I read an interesting article today about IQ (Intelligence Quotient). It seems that people with a high IQ (>120) are just as capable of making poor judgement calls as those without. So, high IQ !≡ Smart.
I can attest to that. When I was 18 my IQ was tested as part of a battery of tests by the Department of Employment in the UK. The aim was to find the kind of job that might suit me well. (It didn’t work.)
Much later (like 24 years later) I had my IQ tested again, this time in the US, as part of a battery of tests by a prospective employer (I got the job, and was excitedly informed that my IQ was the second highest in the entire company).
I’m not going to say what my IQ is or was, except to remark that the value was somewhat greater than 120 and hadn’t changed in all those years (despite the cultural bias of such tests, which ought to have had me performing less than optimally in the US – unless I did perform poorly but my IQ had increased during the intervening 24 years by exactly the same amount that it dropped because of cultural bias. Yeah. That’s the ticket.)
The reason I mention all of this is that I have always claimed that IQ measures are no real measure of intelligent behavior/behaviour.
Take me for example.
My >120 IQ has had me:
- set fire to my hair (twice, doing the same activity: checking a cigarette lighter that seemed to have malfunctioned – by holding it up to my ear and listening for the hiss of butane gas; instinctively I’d also struck the flint mechanism at the same time and discovered that the gas was indeed being released, as it ignited, setting fire to my hair and burning my ear)
- electrocuted twice (in the UK, where a jolt from the mains electricity can send you clear across the room: the first time, I tried melting some solder using an unusual heat source: an electric fire (boy, was that bang loud as the 13 amp fuse blew and I flew ten feet backwards), and the second time I attempted to replace a 5 amp fuse while the fuse holder was still “live” and sending 240 volts through my hand and arm even as I tried to push the new fuse into place and found myself getting inexplicably weaker and weaker and my right leg beginning to curl up behind me…).
- place a large quantity of radioactive material, with minimal screening, in a lab refrigerator right next to a batch of unexposed film…
The list goes on.
It seems those with high IQ only benefit if we’re being told what to do – determine number ratios, probabilities, use deductive reasoning, and learn from hindsight (which I clearly and signally failed to do, not once but twice) – especially if we’re told that there are logic pitfalls to watch out for.
The key skill apparently is that of rational thinking. So whether you have a high or low IQ, as long as you are capable of rational thinking, you’re OK – those with a high rational thinking quotient have fewer “negative life events”.
But it does seem likely that at some time in the future there will be an RQ test – to determine one’s Rationality Quotient.
Take these three questions, for example:
- A bat and ball cost $1.10 in total. If the bat costs $1 more than the ball, how much does the ball cost?
- If it takes five machines 5 minutes to make five widgets, how long would it take 100 machines to make 100 widgets?
- On a lake, there is a patch of lily pads. Every day the patch doubles in size. If it takes 48 days for the patch to cover the entire lake, how long would it take for the patch to cover half of it?
Apparently 3,400 students were asked these questions. Only 17% got all three right.
If you fancy your chances and want to know the answers, send a blank email to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ve rigged it so that you’ll get a message back telling you the correct answers, but only for the next five years, so don’t take too much time…