March 17, 2018, 08:17:13 AM *
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
News: SMF - Just Installed!
   Home   Help Search Calendar Login Register  
Pages: [1]
Author Topic: Monkey See, Monkey Do!  (Read 4059 times)
Full Member
Posts: 158

View Profile
« on: April 30, 2009, 01:22:25 AM »

The quest to understand the meaning of “Intelligence”, how does one track a prey which they cannot see, has no odor, leaves practically no trail? How does one classify something that has no currently known classification? This is a quest worthy of undertaking, with wealth beyond that offered by material objects and those who complete it shall be deemed the greatest minds to have ever lived. So join us as we look deeper into the definition of “Intelligence”.

Monkey See, Monkey Do!

Humanity has long struggled to define the seemingly innocuous word known as intelligence, from early philosophers to modern physicians of the mind such as Alfred Benet whom introduced the first Intellectual Quality (IQ) testing in the early 1900’s (McGraw-Hill Companies, 2004). Even modern day revolutionaries such as Peter Salovey and John Mayer, who developed the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSACEIT)  (Caruso, 2007) are seemingly able to only scratch the surface of defining such as little word. This article shall venture to look at four ( 4 ) main questions of  how intelligence is defined and measured which shall be discussed in our first topic, titled “Do No Evil”. The second topic of interest, titled “See No Evil”, shall look at the concept of intelligence and how it has evolved. Our third topic, titled “Speak No Evil” shall endeavor to document my own personal viewpoints and justifications regarding the definition of intelligence. Lastly, in our fourth and final topic titled, “Hear No Evil”,  we shall look at how various learning styles may influence various views of what intelligence is, along with some examples to ponder. Or perhaps… our epic journey to discover the truth behind intelligence is in vain and the answer is as simple as “Monkey See, Monkey Do!”.

Do No Evil
How exactly is intelligence measured and/or defined? Let us begin with some self indulgent edification on the matter by considering the common definition as presented by our old friend the dictionary.

“in⋅tel⋅li⋅gence [in-tel-i-juh ns]
“1. Capacity for learning, reasoning, understanding, and similar forms of mental activity; aptitude in grasping truths, relationships, facts, meanings, etc.” (intelligence, n.d. )

Well now that we know the nature of the metaphorical beast that we pursue, it should be a trivial endeavor, shan’t it? Let loose the dogs, sound the heralds’ charge and let the pursuit begin with sincerer fervor! The measuring of intelligence has historically been based from upon an individuals’ mental age in relation to their chronological age, this is in turn compared to similar groups of peers to gauge how one ranks against the masses. The first true testing of “Intellectual Quotient” was developed by Dr. Alfred Benet in 1904 at the behest of the French government in effort to differentiate between “normal” children and “inferior” children.  (Audiblox, n.d.)

As a result of his labors, Dr. Alfred Benet developed the “Binet-Scale” or what was later referred to as the “Simon-Binet-Scale”, in recognition of the Theophile ( Philosopher ) Simon’s contributions to its development. Binet also noted that “the scale, properly speaking, does not permit the measure of intelligence, because intellectual qualities are not superposable, and therefore cannot be measured as linear surfaces are measured”  (Audiblox, n.d.). Failing to heed his advice, the scale was adultrated on a mass scale around the world by educational systems and psychologist in effort to segragate the “inferior” from the those poor “normal” children.

The “Stanford-Binet” test was developed in 1916 by Lewis M. Terman in order to further justify his eugenic views, believing that intelligence was hereditary and could not be altered. This test was used for decades within the American academia and was further compounded by the development of the “Scholastic Aptitude Test” by Carl Brighan, whom also was a staunch proponent of the eugenics ideology  (Audiblox, n.d.).

H.H. Goodard was the director of research at Vineland Training School in New Jersey and utilized the Binet test to screen the admission of prospective students. Further he translated Benet’s original work into English and advocated wide spread use of the Simon-Binet Scale across all educational systems. H.H. Goodard was the original creator of the moniker “moron” which he used as an actual classification in conjunction with terms of endearment like, “normal”, “idiot” and “imbecile”. He was also a strong proponent of immigration laws as he discovered that all immigrants except those from Northern Europe were of “surprisingly low intelligence;” (Audiblox, n.d.).

H.H. Goodard was quoted as saying,
“If mental level plays anything like the role it seems to, and if in each human being it is the fixed quantity that many believe it is, then it is no useless speculation that tries to see what would happen if society were organized so as to recognize and make use of the doctrine of mental levels… It is quite possible to restate practically all of our social problems in terms of mental level… Testing intelligence is no longer an experiment or of doubted value. It is fast becoming an exact science… Greater efficiency, we are always working for. Can these new facts be used to increase our efficiency? No question! We only await the Human Engineer who will undertake the work”  (Goodard, 1920).

Steven Jay Gould, Professor at Harvard University and author of “The Mismeasure of Man”  (Gould, 1981) pointed out that it was the abuse of IQ test that provided the fundamental grounds for legalized forced sterilization of “defective” individuals in certain parts of the United States of America from the 1920’s through 1974 when it was finally banned by the government…
During a period of one year during the 1980’s teachers across the US gave over 500 million standardized test to children and adults  (Audiblox, n.d.). While in 1989 the American Academy of the Advancement of Science listed the IQ test among the top twenty most important discoveries of the century  (Audiblox, n.d.)…

As of late in history, the field of psychology has broadened the areas they feel are important to determining the overall “intelligence” of men. This new theory involves the assessment of several areas of both personality as well as cognitive reasoning and self awareness, titled “Emotional Intelligence”.

Well it seems that the beast has somehow managed to distract us from our original journey of discovery…or has he… From a historical perspective, perhaps it is best that the elusive creature known as “Intelligence” and its properties, remain a mystery until someone with actual “Intelligence” designs a methodology that is not founded on classification, eugenics or the mass genocide that the ideology of “greater” or “lesser” has historically caused in such places as Nazi Germany, South Africa or even within the United States. This topic does not even delve into the religious aspects of the matter at hand, fore if it should, the death toll of “classification” would be exponentially higher. But I digress…please indulge me as past events are recounted from a more personal perspective on the matter in our next section titled, “See No Evil”. We shall earnestly endeavor to regain the more light hearted persona that many are accustomed too.

See No Evil
          Our last section titled, “Do No Evil”, illuminated us on the consequences of abuse enabled through  the use of “intelligence” defining test while not under direct adult supervision and how they have influenced the perceptions of the entire world, now we shall take a more personal look at the effects of such a ideology. “See No Evil” is more than just a title, it has substantial and enduring meaning to those who have actually been witness to certain events that all encounter during the epic saga we call life. As illustrated in graphic detail in our section titled “Do No Evil”, which was so seemingly such a benign title designed to address such a little matter as the definition of “Intelligence”, yet the end results were anything but benign or little in matter. Such has been the history of men…

         In the month of November and in the year of our lord 1977, a young child was given one of the afore mentioned “Simon-Binet Scale” test after his “Intelligence” was called into question via some rather disappointing grades. The administrator of the exam was a young psychologist sent from a neighboring university whom specialized in such inquisitions, though polite in nature,  her eyes betrayed her purpose. After what seemed to be an eternity of being locked in the tiny room performing various polyphonic recitals, tedious puzzle completion and mathematical/mechanical based problem solving, he was released to the custody of the school ward (principal) while the scores were reviewed, compiled and misconstrued. Finally the grand inquisitor appeared with a packet of documents and after handing them to the principal, seated herself beside the boy while awaiting the handing down of the verdict.   The principal made several inquiries with the master inquisitor regarding portions that he himself did not quite grasp before taking a heavy sigh and staring long at the young boy. Finally his lips parted and words flowed forth with much pomp and circumstance… “Do you know why you’re here?” he asked, the young boy replied “Not really sir” and after several minutes of historical escalation of events it became clear to the boy it was regarding his lackluster report card. The principal stated that the young man was obviously highly intelligent based upon the test results and must not be “applying” himself enough to have earned such a poor review of his academic abilities. The psychologist postulated several scenarios’ which might explain the current state of events as well as offering advice on solutions, but the young man knew all too well what the principals idea of a “solution” was…

          After the passing of what seemed a second eternity, the two intelligent professionals deferred to the young man on matters of how the situation came to pass and the efforts that would be made to improve future performance. The young boy quietly replied “Sir, my grades are low because of all the homework I have missed”, to which they inquired as to why they were missed. The young boy again quietly replied “Sir, it’s not my fault really. I tried, but we had to many deaths in the family, all in a row,  and I got so far behind that I could not catch up”. Both of the highly intelligent professional inquisitors paused and looked at one another. The principal phoned the young boys teacher and requested to review the attendance records, to which the teacher quickly obliged and after careful review it was found that the youth had missed almost fifty consecutive days of school due to funerals.

           The principal and psychologist appeared a little confused as to the necessity of recent events but could not allow the absences to justify a horrible case of miscommunication and thus the verdict was handed down, failure of the 6th grade. The young man wept at the thought, and the thought of his mothers reaction to the news. Instructed to wipe his tears and accept the repercussions of missing too much school, no matter the reasoning, he was told to rejoin his classmates.

          As you may have garnered by now, that young boy was me and the events of that day have forever lived in vivid detail within my mind. Thus my verdict on “Intelligence” is this; yes intelligence does exist but it cannot be grasped with logic or reason as it is inherently tied to common sense and wisdom earned from ages of  “personal” experience and is therefore immeasurable nor comprehensible by those outside ones’ own persona. Being far to prone to self glorification and other egomaniacal delusions of grandeur, it is beyond a “humans” ability to quantify,  let alone, define by method of unbiased means or intent as to the exact nature of  what “intelligence” truly is. 

          If the question of what intelligence is was postulated to a child, they would most likely respond empirically with, “Who cares lets go play!”. Who am I to question such profound wisdom, so onward we shall continue in our noble yet futile quest to define the indefinable, what is intelligence. This has led us to our next topic titled, “Hear No Evil”, where we shall address the various learning styles and how they influence ones views of another’s intellectual capacitance.   

Hear No Evil
In the previous topic, titled “Speak No Evil”,  you were forced to endure the past experiences of personal encounters with intelligence testing, we learned that what is observed by some, may not be fact to all and is highly suspect when presented as the “Gospel Truth”. Now we shall take a look at how ones’ learning styles may influence the casual observers perspectives on intelligence or ones capacitance for the same. Let us begin with defining the current array of learning styles that are observed within the modern academic community, they are professionals after all, so pay attention and do not dawdle.

Observational learning is based upon the premise of “Monkey See, Monkey Do!” (and you thought the title was meaningless…) or in layman’s terms, the ability to learn based on one’s observations of another’s actions or other illustrative factors in the environment. Those who learn by using this methodology would be considered of limited intelligence in the typical institutional setting as they rely on observing others or the environment to illustrate cause and effect. (McGraw-Hill Companies, 2004)
Associative learning is the ability to link, connect, or associate two or more events in order to reach a conclusion or hypothesis on the outcome. This style implies the ability to build upon past experiences and the use of deductive reasoning. Those that utilize this methodology of learning would be considered by most to be “very bright” or quick to learn.  (McGraw-Hill Companies, 2004)

Classical conditioning learning style entails the association of two or more events and deduction of the outcome. This is much like the Associative learning style, but in a more structured environmental setting such as the emotions we experience when told stories or that if we touch something hot it will burn us. (McGraw-Hill Companies, 2004)

Operant conditioning learning style is more typically known by most as the “School of Hard Knocks”.  This is where one learns the consequences of one’s actions or the resulting consequence of a series of actions or events based on past experiences. Those falling into this classification would be commonly referred to as those who have to learn the hard way.

Looking into the various histories of intelligence testing, types of intelligence classification, personal experiences in relation to intelligence related testing and the various styles of learning, it can be concluded that the “creature” we hunt has indeed eluded us. It would seem that much like our forefathers who concluded they discovered the methodology of measuring something without form or substance, that we too have deluded ourselves into believing we are gaining ground in quantifying what “Intelligence” truly is. Perhaps a thousand years into the future our descendants will reflect back upon their history in the field of psychology and its attempts to understand the human mind and laugh, calling us much what we titled those before us, “uneducated” but well meaning, with a few true pioneers in the “calling”.


Audiblox. (n.d.). IQ Test: Where Does It Come From? Retrieved December 08, 2008, from 

Caruso, D. (2007). About Us. Retrieved December 08, 2008, from Emotional Intelligence: 

Goodard, H. (1920). Human Efficiency and Levels of Intelligence . Princeton: Princeton 
          University Press.

Gould, S. J. (1981). The Mismeasure of Man. New York: W.W. Norton.

intelligence. (n.d.). The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Retrieved December 08, 2008, from website:

McGraw-Hill Companies. (2004). Human Development. In Santrock: Psychology, Essentials, 
           Updated Second Edition (2nd Edition ed., pp. 288-289). McGraw-Hill and Companies.

Pages: [1]
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.9 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!