What is it about?

This article is about the concept of “intelligence” and how educators have used it to compare the mental expertise of groups that academic professionals have labeled as races. Although psychologists have not given us a standard definition for intelligence, people in the United States and elsewhere often use the term to describe, explain, or judge the nature of a person’s ability to think and learn.

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Why is it important?

This article is important because it challenges Western education’s emphasis on judging an individual’s or a group’s mental capacity. The concept of intelligence is an opinion-based idea and not a scientifically centered fact, so intelligence is unmeasurable, and no one can say for sure what it is and how it operates. As an opinion-based idea, Western educators and psychologists have used the unscientific concept of intelligence to promote racism by claiming that a relationship exists between skin color and cognitive ability, which is also an opinion, not a scientific fact. The concept of Multiple Intelligences emerged during the latter 1900s. Like the concept of intelligence, Multiple Intelligences is also an opinion and not a scientific fact.


It was a wonderful experience authoring this article and receiving feedback from the reviewers and guidance from the editors. I learned so much through the process, and I really appreciated it more than I can say.

William Cook
Touro College

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: The intelligence concept and racial classification as sociological products of Western education, Sociology Compass, November 2021, Wiley, DOI: 10.1111/soc4.12941.
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