Intellectual Self Defence

Brains are delicate things…


I’m most of the way through this rather good book about intelligence versus rationality.

Broad theorists inflate the concept of intelligence. By inflation I mean putting into the term more than what the IQ tests measure. One very strong tendency among broad theorists is to use adjectives to differentiate the more encompassing parts of their intelligence concept from the “IQ-test part.” Major theorists such as Sternberg and Gardner talk about practical intelligence, creative intelligence, interpersonal intelligence, bodily-kinesthetic intelligence, etc. In such usages, the word intelligence becomes a marker for “optimal or expert behavior in the domain of.” So, for instance, when Sternberg discusses high practical intelligence it can be translated to mean “optimal behavior in the domain of practical affairs” or when Gardner talks about high bodily-kinesthetic intelligence he means little more than high functioning in the bodily-kinesthetic domain. The word intelligence is actually superfluous. It is there merely to add status to the domain in question (to put it on an equal footing with MAMBIT). The strategy seems to be something like the following: Because intelligence is a valued trait and we want bodily-kinesthetic talent to be valued too, we’ll fuse the term intelligence onto it in order to transfer some of the value from intelligence to bodily-kinesthetic talent. Indeed, this is why educators have been so enthusiastic about the “mulitiple intelligences” idea. Its scientific status is irrelevant to them. They use it as a motivational tool – to show that “everyone is intelligent in some way.” The same is true for the coinages of social intelligence or emotional intelligence.

Page 45-6 of What intelligence tests miss: the psychology of rational thought
Keith E. Stanovich

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