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The Role of Intelligence in Modern Society

Are social changes dividing us into intellectual haves and have-nots? The question pushed aside in the 1970s is back, and the issues are far from simple

Earl Hunt

The public debate that was ignited in 1994 by publication of The Bell Curve focused renewed attention on questions with a long and controversial history in psychology: Is there such a thing as general intelligence, and can it be measured? If so, is it inherited? Does IQ determine, in large part, the success one will have in life? The evidence on these questions is mixed: Major issues about the statistical validity of IQ tests have been resolved, but there are important and valid alternative ways to view intelligence that emphasize cognitive processes or distinguish between three dimensions of human intellectual competence. Social variables and intelligence are closely intertwined, but major investments in training and education have been shown to increase competence levels for all citizens.

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