The opposing side, which sports a more eclectic set of disciplinary backgrounds and prides itself on a more sophisticated and inclusive perspective, divides human abilities into broad classes -- logical, spatial, interpersonal, verbal, etc. -- and labels each class an "intelligence." The two sides then proceed to talk past each other. (Casse, 1998, p. 33)
The resulting controversy then falls back to the idea of socio-cultural differences, and race/gender/culture/environment. (Skidmore & Aagaard, 2004, p. 304) Casse claims that by differing on core definitions of intelligence scientists are not good at comparing anything but data or defining concepts,
Scientists make bad dictionary writers and worse philosophers. Their main skills are in constructing experiments and generating explanations for what they observe. Neither of these endeavors requires agreement on what the words involved "mean" in any deep or absolute sense, only on ways of converting the elements of the theory at issue into operations that can be carried out in an experiment and repeated later if necessary. Measurement is the most important such operation; as Kelvin pointed out long ago, without a way to measure something it cannot be studied scientifically. (Casse, 1998, p. 33)
The measure must be universalized for the meanings and scientific statistics to be compared in any constructive way. To call an intelligence test of any kind universal, all encompassing or even standardized is a simple response to the desire to quantify and therefore calculate an intangible. Yet, as we can see from controversy and analysis of it there is likely no end in the desire to do so,
This is why the oft-repeated phrase, "intelligence is nothing more than what intelligence tests measure," is, as an objection, merely a tautology. The truth is that as long as intelligence can be reliably Measured -- it can be, with a variety of tests -- and validly applied -- it can be, to predict a variety of outcomes -- it is intelligence. (Casse, 1998)
Returning again to the issue of race, one cannot discount language as a potentially biasing abstract on an kind of psychological test, included but not limited to intelligence testing. Bilingualism has been one of the most difficult factors to resolve, even with an emphasis on abilities rather than base intelligence as the guide. Direction must be given and if translational issues are a part of the equation misunderstandings can seriously skew results. (Figueroa, 1989, p. 145)
Another difficult issue with regard to the psychological testing movement it that ideology clouds the base need for intelligence testing in the first place, the desire of educators, and psychologists to identify and help people who are legitimately of below average intelligence. Clear understandings have accrued over the years with regard to the need to appropriately stimulate, rather than isolating the mentally retarded. The truth has been established repeatedly that without novel stimulus and the ability to watch and mimic the "normal" such people will continue to be unable to function in society at any level.(Daly, 1997, p. 553) if all intelligence testing is abandoned based on any one theory being proven wrong, though an unlikely scenario, then the ability of any professional to identify and help resolve social and intelligence issues for those people who need such intervention would be lost.
The questions that have been addressed in this work do not resolve the problems of intelligence testing and all its controversial and mainstream ideologies. This work does on the other hand show the pattern of development of a movement, that will likely continue to evolve and change, just as the historical basis for it does, the history of psychology. The evolution of psychology in a sense can be traced through the old and modern arguments associated with the psychological testing movement, as the ebb and flow of attempting to quantify intangibles, those things that happen under the surface, in the mind, reverberates through the evolution of test theory and application.
Casse, D. (1998, August). IQ since "The Bell Curve." Commentary, 106, 33.
Intelligence. (2004). In the Columbia Encyclopedia (6th ed.). New York: Columbia University Press.
Daly, W.C. (1997). Some Mentally Retarded Children Can Benefit from Placement with Peers. Education, 117(4), 553.
Figueroa, R.A. (1989). Psychological Testing of Linguistic-Minority Students: Knowledge Gaps and Regulations. Exceptional Children, 56(2), 145.
Goslin, D.A. (1963). The Search for Ability: Standardized Testing in Social Perspective. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.