- Paperback: 152 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press (June 7, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0192893211
- ISBN-13: 978-0192893215
- Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 0.4 x 4.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 24 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #219,667 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Intelligence: A Very Short Introduction
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Good discussion of Gould as well.
This approach - basing each topic on study results - makes for an objective and solidly scientific survey.
Deary avoids the most contentious issue of all, that of differences in intelligence between different groups. In the final chapter, where he discusses the American Psychological Association's Task Force report, he mentions that the report addresses differences 'based upon the sexes and ethnic groups. I have not dealt with these topics in the present book and I recommend the Task Force's treatment of these at times controversial issues.' In other words, he chickened out, but who can blame him? An academic can get into a lot of trouble these days just by reporting well-attested but politically incorrect data.
He references the APA report a lot, strongly recommending it as follow-up reading to this book, and providing a link to a free online copy. I tried the link and it is still active.
Deary writes very well, although his insistence on 'funny' chapter titles is a little wearing. The book was first published in 2001, so it might be time for an update. Minor quibbles like that aside, this book is an excellent introduction to a fascinating subject.
Deary has a marvellously chatty writing style which makes the book easy, quick, and enjoyable to read, yet he doesn't compromise even one iota of precision.
As far as the book's content, Deary wisely takes the reader through a tour of several research studies, so that we can see firsthand how working conclusions about intelligence are reached, including the substantial limitations and uncertainties which accompany those conclusions. He perceptively helps us interpret those conclusions, and I found him to be fair and balanced in doing so.
A major conclusion I took from the book is that there IS such a thing as general intelligence, which is largely genetically determined and which particularly relates to various analytic "mental gymnastics" sorts of cognitive tasks. But general intelligence doesn't seem to relate much to personality, interpersonal skills, creativity, motivation, practicality, wisdom, etc. It doesn't even seem to relate that much to overall likelihood of succeeding and being fulfilled in life. In other words, "general" intelligence isn't all that general. I think the book could ideally have more strongly emphasized the limitations in what general intelligence can tell us and predict (see my December 30, 2008 review of Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcom Gladwell for more on this).
Also, in the beginning of the book, where correlation is discussed, I think more discussion about the difference between correlation and causation would have been helpful. That is, correlation between A and B implies that either (1) A causally influences B, (2) B causally influences A, (3) A and B causally influence each other, as in a feedback process, (4) both A and B are causally influenced by a "common cause" C, or (5) the correlation is due to random chance, especially in cases of inadequate sample size. These distinctions were implied throughout the book, but it would have been nice to make them explicit right at the outset.
Overall though, this is certainly an outstanding book, and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in intelligence, success, education, parenting, hiring, etc.
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Influenced me to create the website: [...]
Thanks to the writer and of course Amazon for opening the treasure of knowledge.
This book appears to be an original work by the author, although there may be
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