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James W. Loewen (1942-2021)

We mourn the loss of our friend and colleague and remain committed to the work he began.

Take the “Loewen Low-IQ Test”

Back in about 1972, Loewen developed a five-item “Loewen Low-IQ Test,” sometimes called “Loewen Low-Aptitude Test,” deliberately biased against white (and Asian American) middle-class students.

Take the test. Then (and only then), read about the test. Each item is there for a reason.

In a large class of undergraduates, I have those who earned an IQ of 130 or more stand up. Usually no one stands. 115; two or three students stand. 90 (“dull normal”), 10 – 20% stand. Most people get 75 or 60. 75 is “borderline moron”; of course, no one uses such a term any more, but Forrest Gump, the movie character, had a 75. Explain why getting none or one correct produces a score of 60: Since there were five items, each with about five alternatives, a person who could not read but could hold a pencil and make a circle would get, owing to chance, about one correct. That degree of functioning reflects an IQ of about 60, definitely retarded. [Please note: I do understand that “retarded” and, even worse, “retard” as a noun, are terms that put down and limit those to whom the term is applied. I do use the term here, in class, purposefully, because I am applying it to a class of people – mostly affluence mostly white college undergraduates – who have never had the term applied to themselves before. Hopefully you’ll be saying all this with an air of humor; we don’t want anyone concluding they are retarded. But we do want students to think about getting scores like this on real exams, because they are biased against you, with no humor in sight.]