Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Mismeasure of Man - Stephen Jay Gould (Audiobook + E-book)

"A rare book-at once of great importance and wonderful to read."
Saturday Review

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. Amazon

[E-book - pdf - 7 MB]

[Audiobook - 193 MB]

[Buy it]


Anonymous said...

the reader of the audiobook... oy!

Mike Steinberg said...

Unfortunately, very few of Gould's criticisms of modern psychometrics actually stand up to scrutiny. Also, behavioural genetics studies have shown that intelligence is significantly heritable, similar to height. As Steven Pinker notes:

"To study something scientifically, you first have to measure it, and psychologists have developed tests for many mental traits. And contrary to popular opinion, the tests work pretty well: they give a similar measurement of a person every time they are administered, and they statistically predict life outcomes like school and job performance, psychiatric diagnoses and marital stability...

The most prominent finding of behavioral genetics has been summarized by the psychologist Eric Turkheimer: “The nature-nurture debate is over. . . . All human behavioral traits are heritable.” By this he meant that a substantial fraction of the variation among individuals within a culture can be linked to variation in their genes. Whether you measure intelligence or personality, religiosity or political orientation, television watching or cigarette smoking, the outcome is the same. Identical twins (who share all their genes) are more similar than fraternal twins (who share half their genes that vary among people). Biological siblings (who share half those genes too) are more similar than adopted siblings (who share no more genes than do strangers). And identical twins separated at birth and raised in different adoptive homes (who share their genes but not their environments) are uncannily similar."

A final disapointment is that Gould appears to have misrepresented Morton's skull study.

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