Daily Archives: May 14, 2009

Intelligence and How to Get It by Richard Nisbett

I can summarize the argument of Intelligence and How to Get It in just one sentence: intelligence, as measured by the infamous IQ test, is malleable and thus can be improved through proper schooling and societal support. Big surprise, huh? The author has a lot of learned studies to back up his argument, but the book he really wanted to write was “Why I hate the Bell Curve and how I can prove its evil ways.” The polemical approach brings the whole book down, which is a shame because the overall message is positive: let’s build better schools, let’s not tolerate dire poverty, and we can lift all children up — although, to be sure, the average IQ will remain at 100 since, by definition, the average IQ of any population is 100 so at least half our children must be below average. The book also remains focused almost exclusively on IQ tests, which surely are not the only way to capture such essential talents as creativity or kindness. So it’s an interesting topic but somewhat of a tedious treatment.

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Filed under Non fiction