William Labov

  • Academic Ignorance and Black Intelligence

    The controversy over why children in the inner-city schools show such low educational achievement has been examined in several recent issues of The Atlantic. In the September, 1971, Atlantic, R. J. Herrnstein summarized the position of psychologists and others who believe that heredity is substantially more important than environment in determining intelligence, as measured by IQ tests. In its issue of December, 1971, The Atlantic published a number of letters (the correspondents included sociologists, anthropologists, economists, educators, and a few psychologists) taking issue with Professor Herrnstein’s article. Many of those who wrote maintained that environmental factors, rather than any genetic deficit, explain the poor performance of lower-class inner-city children.