Cyril Burt

Sir Cyril Burt Lodowic ( Westminster , 3 as March as 1883 – October as October as 1971 ) was a psychologist English that made contributions to educational psychology and statistics .

Burt is known for his theories on the genetic determination of intelligence and his studies on IQ inheritance . Shortly after his death, his studies were discredited for having found evidence that he had falsified research data. It is believed that Cyril Burt would have fabricated a series of studies in twins to prove his theory of the heritability of intelligence.


Burt was born on March 3, 1883, the eldest son of Cyril Cecil Barrow Burt (born 1857), a physician, and his wife Martha. 1 Born in London (some place his birthplace in Stratford on Avon, probably because the direction of his father was Snitterfield, Stratford, in fact, the Burt family moved to Snitterfield when I was ten. 2 3

Burt’s father set up a chemistry trade to support his family while studying medicine . When he received a doctor he worked as an obstetrics assistant and surgical instrumentator at Westminster Hospital in London. 4 Cyril Burt’s early education began in London at an elementary school near St. James’s Park . 4

In 1890, the family moved from Jersey to Snitterfield , Warwickshire , where the father opened a rural office. 4 The boy used to accompany his father to work. 5 One of the most famous patients Burt’s father was Darwin Galton , brother of Francis Galton . Burt’s visits to the Galton not only allowed young Burt to know the work of Francis Galton, but also allowed him to meet him on many occasions and to be attracted to his ideas: in particular his studies on statistics and individual differences, two themes Recurrent members of the London School of Psychology, whose membership included both Galton and Burt.

Cyril attended the King’s School in Warwick from 1892 to 1895 and later won a scholarship at Christ’s Hospital, then based in London, where he developed his interest in psychology . 6

From 1902 he studied at Jesus College , where he specialized in philosophy and psychology, under the supervision of William McDougall who, knowing Burt’s interest in Galton’s work, suggested that he focus his main project on psychometrics. Burt began his research on the development and structure of mental tests, an interest that would last the rest of his life. Burt was one of a group of students who worked with McDougall, which included William Brown, John Carl Frugel, May Smith, all of whom followed notable careers in psychology. 7 Burt graduated in 1906 and earned a master’s degree.

In 1907, McDougall invited Burt to help him with a nationwide survey of the physical and mental characteristics of the Brits, proposed by Francis Galton, in which he had to work on the standardization of psychological tests. This work led Burt to come into contact with eugenics , meeting Charles Spearman and Karl Pearson .

In the summer of 1908, Burt visited the University of Wurzburg , Germany , where he met psychologist Oswald Külpe for the first time . Referring to Fig.

Burt became President of the British Psychological Society in 1942. Burt imposed his deterministic theory of innate intelligence of genetic origin, became the most important figure in the English school of psychology in the 1940s and awarded him the title Nobiliary of Sir . The IC test that he created was the one that English children decided to live until the 70s because it defined which high school they had to attend according to their IQ. The British system of examinations for 11-year-olds was used to decide which secondary education the children would receive. Students who passed the Burt test could gain access to university. The rest were doomed to trade and could not go to higher education because the consequence of this deterministic view of intelligence meant that it made no sense for the state to invest money in educating people with a low IQ who had no chance of improving Their social situation. This test, which assessed in IQ, was in use for three decades until the mid-1970s 9

Burt argued that it was based on research on twin siblings separated at birth. He claimed to have studied more than fifty cases of brothers educated in very different families whose intellectual coefficients gave exactly the same score. Between 1943 and 1966, he published works on 53 pairs of twins, in which he proved that his performance was the same even if they went to different schools.

London Sunday Times scientific journalist Olivier Gillie and the American psychologist Leon Kamin , director of Princeton University’s psychology department , tried to find the twins and the assistants who had participated in the investigations and discovered that they had never Existed. 10 11

Sir Cyril Burt died in 1972 at the age of 88. Gillie and Kamin denounced their fraud and in 1976, after his death, Burt was charged with scientific fraud by his own colleagues who investigated the matter. 12 13 The British Society of Psychology recognized the fraud publicly but it was such a controversy between its advocates and its detractors that the Society decided not to have an official corporate position. 14

The controversy over Burt’s fraud had several comings and goings leading many to conclude that he had been exonerated from the prosecution. His investigations could never be replicated or verified. Other studies with monozygotic twins gave very different results. 12 However, there are still those who defend their position and consider that it is unfair to accuse him of something that he can not defend himself. Those attempting to rehabilitate Burt’s memory claim that he was a victim of political operations by the left-wing press. 14 15



  • Burt, CL (1921). Mental and scholastic tests London: PS King. Republished and revised (4th ed.) London: Staples, (1962).
  • Burt, CL (1923). Handbook of tests for use in schools . London: PS King. Republished (2nd ed.) London: Staples, (1948).
  • Burt, CL (1925). The young delinquent . London: University of London. Republished and revised (3rd ed.) London: University of London Press, (1938); (4th ed.) Bickley: University of London Press, (1944).
  • Burt, CL (1930). Study of the Mind . London: BBC.
  • Burt, CL (1935). The subnormal mind . London: Oxford University Press. Republished London: Oxford University Press, (1937).
  • Burt, CL (1937). The Backward Child . London: University of London Press. Republished (5th ed.) London: University of London Press, (1961).
  • Burt, CL (1940). The factors of the mind: An introduction to factor analysis in psychology . London: University of London.
  • Burt, CL (1945). How the mind works . London: Allen & Unwin.
  • Burt, CL (1946). Intelligence and fertility . London.
  • Burt, CL (1957). The causes and treatments of backwardness (4th ed.). London: University of London.
  • Burt, CL (1959). A psychological study of typography . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Burt, CL (1975). The gifted child . New York: Wiley and London: Hodder and Stoughton
  • Burt, CL (1975). ESP and psychology . London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson. Anita Gregory edited.


  • Burt, CL (1972). “Inheritance of General Intelligence,” American Psychologist , 27: 175-190.
  • Burt, CL (1971). “Quantitative genetics in psychology”, British Journal of Mathematical & Statistical Psychology , 24: 1-21
  • Burt, CL (1963). Is Intelligence Distributed Normally? .
  • Burt, CL, & Williams, EL (1962). “The influence of motivation on the results of intelligence tests”, British J. of Statistical Psychology , 15: 129-135.
  • Burt, CL (1961). “Factor analysis and its neurological basis”, British J. of Statistical Psychology , 14: 53-71.
  • Burt, CL (1960). “The Mentally Subnormal,” Medical World , 93: 297-300.
  • Burt, CL (1959). “General Ability and Special Skills,” Educational Research , 1: 3-16.
  • Burt, CL (1959). “The Examination at Eleven Plus,” British Journal of Education Studies , 7: 99-117.
  • Burt, CL, & Gregory, WL (1958). “Scientific method in psychology: II,” British Journal of Statistical Psychology , 11: 105-128.
  • Burt, CL (1958). “Definition and scientific method in psychology”, British Journal of Statistical Psychology , 11: 31-69.
  • Burt, CL (1958). “The inheritance of mental ability,” American Psychologist , 13: 1-15.


  1. Back to top^ Hearnshaw, Leslie Spencer (1979). Cyril Burt, psychologist . London: Hodder and Stoughton.
  2. Back to top^ Hearnshaw 1979, p. 2. ‘Burt, Sir Cyril Lodowic (1883-1971)’. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography . Oxford University Press. 2006. Joynson, Robert Billington (1989). The Burt affair . London: Routledge.
  3. Back to top↑ The birth of Cyril Lodowic Burt was recorded in the index of the General Registry Office (now part of the Office of National Statistics) of births in England and Wales of the June quarter of 1883: – Burt, Cyril Lodowic St. Geo. H. Sq. 1a 486 (The registration district was St. Georges, Hanover Square, which includes parts of Westminster)
  4. ↑ Jump to:a b c Hearnshaw 1979, p. 2
  5. Back to top^ Hearnshaw 1979, p. 7
  6. Back to top↑ «Burt, Sir Cyril Lodowic (1883-1971)». Oxford Dictionary of National Biography . Oxford University Press. 2006.
  7. Back to top^ Hearnshaw 1979, p. eleven
  8. Back to top^ Hearnshaw 1979, p. 13
  9. Back to top↑ Science Impostors
  10. Back to top↑ Psychologist Leon Kamin dismantles racist theories about intelligence José F. Beaumont, Madrid 22 JUL 1985
  11. Back to top↑ Kamin, Leon J., The Science and Politics of IQ, Lawrence Erlbaum, 1974, ISBN 9780470455746
  12. ↑ Jump to:a b Tucker, William H (1997). ” Re-reconsidering Burt: Beyond a Reasonable Doubt “. Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences. 33 (2): 145-162. Doi: 10.1002 / (sici) 1520-6696 (1997) 33: 2 <145>
  13. Back to top↑ Misconduct in Research: An Issue of Science Policy and Practice, Minerva, Vol. 23, no. 2 (Summer 1985), ISSN 0026-4695, pp. 175-202
  14. ↑ Jump to:a b Nathaniel J. Pallone and James J. Hennessey (1995). Fraud and Fallible Judgment: Varieties of Deception in the Social and Behavioral Sciences . Transaction Publishers. ISBN  1-56000-813-X .
  15. Back to top↑ Shameful Lies , Pablo Capanna, 2013