Chapter 7 – A Positive Conclusion

Debunking as Positive Science

In the final section of his book, Gould defends his critical approach of intelligence theories as positive and constructive as opposed to negative and destructive. Gould does not merely wish to show why biological determinism is wrong; rather, he maintains the value of debunking false theories is to make way for better ones. This is how science works.


Learning by Debunking

According to Gould, in order to debunk the theory of biological determinism, it was not enough to claim scientists’ ideas were tainted by a priori beliefs. It was also important to establish more accurate biological facts through fields such as evolutionary biology and genetics.  


Biology and Human Nature

Finally, Gould takes a sociobiological approach, acknowledging some human behaviors do, indeed, have biological bases. Human intelligence, for example, would most likely be unfeasible without a large brain. However, the purpose of the brain is not limited to acting as the site of intelligence; it has also allowed humans to develop culture, and culture has become the driving agent of change between the various groups and races.

Thus, Gould believes cultural evolution, rather than biological evolution, may explain differences in intelligence between the various groups and races. This is why biological determinists are incorrect: human intelligence is neither inherited, nor fixed. If a hallmark of our uniqueness as a species is adaptation in the face of change, then as humans continue to learn and grow, their intelligence must have the ability to change as well.