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Free Content Better Never Than Late: Peer Review and the Preservation of Prejudice

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This article documents some difficulties authors face who challenge faulty research claims published in mainstream literature. Editors of "reputable journals" may react with stonewalling tactics that tend to enshrine these faulty results. A case in point is the mental test literature, which has long been beset with racist myths. In 1985, Arthur Jensen added a new myth, his "Spearman Hypothesis," which asserts that a positive correlation between White/Black means differences in scores on mental tests and the loadings of the first principal component confirms the existence of a general intelligence factor ("g"). It can be shown by mathematical and geometric deduction, by computer simulation, and by reference to "real data," including Jensen's own, that the assertion is unwarranted, and that the relationship Jensen observed is an artifact that has nothing to do with ethnicity or "g." Nevertheless, it proved impossible for more than 12 years to record this challenge to Jensen's claims in any of the leading journals in psychology and statistics. Typically, their editors invoked arguments having nothing to do with the fundamental question of whether Jensen's claims are true or false. It is concluded that, in view of the transparent racist implications of these claims, such editorial policies—regardless of their motivations—contribute to the preservation of ethnic stereotypes and prejudice.

An understanding of the way science really works is important because the process does not take place in a vacuum. Scientists are part of society. What they do and how they behave affect the general public in a way perhaps more profound than any other profession. (Broad & Wade, 1982, p. 180)

Another significant impact of fraud has been the unhappy field of measuring human abilities. Fraud and self-deception have played major parts in studies that have influenced public attitudes on matters of class and race, and in shaping public action on issues such as immigration and education. (Broad & Wade, 1982, p. 219)
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Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN

Publication date: January 1, 2001

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