Poverty industry ignores good news

8th August 2008 at 01:00

Peter Wilby's attempt at refuting my Times Higher Education article on social class IQ and university admissions is so wide of the mark that I suspect he may not have read what I actually wrote ("Class injustice still alive in universities," TESS, July 18).

Wilby apparently believes that "bright working class children" are prevented from reaching their educational potential in modern Britain. His claim is refuted by long-term follow-up studies such as that by Daniel Nettle (www.staff.ncl.ac.ukdaniel. nettlebritishjournalpsychology.pdf).

On average, a child's IQ will predict their achieved adult social class much better than does the social class of their parents. In other words, the UK has for many decades been an "IQ meritocracy". This surely ought to be regarded as good news! We live in a society where ability counts for more than privilege.

However, this good news about social mobility is unwelcome to some politicians and to a "poverty industry" whose middle class jobs depend on putting themselves forward as tribunes of the downtrodden.

Bruce G Charlton MD, Editor-in-chief of 'Medical Hypotheses', and reader in evolutionary psychiatry, Newcastle University.

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