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446 pages, Paperback
First published October 28, 1982
If a book is so knotty that it makes a critic's skull ache, most critics would consider that something an unwary reader deserves to know.And now you know. (To be clear, the first four chapters are not troublesome; it's chapter five, "The Real Error of Cyril Burt," that should've been omitted. But I'll get to that in due time.)
The tendency has always been strong to believe whatever received a name must be an entity or being, having an independent existence of its own. And if no real entity answering to the name could be found, men did not for that reason suppose that none existed, but imagined that it was something particularly abstruse and mysterious.The rub is that some things that don't answer to names actually don't exist, for one. Unicorns come to mind.
All human behavioural traits are heritable.This is key. It simply states, rather uncontroversially, that all traits might be inherited, and to say as much is not to embrace genetic determinism. But in the book, Gould poo-poos sociobiology and the rule. He states that human being have no innate leaning toward aggressiveness. In a sense, Mismeasure is the archenemy of The Blank Slate. Gould never actually advocates that we are blank slates, stating instead that
I cannot adopt such a nihilistic position without denying the fundamental insight of my profession.He does, however, essentially state that IQ is meaningless because it reifies intelligence, and that there's nothing innately different about one human's brain or another's, in a sort of "Harrison Bergeron" vision of equality. Pinker pretty much shows this to be false, but finds a way to celebrate our differences.
The original measures may be represented as vectors of unit length, radiating from a common point. If two measures are highly correlated, their vectors lie close to each other. The cosine of the angle between any two vectors records the correlation coefficient between them...Not exactly quantum mechanics, to be sure, but enough to kill my interest, and lose the point. If Gould needs a lot of math to tell me something very loose and unsure, and Pinker needs no math to tell me something completely concrete, well, Occam and his famed blade point to the latter.
IQ of 75 or below should be the realm of unskilled labor, 75 to 85 "preeminently the range for semi-skilled labor." More specific judgments could also be made. "Anything above 85 IQ in the case of a barber probably represents so much dead waste" (1919, p. 288). IQ 75 is an "unsafe risk in a motorman or conductor, and it conduces to discontent" (Terman, 1919). Proper vocational training and placement is essential for those "of the 70 to 85 class." Without it, they tend to leave school "and drift easily into the ranks of the anti-social or join the army of Bolshevik discontents" (1919, p. 285).