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Jensen's capstone book, "The g. factor," has been pretty much the final word on traditional psychometric testing. Jensen refers to it often in this conversation. None of its conclusions have been successfully challenged, and in the eight years since this book's appearance the challenges have pretty much fallen off. Jensen's own work followed a different path, culminating in the 2006 publication of "Clocking the Mind: Mental Chronometry and Individual Differences." His belief was that the abstract scale for g., which has no zero and no consistent units separating measurement levels (i.e., the difference between an IQ of 90 and 91 is not the same as the difference between 120 and 121 -- all that they represent is gradients on a bell curve distribution), had been exploited to the maximum useful extent. He was looking for hard physical measurements such as reaction time to explain the same individual differences.

The three tenants of Jensenism, that compensatory education have been tried and failed, that genetic differences are more important than cultural or socioeconomic differences in explaining individual differences in IQ, and that the difference between IQ between races probably had a genetic origin, first presented in his our Harvard educational review article in 1969, had stood the test of time.

Interviewer Frank Miele provides a wonderful service in making Jensen's work accessible to readers without the statistical and scientific background required to easily read Jensen's own work. Miele poses a number of questions that cover old ground, defining the nature of intelligence, the techniques of measuring it, and its objective reality as demonstrated through with the statisticians call reliability (it seems to always measure the same thing, across time and across populations) and validity (measured intelligence correlates highly with worldly success, and does so equally well for all populations). In this discussion I use intelligence where Jensen prefers the term g. Please read g for intelligence throughout. In any case, Miele understands the material well and presented very well formulated questions.

For all the vituperation Jensen has suffered, he rather steadfastly ducks the opportunity to even scores, purporting not to understand the motives of his many detractors. He comes across as a true gentleman, though the reality is probably that he simply wants to avoid rolling in the mud. He repeatedly challenges his critics to refute him in scientific articles, juried by their peers. Of course they cannot, and Jensen knows it. The argument is effectively over.

In the eight years since publication, science has taken its own turns. The question is no longer whether differences exist -- whether or not people want to accept the differences, they know better than to argue -- but why they exist. The human genome project has shed a great deal of useful light on this. Miele includes some of the Cavalli-Sforza's work on the genetic distances between human populations, and Jensen comments but they are very useful and totally consistent with his own work, ignoring Cavalli-Sforza's obstinant refusal to follow where his own observations would lead with regard to intelligence, obviously out of concern that being un-PC would jeopardize his continued funding at Stanford.

Cavalli-Sforza and his followers continue to find new theories and explanations for possible differences in intelligence. Last year Harpending and Cochran in "The 10,000 Year Explosion" came up with theories for Jewish intelligence and postulated that the Paleolithic explosion may have resulted from the admixture of Neanderthal genes. Voilà! Last week's science magazine published an article saying that Homo Sapiens strains which had left Africa may have up to four percent of Neanderthal genes. At any rate, this is where the exciting work is today, in teasing out why the differences exist, rather than confirming that they do.

In the last chapter of the book Miele draws Jensen out on the implications of his work, coming closer to public policy and politics than Jensen has previously ventured. Jensen hoped that public policy might be informed by his work. Unfortunately, just about the time of this book's publication George Bush promoted the "No Child Left Behind" act, a conspicuous and expensive failure now being compounded by the Obama administration, and California radically increased its spending on education also in the theory that more resources would make a difference. They did not heed Jensen.

Jensen advocates teaching each child as an individual, recognizing that they have very different capacities for absorbing learning. This is a good and useful observation. His suggestion that we use individualized computer delivered instruction to meet each child's individual needs shows that he is rather out of touch with the way children operate. Unfortunately, most children need teachers, and the less capable they are of learning, the more they need a concerned adults keep them on task. Computerized learning below the college level is for the most part wishful thinking. Especially this generation is far too easily distracted by the many time-wasting possibilities of computers.

Jensen expresses significant concern for the population explosion. In the eight years since publication it has become clear that world population growth is slowing almost everywhere. Jensen correctly observed a dysgenic function in the United States -- less intelligent people have more children. That same phenomenon exists worldwide. By my calculations, no nation on earth with an average intelligence in excess of 96 has a replacement rate above 2.1, the level required to maintain a stable population over the long term. Extrapolating, the world will have fewer and fewer capable people just as the demand for intelligent workers continues to expand. This can only exacerbate the differences between the rich and the poor, the Gini index gulf, and social unrest. Jensen's message is more important than ever.
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on August 8, 2003
One of the best documented facts of social science is the following: it is possible to administer tests of intelligence that are remarkably (though not completely) reliable and consistent over time. This tested intelligence correlates very highly with success in school. It is also known that tested intelligence correlates with social-economic status, and, even when controlled for SES, within families. So it has been generally accepted, for about a hundred years now, that intelligence has both genetic and environmental components.
But for almost as long, there has been a debate over the relative contributions of heredity and environment. There are implications of this debate for social philosophy, for this reason: liberal social philosophers stress the perfectibility of man, while conservatives have a gloomier, more pessimistic view. Since it is easier to alter environmental than genetic factors, liberals hope that intelligence is more environmentally influenced.
Now enter Arthur R. Jensen, an enormously productive and talented researcher at the University of California. Since the late 1960's, he has produced a barrage of totally persuasive research that shows, beyond much question, that intelligence has much more to do with heredity than with environment. Any hope that all human beings can have an equal amount of ability is now shattered. In retrospect, of course, such a hope was never reasonable.
This is bad news, and not only for the liberals. Jensen's findings make us look at society with less optimism than we would like. His findings do not mean that we must give up on more humane arrangements, nor on our ideals of equal opportunity. But it warns us we must take into account the inequalities in ability that seem here to stay.
Miele's book, in the form of an extended interview with Jensen, tells the story of Jensen's research findings and also of the resistance to accepting these findings. There have been political attacks on Jensen as a "racist," and these attacks are duly rebutted in this book. In fact, much of the book is taken up by such controversies, and this is perhaps as it should be. But foolish attacks aside, there are deeper problems with Jensen's presentation of his work that this books barely touches.
1) It needs to be said more clearly and more strongly that the group differences documented by Jensen -- differences of relative frequency -- are statistical in nature and have no application whatever for the assessment of a given individual.
2) The "mental abilities" that are probed in I.Q. and similar tests represent but a small portion of those attributes on which humans differ. We know from personal observation that some people are kinder than others, have more empathy than others, are less selfish than others. Social science, so far, has had little to say about the distribution of such traits. That is regrettable.
3) Jensen is very much impressed by the "abilities" that determine worldly success. He even uses the term "meritocracy" with some approval. His mindset here is self-consciously tough. He does not seem to have much use or interest in those qualities that we may call "saintliness." If an attribute does not show up on a battery of IQ tests, Jensen is not interested. But some day, perhaps, there will be a science of human assessment with a wider focus.
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on June 7, 2014
There are those who have a problem understanding or even wanting to believe that there are truly differences in human intelligence versus race and genetics. This book should answer many of those questions from a man who had opened the study of this subject.
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on January 21, 2015
This is an interesting little book. The interviewer has taken it upon himself to give Jensen a hard time. But Jensen is well up to the challenge. Jensen's knowledge of the subject matter is encyclopedic. He is also a very level headed and fair minded person.

I read his 1969 paper in 1969. I had heard of it from somewhere so I went to the public library and read it. Jensen didn't think public education was going to be able to close the black-white achievement gap. He seems to have been right.

The official position of almost all politicians was that if we just got the schools a little better then we could cure all our racial ills. So we spent millions (billions?) on education but blacks have not done any better.

Hollywood should make a film honoring Jensen not Martin Luther King but some people still cling to the hope that blacks can be educated out of their bad behavior. How much longer will it take for people to wake up?
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This book adopts an unusual but innovative format. It consists of a transcript of a discussion/interview conducted via email between celebrated/notorious psychologist Arthur Jensen and journalist Frank Miele.

In principle, I think the format of the book is excellent. Unlike a face-to-face 'real-time' interview, a discussion conducted by email ensures that Jensen's responses are considered and thought through.

All too often, the results of face-to-face debates, whether between academics or presidential candidates, are determined not by the respective merits of the antagonists' positions, nor even, for that matter, the intelligence of the antagonists themselves, but rather their confidence, charisma, public-speaking ability and ability to 'think on their feet'. Yet many great scientists have been notoriously poor lecturers, let alone debaters. In reading reasoned considered written responses submitted by email, one is better able to assess the actual merits of the participants' theses rather than their charisma or speaking ability.

On the other hand, however, communication by email is sufficiently instantaneous to permit Miele to follow-up Jensen's answers with further questions. This would not have been practical prior to the development of instantaneous methods of written communication over long distances such as email.

[A useful comparison in this regard is provided by Intelligence: The Battle for the Mind, something of a forerunner of the work currently under review, in both subject-matter and format. In that work, which was published long before email had been invented, the contributions of the two authors (Hans Eysenck and Leo Kamin) were authored independently, and, even in the brief rejoinders each were permitted to write in response to the portions of the book authored by the other, they largely 'talk past one another' and only rarely directly address the points raised by the other.]

In conclusion, interviewing by email therefore combines the best of both written communication and face-to-face interaction. The discussions are both readable and informative and introduce a format that, I suggest, should be a model for future works. I might even say that they approximate something akin to an idealised Platonic dialogue.

The problem with the book is therefore not its format. Rather the primary problem is the identity of the ostensible antagonists themselves.

On the face of it, they seem ideal candidates for this innovative format of book - one is a formidable and imminent but highly controversial psychologist, the other a journalist and populariser, exceptionally well-informed on the topic under debate. This seems to promise both readability and academic rigour - and, sure enough, both readability and academic rigour are apparent.

The problem, however, is that both contributors appear to be in complete agreement with one another on virtually every topic they discuss.

To be sure, Miele makes a pretence of challenging Jensen's views – but it is, in reality, just that, namely a pretence and he is merely going through the motions. Miele is in reality a committed hereditarian (a 'Jensenist' even?). He is, after all, a co-author with Vincent Sarich of Race: The Reality of Human Differences, which defends the race concept and the reality of racial differences among humans in both physiology and psychology, and, while still a student, published articles in the notorious 'racialist' academic journal 'the Mankind Quarterly'.

This bias is most apparent in the book's 'Prelude', subtitled 'the man behind the ism', which verges on being hagiographic. It is also apparent in the introductions to each topic that Miele begins each chapter with before the question and answer transcript begins.

In the interview segments themselves, Miele admittedly makes at least an initial pretence of disagreeing with Jensen, interrogating him and presenting counterarguments. However, to adopt a familiar idiom, we might say that Miele is merely 'playing devil's advocate'.

[However, since the belief that heredity plays no part in explaining differences in intelligence between individuals and groups is usually perceived as being, to adopt another idiom, 'on the side of the angels' rather than of the devil, we might (if you'll excuse my mixed idioms) more accurately characterise him as playing 'Angel's Advocate' - hence the title of my review.]

To be sure, the book does not purport to be a 'debate', as such, but rather a series of interviews. But, still, on a topic as controversial as this one, one expects the interviewer to give at least a rigorous grilling. And, while, to his credit, Miele never descends to presenting a 'straw man' or caricatured version of the views of Jensen's critics, an unabashed 'Jensenist' is surely not the ideal choice of interviewer to interview Arthur Jensen.

For example, Miele fails to raise some legitimate objections to Jensen's positions to which it would be interesting to read Jensen's response. For example, Jensen claims rather dogmatically that the "the claim that the black-white IQ difference is a result of culturally biased tests has been disproved" (p128), because IQ tests "predict other important real-life criteria such as school grades and job performance with the same accuracy for both groups" (p129). But this could be interpreted as suggesting, not that IQ tests are not biased against blacks, but rather than schools, employers and workplaces are equally biased against blacks (i.e. that we live in a racist society, as we are so often told).

Similarly, Miele fails to mention whatsoever perhaps the strongest evidence against there existing a substantial genetic component to that most controversial of group differences in IQ (i.e. the black-white test score gap), namely studies of the effect of degrees of racial admixture on IQ which have used blood groups to assess ancestry (Loehlin et al 1973; Scarr et al 1977).

Moreover, on occasion he does appear to be deliberately setting Jensen up with knock-out responses. For example, in response to Jensen's claim of media bias against the hereditarian position, Miele points out that critics of hereditarianism have also made claims of media bias against them, and asks if Jensen could "provide any solid evidence to support your claim of media bias?" (p79).

As anyone familiar with the nature-nurture controversy with regard to IQ would be aware, this is virtually an invitation to Jensen to cite the Snyderman and Rothman study (The IQ Controversy, the Media and Public Policy), much-cited by defenders of hereditarianism, which purports to quantitatively survey both expert opinion and media representations of the issue, and, in doing so, conclusively demonstrate media bias against hereditarianism. It goes without saying, of course, that Jensen duly obliges (Ibid).

It is inconceivable that a journalist on the front-line of the nature-nurture debate like Miele would not have been aware of this study and one suspects that this was precisely why he asked this specific question.
_______

In conclusion, the format of the book is excellent, but the identity of the interviewer is less than ideal.

Perhaps a similar book written by Jensen and one of the less hysterical opponents of his views (e.g. Richard Nisbett, author of Intelligence and How to Get It: Why Schools and Cultures Count, or James Flynn, author of What Is Intelligence?: Beyond the Flynn Effect or, better yet, Nicholas Mackintosh, author of IQ and Human Intelligence) would have been preferable, if it were possible to get agreement from all prospective authors. However, given Jensen's recent death, this will no longer possible and the present volume is, unfortunately, the best we will get.

Overall, both readable and well-worth reading. Just don't mistake it for a genuine debate or anything other than a thinly-veiled work of advocacy.
___________
References
Loehlin, Vandenberg and Osborne (1973) 'Blood group genes and negro-white ability differences' Behavior Genetics 3(3): 263-270
Scarr, Pakstis, Katz, & Barker (1977) 'Absence of a relationship between degree of white ancestry and intellectual skills within a black population' Human Genetics 39(1): 69-86
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on February 4, 2016
One of the very few books on this topic which I find very refreshing and filling a void. Because of political correctness this area of science is a sorely neglected area that deserves much more honest examination
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In a series of conversations with author Frank Miele, psychologist Arthur Jensen details the evolution of his thinking on intelligence. Jensen is particularly known for writing "Compensatory education has been tried and it apparently has failed" (the first sentence in a 1964 Harvard Educational Review article, and his title for that article - "How Much Can We Boost IQ and Scholastic Achievement?" and his conclusion - "Not much." He now (2002) believes the evidence for those conclusions is even stronger, and that IQ is highly genetic. Jensen has published 7 books and over 400 publications.

One of his key findings is that the correlation between the IQs of identical twins reared apart - .78, while that of adopted children vs. their adopting parents is only 0.19, and between naturally-related children is .32. Jensen also points out that hereditability increases with age. Environmental influences have their effects largely on what a person does with his/her level of IQ. Height has a heritability of about 0.30 in infancy, and 0.80 in older adults - like IQ. This is not an argument for environmentalism.

At least half of all human genes are involved with the brain, and one-third are entirely so. There is no evidence that a cultural legacy of slavery lowers the average Black IQ. The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights found that compensatory education programs (early 1960s) did not raise IQ or pupil achievement of the culturally disadvantaged. The Coleman Report found that school factors explained less than 105 of the variation in pupil performance. The Black-White difference in IQ is only slightly greater than the average difference between siblings raised together.

The highest SAT scores in recent years are associated with children of immigrants from India, per the ETS.

Researchers at the University of New Mexico found a relationship between the burden of infectious disease in 184 nations and IQ (Economist, 7/3/2010). Experts in international IQ comparisons include Richard Lynn and Tatu Vanhanen, and Jelte Wicherts.

Jensen is concerned that undergraduate psychology texts have been dumbed down and are full of errors.
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on October 24, 2003
Frank Miele (the author) acts as a "devil's advocate" in this book, as he interviews psychologist Arthur R. Jensen, who is a well-known geneticist. Miele says, in his preface,

"In this book, I skeptically cross-examine Arthur R. Jensen on Jensenism' how and why he believes the scientific evidence is even stronger today that:

"'IQ is real, biological, and highly genetic, and not just some statistic or the result of educational, social, economic, or cultural factors:

"race is a biological reality, not a social construct; and, most controversially of all,

"the cause of the 15-point average IQ difference between Blacks and Whites in the United States is partly genetic.'"

Jensen went from being a highly respected but little-known educational psychologist and professor at the University of California, Berkeley, until he was solicited, in 1969, to write a 123-page article for the prestigious Harvard Educational Review which began with the opening sentence, "Compensatory education has been tried and it apparently has failed." With that article he became a highly controversial figure because of his contention, which runs counter to the institutionalized politically correct view among social scientists, that heredity is of more importance than environmental factors in determining human intelligence.

Jensen, no racist by any stretch of the imagination, demonstrates throughout this book "the interviews which were conducted through e-mail" mainly through statistical analysis and other valid research methodology, the care with which he had arrived at his tentative conclusions.

As with The Bell Curve, by Herrnstein and Murray, The Blank Slate, by Steven Pinker, and Race Evolution and Behavior, by J. Philippe Rushton, all scholarly, well-researched books on similar subject matter, the advocates of the more politically correct view that the races may differ in virtually every other respect except intellectually, are attacking the message by attempting to kill the messenger.

The interviews that comprise this book are just short of hostile to Dr. Jensen in their tone, never granting agreement or accord, and with every answer, no matter how persuasive, the author merely changes the direction of attack. In fact, in the beginning, he announces his skepticism.

But, Dr. Jensen more than holds his own. The e-mail interview method seems to be a good one, since obviously both parties are enabled to be precise in their quotes and double-check everything before sending the question or answer.

We are given little information about the author, Frank Miele, except that he is a senior editor of Skeptic magazine, that his articles have appeared on "many web-pages," and that he lives in Sunnyvale, California, with his Great Dane dog, Payce. However, his questions of Dr. Jensen seem relevant and well-researched. The book is important, however, only because of Dr. Jensen's answers, which are invariably direct, careful, and backed up with very persuasive data and statistics. It is a veritable education in statistical methodology.

If you are interested in this subject matter, I consider this book indispensable to your library.

Joseph (Joe) Pierre
Author of Handguns and Freedom...their care and maintenance
And other books
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VINE VOICEon March 1, 2004
Intelligence, Race, and Genetics spends a lot of time on the scientist Arthur Jensen's opinions and what his agenda or ideology may be. Some questions are along the line of, "Have you ever been associated with, or now a member of a Neo-Nazi organization?" The silliness aside, one comes to the conclusion that Jensen is hesitant to say what the political implications of what his race and IQ research will be. He is mostly interested in doing accurate science, no matter whether the conclusions are politically convenient or not.
One gets the impression that public policy problems can't be solved unless the solutions are backed by good, accurate science. You can't solve such problems by wishing that problems and solutions fit a liberal ideology. Otherwise, you'll keep spending money on programs that don't work.
I gleaned a few of his opinions from the book. He still believes in integration, but favors a more individualistic education system with less government control. Vituperative attacts from liberals don't bother him as much as winning approval from people who have their prejudices confirmed by his research. (Although I can't see how an opinion based on scientific research can be called merely a prejudice.) He does not think that mass third world immigration to America will benefit this country. An ethical and voluntary eugenics program would benefit this country, but reducing world population growth is his first concern.
This book is a nice complement to The Bell Curve, the classic on hereditarian science. Some of the technical explanations of how Jenson comes to his conclusions may be hard to understand for the layman. Jenson puts science first above politics in his research, I don't know if we can say the same for other academics.
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on July 2, 2010
It's a pleasure listen to a scientific who speaks with his own words.I recommended this book to critics. I have read opposite views from Kamin and Gould and I think their opinions are not very sound. My own experience like a Spanish high-school teacher has showed me that there are biological barriers ,partly genetic and probably derived from fetal environment ,that any training,no matter how long or hard it can be,can surpass.
This book prompted me to renew the study of behavioural biology. An idea for any interested in pick it up ,I have no means to investigate this myself:I think that,like ability to use lactose in adults,the genetic make-up of Roman empire allowed Christian religion to expands in the Mediterranean area in the short time span of 300 years.To check this hypothesis I would look at the old christian communities in Japan, I guess that this people will show a genetic marker that you can find in European populations but it's absent for the most part of Asian populations .It must be related with brain anatomy. Islam thrives in the hotter areas of the world.I guess that heat stress resistence proteins must be related with this .Religion is only a elaborated form of behaviour and must have a genetic basis.
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