This book is a concise history and reaction to how past and present societies have attempted to measure the intellect of the individual.
Early scientists believed that the size of the brain was the key to intelligence and measured the cranial cavities of skulls from across the continents. Grape seed (!) was poured into the brain cavity and counted. The findings devastated the prejudiced Anglo scientists who found that the African skulls were much larger. But they soon "proved" the intellectual superiority of the white man by being more selective of the skulls they used in their study.
Today, society continues to try to place a numerical value on each human being to determine if he/she will succeed in a particular school or at a particular job. We've replaced the number of the grape seed with the scores of pencil and paper tests.
Gould explains that the human personality is much too complex to be measured by a few clever tests and warns us of the jeopardy we invite upon ourselves if we continue down this narrow path....Continua