I’ve been immersed in a (popular) science book—not dipping in and out for research or reference, but swimming from one end to the other. It is an edited interrogation of the original Jensenist, Arthur R. Jensen, by Frank Miele, former senior editor of the American Skeptic magazine (not to be confused with the British The Skeptic magazine or the Australian The Skeptic journal) called Intelligence, Race, And Genetics. I recommend it. It is written for intelligent lay readers. There are clear explanations of the important technical concepts and a minimum of what one of my former biologist co-workers refers to as “dead-hard sums”. It helps that both participants in the dialogue write clear, precise English.

Jensen is a clever, determined scientist who has been vilified for advancing a politically incorrect—and I believe flawed—thesis. He argues that general intelligence is measurable, meaningful, largely inherited, and correlates with “race”. In particular he believes that black Americans score consistently less well than white Americans (15 points on the IQ scale) in tests of general mental ability and do so mainly for genetic reasons. I disagree with him, but I sympathise with him because, on the whole, he has shown greater scientific rigour and personal integrity than many of his critics. Anyone who is depicted in a Nazi uniform by the right sort of cartoonist is usually worth a moment’s hearing. (It doesn’t help that, on the strength of his photograph, Jensen would easily win an audition for the part of an escaped war criminal.)

So reading the book has been a bracing swim for the same reason that writing PooterGeek can be: there’s nothing more educational than disagreeing with smart, honourable people—especially when they are wrong.