Human intelligence is inherited.
Now, before you think I've fully lost my mind, let me explain the rationale behind my new assertion. As I said earlier, I believe that human consciousness and the capacity for reason is hereditary, to some extent. However, it is well documented that many environmental influences hold sway over it's expression. Some of the most catastrophic occur prenatally, or at the chromosomal level. Hence we see the profound developmental delays of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, and Down's Syndrome, among others. After birth, we have witnessed the effects of lack of nourishment, lack of human contact, and lack of education. All of these environmental effects can prove disastrous to a child, forever stunting their potential. So, I am not stating that our DNA holds within it our precise IQ score, or even it's possible range. I am simply stating that the mere potential for human intelligence is inherited. Perhaps it is simply the ability to be conscious... perhaps reasoning is a simple by-product of that ability, and "intelligence" is a socially-constructed entity with no real meaning. Perhaps...
Secondly, like Howard Gardner, I believe that our notion of what constitutes intelligence is fatally flawed. If intelligence is what intelligence tests measure, why are intelligence tests so poorly predictive of success in life? Why is it that those we consider to be 'genius' quite often perform very poorly in school and on intelligence tests? All of these issues, among others, should be enough to tell us that intelligence is not simply the skills that get us through school. IQ can not be represented as a single number resulting from one's answers on a paper and pencil test. Intelligence comes in many forms. Is a surgeon smarter than a mechanic? No. They are simply different jobs, requiring different sets of skills. Why does the mastery of certain skills gain status, and others lower that status? Every one of them is useful, and fills a needed role in our current society. So, I think that a view of multiple intelligences is much more logical.
Finally, I don't think that it is possible to assess group differences based on the expression of 'intelligence'. Let me give you an example. Few people would argue that the basic skills required for competition in athletics are rooted in 'good genes'. Yet... how do we continuously improve athletic performance? We have not found the limits of human athletic potential because we continuously find better methods of training. It is the environmental conditions that determine athletic performance... good coach, enough training time, proper diet, proper training program, etc. It is through advances in our environmental conditions that allows our athletes to continuously improve... not improvements in our gene pool. In the 1960s, it was believed that women could not do triple jump because it would permanently displace their uterus making them unable to have children. Yet women compete today with no harm to their bodies, and keep improving. It was also thought that women could not run longer than 800m, or they would pass out from exertion. However, as training techniques for women improved, this idea was dispelled. Now women compete in the marathon alongside men. It has even been suggested that as training for women improves to the level that men's training is at, women may even outperform men in the marathon because women have greater stores of endorphins (because we have to go through childbirth). So, why should these same ideas not hold true for intelligence? As conditions improve for women (around the world) and other racial groups than white people (in North America, Europe, etc), than we should see a leveling out of academic performance. Individual differences exist, certainly, but group differences will become marginal or non-existent. Maybe different populations will show different profiles in their multiple intelligences, but if we view each kind of intelligence as equally beneficial and status-worthy, then those differences won't matter. However, as it is today, group differences are absolutely impossible to determine. Environmental conditions between genders and races are simply nowhere close to equal. Unless competitors are competing on the same footing, it is impossible to tell who is performing better. Yet scientists do this every day. It is, quite simply, unethical to proclaim group differences when we are aware of the staggering environmental differences between groups. There's no other way to put it.
I feel now that I have resolved my logical inconsistency with sufficient rationale that I don't feel troubled by it any longer. Also, I think that this new point of view is not subject to the old pitfalls of a belief in hereditary intelligence. Does it pass the test?
Miss HT Psych
NOTE: For those of you interested in Howard Gardner and his Theory of Multiple Intelligences, here's a couple useful links:
* Project Zero
* Howard Gardner at Project Zero
* Thinkers: Howard Gardner
* The Psi Cafe: Howard Gardner