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The Mental Capacity of the American Negro (Classic Reprint)

The Mental Capacity of the American Negro (Classic Reprint)

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Excerpt from The Mental Capacity of the American Negro

How then, we may well ask, are we to ascertain the relative worth of races.2 What methods of measurement are to be employed in determining their comparative mental endowment? It must be said that for the most part the estimates that have been hitherto made have been based upon observations gained from practical experience in dealing with the races. As an example of the use of the observa tion method of comparing the mental worth of races, we quote as follows from a recent volume by Professor Ross: To forty-three men who, as educators, missionaries, and diplomats, have had good opportunity to learn the 'feel' of the Chinese mind, I put the ques tion, 'do you find the intellectual capacity of the yellow race equal to that of the white race?' All but five answered 'yes,' and one sinologue of varied experience as missionary, university president, and legation adviser, left me gasping with the statement, 'most of us who have spent twenty-five years or more out here come to feel that the yellow race is the normal human type, while the white race is a 'sport.' 1 An estimate of this sort is based solely upon observation and practical experience, and the reports of different observers are likely to show great discrepancies. As Deniker points out: Each traveller, each observer, tends to judge in his own way a given people according to the nature of the relations (pacific, hostile, etc.) which he has had with it.2 Hence while such estimates may be admitted to have a certain rough validity, they still belong to the domain of Opinion, and can never have the scientific value that attaches to comparisons based upon actual measurements.

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