The modern IQ debate was launched by an essay scholar Arthur Jensen wrote in 1969 called ” How Much Can We Boost IQ and Scholastic Achievement?” where Jensen argued that IQ is mostly determined by genes & that cultural & environmental improvement will do little to improve the test scores of low IQ kids
It was the liberal 1960s & Jensen’s pessimistic views were the last thing America wanted to hear. Despite being a pro-civil rights liberal, a Gandhi fanatic, and a talented musician, Jensen was labeled a racist & became the boogeyman of academia. Protesters attacked his classes so aggressively that he was offered campus bodyguards. Entire generations of academics built careers opposing Jensenism; arguing that there is no such thing as g (general intelligence), that all races are equally smart & that intelligence is not genetic
Throughout decades of persecution, Jensen kept his cool & would calmly and cogently rip his critics to shreds in hundreds of scholarly papers. The man who launched the IQ debate would dominate it until the day he died, leaving the field still scrambling to find a worthy successor.
How could one man have such a huge intellectual impact on American society, launching a debate that would rage for nearly half a century? What would be the IQ of such a significant groundbreaking scholar?
Reporter Dan Seligman asked Jensen that very question. It turned out the best approximation of Jensen’s IQ came from the Terman Concept Mastery test where Jensen scored around the level of the most highly educated gifted people in scholar Lewis Terman’s famous study of the gifted. When reporter Seligman searched through Terman’s data to find out how smart Terman’s most educated gifted subjects were, he discovered a truly astonishing figure: 156; which would make Jensen almost certainly smarter than anyone who has ever posted on this blog, or any other blog you’re likely to read soon.
To understand just how astonishing an IQ of 156 is consider the average American has an IQ of 100, the average college grad has an IQ of 113, and students at the world’s best university (Harvard) average IQ 130. Further, an IQ of 156 would likely make Jensen smarter than any president in American history.
This “possibly helps to explain why Jensen has been such a dominant figure in the IQ debate,” Seligman wrote.