It is scientifically impossible to determine differences in inherited intelligence between racial groups, Richard C. Lewontin, professor of Biology, told a crowd of 300 Tuesday night.
Lewontin and Robert Mathews, teaching fellow in Anthropology, spoke at a forum on "I.Q., Race and Class" sponsored by the Committee Against Racism.
The forum, held in the Science Center, was the sixth in a series planned by CAR.
Lewontin examined the methodology of an article by professor of Psychology at Berkeley, Arthur Jensen, entitled, "How Much Can We Do to Boost I.Q. and School Performance."
Jensen maintained in his article that compensatory education had failed and that this failure could be due to an inherent intellectual disadvantage of members of lower income strata and minority groups. The article was published in the Harvard Educational Review in 1969.
Lewontin emphasized the necessity of exposing what he called the fraudulent nature of Jensen's reasoning.
"The purpose of this argument is to justify given social arrangements. If you assume that the differences in races is a function of the differences in genes and that I.Q. is inherited, then you do not have to bother with improvement," Lewontin said.
He supported his assertion that this view was commomplace by quoting Daniel P. Moynihan, professor of Government and now U.S. Ambassador to India, as saying, "The winds of Jensenism are blowing through Washington with gale force."
Matthews discussed the history of the use of statistical evidence for political and social purposes. He began with the eugenicist movement and examined the development of similar policy positions with U.S. social history and the publishing of certain statistical studies.