A Ray of Light
By Prof. Desmond Cartwright
July 16, 1998
I knew Ray Cattell for nearly half a century. We first met in England, where he was on a lecture tour. His intellect was impressive then - and never faltered, despite what some people think about aging and intelligence. And despite his own evidence about aging differentials for crystallized and fluid intelligence.
When I came to the U.S. Ray was extremely helpful in many ways. Our project on Chicago gangs would not have done much if it hadn't been for his loan of mysterious machines (such as the Cursive Miniature Situation) and other elements of objective-analytic personality testing. Many of the gang members could not read, and anything "schoolish", we were told by street-gang workers, would give them a fit. But arm-circling, tapping, CMS, and other tests went over big with them. We had interesting results too.
Many people found Ray aristocratic. And indeed he was. On the surface at least. But those even slightly closer to him found a warmly human personality, with interests far beyond his own specialties. He loved sailing; and hiking in the mountains. He knew more about rocks than I dreamed possible; wild flowers too. He loved to build things, such as his
replica of the English Channel in Champaign; and the dam across South Boulder Creek that he and I spent many happy hours on, stripped to the waist, and lugging heavy rocks till we got a fair-sized pond.
Part of his aristocratic nature was in his voice. He retained an upper-class English accent all the years he lived in America. And part of that nature appeared in a certain imperiousness with which he dispatched ideas that he considered silly. One time he said: "So now we're going to solve this scientific problem by the democratic means of a popular vote, eh?" Another time, after struggling to get into my sports car, he said: "Des, you should get a proper car."
I have not mentioned the things that Ray will be remembered for in the wide world of psychological science. There's so much it takes your breath away: From the 16 P.F. and M.A.T. and the Culture-Fair to the Scree, IPAT and SMEP; with much in between. And all alive and well. What a legacy.
And perhaps now Ray can get a closer look at the stars he so often studied through his own telescope, beyond, as he would say.
Post Script (3/23/00): Many of us in the year 2000 greatly miss Ray Cattell. I for one have three multivariate algebra problems on which I would dearly like to consult him.
Prof. Desmond Cartwright