The Mismeasure of Man
Stephen J. Gould (1996)

Chapter 1:
  • American Polygeny & Craniometry before Darwin
  • Key argument: Biological Determinism—people at the bottom are biologically inferior—social status reflects biology
  • Biological justification of racism
  • “Scientific argument”
Did the introduction of inductive science add legitimate data to change or strengthen a nascent argument for racial ranking? Or did a priori commitment to ranking fashion the “scientific” questions asked and even the data gathered to support a foreordained conclusion?” p. 63

  • “soft liners”: proper education & standard of life might “raise” blacks to a white level
  • “hard liners”: biological status justifies slavery and colonization

All American culture heroes embraced racial attitudes that would embarrass public school mythmakers p. 64

  • Examples from Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln (eg. Douglas debates: physical difference between blacks and whites)

  • None questioned the propriety of racial ranking—part of the culture
  • Naturalists—compared blacks to apes and monkeys and depicted them this way in scientific journals
  • Europeans referred to polygeny as the “American School” of anthropology
  • Samuel Morton: Hypothesis—ranking of races could be established objectively by brain size. Large collection of skulls
-filled with mustard seed
-changed to lead shot
--seeds did not pack consistently
  • --Work was printed repeatedly during the 1800’s as “irrefutable hard data”
  • -Gould reanalyzed Morton’s data: patchwork of fudging and finagling in the clear interest of controlling a priori convictions” p. 86

“Yet—and this is the most intriguing aspect of the case—I find no evidence of conscious fraud; indeed, had Morton been a conscious fudger, he would not have published his data so openly.” P. 86
  • Valuing skulls according to average size of the group of people is discussed (correlation of brain and body size)

Chapter 3: Measuring Heads
  • Second half of the 19th century—era of evolution in anthropology—“scientific racism”—craniometry

  • “apostles of objectivity” p. 106
  • Galton: coined the term “eugenics” in 1883—believed anything could be quantified/measured
  • Paul Broca: advocacy masquerading as objectivity—repeatedly abandoned various methods of measurement in search of a process that would display whites as superior
  • Broca managed to account for all of the small Caucasian brains
“The large size of many criminal brains was a constant source of bother to craniometricians and criminal anthropologists. Broca tended to dismiss it with his claim that sudden death by execution precluded the demunition that long bouts of disease produced in many honest men” p. 126

Chapter 4: Measuring Bodies
  • Evolution established
  • Recapitulation theory—“among the most influential ideas of late 19th century science
  • Served as a general theory of biological determinism
  • Justify colonial expansion into Africa
  • Criminals: evolutionary throwbacks in our midst—we know the born criminal by his anatomy
  • Lombroso’s anatomical stigmata—P. 136.

Chapter 5: The Hereditarian Theory of IQ
  • Alfred Binet: went to various schools making Broca’s recommended measurements on the heads of students designated by their teachers as smartest and dumbest…

I feared”, Binet wrote (1900, p.323), “that in making measurements on heads with the intention of finding a difference in volume between an intelligent and less intelligent head, I would be led to increase, unconsciously and in good faith, the cephalic volume of intelligent heads and to decrease that of unintelligent heads.” P.177

  • 1904 binet commissioned by minister of public schools to perform a study—to develop techniques for identifying children who needed special education.
  • Sought to separate natural intelligence from instruction…
“The scale, properly speaking, does not permit the measure of the intelligence, because intellectual qualities are not superposable, and therefore cannot be measured as linear surfaces are measured p. 181

  • Binet believed: The number is only an avergage of many performances, not an entity unto itself. Worried the scale would be used for labeling rather than a tool for identifying the type of help that a child needed. Declined the label IQ as inborn intelligence…Developed a program of special education to adapt to children’s strengths.

  • Scores are a practical device—they do not buttress any theory of intellect. Do not define anything innate or permanent…do not designate the results as “intelligence”.
  • Scale is a rough, empirical guide for identifying mildly retarded and LD children who need help. Not a device for ranking children
  • Whatever the cause of difficulty, emphasis to be placed on improvement through special training. P. 185
  • Goddard—popularized Binet scale in America—regarded the scores as a measure of single, innate ability. Wanted to identify to segregate, control breeding, prevent deterioration of American stock
  • Goddard—Ellis Island—to offer suggestions on testing immigrants to keep out the inferior
  • Lewis Terman: Mass marketing of innate IQ Hereditarianism---Stanford Binet—developed and standardized with a SD of 15 and Mean of 100. Plea for universal testing & labeling/investigated IQ among professions
  • Yerkes: Equated rigor and science with numbers and quantification
The scales gave markedly different results—poor validity (not related to one another—measuring different constructs)/ poor reliability
Persuaded the army to allow him to test all of the recruits (WWI)
Alpha version, Beta version (nonverbal) and Individual version

He spoke of the steady stream of requests from commercial concerns, educational institutions, and individuals for the use of army methods of psychological examining or for the adaptation of such methods to special needs” p. 225
  • They found:
1) Average mental age of white American adults stood just above the age of “moronity” at 13. “Swamping of intelligent stock by immigrating dregs”
2) European immigrants can be graded by country of origin. Darker people of southern Europe & Slavs of eastern Europe are less intelligent than fair people of western & northern Europe. Nordic supremacy is not prejudice.
3) Negro lies at the bottom
  • Most recruits limited school
  • Most recruits from the “lower countries” were more recent immigrants & were unfamiliar with American culture
-No link between racism slavery and low performance noted
-No word about environmental influence at all in an 800 page monograph
-Both verbal and nonverbal have multiple cultural references and class references (eg. lawn tennis, phonograph, light bulbs etc.)
-Procedures very inconsistent
-Crowding, poor communication, rushing
-Standards for division between Alpha and Beta not followed, hundreds took the wrong test, resentment about retesting, the “nonverbal” directions were fast, intimidating, oral, scary
-Artificially lowered standards because they could not process all of the Betas
-Beta still required paper and pencil—many had never used a pencil…could not write
-Complicated instructions

  • Frequency distributions for each part—bimodal distributions—some understood what they were supposed to do and produced one distribution, and others did not and produced another distribution around zero
  • Hereditarianism view—zeros were the result of inferior intelligence. Yerkes argued that people with more innate intelligence spend more time in school—not that people without opportunity for school do not perform well.
  • Restricting immigration: lobbying of scientists and eugenicists—harsh quotas against nations of inferior intellect.
Throughout the 1930’s Jewish refugees, anticipating the holocaust, sought to emigrate, but were not admitted
  • Estimate—quotas barred up to 6 million southern, central, and eastern Europeans 1924-WWII

Chapter 6: The Real Error of Cyril Burt
  • Explanation of correlation—p. 270
  • Explanation of factor analysis p. 273
  • Factor Analysis: method for reducing a complex system of correlations into fewer dimensions—data reduction technique—simplest model that accounts for as much of the variance as possible
  • Placing axes: Principal component—single line along the long axis. Second component perpendicular—resolves most of the remaining variation than oany other line that could be drawn perpendicular to the first. Subsequent lines would be perpendicular to all previous axes, and would resolve a steadily decreasing amount of remaining variation. A matrix of high positive correlation coefficients will be represented by a cluster of vectors, each separated from each other vector by a small acute angle. When we factor such a cluster into fewer first components the axis of maximal resolving power a kind of grand average among all vectors.
  • As a factor moves away from axis toward a maximal separation of 90 degrees, the axis resolves less and less of it.
  • Most correlation matrices for mental tests contain a preponderance of positive entries.
  • Factor analysis will yield a strong first principal component (“g”). Spearman—unitary quality underlying cognitive activity. P. 236

  • Factor analysis and reification