The IQ Meritocracy

Our test-obsessed society has Binet and Terman to thank-- or to blame

A Frenchman, the psychologist Alfred Binet, published the first standardized test of human intelligence in 1905. But it was an American, Lewis Terman, a psychology professor at Stanford, who thought to divide a test taker's "mental age," as revealed by that score, by his or her chronological age to derive a number that he called the "intelligence quotient," or IQ. It would be hard to think of a pop-scientific coinage that has had a greater impact on the way people think about themselves and others.

No country embraced the IQ--and the application of IQ testing to restructure society--more thoroughly than...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!