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January 15, 2005

IQ Insanity

I got The Flight from Science and Reason with some Christmas money. Although its a fine collection of essays overall, there is a hilariously bad contribution from Mario Bunge, a philosophy professor at McGill.

It starts off good enough, attacking Heidegger, "radical feminist theory" and other brands of academic nonsense. Eleven pages into it, however, we find this:

Example 6: "Scientific Racism"

Racism is very old, but "scientific" racism is a 19th-century invention that culminated with the Nazi Rassenkunde and the accompanying extermination camps. The American version of this doctrine was introduced by some psychologists on the basis of flawed IQ measurements, and it was entrenched in the American legislation restricting immigration from Southern Europe and other regions. It was muted for a while in the wake of the revelation of the Nazi horrors, but it was resuscitated in 1969 by the Harvard professor Arthur Jensen, who, on the basis of some IQ measurements, asserted the innate intellectual inferiority of Afroamericans. This "finding" was unanimously rejected by the scientific community. In particular the Genetics Society of America warned against "the pitfalls of naive hereditarian assumptions"

Yaron Ezrahi, a member of the constructivist-relativist pseudosociology of science, claimed that this denial was due to ideological reasons. He held that the geneticists were particularly vehement in their criticisms of Jensen's work for being concerned, at least in part, with their own "public image and support." Ezrahi did not bother to analyze the very IQ tests from which Jensen had derived his "conclusions." Had he done so he might have learned that (a) such tests were indeed culture bound and thus likely to favor whites over blacks, and (b) no IQ test will be fully reliable unless it is backed up by a well-confirmed theory of intelligence--a theory that is lone overdue.

Yikes. Bunge couldn't even be bothered to get Jensen's institutional affiliation right!

Posted by God Fearing Atheist at 03:45 PM