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Unformatted text preview: Intelligence, Race, and Genetics Robert J. Sternberg, Elena L. Grigorenko, and Kenneth K. Kidd Yale University In this article, the authors argue that the overwhelming portion of the literature on intelligence, race, and genetics is based on folk taxonomies rather than scientific analysis. They suggest that because theorists of intelligence disagree as to what it is, any consideration of its relationships to other constructs must be tentative at best. They further argue that race is a social construction with no scientific definition. Thus, studies of the relationship between race and other constructs may serve social ends but cannot serve scientific ends. No gene has yet been conclusively linked to intelligence, so attempts to provide a compelling genetic link of race to intelligence are not feasible at this time. The authors also show that heritability, a behavior- genetic concept, is inadequate in regard to providing such a link. A number of scholars claim to have studied rela- tionships among intelligence, race, and genetics (e.g., Herrnstein & Murray, 1994; Rushton, 1995). The thesis of this article is that these studies are not grounded in scientifically derived constructs but rather in folk beliefs about them. There is a big difference between studying relationships between constructs and folk beliefs regarding such relationships. The bigger problem, how- ever, is when one studies the latter but believes one is studying the former. In this article, we first review the nature of intelli- gence. We then discuss the relationship between intelli- gence and race. Finally, we reflect upon the relationships among intelligence, race, and genetics. Intelligence To study the interrelationships among intelligence, race, and genetics, we need to know what intelligence is. We do not know. Hence, any conclusions about its relationships to other constructs will be, at best, tentative. Formal Theories of Intelligence One way to figure out what intelligence is has been to ask experts. Two major symposia have done so (Intelligence and Its Measurement, 1921; Sternberg & Detterman, 1986). Each of the roughly two dozen definitions produced in each symposium was different. There were some com- mon threads, such as the importance of adaptation to the environment and of the ability to learn, but these constructs themselves are not well specified. Moreover, very few tests of intelligence directly measure either one. Tests do not offer adaptive tasks one is likely to face in everyday life. Nor do any tests, except dynamic tests (see Sternberg & Grigorenko, 2002a) that require learning at the time of the test, directly measure ability to learn. Rather, traditional tests focus much more on measuring past learning, which can be the result of differences in many factors, including motivation and available opportunities to learn....
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This note was uploaded on 05/18/2011 for the course ANTHRO 600 taught by Professor Different during the Spring '08 term at Kansas.
- Spring '08