IQ Testing as the Emperor’s New Clothes

A Critique of Jensen’s Bias in Mental Testing
  • Asa G. HilliardIII
Part of the Perspectives on Individual Differences book series (PIDF)


I, for one, was very happy to see the publication by Arthur Jensen, Bias in Mental Testing (1980), not for the reason, as some have suggested, that it provides a “final definitive answer” to the critics of standardized IQ tests. I am happy because Bias in Mental Testing, as Jensen’s attempt to be comprehensive, actually covers so much territory that the soft underbelly of key arguments in support of IQ testing in general and IQ testing for “minority populations” in particular is easily exposed. Presumably, this book is Arthur Jensen’s tour de force. He has done a distinct service to education measurement by his articulation of common practice in test construction, experimental design, and statistical methodology. I can think of few references that treat these topics quite so clearly and comprehensively. On the other hand, Arthur Jensen has listed most of the major criticisms in the IQ-testing controversy but has failed to deal with the data that are presented in support of the criticisms by others. Jensen has claimed that he has made an exhaustive review of all the literature that pertains to the IQ argument. In this critique, we will look precisely at that claim.


Cultural Group Item Difficulty Interval Scale Bilingual Child Cultural Bias 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Chase, A. The legacy of Malthus: The social costs of the new scientific racism. New York: Knopf, 1976.Google Scholar
  2. Chomsky, N. Syntactic structure. The Hague: Mouton, 1957.Google Scholar
  3. Cole, M., & Scribner, S. Culture and thought. New York: Wiley, 1974.Google Scholar
  4. Donaldson, M. Children’s minds. New York: W. W. Norton, 1978.Google Scholar
  5. Feuerstein, R. The dynamic assessment of retarded performers. Baltimore: University Park Press, 1979.Google Scholar
  6. Feuerstein, R. Instrumental enrichment. Baltimore: University Park Press, 1980.Google Scholar
  7. Fuller, R. In search of the IQ correlation. Stonybrook, N.Y.: Ball-Stick-Bird Publications, 1977.Google Scholar
  8. Hall, V. C, & Turner, R. R. The validity of the “differential language explanation” for poor scholastic performance by black students. Review of Educational Research, 1974, 44, 69–81.Google Scholar
  9. Hearnshaw, L. S. Cyril Burt, psychologist. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1979.Google Scholar
  10. Hilliard, A. G. Language, culture and assessment. Paper presented at the National Institute of Education Conference on the Ann Arbor Decision, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1970.Google Scholar
  11. Hilliard, A. G. Alternatives to IQ testing: An approach to the identification of gifted minority students. Final Report, Special Education Support Unit, California State Department of Education. ED 146-009, ERIC Clearinghouse on Early Childhood Education, 1976.Google Scholar
  12. Jensen, A. R. Bias in mental testing. New York: Free Press, 1980.Google Scholar
  13. Kamin, L. J. The science and politics of IQ. Potomac, Md.: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1974.Google Scholar
  14. Labov, W. The logic of nonstandard English. In F. Williams (Ed.), Language and poverty. Chicago: Markham Publishing, 1970.Google Scholar
  15. Larry P, by his guardian ad litem, Lucille P. et al. v. Wilson Riles, Superintendent of Public Instruction for the State of California et al.; C 71 2270 RFP (United States District Court for the Northern District of California, 1979).Google Scholar
  16. Lévi-Strauss, C. The savage mind. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1966.Google Scholar
  17. Quay, L. C. Language, dialect, reinforcement and the intelligence test performance of Negro children. Child Development, 1971, 42, 5–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Quay, L. C. Negro dialect and Binet performance in severely disadvantaged black four-year-olds. Child Development, 1972, 43, 245–250.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Quay, L. C. Language, dialect, age, and intelligence-test performance in disadvantaged black children. Child Development, 1974, 45, 463–468.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Shuy, R. Quantitative language data: A case for and some warnings against. Anthropology and Education Quarterly, 1977, 78–82.Google Scholar
  21. Smith, E. A. Paper No. 43: The retention of the phonological, phonemic, and morphophonemic features of Africa in Afro-American ebonies. Department of Linguistics, California State University, Fullerton, 1978.Google Scholar
  22. Spearman, C. The nature of “intelligence” and the principles of cognition. London: Macmillan, 1923.Google Scholar
  23. Turner, L. Africanisms in the Gullah dialect. New York: Arno Press and the New York Times, 1949.Google Scholar
  24. Whorf, B. L. Language, thought and reality, ed. by J. B. Carroll. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1956.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Asa G. HilliardIII
    • 1
  1. 1.Georgia State UniversityAtlantaUSA

Personalised recommendations