Task Force Releases Report in Response to Bell Curve

Providing an authoritative, dispassionate response to the Bell Curve, the APA Task Force on Intelligence released the report, "Intelligence: Knowns and Unknowns," at the APA Convention in August.

In the fall of 1994, the publication of The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life (Free Press, NY, 1994), authored by the late psychologist Richard J. Herrnstein, PhD, and political analyst Charles Murray, sparked a new round of debate about the meaning of intelligence test scores and the nature of intelligence. The debate was characterized by strong assertions and equally strong feelings. Unfortunately, those assertions often revealed serious misunderstandings of what has, or has not, been demonstrated by scientific research. Although a great deal is now known about intelligence, the issues surrounding it remain complex and, in many cases, unresolved. Another unfortunate aspect of the debate was that many participants did not distinguish between scientific issues and political ones. Research findings were often assessed, not on their merits or their scientific standing, but on their political implications.

Reviewing the intelligence debate at its meeting in November 1994, the Board of Scientific Affairs (BSA) concluded that an authoritative report on these issues was needed, and the Task Force was established to write it. The Board for the Advancement of Psychology in the Public Interest (BAPPI), the Committee on Psychological Tests and Assessment (CPTA), and APA's Council of Representatives each nominated members. All members were chosen through an extended consultative process, with the aim of representing a broad range of expertise and opinion on intelligence testing and behavioral genetics.

The result of the Task Force's efforts should prove to be a constructive contribution to the debates on intelligence. The report focuses on five issues: (1) concepts of intelligence, (2) intelligence tests and their correlates, (3) genes and intelligence, (4) environmental effects on intelligence, and (5) group differences.

The members of the Task Force include the following psychologists: Gwyneth Boodoo, PhD, Thomas Bouchard, PhD, Wade Boykin, PhD, Nathan Brody, PhD, Stephen Ceci, PhD, Diane Halpern, PhD, John Loehlin, PhD, Robert Perloff, PhD, Robert Sternberg, PhD, and Susana Urbina, PhD. Ulric Neisser, PhD, is the chair.

To obtain a copy of the Task Force report, contact Suzanne Wandersman in the Science Directorate at (202) 336-6000; e-mail: science@apa.org. The report will also be published in the American Psychologist.

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