Table of Contents

with chapter summaries

 sports, race, and IQ...

'Blacks' do not have a genetic advantage in sports.

'Blacks' do not have a genetic intellectual disadvantage.

Human races do not exist.

The IQ literature is a series of frauds.


Some academics and others peddle pseudo-science in order to allege that blacks are good at sports and bad at thinking. Resurrecting Racism answers them with proper science. The first half of the book shows that blacks do not have superior sports ability and that biologists, using the latest genetic data, have concluded that human races do not exist, contrary to what racists would like to believe. The second half of the book (beginning in chapter 6) traces the history of IQ testing, documenting that the IQ literature was built by committing outright fraud. IQ 'research' has been used to allege that blacks have inferior 'intelligence,' but those who developed the IQ literature turned the purpose of the original tests upside down, twisted their statistics, made up their math, and invented nonexistent researchers, publishing fake studies under phony names. These 'researchers' were also the major propagandists of the eugenics movement, which movement is responsible for creating the German Nazis. This is also documented in the second half of Resurrecting Racism, as is the fact that today's IQ 'researchers' continue this fraudulent and dangerous tradition.

Resurrecting Racism: The modern attack on black people using phony science.  © 2004 Francisco Gil-White

Table of Contents: http://www.hirhome.com/rr/rrcontents.htm

Chapter 6

What are IQ tests really about? Not about ‘intelligence’ as the IQ-testers define this word.

I noted in my introduction that Jon Entine devotes almost 10% of Taboo to defending IQ testing and praising psychology professor Arthur Jensen and other such IQ researchers. It is certainly odd that Entine should talk so much about IQ in a book that is supposed to be about sports ability, and that he should go so very out of his way to defend IQ research, as he does.

But is that racist?

You may feel inclined to object that IQ tests are mainstream, that everybody gets tested, that these are objective measures for determining a person’s intelligence, etc. What’s racist about that? The answer is: all of it. Why? Because the approach used in IQ testswhich are widespread in modern American societyhas been advanced through a series of pseudo-scientific hoaxes by psychologists who were (and are) public racists and frauds, and whose objective was to make it seem as if certain categories of people were intellectually inferior, the better to oppress them. They have used fake data, phony statistics, and nonexistent researchers conjured out of thin air.

I must point out that the two French researchers who invented the measures that became the basis of all IQ testing, Alfred Binet and Theophile Simon, were not racists. Neither were they frauds. But psychologists who indeed were racists used rather dramatic lies to turn the Binet-Simon enterprise upside down. In this chapter we shall begin taking a look at how that happened. Then we shall come back to Jon Entine and reexamine what he is defending, and why.

The meanings of ‘intelligence’

‘Intelligence’ is a word, which is to say a string of letters (or, if spoken, a string of phonemes). The meanings of words are not found under rocks or fished from streams. Rather, the meaning of a word is simply a matter of how people use it. Although it can be very confusing and counterproductive if the same string of letters is used in different ways by different people, there is nothing necessarily dishonest in that. What is dishonest, however, is to pretend that Alfred Binet and Theophile Simon meant one thing by ‘intelligence’ when in fact they were very careful to say the opposite. And hence the problem. Because what IQ testers have done is convince everybody that the Binet-Simon teststhe basis of all IQ testingsupposedly measure an innate (genetic) and fixed (unalterable) mental ability, even though the authors of these measures defined their construct ‘intelligence’ as stuff learned in a particular culture, at a particular time, which is a diametrically opposite definition.

Debunking the myths of so-called IQ research, cultural psychologist Michael Cole has recently pointed this out, quoting the French authors:

“…Binet and Simon offered a definition of the quality they sought to test for: ‘It seems to us that in intelligence there is a fundamental faculty, the alteration or lack of which is of the utmost importance for practical life. This faculty is judgment, otherwise called good sense, practical sense, initiative, the faculty of adapting oneself to circumstances. To judge well, to reason well, these are the essential activities of intelligence’ (Binet and Simon 1916, p.43).”[1]

“Good sense,” which the French researchers equated to “practical sense,” is not an innate faculty, naturally; it is acquired. It is the sort of thing people develop if they have certain experiences growing up. Binet and Simon constructed tests to measure the degree to which a kid had developed this “practical sense,” or, what is the same, the degree to which a child was “adapting…to circumstances.” So it is important not to be distracted by the words “fundamental faculty” above, because what Binet and Simon were interested in was “the alteration” of this “faculty,” which they perceived to be “of the utmost importance for practical life.” It follows that the Binet-Simon tests are useful merely for telling us who has absorbed more of what the local culture demands that people learn, and who has absorbed less. Nothing more.

To leave no doubt about this, consider how carefully Alfred Binet himself explained what the point of his work was (emphasis mine):

“…to ascertain a particular level [of intelligence] is not interesting unless one adds an interpretation of what causes that level. So we must ask each time what is the influence of the family and social environment. A child from a good family, who converses often with his parents, will have greater awareness than a child left to his own devices; the first will have, especially, a richer vocabulary, and more complete notions of all sorts of things. Our tests provide reference points most relevant to the primary school population in Paris. If you take, for example, children from wealthy families, it is absolutely certain that they will answer better on average and will be one or two years ahead of primary school children in general. Children from rural areas perhaps will do less well [than the Parisian average]. Children from Belgium, from where French and Walloon are both spoken, will do less well still, especially in the language items. Our colleague Rouma, professor at the Ecole Normale d’Instituteurs in Charleroi, has brought our attention to surprising inequalities in intelligence that he has documented with the use of our tests, and which depend on the environment.”[2]

According to Alfred Binet, a child’s level of intelligence is caused primarily by “the influence of the family and social environment.” But “family” does not mean heredity here, given that “a child from a good family” is one “who converses often with his parents.” And such a child, Binet says, “will have greater awareness than a child left to his own devices,” leading to “a richer vocabulary, and more complete notions of all sorts of things.” He was just stating the obvious: when parents educate their children more, the kids learn more, and hence they become more ‘intelligent.’ That's how Binet used the word. Children from wealthy families would have, on average, access to a higher quality educational environment, so Binet considered it self-evident or, in his words, “absolutely certain,” that “children from wealthy families…will answer better on average.”

In other words, children will learn whatever it is that they are locally taught, and whatever is locally available for them to soak up. The argument is not supposed to be subtle. What follows? That Binet did not create a test that would measure the ‘intelligence’ of kids everywhere in the world because kids in different parts of the world were growing up in environments that demanded that they learn different things. Each locality thus required a different test. Accordingly, Binet produced a test for the culture of the Paris public school: “Our [intelligence] tests provide reference points most relevant to the primary school population in Paris.” Naturally, he expected that “Children from rural areas perhaps will do less well,” because these kids were growing up in a different environment (i.e. they were not growing up in a Parisian public school). The same applied with greater force to children growing up in a different country: Belgium.

As Binet went out of his way to explain, the causes of differences in performance in his tests were environmental. He said,

“ascertaining a level [of intelligence] does not tell us whether a child who is lagging behind is in a phase of intellectual relaxation, of either short or long duration; it does not tell us either whether his intellectual impairment is caused by a blockage of his nasal cavities because of a problem with his lymph nodes. Any such investigations must be done around the test; they are important and require the most careful, detached, and objective attention. Far be it from us to turn this into an assembly-line process!”[3]

We shall have occasion later to consider in detail the “assembly-line process” against which Alfred Binet warned, but for now let us focus on everything else he says above.

Binet’s reference to “a phase of intellectual relaxation, of either short or long duration” reveals that, as he defined the word, the ‘intelligence’ of a child was not a fixed thingit could wax and wane. Moreover, a child who did poorly could be doing so for any number of reasons, and Binet chooses the example of “a blockage of his nasal cavities”the most prosaic example imaginableto underline his point. You will notice that one possible cause of lower scores that Binet did not even think worth considering was heredity. As Edwin Black points out, Binet insisted that “Heredity was in no way a predeterminer of intelligence,”[4] because in Binet’s theory the construct was almost entirely environmental. In fact, when others spoke of intelligence as innate and unalterable Alfred Binet reacted negatively and forcefully.

“In a book written for popular consumption, Les Idees Modernes sur les Efants (1909), Binet commented specifically on the claims of others that intelligence might be considered both innate and immutable. ‘We must protest and react against this brutal pessimism.’”[5]

I take it that I have made Alfred Binet’s views clear. Let us now examine a very different definition of ‘intelligence’that of British psychologist Cyril Burt:

“By intelligence the psychologist understands inborn, all around, intellectual ability. It is inherited, or at least innate, not due to teaching or training; it is intellectual, not emotional or moral, and remains uninfluenced by industry or zeal; it is general, not specific, i.e., it is not limited to any particular kind of work, but enters into all we do or say or think. Of all our mental qualities, it is the most far-reaching.”[6]

Whereas for Binet “heredity was in no way a predeterminer of intelligence,” Burt by contrast said that ‘intelligence’ was “inborn…inherited…innate,” which is to say predetermined by heredity. And lest he be misunderstood, Burt asserted that intelligence could not be altered in the least, as it was supposedly “uninfluenced by industry or zeal.” Alfred Binet was by contrast interested in “the alteration …[of] the faculty of adapting oneself to circumstances”: in other words, the alteration of the faculty of self-alteration!

What accounts for such a perfect contradiction between the views of Alfred Binet and Cyril Burt? This: “French psychologist Alfred Binet was not a eugenicist; he believed that one’s environment shaped one’s mind.”[7] By contrast, Cyril Burt was a eugenicist, and eugenicists believe that ‘intelligence’ is utterly a matter of one’s genes.

In the following chapter I will explain in detail what a eugenicist is. For now, what matters are the following two points:

1)  Although Alfred Binet and Cyril Burt both used the word ‘intelligence,’ they were not talking about the same thing at all. Burt was imagining something innate and unalterable whereas Binet had in mind something environmentally determined and eminently alterable.

2)  The tests that Alfred Binet and Theophile Simon elaborated were designed to measure what Alfred Binet defined, not what Cyril Burt defined.

Now, it followed from Binet’s environmental theory that people could be trained to become more intelligent, and consequently Binet claimed that if somebody scored low on his tests, this person merely required an alternative pedagogical approach, plus practice, to improve their scores; such industry and zeal, claimed Binet, would be “helping him literally to become more intelligent than he was before.”[8] As it turns out, the French psychologist understood his own tests perfectly, and he provided the demonstration: “Binet developed mental and physical exercises designed to raise his student’s intelligence levels. These exercises actually yielded improved scores.”[9]

This is not remarkable; it is…obvious. Binet and Simon had designed tests to measure ‘stuff learned in a particular culture, at a particular time.’ Naturally, practice and effort will increase the amount of stuff learned, and there are ways of doing this that are more effective than others. So finding a better pedagogic approach for a given student will naturally result in improved scores.

What’s remarkable is this:

 “[In] 1913…[Cyril Burt] was hired as Britain’s first professional educational psychologist by the London County Council, the agency that ran all of London’s publicly funded schools. Here he had responsibility for advising one of the world’s largest school systems on practical issues regarding hundreds of thousands of pupils. …Britain too had passed universal education laws like those in France which had stimulated Binet and Simon’s work. Burt now learned firsthand about Binet testing methods, which he adapted to his own English-speaking population… In his first year alone, he oversaw the testing of more than two thousand suspected retarded children…”[10]

The above should be causing you to do a double-take: Binet and Simon’s tests obviously do not measure what Cyril Burt defined as ‘intelligence,’ and yet these are precisely the tests that Burt used.

What would be the consequence of this?

As Binet had observed, it was “absolutely certain” that children from wealthy families would score higher, on average, in tests of ‘stuff learned.’ Why? Obviously, because such children grew up in an environment with richer educational opportunities, which their wealthier parents had the wherewithal to provide. But if Burt defined ‘intelligence’ as something “inborn…inherited…innate,” what do you suppose would be his conclusion upon finding that rich kids did relatively better in the Binet-Simon tests?

“Burt noted that the exclusive prep school boys scored higher than their ordinary counterparts…and the question now arose as to why. …Burt argued that environment or training could not have been very important, and the differences must have been innate.”[11]

And Burt is not alone. The entire ‘intelligence testing’ movement has cheerily adopted Binet and Simon’s tests while claiming, believe it or not, that they measure what Cyril Burt defined: innate and unalterable ‘intelligence.’ This is still going on today.

We shall come back to this contradiction, but first we will take a closer look at the logic behind the Binet-Simon tests, the better to understand what they are, and what they do and do not measure. Then we shall return to Cyril Burt and explain why and how he completely misused these tests.

How do the Binet-Simon tests work?

Cultural psychologist Michael Cole explains what the Binet-Simon tests measured.

“Binet and Simon observed classrooms, looked at textbooks, talked to teachers, and used their intuition to arrive at some idea of the many kinds of knowledge and skills that children are expected to master in school. What they found was not easy to describe briefly, as anyone who has looked into a classroom can testify.

There was an obvious need to understand graphic symbols, such as alphabets and number systems. But recognition was not enough. Children were also expected to manipulate these symbols to store and retrieve vast amounts of information, to rearrange this information according to the demands of the moment, and to use the information to solve a great variety of problems that had never arisen before in their experience. Thus, children’s abilities to remember and carry out sequences of movements to define words, to construct plausible event sequences from jumbled picture sequences, and to recognize the missing elements in graphic designs were tested, along with many other components of school-based problems.

It was also obvious that to master more and more esoteric applications of the basic knowledge contained in alphanumeric writing systems, pupils had to learn to master their own behavior. They had not only to engage in a variety of ‘mental activities’ directed at processing information; they also had to gain control over their own attention, applying it not according to the whim of the moment but according to the whim of the teacher and the demands of the text.”[12]

But there was too much stuff going on in the French schools; one test could not cover all of the kinds of thinking the schools required, nor could such a test be appropriate for kids of all ages (since different demands were made on kids of different ages). Furthermore, Binet and Simon were aware that different kids would have different kinds of exposure to the contents of school instruction before arriving in school. Binet and Simon did not think their tests could do justice to what the kids were asked to learn, “but they believed that knowing a child’s current abilities would be useful to teachers anyway.”[13] Useful for what? As a diagnostic tool to see who was learning and who wasn’t. In other words, the Binet and Simon tests were not fundamentally different from the tests that schoolteachers were already using, except for a certain amount of abstraction and standardization.

Thus, Binet and Simon chose

“a sample of school-like tasks appropriate for each year of education, starting with the elementary grades and reaching into higher levels of the curriculum…but because no firmly based theory of higher psychological functions existed, they had to rely on a combination of their own common sense and a logical analysis of tasks that classrooms seemed to require…”[14]

Since there was no independent ground from which to make the evaluations,

“Binet and Simon…hit on the handy strategy of letting the children themselves tell them when an item selected for the test was appropriate…An ‘average’ child would then be one who solved problems appropriate to his or her own age level.”[15]

And what are the problems appropriate to his or her own age level? Those which are, on average, solved by kids of that age!

It is easily demonstrated that tests designed to measure ‘stuff learned,’ such as those elaborated by Binet and Simon, are going to be fatally misleading if taken as measures of ability to learn. All I have to do is make a point that, despite being obvious, really needs to be made: many people whose smarts nobody doubts learned next-to-nothing in elementary and high school.

I offer myself as an example. I nearly flunked for five straight years because I was not learning any math (and this despite the fact that I was getting tutoring outside of school). Then I also had trouble because I was not learning any biology. The minute I entered higher education, however, I blossomedin fact, I exploded. I had never enjoyed studying before, but now that I was studying something that I liked, I was losing sleep because I was having too much fun learning. The best evidence for the flip is again math: I corrected my deficiencies in math by teaching myself algebra and calculus, with a book, during my free time. And the reason I was motivated to do so is that I had fallen in love with…biology: I wanted to learn evolutionary game theory. I would not have tried this except that my father assured me that I could do it. I was skeptical, because my earlier school experiences had taught me that I was ‘bad at math.’ But I was wrong: it turned out that I was good at it, even if my having started so late was still a handicap. And I enjoy it to boot, whereas previously there had been no greater nemesis. So testing me for ‘stuff learned’ during my school years never reflected my mathematical and biological aptitudes.

But that’s what Binet and Simon invented: tests to find out which kids had learned and which hadn’tthat’s all.

In other words, the point for Binet and Simon was mainly to improve pedagogy, not to find out which kids had ‘innate intelligence’ (whatever that means) and which didn’t. Binet and Simon assumed that individual variations in the children would make them more or less susceptible to different kinds of pedagogic practices, and they wanted to identify those who did not respond well to the standard pedagogic practices that the French school system had settled on. Once identified, new procedures of instruction might be invented to get children who were lagging behind to achieve the same level of culturally expected performance. That’s what the tests were useful for. Naturally, because this was France, the schools were preparing kids for French culture, and this naturally became the bias in the tests: Binet and Simon were interested in actual, practical performance in Parisian school culture, not in an abstract, innate ability.

Now, let me add another obvious point that nevertheless needs to be made: having different genes is only one of the things that can make children differentially susceptible to specific pedagogic practices. For example, children attending the same school will come from different social and family backgrounds, etc., and these can all affect the degree to which they are responsive to a particular schooling approach. I, for example, have an extremely interesting family, and perhaps this is why I was so bored in school; but other students were much less bored than I was, and they flourished and learned a lot. Such differences in susceptibility to particular training methods are not ‘intelligence’ as the term is now understood by IQ researchers, because if the system of instruction should be altered, then one will find that the supposedly ‘smart’ and ‘dumb’ kids are different ones.

Precisely because of these considerations, Binet and Simon saw ‘intelligence’ as an end-state: something that you would guide children to, not an inherent faculty that could not be altered. And they were concerned to find new cultural technologies to modify and alter this faculty in order to get all children to the same end-state.

To sum up, the Binet-Simon tests were simply tests of what the kids were supposed to be learning in school, calibrated in such a way that what the average kid was in fact learning would function as a standard. In this way, a ‘normal’ kid is just a kid with ‘average scores.’ The tests which would grandfather all ‘IQ tests’ were therefore not independent of what the kids were actually doing in French schools; they were what the kids were doing in French schools. The Binet-Simon tests were merely descriptive tools that showed the distribution of ‘stuff learned’ by kids under a specific pedagogic regime, at a given point in time, in a given culture.

Binet and Simon no doubt thought of themselves as psychologists, but what they were doing was closer to what naturalists of the human speciesethnographersdo by profession: produce rich cultural descriptions. In their case, Binet and Simon were describing the cognitive and pedagogic requirements and assumptions of the French school system.

And little has changed since then. As Michael Cole explains:

“…a great deal of work has gone into the construction of tests since these early efforts, but the underlying logic has remained pretty much the same: sample the kinds of activities demanded by the culture (reduced in practice to the culture of the school). Children who have mastered far less than the average for their age are those who will need extra help if they are to reach the level expected by the culture.”[16]

But although the logic of the tests has remained the same, many leading psychologists suddenly decided that what the Binet-Simon tests were measuring was an unalterable and innate ability, and measuring overall intellectual prowess, as we saw for example Cyril Burt doing above. This is nonsense.

It is likewise nonsense that so many psychologists should have pretended that the Binet-Simon tests can be used to make cross-cultural comparisons. I turn to this next.

The Binet-Simon tests cannot be used cross-culturally

Michael Cole explains that psychologists have “ignored Binet and Simon’s warnings about the problems of dealing with children from different cultural backgrounds.”[17] And because these warnings have been ignored, cross-cultural measures with these tests have produced the supposed demonstration that people in one place are innately smarter than people in another.

The fallacy of this is easily exposed.

Consider a cognitive ability at which I do very poorly as a result of my cultural background. I am not very good at finding relatively small and well-camouflaged objects at great distances (the “Where’s Waldo?” problem). The Mongolian herders among whom I do my ethnographic work are, by contrast, geniuses at this. Do I think they have smarter genes than mine? Not for a minute! I think I know how they got this smart: these nomads spend their entire lives trying to find animals that stray from their herds onto the mountains, deserts, and plains (they live at the intersection of three different ecologies)—their culture thus requires them to learn how to distinguish objects that appear tiny and which are embedded in complex backgrounds. I am always as astonished at their seemingly superhuman feats of recognition as they are disappointed in my apparently subhuman stupidity and helplessness, which amounts to a kind of facultative blindness.

In one particularly dramatic demonstration, one of my best friends, Mukhtar, became increasingly exasperated as he spent an entire half hour pointing to a camel on a mountain slope that I simply could not see. His initial shock at my inability to see the camel was such that he turned it into a series of careful experiments. First he pressed his head against mine, cheek by jowl, and with our arms parallel, and his hand clasped over mine, he made me point at the camel and try to make my gaze lock at the proper place on the opposite mountain. No luck. He tried describing features of the environment next to the camel. No luck. He laughed. “Get on your horse,” he commanded, and off we went at a brisk trot towards the blasted camel. He tested me several times, as we approached, to see if I had now found it, and I began to grow annoyed at the increasing mirth that bubbled from his disbelief when he repeatedly confirmed that I couldn’t spot the beast. In the end, it was necessary for us to approach in our horses until we were really very close to this camel before I could see it. To make matters worse, it had been moving.

Although the shock of this left Mukhtar speechless it did not impair his ability to howl (for what I thought was much too long). To my way of thinking, this was entirely unfair to me: Why should I be expected to excel at cognitive abilities in which I was not trained? My retina captures the same images as the retinas of my herder friends, but my childhood was not spent finding stray animals on the mountains and steppes, and hence I cannot easily solve this kind of problem. I am certain that my genes are perfectly adequate, and that if I had been adopted at birth by a Mongolian herder family I would be spotting animals on the mountain like the best of them.

Another herder-relevant cognitive ability at which I do very poorly, and which produces a kind of resigned pity in my herder friends whenever I give evidence of it, concerns tying and untying all sorts of complicated (or deceptively simple) knots, matching a specific knot to its proper problem, improvising a good new knot for a special and unusual situation, choosing a proper knot from the repertoire in a new situation, and so forth. There is no question that relatively sophisticated understanding of 3-D topology and the physics of friction are required here, and there is no question that this is a problem-solving ability. That a Western egghead like myself usually has no need to develop these particular cognitive abilities is precisely the point. I am sure I could be just as good at this if I had been doing it from an early age, and I am quite confident that my genes are perfectly adequate, thank you.

Now, suppose that Mongolian psychologists had taken the lead in IQ testing because the Mongolian government had asked them to devise a test identifying laggards in the acquisition of skills that matter to Mongolian herding culture. One of the items in this test would certainly have been the ability to distinguish small objects in complicated backgrounds at great distances. Another item would require that people diagnose new situations and recommend ‘solution’ knots, that they look at a new knot and say what will happen if this or that end is pulled, etc. The tests would also include terribly culture-specific items such as the kind of reactions you must have when an elder scolds you, etc., for items of this sort also appear in IQ tests (and the respect shown for elders in Mongolian herding cultures is an extreme reverence entirely alien to Americans).

If Mongolian psychologists had then decided that what they were testing was an innate and unalterable ability called ‘intelligence,’ they would have found, after subjecting populations in different parts of the world to this test, that people elsewhereand in particular Americans with PhD’swere not that smart. But would that be fair? Michael Cole puts this argument to his readers in the words of Florence Goodenough, a psychologist writing in 1936:

“Goodenough identified the crucial shortcomings of the logic of this enterprise in a way that has very broad, if rarely recognized implications when she wrote: ‘the fact can hardly be too strongly emphasized that neither intelligence tests nor the so-called tests of personality and character are measuring devices. They are sampling devices’ (1936, p.5). Goodenough argued that when applied in American society, IQ tests represent a reasonable sampling device because they are ‘representative samples of the kind of intellectual tasks that American city dwellers are likely to be called upon to perform’ (ibid.); but that such tests are not representative of life in other cultural circumstances, and hence their use as measuring devices for purposes of comparison is inappropriate. This injunction applies no less, of course, to variations among subgroups living in the United States than to peoples living in economically less developed societies.”[18]

But the ultimate demonstration that Binet and Simon’s tests, and other tests built on the same principle, do not measure an innate and unalterable faculty comes from something that psychologists who use IQ tests call the Flynn Effect: for the last 50 years, the raw IQ scores in Western countries have been going steadily up, and dramatically so.[19]

What can this mean?

Well, the passage of one generation is entirely insufficient to produce a dramatic reorganization of the Western brain by the action of natural selection, so that cannot be what happened. The obvious hypothesis here is that kids in these countries watch more TV, leading to more encyclopedic knowledge about all sorts of things. Just to give one example, supposing you watch Dick Wolf’s Law and Order, you know a great deal about the criminal justice system. Fifty years ago there was no show remotely like it, for Law and Order goes out of its way to be pedagogic, as no show before it has. It is also quite possible that, because kids these days play hours and hours of Tetris and also 3-D shoot-em-up video games, this has given them exquisitely good training in object rotation, which figures prominently in IQ tests. Whatever the specifics, the fact of the Flynn effect is powerful evidence that IQ tests are not measuring an innate and fixed ability.

In fact, the Flynn effect is possible only if IQ tests are measuring ‘stuff learned,’ which is precisely what Binet and Simon designed them to test: the acquisition of a culturally specific set of cognitive tools and knowledge base. That kids in the West should score better in these tests when they get more training in what the tests measure is surprising only to those whoagainst all reasoninsist in pretending that IQ tests measure Cyril Burt’s definition of ‘intelligence.’

So let us consider the question of honesty.

Did Cyril Burt make an innocent mistake?

Given that Cyril Burt absurdly claimed that Binet and Simon tests were measuring his own entirely opposite concept, why did he? Was this an innocent mistake?

As mentioned earlier, a detailed examination of the ideology of eugenics will have to await the next chapter, but we can at least foreshadow that by stating that eugenicists had an aristocratic ideology, and wished to argue that members of the lower classes were innately stupid, the better to mobilize the institutions of the state against them. Cyril Burt was a major exponent of eugenics. It is therefore suspicious that he misused Alfred Binet’s tests, as we saw, to claim that rich students in prep schools were innately smarter.

And that suspicion is rewarded, because it turns out that Cyril Burt was an all-around fraud.

“A year after Burt’s death, Princeton psychologist Leon Kamin began to scrutinize his statistics and found major flaws. For one thing, in three different studies of different numbers of identical twins, Burt reported the same statistical correlation of IQ scores to the third decimal point, which is incredible. There were similar flaws in Burt’s reports dating back as far as 1909…

In 1976 London’s Sunday Times [in an article by Oliver Gillie] reported the shocking fact that Burt’s two field investigators and co-authors of his studies, Margaret Howard and J. Conway, were nonexistent. These two phantom experts had often signed reviews praising Burt and attacking his enemies in the British Journal of Statistical Psychology during the 15 years when Burt was its editor. Burt’s housekeeper admitted to the Sunday Times that she knew he used pseudonyms. It seems clear that Burt had solemnly reported nonexistent tests and studies, and had signed fictitious names to articles he published. There is no way for researchers to discover which parts of his life work might be valid, because he often referred to unpublished reports that can’t be found, and he carelessly stuffed whatever papers he kept into six chests instead of filing them. These papers were all burned after his death. According to Science magazine, this forgery may rank with that of the Piltdown man.”[20]

That Cyril Burt was a complete fraud is important because he was prominent and therefore influential. The article quoted immediately above begins by putting his status in context: “Sir Cyril Burt...became the most prestigious, powerful, and influential psychologist since the American genius William James.”

And Cyril Burt was not merely a prominent fraud, he was a truly bold one, accusing that it was his detractors who were dishonest and driven by ideological motives.

“Cyril Burt, invoking faked data compiled by the nonexistent Ms. Conway, complained that doubts about the genetic foundation of IQ ‘appear to be based rather on the social ideals or the subjective preferences of the critics than on any first-hand examination of the evidence supporting the opposite view’ (in Conway, 1959, p.15).”[21]

We now have sufficient context in the background to introduce one Arthur Jensen, a student of a eugenicist by the name Hans Eysenck whose own mentor was…Cyril Burt. Arthur Jensen is the man responsible for reviving ‘intelligence testing’ in recent times. Here is Jon Entine (remember him?) explaining this in Taboo.

“Almost overnight in 1969. . . After two decades in which intelligence research was viewed as an academic graveyard and a taboo subject in general, an article in an unlikely place, the normally staid Harvard Educational Review, exploded like a forgotten land mine, scattering shards of racial controversy far and wide.

The title…: ‘How Much Can We Boost I.Q. and Scholastic Achievement?’ Its author, Arthur Jensen…”[22]

Why is it that for “two decades” before 1969 “intelligence research was viewed as an academic graveyard and a taboo subject in general”? Well, because the two decades before 1969 are the two decades after the end of World War II, in which there was a genocide against the Jews, and systematic exterminations of Russians, Serbs, Roma (Gypsies), and others. These outrages were the culmination of a movement called eugenics that had lifted ‘intelligence testing’ as its pseudo-scientific flag, using it as a diagnostic tool to determine who would and would not be exterminated.

We shall examine how the American eugenics movement helped produce German Nazism later, but the point that matters here is that black people in the US did relatively poorly in IQ tests because they had little access to educational opportunities, and these tests were designed to measure how much of the culture of upper-class white society a person had acquired. Blacks were barely exposed to this culture, so naturally they had not acquired it. The claim that they were innately stupid because they had done poorly on IQ tests was therefore obviously nonsense, but this was Arthur Jensen's claim.

Psychologist Peter Shoneman explains:

“Jensen achieved instant notoriety when he challenged the received view that intelligence is primarily a function of environment, not genes. This [environmental] position had gained ground [after] WWII, gradually replacing the earlier eugenic thesis to the contrary... In his [1969] Harvard Educational Review paper, Jensen claimed that previous attempts to narrow the black/white gap on IQ tests were doomed to failure because, according to him, blacks are deficient in the particular genes required for complex information processing.”[22a]

What followed? As Shoneman goes on to explain,

“[Jensen argued that] futile efforts to bring [black children] up to the level of whites (such as Head Start) [should be] replaced with more realistic alternatives to guard against ‘dysgenic trends’ towards ‘genetic enslavement’ (Jensen 1969, p.91f).”

Jensen was producing an argument against social equality that claimed the differences observed between whites and blacks were innate, as opposed to resulting from widespread racism in American society. I remind you that 1969, when Jensen published his article, was a time when the Civil Rights battles were still being fought (Martin Luther King was murdered on 4 April, 1968).

Now, since Jensen is a direct intellectual descendant of a eugenicist and fraud, Cyril Burt, it does not look good that Jensen should be the one to have broken the taboo against ‘intelligence testing’ in 1969, reviving eugenic arguments. But the problem is not one of mere appearances: Jensen has gone out of his way to say that he approves of Burt.

“In May of 1957 [Arthur Jensen] went to hear Cyril Burt deliver his Bingham Memorial Lecture on the inheritance of mental ability. . . Jensen was impressed, and concluded, ‘It was probably the best lecture I have ever heard. . .’”[23]

Moreover, Jensen has defended Burt’s frauds: “Arthur Jensen insisted that if Burt had been trying to fake his data he would have done a better job of it.”[24]

Of course, Jensen is more or less required to defend Cyril Burt because he has relied on Burt’s made up data in his own work. As Raymond Fancher explains in The Intelligence Men: Makers of the IQ Controversy,

“In 1969, Jensen’s case for black genetic inferiority rested on a presumed IQ heritability of .80a figure derived from the fraudulent Burt studies. . .”[25]

And not only has Jensen relied on Burt’s frauds, he has produced some of his own. It would take us too far afield to explain why Jensen’s statistics are phony, but interested readers may consult the work of psychologist Peter Shoneman, who has shown that “Jensen’s g ersatz [statistic] is...a travesty of Spearman’s g.”[25a] In other words, Jensen has abused the statistical reasoning of his intellectual ancestor, Charles Spearman, beyond all recognition. But that is not the end of it because, as we shall see in the next chapter, Spearman's reasoning itself is nonsense.

Given all this, it is more than a little chilling that Jon Entine should refer to Arthur Jensen as “a respected psychologist at the University of California at Berkeley…a careful academician with sterling credentials in that field.”[26] Why? Because it means that the man who argues, with absurd nonsense, for the innate athletic superiority of black people, is praising the man who relies on a eugenicist fraud in order to allege the innate intellectual inferiority of black people.

Physical prowess plus intellectual inferiority...

As you may recall from the introduction, these are the two sides of the coin of the racist credo traditionally pushed by the white upper classes in American society. So it is not exactly surprising that the chapter in which Jon Entine praises Arthur Jensen has for title “Sports and IQ,” and moreover that he announces how he will consider the supposed “genetic seesaw, with physical ability on one end and smarts on the other.”[27] Entine wants to make sure that you get the point! Better evidence that he is pushing racism is not really needed, and yet we shall have occasion to see such evidence.

In order to get the full chill, however, it is important first to paint a more complete picture of what the eugenics movement was, the better to understand what the likes of Arthur Jensen and Jon Entine have been trying to revive. That will be the topic of the next chapter.

»» Continue to Chapter 7:


[1] Cole, Michael. 1996. Cultural psychology. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. (p.52)

[2] Binet, Alfred, Les idées modernes sur les enfants, (original 1909 edition: pp.135-138; 1973 edition: pp.97-99). Also reproduced in Alfred Binet: Ecrits psychologiques et pédagogiques, choisis et présentés par G. Avanzini. Toulouse: Privat (1974, pp.125-135). My translation.

[3] Binet, Alfred, Les idées modernes sur les enfants (see above).

[4] Black, E. 2003. War against the weak: Eugenics and America's campaign to create a master race. New York: Four Walls Eight Windows. (p.76)

[5] Kamin, Leon (1974) The science and politics of I.Q. New York: Halstead Press. (p.5).

[6] quoted in Carroll, J.B. 1982. The measurement of intelligence. In The handbook of human intelligence, edited by R. J. Sternberg. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (p.90)

[7] War against the weak (p.76).

[8] Alfred Binet quoted in War against the weak (p.76).

[9] War against the weak (p.76).

[10] Fancher, R. 1985. The intelligence men: Makers of the IQ controversy. New York: Norton. (p.174)

[11] Intelligence Men (p.173)

[12] Cole, Michael. 1996. Cultural psychology. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. (pp.52-53)

[13] Cultural Psychology (p.53)

[14] Cultural Psychology (pp.53-54)

[15] Cultural Psychology (p.54)

[16] Cultural Psychology (p.54)

[17] Cultural Psychology (p.54)

[18] Cultural Psychology (p.56)

[19] Flynn, James R. 1987. “Massive IQ gains in 14 nations: What IQ tests really measure.” Psychological bulletin, 101:2, pp. 171-91.

[20] The Lewis Legacy-Issue 73, Summer 1997; “In The Footsteps Of Sir Cyril Burt And Bruno Bettleheim”; By Kathryn Lindskoog; The C. S. Lewis Foundation for Truth in Publishing; June 1, 1997.
command=view&id=722&program=CS Lewis Legacy Online

[21] The quotation is from Gould, S. J. 1981. The Mismeasure of Man. New York: Norton (pp.20-21).

The quotation from the nonexistent Ms. Conway is from a paper that Burt published under ‘her’ name, and the citation for that is: Conway, J. 1959. Class differences in general intelligence: II. British Journal of Statistical Psychology 12:5-14.

[22] Entine, Jon. 2000. Taboo: Why black athletes dominate sports and why we're afraid to talk about it. New York: Public Affairs. (p.235)

[22a] Shonemann, P. H. 2005. "Psychometrics of intelligence," in Encyclopedia of social measurement, vol. 3, pp. 193-201: Elsevier. (p.199)

[23] The intelligence men (p.188)

[24] The Lewis Legacy-Issue 73, Summer 1997; “In The Footsteps Of Sir Cyril Burt And Bruno Bettleheim”; By Kathryn Lindskoog; The C. S. Lewis Foundation for Truth in Publishing; June 1, 1997.
command=view&id=722&program=CS Lewis Legacy Online

[25] The intelligence men. (p.239).

[25a] Shonemann, P. H. 2005. "Psychometrics of intelligence," in Encyclopedia of social measurement, vol. 3, pp. 193-201: Elsevier. (p.200)

[26] Taboo (p.235)

[27] Taboo (p.234)