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Stupid People, High IQs

 by Bennett Gordon


Tags: Science and Technology, Politics, education, intelligence, IQ, rational thought, New Scientist, American RadioWorks,

Intelligent PeopleJust because people are intelligent doesn’t mean they’re smart. Though IQ tests do pretty well measuring intelligence, they don’t test for rational thought, according to the New Scientist. The magazine quotes cognitive psychologist Jonathan Evans saying, “IQ is only part of what it means to be smart.” 

Relying on IQ tests can be especially problematic in education. A new documentary from American RadioWorks details the way that the use of IQ tests reinforced racial inequalities in the United States during the 1950s. According to the show, preschools were developed to close that gap and raise IQ scores for young African Americans. People used the tests again to discredit preschools, after it was shown that the schools didn’t really help people’s IQs  in the long-term. Recent studies, however, have found that preschool has a long-term beneficial effect on people’s lives, even if it doesn’t raise their test scores.

For now, there’s no standard test for measuring people’s capacity for rational thought. The New Scientist highlights the work Keith Stanovich, author of the book What Intelligence Tests Miss, who believes that a test measuring “rationality-quotient (RQ)” could be helpful in measuring how smart people are. The magazine includes a few counter-intuitive questions that measure how smart you are, beyond your intelligence. Here’s an example:

If it takes five machines 5 minutes to make five widgets, how long would it take 100 machines to make 100 widgets?

Think about it… the answer might not be obvious.

Sources: New Scientist, American RadioWorks 

Image by GIHE, licensed under Creative Commons. 

c k mobley_2
12/2/2009 2:12:59 PM

In response to "mzee", the question the text required NO MATH @ ALL ... !!! Just reading comprehension and simple logic. or reasoning... Loved this story... it is so true... I live in both worlds.


jwt meakin
11/20/2009 8:23:02 PM

The components of an individual's ability that are not measured by IQ tests are obviously important. Mentioned elsewhere is Emotional Intelligence with its measure, the Emotional Quotient. Here we have the concept of rational ability. Obviously, memory is essential. Maybe a Memory Quotient could be developed. The idea of measuring the capability for rational thinking is interesting. However, the example given in the text of a test for rational thinking strikes me as poor. It seems to me that it belongs on an IQ test; either that or one for basic arithmetic, in that it helps to be able to multiply and divide. Which leads to a thought: how does rational thinking differ from school-level mathematics? and how does a test for rational thinking differ from, say, a test in Euclidean geometry? or statistical inference?


lance winslow
11/20/2009 2:57:20 PM

This articles is completely right on the money. As a coordinator for an online think tank, this is exactly what I've found, and I am amazed at the high-IQ folks that cannot problem solve even with the enormous 145 + IQs. This is really scary stuff, because we give so much weight to Intelligence, and not enough to all the other components that are needed.


annie ory
11/12/2009 4:15:41 AM

There are many kinds of intelligence. More importantly than how we as a society "test for" intelligence is the question of how we teach. In some societies it is common for kids, having been taught basics, reading writing, what my grandma used to "basic ciphering" to go out and learn a trade, apprentice under an artist of kind, a mechanic, a potter, a haberdasher, a dress maker, a house builder, a farmer. All of these are important and meaningful work, necessary contributions to society. I know people who have never finished high school who are gifted massage therapists, wonderful florists who grow and even create beautiful plants that serve the community spiritually, incredible chefs, intuitively artistic home builders. These people are not stupid, far from it, though many of them could not "pass" a common high school proficiency test but they are useful and important contributors to their communities, supporting their families and pursuing work that they care about. Our country, our society, our culture, needs to learn to value individuals for their unique skills and contributions.