Thomas Sowell

A feature article of mine in the Sunday New York Times Magazine of March 27, 1977 pointed out that any number of white groups, here and overseas, had at some point in time had IQs similar to, and in some cases lower than, the IQs of black Americans. During the First World War, for example, white soldiers from some Southern states scored lower on army mental tests than black soldiers from some Northern states.

Professor Jensen read this article and came over to Stanford University to meet with me and discuss the data. That is what a scholar should do when challenged. But the opposite approach was shown by Professor Kenneth B. Clark, who earlier had sought to dissuade me from doing IQ research. He said it would "dignify" Jensen's work, which Clark wanted ignored or discredited instead.

Unfortunately, Professor Clark's ideological approach became far more common in academia, so much so that Jensen's attempts to speak on campuses around the country provoked dangerous disruptions, instead of reasoned arguments.

Years later, Professor James R. Flynn created the biggest challenge to the hereditary theory of intelligence, when he showed that whole nations had risen to much higher results on IQ tests in just one or two generations. Genes don't change that fast.

Professor Flynn told me that he would never have done his research, except that it was provoked by Jensen's research. That is just one of the reasons for having a free marketplace of ideas, instead of turning academic campuses into fortresses of politically correct intolerance.


Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

Creators Syndicate