The Intelligence of Man versus Dog

"Experimentation with animals is relevant to questions about genetic influences on human intelligence because remarkable plasticity of behavior is widespread among animal species, because quantitative genetic models of intelligence do not invoke any process that is uniquely human, and because there is a high degree of homology between all mammals at the genetic level and even with regard to the structure of the brain. Although there are genes in humans that are not found in mice or flies, the vast majority of genes of documented importance for healthy brain activity exists in many vertebrate species. Likewise, the principles of the control of gene action at the molecular level obtain across a wide range of species. At the molecular level, there is no evidence of human uniqueness that makes us exempt from generalizations induced from elegant experiments with simpler and smaller animals." From "The Invalid separation of effects of nature and nurture: Lessons from animal experimentation" by Douglas Wahlsten and Gilbert Gottlieb in Intelligence, heredity, and environment, edited by Sternberg and Grigorenko, Cambridge University Press, 1997.

I recently read two "popular" books about intelligence. The first one was "The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life" by Charles Murray and the late Richard Herrnstein. The second was "The Intelligence of Dogs: Canine Consciousness and Capabilities" by Stanley Coren. Both books were best sellers in 1994 and both books were heavily reviewed in magazines and newspapers.

When "The Bell Curve" first came out, I retrieved about 200 pages of commentary from newspapers and magazines via an online database to see how the media would review the book. The primary means used to rebut its research results was to dismiss heredity as the cause for the differences in the IQ scores of people. Over and over again it was pointed out, "if only the disadvantaged had the same upbringing as the privileged they would also score high on IQ tests." It was obvious to me that dogma could not allow honest research about the differences in IQ. The social agenda for promoting the equality of condition over the past 30 years would be in jeopardy. At any cost to open scholarly debate, the results of "The Bell Curve" must be refuted by any means available. To me, the acceptance that IQ was inherited was so commonly accepted by the public and academicians alike, how could this serious work be so robustly and virulently attacked and still become a best seller? I sought a way to test the validity that the media truly believed IQ was 100% environmentally determined.

With some similarities, "The Intelligence of Dogs" was reviewed with trepidation, not wanting to learn that "my dog" was not rated as intelligent. Like humans, dogs all belong to the same species. Different breeds were developed by selecting the desired attributes of a dog and breeding like dogs together, always keeping a perfect archetypical prototype in mind of the desired goal. Humans do not practice overt eugenics (breeding), but we know that the brains of canines and humans have the same structure and the rules of genetics are the same. Humans practice assortative mating, and studies going back to the 1940's show that IQs of spouses correlate powerfully. That is, like people marry. In general, the smart marry the smart, especially since the advent of the birth control pill, universal higher education, and increased mobility.

In stark contrast, "The Intelligence of Dogs" reviewers totally and completely bought into the concept that the difference between the intelligence of different breeds was heredity, not the environment that the dog was raised in. The book listed the Border collie as the most intelligent (a working dog) and the Afghan hound the least intelligent (the pampered pet of choice for the elite rich). Without a single dissention or even a glimmer of doubt the wide gaps in intelligence between breeds of dogs was readily accepted. Not one critic wrote that if only the Afghan had the right social economic opportunity as the typical Border collie, it too could be smart. Maybe those rich folks and all that pampering makes them stupid. Not once did I read that "a dog's home, neighborhood, training, duties-- the sum of the dog's life experiences -- are equally if not more important than heredity." Not once did I read "if environment plays a role of anywhere from 20 percent to 50 percent in determining a dog's brainpower, such  factors as adequate nutrition, stable family life, a moral life and a safe community to grow up in might make the crucial difference that ensures a dog will have a productive adulthood." Not once did I read "No such group genetic comparisons can be fair until Afghans and Border collies grow up in comparable environments for several generations." Not once did I read "Coren makes no effort to measure or quantify or assess the powerful role of environment or to consider how it can mitigate their grim predictions of underclass disaster for the poor Afghans."

Only a highly distorted view of humans, a view that anthropocentrically separates us from all other creatures, could sustain the media's denial of basic scientific concepts. Book after book dealing with human nature, sociobiology, human ecology, ethology, or evolution condemns such views. The media on the other hand has always been a tool of culture rather than an unbiased observer of scientific facts. And the fact that the rules of genetics are the same for humans as they are for other animals, including the distribution of cognitive abilities within each species, is denied to protect the underclass from facts well known to scientists. Not everyone is smart enough to be adequately educated to be productive in a technological society. But the politicians and social scientists want the public to believe that it is just a matter of investment and everyone can be as smart as the next.

In summary, the media treated the same subject matter differently because the innate difference in the breeds of dogs is not taboo or threatening to the egalitarian status quo. There is an agenda to suppress all scientific investigation into inheritable intelligence so that all differences between people can be attributed to socioeconomic status. If scientific investigation means anything it must be based on "let the chips fall where they may." Humans have a long way to go to "get over themselves."

"Jensen suggests that the heritability of intelligence is quite high; that is, genetic factors are far more important than environmental forces in producing IQ differences among individuals, as well as between populations. His evidence included studies of selective breeding for intelligence in rats and other animals, investigations of the chromosomal abnormality called Turner's Syndrome on specific forms of intellective functioning, studies of mental retardation, and research concerning the high degree of assortative mating in our society and its relationship to significant differences in the intelligence of the offspring of such mates." From "An interactionist perspective on the genesis of intelligence" by Edmund W. Gordon and Melissa P. Lemons in Intelligence, heredity, and environment, edited by Sternberg and Grigorenko, Cambridge University Press, 1997.

"As there are no fundamental differences of a qualitative nature between various mammalian species in the anatomy and neurophysiology of the brain, the science of animal behavior generally supports the working hypothesis that interspecies variations in the cognitive abilities inferred from observed differences in behavioral capacities are not discrete gaps but rather quantitative gradations in the complexity of the information-processing systems of mammals. Experimental animal psychology has indeed made important contributions to understanding the basic operating principles of behavioral capacities such as conditioning, learning, perception, and problem solving and in discovering the brain mechanisms underlying these functions. Because most animal behavior research has not focused on individual differences in behavioral capacities within a given species, exceedingly few infrahuman animal studies have been designed that resemble the factor analytic research on g in humans. Yet, judging from the three studies described below, animal experimental psychology would appear to be a promising avenue for testing hypotheses concerning the neural basis of g in humans." Arthur Jensen in The g Factor: The Science of Mental Ability.

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