Saturday, February 18, 2012

Hat Size and Intelligence...

Jack Dikian
February 2012

These days we use statistically reliable and well-known cognitive assessments such as Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale to help determine cognitive function (let’s say intelligence for the sake of this blurb). These assessments generally measure a person's performance on several markers relative to that of his or her peers and include a series of analytical, mathematical, and spatial activities.

Let’s now rewind time back to 1870’s when Charles Darwin’s cousin, a scientist called Francis Galton got a brilliant idea or two. The good cousin becomes fascinated by animal breeders bringing about new advances in the varieties of dogs, sheep and cattle. His big idea was to use Darwin’s selection for a practical and political purpose - breading better humans.

He writes, “if only one 20th of the cost and pains spent on the measures of the human race then is spent on the improvement of breads of horses and cattle, what a galaxy of genius might we not create.” The term eugenics was coned - the application of animal breading concepts to humans.

His idea was underpinned by the belief that traits such as intelligence, genius, and memory were inherited in just the same way as the physical traits of cattle and sheep.

Interesting in one survey he distributed to 330 eminent men, as well as a question about “energy of mind”, he seeked to learn the hat size of the group - believing of course smart people must have bigger heads. Darwin’s hat size was considered a respectful 22 inches and a quarter.

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