So You Think You're Stupid? Maybe You Are


 So You Think You're Stupid?  Maybe You Are

Until the 1860s, most people considered cognitive deficiencies to be the natural consequence of a brain injury or mental illness. However, in 1867, French neurologist Pierre Paul Broca first identified a specific region of the brain involved in language production. Around that same time, German neurologist Carl Wernicke also discovered that different regions of the brain are responsible for understanding and producing other types of thoughts.

A mere 30 years later—in 1897—another German doctor, Alfred Binet and Theodore Simon developed an intelligence test to measure children’s ability in school. They designed it so that a child who answered fewer than four out of five questions correctly was considered too "stupid" for school. These tests were supposed to be administered by psychologists. However, as more and more schools implemented the new "intelligence tests", parents, educators, and government officials began to regard these results—not as a mere measurement of children's abilities—but as a judgment of the children's cognitive abilities.

Starting in 1916 and lasting until the 1960s, psychologists grew increasingly interested in developing IQ tests that they could administer to adults. By 1928, when American psychologist Lewis Terman introduced his revised version of Binet’s test to Stanford University undergraduates, he had already refined his method for ranking each student’s intelligence level.

In the 1930s, Terman compiled data from his revised test in a study called The Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale. He found that the average IQ of Stanford students was 100. However, several high-IQ graduates were accused of being "geniuses" who had scored well on Terman’s test despite allegedly not being college graduates.

The results of the Stanford Binet were largely ignored for about 30 years. One exception was psychologist Robert L. Thorndike, who in 1940 introduced his own intelligence test targeted at adults to the Princeton University student body and faculty. He also developed a new formula to rank each undergraduate's learning potential and intellectual gifts at age 21. This process was later termed "gifting".

In the 1960s and 1970s, psychologist Arthur Jensen developed an IQ test that was supposed to measure "genuine" intelligence. In the 1930s and 1940s, he had published a series of reports showing that children who are adopted and raised in white families have lower IQ scores than average black children. He then conducted a series of experiments that were supposed to prove that black students' average scores were inferior due to their genetic makeup.

However, by the late 1970s, it became increasingly clear that Jensen's research methods were fraudulent—and his claims lacked any scientific documentation. Also in the 1970s, British psychologist Richard Lynn and American psychologist Arthur Jensen published a controversial study on the Flynn effect—the apparent increase in IQ scores among different groups over time. The two authors argued that if IQ tests were biased, then their data should show an increase in IQ scores.

This article originally appeared as title: So You Think You're Stupid? Maybe You Are. It is also posted under the name of mental_floss.

If you are interested to learn more about cognitive ability please visit  Mental Floss . This site provides many interesting information about the human brain.

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Tags: art of mind, ability, american psychologist, article, Asperger syndrome, author, australian psychologist, book review, brain injury, brain scans, canadian psychologist, central intelligence agency (usa), cerebral cortex, child prodigy (psychology), children's intelligence test , christopher ferrara phd.

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