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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Christopher J Graver, PhD, ABPP-CN(Madigan Healthcare System)
Description: Intellectual quotients are highly sought after by many organizations as a benchmark for everything from identifying Mensa members to qualifying for services related to developmental or learning disabilities. This book explores the nature of IQ testing, changes that have occurred, and conditions that can impact it.
Purpose: The book is part of the Human Exceptionality series and aims to provide readers with comprehensive information about intelligence testing, trends, and current literature.
Audience: Clinical and school psychologists would find this book interesting, but others working in developmental fields also would find it of use. The book is not a how-to manual for administering IQ tests, and it assumes a relative familiarity with testing and psychometrics, as well as the common flaws in IQ tests. The author earned his doctorate in biology and has worked in various academic positions in the departments of radiology, pediatrics, psychiatry, and biomedical engineering. Recent publications have been in the area of neuroimaging, so there is nothing immediately obvious in his CV that would indicate strong credentials to write a book on this topic.
Features: The first chapter begins with a discussion of the Flynn Effect and presents some possible hypotheses. One eccentricity that is immediately apparent is the use of "we," despite the fact that the book has one author. The book goes on to discuss various theories that have been proposed to explain the Flynn Effect and the problems with them. These are well compartmentalized, which makes it difficult to find a common idea and leads to contradictions in the author's reasoning between sections. Just one example is the early discussion of how small brain size is a poor indicator of intelligence, but then in chapter 7, the author states, "We know that people of low IQ are generally likely to have a smaller brain" to support one of his arguments. The author also states that cognitive alterations soon after a trauma are in the definition of PTSD, which is patently not the case according to the DSM-IV criteria for the disorder. Furthermore, he states that the issue of cognitive dysfunction in PTSD is "clear-cut" using only a single, flawed reference for support. It should be noted that the article he cites states that neuropsychological findings in individuals with PTSD are inconsistent. The book does no better when covering medical illnesses that could impact intelligence, as often there are limited references to support the author's conclusions. Additionally, he follows some research-based conclusions with statements such as, "but we will assume," and proceeds to suggest different results with no additional references. There are no introductory or concluding paragraphs to provide clarity and the references appear at the end of the book instead of at the end of each chapter, making for a lot of unnecessary page-flipping.
Assessment: This is a superficial review of the intellectual issues presented. The research support is subpar and opinion is interlaced with the literature. It is a feeble attempt that is certainly not worth the $129 price.