Whether nature or nurture is largely responsible for the outcomes on IQ tests is an ongoing debate (“James Watson Won’t Stop Talking About Race,” The New York Times, Jan. 1). James Watson, who shared a 1962 Nobel Prize for describing the double-helix structure of DNA, still maintains that “all the testing” shows that blacks are inherently less intelligent than whites.
Watson bases his view about intelligence on tests that assess only literacy and numeracy. Of course, they are important, but they are not the only kind of intelligence. In 1983, Howard Gardner (no relation) identified multiple intelligences. During the 28 years that I taught English in the Los Angeles Unified School District, I saw the truth of his contribution.
I had students who could barely write a one-paragraph essay and yet played various musical instruments. I also had students who struggled to spell but were expert in diagnosing and repairing a car engine problem. Critics will argue that such skills are evidence merely of talent but do not constitute intelligence. I disagree. I don’t know where they developed such abilities, but they certainly were not from my English class.
If Watson took the time to investigate other areas of human ability, I think he would see that blacks on average are no less intelligent than whites.
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