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Race Intelligence
W.E.B. Du Bois

Citation (Original):
The Crisis, v.20, n.3 (July 1920). "Race Intelligence" was an editorial piece penned by Du Bois.

Online Source:
"Race Intelligence" was reprinted in the 60th Anniversary Issue of The Crisis, v.77, n.9 (November 1970) at p.326 [accessible at Google Books].
— Robert W. Williams, Ph.D.  [Bio]  

Race Intelligence
For a century or more it has been the dream of those who do not believe Negroes are human that their wish should find some scientific basis. For years they depended on the weight of the human brain, trusting that the alleged underweight of less than a thousand Negro brains, measured without reference to age, stature, nutrition or cause of death, would convince the world that black men simply could not be educated. Today scientists acknowledge that there is no warrant for such a conclusion and that in any case the absolute weight of the brain is no criterion of racial ability. DuBois's often criticized the use of psychology to justify racial discrimination.
[See RW's Note to Paragraph 1 below.]
Measurements of the bony skeleton followed and great hopes of the scientific demonstration of race inferiority were held for a while. But they had to be surrendered when Zulus and Englishmen were found in the same dolichocephalic class.
Then came psychology: the children of the public schools were studied and it was discovered that some colored children ranked lower than white children. This gave wide satisfaction even though it was pointed out that the average included most of both races and that considering the educational opportunities and social environment of the races the differences were measurements simply of the ignorance and poverty of the black child's surroundings.
Today, however, all is settled. "A workably accurate scientific classification of brain power" has been discovered and by none other than our astute army officers. The tests were in two sets for literates and illiterates and were simplicity itself. For instance, among other things the literates were asked in three minutes "to look at each row of numbers below and on the two dotted lines write the two numbers that should come next." These tests, Army Alpha (for literate soldiers) and Army Beta (for illiterate soldiers), were administered to many U.S. soldiers during World War I. DuBois is here quoting from George F. Arps, "The Army Intelligence Tests (Natural History, 19:6 (December 1919): 671-9, at p.671).
[See RW's Note to Paragraph 4 below.]
3 4 5 6 7 8 .  .  . .  .  .
8 7 6 5 4 3 .  .  . .  .  .
10 15 20 25 30 35 .  .  . .  .  .
81 27 9 3 1 1/3 .  .  . .  .  .
1 4 9 16 25 36 .  .  . .  .  .
16 17 15 18 14 19 .  .  . .  .  .
3 6 8 16 18 36 .  .  . .  .  .
These sequences are "Number Series Completion" tests, which Arps included, along with several other tests, on p.676.
[See RW's Note to Paragraph 5 below.]
Illiterates were asked, for example, to complete pictures where the net was missing in a tennis court or a ball in a bowling alley! These pictures are found in Arps' article on p.677.
[See RW's Note to Paragraph 6 below.]
For these tests were chosen 4730 Negroes from Louisiana and Mississippi and 28,052 white recruits from Illinois. The result? Do you need to ask? M. R. Trabue, Director, Bureau of Educational Service, Columbia University, assures us that the intelligence of the average southern Negro is equal to that of a 9-year-old white boy and that we should arrange our educational program to make "waiters, porters, scavengers, and the like" of most Negroes! The two sets of italicized words were in DuBois's original text.

DuBois is referencing conclusions reached by M.R. Trabue in his "The Intelligence of Negro Recruits" (Natural History, 19:6 (December 1919): 680-5, at p.685).
Is it conceivable that a great university should employ a man whose "science" consists of such utter rot?

[End of original text]

RW's Note to Paragraph 1:
DuBois' critique of intelligence testing was expressed years later in a essay that also criticized the conventional social sciences in general:
"This insistent clinging to the older pattern of race thought [i.e., racism and racial prejudice] has had extraordinary influence upon modern life. In the first place, it has for years held back the progress of the social sciences. The social sciences from the beginning were deliberately used from the beginning to prove the inferiority of the majority of the people of the world, who were being used as slaves for the comfort and culture of their masters. The social sciences long looked upon this as one of their major duties. History declared that the Negro had no history. Biology exaggerated the physical differences among men. Economics even today cannot talk straight on colonial imperialism. Psychology has not yet recovered from the shame of its 'intelligence' tests and its record of 'conclusions' during the first World War."
[Source: W.E.B. Du Bois, "The Prospect of the World Without Race Conflict," American Journal of Sociology, 49 (March 1944): 450-456, at p.455. Also available in Du Bois: On Sociology and the Black Community (pp.290-302). Ed. by Daniel Green & Edwin Driver. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1978, at p.299 ].

RW's Note to Paragraph 4:
Robert M. Yerkes and a group of well known psychologists developed the Army Alpha and Beta tests (Yerkes' bio at the Human Intelligence website hosted at Indiana University). Yerkes presents the early history of the testing in Psychological Review (1918)[entire volume], and a fuller treatment see Robert Yerkes (Ed.), National Academy of Sciences Memoirs, v.15: Psychological Examining in the United States Army (1921: esp. Part I) [entire volume].

For another description of the tests, including protocols and results, see Carl Campbell Brigham's A Study of American Intelligence (1923) [download the book or view page images of the work accessible at Cornell University's Home Economics Archive].

RW's Note to Paragraph 5:
The "Number Series Completion" depicted in DuBois' essay are only a part of a longer list, which is available in Brigham's A Study of American Intelligence (p.24) [start page], or from Yerkes' work in the National Academy of Sciences Memoirs (1921): p.225. Many other examples of the Army tests are depicted throughout the books.

RW's Note to Paragraph 6:
Page 50 of Brigham's Study provides a graphic example of these sorts of completion tests for illiterate soldiers [book's start page]. Also see Yerkes' National Academy of Sciences Memoirs (1921): p.238. The two pictures mentioned by Du Bois are found in both books.

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