*UNRELEASED* Arthur Jensen 1969 Harvard Educational Review debate

This footage of the Harvard Educational Review debate from 1969 featuring Arthur Jensen has never before been released, and has only now became available due to a VHS copy acquired by Helmuth Nyborg from Jensen being digitized.

Jensen provides the introduction to the video in his 1972 book Genetics and Education:

During the height of the demonstrations directed against me on the Berkeley campus in Spring 1969,1 was put in telephone contact with an undercover person whom I never met but whose bona fides I was informed of by those concerned with protecting me from harassment. This man attended the rallies and meetings of the various militant radical groups in Berkeley and kept me well apprised of their discussions concerning the strategy and tactics of their campaign against me. My informer was remarkably reliable, and thus I was usually prepared well in advance for the events that occurred during that spring. One day I was told that in a meeting of the Students for a Democratic Society, a militant student group, it was conceded that their tactics of leading disruptive demonstra­tions and making blatant demands that I be fired had been a failure. They had succeeded only in antagonizing the university’s faculty and alienating many students who viewed the SD S’s tactics as reminiscent of Hitler’s Brown Shirts. The discussion finally led to the decision that the only tactic that stood a chance in the liberal atmosphere of Berkeley would be to discredit me professionally in the eyes of the academic community. The best way to accomplish this, they decided, was to force me to face a tribunal of academi­cally prestigious persons who would take issue with my HERarticle. The hoped for auto-da-fé should be highly publicized to the press and the public and should be held in the largest audi­torium on the Berkeley campus. This all struck me at the time as quite fanciful since, as far as I knew, the SDS was in no position to command such facilities or participants. So I dismissed the possibility of this plan’s materializing and gave it no further thought.

hone call from a professor of sociology, who described to me what amounted to almost exactly the same plan I had heard of two weeks before. Call it coincidence. But the fact is that I was being asked (indeed, it was practically demanded of me as if I had no say in the matter) to take part in an affair that was described in a way that did not differ in any essential details from the plan which was hatched in the meeting of the SDS. Wishing to get this request and my reaction to it ‘on the record’, I told:

I have considered your proposal in our telephone conversation of May 2, 1969, that plans be made for a symposium concerning my article ‘How Much Can We Boost IQ and Scholastic Achievement?’ in which the participants would include members of the Berkeley faculty and invited speakers from other universities.

I welcome the opportunity to discuss the topics of my article with colleagues and researchers in fields germane to the issues, and there­fore I like the idea of a symposium. In view of the present political climate on our campus, however, I believe such discussions of complex research problems can prove most worth while provided they take place under arrangements that have a high probability of being con­ducive to a thoughtful, objective examination of the topics under consideration.

As a result of conversations with persons at U.C. and elsewhere who have had much more experience than I concerning the effectiveness of various arrangements for achieving the desirable objectives of a symposium such as you proposed, I have formed some conclusions about the most probably optimal arrangement. This would consist of conducting the entire symposium in a relatively small room, accommo­dating an audience of not more than 50 persons, restricted to faculty and students, who would participate in the discussion and questions- and-answers at the discretion of the symposium’s chairman. The proceedings would be videotaped and sound-taped, which would make it possible for the discussion to reach the widest audience, both on campus, through future showings of the tapes under University aus­pices, and for the general public under the auspices of ETV and/or radio. This arrangement has the advantages of coming closest to insuring a suitable atmosphere for thoughtful, undistracted discussion by the symposium participants, of preserving a record of the pro­ceedings for future reference, and of being made available to the largest number of viewers among faculty, students, and the general public.

These are, in general, the only conditions under which I would con­sider taking part in the proposed symposium. In view of the recent politically instigated campus unrest that we have seen here and on other campuses, I believe that the symposium participants will agree with my attitude that we wish to be a party to a scientific discussion, not a campus demonstration. I believe that the conditions I have recommended are the only ones at present that would help to insure the kind of meeting that could do justice to further discussion of my article.

The sociologists who planned this confrontation strongly opposed the arrangements I had proposed. They insisted on holding the debate in a large hall so that the student body and general public could attend, and if I would not participate under these conditions they were prepared to carry on without me. But the University would not agree to pay for the invited speakers unless I partici­pated; and the University Extension agreed to pay for the audio and video recording of the proceedings if this could be done under studio conditions so as to produce a high quality videotape for commercial distribution to other colleges through the University Extension’s audio-visual library.

So the symposium finally was held under the conditions I had proposed. The small studio audience was comprised entirely of faculty and researchers from the departments of anthropology, education, genetics, law, political science, psychology, and socio­logy. As one could have expected, knowing the participants, it was a dignified meeting. Professor Curt Stern (genetics) was chairman, and papers were given by Professors Aaron Cicourel (sociology), Lee Cronbach (psychology), Joshua Lederberg (genetics), William Libby (genetics), and Arthur Stinchombe (sociology). I responded on the average for about five minutes to each paper; this was followed by interchanges among the panelists and then the discus­sion was opened to the studio audience for about forty-five minutes of questions and reactions. In all, it lasted nearly three hours. From my standpoint it was a success. The videotape has since been shown numerous times on the Berkeley campus and on other campuses (interestingly enough, never by the persons who were so anxious to have this meeting in the first place). Quite contrary to the expected result, the symposium completely failed to discredit me or my position in the eyes of the panelists or of the audiences who have since viewed the entire proceedings on videotape. I, perhaps more than anyone else, feel grateful that the University sponsored the symposium under conditions which insured freedom from disturbances and also guaranteed the widest possible audience through the making of a permanent record on videotape.