Saturday, November 26, 2011
Culturally Biased IQ Tests
When I arrived in this country, there many Yekkes speaking grammatically refined Hebrew with comically German accent. Already there were rumors about the Yemenite Jewish children that had been secretly given in adoption to childless European families while their biological parents were told that they had died of disease. Talking to a Yekke acquantaince, she not only knew the facts but strongly defended what had happened. In those times, Israel wanted to be ruled by science and its first President was a scientist, Chaim Weizmann (Einstein had refused). All children were vacunated and scientifically treated (some irradiated - it was believed to be beneficial) and their IQ tested. The test had shown that Yemenite children were all retarded, with IQs well under the level considered (by European science of the time) "normal". The results amazed the political leadership of the country and it had consequences that is better to forget. My acquaintance was convinced that those poor children were "retarded" because of lack of modern education and a healthy socialist environment, so she justified their bringing up in good European families. By the way, exactly the same thing happened in Australia with aborigenes, and I believe it was a common practice all over the civilized world. Later, in the army, I met more than one Shapira and Goldstein who looked (and behaved) everything but Ashkenazim.
Why I am bringing this up? Because of this grammar book. Imagine a Yemenite child who only yesterday was playing in the dirt of some savage, isolated mountain village in Yemen, and today is subjected to a IQ questionnaire with Wilhelms and atomic submarines in the North Pole. Of course he is classified as shockingly retarded and sent to a special school.
However, I cant explain why many of them continue to fail also in modern culturally neutral IQ tests.