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The Cyclical Return of the IQ Controversy: Revisiting the Lessons of the Resolution on Genetics, Race and Intelligence

Serpico, Davide (2021) The Cyclical Return of the IQ Controversy: Revisiting the Lessons of the Resolution on Genetics, Race and Intelligence. Journal of the History of Biology.

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Abstract

In 1976, the Genetics Society of America (GSA) published a document entitled “Resolution of Genetics, Race, and Intelligence.” This document laid out the Society’s position in the IQ controversy, particularly that on scientific and ethical questions involving the genetics of intellectual differences between human populations. Since the GSA was the largest scientific society of geneticists in the world, many expected the document to be of central importance in settling the controversy. Unfortunately, the Resolution had surprisingly little influence on the discussion. In 1979, William Provine analyzed the possible factors that decreased the impact of the Resolution, among them scientists’ limited understanding of the relationship between science and ethics. Through the analysis of unpublished versions of the Resolution and exchanges between GSA members, I will suggest that the limited impact of the statement likely depended on a shift in the aims of the GSA due to the controversies that surrounded the preparation of the document. Indeed, the demands of the membership made it progressively more impartial in both scientific and political terms, decreasing its potential significance for a wider audience. Notably, the troubled history of the Resolution raises the question of what can make effective or ineffective the communication between scientists and the public—a question with resonance in past and present discussions on topics of social importance.


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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Serpico, Davide0000-0003-3997-3056
Keywords: IQ controversy; Group differences; Behavioral genetics; Intelligence; Academic freedom; Scientific communication
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology > Molecular Biology/Genetics
General Issues > Ethical Issues
General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
Specific Sciences > Psychology
General Issues > Science and Society
General Issues > Science and Policy
Depositing User: Dr. Davide Serpico
Date Deposited: 14 Jul 2021 02:30
Last Modified: 14 Jul 2021 02:30
Item ID: 19309
Journal or Publication Title: Journal of the History of Biology
Official URL: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10739-0...
DOI or Unique Handle: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10739-021-09637-6
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology > Molecular Biology/Genetics
General Issues > Ethical Issues
General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
Specific Sciences > Psychology
General Issues > Science and Society
General Issues > Science and Policy
Date: 2021
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/19309

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