I started writing this post a few months ago, but for some reason I never got a chance to complete it. It is a relevant topic and needs to be addressed, so now I’m finally taking the time (now that I’m free from school, temporarily) to discuss it on my blog. Squee.
Anyway, so, a while back, I came across a very interesting article on Intelligence Quotients (IQ). You can read the full article at this link. What I found most interesting is how some researchers alleged differences (via IQ results), in the cognitive ability of diverse ethnic groups, as being “racist.” And I guess what I am trying to understand now, though, is whether it really is a matter of racism per se that has executed this so-called “IQ blackout”; or whether it’s due to the notion that it may be very limited in its capacity to accurately and fully determine a person’s intelligence. Or maybe, perhaps, both?
Although, research has proven that a “high IQ” is advantageous in life because virtually all activities require some sort of reasoning and decision-making. Conversely, a “low IQ” is often a disadvantage, especially in disorganized environments. Of course, a high IQ no more guarantees success than a low IQ guarantees failure in life. There are many exceptions; but the odds for success in our society greatly favour individuals with higher IQs.
So, keeping that in mind, would it then be fair to judge someone’s intellectual capability simply through their IQ results?
In my opinion: No.
Why? Well, typically a person’s IQ is supposed to be a measure of that person’s intelligence: the higher the IQ number, the greater the intelligence. And, I find that highly inaccurate and just can’t bring myself to agree with it at all; because it assumes that there is only one kind of intelligence, while completely ignoring a plethora of other types or forms of intelligences. What about creative intelligence such as musical intelligence, artistic/creative intelligence, or the fact that some of us have fantastic memories and recall the most intricate details that other people may lack the ability to remember? Or what about those who are intelligent practically (possess “hands-on intelligence”) or mechanical expertise? Or those who are great with vocabularies, seeing analogies, synthesizing, unifying, etc. So, yes, it is pretty blatant that some people definitely excel more than others when it comes to these different “types” of intelligences, or behaviours, so to speak. But, even if they score low on an IQ test, that does not indicate, in any way, their lack of intelligence, or that they are not “intelligent enough.” What the heck does that mean anyway? Who even has the power to decide what intelligence means, or who is “intelligent” and who is not? Surely not these extremely limited and biased tests!
Therefore, I strongly believe that it would be much more accurate to speak of human intelligences, rather than of intelligence in a more generic sense, or as a whole. I mean most typical IQ tests don’t even measure rational decision-making ability, so it should be considered perhaps a measure of some kind of intelligence, but definitely not all.
Now, when it comes to race, IQ tests are even more flawed, and inaccurate. If a South African or a Pakistani scores lower than a Western European in a typical IQ test, that does not, in any way, indicate that the Western European is “smarter” than the South African/Pakistani, nor does it indicate that the latter is not as intelligent as the former. I mean, think about it. Who typically creates these tests in the first place? Are they not by another human being – more specifically, by white, middle class westerners to test skill which they think are important to their culture, and which, naturally, they are more likely to be good at? That’s why working-class western whites and people from other cultures – and even a lot of upper-class western whites – appear to have “low” intelligence based on their tests. And, here I don’t want to appear like I am picking on Western Europeans, but am just trying to state a blatant fact. For example, math-related problems may not be as ‘culturally’ important to an African tribe in South Africa as opposed to those living in the West, which will hence contribute to their scoring low on that section of the IQ test. Similarly, if a South African or a Pakistani devised a test based on things that they deemed important to their cultures, then Western Europeans would score badly too. It really isn’t rocket science when one looks at it this way.
Further, there is absolutely no correlation between race and intelligence – none whatsoever. And there is no IQ test in the world that could ever prove this. For one, intelligence, by itself, is a pretty ethereal concept. Every single person seems to have her/his own interpretation and intuitive methods for gauging the intelligence of others; for there is no a priori definition of intelligence that we can use to design a device to measure it. So, instead, we have these ineffectual IQ tests and results to compensate for this deficient. This as a result leads to the logic fallacy of reification, in which we assume that, because we can measure something, that something must have an objective existence. Um, no, sorry, but that’s not the case. And it’s definitely not the case when it comes to attributing IQ tests to race, because the fallacy then leads to the assertion that intelligence is what I.Q. tests measure and that what I.Q. tests measure is a property possessed by human beings.
So, yeah, if you’ve ever written an IQ test (whether online or on paper) and scored low or lower than average, don’t worry too much about it. It’s all bullshit anyway.
At least, that’s what I personally think. My readers are free to disagree with me. ;)