# IQ scores

OK, so I took an IQ test online. I know it’s not the best way to do it, but I was bored. Besides, it’s supposedly one of the more reputable sites.

Anyway, I scored a 163. Not bad, I thought. Genius level. But when I got the scale out, high genius starts at 166 and up! I was upset…not too upset (I have some form of life) but still left wondering…

Is there a great difference between 163 and 166? Do those 3 points really matter? Is it possible I had a bad test and am higher? (I know that would mean I could have had a good test and am lower, but I don’t like to think about that).

Those 3 points are crucial, what separates Einstein from Homer Simpson. Back to the books for you!

## What makes you think that something as complex and non-linear as intelligence can be quantified by a single number?

A census taker tried to quantify me once, I ate his liver with some fava beans and a big amarone.

I’m sorry, 165 is the low-end cut-off for GQ. I’m afraid that I’m going to have to move this thread to…

I’m kidding! Geez.

As Padeye aptly points out, IQ tests, in whatever form, are inadequate to the task of measuring someone’s “intelligence,” broadly defined. In addition, there is sufficient variability in test conditions, etc. that small differences are essentially useless even for the specific “kinds” of intelligence that a test aims to measure. Don’t worry about three points, or even ten.

The true mark of intelligence is the quality of questions and answers in the General Questions forum of the Straight Dope Message Board. So far, based on this question, you’re doing just fine.

First of all, do you understand how IQ scores are given? Do you understand the idea of a standard deviation? In most IQ tests, each 15 or 16 points is one standard deviation (away from average, which is 100 on the IQ test). You got about four standard deviations above the norm, which should mean that your IQ is better than about all except about one person in 30,000.

The notion that there’s some well-defined line between geniuses and non-geniuses is ridiculous. It’s a silly thing to worry about.

I’m immediately suspicious of the accuracy of this test. Even IQ tests prepared by professionals and tested on a large sample generally don’t claim to be able to measure IQ’s above about 160. Your score on this test tells me that a) You’re probably pretty smart and b) This test was prepared by amateurs who don’t really know what they’re doing.

IQ tests are notoriously unreliable. In fact I took one written entirely in some off-brand Eastern European language, which I do not speak and couldn’t even identify, and scored over 130.

I thought it would be a larf to take an online IQ test. I wasn’t dissatisfied with my score and I got a kick out of the categories. This from the results page:

**
100 The average IQ Score.
120 Smart enough to finish most college undergraduate level courses.
130 Entry level “genius” score.
140 Definitely genius level.
150 Less than 1/2 of 1% of all IQ test takers achieve this score or higher.**

And this from the response email:

** Average: 85 - 115
Above average: 115 - 125
Gifted Borderline Genius: 125 - 135
Highly gifted and appearing to be a Genius to most others: 135 - 145
Genius: 145 - 165
High genius: 166 - 180
Highest genius: 181 - 200
Beyond being measurable genius: Over 200**

They do a good job of stroking the test taker so as to sell the “intelligence profile” for \$9.95 but I wonder where the rest of the sample comes from. Do they have a wide variety of people taking the test so that the above average scores have context? What categories do those poor schmoes get lumped into?

75-85 Below average and appearing to be a dumbass to most others
60-75 Dumbass
50-75 Moron
40-50 Imbecile
25-40 Lichen
0-25 Paint

I took one of these IQ tests online, and it was total ego-boosting bullshit. The idea was to give you a test and then sell you a profile of your answers and intelligence type, whatever. So I take it, get a 150ish score.

Then out of curiosity about the test’s callibration, I took it again. This time, I put in random answers for all the questions. Result: IQ 125

So uh, take it with a grain, a packet, or maybe even a whole pillar of salt. Anyway, I prefer to derive my smug elitism from my knowledge of culture and history, not the results of a scantron test.

One became great by expecting the possible, another by expecting the eternal, but he who expected the impossible became greater than all. -Kierkegaard

If the definition of I.Q. is based strictly on the normal function (Gaussian distribution), with a standard deviation of 15 points, I once calculated that there should be only 6 people having IQ over 190, and no one having an IQ over 205, in the world. Since the distribution is symmetrical, this would imply that 6 people have IQ between 10 and negative 5.

I made these calculations two or three years ago to try to prove she was full of it, but I forgot what IQ she claimed to have. If it’s over 205, I’ve got her.

Work is the curse of the drinking classes. (Oscar Wilde)

If the definition of I.Q. is based strictly on the normal function (Gaussian distribution), with a standard deviation of 15 points, I once calculated that there should be only 6 people having IQ over 190, and no one having an IQ over 205, in the world. Since the distribution is symmetrical, this would imply that 6 people have IQ between 10 and negative 5.

I made these calculations two or three years ago to try to prove Marilyn vos Savant was full of it. But I forgot what IQ she claimed to have. If it’s over 205, I’ve got her. I never did figure out EXACTLY what IQ the smartest person alive should have, and I’m not going to waste my time with it now.

Work is the curse of the drinking classes. (Oscar Wilde)

What happened? Sorry about the triplet.

This is the second IQ thread I have posted in.

Anyhow, mine was not determined via some on line test, I took a day’s worth (or more, it’s been 15 years) of testing for my psychiatrist to come to my IQ.

Whether or not it’s true, it was not a 30 minute test…it did help my parents know that I was not stupid or lazy, but have ADD.

OK, time for me to get defensive.

A) YES, I know about Standard Deviations. I took statistics in high school, and understand that – but thanks for pointing it out anyway.

B) Thanks for pointing out I am pretty smart – smart enough not to completely believe the test (and also not to pay the 9.95 for the personality profile).

C) My baby cousin took the test – she got “paint” (HA…it’s a joke). Seriously, padeye took the same test I did. The second chart he had is the one I got in the email. If you’re REALLY curious to take an online quiz, do a search for “IQ Test.” It’s what I did.

D) If I remember correctly, Marilyn claims to have a 300+ IQ. Personally, I believe Cecil could take her.

E) Manhattan, you’re absolutely right. (Hey, a little kissing-up can’t hurt ;))

F) F is for Finally: I am smart/intelligent/wise/able to see well enough to know that one number does not a person make. I was simply curious to know what the difference is. Let’s face it: My IQ, whatever it may be, is not gonna get me much money. I could play it like Marilyn, I could try to get on Millionaire, but in the end, it don’t mean crap. I know this.

I also know that they took my IQ in Kindergarten and told my mother they couldn’t measure it. The story has always seemed a little far-fetched to me (and it’s ABOUT me) and I was curious to see what would really happen. So, as I said, “I was Bored” and, as Padeye so eloquently put it, “I thought it would be a larf.”

Thanks all!

I can believe that your IQ score measured as off the scale on that test you were given in kindergarten. As I said before, anything over 160 or below 40 is simply unmeasurable for any ordinary IQ test. How would you calibrate any higher IQ? To say that your IQ is, say, one in a million (whatever IQ score that equals, perhaps about 170), you would have to have calibrated the test by testing a million people.

Don’t take the tests so seriously. Even if there is such a thing as “intelligence” which can be measured by a single number, what good is knowing it going to do you?

Marilyn Vos Savant never claimed a 300-plus IQ. She claimed a 228 IQ, which is possible on an old version of IQ test that doesn’t use standard deviations but a (mental age/chronological age) definition. Using the current(15 points = 1 standard deviation) definition, you can’t have an IQ higher than 200 even if you declared yourself the smartest person among all the 100 billion people who had ever lived.

For folks interested in the history, development and use of the IQ test, check out “The Misemeasure of Man” by Steven Jay Gould. A little slow going in places, but worth it.

“The dawn of a new era is felt and not measured.” Walter Lord

While the IQ tests are not a perfect representation of a persons multi-faceted intellecual being, can’t we agree that it is somewhat useful for asessing relative intelligence. I mean, a person who scores 80-100 on 10 IQ tests is probably not at intelligent as one who scores 140-160 on the same 10 tests.

But of course we are talking about a limited function of problem solving to derive the make-up of “intelligence.”

I have met a few Mensa members and none were what one would call “successful.” So what does it really matter anyway?

One-in-a million IQ is 174.5 (or 25.5).

Work is the curse of the drinking classes. (Oscar Wilde)

The smartest person alive (among 6 billion) should have an IQ 198.6. IQ 200 corresponds to 1 in 11.2 billion, not 1 in 100 billion+.

## Allanadale’s score of 163 corresponds to 1 in 17,000. The “genius” cutoff of 166 he referred to corresponds to 1 in 40,000.

Work is the curse of the drinking classes. (Oscar Wilde)

In some college class, I remember being introduced to a six- or seven-axis intelligence schema. That is, there were half a dozen types of intelligence, each of which was orthogonal to the others, with no implied positive or negative correlation. They were, IIRC:

1. Logical-mathematical
2. Bodily-kinesthetic
3. Linguistic
4. Spatial
5. Musical
6. Personal
6a. Interpersonal
6b. Internal/ psychological/ self-knowledge (can’t remember what this one’s really called)

The number six entry was ambiguous since some people say self-knowing and knowing about others are inextricably related, and some say they’re not.

The point of my bringing this up is, do you think it would be possible to come up with a multi-axis intelligence test, replacing the simplistic one-number result with six or seven? It would be kind of like the Meyers-Briggs or the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, but for intelligence.

Potential problems I see: I don’t know how you’d distinguish between intelligence and knowledge on a test, whether it was one axis or six. The folks who do this probably have figured out something, but I think that having more axes would complicate this process.

Another question I have, and one that I don’t think the academics agree on, is whether or not there is any value to an overall assessment. Is it legit to add all your values together to form a “general mental abilities” thang? I mean, some people suck at all six, right? Nobody is likely to be a genius in all of them, but being a great math thinker doesn’t mean you have no interpersonal skills, high school stereotypes notwithstanding.

If you did come up with a “general mental abilities” thang, would it be the same, roughly, as IQ? I don’t think so, since I think IQ tests concentrate on numbers 1 and 3.

Last question. What would happen if some demographic group had really low average scores? Would this invalidate the test? I don’t think so. I’ve heard that women have a significantly tougher time with a particular spatial skill (specifically, three-dimensional mental rotation). That might drag down the average score of women, but I don’t think it would necessarily mean anything negative. Men would have crappy interpersonal scores since we don’t even know the sexual orientations of our best friends (that was a joke, although I’ve actually known it to be true in a few cases).

Screaming at a wall is certainly futile.
It can also be very satisfying, particularly if it involves a lot of profanity.

By the way, in my last para, when I’m talking about “average scores” I am still talking about only a single axis. The average is supposed to be among the people in the demographic, not among axes. I mean, I don’t think bombing the 3D mental rotation is going to affect “general mental abilities” score significantly, but it would certainly affect the spatial score.