IQ and Human Intelligence

IQ and Human Intelligence

IQ and Human Intelligence

IQ and Human Intelligence

Synopsis

The study and measurement of human intelligence is one of the most controversial subjects in psychology. For much of its history, the focus has been on differences between people, what it means for one individual to be more intelligent than the other, and how such differences might have arisen. With the emphasis on these issues, the efforts to understand the general nature of intelligence have been obscured. The author provides clear, comprehensive, and extremely readable introduction to this difficult subject. In addition to a discussion of the traditional topics raised by IQ tests, this book attempts to bring the theory and data of cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience to bear on some of these other, equally important scientific questions.

Excerpt

I am not the first animal learning theorist to write a book about human intelligence and IQ testing. Nor, in all probability, will I be the last. I do not believe that such trespassing across academic boundaries needs apology or defence: perhaps psychology would be the better if we all attempted to understand, and occasionally write about, topics that lay outside our own narrow specialism. Nor shall I bore the reader with an account of my motives in doing so -- except to say that I have not written this book out of a burning desire to advance any political or social thesis. Of course, as the reader will discover, I have a number of strongly held views on the topics covered in this book, and I have not attempted to hide them. It is sometimes thought that a textbook should strive to be balanced and impartial, and that impartiality requires the writer to present every possible side to every question, without presuming to judge their merits. Although this book is intended to serve as a suitable text for advanced undergraduates or graduates, I have not followed this path. Here, indeed, is my first strongly held conviction: such a policy guarantees boring and bland books, which usually insult their readers' intelligence. The history of IQ testing has been controversial, generating a large number of acrimonious disputes. I can see no point in simply presenting all sides of all these disputes, without attempting to judge the relative merits of different positions. Good textbooks should pass judgement -- having presented enough evidence to allow readers to disagree with that judgement if their reading of the evidence goes another way.

I should, perhaps, admit at the outset to a second conviction that has grown stronger during the course of writing this book. The study of individual differences in intelligence seems to me an interesting and important branch of psychology, and there is much to admire in the work of numerous people who have done research on this question. I hope that interest and admiration will be apparent. But at the same time, I believe that much arrant nonsense has been written about the measurement of human intelligence, and not only about some of the political and social implications thought to follow from such measurement. Once again, I have not attempted to hide my views. Some readers may therefore find some of my judgements unduly harsh. My hope is that I may challenge them into thinking harder about some of their own preconceptions -- even if they conclude that they are right and I am wrong.

Finally, it is a pleasure to acknowledge the help I have been fortunate enough to receive . . .

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