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Race and intelligence (Media portrayal)

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Main article: Race and intelligence
Jensen demonstrators

Demonstrators disrupt a 1999 academic conference in London at which 3 race and intelligence researchers were scheduled to speak. Arthur Jensen pictured lower left; Walter Kistler pictured upper left.[1]

Several researchers on race and intelligence and other IQ-related topics claim that the media covers research in their field inaccurately.

Snyderman and Rothman studyEdit

Snyderman and Rothman (1988), conducted a study of the news media (newspapers, news magazines, and broadcast TV news) and surveyed the opinions of journalists and science editors. (They separately surveyed intelligence experts.) They concluded that media coverage of intelligence related topics was overall inaccurate and misleading. They attributed this partly to a tendency of the news media to emphasize controversy, and the difficulty of accurately reporting technical issues such as complex statistics. However, they conclude that these factors alone cannot account for their finding that the media has misreported the views of the scientific community, especially about the role of genetic and environmental factors in explaining individual and group differences in IQ. Among psychologists, sociologists, cognitive scientists, educators, and geneticists (in 1987), 53% thought that the black-white gap was partially genetic and 17% thought that it was entirely environmental.

Journalists, science editors, and IQ experts were asked their "opinion of the source of the black-white difference in IQ":[2]

Group Entirely Environment Entirely Genetic Both Data Are Insufficient
Journalists 34% 1% 27% 38%
Editors 47% 2% 23% 28%
IQ Experts 17% 1% 53% 28%

For example, the media regularly presented the views of Stephen Jay Gould and Leon Kamin as representative of mainstream opinion among experts, whereas those who stress that individual and group differences may be partly genetic (e.g., Arthur Jensen) are characterized as a minority. Their survey of expert opinion confirmed that the opposite is actually true.

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Snyderman and Rothman suggested that the personal views and preferences of journalists and editors influenced their reporting, especially their selection of which views to present and how to present them. They suggested that the desire of the journalists and editors to advance liberal political goals, which are seen by many as incompatible with a substantial genetic contribution to individual and group differences in IQ, caused them to preferentially report the views of experts who reject the heritability of IQ. However, note that journalists, editors and experts on average agreed on survey questions meant to measure social and political views, indicating that experts had liberal political goals despite their scientific views on IQ.

Reporting on the issues of within and between group heritability was found to be particularly poor. Whereas 94 percent of experts believed there is evidence for significant within-group heritability (with an average estimate of ~60% heritability), news media reports often either erroneously reported that experts believe that genetic control of IQ is total (~100% heritability) or that most experts believed that genetics plays no role (~0% heritability). News reports make the same mistakes (at approximately the same rate) when reporting the expert view on the contribution of genetics to racial-ethnic group differences in IQ. News reports also tended to cite the opinions of only very few experts (such as Jensen, Herrnstein, and William Shockley) to whom they often erroneously attributed a variety of views (e.g., that Blacks are inherently or innately inferior to Whites, that their views have adverse implication for education policy or adverse political implications, or that they are racist). Snyderman and Rothman speculated that the misattribution of views to these individuals stems from attacks on them by public intellectuals, such as Kamin. On the other hand, Rushton and several other prominent researchers funded by the Pioneer fund have often been criticized on these grounds also by academics.

The study is almost twenty years old and it is unknown if its results still apply.

The Bell CurveEdit

In response to the controversy surrounding The Bell Curve, the American Psychological Association's Board of Scientific Affairs in 1995 established a special task force to publish an investigative report on the research presented in the book. [3]. Regarding genetic causes, they noted that there is not much direct evidence on this point, but what little there is fails to support the genetic hypothesis. The Janurary 1997 issue of American Psychologist included eleven critical responses to the APA report, most of which criticized the report's failure to examine all of the evidence for or against the partly-genetic interpretation of racial differences in IQ.

External linksEdit


Race and intelligence

Research: Test data, Explanations, and Interpretations
Controversies: Utility and Potential for bias
History | Media portrayal | References

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