Bell Curve, Mismeasurement of Man, Gould's error, etc.

Bryant (
24 Dec 1996 15:53:32 -0700

Rob Quinlan and others asked for the reference for my assertion that
Gould unfairly asserted that Morton had 'measmeasured' human skulls.

Here, at last, is that ref:

Michael, J.A. 1988. A new look at Morton's craniological research.
Current Anthropology, 29: 349-354.

Basically, Morton's measurements were generally sound. The few errors he
made were in the opposite direction of that asserted by Gould. Errors
were found in Gould's measurements, however.

This does not mean that Gould's basic premise in Mismeasure of Man is
faulty, really (actually, it's an ironic illustration of his notion of
political bias affecting scientific objectivity). In point of fact,
early anthropologists appear to have been mistaken about inherent
differences in cognitive ability between human populations/races. But
the mistakes made by Gould are an interesting example of Gould's need to
unfairly mischaracterize those he disagrees with. It's not enough that
Morton drew faulty conclusions from sound data; Gould couldn't resist
painting the man as having faked the data, too.


ps: I'll be out of town for a month or so, so I will not be around to
answer followups.