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Carl Terence Pihlblad

Carl Terence Pihlblad (American, 1897 – 1978)
Possible Applications of Mental Tests to Social Theory and Practice.
University of Missouri, 1925.
Depository 378.7M71 Y1925 P63
University of Missouri Libraries
University of Missouri

C. Terence Pihlblad had completed an A.M. degree at the University of Missouri in 1920 before submitting this Ph.D. dissertation under the guidance of Professor Ellwood. “Terry” Pihlblad joined the faculty as Associate Professor of Sociology in 1930, and remained a fixture of the department for the duration of his career, becoming Professor Emeritus in 1971.

Pihlblad’s dissertation was critical of the misinterpretation and misuse of mental tests to determine the superiority or inferiority of various racial and ethnic groups. He examined published data from the U.S. Army testing of 1,700,000 draftees for the Great War that had been used to eliminate the feeble-minded and designate those with superior intelligence for officer training. Pihlblad was skeptical that any test could completely separate inherent from acquired intelligence, attributing educational and social background to these test scores rather than native intelligence.

Pihlblad did not, however, attempt to discredit the use of mental tests as a quick determination of military aptitude or even their later application as instruments of classification in education. It was the generalization and conclusions used for race and class discrimination that Pilhblad criticized, making reference to the Immigration Act of 1924 as well as Harry Laughlin’s 1922 report to the House Immigration Committee.

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