Libraries at University of Nebraska-Lincoln



Sue A. Gardner

Date of this Version

Winter 2004


Published in MultiCultural Review, v. 13, no. 4 (winter 2004): 83.


This is a non-rigorous scientific examination of race that largely relies on 40-year-old work. The thesis of the book is that race accounts for significant differences among humans, including intelligence. While medically and culturally race has meaning, in terms of biology it is not generally considered to be a relevant attribute of an organism. To use biological data as these authors do, and to ignore so much biological work that has touched on the issue of human racial differences over the past 40 years, calls into question the conclusions made here. Racists throughout modern history have used science to justify their prejudices. It appears that this is another such instance. The authors' conclusion is that society should be set up to be a straight "meritocracy." But their interpretation of what that would actually mean is strongly hinted at when Sir Francis Galton, one of the founders of eugenics-which spawned decades of institutional racism and genocide in the twentieth century-is referred to as "Charles Darwin's smarter younger cousin," and when a dubious postulate such as "the mean sub-Saharan African IQ is 70," is argued for even though it makes no sense. How could a continent of functionally retarded people survive? They completely ignore the facts that (1) IQ tests measure only limited aspects of intelligence, and (2) societal factors often affect test outcomes. The authors claim that they do not mean to advance racist views, but then they refer repeatedly to works such as The Bell Curve, IQ and the Wealth of Nations, and Taboo: Why Black Athletes Dominate Sports and Why We're Afraid to Talk About It, each of which has been criticized for doing just that.