Measuring the immeasurable Essay


Intelligence quotient trials are an effort to mensurate something every bit elusive as human intelligence. The trials assume that human intelligence is measureable merely like human tallness, weight and other characteristics. This guess is fraught with dangers. Any effort to trade name human existences as idiots or masterminds is bound to be full of booby traps because such classification will hold serious effects on a individual ‘s life, like his entree to an educational institute or occupation chances. Even if it is granted that human intelligence is measureable and these trials step it, still misreckonings happening due to human mistakes, during the disposal of the trial and the reading of the informations, can non be ruled out.

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Intelligence trials: tools for mensurating the unmeasurable

Trials designed to mensurate intelligence, known in common idiom as IQ trials, claim and are designed to mensurate human intelligence. This would non and should non hold been a cause for strife, and that excessively a really ferocious one, had there been an agreement on what intelligence is. After all cipher even whines when they are weighed on a weighing machine and so labeled as corpulent, under weight or normal. Reason for strife over IQ trials is that the construct of intelligence, which these trials claim to mensurate, is really illusory. As Sternberg has pointed out, in order to get at a definition of intelligence, acceptable to everyone, two twelve theoreticians were asked to specify intelligence. They all gave two twelve different definitions ( cited in Report of a undertaking force, 1995 ) . This is the claim that Gould had made in his book The Mismeasure of Man, that intelligence is non a ‘single, innate, heritable and measureable thing” ( cited in Bartholowmew, 2004 ) . Similarly, a journalist Walter Lippmann saying that IQ trials are a “series of stunts” said that how can intelligence be measured when it has non been defined ( cited in Strydom & A ; Plessis ) .

What is intelligence?

One of the foremost ground for mistrusting intelligence trials is that the affair of their capable i.e. intelligence, eludes any definition or description. It does non be in the existent sense, such as the capable affair of natural philosophies or chemical science do. Due to this, there are as many definitions of intelligence as there are theoreticians. Advocates of psychometries treat intelligence as a one dimensional thing, capable of quantitative rating on a individual dimensional graduated table. However, this is a booby trap against which we were forewarned by none other than Alfred Binet himself. He had specially specified that these trials are designed merely to mensurate kids with larning disablements and their range does non let them to mensurate intelligence as a whole, “because rational qualities are non identical and hence can non be measured as additive surfaces are measure” ( cited by Strydom & A ; Plessis ) .

However, this is precisely what psychometry does, that is it implicitly treats human existences as purely one dimensional. That one dimension, i.e. a individual ‘s analytical abilities is measured to some extent by these trials. But it leaves many other facets of human intelligence out of its range. To set it merely, the trials are non holistic in their purpose, and attack.

Attempts have been made to specify intelligence more comprehensively and holistically. Sternberg presented his triarchic theory of intelligence, saying that there are three types of intelligences: analytical, originative and practical. While IQ trials address the analytical abilities of a individual, they do so at the disregard of other modules ( Kalat, 2007, p. 339 ) . Gardener adopted a similar attack towards intelligence, reasoning that “paper-and-pencil format” of the trials fail to mensurate assorted types of personal intelligences, like musical and bodily-kinesthetic intelligences ( cited in the Task force study, 1995 ) .Similarly Steven Rose, excessively raised voice against “improper quantification” of intelligence believing that intelligence is excessively “subtle and many-sided” and any effort to “force it into the narrow mold of a individual dimension” would be “absurd” ( cited in Bartholowmew, 2004 ) .

The above discourse makes it rather clear that although the word intelligence is used in mundane conversation and people seem to understand what they mean when they say that person is more intelligent than others. However, “its significance is excessively imprecise to be utile for scientific intervention of the subject” ( Bartholowmew, 2004, p. 142 ) . Human intelligence is excessively complex and “multidimensional” and any effort to handle it like any other human property, such as tallness or weight, would be to perpetrate the “error of reification” ( Bartholowmew, 2004, p. 144 ) .

Undependability of the trials

Even for statement ‘s interest we agree on any one definition of intelligence and farther agree that IQ tests do step intelligence in the sense that word has been accepted by everyone. The trials will still non be wholly dependable and accurate, despite the above mentioned supposed consensus.

The trials give inaccurate consequences due to figure of other factors that have nil to make with the definition of intelligence. “Irregularities and divergences in the consequences of the trials have been known to be caused by testers ‘ mistakes, over reading of the trial informations, failure to include certain age group of pupils and marketability” ( Czubaj, 1995 ) .

Harmonizing to Larry C. Hunnicutt, errors and mistakes made by experient and certified testers, on good established trials, are non excessively negligible to be ignored. During his survey, he found that the types of mistakes made by “licensed appraisal specialists” ranged from “difficulties in hiting verbal response, wrong natural mark, clerical errors, full graduated table IQ disagreements, and public presentation subtest hiting error” ( cited in czubaj, 1995 ) .

Another factor that adversely affects the dependability of the trials is their marketability. Harmonizing to Osgood, by 1920s IQ trials had become “a multibillion-dollar industry” ( cited in Strydom & A ; Plessis ) . The trials are meant to be sold. Their interior decorators ever maintain this thing in head while planing them. This commercial facet puts serious inquiry Markss on their ability to mensurate their capable impartially and objectively. Market forces are ever prone to impact the manner these trials are designed. Noting this, Sternberg said that “testing companies will crouch to about anything to sell tests” ( cited in Czubaj, 1995 ) . Accuracy and dependability take 2nd place to commercial involvements.

Decision. Perpetrating the mistake of hypostatization, Intelligence tests attempt to mensurate scientifically, something that has many aspects and dimensions. This effort at quantification of intelligence on a individual dimensional additive graduated table makes their consequences inaccurate and undependable.

Audiblox. IQ trial: Where does it come from and what does it step. Retrieved April 3, 2010, from hypertext transfer protocol: //

Bartholomew, D. J. ( 2004 ) . Measuring intelligence: Facts and false beliefs. Cambridge: Cambridge university imperativeness.

Board of scientific personal businesss of The American Psychological Association. ( 1995 August, 7 ) . Intelligence: Knowns and terra incognitas. Retrieved April 3, 2010, from hypertext transfer protocol: //

Czubaj, C. A. ( 1995 ) . Standardized appraisal used in American public schools are invalid and undependable. Education. Winter ( 1995 )

Kalat. J.W. ( 2007 ) . Introduction to psychological science. Belmont, USA: Cengage Learning.


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