Springer Nature is making Coronavirus research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Hypothesized genetic racial differences in IQ: A criticism of three proposed lines of evidence

Abstract

Three lines of reasoning are discussed which have been put forward by A. R. Jensen in support of the hypothesis of genetic racial differences in IQ. These are the probabilistic connection of heritability to between-group genetic differences, the theoretical or formal relationship of within-group heritability to between-group heritability, and the regression of the IQ scores of blacks and whites to different population means. The first is shown to be a purely empirical claim that has no value as evidence in the absence of substantial confirming data, which are not available. The second and third are shown to be purely formal implications of the statistical models used to describe between-group heritability and linear regression, with no implications for the validity of the hypothesis. The attempted use of all three to support the hypothesis of genetic racial differences in IQ is discussed as an example of the fallacious reification of abstract methodology.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References

  1. DeFries, J. C. (1972). Quantitative aspects of genetics and environment in the determination of behavior. In Ehram, L., Omenn, G. S., and Caspari, E. (eds.),Genetics, Environment, and Behavior, Academic Press, New York.

  2. Feldman, M. W., and Lewontin, R. C. (1975). The heritability hangup.Science 190:1163–1168.

  3. Feldman, M. W., and Lewontin, R. C. (1976). Letter to the editor.Science 194:12–14.

  4. Jensen, A. R. (1969). How much can we boost IQ and scholastic achievement?Harvard Educ. Rev. 39:1–123.

  5. Jensen, A. R. (1970). Race and the genetics of intelligence: A reply to Lewontin.Bull. Atom. Sci. 26(5):17–23.

  6. Jensen, A. R. (1972).Genetics and Education, Methuen, London.

  7. Jensen, A. R. (1973a).Educability and Group Differences, Methuen, London.

  8. Jensen, A. R. (1973b).Educational Differences, Methuen, London.

  9. Jensen, A. R. (1978). The current status of the IQ controversy.Aust. Psychol. 13:7–28.

  10. Lewontin, R. C. (1970). Race and intelligence.Bull. Atom. Sci. 26(3):2–8.

  11. Lewontin, R. C. (1974). The analysis of variance and the analysis of cause.Am. J. Hum. Gen. 26:400–411.

  12. Lush, J. L. (1968). Genetic unknowns and animal breeding a century after Mendel.Tr. Kansas Acad. Sci. 71:309–314 (cited in Jensen, 1973a).

  13. Mackenzie, B. D. (1977).Behaviourism and the Limits of Scientific Method, Humanities Press, New York.

  14. Plomin, R., and DeFries, J. C. (1976). Letter to editor.Science 194:11–12.

Download references

Author information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Mackenzie, B. Hypothesized genetic racial differences in IQ: A criticism of three proposed lines of evidence. Behav Genet 10, 225–234 (1980). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01066273

Download citation

Key Words

  • A. R. Jensen
  • intelligence
  • race differences
  • heritability
  • IQ