Dictionary of Arguments


Philosophical and Scientific Issues in Dispute
 
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Entry
Reference
Intelligence Jensen Slater I 118
Intelligence/psychology/Jensen: Jensen (1969)(1) presented evidence that racial and social class differences in intelligence test scores may have genetically determined origins, and proposed that African-American and children of lower socioeconomic status (SES) of all races might be better served by educational programs that recognize their presumed genetic limitations in learning capacity. VsJensen: The controversy was rooted less in the science surrounding what Jensen had to say than in the social implications of acting on Jensen’s proposal. Many thought this would create a permanent, ostensibly legitimized, underclass in which African-Americans would be disproportionately represented.
Empirical data:
a) African-American students averaged on the order of one standard deviation lower than European-American students on most measures of academic achievement and intelligence, (…)
b) children from lower-social class families tended more generally to score similarly lower than children from middle- and upper-social class families.
It was these same observations that had led to the development and funding of the Head Start Program in the United States in 1964, with first implementation as a summer kindergarten readiness program in 1965.
Slater I 119
By 1969 the general optimism that had fueled the Head Start Program (…) had dissipated. The (…) program (…) was not meeting expectations. IQ/Jensen 1966(2): Can psychologists and educators raise the national IQ? (…) The genes and the prenatal environment control some 80 per cent of the variance in intelligence. This leaves about 20 per cent to the environment ... The degree of boost that can be effected in any person will, of course, depend on the extent to which his usual environment is less than optimal for the full development of his innate intellectual potential. (Jensen, 1966(2), p. 99).
IQ/Jensen: (Jensen 1967)(3) “This widespread belief [in cultural disadvantage] gives rise to various plans for ... educational programs tailored to the apparent limitations of a large proportion of low socioeconomic status children. This is a harmful and unjust set of beliefs, if acted upon ... (1967(3) p. 5).”
JensenVsJensen: (Jensen 1969)(1) two years later, Jensen recommended exactly that: educational programs tailored to the apparel limitations of minority and low SES (socioeconomic status) children.
United States Commission on Civil Rights: (1967)(3) the US CCR report (…) at the time was heavily criticised, though its basic finding of few or no lasting gains in IQ scores has stood the test of time: Thesis: compensatory education has been tried and it apparently has failed (quoted in Jensen (1969(1) p. 1.
Jensen (1969): the premise needs revisiting.
Slater I 120
Solution/Jensen: (Jensen 1969)(1): society should use [the conclusion, that group or racial differences in levels of IQ are genetically determined] as the basis for designing educational programs that recognized presumably inherent and permanent racial and socioeconomic (SES) differences in capacity to benefit from education. >Intelligence tests/Jensen.


1. Jensen, A. R. (1969). How much can we boost IQ and scholastic achievement? Harvard Educational Review, 3, 1–123.
2. Jensen, A. R. (1966). Verbal mediation and educational potential. Psychology in the Schools, 3, 99–109.
3. Jensen, A. R. (1967). The culturally disadvantaged: Psychological and educational aspects. Educational Research, 10, 4–20.


Wendy Johnson: „How Much Can We Boost IQ? Updated Look at Jensen’s (1969) Question and Answer“, in: Alan M. Slater & Paul C. Quinn (eds.) 2012. Developmental Psychology. Revisiting the Classic Studies. London: Sage Publications


Slater I
Alan M. Slater
Paul C. Quinn
Developmental Psychology. Revisiting the Classic Studies London 2012
Intelligence Tests Jensen Slater I 120
Intelligence tests/Jensen: In the mid-1960s, Jensen’s lab was conducting experiments with paired-associate and serial learning in children from various racial and SES backgrounds. In these tasks, participants are presented with randomly grouped stimuli, often words, and asked later to recall both the stimuli and the ways in which they were grouped. Jensen was comparing performance on these tasks in children with different IQs. Jensen was acutely aware that most intelligence tests include items intended to assess how much the individual had learned in the predominant cultural environment, thus potentially putting minority and low-SES (socioeconomic status) backgrounds at substantial disadvantage (Jensen, 1966(1), 1967(2), 1968a(3), 1969(4)). Solution/Jensen: basic, novel, laboratory learning tasks might be more direct and “culture-free” indexes of intelligence. Jensen and his staff noted that African-American, Mexican-American, and low-SES European-American children with low IQs in the 70–90 range tended to perform much better on these learning tasks than did middle- and upper-SES European-American children with similar IQs. In fact, the minority and low-IQ children performed very similarly on these tasks compared to middle- and upper-SES European-American children with normal and even above-normal IQs (Jensen, 1968b(5)).
„Culture-free“ IQ test: Raven’s Progressive Matrices: Raven’s is a well-known nonverbal reasoning test that was then generally assumed, and still is by many, to be “culture-free” because of its nonverbal character and the absence of any performance reliance on knowledge of specific information.
Problem: it was exactly this test that produced the greatest difference in correlations.
Jensen: this suggested, that the source of the performance contrast was not cultural bias in the tests but some difference inherent between the children in the two kinds of groups. >Heritability/Jensen, >Intelligence/Jensen, >Racism/Jensen, >Science/Jensen, >Genetic variation/Jensen.
Slater I 122
JohnsonVsJensen: Jensen did not present the evidence contradicting his case, nor did he present alternative interpretations of the evidence he presented.
Slater I 128
Perhaps the greatest irony surrounding Jensen’s (1969)(1) article is that he was very creatively doing just that when he was sidetracked into arguing that socially dis-advantaged children were inherently less educable.


1. Jensen, A. R. (1966). Verbal mediation and educational potential. Psychology in the Schools, 3, 99–109.
2. Jensen, A. R. (1967). The culturally disadvantaged: Psychological and educational aspects. Educational Research, 10, 4–20.
3. Jensen, A. R. (1968a). Social class, race, and genetic – Implications for education. American Educational Research Journal, 5, 1–42.
4. Jensen, A. R. (1969). How much can we boost IQ and scholastic achievement? Harvard Educational Review, 3, 1–123.
5. Jensen, A. R. (1968b). Patterns of mental ability and socioeconomic status. Proceedings of the National Academy of the United States of America, 60, 1330–1337.


Wendy Johnson: „How Much Can We Boost IQ? Updated Look at Jensen’s (1969) Question and Answer“, in: Alan M. Slater & Paul C. Quinn (eds.) 2012. Developmental Psychology. Revisiting the Classic Studies. London: Sage Publications


Slater I
Alan M. Slater
Paul C. Quinn
Developmental Psychology. Revisiting the Classic Studies London 2012