I’m not entirely sure what IQ measures. I mean, obviously, it stands for Intelligence Quotient, and is aimed to be a metric of intelligence, but as I understand it, it can only measure a limited scope of intelligence. It is targeted at a small subset of reasoning skills (largely mathematical, verbal and logical, at a guess) and give you a number based on how close to the national or global average you are.
I know that they’ve come under fire before because a lot of the tests are culturally relative (ie you’re much more likely to score highly if you’re a white, middle class American, because many of the questions are geared towards that world), but I’m still not entirely sure what it measures. Or how what it measures is supposed to relate to day to day life.
Also, due to what I suspect is my own state of mental slump, I’m having trouble relating to the word ‘function’ but we’ll get there a bit later. For now I’m going to read some wikipedia. Back in a sec.
That wasn’t particularly fruitful.
There’s some link between IQ and job performance, and some between IQ and likelihood of a life of crime, but not huge correlations, and as always, they don’t necessarily mean anything that we can understand.
So I’ve got to go back to using my own intelligence.
I don’t know how intelligent I am. I tend to think I’m not very, but then, I can see how the amount I read and attempt to comprehend of the world has a tendency to make me unhappy, which in turn has a tendency to make my ability to get through life trickier.
But, well, are those things related, really? Surely I’ve just got a useless emotional brain, rather than a ‘superior intellect’. I’ve seen plenty of happy and contented people that are obviously much cleverer than me. I am increasingly idiot, for a start.
I think thinking about people in terms of intelligence is dangerous, maybe. I don’t think measuring everyone in relation to everyone else is necessarily useful.
Measuring, in fact, is flawed and risky.
As soon as you start qunatifying people’s ability to think and learn, you start giving people an impression of what they are, based on your own assumptions about quality and goodness. You decide what counts as intelligence, and then you tell some people they are stupid, and others that they are brilliant.
Who does that help?
Is a functional life, the life of someone who keeps their head down and does their job happily, day in day out, or someone who pops their head above the parapet, takes a look at the world, and pays enough attention to realise that the whole thing is crumbling.
Are either of these options intelligent? Or even realistic?
I am a functional human being, sometimes it feels like barely so, but other times, I am aware that I can see.
That is probably enough, for now.
Illustration by Emma