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The Mismeasure of MindsDebating Race and Intelligence between Brown and The Bell Curve$
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Michael E. Staub

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781469643595

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469643595.001.0001

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The Politics of Cerebral Asymmetry and Racial Difference

The Politics of Cerebral Asymmetry and Racial Difference

(p.79) Three The Politics of Cerebral Asymmetry and Racial Difference
The Mismeasure of Minds

Michael E. Staub

University of North Carolina Press

Split-brain theorizing became the lingua franca of the 1970s and 1980s, with the left hemisphere considered the seat of rationality and language while the right hemisphere housed intuition and creativity. Expert and popular writing on cerebral asymmetry came to be directed to society’s privileged, who were encouraged to expand their right-brain potential with yoga, transcendental meditation, and biofeedback. At the same time, a substantial part of debates among neuropsychologists and related medical, social-scientific, and educational professionals revolved around the implications of such a revaluing of right-hemispheric skills specifically for African American, Latino, and Native American children. A remarkable array of experts began to affirm the existence of racial differences in intelligence while taking up a critique that “right-brained” (and often poor and minority) children were trapped in “left-brained” schools. Declaring IQ to be an inaccurate measure, psychologist Alan S. Kaufman in 1979 developed an influential alternative assessment scale specifically to expand what counted as intelligence and to include a range of creative, nonverbal, spatial, and emotional capacities—only to find that gaps in test scores between white and nonwhite children narrowed accordingly.

Keywords:   African American children, cerebral asymmetry, intelligence testing, IQ, Alan S. Kaufman, neuropsychology, race and intelligence, right-hemispheric skills, split-brain theory

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