You are here

A Failure Of Intelligence Testing, This Time With Chimpanzees

BARBARA J. KING: ‘In 1981, the evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould’s book The Mismeasure of Man hit the presses… and ignited a ferocious discussion (and the occasional subsequent correction) that has continued even in recent years across biology, anthropology, psychology and philosophy: Its argument mattered not only for how we do science, but how science entangles with issues of social justice… Now, psychologists David A. Leavens of the University of Sussex, Kim A. Bard of the University of Portsmouth, and William D. Hopkins of Georgia State University have framed their new Animal Cognition article, “The mismeasure of ape social cognition,” around Gould’s book. Ape (especially chimpanzee) social intelligence, the authors say, has been routinely mismeasured because apes are tested in comprehensively different circumstances from the children with whom they are compared — and against whose performance theirs is found to be lacking… Confounding factors in these experiments, in other words, are essentially fatal: They render the conclusions unreliable. The testing procedures are so different between apes and children that it becomes impossible to isolate evolutionary history as the explanatory factor when differences in social cognition are uncovered’. SOURCE…

Leave a Comment

1 + 2 =