Leon Kamin, professor of Psychology at Princeton University, speaking last night on "The Science and Politics of I.Q." to 175 people at Burr Hall, presented a detailed criticism of psychological studies that support the claim that I.Q. is largely heritable.
The Harvard chapter of the Committee Against Racism, a group of Faculty and students whose aim is to fight so-called "academic racism," sponsored Kamin's talk.
Kamin said that a critical look at the studies that conclude that intelligence is inheritable "reveals nothing that would lead a reasonable prudent man" to that conclusion.
Kamin said that studies of identical twins and of adopted children isolating gender from environmental intelligence factors were so faulted and biased that they were "unworthy of scientific consideration."
Kamin said, "It is conceivable that there are cognitive processes of some kind that are highly heritable," but that we cannot measure these processes with an I.Q. test.
Kamin said it would be a "waste of time" to conduct a study of the heritability of intelligence even if it were to be done properly, for "inheritability really has no meaning."
Even if intelligence is transmitted mostly through the genes, the use of compensatory education would still make up for a low intelligence, Kamin said.
Kamin summarized the history of intelligence testing in the United States and said that it had been used as "an instrument for the oppressing the poor, foreign born and racial minorities in this country."
Kamin said he would not challenge those he termed "academic racists" like Richard J. Herrnstein, professor of Psychology, because "not much comes out of debates."
The committee says in the April edition of the National Report, its quarterly newsletter, that theories maintaining that I.Q. is largely an inherited phenomenon are racist in implication.
It says the theories give "pseudoscientific" backing to racism in their implication that the low position of blacks and the poor in society is the fault of their genes, not in the class structure of society.