THE INTELLIGENCE CONTROVERSY by Hans & Leon Kamin Eysenck

THE INTELLIGENCE CONTROVERSY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Breathes there a soul who is neutral in the great IQ controversy? Hardly. So any assertion that Kamin (Psychology, Princeton) comes out on top in this two-person debate with Eysenck (Psychology, London) will be dismissed by pro-Eysenck forces as bias. But if the debate decides nothing, it's still instructive on several grounds: we observe how two articulate behavioral scientists approach a problem, how their ideas change over time, how they fight. Mercifully skipping philosophical arguments about the meaning of intelligence, the protagonists get down to the issue of whether IQ test scores essentially reflect gene-given abilities (Eysenck) or whether environmental grounds can be found to explain group differences as well as similarities in IQ between identical twins (Kamin). (Note this subtlety: Kamin does not say nurture-over-nature; he says the ease for nature has not been proved--IQ could be 100 percent nurture, for all we know.) From Eysenck's presentation, we learn the history of IQ tests and how tests are made up--with samples. There follow theme and variation on twin studies: adoptive vs. biological relatives, socioeconomic class correlations, blacks vs. whites, etc. Eysenck concedes that early studies were sloppy, even falsified, and he holds no brief for the eugenicists. He does, however, remark upon greater variance among men than among women (thus men will predominate in the super-ranks of IQ as well as in the sub-ranks). And he piously upholds separate classes for the ""educable sub-normals"" (i.e., it is not fair to them, or to others. . .). Kamin, who called the early shots on Cyril Burt's fraudulent studies, proceeds to find holes in all the twin studies Eysenck cites; notes errors of fact, of interpretation; and even points out some petty plagiarism. To be sure, Eysenck scores a few off Kamin (one does get the idea that Kamin has adopted an extreme stance--heritability of IQ may be nil--as a didactic gesture to conflate his opponents). But there is no denying that Kamin's comb has finer and sharper teeth. And there, for the moment, the matter rests.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1981
Publisher: Wiley