Episode 10

SAT & IQ Tests

00:00:00
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01:32:19

February 2nd, 2019

1 hr 32 mins 19 secs

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About this Episode

In 1920 Carl Brigham adapted the Army's mental test to aid the admissions process for his Alma Mater, Princeton. In the nearly 100 years since the implementation of the SAT, it has faced criticism for being unfairly biased and increasingly outdated as a methodology for testing mental ability.

Carl Brigham was a noteworthy American psychologist who used his illegitimate findings to publish a book in 1924 which called for strict immigration laws and asked Americans to stop spending money to educate those who he deemed "morons and imbeciles". In 1930 Brigham retracted his statements regarding these races and admitted his findings were obtained through flawed means. However, at this point, the damage had already been done to the psyche of the global public.

Despite the controversy surrounding this figure, colleges continue to accept the SAT as a legitimate benchmark for college admissions. Proponents of the test claim that the biases inherent to the initial test and creator are no longer represented and that the test remains one of the most accurate methods of testing a student's acuity.

Opponents of the test argue that current trends in wealth distribution and success on the test indicate that the test is continuing to work as originally intended. In addition, recent controversies with the grading and distribution procedures have added fuel to this growing resentment of standardized college admissions testing.

The discourse on this topic also led us to a conversation about nature vs nurture, the history of Nazi eugenics, and the dangers of cognitive bias.

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