IQ means Intelligence Quotient and is not a measure of intelligence. So what is it?
Humans beat animals in all sorts of abilities because we have more intelligence. Two people can have equal intelligence but have completely different abilities. You might be able to hunt down animals for food then starve to death during a drought. I might not be able to outwit the animals and bring home food but I might invent drying of food to store food across a drought. Combining our skills and respective intelligence, we keep our village alive.
The examples of difference intelligence are endless. Problem solving is the big important feature of human intelligence. Speed is second. You do not need speed to work out how to build a house. You need speed when working out how to survive an attack from a lion, you have to work out a solution in less than a second, but most problems can be worked out over minutes or days then refined from year to year.
Predicting the future is a form of inference. Predicting possible futures is an advanced form of intelligence. Astrology started as a way to predict the weather then people advanced to Astronomy when they worked out the rotation of the Earth around the Sun and the associated weather patterns. Each discovery is based on intelligent observations from the past. Some people are intelligent at spotting anomalies in their environment and are hopeless at seeing the patterns behind the variations. Others are good at spotting patters and trends but are hopeless at spotting anomalies.
Think of a field of yellow flowers with a few orange flowers in the middle. One of my friends at school could see the difference between yellow and orange but considered them of the same importance and ignored those minor differences. If you asked him about his environment and probed with specific questions, he would remember all the differences, the colours, and everything else. He noticed only big differences in colour, not minor changes of shade. I have a background of successful colour photography and one of the things that helped was my ability to spot minor changes in lighting including colour changes across the day. My friend with the indifference to colour could go on to achieve success in many areas and could be a great photographer working in monochrome but would have a real problem learning colour photography. If you were the head of NASA or the president of the United nations, the difference between yellow and orange would not be important. When you are the scientist analysing Martian soil for water, oxygen, and signs of life, a very tiny difference in colour could be of huge importance. Differences in intelligence are hard to compare.
The Quotient part of IQ testing is an attempt to produce a standard result from different tests. You might score 300 out of 400 on a difficult test. I might score 95 out of 100 on a different test. How do they compare? The Quotient part of IQ testing is adjusting the scores to fit a pattern.
The pattern says the minimum score is zero, the average is 100, and the maximum score is 200. When someone talks about an IQ of 210, they clearly do not understand IQ testing. You often hear marketing people referring to authors, speakers, and other saleable personalities having an IQ of 210 or some other number above 200. That tells you everyone involved in the scam is stupid, ignorant, a liar, or all three. By definition, the top score is 200.
Many of the tests are based on your knowledge of a specific language and some are based on literary skills. Many years ago I was talked into sitting a Mensa test and, despite having passed far harder tests, I scored low on that specific test because a large percentage of the questions used vague words to describe problems you are supposed to solve. I read on the Mensa site today that Mensa do not now use that type of testing.
How does wording alter the outcome? Think of a simple question. What colour is the sky? My first reaction is to ask the time of day because the colour of the sky can vary from red through blue to purple. Expand the simple question to What colour is the sky on a Spring morning? in Sydney a Spring morning is sometimes a grey cloud. Now take the simple question and pass it to a literary person who wants to show off his or her knowledge of big flowery words. You end up with a vague question with no specific answer and a lot of distracting decoration. When I tried the old Mensa test, it was mostly flowery words.
Back then big corporations paid professional testers a lot of money to conduct exact tests. I sat through a number of big long detailed before trying the old Mensa test. Based on the many exact detailed tests, I scored well above the minimum Mensa IQ level. Mensa seemed to be the odd one out in requiring detailed literary interpretation of questions and requiring you to interpret the questions the way a literary person in England would interpret the questions.
When you have to solve a problem and save the world, the problem is rarely written out by an English literary professor.
100 is average. The definition of Quotient in IQ places 100 at the average point between 0 and 100. Back when I sat for a bunch of tests, I was told a score of 140 represents the top 1% of humans in terms of intelligence. Today I read that 135 represents the top 1%. Our collective intelligence is up due to better food and education. The drop from 140 to 135 must be an adjustment of the way the quotient is calculated.
120 puts you in the top ten percent and in countries with a good education system, more than ten percent of the population graduate from university or complete equivalent work related training.
125 puts you in the top five percent, above average for most of the selective professions.
130 is the top two percent and that places you in the percentage of people who manage profitable little companies.
135 is the top one percent. This is the percentage of people who retire with plenty of money.
140 makes you one out of 300 based on modern IQ tests. I sat one test where a score of A indicated an IQ of 140 and I scored A+. The + meant a long way above A but was considered meaningless because there were not enough people with similar skills for a good comparison. They tested a lot of people and rarely had two people scoring A+ on the same test. When they did have two people scoring A+, the people scored on different tests. They would not put an IQ rating on A+ because the fine details of IQ become meaningless.
So how are people in the top one percent compared? Experience. Practice. Performance. If you and your friend are both in the top one percent of IQ and both play piano, the person hiring for an orchestra will ask for a performance and give the job to the person who best performs the type of music the orchestra want to play. If you and your friend are top programmers, it will come down to the specific types of programs you worked on. You might have massive experience and skills in the area of flight simulation and your less experienced friend might have only written a cash recording program but the employer might want that accounting related experience more than your superior programming knowledge.
An IQ measurement is theoretical. A completed project shows you have the intelligence to perform the work, the experience to complete the work, and the enthusiasm to complete the work.
Mensa is one of many organisations that limit membership by a measurement of IQ. Back when I sat the old Mensa test, I was told they accepted the top 1% and I would have to score 140. I had already scored above the 1% level on many detailed accurate tests but I scored just 139 on the Mensa test. Today I read that Mensa accept the top 2% and require a score of only 130. Have their standards dropped or have they calibrated their tests a different way?
Is a literary oriented test useful? Yes if you write speeches for politicians. No if you write top selling books, movie scripts, computer programs, Web site content, or almost anything else. My top selling book was a success due to accuracy, clarity, usefulness, everything except flowery literary prose. Most of the tests we have to pass, driving a car for example, are based on what we can do, or how we can teach what we can do, not on how we describe it in Shakespearian terminology.
The National IQ Test
One of our local television stations presented a program called The National IQ Test. I watched a couple of minutes of the show. One of the first tests was a pop quiz based on watching an American television show and understanding the accents of the actors on the show. The actors were presenting Californian style quick meaningless wisecracks back to back. Anyone new to the show would score lower than long time watchers because they would have to learn the accents and speech patterns of the actors. The only reason for using the strange choice would be to promote one of the other shows on the sale television station. Effectively the Australian television channel used a foreign language program to test the
IQ of Australians.
The show promoters will publish all sorts of inaccurate analysis of the result. If you are from outside Australia and see an analysis of the results, note that the channel behind the show relies mostly on sport to attract viewers. Of the five main channels in Sydney, at least three other channels present content of more interest to people who want to think.
EQ, Emotional Intelligence, is sold as a superior measure of human worth for the business world and claim it is based on scientific evidence. You then find EQ lumping together a whole lot of different factors, many of which cannot be measured in any way similar to IQ. To top of the fantasy claims of EQ, some of the factors included in EQ are factors measured in many IQ tests.
Communication skills are commonly tested in IQ tests either by design or accident. People pushing EQ claim communication skills as an exclusive item in EQ tests. EQ tests appear to try to measure everything except IQ but EQ tests do not define what IQ is, leaving almost everything up for grabs by EQ testers. Communication skills are just one of several examples.
EQ testing might have a use. It is not better than IQ testing, it is just another test, and it overlaps with IQ testing, the same as many other tests.
Education increases a person's IQ. Almost everything tested by an IQ test or any other test of skill or ability, will improve with education and practice. When you teach a person to ride to use a camera, their ability to use other tools increases. Their ability to understand everything in their environment increases through education about parts of their environment. When they sit through IQ tests, there will be questions they understand better due to their better understanding of the world around them. When you teach them to use the zoom dial on a camera, they may learn to use similar dials on a lot of other equipment and machines, leading to greater interaction with the world, and an increased general knowledge useful for IQ tests.
The more people learn to do things for themselves, the more they learn how to look at and understand things around them. If you teach them the right way, they do more than memorise what you show them, they learn to learn. Their learning ability expands, leading to better understanding of the problems presented in IQ and many other types of tests.
IQ tests do not show a person's ability to solve a problem or perform a task. IQ tests are just one of a range of things that might indicate a person's ability to learn a specific task in a specific time. Good education increases the person's ability to perform a task, to understand how to approach similar tests, to solve problems, and that all combines to increase their IQ.