Talk:The Mismeasure of Man

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edit·history·watch·refresh Stock post message.svg To-do list for The Mismeasure of Man:
  • Edit quotations of praise and criticism into standard encyclopaedic tone (with references if necessary).
  • Find some more positive reviews
  • Find all awards that this book has received
  • Clean up the references
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Mismeasure of Science[edit]

See the articles "Samuel Morton collection of skulls at center of controversy" (popular version) and "The Mismeasure of Science: Stephen Jay Gould versus Samuel George Morton on Skulls and Bias" (scholarly article). Mateat (talk) 22:33, 16 June 2011 (UTC)

It is a bit more complicated. See JM Kaplan, M. Pigliucci, and JA Banta (2015). "Gould on Morton, Redux" Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 30: 1-10. And also Michael Weisberg (2015). "Remeasuring Man" Evolution & Development 16 (3): 166–178. Best, Miguel Chavez (talk) 06:07, 29 April 2015 (UTC)

Problem with reanalysis of Morton section[edit]

I have a couple of problems with this section: first, it seems by its sheer volume (and also the fact that it is still rapidly expanding) to be close to violation the WP:UNDUE guideline considering it is one paper being reported on, and one about which I haven't sen anyody else has written a review. This brings me to the second problem: in the absence of a review on this paper, it qualifies as a primary source, which is highly discouraged under the terms of Race and Intelligence arbitration case (as I consider this article very much part of "race and intelligence, widely construed"). I'm tempted to outright remove the section, but I'd rather submit my thoughts to discussion raher than act rashly. What do other editors think? Ramdrake 03:03, 19 June 2011 (UTC)

Indented line I agree with the above. The article in question has only been cited by one non-scientific article by a subset of the authors. If not deleted entirely, it should at least be collapsed into fewer sentences and lumped with the rest of the Responses to the revised edition. (talk) 17:56, 6 July 2011 (UTC)
I copied it into critcism and used the different conclusions of the journal article to sum it up. Larsenat (talk) 01:47, 19 August 2011 (UTC)

Paring back the criticism section[edit]

The criticism section far outsizes the rest of the article. It needs to be clean up and tightened up, probably to about 1/3 to 1/2 it's current size. aprock (talk) 15:29, 13 September 2011 (UTC)

In an article on a book that's been criticized this much, I think it's normal for the criticism section to take up this much of the article. Take a look at how long the criticism sections are the articles about Race, Evolution, and Behavior and The Bell Curve. In order to be consistent, I think that if it's an issue that the criticism section here takes up half the article, it should be pared back for those other two as well.Boothello (talk) 22:32, 13 September 2011 (UTC)
The notion that The Mismeasure of Man, a book that has won many awards and accolades, has received anywhere near the amount of criticism as The Bell Curve, one of the most controversial works of non-fiction of the 20th Century, is absurd. aprock (talk) 22:49, 13 September 2011 (UTC)
If that's your belief, then you need to familiarize yourself with the reception that both books received in professional psychology literature. In popular and non-specialist sources, the Bell Curve received a huge amount of criticism, yes, and the popular reception for Mismeasure of Man was largely positive. But for peer-reviewed psychology sources, the reaction to the Mismeasure of Man was overwhelmingly negative, while the reaction to the Bell Curve wasn't strongly one way or another. In fact, some specialist reviews of Mismeasure specifically point out the disparity in reception between popular and professional sources. It's always a bad idea for the weighting of articles at Wikipedia to be based only on popular sources. If anything, sources from experts in the relevant fields should be given more weight than other sources, because these are the sources most qualified to evaluate an author's methodology and conclusions. Boothello (talk) 00:55, 14 September 2011 (UTC)
Thank you for your condescending and misinformed perspective. That you might characterize the direct APA response as not being a strong reaction boggles. aprock (talk) 02:36, 14 September 2011 (UTC)
Actually, the APA report is a perfect example of what I mean. You likely consider it just a criticism of The Bell Curve, but it's much more nuanced than that. The APA report agreed with Murray and Herrnstein that racial IQ gaps exist, that they aren't the result of test bias or socioeconomic status, and that IQ is a good predictor of academic achievement. Its only big disagreement with Murray and Herrnstein is their conclusion that racial IQ gaps probably have a genetic component. If this single point of disagreement overshadows all of the agreements to you, then you're just seeing what you want to see. For comparison, here is a review of Mismeasure that addresses its overwhelmingly negative reception in the professional literature. Quoting the review: "While the nonscientific reviews of The Mismeasure of Man were almost uniformly laudatory, the reviews in the scientific journals were almost all highly critical." I don't mean to be condescending. Lately you've made a lot of changes really quickly to IQ-related articles that don't get much activity, and part of how a collaborative encyclopedia works is that editors need to have their work checked by other editors. From what I've seen of your edits most are fine, but noone's perfect.Boothello (talk) 03:42, 14 September 2011 (UTC)
By all means, discuss article content and save the condescending attitude for somewhere else. aprock (talk) 04:40, 14 September 2011 (UTC)
Dear Aprock: You did good work in condensing the University of Pennsylvania sub-section. I think it now reads more as fair criticism, than as an anti-intellectual hatchet job. Good show! Mhazard9 (talk) 20:15, 15 September 2011 (UTC)

"we find other things to admire..." should be removed.[edit]

I removed the last sentence of the "Miscalculation" paragraph, and it was put back in by Aprock. I still think it should be removed, and not for "pedantic" reasons. I mentioned that the authors wrote it "as an aside", and, in fact, it is irrelevant to this article. It talks about Gould's whole "body of work", rather than just Mismeasurement. It seems clear it was a conciliatory expression on the part of the authors, but is really irrelevant to their criticism. Quoting it in this article seems to me an attempt to water down the description of the criticism (but maybe I'm wrong about that). Klortho (talk) 12:50, 19 August 2012 (UTC)

Agreed. It's irrelevant what they think about Gould's other work. This is about Mismeasure and their study was about a particular claim in the book.--Victor Chmara (talk) 14:54, 19 August 2012 (UTC)
The statement isn't about his "other work", it's about his body of work in total, including Mismeasure. In fact, they mention Mismeasure as a corpus specifically: "particularly his staunch opposition to racism [5]". Remember, a critique is not just a litany of negative feedback. The proper way to handle this would be to integrate the various criticism into the article in a natural way as the current format of having a separate section is less desirable. aprock (talk) 22:56, 19 August 2012 (UTC)
Why did you put "other work" in quotes? Neither I nor Victor Chmara used that phrase. I said it was about his 'whole "body of work"'. Also, you say "a critique is not just a litany of negative feedback". This section is titled "criticism", not "critique", and while, yes, "criticism" can have the meaning of "an analysis or judgement" (neutral), here it clearly has the meaning "expression of disapproval" (negative) because it is juxtaposed with "Praise" and "Awards" sections. I would agree that it should be included if it were a positive, or mitigating statement, directly related to the main criticism itself; but it is not. It is irrelevant. Klortho (talk) 00:06, 20 August 2012 (UTC)
I put "other work" in quotes because Victor Chmara used that phrase. As I noted above, the content in question specifically refers to Mismeasure, as evidenced by the clarifying remark that the authors provided and which I included above: ... particularly his staunch opposition to racism [5]. If you refer to the source, the citation to [5] is exactly to Mismeasure. aprock (talk) 00:21, 20 August 2012 (UTC)
Re "other work" -- sorry, I don't know how I missed that. Nevertheless, I wasn't confused when I wrote my original post. Even though this comment is about Mismeasure, it's irrelevant to the criticism, and doesn't belong in this paragraph. You haven't addressed that argument. I think the burden is on you to say why it is relevant. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Klortho (talkcontribs) 02:49, 20 August 2012 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── The argument that only negative criticism from the authors merits inclusion seems a bit off. aprock (talk) 07:53, 20 August 2012 (UTC)

Hi, Aprock, I am relatively new here, so I missed your last comment -- I was thrown by the un-indenting mark (whatever it is called), and hence I assumed you hadn't replied, and took the sentence out again. Anyway, to address your comment, although I would say that "negative criticism" is redundant (as I tried to describe above), I clearly said that "it should be included if it were a positive, or mitigating statement, directly related to the main criticism itself". So your comment is really a misrepresentation of my argument. My argument is very simply that it is irrelevant. Please explain how it is relevant. Klortho (talk) 01:08, 22 August 2012 (UTC)
It is a mitigating statement directly related to The Mismeasure of Man. aprock (talk) 14:40, 22 August 2012 (UTC)
Aprock, I compromised more than I wanted to on this ... it's really so minor, why don't you just let it go? Klortho (talk) 03:00, 29 August 2012 (UTC)
Please forgive me if I ask, what problem you were trying to address with your edit? aprock (talk) 04:22, 29 August 2012 (UTC)
Frankly this paragraph has multiple problems, and should be rewritten from scratch. If you've read the entire Lewis paper, you know that it is overwhelmingly negative, and provides a long list of errors made by Gould. As I mentioned, it seems clear that this "we find other things to admire" comment was just a conciliatory gesture that they threw out as an aside, and I don't think it belongs in this paragraph, because it is irrelevant to their criticisms. This section certainly shouldn't end on this note; because that has the effect of diminishing the forcefulness of the criticisms, which are very strong criticisms, by any standard. Klortho (talk) 12:04, 29 August 2012 (UTC)
While the "conciliatory gesture" isn't a large body of the paper, it is presented as part of the conclusion. However, please do feel free to rewrite it and improve the existing summary. If you do, there are two policies that you should bear in mind. Most importantly is WP:DUE. The criticism needs to be presented in the context of the article. It should not be presented more prominently than other sources used in the article. Likewise, if you do take the time to rewrite it, consider moving closer to an integrated discussion. The essay WP:Criticism discusses some of the nuances here. aprock (talk) 17:55, 29 August 2012 (UTC)

The section headings are far from neutral (and not typical of other articles about books) at the moment.[edit]

There is no doubt that The Mismeasure of Man by the late Stephen Jay Gould is one of the most controversial books on its subject, with both avid fans and harsh critics. But Wikipedia has to be a neutral point of view online encyclopedia on this topic just like any other. I'll look over the article sometime, with a goal in mind of getting the section titles back to something more standard for articles about books like "Criticism." Meanwhile, you may find it helpful while reading or editing articles to look at a bibliography of Intelligence Citations, posted for the use of all Wikipedians who have occasion to edit articles on human intelligence and related issues. I happen to have circulating access to a huge academic research library at a university with an active research program in these issues (and to another library that is one of the ten largest public library systems in the United States) and have been researching these issues since 1989. You are welcome to use these citations for your own research. You can help other Wikipedians by suggesting new sources through comments on that page. It will be extremely helpful for articles on human intelligence to edit them according to the Wikipedia standards for reliable sources for medicine-related articles, as it is important to get these issues as well verified as possible. -- WeijiBaikeBianji (talk, how I edit) 12:23, 20 July 2013 (UTC)

Reception Section is Ridiculous (POV Tag)[edit]

The reception section is 90% psychometricians criticizing the book. Well duh, Gould called them pseudoscientists, what do you think they're going to say? Their conflict of interest makes their commentary hardly relevant. This section is not reflective of a book The Modern Library ranked as the 24th-best English-language non-fiction book of the 20th century and Discover magazine ranked as the 17th-greatest science book of all time. Wikipedia has become over-run with these pseudoscience types attempting to distort public opinion.--TDJankins (talk) 21:11, 4 March 2015 (UTC)

Gould, who had no training in psychometrics or behavioral genetics and who never published a single peer-reviewed study on these topics, was heavily criticized by experts in these fields. Wikipedia policies require that the many critical reviews of the book published by experts in reliable sources be discussed in the article. The idea that experts in a particular scientific field have an illegitimate conflict of interest when commenting on critiques of their own field is absurd. By the same logic, articles on creationist works like Darwin's Black Box should not feature the critiques of evolutionary biologists because they have a conflict of interest, or, to take another example, the article on The Trouble with Physics should not include critiques of the book by string theorists.--Victor Chmara (talk) 22:59, 4 March 2015 (UTC)
One needn't any formal training in psychometrics to know it's pseudoscience. One only need an understanding of scientific practice in general.--TDJankins (talk) 21:18, 6 March 2015 (UTC)
Gould was one of the judges on that Modern Library panel to choose the best books. Roger (talk) 00:24, 5 March 2015 (UTC)
TDJankins, you are free to believe that psychometrics is a pseudoscience or that the US government is controlled by reptilians, or whatever other beliefs you may have, but such outré views are not supported by reliable sources, so they have little or no place in Wikipedia.--Victor Chmara (talk) 21:29, 6 March 2015 (UTC)

Unbalanced intro[edit]

My edit [1] was revertd on the grounds that " introduction needs to be more carefully neutral and more supported by references than this". Okay, fine, but the current intro reads like a promotion for the book, and makes no mention of the fact that a number of peer-reviewed scientific publications say that the book is wrong about some of its main claims. These points are covered later, but there should be some mention in the intro. Roger (talk) 23:28, 9 March 2015 (UTC)

The lead should not be a place for he said/she said type argumentation, the studies that claim Gould's critique was wrong, have themselves been critiqued as wrong in peer reviewed journals. The article body is the place to expand on the arguments for and against the book, but the Lead probably should only state objectively that the debates exist and continue.·maunus · snunɐɯ· 04:26, 1 May 2015 (UTC)
Why is this paragraph in the intro? There is nothing further down about The Bell Curve other than Murray's denial that Gould quoted him accurately.
  • The revised and expanded, second edition of the Mismeasure of Man (1996) analyzes and challenges the methodological accuracy of The Bell Curve (1994), by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray. Gould said the book re-presented the arguments of what Gould terms biological determinism, which he defines as "the abstraction of intelligence as a single entity, its location within the brain, its quantification as one number for each individual, and the use of these numbers to rank people in a single series of worthiness, invariably to find that oppressed and disadvantaged groups—races, classes, or sexes—are innately inferior and deserve their status."[4]
I suggest moving some of this down to an identifiable subsection on Gould's criticism of The Bell Curve, which really ought to be expanded considerably - especially if the authors make four assumptions, any one of which if falsified makes their entire argument collapse. --Uncle Ed (talk) 16:57, 7 February 2017 (UTC)

Yes, the scientific racism community is growing[edit]

TDJankins wrote: Wikipedia has become over-run with these pseudoscience types attempting to distort public opinion.

It has, and there's little we can do about it. I've been following the issue of scientific racism for a while now and believe it is in the process of becoming mainstream (that, of course, says little about its veracity yet much about our society). Indeed, this entire article reads as if Rushton himself had wrote it. No, I'm not a psychometrist but not an idiot either, I'm a medical student and it doesn't take much to see the bias in this article. TauschCJ (talk) 03:42, 1 May 2015 (UTC)

I agree.·maunus · snunɐɯ· 04:27, 1 May 2015 (UTC)
I just moved this section to the bottom of the talk page (to fit chronological arrangement of comments on the talk page) before replying here. I think there is no sign that scientific racism is becoming mainstream in any English-speaking country, but rather is considerably less mainstream than half a century ago. But it takes a lot of digging in reliable sources to figure out what the current mainstream view of any topic is. I devote most of my reading time to psychology handbooks, review articles, and textbooks (all reliable sources for Wikipedia articles, besides the primary research papers I read, which are not Wikipedia reliable sources in general) and I have a good sense of what the mainstream view is, inside and outside the field of psychology, about the late Professor Gould's book. The book is generally well liked by people who are critical of IQ testing before they come to his book, but panned by people who know the research literature on the psychology of IQ testing well. This article here is an article about the book, so the best sources to look at, in the first instance, are all the reviews and commentaries we can find about the book. I would expect a balanced article on Wikipedia about the book to reflect what appears in the literature: that many nonspecialists in psychology continue to like the book, and many specialists in psychology (including many who resolutely research and refute scientific racism as a movement and as a set of conclusions about humankind) think the book had serious flaws in its arguments or recitations of historical facts. @TauschCJ:, seeing your comment here, and noting that you are new to Wikipedia, I invite you to look at my source list on IQ testing and psychology so that you have an opportunity to recommend new sources to me and to look up sources found on the list that may be new to you. This article will improve if several editors agree to dig into the sources and revise the article according to the sources. I have seen that happen on several contentious articles. -- WeijiBaikeBianji (talk, how I edit) 13:34, 1 May 2015 (UTC)