The Measurement of Intelligence: An Explanation of and a Complete Guide for the Use of the Stanford Revision and Extension of the Binet-Simon Intelligence Scale

By Lewis M. Terman | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II
SOURCES OF ERROR IN JUDGING INTELLIGENCE

Are intelligence tests superfluous? Binet tells us that he often encountered the criticism that intelligence tests are superfluous, and that in going to so much trouble to devise his measuring scale he was forcing an open door. Those who made this criticism believed that the observant teacher or parent is able to make an offhand estimate of a child's intelligence which is accurate enough. "It is a stupid teacher," said one, "who needs a psychologist to tell her which pupils are not intelligent." Every one who uses intelligence tests meets this attitude from time to time.

This should not be surprising or discouraging. It is only natural that those who are unfamiliar with the methods of psychology should occasionally question their validity or worth, just as there are many excellent people who do not "believe in" vaccination against typhoid and small- pox, operations for appendicitis, etc.

There is an additional reason why the applications of psychology have to overcome a good deal of conservatism and skepticism; namely, the fact that every one, whether psychologically trained or not, acquires in the ordinary experiences of life a certain degree of expertness in the observation and interpretation of mental traits. The possession of this little fund of practical working knowledge makes most people slow to admit any one's claim to greater expertness. When the astronomer tells us the distance to Jupiter, we accept his statement, because we

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