There is a myth in the sciences that science is “an objective enterprise done properly only when scientists can shuck the constraints of their culture and view the world as it really is.” Stephen Gould, in his book, “The Mismeasure of Man”, demonstrates clearly the fallacy of “objective science.” Scientists have been influenced by certain political, cultural, and social conditions of their era, and the data is manipulated to support their conclusions which may have been derived in a bias manner. The corollary of “The Mismeasure of Man” is to discuss how research affects social policy and that research is not purely an academic matter. Gould supports his arguments against objective science by giving an historical background beginning in the mid-nineteenth century, of scientists coming up with various ways to quantify intelligence. The research was necessary to rationalize why certain groups should be ranked higher in society than others. Gould attacks specific individuals and schools of science throughout the past 150 years, and methods used in gathering data to support their theories. He argues that any research that is done to support the hereditarian school of intelligence is flawed, and the findings are the result of the political climate, and the convictions of the researchers.
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There were several methods used by scientists in the nineteenth century to quantify intelligence. Crainometry, which is the study of the measure of skulls, was an early method that was used. Scientists, such as Paul Broka and Samuel Morton claimed that intelligence could be measured by brain size, and that whites on average were more intelligent than individuals of other cultures. After carefully reviewing the statistics of Morton and Broka, Gould successfully refutes their conclusions.
Gould also points out that Broka’s data was selectively gathered and manipulated to support prior conclusions, instead of objectively looking at the data and refuting the statistics. Slavery was coming to an end during this time period and science was used to justify the ranking of the lower class, as well as Women, Native Americans and Blacks. As methods for intellectual discrimination became more sophisticated, biological determinism was born. Recapitulation served as a general theory of biological determinism. Recapitulation is the idea that higher creatures repeat the adult stages of lower animals during their own growth. All “inferior” groups-races, sexes, and classes were compared to the children of white males.
According to Gould, E. D. Cope, a paleontologist, identified four groups of lower human forms on this criterion: nonwhite races, all women, southern as opposed to northern European whites, and lower classes within superior races. Cesare Lombroso and his colleagues claimed that physical characteristics were indicators of morality, meaning criminals can be identified through physical appearance. Gould refuted these claims of recapitulation, but did not use statistics. Gould used the arguments made by scientists of Lombroso’s time, his own rhetoric, and plain common sense.
Gould disclaims that appearance is a reflection of reality. In Gould’s book, there are examples of photos that had been doctored in order to substantiate the recapitulation theory. In the twentieth century the Binet Scale was widely supported in determining intelligence. Binet was commissioned by the minister of public education in 1904, to develop techniques for identifying those children whose lack of success in normal classrooms suggested the need for some form of special education. German psychologist W. Stern made changes to the Binet Scale and the Intelligence Quotient was born.
... a thorough read if you " re at all interested in intelligence, statistics, sociology, or simply want to know what all the fuss ... blacks on average have scored lower than whites on tests of cognitive ability, and that whites have scored lower on average than Asians. (Far ... person - the IQ (intellectual quotient) score.Further, "Gould shows how this sort of ranking can lead (and, as he shows clearly, has ...
Binet had not intended for his series of tests to determine intelligence, but merely to single out those individuals in a normal classroom setting that were having severe problems. The error Gould points out is that no single factor or score can reflect true intelligence. Gould repeatedly condemns priori assumptions by Goddard, Terman, Yerkes, Spearman, and Burt. They use circular reasoning which assumes a single dimension of intelligence and they are able to obtain scores and rankings of that dimension to validate their theories. The fallacy is that their techniques were specifically designed or chosen to return a single dimension of intelligence. The assumption that such a score is the result of heredity is an even more disturbing error in reasoning.
The only reason the tests were used in this way was to support the ranking of classes, races, and sexes and substantiate that ranking with erroneous statistics to reflect the white European’s superiority.