Early Mental Traits of 300 Geniuses – Cox (1926)
Catharine Cox’s book on The Early Mental Traits of Three Hundred Geniuses (1926), was similar to Galton’s in its orientation. Using the method that her mentor, Stanford Psychology Professor Lewis Terman, had developed for differentiating children in terms of intelligence, Cox coded records of childhood and adolescent achievements of 301 historic eminent leaders and creators to estimate what their IQs would have been on the basis of intellectual level of such achievements relative to the age at which they were accomplished. For example, John Stuart Mill reportedly studied Greek at 3, read Plato at 7, and learned calculus at 11. As such, what he was doing at 5, the average person couldn’t do until 9 years, 6 months of age, giving Mill an estimated IQ of 190.
Cox found that the perceived eminence of those with the highest IQs was higher than that of those attaining lower IQ estimates, and that those with higher IQs also exhibited more versatility in their achievements. For example, da Vinci, Michelangelo, Descartes, Benjamin Franklin, Goethe, and others with IQs in the mid 160s or above were superior in their versatility to those attaining lower scores, such as George Washington, Palestrina, or Philip Sheridan.
Both Cox and Galton have been criticized for failing to take account of the role of nurture, or more specifically socio-economic and educational advantage, in the achievements of these historical greats.
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