Is anyone else fine with the IQ?

I’ve heard a lot of people say that you can’t judge intelligence by a number, or a test, and that is why they dislike the IQ test.

To me, this is rubbish. There are a two arguments that they use, both of which I find ridiculous:

#1: “There are multiple kinds of intelligence. What about emotional intelligence?”

The fact that there are multiple areas of intelligence does not mean that intelligence shouldn’t be judged as a whole. Ricky Henderson was faster Cal Ripken Jr. Does that mean that I shouldn’t say that Ripken was better than Henderson? Clearly not. Ripken was better in every other category. So why should the fact that there are different fields of intelligence stop me from making generalizations about one individual being smarter than other?

Also, how “emotional intelligence” is actually a form of intelligence is beyond me. If intelligence is the ability to reason (though I know that there are other ways of putting it), how is being nice a form of intelligence? Being nice does not solve math problems. It will not get you out of a high-security prison. Then why should we put empathy and emotional character in the intelligence barrel? It seems to me that people only do this because they feel sympathy (or happen to be) someone who is not very bright, but happens to have good character emotionally. It’s not that they’re nice, but not very smart, it’s that they have “emotional intelligence.”

#2: “These tests can be inaccurate.”

Yes, of course tests can be inaccurate. Any test can be inaccurate, and I don’t doubt that IQ tests are still in their infancy. In fact, the measurement of intelligence may take on a whole new form as more and more is understood about the human brain.

But this does not mean that intelligence should not be measured. Early mapmakers could not produce maps as accurately as modern cartographers can: should they not have even tried? Yes, undoubtedly IQ tests will not always be accurate. But if person A takes five different tests and averages 115, and person B takes the same five tests and averages 85, person A is probably just smarter - sorry! The fact that IQ tests do not deliver foolproof results does not mean they should not be used, and it does not mean that they do not reflect reality in one form or another.

I took the IQ test on the Mensa web site, and got 131 the first time. Then I got 128. If someone else tells me that they scored 145, I’m fine with the fact that they’re probably smarter than me. Some people are prettier than others, some people are more athletic than others, and some people are smarter than others - that’s just the way it is.

Am I alone here?

We discussed IQ tests briefy in my psychology class. My professor told us that IQ tests mainly just predict how well someone will do in school and academic areas, not necessarily how “smart” they are. But we discussed them in the context of psychological tests for children.

I’ve taken it once, in high school, as a qualifier to get into a summer program hosted by my current university. I didn’t get it, but I was one of four nominated and two made it out of a class of 550 or so. The two that made it I know are smarter than me, so I wasn’t too bummed. But my counselor never told me my score. It was a nervewracking experience taking it proctored by someone else, definitely different than taking it online.

I don’t think any will argue with this at all. I think some may argue the IQ test is not the best way to measure smartness.

IQ tests mainly measure how well you take tests. IFAIAC, they are fairly meaningless.

IQ test were never designed to measure intelligence in the first place. The name is unfortunate.

They were invented to determine which school children needed extra help. If they were at the proper level for their grade, then they had an IQ of 100. If they were below that, they needed extra help in order to improve.

Later, people started claiming they measured innate intelligence, but that’s clearly not the case, since the tests assume the taker is familiar with certain cultural assumptions.

See Stephen Jay Gould’s The Mismeasure of Man for a full discussion.

I think the problem here is that intelligence is still too broad. The example you gave takes two individuals, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, and compares their “baseball ability”. However, I’d argue that intelligence is much broader than that. Comparing people’s intelligence is more akin to comparing “physical ability”. Is it meaningful to compare the “physical ability” of a sprinter to that of a weightlifter? Could we devise a new scale called the “physical quotient” (PQ) and use it to compare the abilities of athletes across every discipline?

Yep, like they said. The IQ test (tests, really, there’s more than one) are a predictor of how well a particular student will do in the regular ol’ American school system. If the student scores well, he or she will probably do well in school. If he or she scores poorly, he or she will probably do poorly in school (without extra help, of course.) If he or she scores well but performs poorly, then that’s a big red flag that something is wrong, and we call that something a “learning disability”. Ideally, there should be no stigma attached, it’s all just an indication of who needs greater assistance or different techniques than the general curriculum and teaching methods.

Does all this mean that the test is biased againt miinorities, girls, boys, ESL students or poor kids? Well, sort of, but only in the same ways that the standard American school curriculum and teaching methods are. Because of that, they are still an excellent predictor of school success, because bias matches bias.

Now, does all this become a little less predictive when alternative or creative teaching methods are used? Yep, because the test wasn’t designed to predict sucess using those methods.

Does this also mean that IQ tests are pretty well worthless for measuring anything other than what they were designed for? Uh, yeah, except insofar as our culture continues to use much the same rubric for success in the working world as it did in school. Go into a school or field that doesn’t use that same rubric (art, sports, music, dance, interpersonal relationships, parenting, etc.) and the IQ test is no longer predictive of success, because it wasn’t designed to be.

I’m really not sure if they’re good for ANYTHING when applied to an individual.
They seem like credit scores… they can be used in conjunction with other factors to predict things about a POPULATION of individual students, workers, etc, but in making any kind of predictions about individuals IQ scores seem to fall flat on their faces.

(bolding mine)

What information do you base this assertion on?

I can’t speak to any specifics regarding intelligence, but Mr. Slant is on to something here. In general, statistical models are very good at making predictions about groups, but nowhere near as good at making predictions about individuals. Any particular individual with a high credit score may default on a debt, but in a large enough group, the defaults will decrease as credit scores rise. IQ is going to behave similarly simply because of the way these models work.

Which is why the ones used by Mensa are all pictures: no cultural assumptions to translate. People who can’t read maps will have problems with them, yes, but most of the people I know who are able to take a map upside-down and not notice aren’t particularly intelligent. (To me, intelligence is the ability to obtain information from data, particularly from apparently-unrelated data, and then apply that information in a positive manner; someone who works in IT but can’t install a plug-and-play printer in his own home computer would not be very intelligent… and yes, I know a couple of those)

Personally, I’m a lot more pissed about the tests used by psychologists for job purposes. Why “I like giving orders” is taken as meaning that “I’m good at giving orders” when I know so many people who want to be boss but suck at it is beyond me. And the look in the faces of Spanish psychoHR’ers when I tell them that “this test was originally written in the US and there ‘ambitious’ is a GOOD THING” is just priceless. In Spain, ‘ambitious’ doesn’t mean “someone who has goals and does his/her best to achieve them”, it means “someone who will sell his/her mother only once she’s so spent s/he can’t rent her by the quarter hour any longer.”

One number clearly can’t predict all the types of intelligences out there. Someone might be great at math stuff and awful at verbal stuff or vice versa.

However, if one person has IQ X, and another has an IQ a few standard deviations above X, you are going to be able to tell the difference. This may not translate into success or money, but there is a difference.

“Emotional Intelligence” is a fairly new and somewhat controversial concept, but it’s not something as simple as being nice. It would probable be better called “social intelligence” or “social adeptness”. High “EQ” might not get you out of a high security prision, but it would likely diminish your chance of being put into one in the first place. Check here for a starting point on some background.

Oh sure, absolutely. I was just looking for some evidence that “in making any kind of predictions about individuals IQ scores seem to fall flat on their faces”. That seems much more of a blanket condemnation of IQ scores and their predictions of school success than I was expecting to see without evidence - extrodinary claim, and all that.

Really? So if they show a picture of a house, does it have a thatched roof? Do they show cars?

You seem to be negating your own argument here: “No cultural assumptions,” yet Mensa* assumes people know how to read maps. Reading a map is clearly a cultural concept; if you have no experience with them, how likely are you to be able to read them? A map is filled with arbitrary symbols, after all (unless you can point out that natural formation of a N and an arrow pointing north).

That’s a separate issue, but I do agree with you here.

*I qualify for Mensa membership due to my SAT scores, but never saw and reason to join.

They do not show any pictures of actual objets. It’s arrangements of dots, of wavy lines, of white areas vs black areas.

You do need to be able to count. You do need to be able to separate the logical sequence followed by the wavy lines from the one followed by the straight lines. Sometimes the “point” is something as easy as “I have three pictures with square frames, three with rectangular frames and two with circular frames, so the only possible good answer is the one with a circular frame”.

Mensa tests do not include any maps. I mentioned “people who can’t read maps” as an example of people who, in my experience, will look at any picture and say “oh, I don’t understand those”. I’ve seen people with “picture allergy” for things from the subway schematic to ikea instructions to how to open a childproof bottle to sopas de letras where some of the words you have to find are given as pictures. People with picture allergy won’t do well in Mensa tests.

Sopa de letras: don’t know the English name. A puzzle where you have a lot of separate letters in a large area and a list of words you have to find within that area.

To be fair: Stephen Jay Gould’s book **The Mismeasure of Man ** should probably be read together with The Bell Curve, because I believe it was a reaction to it (correct me if I’m wrong). TBC does a lot of statistics that indicate a high IQ is also tied to prestige and economic class, later in life.

No, an example IQ test question would be, for instance, a drawing of several stacks of cubes (with some being blocked out of view by others in front) and asking how many cubes there are.

Several posters in this thread have said that IQ tests are dependent on cultural knowledge or only determine aptitude in tests. And from what I have read, that probably was true 30 to 50 years ago, but these days the questions have nothing to do with anything socially learned, nor are they presented in a way that is much in common with general school tests.

Now certainly there probably is some amount of room for error–and not all possible areas of intelligence are necessarily being tested (for instance, artistic aptitude)–but pretty much anyone you ever meet who you think is dumb will have a low IQ, and anyone you meet who you think is smart will have a high IQ.

A wordsearch, in English, based on your description…


Oh, really? Then why don’t you figure that out and then come back when you have. You sure have put a lot of words into something you haven’t even (and probably aren’t able to) defined clearly.

Is there a test that can objectively give a numerical score to a person’s prettiness, or athleticism?