Re: [xmca] In case you missed it

From: Juan Felipe Espinosa Cristià (
Date: Wed Jan 17 2007 - 08:35:06 PST

Dear David:

Thanks for this letter.


Juan Felipe Espinosa Cristià

David Preiss escribió: > Dear colleagues, > > Please see below a letter sent by Robert Sternberg to WSJ as an > answer to Murray's piece. > > David > > Charles Murray's "Intelligence in the Classroom" is an article by a > non-scientist filled with serious distortions and misunderstandings > of the current state of scientific theory and research on intelligence. > > First, Murray is roughly correct in the assertion that "Half of all > children are below average in intelligence." This is true in the > same sense that half of today's children are below the median (not > average) in height, or below the median age of the population. But > median heights have risen greatly over the past several generations, > as have median age spans. Indeed, research by James Flynn shows > conclusively that median IQs have risen as well since 1900. Contrary > to the tone of Murray's comments, most of the increase is due to the > so-called general factor, not to other factors. So Murray's comments > regarding possibilities for educational achievement make no sense. A > child of today with an IQ of 100 would have been scored as having a > substantially higher IQ 100 years ago. Given that the increase in IQs > has been about 9 points per generation, that person would have had an > IQ in excess of 127 at that time, which would have led to educational > predictions very different from Murray's doom-and-gloom predictions. > Similarly, a 6-footer today is not much above average and would not > be considered particularly tall, whereas 100 years ago, he or she > would have been looked at as exceptionally tall. > > Second, IQ is NOT a "ceiling," and I don't know of any responsible > psychologist who believes it is. IQ gives rough prediction of a > child's school performance, as does socioeconomic status, motivation, > and any other number of variables. But none of these variables sets a > ceiling on children's performance. First, they are all highly > imperfect predictors--success is multi-factorial. Second, they are > subject to error of > measurement. Third, they are not etched in stone. Research by > Stephen Ceci and others has shown that IQ increases as a function of > schooling, and that it is the schooling that is responsible for the > increase, not the other way around. > > Third, the temporary effects of interventions to increase > intelligence are in large part because the interventions themselves > are temporary and usually extremely short-lived. If you have a child > living in extreme poverty, in a challenging and possibly dangerous > environment, and with parents who are not in a position to provide > the best possible education for > their children, it is not surprising that short interventions--the > kinds most easily funded by grants--are difficult to maintain. > Consider an oft-made analogy to exercise. You can exercise to > improve your muscles. But if you stop exercising, your muscles > revert to what they were before. The same is true of your > intelligence, and research by Carmi Schooler and others shows > precisely that. > > Fourth, it is fallacious to believe that brain development is etched > in stone. Research by William Greenough, Marian Diamond, and others > has shown that learning changes the brain--permanently. Experience > matters for brain development. Charles Murray had the good fortune > to be exposed to experiences that children in many parts of the > United States and elsewhere never will have. Indeed, children growing > up in war zones often need to devote all their resources just to > staying alive. They cannot have the kind of schooling that optimizes > their scores on the tests of which Mr. Murray is so fond. > > Fifth, our own peer-reviewed, published research has shown that > broader measures of abilities--based on the "multiple intelligences" > that Murray disdains--can substantially improve prediction of > academic success at the college level at the same time that they > reduce ethnic-group differences. These assessments do not replace > traditional measures--they supplement them. They are not > "refutations" of the existence of the analytical skills measured by > tests of general ability, but rather, demonstrations that such > measures are relatively narrow and incomplete in their measurements > of abilities. These conventional tests measure important skills, but > not the only skills that matter for academic and other forms of > success. Indeed, teaching to a broader range of abilities, our > research shows, also can significantly improve school > achievement over teaching that is more narrowly focused. > > In sum, Murray's column gives a false and misleading view of the > state of research on intelligence. I blieve responsible scientists > will not take it seriously. Unfortunately, many laypeople will not be > in a position to > realize that the statements are seriously misleading and paint a > picture of research on intelligence that does not correspond to reality. > > Robert J. Sternberg > > (Robert J. Sternberg is Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences and > Professor of Psychology at Tufts University. Previously, he was IBM > Professor of Psychology and Education and Professor of Management at > Yale University and President of the American Psychological > Association.) > > On Jan 16, 2007, at 5:51 PM, J. Mark Jackson wrote: > >> This article ran in today's WSJ. The link below takes you directly >> to the full article without registration. >> >> Scary, very scary! >> >>,filter.all/pub_detail.asp >> >> >> Mark >> >> >> _______________________________________________ >> xmca mailing list >> >> >> > > David Preiss, Ph.D. > Profesor Auxiliar / Assistant Professor > > Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile > Escuela de Psicología > Av Vicuña Mackenna 4860 > Macul, Santiago > Chile > > Fono: 3544605 > Fax: 3544844 > e-mail: > web personal: > web institucional: > > > _______________________________________________ > xmca mailing list > > >

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