Michael E. Staub

The Mismeasure of Minds

Debating Race and Intelligence Between Brown and The Bell Curve

University of North Carolina Press 2018

New Books in African American StudiesNew Books in American StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in PsychologyNew Books in Science & TechnologyNew Books in Science, Technology, and SocietyNew Books Network November 21, 2018 Matthew Johnson

The 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision required desegregation of America’s schools, but it also set in motion an agonizing multi-decade debate over race, class,...

The 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision required desegregation of America’s schools, but it also set in motion an agonizing multi-decade debate over race, class, and IQ. In The Mismeasure of Minds: Debating Race and Intelligence Between Brown and The Bell Curve (University of North Carolina Press, 2018), Michael E. Staub, Professor of English and American Studies at Baruch College, City University of New York, investigates neuropsychological studies published between Brown and the controversial 1994 book The Bell Curve. In doing so, he illuminates how we came to view race and intelligence today.

In tracing how research and experiments around such concepts as learned helplessness, deferred gratification, hyperactivity, and emotional intelligence migrated into popular culture and government policy, Staub reveals long-standing and widespread dissatisfaction—not least among middle-class whites—with the metric of IQ. He also documents the devastating consequences—above all for disadvantaged children of color—as efforts to undo discrimination and create enriched learning environments were recurrently repudiated and defunded. By connecting psychology, race, and public policy in a single narrative, Staub charts the paradoxes that have emerged and that continue to structure investigations of racism even into the era of contemporary neuroscientific research.

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