Intelligence is a highly charged word with ties to racist, classist, and eugenic narratives. In the United States, it has been used historically to assert and establish racial and class hierarchies, especially those between Blacks and Whites, and has long been linked to notions of biological difference.
For nearly 150 years, the concept of intelligence and its study have offered scientific ways of classifying people in terms of their “ability”. The drive to identify and quantify exceptional mental capacity may have a chequered history, but it is still being pursued by some researchers today.
Four words with complex histories and meanings that ignite discussion and debate.