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Alfred Binet (1857-1911) - director of the psychology laboratory at
the Sorbonne - schooled in the Broca tradition. But a much better
- went to various schools, making measurements of heads of
students deemed by the teachers as their smartest and most stupid.
``I began with the idea, impressed upon me by the studies of so many
other scientists, that intellectual superiority is tied to
superiority of cerebral volume'' (1900, in Gould 147)
- Binet found only very small differences, which could well be due
to the larger stature of the better students - 1.401 meters vs
1.378 meters, in height. The average difference between good and
poor students was just one millimeter, and certain parts of the
skull showed poorer students to have larger brains than the better
- Binet went into a series of experiments on the measurement
technique - comparing his measurements with those of his assistant,
and re-measuring subjects - he found that when he feared he was
erring on the side of liberal measurements relative to his
assistant, he would subconsciously reduce the next round of
measurements by as much as 3 millimeters.
- this is known today as measurement error - in Binet's
case, the measurement error overwhelmed the differences he thought
he found in the comparison of good and bad students.
- Says Gould, ``craniometry, the jewel of nineteenth century
objectivity, was not destined for continued celebration'' (148).
Thu Feb 29 18:32:21 CST 1996