BIAS IN METAL TESTING by Arthur R. Jensen

BIAS IN METAL TESTING

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KIRKUS REVIEW

No, Jensen has not budged from his formulations of a decade or so ago concerning black ""intelligence."" Blacks, on the average, are consistently lower, he claims, in ""g""--the so-called general factor of intelligence originally conceived by one of Jensen's mentors, Charles Spearman. Naturally there are bright blacks and low-IQ whites, yellows, etc. That is understood. It is also understood that people are aghast at this, and refusing to believe it, argue that the tests are biased, culturally relative, and unfair. Jensen's overlong rebuttal begins with a testy summary which includes verbatim quotes from his many critics. He thereupon sets about explaining the nuances of psychometrics; to participate knowingly in the debate, a reader must understand the meaning of standard deviation, correlation, reliability, factor analysis, and so on. Here, well-intentioned as he may be, Jensen fails. No lay reader, even a super g, is likely to digest the highly condensed formulas and limited examples adduced to illustrate the many statistical concepts used. So much for the book as text. Jensen's most interesting points--and in many ways, most sympathetic and well-argued points--occur in the final chapters, in which he states that IQ tests have been overused and abused, and are not really relevant in education or industry. Achievement or aptitude tests are far better, but these, too, have been abused due to inadequate training in test-giving, lack of uniform test conditions, and failure to protect the identity of individuals. As for his arguments that IQ tests themselves are not biased, he will have to contend with opponents who will again argue that the notion of ""race"" is imprecise and undefined; that genetic variance suffers from much the same arbitrary assignment; and that intelligence is itself indefinable. Insofar as Jensen himself seems all in favor of retiring IQ tests except in limited diagnostic cases, one cannot help but feel that ""g"" may soon suffer the same fate as phlogiston in chemistry or the ether in physics. Meanwhile, Jensen will make some new waves.

Pub Date: Jan. 7th, 1980
Publisher: Free Press/Macmillan