Monday, August 22, 2005

daft notion

What a daft notion IQ tests are. How can a test of 20-30 questions, which is either massively culturally biased or heavily weighted towards spatial reasoning to avoid culture bias, determine how clever you are. What about wisdom, and learning, and emotional intelligence? Why do we have an urge to measure stuff like that anyway? Let alone base important decisions on it? As Stephen Jay Gould pointed out in The Mismeasure of Man, it's all statistical extrapolation anyway. It assumes that your answers to the particular type of questions being posed represents your general reasoning capacity. Why should I actually care about whether Jim is taller than Jack if Fred is shorter than George, or whatever? - scored 126 (apparently I am a Word Warrior)

According to the ultimate IQ test over at the International High IQ Society, my general IQ is 106. Harrumph! Then I tried their Verbal IQ test and scored 130. Then I tried the culture-fair one and scored 115 - I'm completely astonished as they were all spatial and I had no idea of the correct answer for most of them and staring at them gave me a headache. I looked at the exceptional intelligence one but it's really really scary!

And as for the idea that passing an IQ test qualifies you for membership in some crappy elitist organisation, well what nonsense. Anyone who wants to join one of those organisations whose criterion for membership is the passing of an IQ test is by definition someone I wouldn't want to socialise with. Grr.

Much of the early research purporting to prove the validity of IQ tests was falsified anyway. And their efficacy is still controversial.

The theory of multiple intelligences put forward by Howard Gardner is much more useful. Instead of trying to score an overall IQ, he outlines eight different varieties of intelligence which a person could develop:

  • Linguistic intelligence ("word smart")
  • Logical-mathematical intelligence ("number/reasoning smart")
  • Spatial intelligence ("picture smart")
  • Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence ("body smart")
  • Musical intelligence ("music smart")
  • Interpersonal intelligence ("people smart")
  • Intrapersonal intelligence ("self smart")
  • Naturalist intelligence ("nature smart")

It's been criticised by Eysenck but that's a recommendation as far as I am concerned! Though if Gardner is claiming that everyone is equally intelligent, that does seem a bit bizarre, as it's clearly not the case. Anyway most people have a bias towards one or more of the categories, and I suppose might be exceptionally gifted in one or more categories, which would obviously make them more intelligent than others. Also I would say that intellectual capacities are the outcome of both nature and nurture.

No comments: