Bell Curve Essay, Research Paper
The Bell Curve : Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life (A Free Press Paperbacks Book) 1 – 10 of 77 | next 4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:eviewer: Eric Gartman (see more about me) from Rockville, MD USAReaders who have not yet read this book will be surprised to learn that the main topic is not race, but how intelligence explains class structure. The authors argue that intelligence, not environment is the primary determinant of a variety of social behaviors, including class, socio-economic level, crime, educational achievement, welfare, and even parental styles. Hernstein and Murray back up these claims with some of the most persuasive data ever seen in the social sciences. The importance of a person’s intelligence cannot be understated. Its is the number one determinant in shaping one’s life. Hernstein and Murray do not stop there however. They go on, arguing that the bottom 15 percent in intelligence are simply not capable of taking care of themselves, falling into poverty, drugs, alchoholism, etc. American society can no longer accept such conditions for lower cognitive class. They make concrete suggestions on how to change this condition. They also make striking claims about the danger of affirmative action programs in promoting people who are not qualified to do important tasks. And finally, they deal with the issue that makes this book so controversial: The lower tested intelligence of African-Americans. At no point do they the claim the gap is only due to genetics. They suggest past environmental factors come into play. But their main point is that modern day racism cannot explain the gap, and programs designed to bridge that gap will fail, and putting underqualified individuals in important positions is not the answer. The authors really do not go into detail about why the gap exists, setting themselves up for criticism. But at least another scholar can research this topic and try and explain it. In sum, this book explains class structure in America, as well as the many of the social maladies of our time. It offers proof, and conrete solutions. It is a book of monumental importance, and cannot be denounced as racist. Those who make such claims either did not read the book, or are too biased to think objectively. As Murray notes in his new afterword, modern Sociology is riddled with taboos and self-censorship. The radical leftists who dominate the field do this country a great disservice by being so biased and non-objective. They also refuse to look at biology, relying only on environmental explanations, despite pyschology’s growing reliance on genetic determinants of human behavior. The general public can only hope that the field right itself. Until it does, there will no solution to our most pressing social problems. Was this review helpful to you? 2 of 4 people found the following review helpful:Raises Interesting Points, September 8, 2000 Reviewer: Kenneth Peterson (see more about me) from San Deigo, CA USAAside from all the controversial racism issues, the book makes some other valid, troubling points, the first of which is the fact that the lower classes in our society are reproducing at a far greater rate than the upper classes. The book asserts that we are breeding ourselves into stupidity, and the point is hard to argue. Amazing that you can get a book published these days whose sole point is to call the authors of The Bell Curve stupid or racist. Whether they are racist or not- who cares? Let the reader form his or her own opinion as to the value of the work. While I may not agree with some of the author’s points, I respect their courage in publishing them in the face of political correctness.of 8 people found the following review helpful:The Truth is dangerous sometimes, August 27, 2000 Reviewer: SteddieVed from NY, NYThough this book addresses controversial issues that are sure to ignite vehement debates, it manages to maintain its validity through the numerous studies. When Gallelio and Darwin published their works, they both suffered severe criticism from the Church. Now as science progresssed, we’ve come to accept Gallelio and Darwin’s early discoveries. Its hard for people to accept truths that may not be in their best interest. This may unfortunately become dangerous and ignite racial tensions. I just have one question for those who refute this book. It is a known fact that the physical attributes vary from races. Asians have a generally lower stature than blacks and whites. And judging from the ethnic make up of sports events, blacks seem superior in athletic activities. Anyone who disagrees with this can simply turn on the TV and watch a basketball game on NBC. So if race plays a role in one’s physical aspects, why not mental? It wouldn’t make sense if we vary dramatically in the physical sense but mentally, we’re all the same.Murray Is To Blame That Page 47 Did Not Dominate Debate, July 30, 2000 Reviewer: David Thomson (see more about me) from Houston, TX USAThe authors of “The Bell Curve” were disingenuous when complaining that the media unfairly focussed upon the controversial racial aspect of this study. They conveniently overlooked the fact that their publisher, The Free Press, did everything it could to highlight the issue. This substantially helped to sell a lot of books. Richard J. Herrnstein died soon after the release of this work. Thus, my following remarks will be directed towards Charles Murray. I wholehearted regret that the topics raised on page 47 did not instead dominate the debate. Page 47 alone is well worth the price of this book. I constantly refer to this page many time throughout a given year. Page 47 so aptly depicts the increasing social and cultural divide between the educated elite and the hoi polloi. The former often fail to realize how different they are from those less educated and economically well off. I will give the reader a sneak preview by directly quoting the following: “Think of your twelve closest friends or colleagues. For most readers of this book, a large majority will be college graduates. Does it surprise you to learn that the odds of having even half of them be college graduates are only six in a thousand, if people were randomly paired off. Many of you will not think it odd that half or more of the dozen have advanced degrees. But the odds against finding such a result among a randomly chosen group of twelve Americans are actually more than a million to one.” I generally agree with just about everything that Charles Murray says concerning poverty issues and how best to address the problems of the permanent underclass. Murray is normally a superb thinker deserving of much respect. Nonetheless, in regards to “The Bell Curve,” I find it necessary to take my hero to task. I cannot, for instance, accept Murray’s bizarre assertion that a study of possible racial differences in I.Q. serves us well in devising viable social policies. How could this possibly occur? Let us for a moment, for the sake of argument, embrace the premise that Orientals place first in the overall intelligence curve, whites rank second, and blacks linger behind in third place. Do we therefore tacitly, if not explicitly, create regulations with this assumption in mind? How do politicians carry out this agenda? Will such thinking result in a presidential campaign platform resolution? Should Afro-Americans concede their supposed innate inferiority, and happily go along with plans directing them to employment and a life style more conducive to those with fewer qualities to offer a competitive world? Murray contends that these studies only indicate a general average of racial intelligence, and that a black individual per se may actually be the smartest person on this planet. So what? Social policies are primarily based on the majority of those under discussion, not the exceptions. Any governmental or social guidelines underpinned with the notion that black people are dumber than their fellow citizens will most certainly stigmatize everyone under that dubious racial classification. What is race anyway? The very definition is murky and confusing. Also, the very concept of human intelligence will remain forevermore intrinsically nebulous. Studies currently released are likely to be contradicted in the future. Test tubes and other artifacts of the hard sciences do not begin to exhaust this supreme mystery of homo sapien existence. A million years from now our progeny will still be debating these frustrating and puzzling matters. Murray has made a fool of himself. He has latched onto a band wagon inevitably doomed to crash and burn. Charles Murray, however, has this much going for himself: the man is still young enough to redirect his energies and I.Q. to other areas of study promising to be far more beneficial to the total human race.13 of 18 people found the following review helpful:Curving the Myth of The Bell Curve, July 10, 2000 Reviewer: Senthuran Vettivelupillai (see more about me) from Toronto, CanadaThe Bell Curve is a marvelous compilation of scientific theory, statistical data, and controversial convictions, one of the finest works in its genre. Charles Murray and the late Richard J. Herrnstein make claims that intelligence and IQ play a key role in the shaping of the framework of society, and use proven statistics and graphs to appropriately justify their thesis. From their perspective, the cognitive and social underclass is largely responsible for many of the social ills of society (crime, illegitimacy, substance abuse), while the ‘cognitive elite’ live in peace and prosperity while attending opera and orchestral concerts, detached from the average Joe of society. A small but significant portion of the book is dedicated to on racial and ethnic differences in intelligence and the consequences of these results – sure to ignite passionate debate. No doubt conservatives, Murray and Herrnstein make a variety of proposals to better this nation – they denounce welfare and affirmative action, believe that funding should be diverted away from the disadvantaged to the gifted, and praise the American school system in its success in streaming the ‘cognitive elite’, however poor, to top Ivy League schools. There is special resentment towards single mothers who, intellectually deficient themselves, give birth to ‘dumb babies’ at a high rate (’giving birth to violent criminals in boys and more single mothers in girls’), while the ‘cognitive elite’ continue to have low fertility rates, putting the nation at risk of dysgenesis. Such cries of doomsday are quite prominent throughout the book, but Murray and Herrnstein present utopian views of a future custodial state, in which the cognitive elite take care of the growing underclass, to keep the dumb ‘happy’ and the smart ’safe’ from their hazard. However controversial, their claims are poignant and right-on-the-money, and this provocative work is a must read for those concerned about the present and future state of America.12 of 14 people found the following review helpful:A Well-Reasoned Look at the Impact of Intelligence on Life, July 5, 2000 /exec/obidos/tg/cm/top-reviewers-list/-/1/A2KAVOGWK3BRB7/104-6296508-2639935 – A2KAVOGWK3BRB7/exec/obidos/tg/cm/top-reviewers-list/-/1/A2KAVOGWK3BRB7/104-6296508-2639935 – A2KAVOGWK3BRB7Reviewer: Jeffrey A. Veyera (see more about me) from Waukesha, WI USAWhen “The Bell Curve” first saw print some years ago, the Birkenstock Left pitched a fit as only they and teething toddlers can. They immediately took to the airwaves in droves to decry the “racism” of the authors, and put out a bunch of hastily-written garbage to refute the book which apparently none of them had read. Thus it may surprise you to learn that the section on ethnic differences in cognitive ability is but 70 pages out of 845 in the book, and that the most “controversial” finding within these 70 pages is that, historically, blacks on average have scored lower than whites on tests of cognitive ability, and that whites have scored lower on average than Asians. (Far from being white supremacists, the authors are apparently Asian supremacists, if we follow the Left’s overwrought arguments.) But the attention paid to race and ethnicity is merely a strawman for the Ivory Tower Marxists. The actual thesis of the book, as proven by a plethora of empirical evidence, is this: that in analyzing America, intelligence is a far more accurate predictor of success than class origin, and that the current stratification of American society is due to differences in cognitive ability rather than in social class. The Left understands that this is the death nell for the Marxist dream, and has pulled out all the stops to suppress this book. Yet is this controversial? As we enter the Information Age, it is clear that the intellectual Haves have clear advantages over the Have Nots. Only 20% of Americans access the Internet regularly. Would it surprise anyone to see a positive correlation between Internet usage and scores on IQ tests? Is anyone amazed that criminals tend to be dumb, regardless of the social class they were born into? Or that stupid scions of wealthy families usually blow their money, while bright sons and daughters of poor families seem to do quite well? The thesis is a yawner. What is appaling is that in America, the Left has had such success in creating a culture of class envy that we now find the obvious connection between brains and success astounding. Herrnstein and Murray, to their lasting credit, have once again proven that the truth will out, no matter how inconvenient for some. For the record, my father was a bricklayer, I score quite well on cognitive tests, and I am doing very well in the corporate technology sector. I thus tend to sympathize with the authors’ thesis and find the Birkenstock Bolsheviks of academia to lack credibility on this issue, as all others. Grab this book and give it a thorough read if you’re at all interested in intelligence, statistics, sociology, or simply want to know what all the fuss was about in an unfiltered fashion. You won’t be sorry, no matter where you fall on the Bell Curve.4 of 16 people found the following review helpful:Bad Science, June 24, 2000 Reviewer: A reader from FloridaTo begin with, the concept of IQ is so contentious and unscientific that it cannot be used as proof for a certain, highly suspect, political stance. This book has recieved no acclaim from any internationally respected sources, it has, instead, come under constant criticism. There are thousands and thousands of books which draw upon statistics all ‘proving’ utterly contradictory viewpoints. I was impressed with the data that these two ’scientists’ managed to dig up… nevertheless just as much data exists that utterly counters their argument. The unfortunate thing about this book is that the authors did not begin writing it from a neutral point of view, they had their racist hypothesis from the beginning and simply found the evidence to back it up. Not that I am discrediting ALL of the evidence. I am perfectly prepared to accept that the average IQ of an African-American is significantly lower than the average IQ of a white American. HOWEVER, they decline to mention the fact that the average IQ of an African-American is also significantly lower than the average IQ of educated native Africans, which is much closer to the white American average. The majority of American blacks classed as ‘black’ are actually of as much white or native american descent as they are of African descent, and of course their white blood would be that of the lowest class of whites. Similarly, out of the enormous populations of the Asian nations, the competition to get out of Asia and into the West is so fierce that only the most intelligent and successful Asians are able to do it. I don’t believe that one has to refute the fact that different races in America have different IQ averages to not be a racialist. Having said that, there is nothing respectable about this book. The authors, quite obviously from a improminant and largely discredited school of thought, had their minds made up from the start, and were prepared to use the direct correllation between wealth and IQ to back up their redundant and racialist argument which has been out of favour for decades. In reality, IQ scores fluctuate wildly given the nature of the tests, and the education level of those taking the tests. The assumption that intelligence is the ONLY reason for social inquality is absurd and blatantly false enough, but coupled with the belief that genetics is the ONLY basis for intelligence it becomes dangerous, the type of tool that will be taken up by the evil racist extreme right-wing. And that is exactly what happened. You can find reviews of this book on Klan and Christian Identity websites. One hopes that providing these despicable movements with academic support is not what the authors intended, although one cannot be so sure. Very, very, very, very bad science. Everybody can remember civilization’s last grand experiment in eugenics in the 1940s. Let’s hope that it never rears its ugly head again, and that bad science like this is not used to give it respectability.7 of 28 people found the following review helpful:GIANT STEP BACKWARD, June 14, 2000 /exec/obidos/tg/cm/top-reviewers-list/-/1/AL5D52NA8F67F/104-6296508-2639935 – AL5D52NA8F67F/exec/obidos/tg/cm/top-reviewers-list/-/1/AL5D52NA8F67F/104-6296508-2639935 – AL5D52NA8F67FReviewer: Dave Wayne White (see more about me) from San Antonio,TexasDo intelligent and thoughtful people REALLY buy into this baloney? Are thoughtful and intelligent people REALLY hoodwinked by the statistical smoke and mirrors of this book? Or does this book simply provide “scientific verification” for those already inclined to bigotry and neo-eugenics,(whose intelligence and thoughtfulness are, at best, a coin toss)? A Tale of Texas, as an example: While this is happily less so than it once was, it is still generally true that High School football is the Brass Ring in this state. It is promoted, and supported, by a solidly white, male wealthy caste who reward athletes who win games with promotion to college and/or business and industry, based not on intelligence, but on how well they make touchdowns and throw balls. These Chosen Ones go on to become University Regents, Politicians, Businessmen and Public School Superintendents and the cycle repeats itself, Good Ol’ Boy system Par Excellence. Not intelligence, but a racist plutocracy. I suspect that similar systems exist everywhere and have existed for a long, LONG time. It’s not that these authors are “politically incorrect”: if that’s all this book was it would be relatively harmless. Many African-American and Hispanic-American academics, among others, have been wondering lately if the more insulated world of the (largely) white upper-class will EVER change. Now THERE is courageous, politically incorrect speculation…Reviewer: Joseph H Pierre (see more about me) from Salem, OregonFrom The Bell Curve: “This book is about differences in intellectual capacity among people and groups, and what those differences mean for America’s future. The relationships we will be discussing are among the most sensitive in contemporary America–so sensitive that hardly anyone writes or talks about them in public. It is not for lack of information, as you will see.” “To try to come to grips with the nation’s problems without understanding the role of intelligence is to see through a glass darkly indeed, to grope with symptoms instead of causes, to stumble into supposed remedies that have no chance of working.” “We are not indifferent to the ways which this book, wrongly construed, might do harm. We have worried about them from the day we set to work. But there can be no real progress in solving America’s social problems when they are as misperceived as they are today. What good can come of understanding the relationship of intelligence to social structure and public policy? Little good can come without it.” This is a courageous effort. And, of course, the authors were correct about the misperceptions of their work. The book had hardly hit the street when the jackals attacked with their screams of “racism” and their ad hominem attacks. But, the science behind the book is impeccable, and the facts irrefutable, and the tests replicable. The conclusions? Well, if the arguments of the “politically correct” antagonists which were directed at this book and its implications, were applied to the animal world, they would be arguing that a dachshund is perfectly capable of running with the greyhounds, and that a rottweiler is as gentle as a spaniel, or that a thoroughbred is as capable of pulling a plow as is a percheron, and there is no reason that a clydesdale should not be allowed to enter the Kentucky Derby. Because, you see, they are all the same species, and therefore they must be equally endowed. What nonsense! To allow for racial differences is not to malign anyone as being inferior. That there are, on average, physical differences between members of the races of man is so obvious that only a fool would deny it. Why should there not also be mental or temperamental differences as well. This is an excellent work, by two scientists who are simply reporting what they have found to be true. It is worth your time. Joseph Pierreauthor of THE ROAD TO DAMASCUSReviewer: Prof. J. P. Rushton (see more about me) from the University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, CanadaMy great admiration for The Bell Curve is overshadowed by the fact that it did not deal thoroughly enough with the genetic basis of racial differences. Equivocation was displayed even on whether “races” existed, and the position taken seemed unnecessarily vulnerable to egalitarian attack. In my own book Race, Evolution, and Behavior (1995, Transaction) I sifted the evidence and set out a basis for why race differences can only be understood fully from a gene-based evolutionary “life-history” perspective. In his interesting Afterword to the softcover edition of The Bell Curve, Murray accepted that Herrnstein and he had played down the heritability of race differences. Citing Race, Evolution, and Behavior, Murray drew attention to the significant and substantial relationship that exists between brain size and measured intelligence, to the differential distribution of brain size across races, and to the very low IQ scores of Africans south of the Sahara. Other race differences however, not addressed by The Bell Curve, still need explanation. These include testosterone levels, sexual habits, crime rates, personality and temperament, speed of maturation, and health and longevity. In Race, Evolution, and Behavior, I show that race differences in these traits show up in a consistent pattern around the world and require that IQ differences be seen as part of a much broader syndrome of behavior patterns — part of a life-history.January 25, 2000 Reviewer: Vijay Dinakar (see more about me) from New York, United StatesFrom all the negative commentary surrounding this book, one might get the impression that this is a book about race and genetics. It is not. It is a book that explores the role that intelligence plays in the formation and stratification of society. The book’s main thesis is something like this: In society (America) there exists measurable differences in intelligence levels among individuals. These differences may be adequately discerned by using objective mental tests. The result of these differences in intelligence are profound. Individuals at the low end of “the bell curve” of the intelligence distribution exhibit higher rates of criminality, illegitimacy, poverty, and other social pathologies. Those with higher I.Q’s, however, have the best jobs, engage in less criminal activity, and largely inhabit the upper class of America. Indeed, as the authors point out, one’s I.Q. and not one’s race, gender, or present social position will largely determine the type of job one will have. Society has thus become (or is fast becoming) a meritocracy according to intelligence. Those with high I.Q’s (120 and above) will be the future lawyers, doctors, accountants, technicians, scientists, engineers, academics, and the like. Those who posess substandard cognitive abilities will find modern society relatively more difficult than those with high intelligence. The issue of race is covered mainly in one chapter. I must say, contrary to the critism, the authors handled this politically correct issue with much civility and restraint. If the book is read with care, one will notice that conclusions are not made where the evidence does not warrant them. The authors simply present the most current and relevant evidence (from both sides) and either conclude that additional evidence is required or they provide a conclusion that is warranted. One point that bears repeating on the issue of race and intelligence: every race is represented throughout the distribution of intelligence. That is, though certain groups (races), may be found more frequently on the distribution in certain parts, individual members of all the groups are represented in all parts of the distribution. If we then accept the fact that individuals always differ with respect to intelligence and we understand the previous sentence, I see no reason to fear the data presented in this book with regards to race and intellligence. For the two previous sentence make clear that one’s race does not determine one’s cognitive ability and the authors make no claim to the contrary. The book as a piece of scholarship is first rate and highly readable.MISMEASURE OF MANAmazon.com How smart are you? If that question doesn’t spark a dozen more questions in your mind (like “What do you mean by ’smart,’” “How do I measure it,” and “Who’s asking?”), then The Mismeasure of Man, Stephen Jay Gould’s masterful demolition of the IQ industry, should be required reading. Gould’s brilliant, funny, engaging prose dissects the motivations behind those who would judge intelligence, and hence worth, by cranial size, convolutions, or score on extremely narrow tests. How did scientists decide that intelligence was unipolar and quantifiable, and why did the standard keep changing over time? Gould’s answer is clear and simple: power maintains itself. European men of the 19th century, even before Darwin, saw themselves as the pinnacle of creation and sought to prove this assertion through hard measurement. When one measure was found to place members of some “inferior” group such as women or Southeast Asians over the supposedly rightful champions, it would be discarded and replaced with a new, more comfortable measure. The 20th-century obsession with numbers led to the institutionalization of IQ testing and subsequent assignment to work (and rewards) commensurate with the score, shown by Gould to be not simply misguided–for surely intelligence is multifactorial–but also regressive, creating a feedback loop rewarding the rich and powerful. The revised edition includes a scathing critique of Herrnstein and Murray’s The Bell Curve, taking them to task for rehashing old arguments to exploit a new political wave of uncaring and belt tightening. It might not make you any smarter, but The Mismeasure of Man will certainly make you think. –Rob Lightner –This text refers to the Hardcover edition. Saturday Review A rare book-at once of great importance and wonderful to read….Gould presents a fascinating historical study of scientific racism….A major addition to scientific literature. To truly measure human intelligences is to “see” beyond ‘g’, February 7, 1999 Reviewer: Clifford Morris (firstname.lastname@example.org) from Kanata, Ontario, Canada
Review of Stephen Jay Gould’s 1996 revised and expanded publication of “The mismeasure of man” New York: W. W. Norton. (Original work published 1981) In “Thoughts at Age Fifteen”, the sub-title to the new Introduction to the Revised and Expanded Edition of “The Mismeasure of Man”, Stephen Jay Gould (1996) calls himself a “working scientist by trade” (p. 24), then “a statistically minded paleontologist” (p. 25) and finally “an evolutionary biologist by training” (p. 41). The author of thirteen books, Mr. Gould currently teaches geology, the history of science and biology at Harvard University. His strong interest in intelligence initially arose from his desire to bring science and its discoveries to the attention of the nonscientist. In considering the mainstream arguments made about “the theory of a measurable, genetically fixed, and unitary intelligence”, Dr. Gould (1996, p. 21) became concerned about how the social sciences, especially psychology, were misused in the development of the concept of intelligence, in particular, the whole nature of intelligence testing itself. Over the past 19 years, Gould has well responded to such misuses with two timely publications. First of all, in 1981 he produced “The Mismeasure of Man” mainly to argue against the social and political results of those misapplications, more specifically, in response to Arthur R. Jensen’s (1969) article “How much can we boost IQ and scholastic achievement?” Likewise, in 1996, Gould generated the revised version of “The Mismeasure of Man” as a response to Richard L. Herrnstein and Charles Murray’s (1994) book “The bell curve: Intelligence and class structure in American life” (Gould, 1996). Throughout the four hundred twenty-four pages of the 1996 version, Gould “argues that early researchers (perhaps unconsciously) biased their measurements of intelligence based on race and points to shortcomings of those trying to substantiate “g” (Yam, 1998, p. 7). Gould uses his 1996 version to reiterate, once again, his two central themes. First and most simply stated for this note, he argues that the psychological construct “intelligence” has not been shown to be any physical object or real thing (see pp. 27, 48, 56, 185, 189). Instead, he suggests that intelligence is one’s ability to face problems in an unprogrammed or creative manner. Throughout the book, he argue that intelligence is what he calls “the ground of culture,” not a biological entity. In short, he views intelligence as the product of cultural evolution … distinct from biological evolution. However, Gould feels that because of the efforts of a group of American psychologists during the war years, the concept of intelligence has been endowed, as just outlined, to the position of a real object. To cite his precise wording, Gould says that now intelligence has been become “reified, or made real”. More simply worded, Gould “sees” reification as a real thing, as something each person possesses that is, unitary, genetically fixed, measurable and constant (for a more detailed account of Gould’s basic premises, the reader is asked to see Carroll, 1985, especially pp. 123-125). Gould’s second major point is that using an abstract concept such as intelligence to quantify and rank people’s worth is an exceedingly dangerous enterprise. He points out that this way of ranking is a fallacy because the task of ranking people implies quantification, or measurement resulting in one single number for each person — the IQ (intellectual quotient) score. Further, “Gould shows how this sort of ranking can lead (and, as he shows clearly, has led) to the erroneous conclusion that oppressed and disadvantaged groups — races, classes, sexes — are found to be innately inferior and deserving of their reduced status, with all of this based on the measurement of something that exists only as an abstract concept at best” (Miller, 1993, p. 8). To sum up all of the aforementioned, Gould considers the use of psychological testing to rank ones’ worth on the basis of the single IQ or general “g” score THE major misuse of science in this century. References Carroll, John, B. (1995). Reflections on Stephen Jay Gould’s ‘The Mismeasure of Man’ (1981): A retrospective review. Intelligence, 21, 121-134. Herrnstein, Richard. J, & Murray, Charles (1994). The bell curve: Intelligence and class structure in American life. New York: Free Press. Jensen, Arthur R. (1969). How much can we boost IQ and scholastic achievement? Harvard Educational Review, 39(1), 1-123. Miller, Lynda (1993). What we call smart: A new narrative for intelligence and learning. San Diego, California: Singular Publishing Group. Yam, Philip (1998, Winter). Intelligence considered, [Special Issue]. Scientific American, 9(4), 6-11.The history of IQ testing is littered with bad science, and, worse, with bad intentions. In “The Mismeasure of Man” Gould does a masterful job of surveying both, and of showing how much damage IQ testing and the ideas behind it can, and have, done. The most interesting part of the book is the historical detail Gould provides about each of the scientists he discusses. Take Cesare Lombroso, the founder of criminal anthropology, which is the idea that criminals have distinctive and identifiable body and facial characteristics. This idea seems silly to most of us now, but Gould drives the point home by citing some of Lombroso’s daftest ideas–for example, that prostitutes have prehensile big toes (there’s even a picture to show this!) or his claim that animals have criminal types too, citing an ant “driven by rage to kill and dismember an aphid”. And although Lombroso was criticized at the time, he was enormously influential. The twentieth century figures in this story typically made more complex mistakes in science, but Gould, merely by repeating their own work, demolishes their credibility. H.H.Goddard, who tested early American immigrants, found 87% of Russian immigrants (and similar numbers from other nations) to be feeble-minded, a result so ludicrous even Goddard couldn’t believe it. He fiddled with the data and got the number down below 50%, ultimately explaining this number by saying that only the poorest of each nation were emigrating to America. Gould takes the time with each failure of science to show just where the foolishness lies. After Lombroso and Goddard he reviews the work of Terman, Yerkes, Burt, Spearman and Thurstone; the question of “g”, general intelligence, is raised and dismissed, and many more ridiculous stories appear. Towards the end he goes into some detail on the question of factor analysis; the flaw here is not trivial to explain, and this is technically the hardest part of the book to follow. However, by this time the pattern of self-delusion is so clear that the reader takes little persuading. It’s been said for years that what IQ tests measure is how good you are at IQ tests. Gould makes the case for this utterly convincing. This is a profound book, written by someone who understands how science should work, and also how it really does work, all too often, in the real world.THE MISMEASURE OF MAN is a truly great book, exposing the prejudice and bigotry that has often passed under the name of “science.” It is eminently readable for a book that deals with numbers and statistics, which he keeps to a bare minimum that is consistent with exposing the mistakes made by bigoted “scientists.” Gould has managed to take a complicated subject and render it intelligible without ‘dumbing it down.’ This is one of those rare books that everyone should read, as it deals with a subject that influences all of our lives and exposes some of the foolishness that commonly passes for “accepted knowledge.” To object, as some have done, that Stephen Jay Gould is not a psychologist, is a facile objection, an argumentum ad hominem, attacking the person rather than saying anything about the reasoning that Gould presents. Undoubtedly, this is because his reasoning is quite good, and it would be difficult, if not impossible, to find a serious objection to any major point in his book. To object, as some have done, that The Mismeasure of Man is political correctness passing for science, is simply name calling (another argumentum ad hominem). If this were really true, then it would be possible to expose his supposedly faulty reasoning, but that is something they fail to do. To have a conclusion which may be consistent with “political correctness” does NOT prove that it is simply political correctness passing for science, because some ideas that are “politically correct” may very well be true. For example, it is “politically correct” to say that a woman may have the highest IQ score ever achieved, and it turns out that this is apparently true. (Marylin Vos Savant is reported to have the highest IQ; see the Guiness Book of World Records, or just look for her column in the Parade section of a typical Sunday paper in the U.S.) Indeed, this objection, without any supporting evidence, amounts to a claim that “all ‘politically correct’ ideas are false,” which is really exposing the prejudice of those who make such an objection. To object, as some have done, that Gould has “betrayed Darwin,” shows a misunderstanding of Darwin’s theory of evolution. He never intended for it to be applied in a manner that is now inappropriately called “social Darwinism.” It is the application of his theory of natural selection to a different domain, not a theory that he advocated in his Origin of the Species. To object, as some have done, that Gould focusses more on old theories rather than current ones, is also misguided, though not so grossly flawed as the argumentum ad hominems already mentioned. Gould examines the foundations of the current theories of IQ to show that they are based on prejudice and bigotry rather than true scientific principles. This is NOT the same as modern chemistry growing out of alchemy or astronomy growing out of astrology, for these modern sciences involve a rejection of the superstitious principles of alchemy and astrology. But there is no rejection of the basic ideas regarding IQs among most current psychologists. To see that the concept of IQs are a gross misrepresentation of that nebulous concept called “intelligence,” it suffices to consider the fact that using a single number to represent all of the complex processes of thought must inevitably involve bias regarding which mental processes are most important. Consider, for example, how many of the test questions will be for testing mathematical reasoning (just one part of an IQ score). The number of these relative to the number for the other aspects of intelligence involves a decision based on the preferences or bias of those who originated the system, not a scientific principle. How much of one’s intelligence is mathematical reasoning? How much should it be? This last question is the decisive one for how many questions about it there will be on an IQ test, but is a normative question, not one of science at all. IQ scores are inherently biased, and as such, are not a part of science at all.Reviewer: email@example.com (see more about me) from Sean R. Scheiderer at the Ohio State University in ColumbusGould’s title plays off Protagoras’ claim that “man is the measure of all things.” This Sophist encouraged his students to utilize whichever methods yielded desired results, but admonished them to always remember that “truth” found this way is relative, a product of a created system, and not an objective verity. Gould shows that many unwitting modern disciples of Protagoras’ school retained the method but forgot the underlying madness. The Mismeasure of Man is an investigation of attempts to reify human “intelligence” in order to determine worthiness (mental and otherwise) by establishing a ranking based on a single derived factor and presenting the resultant scalar reckoning as biological and incontrovertible. This quantifiable difference has allowed scientific establishmentarianism that justifies (and perpetuates) racism, sexism, and classism as inevitable and natural. Gould surveys the last three centuries and exposes the faulty logic of reductive systems for the evaluation of human mind (and spirit): craniometry, craniology, recapitulation, criminal anthropology, and modern I.Q. testing. Gould knows that many readers (and non-readers) will attack him for writing outside his proper domain, and he counters this by insisting that he is not writing a book about psychology per se, but about the general error of reification in the sciences. As young up-and-coming evolutionary biologist, Gould received extensive training in statistics, especially factor analysis. It is with statistical expertise that he exposes the logical (not mathematical) weaknesses of using factor analysis and other quantitative methods to distill a person’s intelligence to a single quantity. Gould shows how this reification is ultimately an embodiment of a priori assumptions after they have been processed through a circular argument, usually obfuscated (instead of supported) by numbers and mathematics in the name of objective quantification. Gould spent an entire month reworking Broca’s data. Gould found in Broca an unparalleled collector of raw figures, but also uncovered “advocacy masquerading as objectivity.” Gould’s historical survey of intelligence testing in the twentieth century demonstrates too well how science can become a powerful technological tool (weapon) of the state. At the beginning of this century, Binet designed his scale to be used as an instrument to help identify those (relatively few) students in need of special education and not as an absolute measure of intelligence or anything else inherent or irredeemable. Goddard (the American who christened the term “moron”) adopted Binet’s methods but not his ideology, proffering Binet’s I.Q. as an intrinsic and permanent entity by which eugenics could and should (and would) be directed. Gould himself uncovers Goddard’s manipulative retouching of photographs of research subjects to suggest their stupidity or vileness (these disturbing photos are reprinted in this book). R. M. Yerkes conducted an enormous study of 1.7 million U.S. Army draftees, a boon to the statistical prowess of a fledgling science, but his method and data analysis were patently absurd as confessed in an 800-page description published by Yerkes. Gould feels sure that those who touted the conclusions of this tome never took the time to read it. Gould includes samples from Yerkes’ intelligence tests as well as the instructions given to the illiterate recruits, often hilarious sometimes disconcerting (Gould also administered the tests to Harvard undergrads). Gould thus traces the evolution of an inheritable, fixed, and quantifiable “intelligence” emerging in America, culminating in negative and positive eugenics (Buck v. Bell (1924)), becoming subtler (insidious) after the horrors of the holocaust became known, but always lurking submerged. Gould suggests that Spearman and other reductionists working in a so-called soft science suffer from “physics envy” as they long for universal laws and basic particles (Gould does realize that physicists themselves no longer find such comforts). “With g as a quantified, fundamental particle, psychology [would be able to] take its rightful place among the real sciences.” In the most challenging and instructive part of the book, Gould dissects factor analysis, a tool of data sorting that simplifies a complex system and thereby helps in the identification of possible underlying causes of correlation amongst variables. Gould acknowledges the great worth of this tool to all sciences, but warns against a great danger: reification. Researchers and non-professionals alike tend to treat mathematical abstracts (Spearman’s g (”general intelligence”) here, “averages” in Gould’s Full House) as if they are real things. Gould traces this proclivity back to seminal practices of western philosophy and the thrill of flushing out the Platonic essence hidden within the evidence. Once factor analysis has delivered a value to a researcher, it may not only be accepted as a real thing, but the most real thing. Gould illustrates (literally) that while the ordering principal of factor analysis is useful, its starting point is arbitrary, as demonstrated by the different but equally mathematically valid approaches which each yield separate results. Gould argues that each approach to the analysis was dictated by a priori assumptions, and the result, meant to prove these assumptions, ends up actually resting on them. This circular reasoning thereby becomes impossible to disprove on its own terms, and Gould must expose the fundamental flaw at its roots: the reification of a result begotten from an arbitrary initiation. Even though this book was written more than a decade prior to The Bell Curve (Herrnstein and Murray, 1994), it is considered the definitive answer to that now infamous tome (Gould does include a great new introduction and a specific critique of The Bell Curve in the revised edition of The Mismeasure of Man (1996)). Gould explains that the hereditarian viewpoint resurfaces whenever the economic and political climate is favorable, but that the biological determinist argument never really changes substantially. Gould’s book should serve as a timeless reminder of the limitations not of biology, but of reductionist science. Let us heed Protagoras’ words and recognize that whenever man is the measurer and/or the measured, he is also the measure. Not only can Protagoras’ aphorism lead to a more honest science, it will also result in a more humanitarian science. –This text refers to the Hardcover edition.Gould continues his pioneering work of humanizing science, January 11, 1999 Reviewer: Mark Rice (Mark.Rice@nl.origin-it.com) from Eindhoven, The NetherlandsMost reviews of this book will focus on the question of Gould’s treatment of biological determinism as one of this century’s greatest follies. My own opinion is that those focusing on this issue are missing the point. While I do think that the eugenics movement is certainly one of the sadder chapters in our history, I found this particular issue, while beautifully developed and addressed, to be but an example of a larger, more fundamental question. What I see as the main thesis of this book is this: Scientists are people, human. They are prone to the same passions, desires, hopes, dreams, motivations, fears, ambitions, mistakes and biases as the rest of us. That is what makes the mistakes made 80-100 years ago (indeed 50 years ago, last year, yesterday) so relevant. The scientists of the last century were as brilliant as those today, but they viewed the world much differently. Biological determinism was a certainty, a constant. They simply assumed it was so and interpreted all data in this light. Given this premise, of course they would reach the conclusions that seem so horribly biased today. The real message of this book, (to me at least) is this wonderful (and frightening) idea that even today, all scientific “truths” need to be examined and re-examined and re-examined. We can never be sure of what we are seeing as we view all data through a societal lens. To a layman such as myself, often frustrated by the pretentiousness and aloofness of scientists (as well as the jargon-filled literature) this knowledge is one of great liberation. It makes science much less certain, but so much more enjoyable! It brings the scientist down from the priest’s alter to the congregation. This is Gould’s great gift he gives to readers in all his books, but most of all in this one. This book is simply one of the greatest books written about scientific thought. For anyone who wishes to understand how “great mistakes” are made in science, this is a must read! –This text refers to the Hardcover edition.Of intelligence, genetics, and environments (again), April 8, 1998 Reviewer: Massimo Pigliucci (firstname.lastname@example.org) (see more about me) from Knoxville, Tennessee, USASteven J. Gould is most famous among the general public for his collections of essays from his long Natural History series, “This View of Life”. But the best of Gould’s writing is perhaps to be found in his single-theme books. And The Mismeasure of Man is arguably the finest among them. The volume is about the long history of the search for scientific justification of racism, and the many faux pas that science has committed when it comes to the study of human intelligence. The 1996 edition of the classic 1981 book also contains some interesting addenda: “Critique of the Bell Curve”, and “Three Centuries’ Perspective on Race and Racism” (as well as a new introduction), just in case you were not convinced by the arguments lined out in the main text. The Mismeasure can conceptually be divided in two parts: the first deals with the misapplication of measurements of the human body (cranial capacity and facial features), the second one is concerned with the mind (IQ and generalized intelligence). In both cases, Gould follows the same approach that has been so successful in some of his technical opuses, such as Ontogeny and Phylogeny: he tracks the history of a discipline or scientific question, highlights the contributions and discusses the motives of the major players, while simultaneously plunging into the technical aspects of the science behind the problem. So, for example, in order to find out why measuring the cranial capacity of the human head does not tell you much about intelligence, we are introduced to biologists of the caliper of Louis Agassiz (Gould currently holds his chair at Harvard), Samuel George Morton, Francis Galton (Darwin’s cousin), and – of course – Paul Broca, the father of craniometry. It is indeed fascinating to find out that theories of the origin of human races actually preceded Charles Darwin and evolutionary thinking, with the “polygenic” school apparently providing solid basis for racism: if the term “human” comprises different species, it is only natural that we rank them according to their biological worth (needless to say, the “objective” ranking invariably ended up putting the author’s race – and gender – in pole position, and somewhat ahead of everybody else). The supporters of the opposing theory of “monogenism” were by no means kinder to other races, though. Their argument was that there was only one Adam, and that every human race descended from him, and degenerated to a greater or lesser extent (again, you guess who degenerated more and who the least). Regardless of the premise, all we needed to know according to craniometrists was the size of the brain (as estimated by the internal volume of the cranium) and we will know how intelligent (and thereby “worthy”) any individual or race really is. Now, one could object that there is indeed a good correlation between cranial capacity and what we intuitively think of as intelligence among animals. After all, biology textbooks report diagrams showing that carnivores have larger brains than herbivores, regardless of body size. And the accompanying explanation makes sense: carnivores need larger brains because they have to process more information and more quickly, they have to face a larger variety of situations, and be able to make a larger number of vital decisions. In other words, they need to be smarter. Gould acknowledges this, but quickly – and correctly – points out that variation across species does not have to have the same cause and meaning as variation within species. He illustrates this with an array of definitely intelligent people whose brain sizes covered almost the whole gamut displayed by non-pathological individuals. However, this is indeed one of the troublesome aspects of this book and, I dare say, of Gould’s writing in general. He dismisses contrary evidence or arguments so fast that one gets the impression of seeing a magician performing a trick. One cannot avoid the feeling of having being duped by the quickness of the magician’s movement, instead of having observed a genuine phenomenon. In this particular instance, I can vouch for Gould as a biologist, but I’m not so sure that the general public is willing to trust him on his word. After having dismissed both craniometry and the aberrant work of Cesare Lombroso on the anthropological stigmata of criminals, Gould moves on to his main target: IQ and intelligence testing. IQ testing was originally introduced by the French psychologist Alfred Binet with the intention of spotting children who were falling behind in the curriculum, so that teachers could pay particular attention to them. Alas, such a noble intent soon fell victim to the human tendency of ranking everything, and led to an astounding series of “scientific” enterprises characterized by deep racist overtones. H.H. Goddard saw the feeble-minded (the technical term being “moron”) as a menace to society; we should care for him, but we should not allow him to reproduce. One of the ghastly consequences of the eugenic movement in the US was the enactment of immigration restriction laws based on perceived racial inferiority, and the actual forced sterilization of individuals deemed genetically inferior: for a few years the United States teetered on the brink of the same precipice over which Nazi Germany readily dove around the same time. One of the chief obstacles to the use of IQ scores is that there are several ways to devise an IQ test, and the results of different tests are not always congruent when performed on the same subjects. But if we have to use a battery of tests, and then somehow weigh their discrepancies, we lose one major attraction of IQ testing: the ability of ranking human beings on a simple, uni-linear scale of worth. Charles Spearman and Cyril Burt set out to accomplish the feat of reducing multiple-tests complexity once again to a single magical number. Burt was a disciple of Spearman (himself one of the founding fathers of modern statistics) and later claimed to have made contributions to the theory of factor analysis which where in fact Spearman’s. Gould plunges into one of the best explanations I have ever come across of the multivariate statistical technique of factor analysis, fundamental to both Spearman’s and Burt’s work. This allows the reader to gain some understanding of a very important tool in modern biostatistics (one that Gould himself uses for his own technical research), while at the same time being able to follow Gould in highlighting the fundamental problems which Spearman and Burt incurred. Simply put, factor analysis is a statistical technique based on the rotation of orthogonal axes in multivariate (i.e., multidimensional) space. This reduces a complex data set (say, made of the results of ten different IQ tests) to a manageable number of linear combinations of the original variables. This smaller set of dimensions identifies the principal “factors” which explain the correlation structure in the original data. Spearman’s suggestion was that all IQ tests have one principal factor in common. That is, the scores on each test are correlated to each other, because they all reflect one underlying quantity, which Spearman named “g”, or general intelligence. Spearman therefore provided one of the two pillars of the eugenic movement: there seemed indeed to be one way to rank individuals by their intelligence with the use of one number: this was the score on the g-factor, instead of the score on any of the available IQ tests. Burt’s major achievement was a supposed confirmation of the second fundamental piece of the puzzle eugenic puzzle: his studies of genetically identical twins suggested a high heritability (incorrectly read as a high level of genetic determination) of intelligence. So, not only do individuals differ in intelligence, but this is easy to measure and genetically determined. Environment, and with it education and social welfare, cannot alter the innate difference among individuals, genders, and races. QED Well, not really. –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.