Monday 31 August 2015

Doug Detterman on Stuart Ritchie


Rising star Stuart Ritchie will be well-known to you by now. I reviewed his book “Intelligence: All that matters” on 1 June (you read it here first), and said: In my opinion “Intelligence: All that matters” is the best available short introduction to intelligence, and word for word the most effective.

Doug Detterman may be less well known, which is a great pity. He founded the scientific journal Intelligence, and only just recently gave up being Editor in chief, which means that he has been evaluating the best intelligence research since January 1977. He must rank as the longest serving prisoner of the intellect.

He also founded the International Society for Intelligence Research and was its President until 2011. In 1995, he was a signatory of a collective statement in response to public discussion of the book The Bell Curve titled "Mainstream Science on Intelligence[1]", written by Intelligence editor Linda Gottfredson and published in the Wall Street Journal and reprinted in Intelligence in 1997.  Even more to the point, he has written or co-written (mostly with Robert Sternberg) 9 books on intelligence. In terms of character he presents as mild, calm, and not given to flights of fancy or wild hyperbole. Many an aspiring author has been submitted to his kind but firm editorial judgment, and several widely published and much cited academics have been cut down to size by his sharp analysis of their work.

So, it was with some trepidation that I turned to his review of Stuart Ritchie’s book, in case both Stuart and myself had to retreat from his critical evaluation, making excuses and hanging our heads in shame.

Detterman, Editor Extraordinaire, says: I hope this book sells a million copies. Stuart Ritchie has written a very brief book (about 130 pages) that offers a superb introduction to the field of human intelligence. It can be read in a few hours and gives an honest, forthright, clear, and most of all, accurate representation of the field.

Ritchie has pulled it off, and his loyal fan Thompson is in the clear.

Read it all here:


  1. Here's two challenges, doc. (i) What does the book contain of the first importance that was not in the Eysenck paperbacks of the 1950s and 60s?
    (ii) What errors in those books does Ritchie correct?

    Write on one side of the page only.

  2. Wotcha, doc. Is there any observation you'd like to make about this blogpost?

  3. Yes, it is why I write my blog. Psychology is improvable. Larger, more representative samples, fewer and better validated real-life measures, simpler statistics.

    1. Right on! & more occam’s razors, & less shunning of nonpolitically correct hypotheses. & fewer cottage industry building studies (e.g., just off the wire: "young goths at higher risk for depression" – in the Lancet, picked up on by the BBC). & more understanding of tests & measurement…

      PS - i pre-ordered Stuart's book on kindle months ago, but here in the states it's still not out :(