Re: Serious thoughts about objectivity

Arthur L. Baron (abaron@STU.ATHABASCAU.CA)
Mon, 7 Oct 1996 11:05:49 MDT

> Ron Kephart writes:
> >Another example is the recurring furor over "race" and "IQ" both of which ar
> >social constructions/compositions masquerading as scientifically objectifiab
> >"things" in the real world. Another one of those "big ideas" we should be
> >working to get across.

> Matt's comments:
> I must say that "race" certainly is a construction, however I don't think
> the same can be said of IQ. Intelligence can certainly be measured. The
> disagreement rests primarily on whether or not intelligence can be
> described in one number. How exacting we are in measurements of
> intelligence is another question. Then again science is indeed socially
> influenced anyway.
> In terms of objectivity, it seems to me, that the biggest mistakes are made
> simply because we are ignorant of our biases and assumptions specifically
> in the questions we ask, as the Broca example shows clearly. Indeed, in a
> way its the answers that are innocent the questions are not.
> --Matt

Andrew Petto's statement was cut from this original post only to save time and
space, his comments are well taken.

IQ testing, the great white-washing of the West. We all take the test and the
results were guarded information kept by school administrators. I did not
know my IQ number until I asked for it just prior to leaving secondary school
- do y'all know your results, and what would you do with that information?
(Show me yours I'll show you mine). Intelligence and general learning ability
do not equate to success (if that is the measurement by which people are
defined and pigeon-holed). Weekly, monthly, and terms exams are indicators
of whether or not the student is grasping the material. Why is the IQ needed,
prescreening and pre-evaluation, and who screens the prescreeners? - you get my

Emotional Quotient Inventory tests are now making the rounds, these are
designed to measure a persons Emotional Intelligence (a term coined by Yale's
Peter Salovey and U. of New Hampshire's John Mayer five years ago). Where IQ
tests are thought to be a product of upbringing and genetic factors (nurture
and nature), emotional intelligence is learned behaviour and therefore can be
changed (hopefully improved). Emotional stability is desirable in a changing
world and coping mechanisms are essential tools to deal with those changes.
The downside is that tests of this kind can be used to promote inequality in
the hands of pre-emlpoyment specialists who have a mandate to select only
individuals who fit the corporate walk and talk. I think testing for ethics
would be a better measure of character - but then corporations and governments
don't really want people who do the "right thing."

>From Daniel Goleman's list of some major emotional intelligence qualities:

- Self-awareness. The ability to recognize a feeling as it happens - the
keystone quality. People with greater certainty about their emotions are
better pilots of their lives.

- Mood management. We often have little control over when we are swept by an
emotion. We can have some say in how long that emotion will last.

- Self-motivation. Positive motivation - the marshalling of feelings of
enthusiasm, zeal, and confidence - is paramount for achievement.

- Impulse control. The essense of emotional self-regulation is the ability to
delay impulse in the service of a goal.

- People skills. The capacity to know how another feels is important on the
job, in romance and friendship, and in the family.

Matt you are correct when you state that there are biases and assumptions built
into the tests - social class is a major contributing factor and therefore the
whole system is a social construct (with respect given to Ralph Holloway and
his comments on biological variation which of course are contributing elements
to the developing, growing, breathing, speaking unit). If IQ tests were
administered in Black English would the standards change?