Why is the science of human intelligence a secular heresy?

The Bell Curve

OCALA, Fla., March 11, 2014 — Although Charles Murray and Richard Herrnstein wrote The Bell Curve twenty years ago, their findings remain relevant as ever. This has made no shortage of people very uncomfortable.

Long before these two men collaborated on a single page, however, open borders fanatics, anti-intelligence crusaders and an array of social misfits masquerading as well-meaning activists battled against IQ’s genetic components. Absurd and downright untruthful as their rhetoric might be, the facts have never bent to the whim of political correctness.

For instance, it is undeniable that genes play a large role in determining the intelligence of any given person. A 2011 study published in Molecular Psychiatry indicated that more than half of a person’s IQ can be attributed to genetic factors. Going back several decades, before the Nazis warped genetic science into a fantasy for rationalizing genocide, most of the developed world pursued its research with a passion.

Nonetheless, scores still believe that intelligence and heredity have nothing to do with one another. This idea is held with a religious conviction; the sort of thing that cares not a whit for logic or reason. As intelligence is the quintessential matter of logic and reason, those who have no use for either cannot be expected to evaluate IQ in a reliable fashion.

Considering this, it should be no surprise that scientists and scholars who speak frankly about group-based differences in intelligence are sometimes subject to career implosion. Why are reactions to their observations so extreme?

“It’s a way to police the boundaries of ‘acceptable’ speech without direct government censorship,” Dr. Jason Richwine says to Communities Digital News. The Harvard-educated social scientist was on his way to the top until late last spring. A staffer at the Heritage Foundation, he wrote a lengthy study about illegal immigration’s impact on our national interest. His findings generated widespread media attention, and perhaps more importantly, professional acclaim.

Shortly after, politically motivated bloggers let loose with quotations from Richwine’s doctoral dissertation, which focused on IQ and the Hispanic community’s fortunes. Despite finding strong support from most of the right-leaning punditocracy, Dr. Richwine ultimately stepped down from Heritage.

While his work was defended as legitimate science by many, others claimed him to be a proponent of eugenic-inspired bigotry.

Dr. Richwine is hardly alone in being persecuted for studying the lesser-mentioned facets of human intelligence. Dr. Robert Weissberg is an emeritus professor at the University of Illinois, Urbana. For decades on end, he was a popular columnist, author, and public speaker. In 2012, he was fired by the National Review for his opinions about ancestry-related intelligence. Ironically, this afforded him intense national exposure. Today, he continues to write about sociocultural relations.

“(T)here is a vast industry to uplift a bottom that cannot be uplifted,” Dr. Weissberg explains to CDN. “Like turning lead into gold. Moreover, the shear futility of the quest bestows a moral virtue on these crusaders. Look at all the ‘noble’ foundations that have poured billions down the toilet.”

The most contentious point of debating hereditary intelligence is group-based evaluation. Can one honestly generalize in such a fashion? 

Steve Sailer is one of the few journalists who regularly writes about the relationship between intelligence and society. His relentlessly data-centric reportage has earned him no shortage of accolades and detractions. Sailer has managed to do what few other journalists dare: linking intelligence not only with economics, but political trends.

“As anybody who has filled out a Census form can attest, Washington spends a vast amount of money counting people by race and ethnicity,” Sailer told this journalist in 2012. “They just ask people to self-identify. Sure, that method sometimes overlooks relevant information (for example, President Barack Obama self-identified as black and nothing else on his 2010 Census form), but, overall, it appears to be good enough for government work.”

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