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...

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