I saw a Facebook post yesterday that began with the words “Psychologists explain…” and commented that I normally turn away from those words. But then I thought “Wait! This may be the first time psychologists actually explained something!” I cannot think of a more bankrupt field, save that of economists.
I’ve been reading a book called “Betrayers of the Truth” by William Broad and Nathan Wade. It is about science in general, written in 1982 before the great hoaxes of our own time, such as the Stephen Hawking affair and global warming. The authors describe the work of Cyril Burt, a famous British psychologist who engineered much of our current mythology about IQ.
Burt was exposed as a fraud after his death. He merely made up numbers, and even invented two assistants who did not exist, Miss Conway and Miss Howard. But it seems such and odd and pointed fraud, as it was aimed right at the hubris of the ruling classes. Intelligence, Burt concluded, was indeed hereditary, that is, if you’re a college professor, the odds are that your children will naturally be brighter than those of the guy who mops the hallway.
My own observations are not scientific, just based on experience. Our class in grade school was made up of dumb kids and bright kids. We knew who we were, and performed to expectations.
What caught my eye in the Burt studies were some spook markers. Other researchers noticed the precision of his findings, which was what first gave him away. In three studies of separated twins, for instance, the correlation between IQ scores was .771, astronomically unlikely.
Then we learn that he studied 53 sets of twins separated at birth, and that the correlation between those reared together was .944. Those look like spook markers. Burt was letting insiders in on his secret.
Burt was not even trying, and was never exposed as a fraud while alive. He was a professor at University College, London, and was knighted for his work. He and Miss Conway pulled off a huge scam in broad daylight.
What was the point? As an outsider looking in, I can only guess, but the objective appears to have been to protect the peerage from infiltration by commoners. Burt established hard statistical science in the realm of IQ testing, showing everyone that the classes are as they are for a reason. Once a ditch digger always a ditch digger. I have known trust babies who were imbeciles. An upper tier education for such a person creates a wicked combination of hubris and stupidity, yielding the likes of Steve Forbes and Dan Quayle, dangerous men.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, when he was married to Maria Schriver, crossed the line, breeding with the hired help. That sort of behavior is discouraged, of course, but I have to wonder as I look at a Prince Charles if it should not be encouraged.
According to Sir Burt, intelligence, just like money, is a matter of choice of the right birth canal. That was Burt’s message, and the reason why his fraud was seen as necessary and was rewarded. That was probably the reason he was knighted, to protect the Prince Charlie’s of the peerage.