Dropping of IQ book defended

26th April 1996 at 01:00
A leading publisher has defended its decision to withdraw a book setting out racist theories of intelligence in the face of accusations of censorship and an allegation by the author that it is pandering to what he calls "political correctness".

John Wiley and Sons said it took the action following "inflammatory" comments in interviews by the author, Edinburgh University psychologist Christopher Brand.

The book, The g Factor, General Intelligence and its Implications, argues that intellectual ability is based on a fixed and genetically-inherited IQ which can be reliably measured and used as an indicator of learning needs as well as likely success in later life.

It courts controversy by endorsing Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray's claim in The Bell Curve that blacks are less intelligent than whites and Asians. It also asserts that post-war education in Britain had been blighted by the refusal of egalitarian ideologues to recognise differences in IQ.

Until its abrupt change of heart, Wiley had promoted the title as "challenging but well argued", and claimed it provided a "concise, accessible and critical review of the scientific evidence".

The decision to withdraw the book was taken by the head office in New York, which had been unaware of the content until hostile reviews appeared in Britain.

A spokeswoman for Wiley said: "The overall content is that of a scientific monograph which does not include sensational pronouncements. Further inflammatory statements came to the attention of Wiley and it was decided that some of the repugnant views were in the text."

Mr Brand, whose lectures have been boycotted by students since the row started, is hoping to find another publisher. He denounced Wiley's decision, accusing the US office of being "infected with political correctness".

Other academics, while not sharing the book's views, also voiced concern about Wiley's decision.

Michael Howe, professor of psychology at Exeter University, said: "We should be very wary about banning a book which is extreme or unusual. Wiley should not have got themselves in this situation in the first place."

Patrick Rabbitt, professor of cognitive psychology and gerontology at Manchester University, said: "I disagree with nearly everything in the book. I think he is confusing issues of science with issues of morality and politics, but I don't think a book ought to be withdrawn."

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