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[evol-psych] Gardner Article

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  • Keith & Elena Harris
    This story ran on page A23 of the Boston Globe on 1/1/2000. © Copyright 1999 Globe Newspaper Company. Rethinking the concept of intelligence By Howard
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 1, 2000
      This story ran on page A23 of the Boston Globe on 1/1/2000.
      © Copyright 1999 Globe Newspaper Company.

      Rethinking the concept of intelligence

      By Howard Gardner, 1/1/2000

      What is likely to happen to the concept of intelligence in the new
      millennium? As a longtime researcher in the area of intelligence and as the
      creator of the theory of multiple intelligences, I anticipate four principal

      BREADTH. I have proposed that human beings are best thought of as having
      several intelligences, ranging from the familiar linguistic and logical
      intelligences to more esoteric forms such as interpersonal intelligence and
      naturalist intelligence.
      Linguistic and logical intelligences are valuable in school and IQ tests.
      Interpersonal intelligence is crucial in doing clinical or sales work, while
      naturalist intelligence figures in hunting, agriculture, and our capacity to
      make and appreciate differences among commercial products, like sneakers and

      Psychologist and journalist Daniel Goleman has proposed emotional
      intelligence (the ability to understand and control one's emotions), and
      psychiatrist Robert Coles has nominated moral intelligence (the sense of
      character that we hope our children will have and that we look for in
      friends and associates).

      It is a good idea to broaden our notion of intelligence, especially if we
      want to recognize the range of human capacities.

      But I worry about definitions that collapse assessments of our cognitive
      powers with statements about the kind of human beings we favor. Our ability
      to understand other persons (a cognitive capacity) does not necessarily mean
      we will use that capacity to help others (a decision involving a value
      judgment). Indeed, primatologists speak of Machiavellian intelligence - the
      capacity to use our understanding of others to ''do them in.''

      PURITY. For many years psychometricians have searched for the ultimate or
      ''pure'' essence of intelligence. They would like to ferret out the brain
      structure or the gene that controls intelligence.

      I remain skeptical that there is such a thing as pure intelligence. In my
      view, what we count as intelligence changes from one era to another - the
      intelligence needed to succeed in an agricultural society may be different
      from that needed to thrive in a computer-based society - and from one
      situation to another (trying to negotiate a contract, planning one's life
      Indeed, should one intelligence become overly prized (as it is on Wall
      Street), resourceful individuals will discover or exploit another form (as
      they do in Silicon Valley or Hollywood). Wall Street looks for skill with
      figures and trends, Silicon Valley rewards daring ideas and inventions in
      technology, and Hollywood is ever in search of a new plot twist and a new
      cinematic technique.

      ASSESSMENT. What one thinks intelligence is determines how one believes it
      should be assessed. Devotees of the IQ test prefer sharp questions that are
      thought to best assess intelligence (e.g., solving a complex maze, mapping
      an analogy). In contrast, those who view intelligence as operating
      distinctively in different contexts prefer assessments that are as realistic
      as possible. For them, a simulation, where you actually have to navigate new
      territory or write an essay that compares two quite different entities,
      proves to be a far more effective assessment than a short-answer or
      multiple-choice measure.

      INDIVIDUATION. One of the most widely debated works on intelligence in
      recent times was ''The Bell Curve.'' Authors Richard Herrnstein and Charles
      Murray espoused the classical position on intelligence: that each of us
      represents a particular point on a bell-shaped curve of intelligence and
      that our intelligence is largely a product of our genetic heritage.
      I believe that the bell curve view is unsubstantiated on scientific grounds
      and unpalatable on social grounds. According to my rival ''multiple
      intelligences'' view, each of us has many intellectual potentials. Which
      ones are realized depends on opportunities available, effectiveness of
      teaching, and one's own motivation.

      In the future, will we assume a passive view with respect to intelligence -
      receiving a test score and letting it determine our life options? Or will we
      see intelligences as flexible opportunities, which we can shape and enhance
      for ourselves and for others under our care, such as our students or our
      children? Will we try to realize as many variations of intellect as
      Before long it will be possible for us to intervene actively in matters of
      the mind through hormonal injections, operations on the nervous system, or
      even genetic engineering or cloning. Deciding on such matters will certainly
      test our intelligence. What we ultimately decide will reveal the quality of
      our wisdom and the merit of our values.
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