Monday, 22 December 2008

How intelligent are intelligence tests?

Whitehead responds @ Neuroanthropology: "social, musical, artistic, and “bodily-kinaesthetic” (including dance and sports) skills have been important since the “dawn of civilization” whereas logical scientific thought only came to the fore after the European Renaissance (Atkinson et al., 1993: 476). But the very term we use to define our species – Homo sapiens – presupposes an evolutionary trajectory ultimately directed towards the production of scientists.

The idea of a “general” (as opposed to social) intelligence is at best dubious."
It's only 30 years since my ignored and abandoned thesis on the futility (and dangers) of 'intelligence' testing of children, and while still not "accepted mainstream science" there are at least now a few scatterlings who are beginning to see some sense in what I'd wanted to say.

This question came up the other day at our local grocers, in a conversation about how it seemed that Engineers are said to be so 'smart' and yet seemed to have a tunnelvision proportionate to their scores, some Mensas among them seeming nearly autistic in their pre-occupations with trivialities. I noted how 'intelligence' when properly defined should include one's ability to navigate and co-exist in an environment, ecological validity if you will, and clearly a definition which most of us in the environment-trashing western 'civilzation' would fail.

That lead us to an enlightening discussion of our local 'wild man', a true woodsman who walked away from life among Men some 35 years ago and now makes his home in the depths of the local forests and swamps, only occasionally seen 'slumming' among us mere mortals in the village here. "He doesn't want 'help'," the grocer explained, "he's very happy where he is."

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