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Who is a moron?

Updated on June 11, 2013
Controversial book on IQ of different races in the world. Average Human IQ as calculated by Richard Lynn is 90. [Lowest scores: Non-bushmen Sub-Saharan Africans (67), Australian Aborigines (62), Bushmen and Pygmies (54)]
Controversial book on IQ of different races in the world. Average Human IQ as calculated by Richard Lynn is 90. [Lowest scores: Non-bushmen Sub-Saharan Africans (67), Australian Aborigines (62), Bushmen and Pygmies (54)]

Summary and My Opinion

Background Information

Who is a moron is the title of an article published by Dr Henry H. Goddard of the Ohio State University in 1927. The article was published in The Scientific Monthly Volume 24 (1) page 41-46. Dr Henry H. Goddard was a well-respected psychologist in the early 1900s. The article was published in 1925, long after he coined the term "Moron" to describe people with a low IQ (All the IQ groups will be discussed). At first, the term "Moron" was originally a scientific term rather than a derogatory one. However, in modern days, people seem to have lost touch with the origins of the word and have no clue as to what a "Moron" is. In 1925, 15 years after Dr Goddard coined the term, he described in the article that it has been used in "polite conversation, popular literature, newspapers, novels, poetry and scientific writing. Obviously, the word was popularised immensely and had taken the world by storm. So, what was the article about? What is a "Moron"?

Who is a Moron? by Dr Henry H Goddard

As mentioned, the word "Moron" gained reputation and popularity in the English language even though of its origin as the Greek word moros. At first there were three different terms used to describe people who are mentally deficient. "Idiot", "Imbecile" and "Feeble-minded" were coined before "Moron". Idiot, from the Greek word idiotes, describes people with individuality of their own rather for a mentally deficient person. Imbecile, on the other hand, describes people who lean on staffs, needing support. Feeble-minded was used in an "unpleasant" manner during that time.

In 1909, there was a meeting held by the American Association for the Study of Feebleminded committee to classify the terms.

Idiot was for a person with intelligence of a two year old and below,

Imbecile was for a person with intelligence of a three to seven year old,

Fool, an old English word meaning "one with little common sense" was nearly used to describe a person with intelligence of a eight to twelve year old, but the term "Moron" was very much preferred even though they meant the same. Other words such as "deviates" and "the almosts" were suggested but rejected.

Feeble minded was proposed to be used to describe all of the above, but generally means a person who is a little bit dull in intelligence.

Then, the use of "The Feeble-minded" was labelled "ABSURD!".

I quote Dr. Goodard

#The war led to the measurement of the intelligence of the drafted army, with the result that such an enormous proportion was found to have an intelligence of twelve years and less that to call them all feebleminded was an absurdity of the highest degree#

The fact is, among a sample army size of 1.7 million, 45% were tested to be Morons. But if Morons are feeble minded people, that would mean that 45% of the 1.7 million sample size are feeble-minded. This led to a lot of concerns regarding laws to care for the feeble-minded, and also the definitions of all the words.

The question remain, How to give "feeble-minded" a scientific definition? or in other words, to be labelled defective mentally, what is the lowest point in the intelligence scale?

Dr Goddard went on to give examples and hypothetical cases to argue the terms, but one of his best arguments in my opinion in the paper is to identify "the problem of the moron". Although everyone is born with equal rights in the United States, it is not right to say that due to this supposed equality, all children deserve the "same" education. It is generally useless to teach a Moron to learn something beyond his level. To insist on that will at the end discourage them, causing anti-social behaviour.

In my opinion, in today's world, perhaps it should be reviewed into a more detailed level the mental state of all children. No child left behind is only applicable provided that all child are the same to begin with, that is equality. To provide children with education that suits their mental capability, hence providing them a fair chance in life to survive is equality. To reduce the intelligent and to pressure the feeble-minded are both ineffective and unfair.

The Terms In Modern Times

According the the paper above, to call a two-year old kid an idiot is totally acceptable provided that the parents of the kid understand the meaning of an idiot. It is right for his mentality to be of a two year old/idiot, whereas to call a five year old an idiot would suggest him/her as defectve. So, all those who are not mentally deficient can be called their respective terms?

My advise is, as funny and true this article can be, unless you want a good kicking in the ass, don't call names.


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