Just another number

Asks the person in shadows: “My IQ is 131. Can I get into MIT?”

Ten answers on Quora so far, but this is the one that resonates with me, from Doc Searls:

You don’t have an IQ. Nobody does, because intelligence isn’t a quotient. It is the most personal of all human characteristics, and is as different in all of us as our faces and voices.

For the nothing it’s worth, my known IQ scores have an eighty point range. (Got most of ’em from my Mom, who taught in the same school system.) All they measured, if anything, was how tired or awake I was, and how much I enjoyed or hated being tested at some point in time. And none of them mattered, except to those attempting to classify me — and all of them failed.

Remember, that’s what IQ tests are for: classifying people.

There are pundits who will take issue with Doc’s explanation, arguing that classification of this sort is exactly the tool they’re looking for, but for the nothing it’s worth, I spread several scores over a 60-point range, and I couldn’t tell you which one, if any, was “accurate.” It certainly didn’t seem to have much bearing on subsequent education or employment.


  1. Francis W. Porretto »

    26 December 2015 · 4:45 pm

    As an absolute measure of general intelligence, an IQ score is useless, precisely because of its relative nature, However, IQ scores do correlate well with relative performance in the symbolically oriented fields. That is: persons with higher IQs will be much more likely to do well in those fields than persons with lower ones.

    The influence of the sociocultural matrix cannot be excluded. As a society becomes more technological and the knowledge and reasoning capabilities required for competence at an average sort of life rise, persons who would have tested as having high IQs decades earlier would be likely to perform worse in real life than persons tested as having average IQs today. Those capable of mastering the requisite knowledge would of course test as high in the present as they would have in the past….eventually.

  2. okie1701 »

    26 December 2015 · 11:39 pm

    My Mother and her fellow teacher pals/bridge club gave me a series of IQ tests from age 9 to 15. Never told me the results. They just used positive reinforcement words to tell me I’d done fantastic!

    After Mom passed away her friend Marge also said she’d never reveal any scores but said that the scores were higher each time. My response to that was: “So it’s b.s.?” Marge: “Seems like it.”


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