Linda Gottfredson

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Linda Gottfredson
Linda Gottfredson ISIR Distinguished Contributor Interview.jpg
Gottfredson interviewed in 2016
Linda Susanne Howarth

San Francisco, California, U.S.
Alma materUniversity of California, Berkeley
Johns Hopkins University
Known forMainstream Science on Intelligence
Scientific career
FieldsEducational psychology
InstitutionsUniversity of Delaware, editorial boards of Intelligence, Learning and Individual Differences, and Society
ThesisThe relation of situs of work to occupational achievement (1977)

Linda Susanne Gottfredson (née Howarth; born 1947) is an American psychologist and writer. She is professor emeritus of educational psychology at the University of Delaware and co-director of the Delaware-Johns Hopkins Project for the Study of Intelligence and Society. She is best known for writing the 1994 letter "Mainstream Science on Intelligence", which was published in the Wall Street Journal in defense of Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray's controversial book The Bell Curve (1994).

She is on the boards of the International Society for the Study of Individual Differences, the International Society for Intelligence Research, and the editorial boards of the academic journals Intelligence, Learning and Individual Differences, and Society.

Life and education[edit]

Gottfredson was born in San Francisco in 1947. She is a third generation university faculty member. Her father, Jack A. Howarth (died 2006), was a faculty member at U.C. Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, as was his father.[1][2] Gottfredson initially majored in biology, but later transferred to psychology with her first husband, Gary Don Gottfredson. In 1969, she received a bachelor's degree in psychology from University of California, Berkeley.[3] She worked in the Peace Corps in Malaysia.[4] Gottfredson and her husband went to graduate school at Johns Hopkins University, where she received a Ph.D. in sociology in 1977.[3]

Academic work[edit]

Labels show Gottfredson's expectations for job and life potential for people of different intelligence levels at different levels of the bell curve for general intelligence by race (Gottfredson, 2005a, figure 18.2).

Gottfredson took a position at Hopkins' Center for Social Organization of Schools and investigated issues of occupational segregation and typology based on skill sets and intellectual capacity. She married Robert A. Gordon, who worked in a related area at Hopkins, and they divorced by the mid-1990s.[5][6]

In 1985, Gottfredson participated in a conference called "The g Factor in Employment Testing". The papers presented were published in the December 1986 issue of the Journal of Vocational Behavior, which she edited. In 1986, Gottfredson was appointed associate professor of Educational Studies at the University of Delaware, Newark.

In 1989, The Washington Post reported that one of Gottfredson's presentations was cited favorably by an article in the National Association for the Advancement of White People's magazine.[7]

That year, she presented a series of papers on general intelligence factor and employment, including some criticizing the use of different curves for candidates of different races.[8] Gottfredson has said:

We now have out there what I call the egalitarian fiction that all groups are equal in intelligence. We have social policy based on that fiction. For example, the 1991 Civil Rights Act codified Griggs vs. Duke Power, which said that if you have disproportionate hiring by race, you are prima facie -- that's prima facie evidence of racial discrimination. ...Differences in intelligence have real world effects, whether we think they're there or not, whether we want to wish them away or not. And we don't do anybody any good, certainly not the low-IQ people, by denying that those problems exist.[9]

While an assistant professor of Educational Studies in the late 1980s, Gottfredson applied for and received three grants from the Pioneer Fund, which was created to advocate research into eugenics.[10] She was promoted to full professor at the University of Delaware in 1990.[11] That year, her fourth grant application to the Pioneer Fund was rejected by the board of the university, which said the funding would undermine their university's affirmative action.[10] Gottfredson challenged the ruling with assistance from the Center for Individual Rights and the American Association of University Professors.[12] In 1992, after two and a half years of debate and protest, the university administration reached a settlement that once again allowed Gottfredson and Jan Blits to continue receiving research funding from the Pioneer Fund.[10][13] The arbitrator of the case held that the university's research committee had violated its own standards of review by looking at the content of Gottfredson's research and that Gottfredson had a right to academic freedom that public perceptions alone did not suffice to overcome.[14][15][16][17]

Views and criticisms[edit]

Gottfredson has been very critical of psychologist Robert Sternberg's work on the triarchic theory of intelligence, arguing that Sternberg has not demonstrated a distinction between practical intelligence and the analytical intelligence measured by IQ tests.[18]

Her views on the relationship between race and intelligence and her vocal opposition to policies such as affirmative action, hiring quotas, and "race-norming" on aptitude tests[19] have led the Southern Poverty Law Center to describe her as a promoter of eugenicism, scientific racism, and white nationalism.[20]

Gottfredson has received research grants worth $267,000 from the Pioneer Fund, an organization described as racist and white supremacist.[21][22][23][20] She defended the Pioneer Fund's then president J. Philippe Rushton and disparaged his critics.[24] The University of Delaware unsuccessfully sought to block Gottfredson from receiving Pioneer Fund grants before reaching a legal settlement with her in 1992.[25][22]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Jack Howrath". Retrieved 2018-09-23.
  2. ^ Wainer, Howard; Robinson, Daniel H. (September 2009). "Linda S. Gottfredson". Journal of Educational and Behavioral Statistics. 34 (3): 395–427. doi:10.3102/1076998609339366. ISSN 1076-9986. S2CID 145469126.
  3. ^ a b Wainer, Howard; Robinson, Daniel (November 11, 2007). "Interview of Linda S. Gottfredson" (PDF). Journal of Educational and Behavioral Statistics (in press). Retrieved March 26, 2019.
  4. ^ Hunt, Morton M. (1999). The New Know-Nothings: The Political Foes of the Scientific Study of Human Nature. Transaction Publishers. pp. 96–99. ISBN 9781412838016. Retrieved 23 December 2018.
  5. ^ Rowette, Christine (24 November 1994). "Robert Gordon Draws Student Protest at Homewood". The Gazette (Johns Hopkins University). Retrieved 23 December 2018.
  6. ^ "Linda Susanne Gottfredson". Ferris State University. Retrieved March 26, 2019.
  7. ^ Anderson, Jack; Van Atta, Dale (1989-11-16). "Pioneer Fund's Controversial Projects". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2017-12-24.
  8. ^ Schneider, Alison (2 July 1999). "The Academic Path to Pariah Status". Chronicle of Higher Education. Archived from the original on 2021-04-14. Retrieved 2020-03-18.
  9. ^ "PBS ThinkTank: Race, IQ, Success and Charles Murray". May 25, 2011. Archived from the original on 2011-05-25.
  10. ^ a b c O'Neil, Robert (2009). Academic Freedom in the Wired World: Political Extremism, Corporate Power, and the University. Harvard University Press. pp. 119–124. ISBN 9780674033726. Retrieved 23 December 2018.
  11. ^ "Linda Gottfredson". University of Delaware. Retrieved 26 March 2019.
  12. ^ Hamilton, David P. (1990). "University Bars Pioneer Grants". Science. 259 (4973): 1103. Bibcode:1990Sci...249R1103H. doi:10.1126/science.249.4973.1103. JSTOR 2878028. PMID 17831978. S2CID 11185154.
  13. ^ Kaufman, Ron (6 July 1992). "U. Delaware Reaches Accord On Race Studies". The Scientist.
  14. ^ DelFattore, Joan (2010). Knowledge in the Making: Academic Freedom and Free Speech in America's Schools and Universities. Yale University Press. pp. 67–77. ISBN 9780300168518.
  15. ^ Anderson, Craig (3 November 2016). "Political Correctness on College Campuses: Freedom of Speech v. Doing the Politically Correct Thing". SMU Law Review. 46 (1): 171–224.
  16. ^ Kors, Alan Charles; Silverglate, Harvey (1999). The Shadow University: The Betrayal of Liberty on America's Campuses. Simon and Schuster. pp. 136–145. ISBN 9780684867496.
  17. ^ Hunt, Morton (2017). The New Know-nothings: The Political Foes of the Scientific Study of Human Nature. Routledge. pp. 96–99. ISBN 9781351478625.
  18. ^ Goode, Erica (April 3, 2001). "Scientists at Work: Robert Sternberg; His Goal: Making Intelligence Tests Smarter". The New York Times. Retrieved December 21, 2018.
  19. ^ Kilborn, Peter T. (19 May 1991). "The Nation; 'Race Norming' Tests Becomes a Fiery Issue". The New York Times.
  20. ^ a b "Linda Gottfredson". Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved 24 May 2017.
  21. ^ Avner Falk. Anti-semitism: a history and psychoanalysis of contemporary hatred. Abc-Clio, 2008, pg. 18
  22. ^ a b Kaufman, Ron (July 6, 1992). "U. Delaware Reaches Accord On Race Studies". The Scientist. 6 (14): 1. Archived from the original on March 25, 2017.
  23. ^ Miller, Adam (1994). "The Pioneer Fund: Bankrolling the Professors of Hate". The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education (6): 58–61. doi:10.2307/2962466. JSTOR 2962466.
  24. ^ Gottfredson, Linda S. (July 2013). "Resolute ignorance on race and Rushton". Personality and Individual Differences. 55 (3): 218–23. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2012.10.021.
  25. ^ Gottfredson, Linda S. (September 2010). "Lessons in academic freedom as lived experience" (PDF). Personality and Individual Differences. 49 (4): 272–280. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2010.01.001. Archived (PDF) from the original on 26 January 2021. Retrieved 15 August 2021.
  26. ^ "University Press Release on Award"
  27. ^ "Winners, 2004-2005". Mensa Foundation. Retrieved 2019-03-26.
  28. ^ "List of Fellows from APS-website"

External links[edit]