Young Elijah Armstrong, like any upstanding Californian, is usually to be found on a surfboard, or later surrounded on the beach by admiring young ladies, but from time to time he is able to tear himself away from such hedonistic pursuits so as to send me little snippets of what must seem to him to be ancient history.
Here is Lewis Terman in 1930 replying to a request for his views about current psychological positions and movements. Then afterwards Elijah, Panjoomby and I discuss the accuracy of Terman’s predictions. This gives you an insight as to what the three of us regard as light relief from blogging:
In response to the Editor's request for a statement of my position with reference to current psychological issues and movements, I venture to offer the following credos, which range all the way from tentative beliefs to fairly positive convictions:
That mental testing is in its merest infancy and will develop to a lusty maturity within the next half century; that its developments will include improved tests of general intelligence (in the reality of which I believe), tests of many kinds of special ability, and tests of personality traits which no one has yet even thought of measuring;
That within a few score years school children from the kindergarten to the university will be subjected to several times as many hours of testing as would now be thought reasonable;
That educational and vocational guidance will be based chiefly on test ratings, and that Hull's proposal to measure every important ability and personality trait and to "grind out" a hundred or more occupational success predictions for every youth is practicable and will be realized;
That public vocational testing bureaus, employing methods of the kind referred to in the preceding paragraph, will be operated for the benefit of adults of all ages and both sexes;
That it will some day be possible to identify, largely by means of tests, the pre-delinquent and the pre-psychotic, and that effective preventive measures will result from this advance;
That matrimonial clinics will become common and that couples in large numbers will submit themselves to extensive batteries of ability, personality, interest, and compatibility tests before deciding to embark together;
That mental testing is destined to exert a profound influence on economic theory, industrial methods, politics, and the administration of law;
That the major differences between children of high and low IQ, and the major differences in the intelligence test scores of certain races, as Negroes and whites, will never be fully accounted for on the environmental hypothesis;
That mental testing will be more and more recognized as an integral part of experimental psychology, and that this recognition will be reflected increasingly in undergraduate instruction;
That psychiatry will not be pulled out of the mire until it lays down the requirement of two or three solid years of training in psychology, including psychobiology, mentality and personality testing, and statistical methods;
That psychology will, in time, give us a new type of biographical literature in which the interpretation of a subject's life will be based largely upon quantitative measurements of abilities, personality traits, and interest-attitudes;
That contrary to what would be suggested by an examination of the courses in teachers colleges and schools of education, psychology offers almost the sole basis for a science of education;
That the revival of associationism and the vogue given it during the last quarter century by the "bond" psychologists has about run its course;
That the Watsonian brand of behaviorism is a cult, and that its presumption in claiming the whole of psychology and in basing a theory of child training and a denial of heredity on a few minor experiments in the emotional conditioning of infants is ridiculous;
That the method of introspection has not been and never will be rendered obsolete by objective psychology, and that much greater use should be made of it in experimental learning and mental test construction than is customary at present;
That Gestalt psychology, even though its formulations are largely a matter of renaming old concepts, is exerting a wholesome influence on experimental work and on psychological theorizing;
That animal psychology is extremely important because of the greater opportunity it affords, in comparison with human psychology, of securing crucial data on certain types of problems in the fields of learning, mental inheritance, and the relation of intelligence and instinct to neural functioning;
That the Freudian concepts, even when their validity has been discounted about 90 per cent, nevertheless, constitute one of the two most important contributions to modern psychology, mental tests being the other.
Elijah Rather accurate, if a tad optimistic, you will agree.
James Well, he was right about psychiatry, and education.
Panjoomby Stirring, uplifting, motivational, & plenty true! Yet, Terman's achilles' heel - political naivety/innocence. Terman would've been mortified at the fallout from the Larry P. v. Wilson Riles decision in California. He would never expect such a "shoot the messenger" reaction to the offerings of honest science.
Elijah A final clarification from Boring's obituary of Terman: Terman in his personal copy of his autobiography wrote in the margin opposite the sentence just quoted about Negroes and whites, "I am less sure of this now (1951)!" and later, "And still less sure in 1955!"
Panjoomby Interesting that Terman was either sensing the oncoming civil rights/political correctness era, or he was politely noticing that if you control for enough variables --& with each variable controlled for, taking a further step away from reality (!) --(variables like "# of books in the home, education, income, neighborhood status, etc.) control for enough things & you eventually you can get those pesky mean differences to almost go away -but doing that is far more smoke & mirrors than it is reality. It's a sneaky way of pretending "those aren't really differences". I doubt Terman was fooled by that - but he might've seen some of what was coming & softened his stance to be nice (rather than scientifically correct)!
Elijah I actually think that the 'sociologist's fallacy' is a legitimate procedure in some circumstances –– as aggregate childhood SES (including all the things you mentioned) is g-loaded at ~.5, less than almost all subtests in the WISC, you shouldn't expect controlling for SES to eliminate virtually all mean differences –– and if it does, you have pretty good prima facie evidence that SES is causing the observed difference.
Panjoomby Good point. I once told my boss: "each variable you control for takes you another step away from reality". My boss, ever the gentleman & diplomat, said of group differences: "although they exist, i don't think any good can come from studying them" & I remember thinking (but not saying) well, that's not very scientific.
What are your views about Terman’s predictions?