Andrew Sullivan responds to a reader's critique of his claim that non-racial intelligence research is being strangled by p.c. egalitarianism:
[R]esearch is not about helping people; it's about finding out stuff.
Whoa! False dichotomy. Curiosity is a wholly adequate reason to conduct research, and much of science is devoted to discovery without immediate concern about practical applications, but Sullivan clearly goes overboard when he declares that research is not about helping people. A great deal of research is intended, from the get-go, to help people, and that is a perfectly legitimate aim of research.
Clinical psychology, neuropsychology and neurology research aren't activities reserved only for those wishing to satisfy personal curiosity; they're disciplines in which the majority of experts are actually practitioners with varying amounts research training. In clinical psychology, the primary training model is itself called the scientist-practitioner model.
It seems that Sullivan is unaware of both the historical and present-day context of research into intelligence as a subdiscipline within clinical psychology. It was, from the beginning, an endeavor driven in large measure by very practical concerns, and that continues to be the case today. That doesn't mean we should exclude research done purely out of curiosity, but I think Sullivan's perception of the research in this area lacks groundedness in the history and the predominant focus of the field.
So while I agree with Sullivan that research needn't have a practical application to be justified, he's being just plain arbitrary and reality-detached when he declares definitively that research is not about helping people, especially with respect to research that has been, since its inception, practitioner-driven. Even Arthur Jensen, who Sullivan cites as definitive on the subject racial differences in IQ, was investigating heritability of IQ to determine why 1960s era programs intended to help children didn't seem to be helping.
But aside from all this, I think Sullivan is simply uninformed about the amount of non-racial IQ research that is occurring, as I argued in my previous post on the subject. I'm certainly not for squelching research because it makes people uncomfortable—that is a legitimate concern—but I do think Sullivan is so bothered by the possible violation of an academic principle he rightly holds dear, that he's making extremely excessive pronouncements about the legitimate purposes of research and about a blackout in the field.
In addition to the numerous Google Scholar results I linked yesterday, see also the 23,200 results for neuroscience intelligence research in just the last 5 years. There is no blackout.
And a final thought on what Sullivan still doesn't get here.