Letter: G-whiz, you're smart

November 9, 2001

Some people are smarter than others. But how unimaginative to be involved in the accountancy of "how much smarter". This g factor "shines through" for Robert Plomin (Features, THES , November 2) like athletic ability, which is a composite of the psychological, the physiological and the physical.

Who but competition judges or bookmakers preoccupy themselves with measuring this composite? Progress towards understanding the constituents of athletic ability is being made by psychologists and physiologists and biophysicists.

The g-spotters have been at it for a century with nothing to show but test scores.

Meanwhile, others have given us Hebbian learning, the role of the hippocampus and the amygdala, neuroimaging, the "bodymind", even a quantum theory of consciousness. So there is "some kind of general factor in human intelligence?" Well, duh.

It is in the particular that a century of imaginative progress has been achieved.

Robin Whitty
School of computing
South Bank University

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