Gregory Hood, American Renaissance, July 30, 2018
“Communicating intelligence research: Media misrepresentation, the Gould effect, and unexpected forces” by Michael A. Woodley and others chronicles an intellectual culture in collapse and a poisonous climate in higher education that has rendered facts irrelevant. “Facts are stubborn things,” said John Adams. “Whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” Unfortunately, wishes, inclinations, and above all passion blind many to the facts. So it is with the study of intelligence, the authors report. “Unlike most academics,” they write, “scientists in this field often find themselves in the court of public opinion merely for carrying out their work, largely or entirely because their findings have a tendency to collide with certain deeply held moral and political beliefs.”
The authors argue the “controversalization” of intelligence research began in the 1960s with the assault of Arthur Jensen’s work on race and intelligence. The useful term “controversalization,” as coined by journalist Robert Parry, is “the political tactic of utilizing positions of social influence (such as media) to make an opposing position seem more controversial than it actually is in order to marginalize it.” In this case, the obscurantists attacking Jensen claimed “IQ research is ideologically motivated by a desire to justify racial and other inequalities.” The authors write that this led to a chilling effect on research as universities refused to offer courses on intelligence research “for fear of causing offense.”
The authors of this article don’t just bemoan “hostile media coverage and politicized misrepresentation” of research, but seek to analyze and explain it. Using Google’s Ngram Viewer, the article created a graphical representation of the frequency that the terms “racism” or “racist” were used in the same sentences as “intelligence” or “IQ”. It did the same with those containing “intelligence” or “IQ” and the words “heritability” or “heritable.” The resulting graph shows the frequency of the racism/IQ combination generally increased from 1965 to 2000. The heritable/IQ pattern also increased until 1984 but then declined.
The authors say this is evidence of the chilling effect of “controversalization” on intelligence research. They call this the “Gould Effect” because the decline began three years after the well-known fraud Stephen Jay Gould published The Mismeasure of Man, “in which a case is made for dismissing intelligence research on the grounds of the field’s alleged racism and elitism.” Reviewing an expanded edition of the book in 1996 in Personality and Individual Differences, the late Philip Rushton charged Gould with “several counts of scholarly malfeasance,” including simply ignoring critical evidence that undermines his positions. In 2011, a team of physical anthropologist from the University of Pennsylvania found that “almost every detail of his analysis is wrong.” Nonetheless, the data from “Communicating intelligence research” suggest that while Gould’s book may have been “a scientific failure, it was a political success.”
The authors suggest one of the most recent manifestations of the “Gould Effect” was the treatment of Toby Young and the International Society for Intelligence Research. Mr. Young, a journalist with conservative views, presented a lecture at the 18th annual International Society for Intelligence Research conference in 2017, with the transcript of his talk published in Intelligence. His speech on “liberal creationism” compared the gathering to “a meeting of Chapter 77 in Vaclav Havel’s flat in Prague in the 1970s.”
Soon afterward, Mr. Young was appointed as a member of the Untied Kingdom’s Office for Students, which, as the authors note without irony, is “tasked with protecting free speech at UK universities, among other things.” Hysteria ensued, as journalists poured through his tweets looking for reasons to be offended. The attacks on Mr. Young expanded to the London Conference on Intelligence (LCI) held annually at University College London, a conference Mr. Young had attended. The London Student sensationally reported on the conference with an article entitled “Exposed: London’s eugenics conference and its neo-Nazi links,” with similarly lurid coverage in a host of “mainstream” newspapers from the Daily Mail to The Guardian. The authors in Intelligence defend the LCI, saying the “overwhelming preponderance of talks dealt exclusively with data or substantive theory.” Nonetheless, the authors note that the university, “apparently informed only by the sensationalized but objectively erroneous media coverage,” began an investigation of the LCI and its organizer, James Thompson. The next year, the conference had to be held in Denmark under conditions of great secrecy.
The authors conclude that “politicized outrage about certain findings in intelligence research. . . is unfortunately unlikely to abate.” They suggest this is not simply because the political Left has an ideological interest in attacking intelligence research, but because science education has failed more broadly. The authors suggest intelligence researchers point out at every opportunity that despite constant media reports to the contrary, their findings “are entirely mainstream within the broader field of psychology.” Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the authors end with something of a battle cry: We must be “actively fostering social support for targets of the Gould Effect. . . . to help such individuals weather the storm.” More broadly, this is what all race realists need.
The authors should be commended for courage and dedication to truth. They are also correct to emphasize that organically developed grassroots support is critically important. Fighting orthodoxy is a hard struggle: “To follow the data in the 21st century requires explorations of genetic and neuroscientific methods that may lead to interpretations of data that are contrary to popular utopian beliefs concerning the infinite malleability of human nature or the absolute equality of human groups.” However, many people rely on “utopian beliefs” to justify power and livelihoods. Proving the truth of human inequality, for example, would refute the concept of “white privilege” that now sustains an entire industry of “facilitators” and faux-scholars. These fanatics will never concede they are wrong, whatever the facts.
As this article shows, modern universities are not bastions of intellectual freedom but something more akin to prisons. Journalists, with their sensationalist propaganda, restrict rather than enable public debate. Worst of all, those like the late Dr. Gould actively hold science back by committing fraud rather than pursuing facts.
The solution is unfortunately political. Intelligence researchers, race realists, and everyone dedicated to real science need a certain level of institutional power, financial infrastructure, and media access. The West is far from an open society when it comes to freedom of inquiry and expression on the most important issues we face. As the authors suggest, grassroots support networks are the first step, but they are only the first step.
The struggle to build power and secure the freedom to pursue knowledge will be long fought, but intelligence researchers have one key advantage: The truth is on their side. The enemies of science must silence all of us. In contrast, all we need — to borrow a phrase from university culture — is just one safe space. The truth may not set you free, but it’s very hard to keep it imprisoned forever.