Intelligence and How to Get It: Why Schools and Cultures Count
For many decades, psychologists believed that differences between people in intelligence were primarily based on gene differences. They believed that early childhood environments had little effect on intelligence, and even those slight environmental effects were gone by late adolescence. School had minimal influence on IQ. The IQ difference between blacks and whites was approximately 15 points and this difference was in good part due to genes. Efforts to raise IQ, in particular that of lower-class minority individuals, were doomed to failure. One’s intelligence at the beginning of adulthood was all one was ever going to have. The fact that lower-class individuals have more children than higher-socioeconomic status individuals meant that, over time, IQ was becoming lower in industrialized nations. Nisbett shows that these views are utterly and catastrophically wrong. Early childhood environmental effects on intelligence are large and continuing. Intelligence is highly subject to interventions for everyone of every age. You can’t be smart without school, and some schools are much more effective at increasing intelligence than others. The IQ gap between blacks and whites has narrowed steadily over the last 70 years and in any case owes nothing to genes. So far from reducing over time, IQ in industrial nations has been increasing ever since the start of the industrial revolution. Intelligence more broadly defined has been increasing apace as well.