Contact: Gautier Lemyze-Young University Relations (410) 207-9212

THE DOWNSIDE OF AMERICA’S ADDICTION TO TESTING “Decisions are made about people not on the basis of what they have done, or even what they certainly will do, but in terms of what they might do,” F. Allan Hanson, professor of anthropology at the University of Maryland, argues about testing. In the new book, “Testing Testing: Social Consequences of the Examined Life,” by F. Allan Hanson, American society’s addiction to tests, and the problems associated with this addiction, is unveiled. Hanson uncovers a variety of hidden consequences – many of them unsavory – of tests commonly used in business and education. He recommends eliminating most drug tests, intelligence and aptitude tests, and lie detector or integrity tests. Because tests provide information about people, they serve as devices of power for agencies –employers, educational administrators, insurance firms, law enforcement agencies – to determine whom to employ to admit to college, to take on as a risk or to arrest. (more)

“The American preoccupation with testing has resulted in panoply of techniques dedicated to scanning, probing, weighing, pursuing and recording every last detail of our personal traits and life experiences,” Hanson says. Of all forms of testing, Hanson finds lie detectors the vilest: a pornographic gaze into a person’s private thoughts. “The test taker is powerless to conceal or control anything, and the results are often unreliable. Yet people whose character may be under public scrutiny submit to and even request polygraph tests to establish credibility,” Hanson says. Hanson recommends eliminating integrity testing and using drug testing only when people are suspected of using drugs. Another test Hanson disagrees with? IQ tests. “Scores from IQ tests can become life sentences for children with very high or very low scores. Tests assign people to various categories – genius, slow learner, security risk – Where they are then treated, act and come to think of themselves according to the expectations associated with those categories,” Hanson says. Hanson says it should be possible to eliminate much of the testing used to predict behavior and aptitudes. For example, some college admissions offices no longer require scores from aptitude tests as an admission requirement. The book is published by University of California Press and is available at local bookstores or by contacting Denise Cicourel at UC Press, 2120 Berkeley Way, Berkeley, Ca., 94720. ###

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