Author: Richard Haier

Every Schoolchild Should Read This Book

A review of Innate: How the Wiring of Our Brains Shapes Who We Are by Kevin J. Mitchell. Princeton University Press (October 16, 2018) 304 pages. Kevin Mitchell’s Innate: How the Wiring of Our Brains Shapes Who We Are is a book for high school students. And I mean that as a compliment. Profound misunderstandings about the genetic nature of human beings lie at the heart of the social justice movement, as well as some education reforms, attitudes toward mental disorders, aspects of the self-help industry, and social policies including but not limited to immigration, welfare, racism, and sex/gender issues. What a person understands or misunderstands about genetics is a foundation for evaluating new ideas encountered in college, forming political opinions, dealing with difficult co-workers, tackling issues of parenthood and family, and generally living day-to-day life. If read early enough, Innate might provide some inoculation against bad or naïve information about human nature and the indisputable role played by genes. That is why it belongs on high school reading lists, not just in science classes. Think …

VOX Goes From “junk” To “no good”: That’s a Bit of Intelligent Progress

I dislike writing responses to articles I feel need correction or clarification. As a journal editor, I do it frequently. In this case, I’m writing a response to a response about responses to a response. By way of introducing this piece, VOX published a critical article about a podcast discussion between Sam Harris and Charles Murray with a disparaging headline about “junk science.” The issue was whether any scientific data support the idea that group differences in average IQ scores might be partially explained by genes (a very minor part of the podcast). The VOX piece thought this possibility was junk. I submitted a response to VOX; they declined to publish it but Quillette did (June 11). VOX then published a second piece where the authors of the original piece responded to a number of online criticisms in considerable technical detail. That second piece had a headline of “still no good reason” to believe genes had anything to do with group differences. In my view, this article was much better than the first and the …

No Voice at VOX: Sense and Nonsense about Discussing IQ and Race

Sam Harris, a noted commentator, recently had a podcast discussion with Charles Murray about the reaction to the publication of The Bell Curve in 1994. It is an informative, respectful discussion and I urge you to listen to it. Shortly after this podcast, the popular online news site VOX.com, ran a piece with the headline: “Charles Murray is once again peddling junk science about race and IQ—Podcaster and author Sam Harris is the latest to fall for it.” The piece mostly restates old arguments that continue to misrepresent what The Bell Curve actually said about race and genetics. It is based on a selective reading of the research literature and the assertion of facts that are not supported by a weight-of-evidence. There is nothing new or original in the arguments and these arguments have been challenged many times by other experts in the field. Nonetheless, VOX gave new life to the false narrative that Murray is “peddling junk science” about average IQ score differences among racial/ethnic groups being genetic and therefore some groups are genetically inferior. The …