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DEATH OF A GREAT SCHOLAR: ARTHUR JENSEN, 1923-2012 |
by Professor Chris Brand
The London School’s towering genius of the twentieth century died on October 22nd. Art Jensen’s death in California was shrouded in mystery for a while, presumably because his second wife and/or sister did not want ‘anti-racists’ of the Southern Poverty Law Centre and similar to create over his grave the foul publicity for him which they had forever (but especially in the 1970s) attempted while he lived. A fine brief account of his life and achievements for differential psychology was provided by Jared Taylor in VDare, x and a fuller account of his origins and views had resulted from a 2002 interview with Frank Miele (see Brand, Heredity, 2003); but some of the main personal threads deserve picking out.
The first 45 years of Art’s life had been entirely mainstream for an American psychologist of his time. His first great wish had been to be a clarinettist (and he long retained a liking for conducting – in private – in the style of Furtwängler); but he found his way into psychology at U.Cal., Berkeley, and happily took to work in personality and, in particular, projective testing (inkblots etc).
(Sadly, he never linked up with the great Anglo-American psychometrican psychologist and eugenicist, Raymond Cattell.)
Despite a year spent in London with Hans Eysenck in the late 1950s, including development of a short form of the Maudsley Personality Inventory (measuring extraversion and neuroticism) and hearing Sir Cyril Burt, Art did not take particularly hereditarian or ‘scientistic’ positions; and in the mid-1960s he was disunitarian about even the g factor, believing it had two Levels which had only a moderate (‘twisted-pear-shaped’) relation to each other (a phenomenon probably reflecting the brevity and thus unreliability of the main selected Level 1 test, Wechsler Digit Span).
So how did the gentle Art become the controversialist hereditarian, ‘scientific racist,’ ‘fascist’ and supposed firebrand of the 1970s? The immediate answer lay of course in much conscientious study; but Art’s interest in Johnson-era educational improving schemes was itself a response to the environmentalist bullying which he and his first wife had experienced in the 1960s as their daughter’s autism had been blamed (as was then the psychiatric fashion) on ‘refrigerator mother syndrome.’
(Mothers of autists tend to be ‘intellectual’ since it takes intelligence to notice such subtle defiency in social skill in a small child.) It was as Art struggled (together with one or two similarly afflicted friends) to understand his daughter’s condition (the mother being far from the stereotypic frosty type) that he became interested in genetics. And, naturally, his concern with slow learners brought him in touch with Audrey Shuey’s magisterial summary of the voluminous evidence on low Black IQ.
As Art’s classic 1969 Harvard Education Review – documenting for the first time the failure of compensatory education -- became known, it was met with a tsunami of leftist fury (death threats etc requiring years of police guarding for Art and family) and by scholarly onslaught from the top behaviorist Leon Kamin (including a posthumous critique of Burt’s celebrated study of widely separated identic twins).
Eysenck joined in with popular expositions of the hereditarian case, including a Penguin book co-authored with Kamin. Art and Hans undertook a speaking tour of Australian universities – and were silenced by student mobs in most of them. Academically, Art moved his effort into producing his mighty 1980 tome, Bias in Mental Testing, outraging his critics by refuting the then-fashionable guess that IQ tests might be somehow invalid for Blacks and other ‘disadvantaged’ groups, and leading to his books being spurned by mainstream publishers for the rest of his life.
At last serious funding (long a problem for hereditarians) became available: the Pioneer Fund (set up in 1937 to further research into intelligence differences, and which had funded Shuey and was funding Tom Bouchard’s magnificent replication of Burt’s twin work) came to Art’s aid.
He particularly used the opportunity to study the correlations between reaction speed and IQ (first envisaged by Eysenck in 1967, though some relevant work went back to 1900). This was not a specially successful choice and Art might have done better to undertake psychogenetic research, of which he had the best grasp of all differential psychologists. But his work under the ‘racist’ Pioneer umbrella (surprising in that he was, like Eysenck, partly Jewish) provided a vital complement to other work on mental speed and IQ.
Soon Phil Rushton (Race, Evolution and Behavior), Richard Lynn (IQ and the Wealth of Nations) and I (The g Factor) would be providing (equally unpublishably) the necessary follow-up to the ‘heresies’ promulgated with such gentlemanship, assiduity and courage by Art.
He died among most of the academic honours and accolades he could have wished – notably from contributors to the journal Intelligence which his own work had done so much to inspire, if insufficiently acknowledged by the (also part-Jewish) leading popular exponent of hereditarian and nativist views, Steven Pinker (The Blank Slate).
Thus came to a halt pro tempore the main work of the London School, though continued publication and norming of IQ tests was continued by such as John Raven (Edinburgh) and research into the relatively acceptable topic of intelligence declines in old age proved eminently manageable by such younger researchers as Linda Gottfredson (U.Delaware) and Ian Deary (U.Edinburgh). RIP.