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“The March of the Psychos”: Measuring Intelligence in the Army

"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).

See Also:In Defense of IQ Testing: Lewis M. Terman Replies to Critics
"The Facts Must Be Faced": Intelligence Is Destiny
Debunking Intelligence Experts: Walter Lippmann Speaks Out