The Mystery of Intelligence

Few questions have generated such passionate discussions in the scientific community than those related to intelligence and intelligence testing. To give some examples: Arthur Jensen (1969) published an article in the Harvard Educational Review (HER) titled “How much can we boost IQ and scholastic achievement?,” in which he argued that compensatory education in the US failed to produce lasting beneficial effects on children’s intelligence quotient (IQ) and achievement, therefore the premises on which these programs were based should be reexamined. Nine years later, he admitted that the firestorm that was ignited by his writing came as an unpleasant surprise. Less than 10% of the 123 pages long article dealt with ethnical differences suggesting that genetic factors may be the reason for the one standard deviation lower performance of Afro-Americans as compared to whites. The reaction was “swift and severe,” with regular near-riotous demonstrations by students at colleges where Jensen was invited to speak. His office was picketed and his classes were regularly disrupted or when lecturing at other universities, canceled at the last minute. Students’ newspapers were filled for weeks with fierce statements against his research, suggesting that the university should get rid of him. The violence of student activists escalated to the point to which it threatened to get out of control. At that time, the campus police assigned two bodyguards to accompany Jensen around campus (Snyderman and Rothman, 1988). Even 9 years later and, as far as Australia, there was still a need for police protection (Jensen, 1978).


About Giorgio Bertini

Research Professor. Founder Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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