IQ Question

This may or may not have an objective answer so Mods can move it to IMHO if that’s where it rightly belongs.

Ever since I was a young child I have been labeled as having average intelligence. Not smart. Not dumb. But average… which I’m generally okay with.

Compare this to my older brother who was always considered to be of high intelligence. How did they tell in those days? Certainly by testing in school, his grades, an IQ test he once took, and his ability to compete in advanced classes.

I would never argue that my brother wasn’t/isn’t smart. But I believe he had/has a not-so-secret weapon that I never had and never will. Namely he has a better than average memory. He recalls events from 40 years ago I have no recollection of and has wonderful short term memory also. For example he can still rattle off baseball stats from today all the way back to the 1960’s.

It seems that people with good memories can recall facts and knowledge that allows them to perform better on tests. If they test better, they get promoted to advanced classes, and being promoted gives them an edge over “average” kids that don’t have “as good” memories.

Now my memory isn’t terrible… but it doesn’t hold a candle to my brother’s. So the real question is… how much does memory factor into our perception of someone’s intelligence? If I could remember more of the stuff I learned in elementary school I would have done better in high school. If I could have remembered more of the stuff I learned in high school college would have been much easier for me. And if I could remember what I learned in college I would appear much smarter now than I do.

Am I the unfortunate victim of poor memory? I’m not looking for an excuse… just trying to understand the link between a good memory and overall intelligence.

BTW, did Einstein have a better than average memory?

Memory - and the related ability to quickly and efficiently learn and retain facts - is a component of intelligence. IQ tests measure other things as well, like spatial perceptual ability, to name one item I recall.

No doubt people with good memories are generally viewed as “smart” when they can rattle off facts rat-a-tat-tat style. Just look at political debates. Candidates who can rattle off facts give the impression that they’re smart, even if they might be regurgitating memorized facts. But a good memory is not all there is to intelligence. Besides spatial perception, you have math/logic ability, musical ability, linguistic ability, and more. I’d say that a decent memory is a necessary but not sufficient condition for intelligence. Don’t know anything about Einstein’s overall memory capabilities, but he did epitomize the absent-minded professor in his days!

I won’t testify as to its veracity, but here’s an anecdote that I read in Reader’s Digest once. A directory assistance operator received a call from somebody asking where Einstein lived. The operator responded that she couldn’t give out that information without his permission. The caller responded “this is Albert Einstein—I can’t remember where I live”.

Let me give a concrete example of what I mean…

I have read dozens of times how a four stroke internal combustion engine works. I’m fascinated by engines. But I can’t for the life of me remember at this moment the names of the four stages. Compression is one I think.

So if someone were to ask me how a car engine works I could tell them in generalities but I couldn’t rattle off the details. My brother, having read once or twice how it worked could name them. So he appears smarter simply because his memory is better. So there must be some relationship between memory and at least perceived intelligence.

Intake, Compression, Detonation, Exhaust.

I think of it this way; the better memory is because of the higher IQ, not the way you are looking at it which is better memory = higher IQ.

Another Nobel Prize winning scientist anecdote. Richard Feynman was reported to have a rather pedestrian IQ, 126 I believe. Certainly above average, but probably not even enough to get into the special classes for smart kids in elementary school (TAG or GATE, depending on your location).

For a while he was dabbling in some biology, with which he had very limited knowledge (he was a physicist). Once, while giving a lecture to a group of biology students, he posted an anatomical diagram of some sort and started explaining it to preface the main points of his lecture. One of the students interrupted him and stated that they all already knew everything he was saying–they had spent years memorizing all of this. Feynman was a bit surprised, but quipped back, “Well, no wonder I’ve been able to get myself up to speed so quickly. You’ve spent years memorizing stuff you can look up in any book.”

So Feynman may very well fit into the category of brilliant people whose IQ didn’t register too high because he didn’t have much of a memory, just a great grasp of theory and concepts.

I sort of disagree with this. Factual retentiveness is not completely rely on memory.

Somebodys IQ can be extremely high, around 150-160, and have a bad memory. His or her language, spatial, mathmatical and AGE play a larger roll in the quotient.

IQ DOES NOT measure quantity, it measures quality.

Good memory certainly makes things easier. I’m terrible at anything that requires rote memorization history dates, spelling, names…on the other hand, I’m excellent at understanding how things work as systems, and pulling in concepts from seemingly unrelated areas to solve problems. I loved learning calculus because it allowed me to derive all the mechanics and algebra relationships I could never memorize.

Combustion. Detonation is symtomatic of problems. Actually, expansion is a better name for that “stroke”, combustion being a short duration event that occurs only at the beginning.

Interesting question. I always assume that memory can be “learned” . . . as in it’s something you can practice and improve on. Learning how to use association as a way of remembering things, for example, could help memory. Grouping things (such as remembering things in 3’s) might be another example. Hell, I would think that reading more would help memory function.

So, as Madd Maxx was perhaps saying, someone with a high IQ might have an easier time “learning” how to remember – not that someone with a low IQ has less capacity to remember.

There has to be many examples of someone who has “better” memory abilities than someone who has a higher IQ.

Not sure if this post raises more questions than it does provide answers… wait, what was the question?

I always like to call it “suck squeeze bang woosh” but this makes people look at you funny sometimes.

Anyway, memory is definately a learned skill. All of those folks to who things on tv like memorize the first name of everyone in a certain section of the audience say that they just practiced a lot to increase their memory skills. You can probably find some good books on memory training at your local library.

What exactly is an “IQ?” Who standardizes the tests? Is there an allowance for anything? (area lived in, ethnicity, etc?) Intelligence Quota. Answers dot com: states:
“Quota”: “A proportional share, as of goods, assigned to a group or to each member of a group; an allotment.”
I guess I’m thinking of what intelligence really is. THAT is for another thread.
My answer to the OP? I think intelligence is subjective to whoever is giving the test.

Well, I have taken one class in IQ test administration. Graduate level, not enough to confer expertise - but here are my infra-expert thoughts and impressions:

The definition of intelligence is tricky, to begin with. Intelligence tests measure an array of skills, memory being one of them. Different intelligence tests measure different arrays of skills (for example, the Stanford-Binet does assess visual memory, while the WISC-R, IIRC, does not).
While performances in these skills are brought together in a general intelligence profile, the correlation between these skills is only OK (somebody with strong verbal skills is more likely to also be strong in other areas, but I wouldn’t make sizable bets on any one person).
A single phenomenon of intelligence is therefore suspect. Cognitive psychologists like Sternberg take it (IMHO) a little far by calling musical talent and athletic ability other forms of intelligence, but I believe most researchers agree that there’s lots of kinds of smarts. This is why I’d question an assertion like, “people have better memories because they are smart.” You’d need to tell me what you mean by “smart.”

It’s hard to measure the other kinds of smarts, however, without memory creeping into the picture somehow - even if you’re taking a part of the test that isn’t explicitly assessing memory. Having a good memory certainly is a part of being a good test-taker.

If you take the cynical, circular definition of intelligence offered by one of my professors - “intelligence is something that’s measured by IQ tests” - then yes, I’m afraid good memory probably is of the essence in intelligence. But I’m pretty sure the OP is defining intelligence differently. I’m not gonna try to say what the OP does mean by intelligence, but if the question is this:
“Do all smart people have good memories?”
then the answer - by any reasonable definition of real smarts - is no. Is having a good memory an advantage in life? Yes, but so are most skills and talents.

Thanks everyone. I now have a better idea of what intelligence is and where it comes from. Since learning something new is almost always based on some past knowledge or experience having a better than average memory really pays off… especially if any test taking is involved.

I guess having a bad memory doesn’t make you dumb any more than have a great memory makes you smart… but it seems that having a good memory can really work in your favor in terms of learning and retaining information (duh).

I would still contend that people with poor memories are at a real disadvantage… but then so are people who have many other learning disabilities.

BTW, I have tried since a young age to improve my memory with only limited success. I know the parlor tricks you can learn to help with short term memory but my long term memory is really the problem.

Since learning is built on past understanding and knowledge, it would have really helped if I could have pulled up the same stuff that everyone else seemed to be able to. Having said that, I somehow managed to get through school and become successful in spite of my “handicap”.

Unless they’ve changed the definition recently, IQ historically stood for ‘Intelligence Quotient’.

10 years ago, I took an IQ test. I got to the last question, and it was about naming the composer of a particular opera. It really made my angry. I don’t particularly care for opera. I’m more of a classical music for orchestra fan (oboe player for 6 years). Why is opera the definition of the pinacle of intelligence more than orchestral music?

From what I remember (pun intended), it was a prized skill to learn to improve memory skills back in the middle ages and before. It was an important skill that educated people worked hard to improve-kind of like some people today going to the gym. Given this was before mechanical printing of books, it makes sense. But what I remember is that truely amazing feats of memorization were achieved. Entire books word for word, whole plays memorized, etc. So memory is certainly a learned skill-and we aren’t nearly as good at today as back then. As for IQ, I am not really knowledgable in the area, but from what I can see, yes a good memory will improve your IQ test taking, and no a good memory doesn’t have much to do with intelligence. Intelligence is what one does with the items one remembers.

Crummy test-construction. I recall having taken an intelligence test (I think it was the WAIS) that asked “Who wrote Faust?” Was that the question on your test? It infuriated me, even though I was able to answer it easily, since I’m a big opera fan. Questions like this belong on a cultural literacy test, not an intelligence test.

Yes, I think that was it. And I agree that is more of a cultural literacy question.

This is certainly true in the U.S. educational system, where success (meaning good grades) can depend a lot on having a good memory. It would be very hard to score good grades without at least a decent short-term memory for taking tests in subjects like history, geography, biology, anatomy, and other subjects where you have to memorize definitions and terminology. I’ve known some very smart people who just don’t do well on tests that depend on memorizing stuff. I say they’re smart because they are great problem solvers and can coherently discuss a wide range of topics. But I also know a lot of smart people who are wizzes at recalling stuff. Guess which of these smarties get into more top schools? The ones who can do the tests because they can memorize stuff.