The Mismeasure of Man
Gould (Stephen Jay)
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Authors Citing this Book: Tammet (Daniel)

Back Cover Blurb

  1. Can human intelligence be measured? Here the world-famous Harvard scientist Stephen Jay Gould makes a fascinating investigation.
  2. From nineteenth-century craniometry (literally, the measurement of skulls) to today’s vastly sophisticated methods of IQ1 testing, he traces the history of scientists’ attempts to assess human intelligence. Along the way, he tackles the fundamental problems: the very idea of measurement seems reductive, suggesting that biology is destiny; moreover, as he vividly demonstrates, scientists’ theories have too often been dangerous reflections of their own personal motives and racial / class / sexual prejudices.
  3. Elegantly written and tightly argued, this book exposes the fatal flaws in intelligence testing - a manner of measuring that has become one of the most potent ideas in modern life - and reaffirms the richness and variety of human potential.
  4. ‘This is a marvellous book, and it is marvellous in lots of different ways. The history of these attempts to measure the intellectual and moral worth of individuals turns out to be a detective story to rival most of Agatha Christie’
    → Sunday Times
  5. Winner Of The National Book Critics' Circle Award For 1982

    Acknowledgments, 15
  1. Introduction – 19
  2. American Polygeny and Craniometry before Darwin: Blacks and Indians as Separate, Inferior – 30
    1. A shared context of culture, 31
    2. Pre-evolutionary styles of scientific racism: monogenism and polygenism, 39
    3. Louis Agassiz – America’s theorist of polygeny, 42
    4. Samuel George Morton – empiricist of polygeny, 50
      • The case of Indian inferiority: Crania Americana
      • The case of the Egyptian catacombs: Crania Aegyptiaca
      • The case of the shifting black mean
      • The final tabulation of 1849
      • Conclusions
    5. The American school and slavery, 69
  3. Measuring Heads: Paul Broca and the Heyday of Craniology – 73
    1. The allure of numbers, 73
      • Introduction
      • Francis Galton – apostle of quantification
      • A curtain-raiser with a moral: numbers do not guarantee truth
    2. Masters of craniometry: Paul Broca and his school, 82
      • The great circle route
      • Selecting characters
      • Averting anomalies
        → Big-Brained Germans
        → Small-Brained Men Of Eminence
        → Large-Brained Criminals
        → Flaws In A Pattern Of Increase Through Time
      • Front and back
        → The Cranial Index
        → The Case of The Foramen Magnum
      • Women’s brains
    3. Postscript, 108
  4. Measuring Bodies: Two Case Studies on the Apishness of Undesirables – 113
    1. The ape in all of us: recapitulation, 113
    2. The ape in some of us: criminal anthropology, 122
      • Atavism and criminality
      • Animals and savages as born criminals
      • The stigmata: anatomical, physiological, and social
      • Lombroso’s retreat
      • The influence of criminal anthropology
      • Coda
    3. Epilogue, 143
  5. The Hereditarian Theory of IQ2: An American Invention – 146
    1. Alfred Binet and the original purposes of the Binet scale, 146
      • Binet flirts with craniometry
      • Binet’s scale and the birth of IQ3
      • The dismantling of Binet’s intentions in America
    2. H. H. Goddard and the menace of the feeble-minded, 158
      • Intelligence as a Mendelian gene
        → Goddard Identifies The Moron
        → A Unilinear Scale Of Intelligence
        → Breaking The Scale Into Mendelian Compartments
        → The Proper Care And Feeding (But Not Breeding) Of Morons
      • Preventing the immigration and propagation of morons
      • Goddard recants
    3. Lewis M. Terman and the mass marketing of innate IQ4, 174
      • Mass testing and the Stanford-Binet
      • Terman’s technocracy of innateness
      • Fossil IQ’s5 of past geniuses
      • Terman on group differences
      • Terman recants
    4. R. M. Yerkes and the Army Mental Tests: IQ6 comes of age, 192
      • Psychology’s great leap forward
      • Results of the army tests
      • A critique of the Army Mental Tests
        → The Content Of The Tests
        → Inadequate Conditions
        → Dubious and Perverse Proceedings: A Personal Testimony
        → Finagling the Summary Statistics: The Problem Of Zero Values
        → Finagling the Summary Statistics: Getting Around Obvious Correlations With Environment
      • Political impact of the army data
        → Can Democracy Survive an Average Mental Age Of Thirteen?
        → The Army Tests and Agitation To Restrict Immigration: Brigham’s Monograph On American Intelligence
        → The Triumph Of Restriction On Immigration
        → Brigham Recants
  6. The Real Error of Cyril Burt: Factor Analysis and the Reification of Intelligence – 234
    1. The case of Sir Cyril Burt, 234
    2. Correlation, cause, and factor analysis, 239
      • Correlation and cause
      • Correlation in more than two dimensions
      • Factor analysis and its goals
      • The error of reification
      • Rotation and the non-necessity of principal components
    3. Charles Spearman and general intelligence, 256
      • The two-factor theory
      • The method of tetrad differences
      • Spearman’s g and the great instauration of psychology
      • Spearman’s g and the theoretical justification of IQ7
      • Spearman’s reification of g
      • Spearman on the inheritance of g
    4. Cyril Burt and the hereditarian synthesis, 273
      • The source of Burt’s uncompromising hereditarianism
        → Burt’s Initial “Proof” Of Innateness
        → Later Arguments
        → Burt’s Blindness
        → Burt’s Political Use Of Innateness
      • Burt’s extension of Spearman’s theory
      • Burt on the reification of factors
      • Burt and the political uses of g
    5. L. L. Thurstone and the vectors of mind, 296
      • Thurstone’s critique and reconstruction
      • The egalitarian interpretation of PMA’s
      • Spearman and Burt react
      • Oblique axes and second-order g
      • Thurstone on the uses of factor analysis
    6. Epilogue: Arthur Jensen and the resurrection of Spearman’s g, 317
    7. A final thought, 320
  7. A Positive Conclusion – 321
    1. Debunking as positive science, 321
    2. Learning by debunking, 322
    3. Biology and human nature, 324
    Epilogue – 335
    Bibliography – 337
    Index – 345

Book Comment

Pelican, 1981

Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)
  1. Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2023
  2. Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)

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