Review and thoughts about The g Factor (Christopher Brand, 1996)


The g Factor: General Intelligence and Its Implications is a book by Christopher Brand, a psychologist and lecturer at the University of Edinburgh. It was published by John Wiley & Sons in the United Kingdom in March 1996. The book was “depublished” by the publishing house on April 17th, which cited “deep ethical beliefs” in its decision to remove the book from circulation; it is generally agreed that material in the book that covered racial issues in intelligence testing was responsible for the withdrawal. Wiley argued that after “inflammatory statements” Brand had made elsewhere, it was possible to “infer some of the same repugnant views from the text”.

According to economist Edward M. Miller, “While Wiley has not been specific as to just what views that were trying to prevent the dissemination of, one presumes they have to do with racial differences in intelligence and the implications for economics and educational policy.”[1]


6. A last doubt about IQ-test validity is that ‘measured’ differences may be little but the products of

other people’s expectations, ‘labels’ and self-fulfilling prophecies. Once more, there are two

versions of such a claim.


m (a) One is that differences in expectations (e.g. by children’s teachers) may have real

effects on intelligence. This is a claim for which no evidence has ever been offered other

than from IQ-type testing; and, if IQ-test evidence is considered relevant, the claimant is

accepting IQ-test validity.


m (b) The other version is that expectancies may particularly affect only IQ scores. Such

invalid scores may eventually become reality via subsequent differential provision of

educational opportunities. The idea is that differential treatment, in response to initial IQ

scores, may yield real, ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’ effects on intelligence itself. Fortunately,

though it is now well recognized that one-off perceptual judgments and children’s

achievements in swimming, athletics and laboratory learning can sometimes reflect initially

erroneous expectancies (of teachers, parents or pupils), hundreds of studies in the past

twenty-five years(22) have found little general effect of such ‘labelling’ effects on IQ. In the

most systematic study in a normal school setting (Kellaghan et al, 1982), expectancies of

teachers supplied with IQ information about pupils did not generally change children’s IQ’s

or attainments over a school year. (There was a slight boost to the end-of-the-year

achievements of those (genuinely) higher-IQ children who came from relatively low-SES

families: the teachers may have been trying to discount background SES and to ‘bring on’

such children towards the attainment levels normally expected from children of such IQ’s.)

Far from labelling or self-labelling themselves giving rise to IQ-type differences and so to

spurious correlations and a g dimension among mental tests, it is noticeable that many

genuinely bright people have a misleadingly modest impression of their own abilities –

often claiming on TV shows to be ‘poor spellers’, for example; while vanity amongst people of mediocre intelligence is probably easier to find (see Brand et al. , 1994).


An early indication of the Dunning-Kruger effect? The cite given is:

BRAND, C.R., EGAN, V. & DEARY, I.J. (1994).

‘Intelligence, personality and society: constructivist versus

essentialist possibilities.’ In D.K.Detterman, Current

Topics in Human Intelligence 4, pp. 29-42. Norwood, NJ :



which is a book i dont have access to.


I have written an email to Dunning and informed him about this possibly earlier statement.


The author is an interesting fellow He also has a blog here:



(2) True mixed ability teaching would be much easier if only the Government spent more on

education to reduce class sizes. Yet class sizes in Britain are now typically a third of what they

were before 1939. Meanwhile Britain’s position in most international educational league tables has

sunk from third to twenty-third: in mathematics, at age 13, British children now lag German children

by 1 year and Japanese children by two years; and a MORI poll of British adolescents found that a

third of them could not calculate a weekly wage from an hourly rate, and a quarter could not identify

which direction on a map was north (Green & Steedman, 1993, pp.9, 31). Anyhow, research

repeatedly finds children’s educational outcomes quite unrelated to class size – as the Educational

Secretary for England and Wales must repeatedly to explain to teachers who understandably find

mixed-ability teaching a strain (see Eysenck, 1973/1975, p.134; Walsh, 1995): even a class size of

six will be difficult for a teacher if children span the normal range of IQ. Small classes do not in fact

lead to teachers adopting the acclaimed ‘interactive’ teaching methods;(23) and class sizes in Japan

average over 40 while those of around 55 in communist China apparently work well (Walsh, 1995).

For England and Wales, Her Majesty’s Inspectors of Schools reported their conclusion by 1977 that

mixed-ability teaching (at least for mathematics) primarily required “exceptional” teachers. Parents

often seem to favour the small class sizes maintained by private schools; but such schools are

streams in their own right – usually having no pupils of below-average intelligence.



Practical reasons: bowing to

convenience. A third reason for

psychology’s tendency to lose touch with

intelligence is practical. Psychology’s

perennial problem is that of finding

subjects who can be tested relatively

cheaply. Medicine solves this problem

by using patients in hospital beds who

will often co-operate with research while they hope for treatment. Behaviourists

solved the problem by studying rats;

Piagetians solved it by studying infants;

and cognitivists and the more advanced

constructivists of social psychology

solve it by hardly studying people at all –

just building their computer ‘models’ or

‘analysing’ passages of ‘discourse’

selected for their ideological

convenience. Clearly, differerential

psychology should have followed Burt

down the road to regular involvement in

schools that he had opened up: most

psychology departments should

probably be located in or near a school –

just as most medical faculties adjoin

hospitals. But differential psychology

and personality psychology rejected

Burt’s lead and chose for too long the

superficially academic route of keeping

up with the latest alleged advances in

conditioning theory, ‘social perception’ or

fissiparative neuropsychology. Thus

differential psychology lost its natural

subjects. This was disastrous for the

study of g differences. It is only in

normal schools that it is at all easy to

study anything like the full range of

human mental abilities. Many kinds of

merely academic psychology can be

done in the laboratory or in projects with

handy collections of patients or

employees (where selection, self-

selection and resulting range-restrictions

may be positive assets to the researcher

of group effects).


some interesting ideas. especially about psychology being near schools, so that one can avoid WEIRD problems, cf.



Overall i definitely learned alot from reading this rather short book. The authors endless complaining about leftism, socialism etc. can get tiring. Especially if one looks at his blog as well.

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