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

OpenPsych , April 15, 2024, ISSN: 2597-324X


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

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