20 MAY 1995, Page 30

LETTERS The race business

Sir: Alasdair Palmer's article 'Does white mean right?' (18 February) on the heri- tability of intelligence and the genetic basis of race differences in intelligence contains a number of errors. Perhaps the most important of these is his assertion that the late Richard Herrnstein, Charles Murray, J. Phillipe Rushton and I are a small minority in believing that racial dif- ferences in intelligence are largely deter- mined genetically.

The fact is that the majority of experts working in this field accept this conclu- sion. It is true that not many have gone public, but this is because they have observed that those who do so are guaran- teed verbal vilification of the kind handed out by Alasdair Palmer, and are likely to be physically attacked, and this is some- thing which most of us would prefer to do without.

Nevertheless, several of the most emi- nent experts in this field have set out in writing their conclusion that race differ- ences in intelligence have a genetic basis. These include Professors Arthur Jensen of the University of California, Hans Eysenck of London, John Loehlin of Texas, the late Philip Vernon of London and the late Richard Herrnstein of Harvard.

Furthermore, the state of authoritative opinion on this issue was revealed in 1988, when Mark Snyderman and Stanley Rothman published the results of a survey of 661 experts. This showed that 46 per cent considered that genetic differences are involved in the black-white IQ difference, while 15 per cent thought envi- ronmental factors are solely responsible. The remainder did not express an opinion.

The mainstream experts on this question accept that race differences in intelligence have a genetic basis. Alasdair Palmer, who has no expertise whatever, and on the basis of what appears to be a couple of days flip- ping through press cuttings, thinks he knows better than the leading academic authorities who have been working on this question for many years. He prefers to side with the ill-informed but politically correct minority.

Richard Lynn

University of Ulster, Coleraine, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland