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Why Connecting Race to Intelligence Is Wrong

Highly abstract thinking represents a cultural adaptation to the complexity of modern technological society, but the complexity of contemporary life is not evenly distributed. 

What’s the Latest Development?

Controversy surrounding a Harvard dissertation which claimed a genetic link between race and intelligence has cost its author, Jason Richwine, his job at the conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation. Richwine, who recently wrote on the high costs of immigration reform, allegedly claimed that intelligence is a more a matter of genetics than environment, despite substantial evidence to the contrary. Numerous studies have found that when intelligence tests control for socioeconomic status, those raised in households with higher incomes receive an IQ boost of between 12 and 16 points. 

What’s the Big Idea?

The universality of IQ teststheir ability to measure a kind of objective intelligence independent of cultural factorsremains highly in doubt. “IQ tests reward the possession of abstract theoretical knowledge and a facility for formal analytic rigor. But for most people throughout history, intelligence would have taken the form of concrete practical knowledge of the resources and dangers present in the local environment. … The mass development of highly abstract thinking skills represents a cultural adaptation to the mind-boggling complexity of modern technological society. But the complexity of contemporary life is not evenly distributed, and neither is the demand for written language fluency or analytic dexterity.”

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Read it at the Atlantic


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