Tuesday, April 27, 2004

The Fallacy of IQ

Our society makes a huge deal out of intelligence, but strangely, we have struggled for centuries with finding a way to quantifying it. Some equate it with success in formal education, others with success in business or occupation. Certain individuals -Vox- or organizations -MENSA- would have us believe that the issue has been solved. A series of neat and tidy tests tells us right away if Junior is smart or not, and just how much so, and even tells you where he falls nationally. How quaint.

It would be nice I suppose if such a thing became reality. Sadly it hasn't.

There is no way to objectively quantify something that is by its very nature subjective. History is rife with the catastrophic failures of those who've tried. The infamous Pritchard Poetry Scale comes to mind.

The problem with any IQ test is that it identifies not intelligence, but a pre-determined thought process, a way of thinking and working out puzzles. Taking a measure of one's ability to perform the card trick of finding patterns in colors and shapes, to one's ability to learn is just shamefully ignorant.

The IQ tests have a great deal like the Austrian Economics Quiz. It can't tell you what economics is right or wrong, but it can tell you who you agree with.

That's basically what I think of MENSA. It's a great many people who think alike, and congratulate themselves about thinking alike, and convince each other that because only a few people think like them, that they are therefore in some way special. Oddly enough Serial Killers often feel this same way, for this same reason.

I've always laughed at people who are so proud of their MENSA membership. They will have the publication mailed to their offices, and make sure that everyone sees it. They'll carry it around, and read it at the cafe. Hell some have even been known to put it in the bio of their WND Column.

The only way to find out what type of learning capacity someone has, is to sit down with them and watch them learn, in several different areas. The problem with that method is that it's subjective.

Go figure.

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