Controversy of Intelligence: Crash Course Psychology #23

Smarty pants, egg head, brainiac. You’ve heard
terms like these before, maybe you’ve even been on the receiving end of one of them.
But actually, defining intelligence is a lot trickier than just coming up with new names
for smart people. I mean, intelligence isn’t like height or
weight; you can’t just toss them on a scale and give it an exact measurement. It has different
meanings for different cultures and ages and skill sets. So what is intelligence? It’s a question that
doesn’t give us a lot of answers, but it does open a bunch of other equally important and
interesting questions. Like, what influences it? And how can it be
assessed? Is it a single, general ability, or does it
cover a range of aptitudes and skills and talents?
How do things like creativity and innovation factor in? Or genetics or environment, or
education? And what about emotional intelligence? Most agree that it’s best to think of intelligence
not of a concrete thing so much as a concept, the ability to learn from experience, solve
problems, and use knowledge to adapt to new experiences.
We’ve often used intelligence tests, to assess and compare mental aptitude, but these tests
have a long, complex and dark history. I mean there are Nazis involved so, yeah. So as you’ll see, there are reasons that intelligence
is one of the most hotly debated subjects in psychology. It’s complicated and controversial. [Intro] What if I’m the world’s greatest Rubik’s cube
solver but a terrible speller? Or a truly gifted artist who’s barely mastered long division?
Could anyone say I was intelligent or not based on those different aptitudes, or would
it be more accurate to measure my brainpower on several different scales? Around the turn of the twentieth century,
British psychologist Charles Spearman suggested that yes, we do have one comprehensive general
intelligence that underlies all of specific mental abilities. He called it the G-Factor. Spearman conceded that while people may have
special talents like basket weaving or saxophone solos or doing crossword puzzles, those things
still fell under “G”. And he helped develop a statistical procedure called factor analysis
to try to determine how certain clusters of skills might correlate with another one. Like,
say someone who tests well in spatial skills might be good with numbers. We might then refer to that cluster of skills,
that factor, as spatial-numeric reasoning. But to Spearman, the G-factor was something
of an uber-factor connected to all intelligent behavior from architecture to healing to survival
skills, and it’s why people who do well on one kind of cognitive test tend to do well
on others. But as you can imagine, reducing intelligence to a single numerical test score
was and is problematic. L.L. Thurstone, an American pioneer of psychometrics
and one of Spearman’s first challengers, was not into ranking people on a single scale.
Thurstone administered 56 different tests to his subjects then used them to identify
seven clusters of mental abilities. By this system, you might turn out to be great at
like verbal comprehension but less stellar at something like numerical ability. Sounds fair. But when researchers followed
up on his findings, they actually did see that high scores in one aptitude usually meant
good scores in the others, essentially backing up some evidence for some kind of G-factor.
Even though their ideas did not often align, Spearman and Thurstone together paved the
way for more contemporary theories on intelligence. For example, American psychologist Howard
Gardner views intelligence as multiple abilities that come in different forms. He references
instances of brain damage where one ability may be destroyed while others stay perfectly
intact. Savants usually have some limited metal abilities but one exceptional ability
when it comes to like, computing figures or memorizing the complete works of Shakespeare. To Gardner, this suggests that we have multiple
intelligences beyond the G-factor. In fact, he believes that we have eight intelligences,
ranging from our skills with numbers and words to our ability to understand physical space
and the natural world. American psychologist Robert Sternberg tends to agree with Gardner,
though he boils them down into three intelligences: analytical, or problem-solving intelligence,
creative intelligence, or the ability to adapt to new situations, and practical intelligence
for everyday tasks. Both of these models seem reasonable, too,
and Gardner and Sternberg’s work has helped teachers appreciate students’ variety of talents.
But research has suggested that even these different ways to be smart are also linked
by some underlying general intelligence factor. So what about other less tangible forms of
intelligence, like creativity, our ability to produce ideas that are both novel and valuable?
How can a test that demands one correct answer account for more creative solutions, so-called
“divergent thinking”. Well, traditional intelligence tests can’t,
and so far, while we do have some tests that look at creative potential, we don’t have
a standardized system for quantifying creativity. But Sternberg and his colleagues have identified
five main components of creativity, which are useful for framing our understanding of
what creative intelligence is and how it works. If you go through the list, you know who I
think is really great at almost all of them? Sherlock Holmes. Hear me out. First we’ve got expertise, or a well-developed
base of knowledge. This just means knowing a lot about a lot. Whether it’s arcane poisons,
jellyfish behavior, or how to recognize a secret passage behind a book shelf, expertise
provides the mind with all sorts of data to work with and combine in new ways. Obviously Sherlock has incredible imaginative
thinking skills, too, which provide him with the ability to see things in new ways, recognize
patterns and make connections. He loves nothing more than rehashing these breadcrumb trails
for the dopey constables at the end of the case. Sternberg also thought a venturesome personality
contributes to creativity. By hanging around opium dens and chasing thugs and generally
courting danger, Sherlock routinely seeks new experiences, tolerates risk, and perseveres
in overcoming obstacles. And everyone knows he’s driven by intrinsic
motivation. I mean, he wants to help the widow discover the thief and everything, but really,
Sherlock is driven by his own interest and sense of challenge. He gets pleasure from
the work itself. And finally, Sherlock benefits from a creative
environment which sparks, supports, and refines his ideas. For so affectionately maintaining
this environment on Sherlock’s behalf, we largely have Dr. Watson to thank. Sherlock was obviously an academic and creative
genius, but he was pretty weak in another form of intelligence: the emotional kind.
Emotional intelligence, defined in 1997 by psychologist Peter Salovey and John Mayer
— no, not, not that one– is the ability to perceive, understand, manage, and use emotions.
I don’t know about you, but I know plenty of smart people who have a hard time processing
social information. The most brilliant mathematician may struggle to communicate with colleagues,
neighbors, or staff at the local deli. Likewise, Sherlock often annoys, offends, or even baffles
those around him. Perceiving emotions means being able to recognize
them in faces, and even in music, film, and stories. Understanding emotions relates to
being able to predict them and how they might change. And managing emotions comes down to
knowing how to appropriately express yourself in various situations. And finally, emotional
intelligence also means using emotions to enable adaptive or creative thinking; like
knowing how to manage conflict or comfort a grieving friend or work well with others. Much like creative intelligence, emotional
intelligence can be measured to some degree through testing, but there’s no standardized
way to, like, assign a numerical value. So if we can’t perfectly quantify things like
creativity or emotional smarts, how did we come up with a way to measure intelligence? Well, as I mentioned earlier, it’s a sordid
story. The first attempts to do it in the western world began with English scientist
Francis Galton in the 1800s. Taking a page from his famous cousin Charles Darwin’s theories
on natural selection, Galton wondered how that premise might extend to humans’ natural
ability when it came to intelligence. He suggested that our smarts have a lot to do with heredity,
so if we encouraged smart people to breed with each other, we could essentially create
a master race of geniuses. If that sounds a little sketchy, it’s because
it was, like, really, really sketchy!! This study of how to selectively and supposedly
improve the human population, especially by encouraging breeding in some people and discouraging
it in others, is called “eugenics”. A term Galton himself coined, and I’ll get back to,
in a minute. But around the turn of the twentieth century when eugenics was taking off, the
French government mandated that all children must attend school. Many of these kids had
never been in a classroom and teachers wanted to figure out how they could identify kids
who needed extra help. Enter Alfred Binet and Theodore Simon, two French psychologists
who were commissioned to develop a test to measure a child’s so-called mental age. The concept of a kid’s mental age is essentially
the level of performance associated with a certain chronological age. So if six year
old Bruno tests as well as the average six year old, he’d have a mental age of six. Binet believed that his tests could measure
a child’s current mental abilities, but that intelligence wasn’t a fixed, inborn thing.
He believed a person’s capabilities could be raised with proper attention, self-discipline
and practice. In other words, he was no eugenicist. He was hoping that his tests would improve
children’s education by identifying those who needed extra attention. But Binet also
feared that these tests would, in the wrong hands, be used to do just the opposite: labeling
children as “lost causes”, limiting their opportunities. And wow, was he on to something
because that is pretty much exactly what happened. German psychologist William Stern used revisions
of Binet and Simon’s work to create the famous intelligence quotient, or IQ measurement.
At the time, your IQ was simply your mental age, divided by your chronological age, multiplied
by a hundred. So for example Bruno is six, and so is his mental age, so his IQ ranks
at a hundred, but his little sister Betty is a four year-old with a mental age of five,
so her IQ would be 125. That formula works pretty well for measuring
kids, but it falls apart when it comes to adults who don’t hit measurable developmental
steps like kids do. I mean there’s no real difference between a mental age of 34 and
35. But Stanford professor Lewis Terman started
promoting the widespread use of intelligence tests in the early 1900s, and with his help
the US government began the world’s first massive ministration of intelligence tests,
when it assessed World War I army recruits and immigrants fresh off the boat. Unlike Binet, Terman did use these numerical
findings as a kind of label, and he thought his tests could, as he put it: “ultimately
result in curtailing the reproduction of feeble-mindedness”. This kind of testing played right into eugenicists’
sensibilities, and soon the eugenics movement in the US had a pretty good fanclub, raising
money from the Carnegie’s and Rockafeller’s and with proponents working at Harvard and
Columbia and Cornell. In the first half of the 21st century, intelligence
tests were used to enforce the sterilization of about 60,000 people, around a third of
whom were in California. Most were poor white women, often unwed mothers or prostitutes.
Other eugenics efforts persisted later into the century, and there is evidence of poor
African American, Native American, or Latina women being forcibly or covertly sterilized
in large numbers as recently as the 1970s. But do you know who really loved their eugenics?
The Nazis. Hitler and his cronies took the idea of intelligence
testing to even darker conclusions. The Nazis were all about selecting against so-called
“feeble-mindedness” and other undesirable traits as they sought to strengthen what they
saw as their Aryan nation. They sterilized or simply executed hundreds of thousands of
victims based of their answers to IQ test questions that were really more abut adhering
to social norms than measuring actual intelligence. Questions like: “Who was Bismarck?” and “What
does Christmas signify?” So you can see how this terrifying history still makes some people
leery of how such tests are administered, interpreted, and weighted. Today we understand that intelligence, as
defined by all the people we’ve talked about here, does appear to be a real and measurable
phenomenon. But no one can say that they’ve disentangled all of the would-be genetic,
environmental, educational, and socio-economic components of it. In the end, it’s best to
think of intelligence as something about which we’ve still got a lot to learn. And next week,
we’ll talk about how we test intelligence today and the problems we still face in doing
it. Today, your intelligent mind learned about
the history of how we think about and define different types of intelligence, what the
G-factor is, and how Sherlock Holmes is incredibly intelligent but emotionally unintelligent.
You also learned about the history and methods of intelligence testing, IQ scores, and how
eugenics turned to the dark side, and has since made even talking about intelligence
kind of controversial. Thank you for watching, especially fto our
Subbable subscribers who make Crash Course possible. To find out how you can become a
supporter, just go to This episode was written by Kathleen Yale,
edited by Blake de Pastino, and our consultant is Dr. Ranjit Bhagwat. Our director and editor
is Nicholas Jenkins, the script supervisor is Michael Aranda, who is also our sound designer,
and the graphics team is Thought Cafe.

  1. There are many forms of intellect as there are many areas of the brain controlling a certain aspect of mental ability. Neurological testing, and knowledge examination across general subjects that most people should know typically, and a very comprehensive and long written exam are all 3 factors/ variables to scientifically and analysis efficiently of the average/overall brain performance score of a given individual

  2. A person might have an IQ score of 200 but can't socialize normally with other people or do not so appropriate things and be chewed out by their family and peers but the child prodigy will simply try and out smart everyone and say it was perfectly logical to do what they did or try to use their very high intellect to manipulate the situation to their advantage and not care what anyone says or thinks. This is a sign of low EQ

  3. This video is actually quite good, and is pretty much in line with a book that I am currently reading about the topic.
    There is only one thing that struck me :
    I agree that Eugenics is a pretty dumb idea and violates most of the rules on how we think our society should work. But all studies with monozygotic twins which were raised appart, suggest that the ominous g-factor is heritable to quite a large extend (about 75% correlation in most studies). You are not saying anything against that, but you are also not mentioning it at all. I wonder if you have other evidence that is questioning these findings, or if the implications are just too politically incorrect for you to mention it.

  4. The more I study Psychology the more I realise just how much Humanity doesn't know about itself… Also as much as it is a sketchy/controversial subject I find Eugenics to be fascinating to study.

  5. According to jordan peterson the personality trait openness determines one's creativity and agreeableness (also lack of neuroticism I'm guessing) determines one's emotional intelligence.

  6. Intelligence = Situational Variable
    G factor = State of Mind
    State of mind = basic state of mental function, or ability to focus, in the area relative to measurement.

    State of Mind, is affected in part, by ones State of body.
    a man who is sick, will not be very capable in any situation. a man who is healthy, is at his full potential intelligence.
    Intelligence, must be measured, in relation to the persons chosen environment.
    Intelligence is always relative, on all levels.
    when your parents wondered why you could remember all of the hundreds of Pokemon, but couldn't stay focused in that class you didn't like.
    ones inclination, must also be taken into account, and data adjusted accordingly.
    engaged people, are not effective people.

    in short, I propose that intelligence, is a complex situational variable, with many factors. it is the sum of how effective you are in any given situation.
    you = the sum of your processes, in any given moment.
    your intelligence = the sum of your processes effectiveness, relative to your aims.

    what do you think?

  7. Wisdom: years of experience
    Smarts : learning, studying
    Intelligence: solving problems with no prior knowledge of the subject.

  8. All G-factors are fantasies, you cannot reduce intelligence to a single score. The military does the ASVAB and they call it a skills test, not an intelligent test, and what they do is rate your skills in different areas. Little known fact, if you cannot read and write at least at a 9th grade level, then the military will not take you or will not keep you: There is a reading comprehension test, they do not teach with comic books, where you are going to actually have to read. I was happy with the test, it said that I had actually graduated high school with the expected comprehension and reading skills that high school graduates are supposed to have.

  9. Intelligence is a thing bro and categorizing it maybe a little confusing to people if you are intelligent you have have across the board slight variations in levels.

  10. I think what should be studied/tested is the potential of each individual to become increasingly smarter. Observing how putting effort into understanding something changes the speed of the learning process for every person.

    Because I mean.. many people are or could be reaaally good in some fields, but they are just too lazy to improve, hence their level of Intelligence is not what it could be. And some people are faster at learning than others.

    So how good could a person be if they actually put effort into it?

    Say Edward would have an intelligence 1.4 times higher than he currently does if he just studied a certain amount of time, whereas Anna would only be 1.2 times 'smarter' if she studied for the same amount of time.

    I think it's kinda hard but doable..

  11. I love that this guy seems to see how absurd "measuring intelligence and creativity" is – while showing us how academics have tried – much appreciated!

  12. It would have been great to see the CHC Thoery of Intelligence highlighted as it's the most comprehensive and generally accepted among researchers.

  13. ok, I am not a supporter of he Nazi's at all, but Nazi's were not the only bad country, really, Hitler was a poor strategist, attacking Russia during the winter despite all his generals advic0e not too, he was constantly trying to change and upgrade designs for his vehicles which resulted in a poor cavalry which was mostly destroyed in Russia, the vehicles were constantly breaking down and do to all the design changes were almost impossible to find spare parts, the panzer 1 2 and 3 really sucked and were weak, even though powerful en mass, they just weren't good, later tanks were better, but malfunctioned, broke down, were almost unfixable do to design change, and just weren't very effective after the Russian winter, their v2 rockets were inaccurate, navy subs broke down after a few  months, and Hitler was not supplying his army at all, in the long run, the country with the most supplies survives, Germany had a poor economy, poor rations, poor industry, made worse by Hitler's design changes, didn't have enough money, metal to make things en mass, they were good at first, until Hitler sacrificed most of his might in the Russian winter, Stalin (who we supported) killed over 40 million of his own people, Hitler total civilian kill count was 20.9 million. Stalin tortured his own people for fear of revolt, Brittan was bombing s instead of military targets, which is no different then burning the Jews, and we were bombing civilians in japan, we as a scheduled to drop another 48 A bombs on japan, as a show of might to Russia which caused the Russians to  stop revolting against Stalin for fear of lack of defense against American a bombs, we never had to drop the a bombs because the Japanese were being starved and cut off, they were going to surrender, Roosevelt caused pearl harbor by cutting off supplies to them, aiding there enemies, and instigating them, just so they would attack, and he could finally use his military might, he purposely moved most of the ships with anti aircraft guns away from pearl harbor, and piled the planes together by saying there would be a sabotage attack, he removed pearl harbors defenses and instigated the Japanese resulting in a massacre which was blamed on the admirals in charge of pearl harbor, do the research yourself, world war 2 was not the black white fight as shown by the government, we were all equally bad, we just wanted to stay in control, read world war 2, the rest of the story and how it affects us today, by Richard j. Maybury.

  14. I have 0 iq as my brain cells all killed each other, this comment is actually just my body twitching, what? Did you think a guy with a dead brain could actually comment this? That's stupid.

  15. I noticed you posted the word "BINEVITABLE" I also googled the word and also checked my dictionary it is not listed so what does it mean since you posted it. The word can be seen when talking about Alfred Binet

  16. My mom says im a genius, its true. One time when I was twelve i solved one face of a rubik cube, i couldn't help it. At school i was even put in a special class just because of my level of intelligence.

  17. It's unintelligent to assume just becaus nazies had something to do with something, it must be nefarious. Polarizing and lack of critical understanding when discussing nazies are in the same boat.

  18. Omg not this again. Intelligence is like love. It means different things depending on the cultural context. People having conversations together could be talking about intelligence and in reality be referring to two completely, or slightly, different things. Intelligence is not hard to define and is not always hard to measure. You simply have to choose a definition and work with it. That's it. There is no one mystical definition that elludes philosophers that everyone will agree on. No. It's simply a word that most people use without fully fleshing out what it actually means.

  19. There are savants, and then idiot savants. Idiot savants are less socially alined, but massively gifted in a specific subject. As for regular savants can be taught to be socially alined.

  20. I wish I was more emotionally intelligent. Maybe I wouldn’t have been taken advantage of by most of my friends and boyfriends in my life. It’s nice getting good grades but I’m working on depression and anxiety that stems from me being spacey and not getting people.

  21. I understood Sherlock Holmes as Emotionally intelligent(he has no issues noticing emotions of others at least), but that there are too many factors about a persons past that you can't just see, assume or justify talking about. This makes socializing incredibly hard because you want to take the best route forward, but you are at a crossroad with so many signs pointing in directions that trying to choose the best one becomes more difficult. But if you were really smart then you would be able to know how to learn to socialize in the most optimal and fastest way, so that talking to people would not be a challenge. This doesn't make Socializing an intelligence it makes it a skill you train, and if you dont spend time learning it, then it doesn't mean you aren't capable of learning it or being clever about how to learn and use said skill.

    Any Dumb Person wouldn't see or notice the same amount of signs pointing in directions as the intelligent one, which would make it easy for that person to just choose one and progress faster in learning what direction might go in the right direction. This would explain why people who are dumb do dumb things sometimes, but also why dumb people still can get far in life, since just the act of choosing a path still is progress for learning, just not always the right one.

  22. Thanks to the IQ test, police won't let people who have "Too high of an IQ" because they'll overthink things. What they don't realize is if the people can get a high IQ on the test know this, they would purposely fudge themselves a little to get an average score. Facepalm So much for IQ tests XD

  23. I took an iq test (it was online) I got a 112

    I get A-B in school

    I study almost all-sciences and can understand what my friends call science talk

    I also have a great memory I still remember many of the dinosaurs I learned when I was 5-8

    I am able to remember anything I am interested

    I am not quite abysmal at math

    So I don’t know if I am smart

    Oh I am 14 not sure if that relevant

  24. I could create a whole youtube channel off all the things you don't say in these videos that is so much more relevant than what you actually do say… ugh stop making videos hank

  25. Sometimes i feel that i am smart but not enough. I made psychologist test it proof that i have normal cognitive abilities. And i am also good at geography.

  26. You could have mentioned that Gardners intelligences were never measured and he said that he doesnt care wether they are measureable, which means he doesnt care wheter they exist or not.

  27. As the fourth ranked one handed rubiks cube solver world wide in the world let me tell you, solving rubiks cubes fast barely correlates with intelligence as you've defined it. It does correlate with natural reaction times, finger dexterity, ability to mentally and visually track position and orientation of objects in 3d space fast and other weird stuff. Problem solving is only integral to one small part of the solution and you definitely get away with not being good at it if you're a master of everything else, a slow learning curve may also influence the beginning stages of cubing, where you're still learning new concepts, people who find that hard might feel discouraged to persue cubing further, but it barely factors into high level solving.
    Yes, this is just a very minor nitpick, ignore if you so wish.

  28. If otherwise highly intelligent people have difficulty in social situation, pseudo-scientists take it as proof of lack of "emotional intelligence". What they forget (or deliberately ignore) is that if you put an ordinary person among a group of these highly intelligent people, the roles would be entirely reversed. Let's take another scenario.

    Imagine a gay, black, communist jew attending a nazi gathering in 1940 Germany. He'd probably fare pretty badly socially, but that doesn't say anything about his "emotional intelligence". Sure, he can handle it better or worse, but that's skill, not intelligence, and usually not what the frauds measure anyways. It's a bogus term.

  29. I consider intelligence to be the ability to acquire a substantial amount of knowledge of any given topic at any given time.

    Knowledge is power

  30. You speak very generally, like you don't want to offend anyone. Those videos even if simple and colourful have no value. It's better to read about psychology on your own than to watch it.

  31. Defining Intelligence 00:00:00
    Types of Intelligence 01:22:09
    G-Factor 01:37:05
    Sherlock Holmes 04:44:12
    Intelligence Testing 02:26:23
    IQ Scores 08:00:21
    Eugenics 07:47:05
    Intelligence Controversy 09:05:17

  32. I haven't been able to find specific sources for you claims on Binet's opinions, specifically, the idea that standardized cognitive tests should not be used to differentially reward students. I would be grateful if you provided an accessible source for that. Thanks!

  33. Different personality types manifest different types of higher IQ. And anyone can develop the genius levels of intelligence by focusing on whatever craft that stimulates the cognitive functions.
    In other words, genius IQ is a learned behavior that any average person can develop.

  34. Multiple Intelligences, the Mozart Effect, and Emotional Intelligence: A Critical Review

    Lynn Waterhouse

  35. Cuckold, progressive shill, bigot of low expectation.
    General intelligence is only confusing to those that focus on cultural rather physical stresses. Funny how the West created a system that, on average, puts them third globally.
    'Those racist pricks proving that East Asians and Jews are very smart. Pure bigotry…'😐

  36. While listening to this I was hit with a epiphany on how to test intelligence but watch my theory be shot down upon arrival to recipients x's brain

  37. I have read somewhere that emotional intelligence is not at all the same as SOCIAL intelligence. And there's plenty of proof out there, i.e. many artists, philosophers, writers, etc, who were emotionally intelligent but socially awkward: Beethoven, Charlotte Brontë, Robert Schumann, Glenn Gould, Giacomo Leopardi, Petrarch, etc.; it's a long list

  38. Aren't SAT's LSAT's and tests used to determine a persons worthiness to serve our military with (hopefully) a positive impact used every single day and no one blinks an eye? People are discriminated every day because they just don't measure up? I hope there isn't a single whiff of someone thinking that someone who ranks in the bottom 10% on the SAT's goes straight to M.I.T. or Stanford.. And stating in one of the pieces of text in this video that flashed up on the screen, that intelligence is not a heritable trait is completely absurd.. Variability yes, but within some reasonably measurable meaningful probability distribution..

    Just because the results of these sort of tests have been used for bad, doesn't mean the tests are bad or invalid in any real way, it just shows that some misguided people with some devious agenda, use the results for their devious means..

  39. Excellent post as usual… “The intellect is good but until it has become the servant of the heart, it is of little avail.” ~ Abdu’l-Baha, Baha'i Faith

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