Tuesday, November 25, 2003

warning: post contains a wais-iii spoiler

I'm looking at the manual for the WAIS-III (the Weschler Adult Intelligence Scale, version 3). One of the words in the vocabulary test is "evolve." If you read any texts on biological evolution, they might color how you think about the term, and what is stressed again and again is that evolution does not imply progress or some positive direction or growth. For that matter, if you look in a dictionary or just listen to people use the term, you can tell that people use the term all the time to refer to transformations that are not necessarily positive ("devolve," in contrast, always implies a transformation that is negative). The only way you can get the maximum 2 points on the "evolve" question on the WAIS, however, is to give some answer that implies progress. For example, if you say "to change over time," you only get 1 point, but if you say "to change and progress over time," you get 2 points.

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