Back to Post-publication discussions

Is Research on the Genetics of Race / IQ Gaps “Mythically Taboo?”

Submission status

Submission Editor
Noah Carl

Bryan J. Pesta
Emil O. W. Kirkegaard
Joseph Bronski

Is Research on the Genetics of Race / IQ Gaps “Mythically Taboo?”


Jackson and Winston (“JW;” 2021) recently argued that no real taboos exist regarding the study of potential genetic links between race and IQ test scores. Instead, the authors essentially claimed that researchers in this area have protested too much. JW offered several arguments that presumably supported their claims, which we rebut here first. Empirically, however, we wondered just how “relatively taboo” this topic might be among Americans in general. Via, we surveyed 507 representative Americans on this issue. Our survey comprised 33 “taboo topics” (e.g., whether pedophilia is harmful), wherein each participant subjectively rated “tabooness” on five-point Likert scales. We found that the potential genetic basis of race / IQ gaps was the tabooest item in our survey. In fact, this topic was rated “more taboo” than were items regarding incest and even pedophilia. Further, the rank-ordering of “tabooness” was highly stable across the various demographic groups we looked at in our survey. At least among a (relatively large) representative sample of American adults, research on the genetics of race / IQ gaps is very strongly taboo. We conclude by discussing how our survey results further dampen JW’s claim that the taboo is real rather than mythical.

intelligence, race and intelligence, genetics, Taboos, Mythical Taboos

Supplemental materials link



Typeset Pdf

Typeset Paper

Reviewers ( 0 / 0 / 2 )
Sebastian Jensen: Accept
Peter Frost: Accept

Wed 12 Jul 2023 20:23


Authors have updated the submission to version #9

Author | Admin

I have updated the wording as you requested.


I approve publication.

Replying to Reviewer 2

” During his life, Rushton was harassed with name-calling and calls from the Attorney-General of Ontario for an “investigation” by the Ontario Provincial Police for hate speech, and was investigated, but he was never charged"

The wording is still strange, particularly the scare quotes. This was a real investigation where the police went to his home and questioned him at length. Why not just write:

"During his life, Rushton was harassed with name-calling and worse. In 1989, the Attorney-General of Ontario ordered a police investigation of Rushton for hate speech, but after six months the police concluded that there were insufficient grounds for prosecution." 


Replying to Joseph Bronski

I changed the wording.




The submission was accepted for publication.


Authors have updated the submission to version #11