It’s long been a standard of intelligence: if you score high on an IQ test, you must be incredibly smart, right? All of us have grown up believing it, so is it true? And how did this phenomenon come to be?
The fact is that IQ tests are NOT what we think they are and they are not objective at all. In fact, when you examine these tests you’ll learn that they are completely biased.
The test was developed by a man named Alfred Binet in 1904 to determine…wait for it…how well French children were doing in kindergarten.
In 1910, H.H. Goddard, an American psychologist, revised the test and it was very popular in the U.S., becoming the most popular test of intelligence for decades.
But there is a fatal flaw among IQ tests: they’re only beneficial for determining how good a person is at IQ tests, nothing else. In 2012, after 100,000 subjects took part in a study of IQ tests, it was determined that the tests don’t show how smart a person is. Dr. Adrian Owen, the study’s head investigator, said “When we looked at the data, the bottom line is the whole concept of IQ — or of you having a higher IQ than me — is a myth. There is no such thing as a single measure of IQ or a measure of general intelligence.”
Owen added, “The whole concept of IQ really is bogus. The brain is complex and you can’t sum it up by answering a few questions on a piece of paper.”
It’s also been shown that intelligence tests have cultural biases. Wealthy, white Westerners perform the best on IQ tests, but research shows that because this demographic typically has a better educational background and better access to healthcare, they perform higher. Experts agree that these tests ignore inherent intelligence and instead are geared toward confirming the widely-held belief that a certain segment of the population is more intelligent and better prepared for success.
Think of it this way: an upper-middle-class person who goes to good schools and has access to great healthcare will absolutely score higher than someone from a poverty-stricken area with less-than-stellar educational opportunities. And research shows that chronic illness hampers proper brain development.
Developing countries in the world reflect this trend: the average IQ in Kenya today is 72, lower than a typical British person would have scored 70 years ago in the late 1940s: but as that developing country and others like it gain better access to healthcare and education, the IQ rates climb. Kenya’s IQ rates have risen 25 points since the 1980s.
The authors of the previously-mentioned 2012 study argue that three components must be taken into consideration to determine a person’s intelligence: short-term memory, reasoning, and a verbal component.
So until a more comprehensive IQ test is developed, next time someone brags to you that they are a member of Mensa, you can be a little wary, and with good reason.