An escape from hell . . .
EXPLODING THE BELL CURVE MYTH
ANSWERING THE QUESTION: DOES A READER’S FEELING THAT HYPERSPACE IS PORNOGRAPHY REFLECT A GENETICALLY BASED LOW IQ OR NEUROSIS?
DO IQ TEST RESULTS INDICATE IQ LEVELS THAT ARE PREDOMINANTLY GENETICALLY BASED, OR ARE THEY MORE PRONE TO INDICATE NEUROTIC BLOCKAGES OF INTELLECTUAL MESSAGING?
READ THE FACTS BEHIND THE BELL CURVE’S MISLEADING STATISTICAL HYPE!
READ THE NOVEL HYPERSPACE AND EXPERIENCE WHAT IT IS THAT REALLY SUBVERTS AND TWISTS THE THINKING PROCESS!
(Includes excerpts from HYPERSPACE)
So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. [Tanach, Gen. 3:6-7.]
The current post concerns my reaction to The Bell Curve, a book which a psychometrician energetically suggested I read, he having cited its inestimable importance with regard to the composition of the existing social structure in the United States vis à vis IQ levels of respective populations and individuals.
The Bell Curve is well researched in terms of its statistical data, and Herrnstein and Murray write with the expertise of their field of study and practice. Reading this book raises essential questions: 1) Does this field of study out of which the authors operate, and upon which they base their theories of g Factor (“general intelligence”), and IQ, etc., incorporate enough of the existential nuances of life to allow it to be thought of as the sole basis for the main conclusion at which the authors arrive concerning IQ levels of respective populations as well as of individuals? 2) Will the IQ (Intelligence Quotient ["quotient" referring to a specified quantity]) of an individual once set by whatever circumstances in the early life of the individual, be the determining factor of that individual’s status in society, due to its determining how far the individual can progress in his or her education which will, further, determine this individual’s economic status? 3) Is an individual’s Intelligence Quotient, set by whatever circumstances existing in the early life of said individual, ineluctably this individual’s static Intelligence Capacity, incapable of enlargement? My answer to 1) is “no.” My answer to 2) is “probably yes.” (“Probably,” because unknown elements–including environmental factors causing alleviative neurotic syndromes–should be taken into account. Such factors may swerve the answer to this question in individual instances.) My answer to 3) is “no,” with the understanding that in the primitive societies dominating the word–their primitiveness due to the nature of homo sapiens sapiens brain which is prominently, across the entire planet, a malfunctioning organ–IQ upward mobility is extremely difficult whether it is understood that IQ is the result of environment, genetic factors, or a combination of both. If the determining factors of an individual’s IQ are predominately environmental, upward mobility of IQ would be easier than if they were genetic. The probability of IQ upward mobility would increase if negative environmental factors of a given individual were alleviated or totally replaced by favorable factors. If the factors for low IQ of a given individual are solely genetic, than I think most people dealing with this enquiry would agree that upward mobility of IQ to any significant degree would be highly unlikely.
A serious problem I have with The Bell Curve, and with areas of psychometrics generally (from the little I’ve seen of this discipline, including discussions I have had with the above mentioned psychometrican), is that environmental factors are considered much too lightly, while genetic factors are given way too much weight. I base this assessment on two important facts: a) The Bell Curve’s failure to substantially show that genetic factors predominate over environmental factors with regard to the genesis of IQ either in respective populations or in a given individual; a failure brought about largely by, b) The Bell Curve’s failure to incorporate neurosis (an aspect of brain malfunction generated by environmental stresses) as a factor in IQ test results. I will now go into detail of facts a) and b).
a) The Bell Curve’s failure to substantially show that genetic factors predominate over environmental factors with regard to the genesis of IQ:
The authors state: “Cognitive ability is substantially heritable, apparently no less than 40 percent and no more than 80 percent.” [Richard Herrnstein, Charles Murray, The Bell Curve (New York, The Free Press, 1994), p. 23.] Assuming “heritable” is referring to genetic inheritance, these percentages can be reliable only if The Bell Curve’s assessment of genetic factors trumping environmental factors is correct. The authors cite statistics. The question is, what kind of spin do they give these statistics? To validly answer this question, one would have to duplicate their research, because without that, the dubiousness of their theory, highlighted in the discussion which follows, leads this reader to refuse acceptance of their statistics on faith! Also, how accurate is their category of “heritable”? Does the category as used in The Bell Curve rest on solid ground? In addition, the word “heritable” in The Bell Curve makes no distinction between genetically inherited traits and environmentally inherited traits. In an attempt to ascertain the authors’ definition of “heritability,” I referred to the book’s index. The listing, “Heritability of IQ,” refers the reader to another listing: “Genetic factors in IQ.” For the authors of The Bell Curve, this seems to place “heritability” in the genetic category. Yet, the authors write the following: “. . . heritability describes something about a population of people, not an individual. It make’s no more sense to talk about the heritability of an individual’s IQ than it does to talk about his birthday. A given individual’s IQ may have been greatly affected by his special circumstances even though IQ is substantially heritable in the population as a whole.” [Richard Herrnstein, Charles Murray, The Bell Curve (New York, The Free Press, 1994), p. 106.] Thus, the attempted explanation fairly early in the book of causal factors in “a given individual’s IQ” is vague. When dealing here seemingly with the environmental factors within a given population, in the mentioning of an individual’s IQ, genetics is nowhere specified. Yet the authors do not even use the word “environment,” but refer to the individual as possibly being “greatly affected by his special circumstances”! This can refer to environmental or genetic circumstances. In short, there is substantial confusion in The Bell Curve as to the meaning of “heritability” as well as to the authors’ use of the word. Nevertheless, when reading the book, you get a sense that “heritability” refers to a combination of environmental and genetic factors. (Is this incompetent writing, or the authors actively initiating an IQ test on the reader?) The vagueness increases when the authors admit that “If, one hundred years ago, the variations in exposure to education were greater than they are now . . . and if education is one source of variation of IQ, then, other things equal, the heritability of IQ was lower than it is now.” Thus placing IQ squarely in the realm of environment. The authors’ seeming attempt at vagueness continues with the next paragraph:
This last point [that of education affecting IQ--S.I.B.] is especially important in the modern societies, with their intense efforts to equalize opportunity. As a general rule, as environments become more uniform, heritability rises. When heritability rises, children resemble their parents more, and siblings increasingly resemble each other; in general, family members become more similar to each other and more different from people in other families. It is the central irony of egalitarianism: uniformity in society makes the members of families more similar to each other and more different from people in other families. [Richard Herrnstein, Charles Murray, The Bell Curve (New York, The Free Press, 1994), p. 106.]
As if the writing in The Bell Curve is not confused enough, the authors now neglect to distinguish between what they are trying to establish as facts (and failing in the attempt), with the opinions supposedly of egalitarians. Nor do they explain how, “uniformity in society makes the members of families more similar to each other” while, simultaneously, “more different from people in other families.” Does not “uniformity in society” result in similarity in that society between individuals and groups, such as different families? By “uniformity,” perhaps the authors are referring to the uniformity of the freedom-of-choice factor. Thus, individuals within families would be more inclined to similarity in choices–clothes, food, entertainment, etc.–while members of other families would differ in such choices. But all would exist within the uniformity of free choice. It is not enough for writers to know to themselves what they mean. They are supposedly writing to communicate their knowledge and expertise to those lacking in such education.
The problem of vagueness seems, to a some extent, to have to do with faulty writing and not solely with an ideological bent conjoining misinterpreted and misplaced science. The ideological bent conjoined to misinterpreted and misplaced science is real enough in The Bell Curve, but so is the authors’ faultily vague, imprecise writing. It is as if the authors are certain of what it is they want to communicate, use what they think are appropriate words, phrases, sentences, and psychometric terms, while expecting the readership to absorb their meaning. It is conceivable that they are used to writing for journals in their field and have not learned how to translate psychometric jargon into English for the general public. Yet The Bell Curve is a book that has been presented to the general public.
Despite this linguistic confusion, The Bell Curve authors do make it clear they favor the genetic explanation over the environmental explanation when dealing with IQ issues with regard to populations as well as with regard to individuals, albeit utilizing flawed logic and pseudo-psychology which contains crucial gaps in the explanation of their theory.
A major source of this flawed logic with its concomitant scientific gaps can be clearly seen from two statements. 1) The authors state clearly that “seeds will grow in Iowa, not in the Mojave, and the result will have nothing to do with genetic differences.” 2) The next sentence states: “The environment for American blacks has been closer to the Mojave and the environment for American whites has been closer to Iowa.” Hence, a major environmental factor differentiating these two groups is presented. The next idea belies 1 and 2: 3) “Suppose that all the observed ethnic differences in tested intelligence originate in some mysterious environmental differences–mysterious because we know from material already presented that socioeconomic factors cannot be much of an explanation.” [Richard Herrnstein, Charles Murray, The Bell Curve (New York, The Free Press, 1994), P. 298.] Are the authors perhaps establishing what they may consciously consider to be a false analogy? As follows: planted corn seeds are affected by an environment (a desert) “and the result will have nothing to do with genetic differences”; American blacks are like corn seeds planted in an environment analogous to the Mojave (the social desert of negative socioeconomic factors), but must not be affected by that environment (unlike the corn seeds planted in the Mojave) because “. . . socioeconomic factors cannot be much of a explanation” in “all the observed ethnic differences in tested intelligence” “differentiating these two groups” (blacks in a Mojave-like environment and whites in an Iowa-like environment), and the only other option is “some mysterious environmental differences.” Corn seeds being affected by the environment contrasted to American blacks not being affected by the environment (socioeconomic factors) immediately establishes the authors spurning of the analogy. The authors’ belying of the analogy is glaring. Given this fact, why do they never state their discontent with the analogy outright? And if they knowingly presented a false analogy, all the while knowing it was an item to which they could not adhere, why present it? More vague, incompetent writing? More IQ testing of the reader? Or is the setting up of a contrast between an instance in which environment is essential (planting corn seeds), and one in which it is not essential (different ethnic groups in the United States), while never connecting the two, a writing error? The imprecision of the writing style leaves these questions unanswered. But it becomes obvious that the authors favor a genetic over an environmental explanation. Avoiding the multitude of statistics which the authors cite showing how IQ difference between blacks and whites in the United States are not essentially affected by socioeconomic factors, it can been seen that the authors are viewing what is necessarily a peripheral environmental factor (the socioeconomic) as being the original possible alternative to their genetic explanation. And when their statistics show this possible alternative not to be a valid explanation for IQ differences between the two cited population groups in the United States, voila, the choice which remains is between either “mysterious environmental differences” (set up as an obviously ridiculous choice!), or genetics, proving to The Bell Curve authors’ satisfaction that lower IQ scores of blacks must have a mostly genetic origin. As if the negative socioeconomic factors of blacks in the U.S. are not themselves the result of a preceding extreme environment: seeds planted in the Mojave. Obviously, The Bell Curve authors do not consider a sizable group of individuals being torn from their various differing cultures; thrown together in a discordant amalgam of similarly uprooted persons; forced into slavery amidst cultural vacuity, being forced to subsist in this state for multitudinous generations, as being factors contributing to the IQ difference of populations. What is IQ? “. . . a person’s intellectual performance relative to a given population.” [Richard Herrnstein, Charles Murray, The Bell Curve (New York, The Free Press, 1994), P. 4.] In short, in contrast to The Bell Curve’s assessment, low IQ scores (ascertained with socially predetermined tests–despite the authors’ protests to the contrary–based on flawed science, and created within the pseudo-psychology of psychometrics), should not be viewed as an indelible stain proclaimed as Truth by the experts of this very narrow field of inaccurate study. With all of the above cited negative factors regarding the origin of black American society within American society at large, emphasis must be placed on cultural vacuity if a modicum of truth is to be gleaned, because cultural vacuity juxtaposed with cultural volume is the key of keys for any difference in IQ scores between black Americans and white Americans, as it is for any respective populations having subsisted under long-term duress with its resulting environmental instability contrasted with environmentally stable populations. Trauma–group or individual–is an unknown factor in The Bell Curve paradigm.
Though Herrnstein and Murray de-emphasize the environment as a cause of IQ differentials between populations as well as between individuals, they cannot escape the environmental fact of the matter:
If, one hundred years ago, the variations in exposure to education were greater than they are now . . . and if education is one source of variation of IQ, then, other things equal, the heritability of IQ was lower than it is now. [Richard Herrnstein, Charles Murray, The Bell Curve (New York, The Free Press, 1994), P. 106.]
The above quotation points out two things from which the authors, in other sections of The Bell Curve, strenuously attempt to distance themselves: that environment (e.g., education) is an undeniably powerful factor in determining IQ and that its corollary, a stable culture (of which education is but a part), combine powerful factors all of which contribute to determining IQ. With an encyclopedia of statistics, Herrnstein and Murrary cannot shield themselves from these facts. In the case of socioeconomics, their intellectual problem is that they are applying their statistics on that realm of factors as if such factors are an essential cause rather than the result of a deeper existential problem. If the authors of The Bell Curve adore statistics, they should research the IQs of populations (as well as of individuals) torn from their natural habitats and thrown, amidst cultural vacuity, into a strange and hostile environment. If the authors argue, in the case of black Americans, that such mistreatment occurred hundreds of years ago, the immediate response is that widespread mistreatment of blacks in the U.S. ended a relatively short time ago and that people still live who have conscious memory of that time. A wider ranging response is, first: that as with individuals, so with populations, the dissipation of trauma is a slow, painful process. The homo sapiens brain is designed to first entrap the trauma, and then release this trauma throughout the life of the individual in question. Second: an entire population consisting of such traumatized individuals will reflect the individual traumas en masse. Or, viewed obversely, traumatized individuals comprising an entire population will be that population’s visible stamp, obvious to those with eyes to see, and often making itself felt even to those blind to the fact. In the case of black Americans, a multitude of individuals had been forced by torturous external forces to become a new unit; to begin a new culture in a sporadic manner amidst constant existential pain, suffering, and strife: a new culture being created on a primary base of negative factors. With the passage of generations cultural modifiers may eventually replace the cultural vacuity (i.e., zero to minimal cultural base) thus created, with cultural instability. If cultural modifiers transform cultural instability into relative cultural stability, it may lead to connection between the conflicted groups under discussion, the negative ethos of the unstable group being erased with the passage of generations. At such time, when the cultural instability of the unstable group is erased by the long continuum of existence, major trauma-based IQ differences of this group and the stable group into whose midst it was forced will cease to exist.
As with groups, the authors of The Bell Curve attempt to show how with individuals genetics trump environment with regard to attainment of IQ level by reference to a study, completed in 1990, of a large group of identical twins, the individuals comprising each pair raised in a separate environment from that of their siblings.
Science 12 October 1990:
Vol. 250 no. 4978 pp. 223-228
Sources of human psychological differences: the Minnesota Study of Twins Reared Apart
TJ Bouchard Jr, DT Lykken, M McGue, NL Segal, A Tellegen
Since 1979, a continuing study of monozygotic and dizygotic twins, separated in infancy and reared apart, has subjected more than 100 sets of reared-apart twins or triplets to a week of intensive psychological and physiological assessment. Like the prior, smaller studies of monozygotic twins reared apart, about 70% of the variance in IQ was found to be associated with genetic variation. On multiple measures of personality and temperament, occupational and leisure-time interests, and social attitudes, monozygotic twins reared apart are about as similar as are monozygotic twins reared together. These findings extend and support those from numerous other twin, family, and adoption studies. It is a plausible hypothesis that genetic differences affect psychological differences largely indirectly, by influencing the effective environment of the developing child. This evidence for the strong heritability of most psychological traits, sensibly construed, does not detract from the value or importance of parenting, education, and other propaedeutic interventions. [Science, New Series, Vol. 250, No. 4978 (Oct. 12, 1990), p. 223.]
The above introduction to the article describing the study encapsulates the study’s essence. The next item, cited early in the article, sets the environmental parameters:
The power of the MZA [monozygotic twins reared apart--S.I.B.] design is that for twins reared apart from early infancy and randomly placed for adoption, ves is negligible, so that vg can be directly estimated from the MZA correlation. [Science, New Series, Vol. 250, No. 4978 (Oct. 12, 1990), p. 224.]
NOTE: ves indicates variation of environment shared, the above quotation signifying that the environments into which the twins were placed had “negligible” environmental variations, thus–according to the originators of the study–basing any developmental differences of the individual twins on genetic factors (vg, meaning variation of genetic factors).
The next quotation computes the results of the study with regard to genetic influence:
General intelligence or IQ is strongly affected by genetic factors. The IQs of adult MZA twins assessed with various instruments in four independent studies correlate about 0.70, indicating that about 70% of the observed variation in IQ in this population can be attributed to genetic variation. Since only a few of these MZA twins were reared in real poverty or by illiterate parents and none were retarded, this heritability estimate should not be extrapolated to the extreme of environmental disadvantage still encountered in society. [Science, New Series, Vol. 250, No. 4978 (Oct. 12, 1990), p. 227.] (http://web.missouri.edu/~segerti/1000H/Bouchard.pdf )
Thus, the writer opines that because there was a seventy percent correlation between the IQs of the twins involved in the study, and because “variations” of the shared environments of all of the twins were “negligible,” ergo the seventy percent correlation of IQ between all of the individuals involved in the study must be attributable to genetic factors.
Such a study as the Minnesota Study of Twins Reared Apart cannot be anything but flawed from its inception because the subjects are placed in similar environments, i.e. environments of relative stability. No such study run by human beings (rather, say, than by a Mengele), have the potential for success in ascertaining causes of IQ level differences precisely because the stable environments selected for the study must, of necessity, obviate results that reflect the instability of general reality. Environment, seemingly unbeknownst to the psychometricians running this study, is a major factor in IQ development in the real world. Unstable environments stunt IQ growth; stable environments promote IQ growth. Genetics supply a base in each given individual upon which IQ growth is enabled or impaired depending upon the immediate environment, most particularly in the person’s earliest years on this planet. As The Bell Curve ignores the environmental trauma factor in its contrast of IQ levels between ethnic groups, the Minnesota Study of Twins Reared Apart eliminates the environmental trauma factor in its assessment of IQ development in individuals, and The Bell Curve’s authors base their thesis–that IQ development of the individual is largely genetically oriented, the environment playing a secondary role–on this Minnesota study.
In a more recent article the following observations are made (bold face emphases are mine):
To understand why heritability estimates are no longer important, it is necessary to understand that they are completely dependent on the specifics of the samples and environmental conditions from which they are taken. When environments are homogeneous for all, all individual differences become heritable. When there are both genetic and environmental differences, most of the mechanisms through which genes exert their causal influences on behavior are not the straightforward one gene–one (bit of) trait association one learns about in high-school biology. Instead, much gene expression is contingent on the presence of other gene products, environmental circumstances, and prior levels of gene expression, sometimes even in prior generations. Causal genetic influences are thus intimately bound to causal environmental circumstances. [Johnson, Turkheimer, Gottesman, Bouchard, Jr., “Beyond Heritability: Twin Studies in Behavioral Research,” (2007), Current Directions in Psychological Science (Association for Psychological Science, Vol. 18–Number 4, 2009), pp. 217-218,(http://people.virginia.edu/~ent3c/papers2/Articles for Online CV/Johnson (2009).pdf).]
Wendy Johnson, 1,2 Eric Turkheimer, 3 Irving I. Gottesman, 2,3,4 and Thomas J. Bouchard, Jr. 2
1Department of Psychology and Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology, University of Edinburgh;
2Department of Psychology, University of Minnesota–Twin Cities;
3Department of Psychology, University of Virginia; and
4Department of Psychiatry, University of Minnesota–Twin Cities Medical School
b) The Bell Curve’s failure to incorporate neurosis (an aspect of brain malfunction generated by environmental stresses) as a factor in IQ test results:
I will now show why IQ tests, generally, are a waste of time. Except in rare cases of known or suspected genetic abnormalities, IQ tests should be discouraged due to their inability to pinpoint neurotic syndromes and thus accurately measure IQ. All painful sensations at an early age leave their marks on the brain. The earlier the pain, the more difficult to eradicate the mark and the greater the difficulty for the individual in question in identifying its source. The following pinpoints my meaning:
Let us take being born out of rhythm and see what sequelae might result. If a great deal of stress is laid on speech, making the child speak early, then the focus of the disharmony laid down at birth may result in sporadic, arhythmical stammering or halting speech–a nonfluid speech, the predisposition for which began with a nonfluid birth process. The traumatic birth process becomes “frozen” and encapsulated in the organism, maintained in its entirety because it is an unresolved event. Aspects of the trauma, such as disharmony, become focused in areas of vulnerability (originally weak areas, resulting in unpredictable menstrual flow or sporadic bowel function and constipation), or in areas of special psychological stress such as speech. That disharmony can just as easily result in a nonfluid gait if walking were stressed before the child was ready. In other words, the inability to integrate that experience causes a lack of integration or coordination between thought and speech or between thought and physical ability. [Arthur Janov, PhD, The Anatomy of Mental Illness, (New York, Berkley Windhover Books, 1977), p. 117.]
Hence, early trauma unconsciously affects activities in later life. Consequently, the question raised is: how accurate is any IQ test in pinpointing real IQ?
A number of children manifest disturbances only when more than one process is required at a given time. It is in this context that the concept of overloading takes on value . . . A dysfunction in the brain lowers the tolerance limits for processing information. A child [may] show symptoms of disintegration when interneurosensory and complex integrative functions are required; he then manifests poor recall, random movements, poor attention, disinhibition and, in rare instances, seizures. Overloading can cause a generalized breakdown in the neurological processes which has implications not only for reducing the ability to learn but for total well-being, including medical treatment and management. [D. Johnson and H. R. Myklebust, Learning Disabilities (New York, Grune and Stratton, 1967), p. 31. Quoted by Arthur Janov, PhD, The Anatomy of Mental Illness, (New York, Berkley Windhover Books, 1977), p. 48.]
It is necessary to mention that this problem of neurosis is more than merely widespread. During the one opportunity I had to meet Dr. Janov decades ago at a Primal therapy group session, the first thing he said upon entering the room was, “It’s really bad out there. Neurosis is more common than the common cold.” Since then I have come to view Dr. Janov’s perspicacity as having been framed in an understatement. My opinion is that neurosis–disconnected neurons in the brain discharging erratic electrical messages to the subconscious and conscious mind resulting in erratic, irrational behavior–is a worldwide epidemic which has been and still is endemic to homo sapiens sapiens. This view is strongly underlined by the fact that newborns are horribly mistreated around the world: in underdeveloped, ethically challenged countries, with outright violence combined with lack of medical care when needed; in modern industrialized states, with unethical obstetric practices that shock the young brain into a traumatic state of malfunction for which the individual pays throughout his or her life. In a letter I received several years ago from French obstetrician Frederick Leboyer, author of the book Birth Without Violence, he wrote: “The treatment, no! mistreatment of the New-born is still, practically EVERYWHERE all over the world as criminal as ever.” This situation is so extreme that it is a sad irony with regard to brain activity amongst individuals of the homo sapiens species that normal is more rare on this planet than abnormal, for I do not define these two terms based on numbers, but based on the manner in which the brain was designed to function when negative electricity ensconced in this organ is not an interfering factor–an extremely rare occurrence. For this reason an objection that the percentage of neurotics given IQ tests might be low would be fatuous.
Before I demonstrate how easily an IQ test can miss the mark of ascertaining largely genetically based IQ level, it is pertinent that I cite the definitional variations of intelligence contained in The Bell Curve. The definitions of “intelligence” begin with the authors’ reference to Charles Spearman, “. . . in 1904, a former British army officer . . .” who “. . . made a conceptual and statistical breakthrough that has shaped both the development and much of the methodological controversy about mental tests ever since.”
Spearman’s method of analysis uncovered evidence for a unitary mental factor, which he named g, for “general intelligence.” The evidence for a general factor in intelligence was pervasive but circumstantial, based on statistical analysis rather than direct observation. Its reality therefore was, and remains, arguable.
Spearman then made another major contribution to the study of intelligence by defining what this mysterious g represented. He hypothesized that g is a general capacity for inferring and applying relationships drawn from experience. Being able to grasp, for example, the relationship between a pair of words like harvest and yield, or to cite a list of digits in reverse order, or to see what a geometrical pattern would look like upside down, are examples of tasks (and of test items) that draw on g as Spearman conceived of it. This definition of intelligence differed subtly from the more prevalent idea that intelligence is the ability to learn and to generalize what is learned. The course of learning is affected by intelligence, in Spearman’s view, but it was not the thing in itself. Spearminian intelligence was a measure of a person’s capacity for complex mental work.
Meanwhile, other testers in Europe and America continued to refine mental measurement. By 1908, the concept of mental level (later called mental age) had been developed, followed in a few years by a slightly more sophisticated concept, the intelligence quotient. IQ at first was just a way of expressing a person’s (usually a child’s) mental level relative to his or her contemporaries. Later, as the uses of testing spread, IQ became a more general way to express a person’s intellectual performance relative to a given population. . . . Within a few years, the letters “IQ” had entered the American vernacular, where they remain today as a universally understood synonym for intelligence. [Richard Herrnstein, Charles Murray, The Bell Curve (New York, The Free Press, 1994), pp. 3-4.]
The above definitional variations of intelligence are those from which The Bell Curve authors operate in their book. For the authors, it thus seems that the essence of intelligence is the ability to ” grasp . . . the relationship between a pair of words like harvest and yield, or to cite a list of digits in reverse order, or to see what a geometrical pattern would look like upside down,” and “to learn and to generalize what is learned.”
I think most people can agree that these are fair definitions of intelligence. The definitions of intelligence cited in The Bell Curve are not the book’s problems. The book’s problems are, 1) the placing the origin of IQ level more on genetic than on environmental factors, which I have already shown to be erroneous; and, 2) the reliance on IQ tests of the past and present as reliable barometers of individuals’ intelligence quotients with seemingly no attempt made to factor in past traumas brain-buried in the individuals being tested. At least no such attempts are referenced in The Bell Curve.
I would like to add a third definition of intelligence: the ability to leap from an idea or information facet to a more intensely profound idea, a progressed thought; or from a factor of existence to an expanded view of existence. This is the real meat of thinking, going quite a bit farther into what exemplary thinking involves than mere “generalizing what is learned.” To repeat Herrnstein and Murray’s depiction of Spearman’s view: “a measure of a person’s capacity for complex mental work.” To give an example of this, I cite the following:
“From his boyhood on Einstein understood that freedom of thought is the key to imagination,” Isaacson writes, “and, as he famously declared, ‘imagination is more important than knowledge.’” Yes, well, you do need to know what the facts are before you overturn them, and it helps to have Einstein’s imaginative skills if you wish to challenge the likes of Isaac Newton. You and I may have dreams about what it would be like to ride alongside a beam of light (time appears to stop), or imagine what it means to play catch in a free-falling elevator (you, your partner, and the ball would all be “weightless” in a “zero-gravity” environment relative to the free-falling frame of reference), but it takes an Einstein to translate a thought experiment into meaningful mathematical equations, and then employ those equations to challenge the very nature of space and time. But as Isaacson demonstrably shows, Einstein had just such a mind that allowed him to puzzle over commonplace things (like light beams and elevators) and incorporate them into his most uncommonplace theories. [Michael Shermer, “The Einstein Enigma,” A review of Walter Isaacson’s Einstein: His Life and Universe (http://www.michaelshermer.com/2007/05/the-einstein-enigma/#more-92).]
The point being, Einstein had the ability to leap from his vivid imagination to his ideas of physics.
At this point, I am going to demonstrate, with an example of my own, just how easily an IQ test can fail in its goal of pinpointing the cause of an arrived at intelligence quotient in a given individual. It is easy enough to ask what is the quality of a person’s nutrition who is taking an IQ test, particularly if the person is a child. (The Bell Curve’s section on nutrition is pathetic, relying as it does on RDA amounts, or amounts slightly above RDA levels. It is common knowledge amongst people in the field of nutrition that RDA amounts are far below levels necessary for optimal health.) Another thing an examiner should ascertain is the emotional state of the person generally, and specifically what the days immediately preceding the test were like. Perhaps IQ examiners ask such questions. But, from what I have read in The Bell Curve, and from what I have ascertained from my discussions with the aforementioned psychometrician, I would not be shocked to learn that they do not.
Not having a typical IQ test at hand, I will describe examples I have witnessed in which the failure to think rationally and arrive at appropriate conclusions can be explained either by largely genetically based low IQ (Herrnstein and Murray’s view); or by factors unrelated to The Bell Curve’s IQ paradigm. The arrived at conclusions will be based on the above cited definitions of intelligence, combined with existing knowledge of neurotic syndromes. The mechanism I will use to illustrate my having perceived individual failures to think rationally will be certain radical reactions I have witnessed to my novel HYPERSPACE, a novel containing sexually explicit material.
There have been several cases of individuals severing their relationship with me after either reading my novel HYPERSPACE, or beginning the book and stopping. I must emphasize, these individuals were acquaintances, not close friends. Yet the difference in my relationship with these individuals before the reading and after the reading of this book was pronounced. I am fairly certain that none of these people continued reading past the first explicit sexual description. My view is that their disgust had to be too great. I will indicate how these reactions were probably not due to The Bell Curve’s largely genetically based IQ paradigm, yet despite this fact show, as with an IQ test result, how such reactions can be so interpreted.
HYPERSPACE is a short novel of one hundred and fourteen pages, seven of which include scenes containing descriptions of explicit sexual activity. The first such scene begins on page ten, and is abruptly terminated on page eleven. What events are described on pages one through nine? Some examples follow:
[Note: The symbol < indicates the beginning of the character’s thought. The symbol 0 indicates the end of the character’s thought.]
The very beginning of the story depicts the protagonist, Jason, lying fully dressed in his bedroom in the midst of night. From his dark room he views through the window the nighttime sky:
Discerning multifarious twinkling tints amidst the sparse city view, his gaze is constantly focusing on a scintillating dot of bluish hue somewhat elevated above various fairly low residential structures. <my Love, my Friend, my Goodness0 Feeling a pang, breathing deeply, sighing, from across the void he is continuing viewing the bright bluish dot.
Jason viewing a particular star in the nighttime sky should not strike anyone as particularly pornographic.
Recalling earlier events of the night, Jason remembers a company party.
Standing in a far corner, his bright blondness distinguishing him and his self-imposed distance removing him from undesired attention, Jason is observing and mentally commenting to himself concerning surrounding occurrences, as constant feelings that he should not be there are impinging. <is it the smoke . . . i hate smoke . . . never touched the stuff . . . ya’ remember former heavy smoker at other job . . . guy was a music lover so we’d talk a lot . . . was up to three packs a day in the navy he’d said0 Watching the boss speaking to several salespeople–holding his cigar, oblivious to the emanating pollution–Jason is recalling his navy friend’s comment at the other job: <i had to quit . . . i couldn’t breathe air anymore, never mind smoke . . .0 Continuing observing the scene before him as his navy friend’s voice is trailing off into his memory’s recesses . . . <no . . . it’s not the smoke . . . just adds to it . . .0 “Why are you all alone Jason? Why don’t you have some fun?” a light, pleasant female voice, breaking into his thoughts, is asking. Turning left slightly, viewing a blonde, pink female form in blue standing before him . . . <so close . . . i can touch her0 Beyond her, in small groups throughout the rectangular room, he is observing people milling about. <what can i say0 “Are you looking off into the mysterious foggy future?” her soft pleasant voice is playfully asking.
“No! Actually, I’m looking at the big boss’ odoriferous mechanism of atmospheric toxicity.” She is breaking into a gay irrepressible laugh, he smiling.
A moment later the mood shifts:
“Why don’t we leave here Jason? Come over to my place where we can talk without all this horrendous racket.” Ossifying the pleasant warmth currently infusing Jason is a sudden chill. “Where do you live?” his voice sounding distant to him.
“Oh, not far. In the neighborhood . . . a few blocks, actually.”
“Ok,” while feeling deeply penetrating knife stabs, his intellectual assessment that he is committing an extremely serious error dominating his thinking even while flashing through his mind is an image of office laughter that he is refusing such an offer, with ensuing questions amongst personnel as to what exactly is wrong with Jason.
So far not only is pornography absent from the story, but any reader can perceive that the protagonist Jason is suffering internal tension that can easily be classified as neurotic. Once the two are outside, Jason’s neurotic reaction to Pat’s advance significantly increases.
“Come on,” she is saying, feigning a whine. “You don’t want to be up all night, do you?” Instantaneously transmitting through his neuronal wiring is a powerful electrical shock stunning him into a frozen, almost paralyzed state by his sudden and full awareness of the current situation into which he is stepping, as if into an escape-proof trap, he hating himself for his stupidity, gulping reflexively, the intestinal claw tightening around his viscera. Walking up to her, the tight claw relentlessly clenching within, they are descending down several concrete steps to the sidewalk.
In moments the two are in her apartment. She makes coffee, sits next to him on the sofa, their conversation consisting mostly of her telling him how she admires him for his silent aloofness . . . and moments later Jason falls into the mood and soon becomes sexually intimate with her, the intestinal “claw” gripping him dissipating as they proceed. During the beginning stages of copulation, the following:
. . . he is beginning rhythmically dancing with her . . . seeing the event he is leaning slightly back. Perplexed, Pat is moving her head from off his shoulder looking up at him. “What’s wrong, Jason?” she is softly asking. <this is a totally apollonian vision without the slightest trace of the dionysian even though the subject matter is a hundred percent dionysus0 “Do you know,” he is saying while she is looking at him, “I once heard a great theoretical physicist say that before the Big Bang the universe was a compressed mass of matter the size of a quark, a mere subatomic particle! Can you begin to think how small and puny we are? How insignificant? That we are mere figments of God’s imagination?” Noticing a look of perplexity on her face . . . <is it hurt0 . . . he is continuing staring at her while looking into the night sky with its several twinkling stars from the lying position in his bed. <a mere scattering of the myriads you see out west0 “There! My Friend! One special Star–after darkening hour always there!”
In the middle of coitus some deep, neurotic sensation born of a past traumatic experience is compelling him to interrupt his interaction with the woman while wondering how the realms of his aery thoughtfulness can be encasing his current experience of passionate sensuality, these thoughts respectively encapsulated in the Nietzschean metaphors of Apollo and Dionysus. (Deeper into the story, the reader discovers the important role philosophers play in Jason’s life, particularly the existentialists, including, and perhaps especially, Nietzsche.)
The next explicit sexual descriptions are on pages thirty-two and thirty-four. The intervening text is a vivid memory recall by Jason of his childhood combined with a mental review of his “relationship” with a blue star, which we know as Polaris, but known to Jason as Star Friend, or just Friend.
At this point the question should be asked: Did any reader of HYPERSPACE who discontinued the reading after arriving at the first explicit sexual description, do so because largely genetically based low IQ disallowed a leap away from the sexuality . . . a leap that could have been spurred by factors indicating that something much deeper is involved in the novel than smut, that perhaps the story is dealing with something more profound than tales in a pornography magazine? Or did they discontinue the reading because a neurotic reticence or abhorrence of the sexual blocked them? Similarly, did the child attain a low IQ score because his or her largely genetically based low intelligence disallowed the necessary leaps required to attain a higher score? Or were the children blocked by traumatic experiences earlier in their lives, now repressed in the recesses of their brains, now acting to impair their mental functions?
If . . .
. . . the “sex complex,” including in that term the various instincts belonging to sex, has been denied its normal outlet and has ultimately become repressed . . . the repressed complex may be evidenced by two groups of familiar phenomena. The resistance which forbids the normal expression of the complex may appear as an exaggerated prudery; this clearly serves to conceal the objectionable complex from consciousness, and hence fulfils the function of a censure. The complex will contrive, nevertheless, to express itself in some indirect manner, e.g. as a morbid interest in births, marriages, and scandals. [Bernard Hart, M.D., The Psychology of Insanity (London, Cambridge: at the University Press 1925), pp. 103-104.]
A person may exhibit excessive and unreasonable zeal in any direction. Here the self is, as it were, fortifying itself against the promptings of the repressed motive. An excessive desire for bodily cleanliness may indicate a repressed sense of guilt. Excessive prudery may be the compensation for a morbid interest in sex which the person will not admit even to himself. [Jafar Mahmud, EDUCATION PSYCHOLOGY (New Delhi, S.B. Nangia: A. P. H. Publishing Corporation, 2008), p. 105.]
Clearly, what we see and even if we see depends on underlying circuits which may block current perception of reality. How a jury votes on an obscenity case may have less to do with the objective facts presented and much more on whether the systems of its members can absorb these facts. [Arthur Janov, PhD, The Anatomy of Mental Illness, (New York, Berkley Windhover Books, 1977), p. 61.]
Individuals who suffered sexuality repressing traumas during childhood will likely react to items of a sexual nature (e.g., in art, literature, etc.) as a person touching a hot stove: as the hand touching the stove will be yanked back without an accompanying simultaneous thought, so the hands of the sexually repressed individual will close the book reflexively with no accompanying simultaneous thoughts; perhaps with a subsequent word such as “pornography” or “filth” infiltrating the mind and exiting the lips–the equivalent of “ouch” after the hot stove incident. Given the widespread nature of the neurotic syndrome amongst individuals of our species, a fact upon which this piece previously explicates, it is rational to conclude that in most cases of low IQ score neurotic factors play a partial role, at least; and in many cases perhaps they play a primary role. A study attempting to pinpoint this problem should certainly be initiated. Such a study would produce far more valuable results than a vapid study of identical twins placed separately into environments more similar than different.
In the case of a reader’s neurotic response to a specific work of literature containing sexually explicit material, the point is, that this inability to make the necessary leap past what the reader feels is smut by utilizing what in the story are non-sexual profundities as springboards, is likely not a reflection of largely genetically based low intelligence quotients of the individuals in question, just as failure of various individuals to attain an average to high IQ score in an IQ exam might not be a true reflection of their actual (genetically based) IQs. Given the numbers of people afflicted with the problem of psychoneurosis at various levels–a number surely more weighty than those with genetically based low IQs–individuals shunning a story such as HYPERSPACE may be plentiful.
I now wish to show in some specific detail, why I found it necessary to include explicit sexual descriptions in HYPERSPACE in order to point out that their presence in the story is not facetious.
HYPERSPACE is a self-published novel of intensity concerning an extremely neurotic individual. As the story progresses, the reader will most likely recognize that this individual descends into psychosis. In dealing with Jason the protagonist, the story utilizes Dr. Arthur Janov’s discovery that the psychophysiology’s primal mechanism of upsurging past trauma if allowed to run its course in a totally unrepressed manner, results in depletion of neurotic syndromes in a therapy setting. In a psychotherapy setting, the patient is encouraged to allow his or her negative feelings to be maximally felt, resulting in this individual experiencing extreme pain and suffering of past traumatic events–the process now known as Primal therapy. It is possible that without proper guidance in such a therapy setting, and/or knowledge of the Primal process’s components, the individual in question may be compelled into negative activity such as drug use or suicide. Because this upsurge of past trauma (known in Primal therapy as a Primal) is the psychophysiological reality of the neurotic and psychotic state of homo sapiens individuals, I was compelled to include explicit sexual material in HYPERSPACE the novel. The reasons for this are twofold:
1) Sexuality is an integral component of the above described Primal process. The reason for this is, sexuality is an integral component of the nervous system, and various activities of the brain affect this component. This is as true for normal (i.e., not neurotic) brain activity, as it is for neurotic and psychotic brain activity. However, in the latter case, the brain’s short-circuited neurons produce abnormal brain activity, results ranging a wide spectrum from homosexuality, to compulsive heterosexuality, to impotence. Because the protagonist in this novel is a seriously neurotic person who, as the story progresses, descends into a psychotic state, given all of the sexual ramifications attached to this brain malfunction, sexual symptoms are integral to this person’s psychophysiological state. Appearing in a footnote at the end of this opus is a comprehensive but interesting backup to show how prevalent and deep-rooted sexual neurosis can be, so it will become more apparent why the sexual depictions in HYPERSPACE are necessary expressions of realism employed in fiction.* Thus the reader should recognize that the use of explicit sexual material in this novel is indeed not frivolous.
2. The second reason I was compelled to include explicit sexual material in HYPERSPACE has to do with writing style. Fiction writing for me is not to tell a story and never to explain issues, but to show events. My aim is to allow the reader to experience events pertinent to the story as much and as closely as possible as if he or she were watching living people, visualizing events occurring before their eyes, perceiving and experiencing them with all of their senses as closely to reality as possible. In S P Q R, a novel I wrote concerning ancient Rome, the reader finds him or herself in the Colosseum watching gladiators butchering each other. The butcheries are fully described because this scene is integral to the story. I also describe quite fully the Roman cena libera, a pre-gladiatorial feast which, in the novel, degenerates into a full-fledged Roman orgy. But not one explicit sexual description is present in this scene because such a description is not integral to the plot and would detract from the story. In HYPERSPACE, neurotically compelled sexual activity by the protagonist is integral to the plot. It must be shown for the story to be truthful to reality, to be complete, to be effective, just as is the case with the detailed depiction of butcheries in a gladiatorial event in a novel about ancient Rome in which such an event is integral to the plot.
(S P Q R is as yet unpublished, and a publisher, literary agent, or movie producer would be fortunate to gain this work which, among other notable features, contains the greatest sword and shield event in literature since The Iliad. An intelligent, prescient publisher, literary agent, motion picture director, producer, or actor can leave contact information in the Leave a Comment link beneath this post.)
Recently, in an interchange I had with an “online friend,” I mentioned the above stated facts concerning HYPERSPACE pretty much as they appear in the paragraph preceding the last, including mention of the scant proportion of sexual content in relation to the total work. I never heard from this individual again. The neurotic revulsion experienced by this person to my mere allusions to the novel’s sexual depictions denied this person the opportunity to experience prose as exquisite and sublime as any in modern English literature:
“I really am close to winding up on the street!” Perceiving it like a pitch dark space-filled fathomless pit opening up beneath him with constantly widening edges he is beginning suddenly to raise his head, the drawn window shade moving down into his vision. <still light out0 “But soon my Friend will be just outside looking for me in this room!”–>sparkling bright blue from a deep blue sky winking–aware always of the sharp contrast between his Friend’s brightness and the darkening somber backdrop as He is appearing–within him inner warmth is beginning surging filling him to overflowing with joy at the thought of soon seeing his Friend. <can be with him soon0 Being in murky pitch darkness, nothing but total blankness before him, in the time it takes to breathe a breath the space about him is suddenly beginning exploding with brilliant scintillating dazzling multicolored brightness: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, and indigo blending one into another in gorgeous luminosity blazing all around him. Glowing goodness feelings are filling him, overflowing him with an exhilarating light of exquisiteness, feelings of total bliss. “It’s amazing! Just moments ago I was feeling not mere death but actual doom! Now, in an instant, there is goodness beyond words to describe, really. I mean, I have nothing to be afraid of anymore! Nothing! All is secure from now on and forever! I have nothing to worry about ever again!” he is saying with joyous exuberance. Thinking what being with his Friend must be like he is suddenly visualizing early sunset with darkening sky, dark green pines dotting grass-covered hills, aromatic pine scent wafting to his nostrils in crisp cool autumnal breezes while viewing more distantly expansive forests consisting of large-boled trees with their wind-blown leafy branches reaching towards puffy white clouds majestically sailing across deep evening blue as nearby rivers and springs with teaming fish breaking surface in wriggling leaps and diving back into the depths are discernable in the distance even while everywhere beautiful friendly people can be seen smiling, heard laughing, viewed joyfully loving, walking about the entire area individually, in couples, or in small groups. <welcoming me . . .0 “. . . and loving me and accepting me totally without reservations, as I love and accept them! It can’t be anything less.” <impossible to be anything less0 “My Friend would never disappoint me, never give me short shrift. Never! And certainly never lie!”
The reader of HYPERSPACE experiences with Jason the protagonist, neurotic and psychotic lies. Hopefully the reader, unlike Jason, sees the lies for what they are and understands reality. Those repelled by the scant explicit sexuality in HYPERSPACE do not. They are as unaware of the neurotic state and its powerful mind-altering affect as the authors of The Bell Curve seem to be.
*The following quotations will illustrate just how integral to the psychophysiology trauma-based neurotic sexuality is:
[Note: the term "first line" in Primal literature refers to those brain activities controlled by the hindbrain (rhombencephalon), those most basic: respiration, blood circulation, digestion, muscle movement, etc.]
Let us examine the process by which a Primal feeling becomes sexual and symbolic. First is the basic need of the infant for touch caress, hugs and body warmth. This need is rarely fulfilled. Neurotic mothers rarely can give of themselves and their bodies wholly and freely. Not having all of themselves they cannot give of themselves. Most often they give symbolic love: money, presents, food, etc. The young child latches onto the symbol because it is all he can get. But he needs true affection and that early need is overpowering. For the deprived child even the notion that mother will come over and pick him up is arousing. When he reaches out to her it is with every fiber of his being. His arousal is not sexual because he is not as yet sexual. It is simply a generalized state of activation. When the need is not fulfilled it remains in force. The need and its energy never change. All that changes is the ways [sic.] the child and then the adult goes about trying to fulfill it. If he can’t fulfill it in a real way then he will have to fulfill in it unreal ways.
The infant cannot smoke and drink or turn on TV. When his needs are frustrated the best he can do is shut down his feelings and needs, the energy of which is funneled automatically into first line channels–throwing up, colic, enuresis, thumb sucking, head-banging (a forerunner to masturbation), or falling asleep. With the shutdown he stops fully experiencing his needs and that is a key point, for thereafter he can only approach them symbolically. They are still there, however, exerting a great pressure.
As the young child begins to move around he will still try to approach his mother and hold her. She is usually too busy cleaning house or cooking and what he holds on to, perhaps, are her stockings. The stockings come to represent mother. They may in some instances become the symbols of love. In the first years of life he may want to go to his mother’s drawers and hold her stockings when she has left for work. Later on in adolescence he may begin to fantasize about women in stockings and masturbate to his fantasies. . . . Still later he may have a continuous overpowering impulse to dress up in stockings (and often women’s panties) while masturbating. That ritual may come to dominate his sex life. . . . He becomes as excited over his ritual as that little infant was over the need and prospect of love. . . . The excitement has become sexual because the person is now grown up into a sexual being. [Arthur Janov, Ph.D, Primal Man (London, ABACUS: Sphere Books Ltd., 1977), pp. 324-325.]
A trauma received by a newborn–originating perhaps in a barbaric hospital obstetrics facility–will, when the individual becomes sexually active upon reaching puberty, upsurge during or subsequent to orgasm, orgasm essentially being an electrical discharge that results in ungating brain neurons (i.e., opening neuronal gates shut down by traumatic Pain). Hence the electrical discharge termed orgasm, precipitates this traumatic Pain upsurge. This is not an illusion born of a fiction-creating imagination:
. . . how which organ systems later become affected by stress depends on prototypic events occurring very early in life, in a way associated with the maturation of the brain.
Thus, the newborn is “adequate” in the areas of respiration, coronary response, and other life-sustaining processes. These are integrated by the innermost portion of the brain in the anatomic midline. Traumas at this stage of life (from in utero to the age of approximately one year) constitute what I call “first line traumas.” [Arthur Janov, Ph.D, Primal Man (London, ABACUS: Sphere Books Ltd., 1977), p. 79.]
DEFINITION: Primal = upsurging of subconscious Trauma (Primal Pain)
It is my belief that much compulsive neurotic sex is an unconscious attempt to produce a first-line discharge. It is one of the only ways a neurotic can bring on a massive compulsive release for himself. Indeed, Primal patients who are fairly advanced in treatment find that convulsive orgasm immediately plunges them into birth Primals. In short, orgasm for the neurotic may well be a discharge of unresolved convulsing Pain, and the reason for the severe convulsions during orgasm must be due to first-line pressure and not to any property of normal sex.
Compulsive sex, then, is a necessary deterrent to the possibility of seizures or of psychosis. It is when the human system becomes rigid, and riddled by internalized moral precepts which preclude free sex, that the first-line discharge moves from the sexual apparatus to the head (seizures). Hospitalized mental patients deprived of sex are also deprived of a chance to discharge tension. It would be far better to teach them the value of sex and masturbation and to help them “let go” with their bodies. It seems almost trivial: a notion that instead of lining up each morning in the hospital for their electroconvulsive shock treatment, patients should be lining up for their morning sex–a seemingly whimsical but deadly serious notion. The problem, of course, is that free sex for mentally ill persons too often brings on more anxiety, not less. [Arthur Janov, Ph.D, Primal Man (London, ABACUS: Sphere Books Ltd., 1977), p. 95.]
The two Janov quotes immediately preceding (pp. 79 and 95) describe the situation of Jason, HYPERSPACE’s protagonist, with one caveat: he is not in a therapy situation. He is on his own, acting out his most traumatic feelings rather than lying down and feeling them while performing no accompanying destructive activity.