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“The working classes are less intelligent than those from wealthier backgrounds”


The working classes are less intelligent than those from wealthier backgrounds and therefore less likely to be trained as doctors, an academic has claimed.


Pupils from state schools in poor areas of inner London are allowed into medical school even if they just get three Cs at A-level*

Professor Chris McManus, of University College London, said it is not surprising that most British medical students are middle-class because intellectual ability is linked to social standing.

He referred to one of his own research papers to support the claim, in an editorial for a leading medical journal.

Prof McManus, a professor of psychology, made his claims as he criticised a “politically correct” Government scheme to help more working-class pupils become doctors.

“It is extraordinary to equate intellectual ability with social class,” said Mr Bradshaw.

“It is important that anyone who wants to study medicine is able to do so on ability rather than background.”

It comes just weeks after another academic claimed working-class teenagers have lower IQs than wealthy ones and should not expect to get in to the best universities.

Prof McManus claimed, in an article co-written by medical student Hugh Ip: “UK medical students tend to come from higher socio-economic classes, perhaps not surprisingly, as social class correlates with intellectual ability.”

He went on to question the benefits of a scheme called the Extended Medical Degree Programme which aims to create more doctors from the working classes and ethnic minorities.

Pupils from state schools in poor areas of inner London are allowed into medical school even if they just get three Cs at A-level, rather than the normal two As and a B minimum.

Prof McManus argued that it is not clear whether patients benefit from being treated by doctors from similar backgrounds, or even whether medics trained under the scheme would actually go on to look after disadvantaged groups.

Daily Telegraph

The amusing thing about this article is that it does not name the other person offering the explanation for the predominance of the upper and middle classes in the more rigorous academic disciplines  or the basis for his  claims  (which is  about the natural selection process inherent in a continuing meritocracy) I discussed his ideas here. Of course you have to ask if the people of Britain are being at all well served by lowering the academic entrance standard for medical studies. Personally I think that such affirmative action programs are just wrong and stupid and that if some one from a working class background can’t make it on merit then they should not be doctors in the first place.

One thing that is certain and that is that the number of doctors trained in places like India or Africa  who seem very keen to pursue their careers in places like Britain or here in Australia  suggests that the idea that  students from working class backgrounds will go back and serve the communities they come from is actually entirely wrong. They tend to follow the cash …

Cheers Comrades


*my bold


  1. raydixon says:

    This again Iain? Geezus, they’re really fucked up over there if that’s what they believe – that social position governs IQ.

    It’s just as well we are a bit more egaliterian over here. My own daughter and two nieces are highly qualified due, not to social background, but to something called bloody hard work.

    Excuse my ‘French’ but it’s fucking idiotic to claim that professions like medicine and the law should belong to the so-called upper classes, who incidentally contain a fair share of simple minded twits (eg Alexander Downer).

    The crap that the British psychologist is carrying on with is nothing but elitist bullshit. He’s probably an inbred himself.

  2. Legal Eagle says:

    Yeah, when I lived in the UK it was terrible – the thing was that many comprehensives in poor ares didn’t even *bother* to offer A-Levels, and often only offered GCSES at a lower level (there were grades 1 – 4). If I had gone to the local comprehensive, I wouldn’t be a lawyer today.

    My own family comes from a “working class” background – primarily Anglo-Celtic. No one ever got a chance to go to school past the age of 14 until my parents. Both Mum and Dad are the first people in their families to be university educated. Dad has a PhD, Mum has a Masters. Both did extremely well at school when they were given a chance to do so. My grandparents are not school educated beyond the age of 14, but when you talk to them, it is obvious that they are very intelligent people (after all, we must have inherited it from *somewhere*).

    It was only coming to the more egalitarian society of Australia, and the provision of scholarships which allowed lower class kids to carry on in school which has led to my own educated status. If my family had stayed in the UK…well, we’d be in the position of other lower class people in the UK…stuck in our class, unable to ever get a chance in life.

    It makes me so mad. There is a pervasive attitude in Britain that it’s not worth bothering to educate the lower classes because they are stupid and worthless (as indicated by this ridiculous academic). What *I* think should happen is that proper educational chances should be offered to everyone in the UK, regardless of class. And people should not be pigeonholed or told from birth that they should not have any expectations.

  3. Iain Hall says:

    I am not advocating restricting the offering of any tertiary courses to only to those from the middle and upper classes, instead I am denouncing the “affirmative action” that offers entrance to medicine for “working class’ applicants at a lower academic standard. I am 110% all for entrance to university courses to be based on merit and that the bar should be the same height for all applicants.
    As LE suggests the effort needs to be made in the secondary schools and the effort should be for academic excellence of all students but to lower the bar for working class applicants does nothing but lower the standard and reputation of the resulting medical students.

  4. raydixon says:

    Iain, the entrance levels to courses like law & medicine are based purely on (in Australia at least) the student’s score in a range of subjects and there are no pre-requisites to determine whether or not the student has an aptitude for that profession or not. It’s all academically based and, arguably, it’s got less to do with IQ than it has to do with the quality of teachers & facilities and the learning environment.

    There is no evidence to support the theory that secondary students who score say 90% would make worse doctors than those who score 95%. The subjects they’re assessed on are largely irrelevant.

    Lowering the entry level so that the more disadvantaged students can qualify for entry to such courses won’t cause a problem, in fact it might lead to us having more doctors and thereby solve a few problems. It won’t lower the level of doctoring or lawyering because if they’re not “intelligent enough” to be a doctor or a lawyer they’ll fail to finish the course.

  5. Iain Hall says:

    Ray just look back to the source piece and see just how far they are willing to lower the bar that seems a bit more than your 5% points difference.

  6. raydixon says:

    So what? If they’re too dumb they won’t cut it anyway. No story there.

  7. Iain Hall says:

    The point is Ray, that if they do not make it that they have wasted the resources that could have been used to train someone who would have made it and we (collectively) are worse off as a result.

  8. Good point Iain.

    Entry should be based on marks only, unless students can show serious disadvantage eg: a parent dying during year 1, etc.

    Mots of the highest secondary school acheivers are upper or middle class. (hence why ‘free’ tertiary education is regressive). This may somewhat be due to having smarter parents passing down ‘smart genes’, but its also undoubtedly to do with the fact that such parents will also tend to have high expectations of their kids, play a more active role in their education, buy more books for their kids to read etc.

    What I’m saying is that there are a number of factors to consider, and even then we are dealing only with generalities. Eg: some rich kids don’t go to uni because they are not so bright or just plain lazy. Meanwhile, some of the highest academic achievers are indeed of working class origin.

  9. wvugradstudent says:

    According to McManus and Ip, “UK medical students tend to come from higher socio-economic classes, perhaps not surprisingly, as social class correlates with intellectual ability.”

    Key word: correlates.

    While it would be absurd to claim a causal relationship – that, essentially, intelligence could be bought – there may be some truth to correlation. It makes sense that individuals from wealthier economic backgrounds might score better on certain methods of testing because they have been better prepared for these types of testing.

    For example, if a broke student is failing a class, she could study harder, read supplemental library materials, etc. If a wealthier student is failing, she has the same resources, but she can also afford other opportunities: for example, she could hire a tutor.

    However, it is important to note that intellectual ability has many manifestations. Perhaps a working class student may score lower than average in math or reading comprehension because she works and has less time to study, but perhaps this working student has higher aptitudes in other areas. She may excel at visual-spatial intelligence if her job includes mechanics, or perhaps she is outstanding at interpersonal communication if she works with a team.

    An interesting (and groundbreaking) related study is Howard Gardner’s 1983 Theory of multiple intelligences.

  10. LostIllusions says:

    It makes no sense that standards for admission should be invariant, not taking into account opportunity to learn. It would be more plausible to use regression coefficients that would set a standard score expected for a person from each social group, then if the person meets these criteria to admit him or her. A regression coefficient would take into account non-scholastic factors, like immigration status, income, and any other variable of interest that could put an end to what appears to be an economic apartheid or, conversely, be used to reify these prejudices further. Moreover, this broad indictment of working-class folks does not take into account that many in this group are recently immigrated. And what about those who are children of parents accepted into the Ivy League, for example, but these parents could not go because of lack of economic support?
    I have administered IQ tests. They are biased towards the hegemonic of a white, educated elite- afterwall, who defines the construct known as intelligence? And it is well known from Head Start studies that changing a child’s environment from a lower-SES to a moderate-SES one results in dramatic gains in intelligence scores.
    One caveat with regards to IQ scores: Even in young adults, they are not intractable. Most subtests are heavily loaded for cultural experience. The only way to know if working-class students are less intelligent than their more affluent peers would be to provide everyone with equal opportunity to study (not merely in the classroom, but also travel experiences) and live at the same standard of living. This has hiterto remained unexamined.
    I think the worst part in all of this is that based on the equivocal findings of one research
    study misinformation circulates and some people, in positions of power, might capriciously decide that someone doesn’t deserve a position on account of his or her social background.
    It seems to me that social class has supplanted race as being today’s hot civil rights issue.

    We need to dispel the myth of meriotracy and see that we are being balkanized to compete with one another for spots vouchsafed to us by a very tiny elite class that owns 60 percent of the wealth.

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