Re: [xmca] In case you missed it

From: Tony Whitson (twhitson@UDel.Edu)
Date: Wed Jan 17 2007 - 08:33:48 PST

Thanks, David.
I take it Sternberg's letter has not yet been published. Do we know if it
will be?
   Meanwhile, here's Murray's second piece in today's paper:
Too many Americans are going to college

On Wed, 17 Jan 2007, David Preiss wrote:

> 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!
>> 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

Tony Whitson
UD School of Education

"those who fail to reread
  are obliged to read the same story everywhere"
                   -- Roland Barthes, S/Z (1970)

xmca mailing list

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Thu Feb 01 2007 - 10:11:32 PST