By introducing the idea of "inborn rulers and great thinkers," Sorokin expresses the belief that Henry Ford, Carnegie, Edison, Lincoln, Gregory, Hildebrand, Napoleon, Septimus Severus, "and tens of thousands of others . . . have risen because they happened to be considerably dissimilar from their parents . . . . " 9 He goes on to say that "millions of failures from the upper strata, who have been put down, are again victims of their dissimilarity from their parents. Were they quite similar to their fathers, such 'rising' or 'sinking' would not take place in many cases." 10 But Sorokin does not show how he was able to ascertain the fact that Severus and Gregory were dissimilar to their parents. Furthermore, to introduce the idea that hereditary qualities radically different from their source can account for "inborn genius" is to use the theory of hereditary mechanisms against itself.Next Page
Sorokin, however, is not thoroughly committed to his environmentalist position or to his use of heredity and the vagaries in hereditary transmission. He concludes: 11
My answer to the question is positive. Aside from the problem, whether the result is due to heredity or to environment, the higher social classes, on the whole, are more intelligent than the lower ones . . . the social and mental distributions of individuals within a given society are positively correlated.
This theory of a correlation between intelligence and other inborn qualities of an hereditary nature one the one hand and social standing and leadership on the other is the basic principle of Sorokin's writings about genius and social mobility. As was seen in an earlier chapter, this writer believes also that if a family retains its wealth or poverty for five generations, the economic condition reflects the innate qualities of the family's ability.
Sims, in his recent work, comes to a quite different conclusion. He states clearly: 12
Selective fecundity among the social classes is devoid of the great significance the eugenists attribute to it. Their arguments are at bottom fallacious. Such selection is no index whatever to social change. Merely because the "upper crust" does not reproduce its numbers, it does not follow that there will be a dearth of talent in the next generation . . . it makes little or no difference from the standpoint of heredity what class produces the next generation.
Thorndike, who has made careful studies in this field, does not agree with Sorokin that only among the higher profession is superior intelligence to be found. He states: "Taking the measurements as they stand, the 75 percentile unskilled labor is up to the level of the . . . 25 percentile mechanical engineer." 13 That is to say, the uppermost quarter of unskilled workers are as intelligent as the lowest quarter of mechanical engineers, who are, reputedly, among the professionals of high test intelligence. Thorndike further states: 14
The 75 percentile receiving or shipping clerk is at the level of the average accountant or civil engineer. The 75 percentile receiving or shipping clerk is at the level of the 25 percentile physician. This variability would be reduced by longer and repeated tests . . . . It would still imply that there were in the occupations, supposed to give little opportunity for the use of intellect, a very large number of gifted men and consequently a large unused surplus of intellect.
From the foregoing it is possible to conclude that the ratio of clergymen to unskilled workers, on the basis of test intelligence, in Who's Who should be no more than 6 to 1 rather than 2400 to 1. And better testing might reduce even that ratio.
Simmel believes that there is abundant material among the common people for all tasks. He refers to the correctness (tiefe Recht) of the old German proverb: "Wem Gott ein Amt gibt, gibt er auch den Verstand dazu." The author goes on to say that the Verstand necessary for the execution of higher positions "is present in many persons." 15 In another place he says: 16
There are always more persons who are qualified for superior positions than there are superior positions. Among the ordinary workers of a factory there are certainly very many who could just as well be manager or entrepreneur; among the rank and file of the army very many . . . .
9. Ibid., p. 366.
10. Loc. cit.
11. Ibid., p. 281.
12. Newell LeRoy Sims, The Problem of Social Change (New York, 1939) p. 117.
13. Quoted in Rudolph Pitner, Intelligence Testing (New York, 1923) p. 370.
14. Loc. cit.
15. Georg Simmel, Soziologie (Munich, 1923) p. 184.
16. Ibid., p. 183; translation ours.