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The Mail


To the Editors of the Crimson:

We, the undersigned members of Adams House, want to make the following points about Mr. Herrnstein's article, "I.Q." in the Atlantic, and the issues it has raised:

1. The crucial sections of Mr. Herrnstein's article are to be found in the introduction by the editors and in Mr. Herrnstein's conclusion. These sections deal not with science but with political and social theory. As such Mr. Herrnstein has opened his article up to political as well as scholarly criticism. The faculty statement in the Crimson unfortunately missed this crucial point.

2. Towards the end of his article, Mr. Herrnstein states. "By removing arbitrary barriers between classes, society has encouraged the creation of biological barriers." We disagree with this position as it is applied to America. Working people in America are confronted with an educational system that provides serious education only to the wealthy; an army that drafts primarily the poor; a medical establishment that gives the wealthy the best health care in the world, while giving the poor treatment inferior to that in many industrial countries; a housing policy which permits the rich to escape to the suburbs, while forcing the poor to live in substandard housing. Is Mr. Herrnstein going to tell the children of America's poor as they look forward to the bleak prospect of living their lives in America that society is removing "arbitrary barriers?" In fact, arbitrary barriers dominate our society. It is mistaken to think that if we accept this society on its own terms, these barriers will drop away.

3. We are particularly concerned about Mr. Herrnstein's article since it comes at a time when President Nixon is making a major offensive against working people through such acts as his veto of the comprehensive day care program, his new tax policy which shifts even more of the tax burden from large corporations to middle and lower income taxpayers; and of course, his wage-price controls. By giving the impression that we are moving toward "the removal of arbitrary barriers," Mr. Herrnstein's article can be used to justify the social crisis which now confronts us. Moreover, by applying the "scientific method" to social and political concerns, he attempts to prove that "we are indeed stuck with the conclusion of the syllogism" that we are headed toward a meritocracy. Such a statement cannot avoid being political, and deserves to be criticized politically.

4. We do not feel that a meritocracy is inevitable. Mr. Herrnstein's syllogism is based upon an assumption of a viciously competitive and heirarchical society. We need not accept the cynical point of view which says that naturally occuring human diversity leads to the extension of one person's power over another. It is possible to construct a society which emphasizes cooperation and no competition; a society which embraces human diversity, not as an opportunity for one group of men and women to oppress another group, but as a gift which can be used to the benefit of all. In such a society, human diversity is not measured but enjoyed.

1. If I.Q. means success.

2. and if success means disaster.

3. then who needs I.Q.? Signed by 67 members of Adams House

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