Intelligence: Knowns and Unknowns

Ulrich Neisser, chair, report of a Task Force established by the American Psychological Association, American Psychologist, February 1996.


In the fall of 1994, the publication of Herrnstein and Murray’s book The Bell Curve sparked a new round of debate about the meaning of intelligence test scores and the nature of intelligence. The debate was characterized by strong assertions as well as by strong feelings. Unfortunately, those assertions often revealed serious misunderstandings of what has (and has not) been demonstrated by scientific research in this field. Although a great deal is now known, the issues remain complex and in many cases still unresolved. Another unfortunate aspect of the debate was that many participants made little effort to distinguish scientific issues from political ones. Research findings were often assessed not so much on their merits or their scientific standing as on their supposed political implications.

University of Connecticut [pdf]