Prevailing wisdom tells us many things, but so little of it seems related to reality.
The ongoing debate over human intelligence is perhaps the best example of this. Certainly, the question of nature-or-nurture is one of the most important that can be asked. However, since “The Bell Curve” was published over 20 years ago, many have adopted the notion of intelligence being unrelated to heredity with a religious fervor.
China, however, seems to have missed out on the craze.
In 2013, The Wall Street Journal ran a brief profile of then-20-year-old Zhao Bowen, who has devoted his career to following the trail of intelligence’s genetic roots. Despite having dropped out of high school, he helms a laboratory which studies cognitive genomics. The Chinese government partially funds the lab’s company.
Needless to say, there are sure to be those who, in addition to denying any genetic basis for intelligence whatsoever, question the ability of such a young man to make a monumental scientific breakthrough. After all, here in the United States, the man would surely need an Ivy League PhD and take part in several more trips around the sun to be taken seriously.
There can be little doubt that genes play a large role in determining the intelligence of any given person. A 2011 study published in Molecular Psychology indicated that little more than half of IQ can be attributed to genetic factors. Going back several decades, before the Nazis warped genetic science into a fantasy for rationalizing genocide, most of the developed world pursued its research with a passion.
Simply put, the time has come for American intellectuals and media figures to admit that biology cares not for political correctness.
Scientific data exists on its own terms, and while this basic fact can indeed be ignored, it cannot be made to go away. Will our nation’s supposedly brightest bulbs ever come to terms with what is staring them directly in the face?
Probably not, sad as that is to admit.
Unfortunately, the resolute denial of biological realities is caused by an even larger problem. The belief that intelligence and heredity have nothing to do with one another is held with a religious conviction; the sort of thing that ignores logic or reason. Seeing as intelligence is the quintessential matter of both, those who have no use for either or cannot be expected to evaluate IQ in a reliable fashion.
This can be chalked up to what I dub the left’s “Church of Equality.” Unlike most Americans, the Church defines “equality” not in terms of a level playing field, but a level quality of life. This means that there are no such things as differences in aptitude, economic power, or social standing. All who sit in the Church’s pews are one and the same, regardless of the fact that they are obviously different from one another.
No matter how strong the evidence might stand in favor of them, ideologically inconvenient facts are cast aside without a second thought. The high priests and priestesses of the “Church of Equality” will hear absolutely no challenge to their orthodoxy. Dissent is for thinking people, and Church-mandated equality has no patience for thought.
After all, if one is a deep thinker, then he or she probably has a moderate-to-high IQ. I wonder if his or her parents were smart. What about their ancestors? Might there be some sort of correlation here?
That brings us back to the original question, of course.
Joseph Cotto is a historical and social journalist, and writes about politics, economics and social issues. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.