Quantification and Intelligence Testing: A Reassessment
Richard J. Bishirjian
Though not a student of the history of testing for intelligence, I have always thought that intellectual ability, the ability to think Intellectual conceptually, is primarily shaped by culture and that testing for ability shaped by culture. intelligence reflects the culture of the West, not human intelligence qua human. “I got rhythm” is a cultural statement, not a description of a genetic trait. This thought recurred when Charles Murray of the American Enterprise Institute was given prominence at several conferences that I recently attended. Since the publication of The Bell Curve1 a decade and a half ago, Murray has become the most listened to, if not the reigning authority, on intelligence and education—at least in some circles. This article will critique the “strong hereditarian” bias characteristic of Murray, whose arguments defy just about every philosophical and theological truth of the Western philosophical tradition. It will also warn of the dangers to academic freedom presented by the push for measurement of learning outcomes that now dominates the accreditation of higher education degree programs and institutions. With respect to the latter, the U.S Department of Education under former Secretary Margaret Spellings engaged in a systemRichaRd J. BishiRJian is President and Professor of Government at Yorktown University. 1 Richard J. Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life (New York: Free Press, 1994).
Quantification and Intelligence Testing: A Reassessment Humanitas • 185
atic effort to “dumb down” college education in America by the forced imposition of a progressive education ideology that compels colleges and universities to apply quantitative measurements to “learning outcomes.” The debate about measuring what students learn at accredited colleges has practical significance because of the...