Archive (Home)

Breaking the Last Taboo Thomas J. Bouchard
Academic Nazism Steven J. Rosenthal
A Cartoon Elite Nicholas Lemann
Acting smart James Q. Wilson
Common knowledge Michael Barone
Methodological fetishism Brigitte Berger
How the Left betrayed I.Q. Adrian Wooldridge
The Attack on The Bell Curve Richard Lynn
IQ since The Bell Curve Christopher Chabris
The Emergence of a Cognitive Elite Volkmar Weiss
Cracked Bell James J. Heckman
The Bell Curve and its Critics Charles Murray
Curveball Stephen Jay Gould
The Bell Curve David Lethbridge
Deeper into the Brain Charles Murray
The Return of Determinism? The Pseudoscience of the Bell Curve Rajiv Rawat
Soft Science With a Neoconservative Agenda Donald D. Dorfman
IQ and Economic Success Charles Murray
Egalitarian Fiction and Collective Fraud Linda S. Gottfredson
Ethnicity and IQ Thomas Sowell
The Bell Curve Chester Finn
IQ Fight Renewed Anthony Flint
Foretelling The Bell Curve Daniel Seligman
For Whom The Bell Curve Tolls Frank Miel
When facts and orthodoxy collide Craig Frisby
Cracking Open the IQ Box Howard Gardner
Race, Genes and I.Q. Herrnstein, Richard and Murray, Charles
Genius of genes Pallab Ghosh
A Reply to Charles Murray Heckman, James J.; Kamin, Leon J.; Lane, Charles; Lewis, Lloyd B.; Loury, Linda Datcher; Nisbett, Ri
Riding "The Bell Curve" Ernest R. House and Carolyn Haug
How Much Can We Boost IQ and Scholastic Achievement? Arthur R. Jensen
The Intelligence Of Nations Philippe Rushton
Is intelligence fixed? Nathan Glazer
IQ will put you in your place Charles Murray
Paroxysms of denial Arthur R. Jensen
Intelligence and the social scientist Leon Kass
Obscuring the Message and Killing the Messenger Pat Duffy Hutcheon
Commentary on some of the empirical and theoretical support for The Bell Curve John Kranzler
Ländernas framtid avgörs av medborgarnas IQ Gunnar Adler-Karlsson
Legacy of racism Pat Shipman
Aim higher Barbara Lerner
Living with inequality Eugene D. Genovese
Meritocracy that works Loren E. Lomasky
Dispirited Glenn C. Loury
Mainstream Science on Intelligence
Moral intelligence Michael Young
Murdering the Bell Curve Ann Coulter
Going public Richard John Neuhaus
The Ominous, New Cognitive Elite Charles Murray
The Bell Curve Francois Nielsen
Not hopeless Ernest Van den Haag
Sins of the cognitive elite Michael Novak
Robert Siegel Interviews Charles Murray
The Bell Curve: Some implications for the discipline of school psychology Thomas Oakland
Some Recent Overlooked Research On The Bell Curve Arthur Jensen
The Bell Curve E.L. Pattullo
Race, I.Q., American Society and Charles Murray
Race, IQ, Success and Charles Murray
Does IQ Matter?
Interview With Robert Sternberg
Scientific American Debunks Leon J. Kamin
The Bell Curve Sandra Scarr
Is the Bell Curve Statistically Sound? James Case
Is The Bell Curve the stealth public-policy book of the 1990s? Charles Murray and Daniel Seligman
The General Intelligence Factor Linda S. Gottfredson
For Whom The Bell Curve Tolls Frank Miele
A Conversation with Charles Murray
Trashing 'The Bell Curve' David Seligman
Freedom, Welfare and Dystopia Charles Murray

Genius of genes
Pallab Ghosh

The Philadelphia Inquirer, December 3, 1994


merican researchers believe they have identified the parts of the human genome involved in developing a person's intelligence. This means scientists could soon test the potential intelligence of new-born babies.
The discovery has been seized on by some on the Right who claim it backs their view that the way people turn out depends more on the genes with which they are born rather than on the schools they attend. Others have warned the discovery gives succour to those parents who would wish to improve their children through genetic engineering. The researchers, working for the US National Institutes of Health, analysed the DNA of 200 of the brightest kids in America and compared them with the genetic material from ordinary children. The results are due out next year, but the BBC Newsnight programme has learned that key differences have been found. In other words, the scientists are homing in on the genes for genius. The team believe more than one gene is involved - and that these genes can make a big difference to a person's intelligence. The research was led by Professor Robert Plomin.

Shift in political thinking

"I think we need to recognise that genetic influences are important and that we will find genes for intelligence," he told the BBC. "Each may account for a small piece of the action, but together they give us a significant source of prediction for intelligence."
The next step will be to discover what these genius genes do. One theory is that they help make nerve cells. They help transmit signals, our thoughts if you like, from one part of the brain to another. Some fear that this type of research could undermine attempts to create a more equal society.
They believe some groups will take the view that providing the entire population with greater educational and social opportunities is a waste of money if human nature is predetermined by our genetic inheritance. Right-wing thinker Charles Murray, co-author of The Bell Curve, believes that the new biology will create a seismic shift in political thinking.
"We have had the scientific community denying the obvious," he said. "We've had people saying that IQ is virtually all determined by the environment and we can change it by the proper social interventions and a whole bunch of other things that simply are not true." The Nature-Nurture debate has always been at the heart of the political battleground with some on the Right believing people are born good or bad, intelligent or slow-witted. The Left believes things depend more on social circumstances.

'Eugenics with a smiling face'

According to Charles Murray, the "new genetics" shows that the Right is right and that social policies will have to be changed accordingly. But if there is one thing that has annoyed Professor Plomin more than the fact that the Right has seized on his work, it is that the Left have disowned it. He argues that far from challenging left-wing policies, his research can help those policies become more effective. He explained: "Depending on your values, you can say 'right, genetic influences are important in intelligence, therefore what I'll do is not put my money into those kids who are going to do good anyway. I'm going to put it into the lower end of the distribution to make sure that we don't lose our citizens - that they don't fall off the end of the curve and feel disenfranchised as citizens.'" But, according to Jeremy Rifkin, author of The Bio-tech Century, the greatest threat comes from prospective parents rather than tyrannical or misguided governments.
"Every parent wants the best for their child," said Rifkin. "In the future, the parent could become an architect and each child the ultimate shopping experience.
"In the next 10 or 20 years we could have eugenics with a smiling face. We will no longer require the lower classes to have fewer babies; we will just have them have better babies as we learn to do gene therapy." Professor Plomin believes that nightmare scenarios will only come to pass if research is suppressed or banned.
"Some people say this kind of research should not be done because of the questions it raises and the difficulties it raises are not worth having to deal with," he said. "You could continue with the comfortable view that assumes people are blank slates on which the environment writes. But surely it is better to know the truth."