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The Mismeasure of Man by Stephen Jay Gould

The Mismeasure of Man (1981)

by Stephen Jay Gould

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
This book takes a hard look at early 20th century attempts by several psychologists and scientists to prove that human intelligence has genetic components defined and separated by factors such as race and ethnicity. Gould takes several of these scientists to task for egregiously biased methodology in testing and their conclusions.

While most honest, ethical scientists today would dismiss such claims of ethnic superiority, significant damage has been done by lingering refusal to accept the fallacy of such claims. Gould carefully exposes the errors and biases of these early pioneers in human intelligence. The book is somewhat long and tedious as a carefully written and documented academic account would naturally be, but it is a classic from an era that must be understood if we are to move beyond our understanding of human inequality. ( )
  mldavis2 | Mar 12, 2015 |
A smart and interesting read about the history of scientific racism, focusing on intellgence testing. However, it was also about science and the cultural biases of scientists and the development of science, all wonderfully and clearly explained in Gould's fantastic style. It was published in 1981 and yet is totally relevant today.
  amyem58 | Jul 3, 2014 |
The author discusses the unconscious errors scientists and researchers make in collecting and interpreting their data in order to fit their preconceived theories. He takes the reader through the history of IQ testing and explains the pseudo-scientific techniques used to gather the data, such as cranial measurements and biased, inadequate intelligence tests. Gould also discusses misconceptions people have regarding interpretation of the Bell Curve. Gould writes this book in a conversational tone, which makes it readable by non-scientists. It is well illustrated, documented and has a variety of solid historical analysis. This is a book I would use when discussing interpreting statistical results or creating non-biased assessments/surveys. This could also be used in a science class during discussion of the scientific method or a psychology class. ( )
  kgeorge | Dec 2, 2012 |
One of Gould's CLASSICS ( )
  vegetarian | Sep 18, 2012 |
The author details the history of IQ testing and its weaknesses as a tool in deciding public policy. As always, the author writes with a witty, conversational style that makes the book accessible to non-scientists. ( )
  Devil_llama | Apr 16, 2011 |
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ONE fitting way to begin this review would be to offer a solemn account of the sharp blow that the evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould has delivered to Arthur Jensen and the apostles of innate, hereditary, hierarchical intelligence in human beings. . . The interest of Stephen Jay Gould's latest book really lies in watching the author's intelligence at play.

» Add other authors (9 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Stephen Jay Gouldprimary authorall editionscalculated
Pochtar, RicardoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rovira, JordiEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Citizens of the Republic, Socrates advised, should be educated and assigned by merit to three classes: rulers, auxiliaries, and craftsmen.
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This edition was published in 1981. The new and expanded edition (1996) contains a new introduction and 5 more chapters, increasing to 432 pages (from 352 pages in this edition) plus 10 more index pages. The original chapters have been corrected and brought up to date but are essentially the same. Please do not combine as the works are sufficently different.

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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0393314251, Paperback)

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

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:46 -0400)

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Examines the history and inherent flaws of the tests science has used to measure intelligence.

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