Other Fallacies In The Estimation Of Intelligence

Another source of error in the teacher's judgment comes from the difficulty in

distinguishing genuine dullness from the mental condition which results

sometimes from unfavorable social environment or lack of training.

_V. P. Boy, age 7._ Had attended school one year and had

profited very little from the instruction. He had learned to

read very little, spoke chiefly in monosyllables, and seemed

"queer." The teacher suspected his intelligence and asked for a

mental examination. The Binet test showed that except for

vocabulary, which was unusually low, there was practically no

mental retardation. Inquiry disclosed the fact that the boy's

parents were uneducated deaf-mutes, and that the boy had

associated little with other children. Four years later this boy

was doing fairly well in school, though a year retarded because

of his unfavorable home environment.

_X. Y. Boy, age 10._ Son of a successful business man, he was

barely able to read in the second reader. The Binet test

revealed an intelligence level which was absolutely normal. The

boy was removed to a special class where he could receive

individual attention, and two years later was found doing good

work in a regular class of the fifth grade. His bad beginning

seemed to have been due to an unfavorable attitude toward school

work, due in turn to lack of discipline in the home, and to the

fact that because of the father's frequent change of business

headquarters the boy had never attended one school longer than

three months.

Another source of error in judging intelligence from common observation

is the tendency to overestimate the intelligence of the sprightly,

talkative, sanguine child, and to underestimate the intelligence of the

child who is less emotional, reacts slowly, and talks little. One

occasionally finds a feeble-minded adult, perhaps of only 9- or 10-year

intelligence, whose verbal fluency, mental liveliness, and

self-confidence would mislead the offhand judgment of even the

psychologist. One individual of this type, a border-line case at best,

was accustomed to harangue street audiences and had served as "major" in

"Kelly's Army," a horde of several hundred unemployed men who a few

years ago organized and started to march from San Francisco to