Arthur Jensen, who suggested in a now infamous 1969 article in the Harvard Educational Review that genetic differences between races were the root cause of differences in intelligence test scores between black and white students, has died. As reported in the New York Times,
In the article, Professor Jensen posited two types of learning ability. Level I, associative ability, entailed the rote retention of facts. Level II, conceptual ability, involved abstract thinking and problem-solving. This type, he argued, was roughly equivalent to general intelligence, denoted in psychology by the letter “g.”
In administering I.Q. tests to diverse groups of students, Professor Jensen found Level I ability to be fairly consistent across races. When he examined Level II ability, by contrast, he found it more prevalent among whites than blacks, and still more prevalent among Asians than whites.
Drawing on these findings, Professor Jensen argued that general intelligence is largely genetically determined, with cultural forces shaping it only to a small extent. For this reason, he wrote in 1969, compensatory education programs like Head Start are doomed to fail.
Unsurprisingly, this suggestion of a link between race and intelligence ignited intense controversy.
Jensen’s death comes on the heels of the death of Philippe Rushton, also known for his controversial views on the relationship between race and intelligence.
AHP readers may be interested in a recent post by Efram Sera-Shriar on Dissertation Reviews that details his efforts to recreate the kind of anthropological – and more particularly anthropometric – data collection practices at use in the late-nineteenth century. Coming on the heels of his dissertation, Beyond the Armchair: Early Observational Practice and the Making of British Anthropology 1813-1871 (soon to be published as The Making of British Anthropology, 1813–1871), this project seeks to gather the same kind of data that was privileged by Victorian anthropologists, including Francis Galton (above).
As Sera-Shriar describes,
There is much to be gained by looking at the techniques utilized by nineteenth-century researchers …. I thought that it would be illuminating to attempt to recreate a Victorian research practice for acquiring anthropological data and see what kind of results it produces. There were many different kinds of methods to choose from but I decided that it would be interesting to write a kind of guidebook that seeks to collect descriptive information about different people (including photographs) from around the world. Now many of you will be thinking that such an experiment will generate all sorts of problems. After all, Victorian anthropologists were not known for their cultural sensitivity. To avoid exploiting or subjugating anyone, it is necessary to modernize certain aspects of this experiment. These changes are instructive because they bring to the fore some of the problems associated with Victorian anthropology. At the same time, however, by trying to utilize nineteenth-century research practices we can learn a lot about the strengths and weaknesses of these older methodologies. In a sense, this recreation is a kind of exercise in participant observation, allowing us to better understand — with limitations — the analytical processes of Victorian anthropologists.
Full details on Sera-Shriar’s project, and how you might contribute your own data to the project, can be found online here.
We at AHP are pleased to announce the addition of a new member to our blogging team: Daniel Lahham. Daniel is a master’s student in the history and theory psychology program at York University. He completed his honours degree in psychology at York University in 2011. He is interested in early twentieth century applied psychology and is currently pursuing a project tracking the development of an applied dialect.
Daniel began blogging for AHP earlier this month – you can find his first two posts here and here – and we look forward to many more posts from him in the future.
The autumn 2012 issue of the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences is now online. Included in this issue are articles on the role of emotions in animal experimentation, the career and interests of Japanese sociologist Tamotsu Shibutani, the development of sociology during the Progressive Era in the United States, and the importance of Walter Lippmann’s (left) theory of stereotypes. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.
“Animal Tales: Observations of the Emotions in American Experimental Psychology, 1890-1940,” by Anne C. Rose. The abstract reads,
In nineteenth-century science, the emotions played a crucial role in explaining the social behavior of animals and human
beings. Beginning in the 1890s, however, the first American psychologists, resolutely parsimonious in method, dismissed affective experience as intellectually imprecise. Yet in practice, feelings continued to influence at least one research setting: animal experiments. Laboratory reports, although focused on learning, became a repository of informal observations about the animals’ temperaments and moods. When American psychologists began to reexamine the emotions between the world wars, they drew on this empirical legacy in animal studies. They also devised a conceptual approach to emotion consistent with their expectation of experimental precision.
“Japanese American Wartime Experience, Tamotsu Shibutani and Methodological Innovation, 1942-1978,” by Karen M. Inouye. The abstract reads, Continue reading →
Controversial psychologist John Philippe Rushton (above), best known for his views on the relationship between race and intelligence, has died. Rushton passed away after a battle with cancer on October 2nd. He was 68.
Rushton was born in Bournemouth, England, in 1943. While still a child, he emigrated first to South Africa and then to Canada. He went on to receive his PhD from the London School of Economics in 1977. Prior to receiving his PhD, he taught for a time at York University (1974-76) in Toronto and then at the University of Toronto (1977). He joined the faculty at the University of Western Ontario (UWO, now Western University) in 1978 and became a full professor at the university in 1985. In addition to his work on race and intelligence, Rushton also produced controversial research on the relationship between race and crime, and race and penis size.
In the late 1980s, Rushton’s views on race-based differences in intelligence sparked vehement protest at UWO. (More photographs from these protests can be seen here.) Despite calls for Rushton to be fired – by UWO students and Ontario’s premier – and although he was relieved of teaching duties during the height of these protests, he remained on the faculty of UWO for 25 years. The attention Rushton received for his controversial views on race and intelligence also led to a prominent debate between Rushton and geneticist, and environmentalist, David Suzuki on the subject in February, 1989 (the full debate can be viewed below).
Notice of Rushton’s death can be found here. Further discussion of Rushton’s passing can be found here, here, and here.
THEN/HiER, the first pan-Canadian organization devoted to promoting and improving history teaching and learning, will give up to $2,500 to support a collaborative project bringing together some of the multiple and varied constituencies involved in history education.
Our goal is to stimulate an active, participatory dialogue among these various communities of history educators, a dialogue that explores how best to improve history education in all its forms through more research-informed practice (from kindergarten to graduate school) and more practice-informed research.
The Guardian‘s Science Section has a fascinating piece on a recent attempt by researchers to reconstruct the damage done to Phineas Gage’s brain, who famously survived an 1848 accident in which a tamping iron was shot through his head. As the article describes, research on the damage done to Gage’s brain is part of the larger Human Connectome Project that aims to map all the connections in the human brain.
But how does one reconstruct the connectome of someone who died more than 150 years ago, and whose brain no longer even exists? Van Horn and his colleagues used high-resolution CT scans of Gage’s skull, from a 2004 study that digitally reconstructed the trajectory of the iron rod as it passed through his brain, and examined the data again to re-estimate its path as accurately as possible.
They then selected structural MRI and DTI data from 110 healthy people from the LONI Image Data Archive. All of these data came from men aged between 25 (Gage’s age at the time of his accident) and 36 (the age at which he died). The researchers combined these data to produce a generalized map of the long-range connections in the human brain, and used computational modelling to project the passage of the tamping iron onto it.
The computation model of the passage of the tamping iron through Gage’s brain is shown in the video above. While this model shows severe, widespread damage to Gage’s brain, it has been known for a number of years that there is little evidence in the historical record of the purported profound personality changes Gage experienced post-accident. Ultimately, what this kind of research tells us about Gage’s experience after the accident is unclear. (Find out more about Gage’s accident and his life afterward in an interview with Gage’s biographer Malcolm Macmillan on the This Week in the History of Psychology Podcast series.)
Read the full Guardian article online here and the original PLoS ONE article whose research is described in the Guardian piece here.
The early history of psychoanalysis in Baltimore is chronicled in a piece from a rather unlikely source: Baltimore Style Magazine. In addition to detailing some of the early work on psychoanalysis conducted in Baltimore, the article describes how the American Psychoanalytic Association began in Baltimore and only moved to New York City in the 1930s. As the piece describes,
In the United States, New York is the city perhaps most frequently associated with the practice— it is home to more psychoanalysts than any other U.S. city, as any Woody Allen fan knows. Yet Baltimore, too, played a major role in the early days of psychoanalysis. Many of the field’s first luminaries lived here, and the city witnessed the development of several groundbreaking psychological treatments. In fact, the very first meeting of the American Psychoanalytic Association, on May 9, 1911, was held in the Stafford Hotel in Mount Vernon.
When Freud, along with Carl Jung, visited America in 1909, it was at the invitation of the pioneering psychologist G. Stanley Hall, president of Clark University in Massachusetts, where Freud gave a lecture on his controversial new method of treatment. His talk was attended by a group of prominent U.S. physicians who were so vitalized by the new ideas that they gathered together to form an American branch of the Psychoanalytic Association, which was established, with Freud’s blessing, two years later here in Baltimore.
The piece goes on to say:
The early records of the American Psychoanalytic Association have been lost, but we know that 15 eminent psychiatrists were present at the Baltimore meeting, including Hall; Freud’s close colleague and biographer Ernest Jones; and the Austrian-born psychiatrist Abraham Brill, who went on to translate a number of Freud’s works and introduce them to the American public. Also present was the influential New York neurologist Smith Ely Jelliffe, who counted among his patients the playwright Eugene O’Neill. (“Just consulted Jelliffe, famous specialist here, on Mama’s case,” O’Neill wrote to his eldest brother Jamie in 1924. “He says hopeless.”)
The association’s charter members also included a number of Baltimore-based physicians such as Adolf Meyer, a professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University. Meyer had attended seminars conducted by Jung, and later became known as the first psychiatrist to make a habit of collecting detailed case histories of his patients, and to insist they could best be understood through consideration of their past in the context of their family lives.
The Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) has just posted online a number of transcripts from its Oral History Project. Over the course of its 25 year history, the SRCD Oral History Project has interviewed 135 important scholars in the field of child development. Now online are 16 interviews with individuals such as Mary Ainsworth, Eleanor Gibson, and Jerome Kagan (left). A full list of the available oral history transcripts is provided below and efforts are underway to post transcripts of further SRCD oral histories. For those interested in the history of developmental psychology, these interviews will undoubtedly prove an invaluable window into the field.
As described on the SRCD website,
Launched 25 years ago, the Oral History Project of SRCD is now available on this website to members of the Society as well as other interested scholars. Interviews of 135 major figures in the fields of child development and child psychology, as well as other related fields, are included in the collection. Sixteen of some of the earliest obtained oral histories are posted here and others will be incorporated in the near future. Each person was interviewed by someone whom he/she selected, and the recordings were then transcribed, edited for accuracy, and approved before inclusion in the collection. Some scholars in this project are now deceased, while others are alive and well; many played key roles in the governance or service of SRCD. Approximately 50 more interviews are now in progress.
The transcripts in this project should be of interest for a variety of reasons, including instruction both at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Scholars interested in historical roots and trends in the field and those concerned about the emergence of research, policy, and practice concerning children and families will find a wealth of informative history in these interview transcripts. An example of how the transcripts may be used is the article by Claire E. Cameron and John W. Hagen (2005), “Women in child development: Themes from the SRCD Oral History Project” (History of Psychology, 8, 289-314, 2005), in which quantitative and qualitative analyses were conducted on 47 early oral histories of women who became leading scholars and spokespersons in child development.
Transcripts of interviews with the following individuals are currently available on the SRCD Oral History Project webpage.
Sir Michael Rutter
Harold W. Stevenson
E. Mavis Hetherington
Tip’o the hat to Cathy Faye for bringing this to AHP’s attention.
In recognition of the 100th anniversary of Alan Turing‘s birth, 2012 has been declared Alan Turing Year. Centenary celebrations of Turing’s life and work are well underway and will continue throughout 2012 at locations around the world. Turing, a mathematician, logician, and early computer scientist, is probably best known within the history of psychology for his proposal of what has come to be known as the Turing Test. The test proposes that a machine may only be considered truly intelligent if, in the course of a conversation, a human judge can not tell it apart from another human being. It has become a something of a standard within the field of artificial intelligence, in which Turing was a pioneer.
The tragic end of Turing’s life is also well-known. After serving as a codebreaker for the British military in World War Two, Turing was prosecuted by the British government for engaging in homosexual acts and submitted to chemical castration. In 1954, at the age of 41, he died from cyanide poisoning in what was apparently suicide. In 2009, British government issued an official apology for the treatment Turing received.
Full details on the various events to be held in 2012 in celebration of Turing’s life and work can be found here.