“… the term intelligence designates a complexly interrelated assemblage of functions, no one of which is completely or accurately known in man”
(Yerkes, 1929, p. 524)
In the Gould study (which is actually a review of the work conducted by Yerkes) 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. Have things got any better since then though?
Throughout the 1980’s Gould has continually argued for the fact that IQ tests are culturally biased and would never be a fair comparison across cultures. MindHacks has recently dug up a heated exchange between Eysenck and Gould over the nature of intelligence with Eysenck’s controversial views on intelligence arguing that IQ was largely determined by genetics and that small but significant differences could be seen between races as a result. You can read the debate here and here with commentary here.
More recently the Discover Magazine have published a look at aptitude tests and come to a similar conclusion: we’re being blinded by science and the reliability, validity, and in some senses usefulness of these psychometric tests should be scrutinised.
Where will the argument will end? Where do you sit?