Eugenics and IQ Testing

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During the early 1900's, the United States turned to eugenics, a term meaning "good genes", in an attempt to purge the population of "bad/inferior genes". Before 1935, when sterilization laws were repealed, over 66,000 North Americans were involuntarily sterilized. The Supreme Court upheld rulings for people who were considered "feeble minded", and in the case of Buck v. Bell, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote, "Three generations of imbeciles are enough". How far was Sir Francis Galton willing to go to rid the US of people with lower IQ's?
What bothers me most is that they justified sterilizing people based on IQ tests and their corresponding intelligence scores. Not only were the first IQ tests unreliable, but even today, we can't accurately quantify people's intelligence. Many immigrants were forced to take these tests upon their arrival to the United States during this time period. Those immigrants who were not fluent in English had difficulties with the test and caused them to underestimate their intelligence and were sometimes subjected to the involuntary sterilization.
Two different IQ tests given to a person during the early 1900's more than likely would not produce the same results for the individual. Since this violates the scientific principle of replicability, sterilization based on IQ test scores could not last. You could make the case that most IQ tests are testing different areas of intelligence, so replication of the results would be very difficult. From that perspective, there should be an opportunity to recreate results within each area of intelligence being tested. I see no real reason to get rid of IQ testing altogether, but if consequences of low IQ were to be reinstated, it would not be ethical.

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Nice post. A picture would be nice though!

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This page contains a single entry by bodge006 published on November 20, 2011 8:23 PM.

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