The dark history of intelligence testing

  The intelligence test, presumably everyone will not be unfamiliar.
  By answering questions about language expression, comprehension, logic, and memory in the test questions, the subjects can get a score that represents their intelligence, which is what we often call “IQ”.
  Although people talk about people’s IQ scores, as people often say “test scores cannot represent everything”, can answering some test questions really show a person’s intelligence level?
  How did the intelligence test come about?
What is intelligence

  The in-depth exploration of human intelligence began more than a century ago.
  The British statistician Francis Galton was the first scientist to try to analyze the level of human intelligence in a quantitative way. But after collecting and analyzing various data, he did not get any correlation between intelligence level and physiological characteristics. In the end, Galton gave up the research.
  The birth of modern intelligence tests should be attributed to the French psychologist Alfred Binnett. Binnett tested the abilities of children and adults in speed and response, visual recognition and other aspects, and found that children’s performance is not weaker than that of adults. The main difference between children and adults lies in their ability to concentrate. .
  Binnett realized that the key to intellectual development may be whether he can concentrate. Therefore, the observation of the body is futile, and research should focus on the human brain. This can be regarded as one of the most important developments in the history of intelligence research.
  Appointed by the French government, Binnett and his colleague Theodore Simon designed a set of test questions to detect from all school-age children who need extra care. This set of questions, known as the “modern first set of intelligence tests”, was published in 1905 and consists of 30 questions of increasing difficulty.
  A major breakthrough in theory was the British psychologist Charles Spearman. He found that people’s perception in many aspects should be related to intelligence, because there is a statistical correlation between people’s performance in literature and language, and their performance in music or mathematics.
  According to this, Spearman proposed that humans have a kind of “conventional intelligence”, which can indicate the normal performance of people in all areas that require brain use. The characterization of this level of intelligence is the “conventional intelligence index.” Those activities that do not require too much brain activity, such as sports that emphasize more physical response, are another category of “special intelligence”, which is represented by the “special intelligence index”.
  Spearman’s theory of dual elements of intelligence-conventional intelligence and special intelligence, provides a deep theoretical foundation for later intelligence research. Psychologists believe that the intelligence they tirelessly want to measure is real and inherent in the human brain.
  Although scientists’ understanding of intelligence at this time has shifted from the physiological level to the psychological level, and believes that intelligence is one of the most important differences between people, they have not yet formed an exact definition of “what is intelligence”, as long as It seems that everything related to “thinking ability” can be counted as “intelligence.”
  This makes us ask, what exactly is the intelligence test measuring? Why have people been keen to use intelligence tests for more than a hundred years?
The truth about popularity

  In 1916, American psychologist Lewis Terman released a revised version of the Binnett-Simon test and named it the Stanford-Binnett Intelligence Test.
  Terman separates the mental age of the testee from the actual age and introduces a quotient in the calculation. His calculation method is to divide the test thinking ability (that is, mental age) score by the actual age of the subject, and then multiply it by a multiple of 100. The final number is called IQ.
  Yes, the term “IQ” that we have been talking about was born at this time.
  Terman’s test questions contain many elements of acquired knowledge. For example, for the question of “what is the boiling point of water”, the correct rate of students in higher grades is obviously higher than that of students in lower grades. But Terman’s explanation for this is that in childhood, human intelligence will develop with age.
  He firmly believes that his test is not affected by cultural and educational background, and the results are sufficient to show people’s inner wisdom. In an article, Terman wrote that the two low-scoring Hispanic boys tested in the study represented all Hispanic American families. Terman’s blind self-confidence made him unaware that Hispanic immigrants are so unfamiliar with American culture, education, and even language. The mistakes he made are as absurd and ridiculous as we use “Do you know Genghis Khan” to test whether a foreigner is smart.
  Unfortunately, the U.S. military accepted and adopted Terman’s Stanford-Binnet IQ test, and this was the beginning of the popularity and popularity of the IQ test in the United States. Initially, the military was not very interested in the rhetoric of “intelligence”, after all, fighting war is not a mental activity. But when psychologists came up with test results consistent with class and racial prejudice, the military affirmed the validity of this test and used it for enlistment screening and officer selection.
  Immediately after the army, there was a fanatical pursuit of intelligence tests among schools. In the mid-1920s, psychologists compiled more than 75 sets of various intelligence test questions for the school, and 4 million students participated in the test every year.
  On the one hand, the reputation of psychology is established on the basis of intelligence tests. On the other hand, schools are rushing for intelligence tests, which has spawned a lucrative industry, an industry that specializes in the development and sale of intelligence test questions.
  The Webster’s Adult Intelligence Test is the standard adult IQ test commonly used in the United States today. Harcourt Psychological Assessment is the publisher of this set of test questions. Someone once estimated that the company could earn millions of dollars a year just by selling test papers.
  In addition to adult intelligence tests, there are also children’s intelligence tests. In addition to entrance examinations, criminal investigations, court decisions and even mental health assessments, intelligence tests have room for application. The coat of science, large-scale production and marketing, and the standardization required by industrialization have all contributed to the rise of intelligence testing.
Offensive intelligence test

  The history of intelligence testing is not only absurd, it is also full of evil.
  To put it lightly, since it cannot measure intelligence, it cannot predict the future development and achievement of students. Such a large-scale application of intelligence tests in admissions selection will inevitably block many potential people from the gates of schools.
  The most terrifying application of intelligence tests is the deeds that combine with eugenics.
  Eugenics believes that by screening parents, people’s physical and psychological characteristics can be purposefully improved, making the new generation of people smarter and stronger, and ultimately, there will be no more imperfect “inferior people” in human society.

  The origin of intelligence testing and eugenics began when human beings made in-depth explorations of intelligence. Galton is obsessed with studying the physiological representations of intelligence, precisely because he believes that intelligence, like other biological traits, is heritable and evolvable.
  Henry Goddard, the psychologist who brought Binnet’s research results from Europe to the United States, is also an out-and-out eugenicist. Goddard was the first to give names and descriptions to people with different scores based on the results of intelligence tests.
  For example, an “idiot” is a person whose intelligence is lower than the average level of a 2-year-old child, a “idiot” is a person with an intelligence score between 3 and 7 years old, and the one with the smallest mental retardation is called an “impaired.”
  These titles invented by Goddard brought attention to intellectual issues into most people’s lives. Because “low-energy” people are so difficult to distinguish from normal people, that these people may be treated as normal people and live in every community.
  Such concerns are not groundless. In the United States at the beginning of the 20th century, poverty, prostitution, and various crimes emerged one after another, and the burden on society became heavier and heavier. The popularization of the concept of intelligence has led people to associate intelligence with morality. People who think stupid are more inclined to commit crimes.
  The result of this worry is that “welfare institutions” set up for people with low intelligence, as a means of preventing social crises, have blossomed all over the United States.
  When the places where the low-energy people can be accommodated in various places are approaching saturation, Goddard has a new proposal. By tracing the history of a family with low-energy offspring, he pointed out that mental retardation is heritable. On this basis, he proposed that as long as all the people with low intelligence are found out and ensure that they no longer breed offspring, the problem will be solved.
  As the worries and panic of the incompetent people continue to ferment, many shelters for the incompetent people are secretly performing sterilization operations on women. Combining intelligence tests in a scientific cloak with eugenics, more than 60,000 people in the United States have been subjected to compulsory sterilization due to “mental retardation.”
Concluding remarks triggered by “low energy”

  In the first half of the 20th century, the United States used intelligence to divide people into three, six or nine classes, which is ridiculous. But when you think about it, what’s the essential difference between this and using the natural attributes that humans are born with such as skin color, ethnic group, and gender to separate people?
  Dividing people with the most intuitive attributes, taking a person’s inherent characteristics that are different from others, as the cause of his economic and social status, and even moral differences. This kind of mental laziness has produced countless evil results in history.
  People who used intelligence tests to aid education in the early days may never have thought that this test question would be stained with blood and evil in the future.
  With the deepening of scientific research, people’s superstition on intelligence testing has gradually receded. But the view that “people have innate intelligence” has been believed and accepted by many people.
  This more than a century of research on intelligence now seems to be more of a constant construction of fictional objects.
  Class or racial prejudice makes researchers regard acquired characteristics, such as knowledge reserves and comprehension capabilities, as innate natural attributes. It just shows that many of our perceptions of “natural attributes” are actually affected by the culture in our society.