The Mismeasure of Man
When published in 1981, The Mismeasure of Man was immediately hailed as a masterwork, the ringing answer to those who would classify people, rank them according to their supposed genetic gifts and limits.
And yet the idea of innate limits of biology as destiny dies hard, as witness the attention devoted to The Bell Curve, whose arguments are here so effectively anticipated and thoroughly undermined by Stephen Jay Gould. In this edition Dr. Gould has written a substantial new introduction telling how and why he wrote the book and tracing the subsequent history of the controversy on innateness right through The Bell Curve. Further, he has added five essays on questions of The Bell Curve in particular and on race, racism, and biological determinism in general. These additions strengthen the book's claim to be, as Leo J. Kamin of Princeton University has said, "a major contribution toward deflating pseudo-biological 'explanations' of our present social woes.""
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I'm writing this review just because I was stupefied at the aggregate score of 3 out of 5 for its Google ratings. So let me say this with emphasis:
This is the best science book that I've read so far (I have read a few).
It's technical in parts, but hang in there: you will be rewarded by Gould's beautiful writing and by an expansive list of quotes.
The book tackles two assertions: that bigger brains mean more intelligent people (spoiler alert: they do not), and that differences in intelligence are purely inherited (spoiler alert: they are not). Gould spends some time to refute claims that these assertions were true that were published during the late twentieth century: in that sense, it might appear on the surface to be a book of its time, but as Gould explicates, the arguments are timeless and are always worth a good, solid debunking.
Gould (in TMoM) provides nothing but straw man arguments refuting questionable (mainly) 18th century so-called research to make his claims. It's dodgy arguing at best, and far from being acclaimed, Gould's book is a work in shoddiness.
Reasons history and revision of The Mismeasure of Man
PaulBroca and the Heyday
Paul Broca and his school
Charles Spearman and general intelligence
Cyril Burt and the hereditarian synthesis
A Positive Conclusion 557
Ghosts of Bell Curves past
Three Centuries Perspectives on Race