Mainstream Science on Intelligence
Mainstream Science on Intelligence is a 1995 statement signed by 52 professors who were all experts in intelligence and allied fields.
In 1994, the book The Bell Curve was published and followed by a heated public debate. Psychology professor Linda S. Gottfredson wrote that "Many critics attacked the book for supposedly relying on outdated, pseudoscientific notions of intelligence. In criticizing the book, many critics promoted false and highly misleading views about the scientific study of intelligence. Public miseducation on the topic is hardly new (Snyderman & Rothman, 1987, 1988), but never before had it been so angry and extreme."
Gottfredson therefore drafted a statement which addressed the most common claims and misconceptions in the public media. The draft was sent to half a dozen leading expert in order to be reviewed for accuracy. The scientific journal Intelligence and the Wall Street Journal agreed to publish the statement. A total of 131 academic experts in intelligence and allied fields were invited to sign the statement. 100 responded within the next few days, which was set as the deadline by the Wall Street Journal. 48 declined to sign. 7 because they thought the statement did not represent the mainstream, 11 because they did not know whether it did, and 30 for other reasons.
Of those declining to sign, 27 wrote more detailed reasons. Only 11 stated that they explicitly disagreed with the content of the statement or it being the mainstream view. Furthermore, they often only disagreed with one or a few specific items in the statement. 14 declined to sign despite seemingly agreeing with the statement. They instead objected to it as not mentioning enough qualifications, to it as being published as a group statement, to it being published in a conservative and nonscientific newspaper, to it for possible causing negative effects for themselves if signing it, to it as causing themselves to be caught up in the controversy, or to it causing themselves to be associated with unnamed individuals. 2 simply stated that they did not "want to sign at this time", which may also indicate that they agreed with the statement but thought it prudent to not state so openly.
Gottfredson argued that it was unusual for unaffiliated scientists to issue a public statement and that the quick response by many leading experts, with few explicitly disagreeing with the statement, demonstrated that it represented the mainstream view and that such a statement to the public was needed due to public misconceptions.
In 1996, a task force created by the American Psychological Association published, for similar reasons, the long report Intelligence: Knowns and Unknowns. Gottfredson argued that the report reinforced the conclusions stated in "Mainstream Science on Intelligence".
Text of statement
The statement started by stating: "Since the publication of "The Bell Curve" many commentators have offered opinions about human intelligence that misstate current scientific evidence. Some conclusions dismissed in the media as discredited are actually firmly supported.
This statement outlines conclusions regarded as mainstream among researchers on intelligence, in particular, on the nature, origins, and practical consequences of individual and group differences in intelligence. Its aim is to promote more reasoned discussion of the vexing phenomenon that the research has revealed in recent decades. The following conclusions are fully described in the major textbooks, professional journals and encyclopedias in intelligence."
It then listed 25 points. The complete statement can be found at various locations. See the "External links" section below.
- Linda S. Gottfredson. Mainstream Science on Intelligence: An Editorial With 52 Signatories, History, and Bibliography. Intelligence. 24(I) 13-23 http://www.udel.edu/educ/gottfredson/reprints/1997mainstream.pdf