For the past centuries a number of authors and researchers have made a number of determinisms, some based on correlational data about the relationship between the concepts of IQ, intelligence, race and other social factors. Many of these determinisms have been viewed as very problematic by other researchers because the views they take are very flawed and have been politically utilized to justify prejudiced agendas against immigrants, individuals of lower socioeconomic status and people of socially perceived differing racial attributes such as skin color. Most of the evidence purported to support these agendas are based on very limited and biased viewpoints of amassed scientific data. This scientific data isn’t fake data but data that has been twisted to fit into an ideological scheme that has pervaded human society since the middle ages or even before. That a select minority of the population are superior in terms of genetics, intelligence, beauty, strength, etc. and therefore are more deserving of higher positions of authority, power, wealth, prestige and status.
One of the greatest false premises is the notion of the concept of intelligence. Human society is obsessed with categorizing things and putting them in their proper places and this obsession is even applied to abstract concepts such as intelligence and social concepts such as race. (Gould, 1995) Everyone has their own definition of what constitutes intelligence. Psychology has attempted to operationalize intelligence in its attempt to objectively measure an abstract concept, give it some type of form and make it measurable and discernable. These attempts have produced many different theories about intelligence but one of the most prevalent is the notion that intelligence is biological, inherited and therefore fixed. Humans are born intelligent and not made. This is most recognizable as general intelligence or g factor, which is based on correlation data, taken and analyzed from different types of intelligence tests that have been designed and applied. G factor has even been correlated with race and other social factors to indicate that statistically the most intelligent of the population are white and wealthy. The biggest problem is that one can’t forget that correlation is not causation. Just because it correlates well statistically does not mean that it causes it. Also for a correlation to be considered statistically significant it need not be high. A correlation of just .25 or 25% might be considered statistically significant, even though that number would normally be considered rather low.
This correlation data has been utilized to continually justify a status quo mentality that the rich and powerful deserve to be where they are and it’s a waste for those from lower classes or lower scores of intelligence to even aspire to more. Biology completely determines one’s intellectual ability, nothing can be done about it but resign oneself to one’s place in life. And biology itself is completely separated from influence from the environment.
This is a completely false premise. Nisbett, Aronson, Blair, Dickens, Flynn, Halpern & Turkheimer give a great example of how social factors such as moving a child from a lower socioeconomic environment (SES) to a higher SES can affect IQ scores:
Adopted children typically score 12 points or more higher than comparison children (e.g., siblings left with birth parents or children adopted by lower SES parents), and adoption typically moves children from lower to higher SES homes (2012, p. 136).
In another example “natural experiments in which children are deprived of school for an extended period of time show deficits in IQ of as much as 2 SD” (Nisbett et al, 2012, p. 137). So clearly something other than biology clearly has an effect on IQ scores.
Moving back to the accepted conceptualization of intelligence, there truly isn’t any accepted conceptualization of intelligence. “Theorists of intelligence do not themselves agree on what intelligence is” (Sternberg, Grigorenko, Kidd, 2005, p. 47) The only thing that has been accepted or better said assumed is that since most tests designed to measure intelligence and produce a score, such as IQ, have shown to correlate well statistically with each other it’s assumed then they must be measuring the same thing, intelligence. Therefore intelligence’s operational definition has been defined by what correlates well with test measurements. This is not an adequate way to determine what intelligence is. Intelligence has many conceptualizations worldwide and it is not something that can be easily measured nor completely reduced to an IQ score from on a test.
Now intelligence tests can be very useful “when applied in a thoughtful and transparent manner” (Nisbett et al. 2012, p. 131). Nisbett et al (2012) assert however that “it is important to remain vigilant for misuse of scores on tests of intelligence or any other psychological assessment and to look for possible biases in any measure” (p. 131). But unfortunately bias are prevalent and have been repeatedly used to continue to subjugate those we perceive as different.
Race has all too often been connected to intelligence and IQ. And just as intelligence, race has been perceived to be intimately connected to biology. This is not accurate however. Our perception of race is much more tied to a social perception then a biological reality. The perceived differences in skin color, hair texture, nose shape, etc. have been considered by most, if not all of human society, to literally categorize other homo-sapiens as a completely different species. Though there are macroscopic physiological differences at the genetic level we are all the same race, we reproduce viable offspring. Our conception of race is a folk conception based on a history of conqueror and conquered. The conqueror is superior to the conquered. The “race” that is viewed as the most beneath all the others is the “Black African Race”. The “White European Race” enslaved them for centuries. While this is commonly held view in the Americas it is not entirely accurate since even in Africa, Africans do not consider themselves the same. Neither for that matter do Europeans, North Americans, South Americans or Asians consider themselves all the same even though they share the same continent and the majority might share similar skin tones or colors. Race is a social construct and it has been correlated to intelligence in order to further justify the conquerors having superiority over the conquered. (Sternberg et al, 2005; Gould, 1995).
It was simpler back in the middle ages I presume. The conquered had been defeated and had to acquiesce to the demands of their conquerors or face death. Now the descendants of the conquerors seek new evidence for their superiority. Not attributing at all the differences to cultural or societal factors it has been widely assumed that the descendants of conquerors are just born superior to the descendants of the conquered or foreign races. And the correlations in data are the purported evidence for this assertion. So now those that come from so little must accept their lot in life just as the peasantry of the middle ages. We find a proposal for “a world in which people [are] slotted into places that fit their cognitive ability, in which each…will be respected for what they actually are and can be (which [amounts] to more or less the same thing)” (Fenwick, 1995, p. 5) Public education is a complete and total waste of resources that could be more properly invested in helping the elitists continue to hold their dominance over the lower classes.
We must expand beyond the old paradigms of aristocracy and peasantry. Advances in scientific research have shown that we are much more similar biologically then we appear to our naked eyes. And even our legislature has evolved to include more rights and freedoms for all. The old paradigms still exist and have dominated a worldview that is not at all based on scientific fact but on a prejudiced bias where we seek to categorize everyone as a thing with a purpose that has been determined at birth instead of recognizing the enormous potential that exists within each of us and valuing the plentiful amount of ways that intelligence is expressed internationally through different cultural perspectives.