Does High IQ = High Intelligence?

Tests don’t tell everything

Who doesn’t love an article about Mensa, the high IQ organization, that covers polyamory, Settlers of Catan, and this marvelously nerdy joke?

Schrödinger is driving on the highway and he’s speeding, and a cop stops him and searches his car, and says, ‘Did you know you have a dead cat in your trunk?’ He says, ‘Well I do now.’”

A Mensa member in Reno

All joking aside, this article by Eve Peyser is a somewhat quick read (depending on your IQ?) that illuminates one corner of the IQ debate, which remains a mainstay of the testing debate alternately simmering and scorching for over fifty years as noted here

We covered the controversy of claims that IQ is primarily determined by genetics in one of our 31 January posts

My own personal history of IQ was that guidance counselors used it at my high school, St. Peter’s Prep in Jersey City, but I do not recall taking the test. As was often the case in my blotchy academic career, the session provided another occasion to tell me of my unfulfilled potential and inveterate laziness. At college, a walk through the lobby of my freshman dorm, Jasper Hall, one evening afforded a glimpse into a Mensa meeting in progress in the lounge. One peek proved sufficient to keep me walking upstairs to catch Star Trek with the rest of the underachievers.

Our mantra of ‘Not tests but for learning’ must allow for a few exceptions and diagnosis of learning differences meets the criterion. As Peyser points out Alfred Binet “invented the IQ test in 1904 to identify which children were struggling in school so they could receive extra tutoring. As oncologist and writer Siddhartha Mukherjee explained in an episode of Radiolab, Binet didn’t want IQ to be the defining measure of anyone’s existence, labeling that practice “brutal pessimism.””

When it comes to IQ tests, I’m with Binet, and when it comes to Mensa, I’m with Groucho Marx:

Because I don’t want to belong to any club that would have me as a member!

2 thoughts on “Does High IQ = High Intelligence?

  1. Marianne Talbot

    Well, I enjoyed Peyser’s article very much (recognising certain personal traits of mine, ahem), and the linked one in The Conversation:

    I laughed at the joke about Schrödinger driving on the highway, but also tend to agree with Marx… I have never taken the test to join Mensa, but have been encouraged to do so at various points (mostly a long time ago, I have to say). I like to think I don’t need that validation – but I’m probably also scared of what it might mean if I ‘fail’!

    You might want to look up a paper by Jones and Thissen, A History and Overview of Psychometrics, in the Handbook of Statistics, Vol. 26 (2007) which delves even further back into the genesis of psychometrics and IQ tests – fascinating. This link might work if you have an appropriate login:

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