A Question of Intelligence: The IQ Debate in America

Daniel Seligman, Author
Daniel Seligman, Author Carol Publishing Corporation $16.95 (239p) ISBN 978-1-55972-131-8
Paperback - 978-0-8065-1507-6
Hardcover - 239 pages - 978-0-7881-5712-7
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Fortune magazine columnist Seligman here targets the prevailing wisdom that IQ tests are culturally biased, that environment is more significant than genetics. His provocative argument, based on academic literature and interviews with scholars, is convincing: IQ tests do indeed measure mental abilities, those abilities are in substantial measure heritable and testing is worthwhile for it generates data of enormous social value and explanatory power. Seligman debunks media coverage of Chicago teacher Marva Collins and others who claim to dramatically raise the IQs of disadvantaged children in the classroom. But the book rambles. He devotes too much space to the history of IQ testing and the background of psychologist Arthur Jensen and his controversial theory that intelligence is determined largely by genes, rather than fully exploring, for example, why Asians and Jews score higher on IQ tests. Seligman maintains that environmental effects explain only part of the gap in IQ test scores between American blacks and whites and stresses that many scholars believe that the differences are attributable to genetics. The book concludes with an attack on affirmative action and a proposal that people should be treated as individuals. Seligman is to be credited with raising issues in a debate that many shy away from as too heated. (Oct.)
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