None of the Above: What I.Q. doesn't tell you about race

The whole idea of IQ as a measure of intelligence has been roundly criticized by scientists such as the late Stephen J. Gould ("The Mismeasure of Man"), but tests continue to be given, and scores recorded in "permanent records". Do they have any significance and, if so, what is it? A new book, "What is Intelligence?", by James Flynn (Cambridge University Press; $22) prompts this brilliant precis and commentary by the ever-perceptive Malcolm Gladwell. I haven't yet read the book, but I can certainly endorse this review (which is available online at Gladwell's website). According to both Flynn and Gladwell, even the tests themselves are necessarily mutating measures of whatever it is that the numbers record. That thing that is measured is apparently more clearly related to the richness and diversity of experience than to any genetic limitations. As educators, we should be aware that as Gladwell says, "IQ measures not just the quality of a person's mind but the quality of the world that person lives in".

Publication information
Pick Attribution: 

Malcolm Gladwell

Publication Date: 
Monday, December 17, 2007