October 29, 2012

Arthur Jensen, RIP

The great IQ scientist has died at the age of 89.

Here's my review of his 1998 magnum opus, The g Factor.

23 comments:

TH said...

This is a great loss to honest science. Anyone who wants to know how to do research on human behavior should read his major works, such as The g Factor or Bias in Mental Testing. He was a member of the informal London School of psychology, which he described in the following way:

I emphasize my postdoctoral work with Eysenck, because I believe it planted the seeds of virtually everything I have done since then. It put me on the path that I have followed, in one way or another, for all of my later research. Although each of the many subsequent byways could not have been anticipated, they all led more or less consistently in one general direction--what came to be known as the London School of differential psychology, originated by Galton and with Spearman, Burt, and Eysenck successively as its leading exponents. (I knew personally only Eysenck and Burt.) The London School is not really a school or even a doctrine or a theory. Rather, it is a general view of psychology as a natural science and as essentially a branch of biology. Its central concern is variability in human behavior. It is Darwinian in that it views both interspecies variation and an important part of intraspecies variation (both individual and group differences) in certain classes of behavior as products of the evolutionary process. It is behavior-genetic in that the evolutionary process depends upon genetic variation and selection, and the neural basis of behavioral capacities is subject to these evolutionary mechanisms the same as other physical characteristics. It is quantitative in that it emphasizes the objective measurement and taxonomy of behavior and the operational definition of latent traits or hypothetical constructs. It is analytical in that it subjects quantitative data to mathematical formulation and statistical inference. It is experimental in that it typically obtains measurements, both behavioral and physiological, under specifically defined and controlled conditions. It is reductionist in that it aims theoretically to explain complex phenomena in terms of simpler, more elemental processes. It is monistic (as opposed to dualistic) in that it neither posits nor seeks any explanatory principle that does not consist of strictly physical processes: it views complex psychological phenomena as emerging solely from interactions among more elemental neurophysiological processes and their past and present interactions with environmental conditions.

eah said...

Sad news. No doubt relatively few Americans will have heard of him.

However Chris Matthews will be blathering away as usual on TV tonite.

Anonymous said...

Rushton then Jensen... something fishy's going on. You better watch out, Steve.

Jeremy said...

Rushton, and now Jensen. This is a bad time for 'real' psychology, as opposed to the wishful-thinking, Leftist guff that seems to dominate academia.

Harris said...

As might be expected, the left wingnuts at Wikipedia make it out like Gould was correct about the Bell Curve in their writeup on Arthur Jensen.

Anonymous said...

And perhaps the biggest loss, it doesn't seem he left any grandchildren behind.

Anonymous said...

It is possible to trace a direct academic lineage from Francis Galton, to Cyril Burt, to Hans Eysnck, to Arthur Jensen. I hope that lineage has not ended.

panjoomby said...

much of my doctorate back in the 80s involved digesting & applying Jensen's 1980 tome "bias in mental testing" (previously i had been a Gould-ite!) When one comprehends Dr. Jensen's research, there's no going back to Gould. (i.e., there's no going back to childhood, you can't be 20 on sugar mountain, etc!) Dr. Art Jensen was a great man & a phenomenal researcher.

TH said...

It is possible to trace a direct academic lineage from Francis Galton, to Cyril Burt, to Hans Eysnck, to Arthur Jensen. I hope that lineage has not ended.

I think Ian Deary is now the most important representative of this research tradition (even if he didn't study under any of those big names). He has almost completely eschewed the race issue though.

Anonymous said...

That's sad! I met Art Jensen just once, when we invited him to give a talk in my psychology department around 1990 or so. His visit was somewhat controversial, but no one could come up with a decent-sounding reason to oppose it and he was received politely enough. To me, the most impressive thing about the man was his work ethic and persistence, and above all his apparent indifference to whether people disliked his conclusions. He worked like a son of a gun, decade after decade, to learn everything he could about mental ability. It seemed to matter to him not at all that his conclusions drove some people nuts. Most people who pursue strikingly unpopular things get an obvious joy out of tweaking people, but if he that was what propelled Art, I just couldn't see it.

I also believe that he earned the respect of his more high-grade critics, like Flynn of the Flynn effect, and that his reputation in psychometrics is very secure--but I am sure that obits in NYT etc will obscure this fact.

Anonymous said...

his 1998 magnum opus, The g Factor.

His sequel The g Spot was even better.

you know me said...

I'm walking disproof of Steve's opening assertion in the cited review: lousy at paper-folding, great at distinguishing musical pitch.

Mike Steinberg said...

Sad news, he continued publishing papers until the end. Researchers like Flynn & Scarr who hoped to prove him wrong nonetheless had huge respect for him.

I'd recommend the book with Skeptic Editor Frank Miele "Conversations with Arthur Jensen" to get a better idea of what made Jensen tick. The front page blurb "The work of an honest, courageous man interviewing an honest, courageous man." EO Wilson (back page blurbs from geneticist James Crow, Robert Plomin, Thomas Bouchard and Jon Entine).

http://www.amazon.com/Intelligence-Race-And-Genetics-Conversations/dp/081334008X

Also, Steve's review.

Among specialists, fortunately, Jensen's reputation is different. A 1998 edition of the technical journal Intelligence was devoted to a tribute to Jensen from 13 leading experts. It was issued under the title "A King among Men: Arthur Jensen." Editor Daniel Detterman of Case Western Reserve University wrote:

"When I first met him personally, I wondered what his biases and prejudices really were and tried to identify them for many years. My effort was wasted. I finally came to the conclusion that he just doesn't have any. I think this may be a point that is impossible for his critics to understand. On the other hand, it is the very reason he has stood up so well against his critics. He has invested himself in pursuit of the truth, not any particular set of ideas. … He would gladly know the truth even if it proved him wrong."

Whether Jensen will ultimately be proved right or wrong, he is a role model for scientists everywhere.

A lifelong student of Mahatma Gandhi, Jensen told Miele:

"One of the tenets of my own philosophy is to be as open as possible and to strive for a perfect consistency between my thoughts, both spoken and published, in their private and public expression. This is essentially a Gandhian principle, one that I have long considered worth striving to live by."

http://www.unz.org/Pub/VDare-2002dec-00002

tommy said...

The man had a long and productive life, but this loss is still tragic.

Anonymous said...

Rest in peace Mr Jensen. 1/4 Jewish by the way, enough leavening for a superior intellect

The Legendary Linda said...

I really respect him because out of all the HBD scholars, he was probably the most objective, the most devoid of political agenda; he really was motivated by the science.

One of my biggest regrets is I never sent him an email as I had been planning to for years. I have so many scholarly questions that only he had the knowledge and technical sophistication to answer.

Steve Sailer said...

Lord Kenneth Clark's Civilization has an anecdote about Mozart at a dinner party, lost in thought as he composes his next piece in his head, folding and refolding his napkin into ever more complex shapes.

Chris Chabris did a study demolishing the "Mozart Effect" -- listening to Mozart before taking an IQ didn't raise IQs on any subsection ... except paperfolding.

Anonymous said...

"Mr Jensen. 1/4 Jewish by the way"

Eysenck was also 1/4 Jewish.

M Steinberg said...

The 100 Most Eminent Psychologists of the 20th Century The published article can be found in Review of General Psychology, 2002, 6, 139-152.

Jensen comes in 47th place.

http://htpprints.yorku.ca/archive/00000064/00/eminence.pdf


kaganovitch said...

steve , judging by that 1998 review of Jensen you are NOT getting funnier as you seem to think. That was very funny (maybe a tad drier than you are now). The scotty pippen sentence was a masterpiece

Anonymous said...

RIP Mr Jensen. One of these days I'll amass enough money to buy your book.

Dying at 89 is a very good innings, he can be proud of a great life's work.

Steve Sailer said...

Dear kaganovitch:

Yeah, but back in the 1990s I could draw upon a few decades worth of funny lines I'd come up with to slip into my writing. Unfortunately, I long ago drained my joke capital and now have to dream up new ones afresh.

TontoBubbaGoldstein said...

His sequel "The g Spot" was even better.


Been searching Barnes and Noble and Amazon for years....no luck.