Make no mistake about it, intelligence matters. And numerous public policies affirm its importance. The legislation and regulations that relate to intelligence reflect assumptions about the nature and influence of intelligence on individual behavior in society as well as the value of intelligence to our society's wellbeing. The practical implications of these policies have been far-reaching and have affected virtually all areas of life, including citizenship rights, property rights, education and vocational training, marriage and reproduction, military service to our country, employment, and health care.
What are the origins of these policies? How did intelligence come to be so pervasive a concern in legislation and public policy? These questions and their answers are the subject of this article.
WHAT IS PUBLIC POLICY?
Public policy is a complex, multifaceted, and always-changing process in the United States. Individuals and groups vie for advantage and special consideration as well as for their views on the well-being of society as it is more generally construed. In the main it is a messy process.
Dr. Julius Richmond, former Surgeon General of the United States and a pediatrician concerned with policy formulation and enforcement, frequently defines public policy as an equation with three principal elements. This equation is as follows:
Public Policy = Knowledge Base + Social Strategies + Political Will
The knowledge base guiding public policy includes many different forms of knowing, from formalistic and scientific empirical forms to personal experience, perceived common sense, and logical inference.