Read the Book"The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

November 08, 1994

Read the Book

"The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life" is an important book. It deserves careful scrutiny by all literate persons, not the summary dismissals by Opinion * Commentary columnists Peter Schrag (Oct. 27) and Carl Rowan (Oct. 28).

Neither columnist revealed the backgrounds of the co-authors: Dr. Richard Herrnstein (who died this September), Edgar Pierce Professor of Psychology at Harvard University and former chair of its psychology department, and Dr. Charles Murray, a Bradley Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

"Intelligence" is not a "scientifically squishy" concept, as Mr. Schrag alleges. Even casual searching of the computerized data bases of the Johns Hopkins library discloses at least 25,000 studies of that psychological construct in recent years.

Such research has been conducted for more than a century. Of all the behavioral measures psychology has created, undoubtedly "general intelligence" is the best validated.

Only wishful or political thinking enables one to deny general intelligence's potency and value. Read the volume carefully and then decide for yourself.

Julian C. Stanley

Baltimore

The writer is professor of psychology and director of the Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth, Johns Hopkins University.

For the Ban

I'm writing in response to the article "To Some Teens, Ban is a Drag" (Oct. 21).

There is no question that tobacco use is up and that enforcement of the law will play an important role in its decline. But it is hard when smokers are opposed to changing their attitude toward health and toward smoking.

For example, in your article Stephanie Kemplin said, "It's stupid. People who have been smoking for years are not going to quit because of a law."

This may be true, and the ban may make the possession and use of cigarettes more desirable among teen-agers. Therefore, we must use our resources from law enforcement aimed at keeping children and teen-agers from trying cigarettes in the first place.

While this law may appear to be a stupid solution to a very difficult problem, it would be a tremendous mistake if this law was not put into effect.

The most widely abused drugs in our society are tobacco, alcohol and prescription drugs. Without this law the number of smokers will almost certainly increase. For example with the repeal of the 18th Amendment, the number of drinkers in the United States increased by 60 percent.

Instead of thinking why this law is a mistake, we must devote massive resources to education and treatment.

We must communicate the clear and consistent message that cigarettes are destructive and will not be tolerated among teen-agers.

We must change public policy and attitudes so that every teen-ager can receive treatment.

We must continue to use our resources to enforce this law in order to decrease the number of teen-age smokers and deaths caused by cancer.

Rather than giving up the fight, it is crucial that we re-double our efforts to solve this problem.

Shalita Robinson

Ellicott City

Ghana's First Lady

A recent article by Richard O'Mara about Ghana's first lady, Nana Rawlings, glosses over some important facts which may cast Mrs. Rawlings' role as a women's rights activist in a different light.

The article states that Mrs. Rawlings wields considerable influence over her husband, and she is compared to Hillary Rodham Clinton in this regard.

However, given the levels of political repression and corruption in Ghana, she would draw a closer comparison to Imelda Marcos.

Over the last five years, President J. J. Rawlings (nicknamed "Junior Jesus" because of his paternalistic style of rule) successfully implemented the World Bank's economic reform package, and Ghana has thus experienced an economic boom, but the country remains politically repressed.

The snap elections Mr. Rawlings called in 1992 were marred by wide-spread allegations of fraud. In fact, Mr. Rawlings refused to give women the right to vote -- surprising, given the role his wife has assumed as an advocate of women's rights.

The article implies that Mrs. Rawlings must only overcome Ghanaian tradition in her struggle to empower women. However, it appears she must also overcome the policies of her husband.

Ghana's citizens -- men and women both -- continue to live under a repressive regime headed by a man who gained power by force and fraud.

For the sake of good taste, The Sun should refrain from championing the wives of such authoritarian rulers.

Peter Kosciewicz

Baltimore

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