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[evol-psych] Reply to Fancher on Jensen on Intelligence-g-Factor

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  • Ian Pitchford
    psycoloquy.00.11.017.intelligence-g-factor.30.jensen Wed Feb 2 2000 ISSN 1055-0143 (9 paragraphs, 6 references, 194 line) PSYCOLOQUY is
    Message 1 of 2 , Feb 2, 2000
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      psycoloquy.00.11.017.intelligence-g-factor.30.jensen Wed Feb 2 2000
      ISSN 1055-0143 (9 paragraphs, 6 references, 194 line)
      PSYCOLOQUY is sponsored by the American Psychological Association (APA)
      Copyright 2000 Arthur R Jensen

      MIXING UP EUGENICS AND GALTON'S LEGACY TO RESEARCH ON INTELLIGENCE
      Reply to Fancher on Jensen on Intelligence-g-Factor

      Arthur R. Jensen
      Educational Psychology
      School of Education
      University of California
      Berkeley, CA 94720-1670
      nesnejanda@...

      ABSTRACT: The fact that Sir Francis Galton coined the word
      'eugenics' and promoted the concept during the latter part of his
      long life is hardly a disgrace, but it is apparently thought by
      some to sully his contributions as the founding father of
      differential psychology as an empirical science and to cast
      subsequent developments of Galton's original ideas in this sphere
      in a sinister light.

      1. My aim in writing "The g Factor" (Jensen, 1998; 1999) was not to
      compile a history of the 'IQ controversy', or to recapitulate my
      earlier and often elaborate replies to critics of my former books and
      articles. I wanted to present as clear a picture as I could of the g
      factor, which has figured so prominently in the research on human
      abilities, and to explicate recent developments in empirical research
      on g. I believe that the Galton-Spearman line of thought about human
      abilities is now the mainline research in differential psychology, and
      I hope my book contributes to its advancement. My critics have been
      largely either ideological or scientifically technical. I pay little
      attention to the former but much attention to the latter.

      2. Galton (1822-1911) is one of the most biographed figures in the
      history of psychology. Only the psychoanalyst has had more written
      about him. The variety and durability of Galton's ideas are truly
      remarkable and can't be diminished by the fact that there are currently
      some disapproving observations and reactions about the experiences
      gained in his extensive explorations in subSaharan Africa in the 1840s
      (Burt, 1962). But among biographies of famous scientists, particularly
      such near-psychopaths as Newton and Leibniz, Galton's personal conduct
      and ethical ideals seem exemplary by comparison. In any case, in
      science, unlike politics, a scientist's personality, beliefs, and
      convictions, although possibly of biographical and historical interest,
      are wholly separate from the objective validity of the scientist's
      discoveries, empirically testable theories, and methodological
      innovations.

      3. Fancher (1999, par. #3) is waving a red flag by bringing up that
      fashionably vilifying word "eugenics" in the context of my book, which
      deals exclusively with the science of individual differences in mental
      abilities. The aspect of Galton's career that is most relevant to the
      subject of my book is not eugenics, which was a benign conception as
      initiated by Galton, but rather his extraordinary curiosity,
      inventiveness, and investigative zeal, which generated empirical
      discoveries of historic scientific importance and laid the foundations
      for differential psychology, psychometrics, and behavior genetics.
      True, he later promoted eugenics as a secular religion, with the
      express goal of increasing the future well-being of humanity. Galton
      took it for granted that superior mental and behavioral capacities as
      well as physical health and stamina are beneficial both to individuals
      and to the whole society.

      4. In Galton's later years (he lived to 90) his scientific
      contributions became so amalgamated with his enthusiasm for eugenics as
      to have contributed to the disfavor in which Galtonian lines of
      research on human intelligence have been held in the latter half of the
      20th century, during which we have seen a systematic inculcation in the
      public's mind of a link between the humane conception Galton termed
      'eugenics,' on the one hand, and the fanatical political abuses and
      terrible acts committed in its name that were exposed at the end of
      World War II, on the other. This confusion has contributed to
      stigamatizing biological and genetical research on intelligence to a
      degree not seen in scientific research for any other natural phenomena,
      save perhaps for evolution as perceived by Biblical Fundamentalists.

      5. What does not seem to be entirely clear, perhaps even to Galton
      himself, and to Fancher (1999), is that prescriptive eugenics falls not
      in the province of science, but in that of ethics or moral philosophy.
      Despite Galton's humanitarian aims, the desirability of eugenics is an
      ethical question rather than a scientific one. Science deals with what
      is, not with what anyone thinks ought to be. This critical distinction
      in no way discredits the eugenics concept or suggests that its aims,
      means, or feasibility should be divorced from scientific scrutiny. The
      same distinction must be made between medical science and medical
      practice, especially as biomedical technology advances. Galton himself
      mainly advocated negative eugenics, which today, in fact, is a
      principal aim of genetic counseling as respectably practiced in many
      medical centers around the world.

      6. Galton's conception of eugenics is probably best expressed in his
      own words: "Individuals appear to me as partial detachments from the
      Infinite ocean of Being, and this world is a stage on which Evolution
      takes place, principally hitherto by means of Natural Selection, which
      achieves the good of the whole with scant regard to that of the
      individual. Man is gifted with pity and other kindly feelings; he has
      also to power of preventing many kinds of suffering. I conceive it to
      fall well within his province to replace Natural Selection by other
      processes that are more merciful and not less effective. This is
      precisely the aim of Eugenics. Its first object is to check the
      birth-rate of the Unfit, instead of allowing them to come into being,
      though doomed in large numbers to perish prematurely. The second object
      is the improvement of the race by furthering the productivity of the
      Fit by early marriages and healthful rearing of their children. Natural
      Selection rests upon excessive production and wholesale destruction;
      Eugenics on bringing no more individuals into the world than can be
      properly cared for, and those only of the best stock" (Galton, 1908, p.
      323).

      7. My critics have had no effect on the estimates of IQ heritability
      that I have reported at different times in various references, contrary
      to Fancher's (1999, par. #4) surmise. These estimates, like all
      statistical estimates of population parameters, vary in different
      samples and studies for a multitude of reasons - sample characteristics
      (e.g., age and range of ability), and psychometric characteristics of
      the tests. I discovered, for example, that the degree of heritability
      of mental tests is directly related to the tests' g loadings, further
      indicating that it is g, more than any other factor, that reflects the
      biological basis of individual differences in IQ. Whenever I have
      reported heritability estimates, they have been based on the average of
      the existing data at the time I am writing, but omitting, since 1975,
      the questionable data of Burt's studies of MZ twins reared apart. The
      overall average estimate of heritability based on monozygotic twins
      reared apart (excluding Burt's data) is .75. Burt's estimate was .77.
      Hence, averaging in Burt's figure with that of other studies or
      omitting it makes hardly any difference. In recent years, it has been
      discovered that IQ heritability increases with age, ranging from about
      .40 in childhood to about .65 -.70 in middle age and about .80 in the
      elderly. I have accordingly concluded that an overall average value of
      the broad heritability is rather uninformative compared to values which
      specify the age group, the types of kinship samples used, and the
      g-loadedness of the test scores used.

      8. More is known about the genetic component of IQ variance than about
      the environmental component, most of which, by late adolescence, is NOT
      attributable to differences between family environments, but consists
      of nongenetic variance WITHIN families. It appears that most of this
      nongenetic variance results from what I call micro-environmental
      influences, which may consist largely of a multitude of virtually
      random small prenatal, perinatal, and postnatal environmental variables
      that have effects on the nongenetic but biological basis of mental
      development (Jensen, 1997). If this is true, it helps explain the
      failure of psychological and educational interventions to importantly
      and durably effect increases of the level of the g component of IQ
      tests. The secular increase in IQ (or Flynn Effect)would accordingly be
      explainable largely in terms of the intergenerational elimination of
      many of the most undesirable effects of the microenvironment by means
      that have affected virtually the whole population of the industrialized
      world, such as improved nutrition, advances in obstetrics, and
      inoculations that have virtually eliminated many childhood diseases.

      9. I have always taken it for granted that the state of knowledge at
      the cutting edge of any science is provisional, as Fancher (1999, par.
      #7) points out, and that continual hypothesis testing is the
      scaffolding by which the theoretical structures for explaining
      empirical phenomena become generally accepted as true in a scientific
      sense. This has never implied any kind of Eternal Truth, which may
      exist only in pure mathematics and religion. While recognizing the
      provisional character of empirical knowledge at any given time, I doubt
      that equivocation on every point in its exposition is the most
      effective strategy for the advancement of research. Of what use to the
      development of a field is a book without an argument? The Science
      Citation Index and the Social Science Citation Index would seem to
      indicate that much of my work over the past three decades has indeed
      received, in Fancher's words, "wide and serious debate."

      REFERENCES

      Burt, C. (1962). Francis Galton and his contributions to psychology.
      British Journal of Statistical Psychology, 15, 1-49.

      Fancher, R.E. (1999). A historian's look at The g Factor. PSYCOLOQUY
      10(58) ftp://ftp.princeton.edu/pub/harnad/Psycoloquy/1999.volume.10/
      psyc.99.10.058.intelligence-g-factor.8.fancher
      http://www.cogsci.soton.ac.uk/cgi/psyc/newpsy?10.58

      Galton, F. (1908). Memories of my life. London: Methuen.

      Jensen, A.R. (1997). The puzzle of nongenetic variance. In R.J.
      Sternberg & E.L. Grigorenko (Eds.), Heredity, intelligence, and
      environment (pp. 42-88). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

      Jensen, A.R. (1998). The g factor: The science of mental ability.
      Westport, CT: Praeger.

      Jensen, A.R. (1999). Precis of: "The g Factor: The Science of Mental
      Ability" PSYCOLOQUY 10(23).
      ftp://ftp.princeton.edu/pub/harnad/Psycoloquy/1999.volume.10/
      psyc.99.10.023.intelligence-g-factor.1.jensen
      http://www.cogsci.soton.ac.uk/cgi/psyc/newpsy?10.23
    • Ian Pitchford
      From: C. Loring Brace Sent: 04 February 2000 21:56 Subject: Re: [evol-psych] Reply to Fancher on Jensen on Intelligence-g-Factor ... Both
      Message 2 of 2 , Feb 5, 2000
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        From: "C. Loring Brace" <clbrace@...>
        Sent: 04 February 2000 21:56
        Subject: Re: [evol-psych] Reply to Fancher on Jensen on Intelligence-g-Factor

        > psycoloquy.00.11.017.intelligence-g-factor.30.jensen Wed Feb 2 2000
        > ISSN 1055-0143 (9 paragraphs, 6 references, 194 line)
        > PSYCOLOQUY is sponsored by the American Psychological Association (APA)
        > Copyright 2000 Arthur R Jensen
        >
        > MIXING UP EUGENICS AND GALTON'S LEGACY TO RESEARCH ON INTELLIGENCE
        > Reply to Fancher on Jensen on Intelligence-g-Factor
        >
        > Arthur R. Jensen
        > Educational Psychology
        > School of Education
        > University of California
        > Berkeley, CA 94720-1670
        > nesnejanda@...
        >
        > ABSTRACT: The fact that Sir Francis Galton coined the word
        > 'eugenics' and promoted the concept during the latter part of his
        > long life is hardly a disgrace, but it is apparently thought by
        > some to sully his contributions as the founding father of
        > differential psychology as an empirical science and to cast
        > subsequent developments of Galton's original ideas in this sphere
        > in a sinister light.
        >
        > 1. My aim in writing "The g Factor" (Jensen, 1998; 1999) was not to
        > compile a history of the 'IQ controversy', or to recapitulate my
        > earlier and often elaborate replies to critics of my former books and
        > articles. I wanted to present as clear a picture as I could of the g
        > factor, which has figured so prominently in the research on human
        > abilities, and to explicate recent developments in empirical research
        > on g. I believe that the Galton-Spearman line of thought about human
        > abilities is now the mainline research in differential psychology, and
        > I hope my book contributes to its advancement. My critics have been
        > largely either ideological or scientifically technical. I pay little
        > attention to the former but much attention to the latter.
        >

        Both here and in his comment on my review of The g Factor
        (psycoloquy.99.10.062.intelligence-g-factor.11.brace;
        psycoloquy.00.11.009.intelligence-g-factor.25.jensen) Jensen has maintained
        that he pays much attention to the "scientifically technical" but little to
        the "ideological" (psycoloquy.00.11.017.intelligence-g-factor.30.jensen). Yet
        his "default position" is a classic manifestation of ideology. He is quite
        right to say that it is "not a lone rootless hypothesis coming from out of the
        blue" (psycoloquy.00.11.012.intelligence-g-factor.27.jensen). It is a
        continuing thread from Plato's assumption a priori that some people are "born
        slaves." That in turn underlay the justification for the enslavement of
        people of African ancestry in America prior to the Civil War; it continued in
        the subsequent century-long enforcement of "segregation"; and it survives in
        the legacy euphemistically referred to as "states' rights."
        The common link that ties these together, however, is not a "null hypothesis"
        in the proper sense of the word. Instead it is the historical assumption that
        group differences in innate worth are inevitable and that "we" are better than
        "they." The only scientific way to test a true "null hypothesis" is to
        generate conditions that are demonstrably equal and then to measure the
        performance of members of different groups who have been raised under those
        conditions. Until that is done, no measurement depicting differences can
        count as scientific. For the same reason, the technicalities to which Jensen
        is pleased to pay "much attention" cannot properly count as "scientifically"
        technical.

        C. L. Brace
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