The Mismeasure of Man

ISBN13: 9780393314250
Release Date: June 17th 1996
Published by: W. W. Norton & Company
Pages: 448

The definitive refutation to the argument of The Bell Curve.

How smart are you? If that question doesn't spark a dozen more questions in your mind (like "What do you mean by 'smart,'" "How do I measure it" and "Who's asking?"), then The Mismeasure of Man, Stephen Jay Gould's masterful demolition of the IQ industry, should be required reading. Gould's brilliant, funny, engaging prose dissects the motivations behind those who would judge intelligence, and hence worth, by cranial size, convolutions, or score on extremely narrow tests. How did scientists decide that intelligence was unipolar and quantifiable? Why did the standard keep changing over time? Gould's answer is clear and simple: power maintains itself. European men of the 19th century, even before Darwin, saw themselves as the pinnacle of creation and sought to prove this assertion through hard measurement. When one measure was found to place members of some "inferior" group such as women or Southeast Asians over the supposedly rightful champions, it would be discarded and replaced with a new, more comfortable measure. The 20th-century obsession with numbers led to the institutionalization of IQ testing and subsequent assignment to work (and rewards) commensurate with the score, shown by Gould to be not simply misguided--for surely intelligence is multifactorial--but also regressive, creating a feedback loop rewarding the rich and powerful. The revised edition includes a scathing critique of Herrnstein and Murray's The Bell Curve, taking them to task for rehashing old arguments to exploit a new political wave of uncaring belt tightening. It might not make you any smarter, but The Mismeasure of Man will certainly make you think.--Rob Lightner

More work like this

Rethinking Reproduction, Reimagining Technology
Ruha Benjamin
Political Activism and Expression in Today's NBA
Adam Silver, Eddie S. Glaude, Jr., Craig Robinson, Steve Mills
The Souls of Black Folk (Audio and ePub)
W.E.B. Du Bois
Mike Brown’s Body: Meditations on War, Race and Democracy
Robin D.G. Kelley

Upcoming Events

Hold: A Meditation on Black Aesthetics
Nov 4, 2017 @ 9:00 am - Feb 11, 2018 @ 7:00 pm
Screening of 'Rosenwald' (2015)
Nov 27, 2017 @ 4:30 pm
The Half-Life of Freedom: Jelani Cobb
Nov 28, 2017 @ 4:30 pm
Cinema Today — Film Blackness: Screening of various films by Frances Bodomo and Ja’Tovia Gary
Nov 29, 2017 @ 7:30 pm
Making History Visible: Faculty Roundtable on Art and Visualizing the American Nation
Dec 1, 2017 @ 2:00 pm
Morgan Parker, poetry reading
Dec 14, 2017 @ 4:30 pm
p: (609) 258-4270 | f: (609) 258-3484

African American Studies for the 21st Century

© 2017 The Trustees of Princeton University
  1. 'Rethinking Empire and Democracy' Reena N. Goldthree, Eddie S. Glaude Jr. 44:49
  2. 'The Formation of Religio-Racial Identity' Eddie S. Glaude Jr., Judith Weisenfeld 47:32
  3. 'What Was African American Marriage?' Eddie S. Glaude Jr., Tera Hunter 44:59
  4. 'Before Cornel West, After Cornel West' Eddie S. Glaude Jr., Cornel West 52:46
  5. 'An Insistence on Not Being Discouraged' Eddie S. Glaude Jr., Chika Okeke-Agulu 55:19
  6. 'A Through Line for African American Studies' Eddie S. Glaude Jr., Imani Perry 44:07
  7. 'Activism and Risk in the Face of Trump' Eddie S. Glaude Jr., Asanni York, Destiny Crockett 43:02
  8. 'Langston Hughes, Religious Thinker' Eddie S. Glaude Jr., Wallace Best 45:50
  9. 'Convergences and Dissonance' Eddie S. Glaude Jr., Keeanga-Yamahatta Taylor, Naomi Murakawa, & Imani Perry 60:08