Did you know an average person has an intelligence quotient (IQ) of 100 points? The highest IQ recorded in history was of Marilyn vos Savant, who got an intelligence quotient of 228! Did you know what vos Savant’s claim to fame was? A few ‘Dear Abby’ styled columns and a few books based on that. Contrast this with OJ Simpson’s IQ level at 89. Confused much? Befuddled much? Bamboozled much?
That’s because the IQ is not an accurate representation of what you are. To some circles, IQ may matter but in the grander scheme of things, one doesn’t need a high IQ level to strike gold in real life. Let’s see how IQ levels shouldn’t matter much in the realm of the personal and the professional.
The Purpose of IQ
Alfred Binet and Theodore Simon had this idea one day, an idea to measure one’s mental capacity. They came up with a standardized test to measure verbal ability, ostensibly as a means to determine mental retardation. Their humble and noble attempt was the start of something, as later on, William Stem sought to study a child’s mental acumen with their chronological age. Stern became the father of the term ‘intelligence quotient’, giving birth to a process of measuring IQ.
Stern laid down a process of calculating IQ, by dividing the mental age of an individual by their chronological age, and then multiplying that value by 100 times. Simply put, if a child of 8 years has the mental age of 4 years, his IQ would be calculated as 8 x 4 = 32. The issue was how could one determine the mental age of an individual? This is the first issue which crops up when calculating IQ.
IQ Tests Are Not Fair
Some IQ tests measure general knowledge. Does merely possessing the right amount of facts and numbers make a person intelligent? Einstein famously remarked, ‘facts and figures that can be looked up in an encyclopedia’ (or Google) do not make for a sharp mind. Intelligence is more about figuring out problems logically and by reasoning.
IQ Tests Are About Intelligence, Not Bragging Rights
Though the underlying reason for IQ test is noble, human nature, on the other hand, renders that utterly useless. It now seems ‘cool’ to brag about how children score at IQ tests, something parents and guardians seem all too fond of. A high IQ test doesn’t denote these kids are going to become productive and disciplined members of society. It usually takes a lot than just a bunch of numbers signifying how ‘superior or inferior’ your mental acumen is.
IQ Has Become a Lightning Rod for Bullies of All Hues
The reverse is also true. By letting people know how better some kids with high IQ are parents are unconsciously painting a bull’s eye on their kids. People are all too fond of labeling and that’s where the trouble starts. Labels such as ‘nerdy’, ‘geeky’ and the rest, make these gifted individuals a target for bullies. This culture of abuse infects the abused as well. This phenomenon can be observed when people who argue about Star Trek tend to pick on people who argue about Star Wars.
Just possessing a high IQ isn’t enough. Children are, for the most part, mean. They need time to mature and grow out of this phase. Letting them know their IQ can impact their mental and emotional development in more ways than one. It can invite feelings of narcissism or of inferiority, owing to the grades they get on their IQ tests.
IQ Tests Are Timed, and That Makes Them Bad For the Thinkers of the World
If one has to undertake an IQ test, they will find the questions are timed and one has to hurriedly answer them. Doesn’t this defeat the whole purpose of learning? Is answering questions at light-speed an essential life skill? Such an approach works only if one learns all the answers on the IQ test by rote beforehand. Even Einstein was a contemplative fella. His teachers failed him only because he took his time to answer a question. That is neither fair nor acceptable.
IQ Tests Are Not For the Creative Folks
This is true of IQ tests because the central focus of these tests remain in questions related to general knowledge, mathematics and scientific analysis. The questions are about choices, just black and white choices. There’s no space to measure the grey. There is no emphasis on linguistics, art and topics, which evoke the human imagination. In fact, Aristotle and Plato might have fared worse and probably devoted the entirety of their lives to being jealous of Archimedes. Archie was a scientist and mathematician whereas the two great thinkers were better versed with philosophy and spirituality.
Last, But Not The Least…
Just having a high IQ is not enough. That could be like a person owning all the legendary race cars of the world but with no long-lasting contributions to humanity. J. R. R. Tolkien gave us a literary masterpiece and people never once considered what the IQ of the inventor of the Elvish tongue was. James Sidis, on the other hand, was known to have an IQ above 250. As much of a writer and scientist Sidis was, his achievements didn’t leave a lasting effect on humanity.
This begs the question is high IQ really important for great men and women to do similarly great things in the world? The answer is a resounding ‘no’. It takes more than IQ to change the world. It takes will, guts, charisma and empathy to move the world. This is not to disparage high IQ holders, but rather a wakeup call for the world to have a more considerate and valid method of measuring one’s true potential. There’s a pressing need to come up with something better than the existing IQ tests.