The mismeasure of man

I don’t have the time to write a complete review or resumé of this book.

Let me just write a few quotes, and link to a presentation with some tidbits from the book.

The main thrust of the book can be summarized thus:

  • Attempts at measuring man (humans) is nothing new, but it’s pretty useless
  • In the past it has mainly been used to show the superiority of white men over all other humans on the planet, and thus been used to justify everything from slavery to regressive social policies (The Bell Curve)
  • Humans are more similar than different, and differences withing groups are generally larger than differences between groups
  • You can’t really define groups in any meaningful way, so you might as well not bother
  • The modern IQ measure is fairly useless, and says nothing about groups (caucasians, asians, etc)
  • Racism is bad

Now for the link:

And a quote by Charles Darwin:

“If the misery of our poor be casued not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.”

“Those who look tenderly at the slave owner and with a cold heart at the slave, never seem to put themselves into the position of the latter; what a cheerless prospect, with not even a hope of change! Picture to yourself the chance, ever hanging over you, of your wife and your little children – those objects which nature urges even the slave to call his own – being torn from you and sold like beasts to the first bidder! And these deeds are done and palliated by men, who profess to love their neighbours as themselves, who believe in God, and pray that his Will be done on earth! It makes one’s blood boil, yet heart tremble, to think that we Englishmen and our American descendants, with their boastful cry of liberty, have been and are so guilty”


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