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Encyclopedia > Cyril Burt

Sir Cyril Lodowic Burt (March 3, 1883October 10, 1971) was a prominent British educational psychologist. He was a member of the London School of Differential Psychology. Some of his work was controversial for its conclusions that genetics substantially influences mental and behavioral traits. After his death, he was famously accused of scientific fraud. March 3 is the 62nd day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (63rd in leap years). ... 1883 (MDCCCLXXXIII) was a common year starting on Monday (see link for calendar). ... October 10 is the 283rd day of the year (284th in Leap years). ... 1971 (MCMLXXI) was a common year starting on Friday (the link is to a full 1971 calendar). ... Psychology is an academic and applied field involving the scientific study of mental processes and behavior. ... Individual differences psychology studies the ways in which individual people differ in their behavior. ... Genetics (from the Greek genno γεννώ= give birth) is the science of genes, heredity, and the variation of organisms. ... Scientific misconduct is the violation of the standard codes of scholarly conduct and ethical behavior in professional scientific research. ...

Burt supported eugenics and was a member of the British Eugenics Society. Since he had suggested on radio in 1946 the formation of an organization for people with high IQ scores, he was made honorary president of Mensa in 1960, in a gesture of recognition. It has been suggested that Dysgenics be merged into this article or section. ... The Eugenics Education Society, later the Eugenics Society (often known as the British Eugenics Society to distinguish it from others) was a society formed in 1907 in the United Kingdom to promote eugenics. ... 1946 (MCMXLVI) was a common year starting on Tuesday. ... IQ redirects here; for other uses of that term, see IQ (disambiguation). ... Mensa International is the largest, oldest, and most well-known high IQ society in the world. ... 1960 (MCMLX) was a leap year starting on Friday (the link is to a full 1960 calendar). ...



Burt was born in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England. Early in Burt’s life he showed a precocious nature, so much so that his father, a physician, often took the young Burt with him on his medical rounds. One of the elder Burt’s more famous patients was Darwin Galton, brother of Francis Galton. The visits the Burts made to the Galton estate not only allowed the young Burt to learn about the work of Francis Galton, but also allowed Burt to meet him on multiple occasions and to be strongly drawn to his ideas — especially his studies in statistics and individual differences, two defining characters of the London School of Psychology whose membership includes both Galton and Burt. Stratford-upon-Avon Stratford-upon-Avon is a town in Warwickshire, England. ... A detailed map Stratford-upon-Avon Kenilworth Castle Warwickshire (pronounced //, //, or //) is a landlocked non-metropolitan county in central England. ... Motto: (French for God and my right) Anthem: God Save the King/Queen Capital London Largest city London Official language(s) English (de facto) Unification    - by Athelstan AD 927  Area    - Total 130,395 km² (1st in UK)   50,346 sq mi  Population    - 2005 est. ... Francis Galton Sir Francis Galton F.R.S. (February 16, 1822 – January 17, 1911), half-cousin of Charles Darwin, was an English Victorian polymath, anthropologist, eugenicist, tropical explorer, geographer, inventor, meteorologist, proto-geneticist, psychometrician, and statistician. ...

At the age of 11, Burt won a scholarship to Christ's Hospital, where he first developed his appreciation of psychology. Not too long after, he won a classical scholarship to Oxford, where he specialized in philosophy and psychology, the latter under a fairly new faculty member, William McDougall. McDougall, knowing Burt’s interest in Galton’s work, suggested that he focus his senior project on psychometrics (although not then an official discipline), thus giving Burt his initial inquiry into the development and structure of mental tests— an interest that would last the rest of his life. In 1901, McDougall was appointed the secretary of the British Association Committee that planned to carry out, at Galton’s suggestion, a nation-wide survey of physical and mental characteristics. McDougall invited Burt to help him with this project along with J. C. Flugel, William Brown, and later Charles Spearman. View of the Christs Hospital campus View of the Christs Hospital quad Christs Hospital (also popularly known as the Bluecoat School, and also known by the nicknames Housey and CH) is a full board boarding school located in the countryside just south of Horsham, West Sussex, England. ... There have been several people called William McDougall For the Canadian politician, see William McDougall (politician) For the British psychologist, see William McDougall (psychologist) This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share the same title. ... Charles Edward Spearman (September 10, 1863 - September 7, 1945) was an English psychologist known for work in statistics, as a pioneer of factor analysis, and for Spearmans rank correlation coefficient. ...

In 1908, Burt took up the post of Lecturer in Psychology and Assistant Lecturer in Physiology at Liverpool University, where he was to work under famed physiologist Sir Charles Sherrington. While at this post, Burt was able to further both his knowledge of how human anatomy and physiology affect human psychology as well as his interest and research into individual differences. Sherrington is considered one of the fathers of neuroscience. ...

In 1913, Burt took the position of a school psychologist for the London County Council (LCC), which was in charge of all the London schools. This was the first appointment of this kind in the world, or at least in the United Kingdom. Initially, Burt’s LCC appointment was only a part time position, which allowed him to use the rest of his workweek gathering and publishing data. He notably established that girls were equal to boys in general intelligence — a change from contemporary Edwardian beliefs. During his tenure at the LCC, Burt gathered so much data that he was still publishing it long after he retired. Educational psychology or school psychology is the psychological science studying how children and adults learn, the effectiveness of various educational strategies and tactics, and how schools function as organizations. ...

In 1931 he resigned his position at the LCC when he was appointed Professor and Chair of Psychology at University College, London, taking over Spearman's position, thus ending his almost 20 year career as a school psychological practitioner. While at London, Burt had a large influence on many students, (e.g., Raymond Cattell, Hans Eysenck), and towards the end of his life, Arthur Jensen and Chris Brand [1]. Raymond Bernard Cattell (20 March 1905 - 2 February 1998) was a British and American psychologist who theorized the existence of fluid and crystallized intelligences to explain human cognitive ability. ... Hans Eysenck Hans Jürgen Eysenck (March 4, 1916 - September 4, 1997) was an eminent psychologist, most remembered for his work on intelligence and personality, though he worked in a wide range of areas. ... Arthur Jensen Arthur Jensen is a Professor Emeritus of educational psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. ...

Burt was a consultant with the committees that developed the Eleven Plus examinations. This issue, and the allegations against him, are discussed further in The Mismeasure of Man. The Eleven Plus is an examination which was given to students in their last year of primary education in the United Kingdom under the Tripartite System. ... Cover of the 1996 printing of The Mismeasure of Man. ...

The Burt Affair

Over the course of his career Burt published numerous articles and books on a host of topics ranging from psychometrics to philosophy of science to parapsychology. It is his research in behavior genetics, most notably in studying the heritability of intelligence (as measured in IQ tests) using twin studies that have created the most controversy. Quantitative genetics is the study of continuous traits (such as height or weight) and its underlying mechanisms. ... A twin study is a kind of genetic study done to determine heritability. ...

From the late 1970s it has been generally accepted that at least a majority of this research was fraudulent, due in large part to research by Oliver Gillie (1976) and Leon Kamin (1974). The possibility of fraud was first brought to the attention of the scientific community when Kamin noticed that Burt's correlation coefficients of Monozygotic and Dizygotic twins' IQ scores were the same to three decimal places, across articles – even when new data were twice added to the sample of twins. Leslie Hearnshaw, a close friend of Burt and his official biographer, concluded after examining the criticisms that most of Burt's data from after World War II were unreliable or fraudulent. Leon J. Kamin (born December 29, 1927 in Taunton, Massachusetts) is an American psychologist. ... Fraternal twin boys bathing Twins in animal biology is a case of multiple birth in which the mother gives birth to two offspring from the same pregnancy. ... Fraternal twin boys bathing Twins in animal biology is a case of multiple birth in which the mother gives birth to two offspring from the same pregnancy. ... Combatants Major Allied powers: United Kingdom Soviet Union United States Republic of China and others Major Axis powers: Nazi Germany Italy Japan and others Commanders Winston Churchill Joseph Stalin Franklin Roosevelt Harry Truman Chiang Kai-Shek Adolf Hitler Benito Mussolini Hideki Tojo Casualties Military dead: 17,000,000 Civilian dead...

In 1976, London's Sunday Times claimed two of Burt's collaborators, Margaret Howard and J. Conway, were made up by Burt himself. They based this on the lack of independent articles published by them in scientific journals, and the fact that they only appeared in the historical record as reviewers of Burt's books in the Journal of Statistical Psychology when the journal was redacted by Burt. Supporters claim the assistants have since been located.[2] The Sunday Times is a Sunday broadsheet newspaper distributed in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland, published by Times Newspapers Ltd, a subsidiary of News International which is in turn owned by News Corporation. ...

Two independent authors, Ronald Fletcher (1991) and Robert Joynson (1989) published books that, while not totally exonerating Burt, criticized the methods and motives of his accusers.

Many of Burt's supporters believe the discrepancies were mostly caused by negligence rather than deliberate deception. In 1995, Cambridge University professor of psychology Nicholas Mackintosh edited a volume published by Oxford University Press which found the case against Burt "not proven" – the argument was summarized in Nature by Edinburgh psychologist Christopher Brand. Brand especially observed that Burt could have obtained some of his data that came from an unknown source from the detailed 1962 work on monozygotic twins published by James Shields (Cambridge University Press). First title page, November 4, 1869 Nature is one of the oldest and most reputable scientific journals, first published on 4 November 1869. ...

IQ critic William H. Tucker concludes in a 1997 article that, "A comparison of his twin sample with that from other well documented studies, however, leaves little doubt that he committed fraud." [3] Racial psychologist J. Philippe Rushton claims that the disparagement of Burt was conducted for ideological reasons.[4] Regardless of whether it was fraudulently obtained, Burt's controversial twin data, such as the IQ correlation between twins, .77, is similar to modern estimates by psychologists and geneticists. For example, the American Psychological Association's 1995 task force on "Intelligence: Knowns and Unknowns"[5] concluded that within America's white population the heritability of IQ is “around .75” (75%) (p. 85), and more recent genetics textbooks give the figure at roughly 80% (Plomin et al. 2001). William H. Tucker is a professor of psychology at Rutgers University and the author of several books on race science. ... John Rushton John Philippe (Phil) Rushton (born December 3, 1943) is a psychology professor at the University of Western Ontario, Canada, who is most widely known for his controversial[1] work on intelligence and racial differences, particularly his book Race, Evolution And Behavior: A Life History Perspective. ... IQ tests are designed to give approximately this Gaussian distribution. ... The American Psychological Association (APA) is a professional organization representing psychology in the US. It has around 150,000 members and an annual budget of around $70m. ... The term White American refers primarily to Americans of European descent residing in the United States. ... Full bibliography for the race and intelligence article series: Contents: Top - 0–9 A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z A American Anthropological Association. ...

Further reading


  • Banks, C., & Broadhurst, P.L. (eds.). (1966). Stephanos: Studies in psychology presented to Cyril Burt. New York: Barnes & Noble.
  • Burt, C.L. (1949). An autobiographical sketch. Occupational Psychology, 23, 9-20.
  • Fancher, R.E. (1985) The intelligence men: Makers of the I.Q. controversy. New York: Norton.
  • Hearnshaw, L. (1979). Cyril Burt: Psychologist. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
  • (1983) "Sir Cyril Burt". AEP (Association of Educational Psychologists) Journal, 6 (1) [Special issue]
  • Scarr, S. (1994). "Burt, Cyril L.", in R.J. Sternberg (ed.), Encyclopedia of intelligence (Vol. 1, pp. 231-234). New York: Macmillan.

Books by Burt

  • Burt, C.L. (1975). The gifted child. New York: Wiley.
  • Burt, C.L. (1962). Mental and scholastic tests (4th ed.). London: Staples.
  • Burt, C.L. (1957). The causes and treatments of backwardness (4th ed.). London: University of London.
  • Burt, C.L. (1940). The factors of the mind: An introduction to factor analysis in psychology. London: University of London.
  • Burt, C.L. (1935). The subnormal mind. London: Oxford University.
  • Burt, C.L. (1946). Intelligence and fertility. London:
  • Burt, C.L. (1925). The young delinquent. London: University of London.

Articles by Burt

  • Burt, C.L. (1972). "Inheritance of general intelligence", American Psychologist, 27, 175-190.
  • Burt, C.L. (1971). "Quantitative genetics in psychology", British Journal of Mathematical & Statistical Psychology, 24, 1-21
  • Burt, C.L. (1963). Is Intelligence Distributed Normally?.
  • Burt, C.L., & Williams, E.L. (1962). "The influence of motivation on the results of intelligence tests", British Journal of Statistical Psychology, 15, 129-135.
  • Burt, C.L. (1961). "Factor analysis and its neurological basis", British Journal of Statistical Psychology, 14, 53-71.
  • Burt, C.L. (1960). "The mentally subnormal", Medical World, 93, 297-300.
  • Burt, C.L. (1959). "General ability and special aptitudes", Educational Research, 1, 3-16.
  • Burt, C.L., & Gregory, W.L. (1958). "Scientific method in psychology: II", British Journal of Statistical Psychology, 11, 105-128.
  • Burt, C.L. (1958). "Definition and scientific method in psychology", British Journal of Statistical Psychology, 11, 31-69.
  • Burt, C.L. (1958). "The inheritance of mental ability", American Psychologist, 13, 1-15.

Readings on the Burt Affair

  • Fletcher, R. (1991). Science, Ideology, and the Media. New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction.
  • Gould, S.J. (1996). The Mismeasure of Man. (2nd ed.).
  • Gillie, O. (1976, October 24). Crucial data was faked by eminent psychologist. London: Sunday Times.
  • Hearnshaw, L. (1979). Cyril Burt: Psychologist. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
  • Joynson, R.B. (1989). The Burt Affair. New York: Routledge.
  • Kamin, L.J. (1974). The Science and Politics of IQ. Potomac, MD: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
  • Lamb, K. (1992). "Biased tidings: The media and the Cyril Burt controversy", Mankind Quarterly, 33, 203.
  • Rowe, D., & Plomin, R. (1978). "The Burt controversy: The comparison of Burt's data on IQ with data from other studies", Behavior Genetics, 8, 81-83.
  • Rushton, J.P. (1994). "Victim of scientific hoax (Cyril Burt and the genetic IQ controversy)", Society, 31, 40-44.

Stephen Jay Gould Stephen Jay Gould (September 10, 1941 – May 20, 2002) was an American paleontologist, evolutionary biologist, historian of science, and professor. ... Cover of the 1996 printing of The Mismeasure of Man. ... Leon J. Kamin (born December 29, 1927 in Taunton, Massachusetts) is an American psychologist. ... John Rushton John Philippe (Phil) Rushton (born December 3, 1943) is a psychology professor at the University of Western Ontario, Canada, who is most widely known for his controversial[1] work on intelligence and racial differences, particularly his book Race, Evolution And Behavior: A Life History Perspective. ...

External links

  Results from FactBites:
Cyril Burt (193 words)
Cyril Burt (1883 - 1971) was a British educational psychologist.
Over the course of his career Burt published research on the heritability of intelligence as measured in IQ tests using twin studies.
The correlation coefficient given by Burt for the IQs of identical twins reared apart is within the range that has been found by reputable studies conducted since his death.
Human Intelligence: The Cyril Burt Affair (1430 words)
Until his death in 1971, the British educational psychologist Sir Cyril Burt was viewed as one of the most significant and influential educational psychologists of his time.
Cyril Lodowic Burt, born on March 3, 1883, was a leading figure in psychology during an exciting time when psychology was breaking away from philosophy and becoming a field of its own.
Burt's research on factor analysis and the genetics of intelligence was groundbreaking, and helped to pave a new path for psychology.
  More results at FactBites »



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