Customer Review

34 of 50 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars graduate student, April 8, 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Mismeasure of Man (Revised & Expanded) (Paperback)
Gould's book was well written and easily comprehensible. A number of excellent points were discussed. However, I was disappointed by his total refutation of the Bell Curve. The degree that "g" measures this abstract controversial, concept of intelligence is the the degree that the conclusions in The Bell Curve are correct. If "g" does not exist or is not a valid measurement of intelligence, the foundation of the Bell Curve will be destroyed. But I have met people with 90 IQ's and other with 140+; there seems to be a difference in their ability to grasp concepts and figure out problems. If 100 people with 140+ IQ's and 100 people with < 90 IQ's were pited against one another to solve a complex problem, I believe the 140+ would win most of the time. Dr. Gould is professor at Harvard; how much exposure does he really have with low IQ individuals?
Bernstein and Murray avidly admit that IQ tests do err (testing error). And "g" may not be the best measure of intelligence, but IQ does seem to have some merit. Unfortunately, people are placing far, far too much importance on a simple number. "g" is just a rough (very blunt) estimate of intelligence. Ranking of people is impossible because the testing error as well as other factors that create too much mismeasurment AND the potential invalidity of IQ or "g." People should not pigeon-hole individuals with superior IQ's as "cognitively superior" or those with low IQ's as "cognitively inferior"--other factors besides IQ should be considered! But again, IQ does have some merit--the debate is how much.
Yes, disadvantaged classes and races is an issue with IQ (group differences). The Bell Curve is not primarily about that. Read the Bell Curve; the main theme is that people have different cognitive abilities. However, Hernstein and Murray briefly discuss potential group differences, but the author reminds the reader of the overlap between groups and more important within group variance. Hernstein and Murray warn that people should not be judged by what group they belong to. In addition, other factors may explain group differences, which Gould explicates--in my opinion, Hernstein and Murray do not discuss the group differences adequately. But I still agree with The Bell Curve that certain people are more intelligent than other individuals (I disagree with the group differences). Read both "The Mismeasurement of Man" and "The Bell Curve" Both of them have great arguments for both sides.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 27, 2007 10:47:57 PM PST
John Hevelin says:
I'm not clear on why Dr. Gould's personal experience with people of "low IQ" is relevant to his scientific analysis of the theoretical flaws underlying IQ testing.

However, one of Dr. Gould's sons experienced learning disorders, and I know Dr. Gould studied many facets of this deeply. At the time I knew Dr. Gould, I worked with emotionally disturbed children and retarded children, and always found his insights helpful.

Posted on Dec 1, 2009 11:35:58 AM PST
Herrnstein and Murray's book, "The Bell Curve" is an argument that the difference in IQ scores between Americans of African, Asian, and European descent is primarily determined by genetic factors and therefore immutable. "The Bell Curve" has been justly criticized on the grounds of violation of basic rules of statistics and their practice of utilizing studies, no matter how flawed, that appear to support their thesis while ignoring or barely mentioning those that contradict it. In addition, they are also wrong on purely theoretical grounds. Because genes are inherited independently of one another, whatever alleles that may be associated with intelligence bear no relationship with the ones for skin pigmentation or with any other aspect of human variation such as blood type. -The Essence of Anthropology by Haviland, Prins, Walrath, and McBride

In reply to an earlier post on May 22, 2011 12:57:37 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 22, 2011 12:58:39 PM PDT
Jason Nadler says:
Mary, one should never comment and pass judgment on a book one has not read. What you have described as the argument of The Bell Curve" is totally inaccurate. It only mentions genes in passing in the sense that "we assume genes must have some contribution to IQ, as it has to most other traits". That's it. If you haven't read the book, you don't comment. Period. With gun-jumpers like you on Gould's side in the IQ debate, I must wonder if perhaps you see some of your own out-of-hand dismissiveness and failure to attend to serious issues that is found everywhere in Gould's work.
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