The British Origins of HBD

This story is kinda old, but UK TV presenter Katie Hopkins recently got into hot water by the UK liberal left for suggesting that dementia patients ‘blocking beds’ is an ineffective use of public resources, especially since they have little or no sensory perception. I agree, public goods (such as public healthcare) should be optimized so that those who benefit the most have priory over those who stand to benefit the least. Given that dementia is incurable and untreatable, it’s inefficient that dementia sufferers occupy beds that could go to those who have conditions that are tractable to therapy.

The left wants to make everything free, provided everyone gets the same, equal benefit. That’s not feasible. In any situation where demand vastly exceeds supply, rationing is necessary.

But what’s interesting is that you seldom hear HBD-based comments from famous Americans. With the exception smart American millennials on Reddit and 4chan, who are perhaps more receptive to HBD than older generations, most Americans, both liberal and conservative, want nothing to do with HBD, whereas HBD is perhaps more ‘mainstream’ in UK culture. IQ may be a bigger deal in Britain than in America, for example, with lots of stories from www.dailymail.co.uk about IQ-related subjects. As part of the ‘Age of Enlightenment’, Psychometrics originated in Britain (Darwin, Galton, Spearman ), France (Binet, Simon), Switzerland (Jean Piaget), and Germany (Garwin, Herbart, Weber, Fechner, and Wundt), later spreading to America, with early pioneers James McKeen Cattell, Henry H. Goddard, Louis Leon Thurstone, and Lewis Terman.

From the beginning of his career, Cattell worked hard to establish psychology as a field as worthy of study as any of the “hard” physical sciences, such as chemistry or physics. Indeed, he believed that further investigation would reveal that the intellect itself could be parsed into standard units of measurements. He also brought the methods of Wilhelm Wundt and Francis Galton back to the United States, establishing the mental testing efforts in the U.S.

German psychologist and philosopher William Stern invented the concept of the intelligence quotient, or IQ, later used by Lewis Terman and other researchers in the development of the first IQ tests, based on the work of Alfred Binet. Along with his collaborator Théodore Simon, Binet published revisions of his intelligence scale in 1908 and 1911, the last appearing just before his death, hence called Binet-Simon Scale:

Goddard brought the Binet-Simon Scale to the United States and translated it into English.

Following Goddard’s lead in the U.S. mental testing movement was Stanford University psychologist Lewis Terman, who took the Simon-Binet Scale and standardized it using a large American sample in 1916. The tests are used to this day, with four revisions since the original 1916 version. A competing IQ test is the Wechsler Intelligence Scale, developed by American psychologist David “Wex” Wechsler in 1939 which, unlike the Binet test, has multiple scores: Verbal IQ and Performance IQ.

The influence of Galton echoes to this day. British-born pundits and authors Andrew Sullivan and Dawkins, despite holding liberal views on issues such as homosexuality, espouse views on HBD that many on the PC-left find offensive. Because psychometrics originated in Britain, it’s not unreasonable to assume they are more receptive to it than Americans, even after decades of welfare liberalism and political correctness in Europe.

Comments are closed.