of the evidence gleaned mostly from comparing twins
reared apart and unrelated persons reared togetherfor the proposition that the
heritability of g is somewhere around
.70. Chapter 4, What is Race gives
Jensens reasons for believing, despite recent claims to the contrary, that
races are real and distinguished by gene frequencies that affect behavior as
well as physique. Jensens reply to Cavali-Sforza is that the latters talk of
population groups is just alternative vocabulary for races. Chapter 5, From Jensenism to the Bell Curve
Wars, recounts Jensens remarkably restrained responses to the frequent charge
that his work consists of politically motivated pseudo-science. He says that he will be glad to reply to
criticisms published in refereed journals but will not answer ad hominem attacks. Although Jensen says that his main interest
has always been science, not politics, Chapter 6 Science and Policy asks him
to give his opinions on political questions.
He replies that he believes in equal opportunity and thinks that the
schools should tailor educational programs to suit the needs and interests of
It is a nicely done book about the
important work of an impressive scientist on an incendiary topic. I recommend it.
© 2002 Max Hocutt
Hocutt, Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy Emeritus, The University of Alabama
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