Why IQ is BS

 

 

As I hinted at a while ago in my “How to develop intellectual success” post, I think that IQ is a pretty horrid way to describe intelligence in general. Plenty of people have already discussed the invalidity of the current IQ test and scale before (here’s probably the best one), so what I instead wanted to do was describe why I think that an IQ test/scale could never work in the first place.

I’ll start with the obvious but true argument that there are many different types of intelligence. The original idea behind general intelligence was that it was supposed to be a good measure of how fast you could learn things in general. There’s, of course, a big problem with that; we don’t learn everything by a given set of speed. Say, if we had really high acuity for maths and social skills, then we learn maths and social skills faster. But, if by chance we also have a low acuity for creative tasks like reading and writing, then we would learn these lower. The combination of all these elements is sort of a hodge-podge that could quite possibly go one way or the other on the scale but is typically going to land straight in the average. And, unlike examining the skills separately, this average really doesn’t teach us much.

In addition to this, I don’t think that there is a good way to measure these as opposed to, say, just general skills. Of course, if you are bad at reading and writing, or maths, or social skills, you can just go out to improve them. And, sure, you might not be able to improve it as much as someone with a natural disposition for the skill, you can still definitely get it to a point where it’s greater than you started. This conflicts with IQ’s main theory that the IQ that you’re born with stays the same. You can certainly improve your speed of learning by finding the right combination of methods for you, and you can certainly improve any of the different intelligences by just well-developed practice. Hell, I didn’t even catch some of the patterns in a standard IQ test the first time I took it; after I had found them, my score increased significantly.

IQ, however, is still good for some things. Perhaps the greatest example of this is the ability to diagnose mental defects like Down Syndrome and the like. That being said, there are likely better ways to turn this into a test specifically for detecting syndromes and other such things rather than just taking an IQ test.

 

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How to develop intellectual success in future generations

 

 

Intellect is a complicated problem, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned in previous posts. There is really no good heuristic or measure out there for what makes a person truly “intelligent” (if you say IQ is a valid example, I’m going to be mad; more on that in approximately 10 weeks). However, I do believe there is a method behind allowing for the intellectual success of a person, especially at a young age.

Let me give a bit of an example so what I’m saying here actually makes sense: let’s say you have a person who was born “very smart” (we’ll say high logical-mathematical intelligence) but was born into a situation where perhaps resources are thin; say a poorer neighborhood with parents who have not really succeeded too much historically in education or otherwise. Because of this, it is going to be really hard for the said person to now “unlock” their intelligence and go on to utilize it cause they’ve never really had a chance to. Because of this, the edge of their ability gets duller as time goes on, and the competitive advantage is lost.

Extrapolating this slightly, I think now that this same problem is very much correlated with the mindset problem I discussed a few months back. You can’t get into a healthy mindset as easily if you aren’t surrounded by people who have this mindset. It doesn’t just have to be parents; it also includes friends, teachers, and a general outside support group. Since it is so hard to have the mindset to “unlock” potential or intelligence, I feel as though this is an overwhelming problem; people don’t just ignore following a healthy mindset, some outwardly reject its existence and mock people who try following it. This all comes back to how intellectual success is so hard to come by in general; if generation after generation is actively pushing against it, other people are going to fall off and fail.

I wish I had a better solution to this problem rather than “just stop doing this”, but I don’t. I do think the internet has helped a lot in this capacity – it certainly helped me – in the way that educational resources are easy to come by and that people can more readily make “mentors” out of people they might not necessarily know but be able to read the blog or watch the podcast of. Still, most people don’t use the internet for this; they use it instead for cat pictures and video game streams. And while there’s certainly nothing wrong with that, it can provide a more “medicated” view of the world and distract us from these alternate entryways into intellectual success.

Despite the fact that I do not have a clear answer, I do think things will get better. I do believe as more people learn – as more people get out of the vicious cycle – that this problem will begin to mitigate. I just don’t know when it will happen.

Anyway, that’s all for this one. If you want to keep in touch, check out my biweekly newsletter! Following this will give you the low-down of all the new stuff I’m working on, as well as some things I found interesting. You can subscribe to it here.