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Review and thoughts about The g Factor (Christopher Brand, 1996)
The g Factor: General Intelligence and Its Implications is a book by Christopher Brand, a psychologist and lecturer at the University of Edinburgh. It was published by John Wiley & Sons in the United Kingdom in March 1996. The book was "depublished" by the publishing house on April 17th, which cited "deep ethical beliefs" in its decision to remove the book from circulation; it is generally agreed that material in the book that covered racial issues in intelligence testing was responsible for the withdrawal. Wiley argued that after "inflammatory statements" Brand had made elsewhere, it was possible to "infer some of the same repugnant views from the text".
According to economist Edward M. Miller, "While Wiley has not been specific as to just what views that were trying to prevent the dissemination of, one presumes they have to do with racial differences in intelligence and the implications for economics and educational policy."
6. A last doubt about IQ-test validity is that 'measured' differences may be little but the products of
other people's expectations, 'labels' and self-fulfilling prophecies. Once more, there are two
versions of such a claim.
m (a) One is that differences in expectations (e.g. by children's teachers) may have real
effects on intelligence. This is a claim for which no evidence has ever been offered other
than from IQ-type testing; and, if IQ-test evidence is considered relevant, the claimant is
accepting IQ-test validity.
m (b) The other version is that expectancies may particularly affect only IQ scores. Such
invalid scores may eventually become reality via subsequent differential provision of
educational opportunities. The idea is that differential treatment, in response to initial IQ
scores, may yield real, 'self-fulfilling prophecy' effects on intelligence itself. Fortunately,
though it is now well recognized that one-off perceptual judgments and children's
achievements in swimming, athletics and laboratory learning can sometimes reflect initially
erroneous expectancies (of teachers, parents or pupils), hundreds of studies in the past
twenty-five years(22) have found little general effect of such 'labelling' effects on IQ. In the
most systematic study in a normal school setting (Kellaghan et al, 1982), expectancies of
teachers supplied with IQ information about pupils did not generally change children's IQ's
or attainments over a school year. (There was a slight boost to the end-of-the-year
achievements of those (genuinely) higher-IQ children who came from relatively low-SES
families: the teachers may have been trying to discount background SES and to 'bring on'
such children towards the attainment levels normally expected from children of such IQ's.)
Far from labelling or self-labelling themselves giving rise to IQ-type differences and so to
spurious correlations and a g dimension among mental tests, it is noticeable that many
genuinely bright people have a misleadingly modest impression of their own abilities -
often claiming on TV shows to be 'poor spellers', for example; while vanity amongst people of mediocre intelligence is probably easier to find (see Brand et al. , 1994).
An early indication of the Dunning-Kruger effect? The cite given is:
BRAND, C.R., EGAN, V. & DEARY, I.J. (1994).
'Intelligence, personality and society: constructivist versus
essentialist possibilities.' In D.K.Detterman, Current
Topics in Human Intelligence 4, pp. 29-42. Norwood, NJ :
which is a book i dont have access to.
I have written an email to Dunning and informed him about this possibly earlier statement.
(2) True mixed ability teaching would be much easier if only the Government spent more on
education to reduce class sizes. Yet class sizes in Britain are now typically a third of what they
were before 1939. Meanwhile Britain's position in most international educational league tables has
sunk from third to twenty-third: in mathematics, at age 13, British children now lag German children
by 1 year and Japanese children by two years; and a MORI poll of British adolescents found that a
third of them could not calculate a weekly wage from an hourly rate, and a quarter could not identify
which direction on a map was north (Green & Steedman, 1993, pp.9, 31). Anyhow, research
repeatedly finds children's educational outcomes quite unrelated to class size - as the Educational
Secretary for England and Wales must repeatedly to explain to teachers who understandably find
mixed-ability teaching a strain (see Eysenck, 1973/1975, p.134; Walsh, 1995): even a class size of
six will be difficult for a teacher if children span the normal range of IQ. Small classes do not in fact
lead to teachers adopting the acclaimed 'interactive' teaching methods;(23) and class sizes in Japan
average over 40 while those of around 55 in communist China apparently work well (Walsh, 1995).
For England and Wales, Her Majesty's Inspectors of Schools reported their conclusion by 1977 that
mixed-ability teaching (at least for mathematics) primarily required "exceptional" teachers. Parents
often seem to favour the small class sizes maintained by private schools; but such schools are
streams in their own right - usually having no pupils of below-average intelligence.
Practical reasons: bowing to
convenience. A third reason for
psychology's tendency to lose touch with
intelligence is practical. Psychology's
perennial problem is that of finding
subjects who can be tested relatively
cheaply. Medicine solves this problem
by using patients in hospital beds who
will often co-operate with research while they hope for treatment. Behaviourists
solved the problem by studying rats;
Piagetians solved it by studying infants;
and cognitivists and the more advanced
constructivists of social psychology
solve it by hardly studying people at all -
just building their computer 'models' or
'analysing' passages of 'discourse'
selected for their ideological
convenience. Clearly, differerential
psychology should have followed Burt
down the road to regular involvement in
schools that he had opened up: most
psychology departments should
probably be located in or near a school -
just as most medical faculties adjoin
hospitals. But differential psychology
and personality psychology rejected
Burt's lead and chose for too long the
superficially academic route of keeping
up with the latest alleged advances in
conditioning theory, 'social perception' or
fissiparative neuropsychology. Thus
differential psychology lost its natural
subjects. This was disastrous for the
study of g differences. It is only in
normal schools that it is at all easy to
study anything like the full range of
human mental abilities. Many kinds of
merely academic psychology can be
done in the laboratory or in projects with
handy collections of patients or
employees (where selection, self-
selection and resulting range-restrictions
may be positive assets to the researcher
of group effects).
some interesting ideas. especially about psychology being near schools, so that one can avoid WEIRD problems, cf. http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/primate-diaries/2011/12/07/the-weird-evolution-of-human-psychology/
Overall i definitely learned alot from reading this rather short book. The authors endless complaining about leftism, socialism etc. can get tiring. Especially if one looks at his blog as well.