"There is nothing about an individual as important as his IQ," declared psychologist Lewis M. Terman in 1922. To the extent that this is true, it is in large measure because of Terman himself and the opportunity that World War I afforded for the first widespread use of intelligence testing. The army’s use of intelligence tests lent new credibility to the emerging profession of psychology, even as it sparked public debate about the validity of the tests and their implications for American democracy. Some contemporaries expressed skepticism about the broad claims of army intelligence testing. In this lighthearted, anonymous commentary, from the April 1918 issue of the army post newspaper Camplife Chickamauga, a would-be poet mocked psychologists with gentle humor.
“The March of the Psychos”
The valiant, bespectacled psychos are we
Prepared to assign every man his degree
And the place he’s best fitted for in the armee
By psychologee, psychologee.
Bill Kaiser will shake in this throne 'cross the sea
When he feels the earthquake of our efficiency
Pencils up! Forward march! to the great victory
Of psychologee in the Army.
Source: "The March of the Psychos," Camplife Chickamauga, April 1918. Reprinted in Joanne Brown, The Definition of a Profession: The Authority of Metaphor in the History of Intelligence Testing, 1890–1930 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992).