In the Individual Differences module of the AS we look at the Gould review of Yerkes’ work at the beginning of the century in relation to IQ testing and race titled ‘A Nation of Morons‘. A big issue that is raised is the reliability and validity of psychometric tests – do these tests (like IQ tests) actually measure our innate capabilities and aptitudes or are they measuring something else.
The review by Gould clearly shows that the tests created by Yerkes were more than questionable measuring cultural awareness and integration rather than intelligence. However, are things any better now almost 100 years after the Yerkes study?
James Watson, the 1962 Nobel laureate, recently asserted that he was “inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa” and its citizens because “all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours — whereas all the testing says not really.”
Dr. Watson’s remarks created a huge stir because they implied that blacks were genetically inferior to whites … But was he right? Is there a genetic difference between blacks and whites that condemns blacks in perpetuity to be less intelligent? [quote]
The NYT’s has a great article on current thinking on the IQ differences (whether perceived or real) between different cultures, but the edited highlights would have you think that I.Q. difference has environmental, not genetic, causes. A very similar idea to that of Gould 20 years ago.
The article is well worth a read: All Brains Are the Same Color, By RICHARD E. NISBETT.