IQ is a British progressive rock band who could be described as a modern version of 70s-era Genesis or Yes. Their music combines emotion with cerebrality. They released their first professional album, Tales From the Lush Attic, in 1983. Their most recent studio album is 1997's Subterranea. Both of those albums are good places to start, as are Ever and The Wake. For more info, go to

In general, your IQ is a measurement of how good you are at IQ tests. These attempt to measure verbal, numerical and logical ability, and obviously your results will have some correlation with your overall mental power, but the idea that IQ is some sort of universal and eternal benchmark of intelligence is now largely discredited.

For example, I was given a "genius"-level IQ at the age of thirteen, but luckily I didn't take this too seriously. When I got to University, it was confirmed to me that the ease with which I could complete puzzles and word games didn't count for much in the real world. Also, although your IQ is supposed to be constant throughout your life (barring brain damage), I am certain that I would not score as highly if I were to do the tests again today, as my brain is out of practice at these sorts of challenges.

IQ was originally devised by Binet as a way to measure the 'retardedness' of children. It is found by dividing the child's mental age by their chronological age. 'Mental age' is found by subjecting the child to a series of tasks generally thought of as being a good indication of intelligence.

IQ was never meant as a test for people of regular intelligence - Binet himself complained bitterly over this application of his test.

Nowadays, IQ has come to be almost synonymous with intelligence. The problem is that intelligence is not inherently measurable or even meaningful. The IQ test works by picking a bunch of tasks which the scientists of those times found easier than the average person.

Who were these scientists? Almost all caucasian males, with analytical minds. Is it any wonder, then, that caucasian males with analytical minds score higher on this test than other people?

The problem is that the IQ test only measures ability to perform IQ tests! (thanks to iain, [and also ThePope], for this statement.)

It is perfectly possible to create an intelligence test with a bias towards the negroid race, or females. (And presumably negroid females).

See also multiple intelligences. (For another nail in the coffin.)

N.B. 1) As for the idea of different races having different 'styles' of intelligence, it is possible, since the races developed in separate environments and thus have a different genetic history. However it is far from a proven fact.

N.B. 2) The idea of males and females having different 'styles' of intelligence is far more likely. Neuroscientists have shown that there are differences between male and female brain structures, so Marilyn Vos Savant aside, females should do worse in male-biased tests. A female-biased test might have the testee having to constantly remember facts from previous questions, rather than each question being separate. And there might be less focus on those nasty 'three-dimensional shapes' problems, more on vocabulary ones.

IQ is merely a human benchmark, of processing ability, and as such is deeply flawed. Benchmarks are, by definition, attempts to put a single number on a multi-faceted object.

Two computers are compared with benchmarking software. One has a clockspeed well in excess of the other, while the other has a lot of dedicated hardware such as 3D graphics cards, floating point maths units, and Brownian Motion generators. If they are tested in terms of integer maths, the high-clockspeed one will win. If they test it with a Quake III timedemo the second will win. Which is better? It's a case of horses for courses.

The same applies to people. OK, I may be brighter than you. However, I have difficulty talking to people, get very emotional, and can't concentrate on the job in hand. Who is better in a job? Depends on the job.

Well there are a number of problems with IQ as a measure of intelligence.
Probably the most serious problem is that there is no accepted definition of intelligence. Thus IQ tests often turn out to be measures of a person's puzzle solving ability rather than the person's intelligence(This also means that if a person practices on a large number of puzzles for a certain amount of time, his intelligence would go up dramatically!)
There is a second problem with IQ. IQ tests often involve a test of linguistic ability and this is a serious issue. It is natural that a person with English as a second language would not be very proficient in it. This however has no relation to his intelligence.
The Linguistic part of IQ tests was in fact used(in the early days of IQ) as a means of racial discrimination...

I dont know how important all of this is today, because IQ has lost its importance(and thus even its utility in racial discrimination). Of course there is Mensa and some people might even use to word IQ to mean intelligence but that is just about it...

IQ as measured by these tests predicts one thing and one thing only: academic performance (on European-American-style tests). That's it. No correlation to creativity, job performance, wisdom, salary, etc. It is measured on a bell curve with a standard deviation of 15 points. The "normal" IQ is 90-109. 70-89 is low, 50-69 involves learning difficulty. 110-129 is high, and 130+ is "genius". Obviously these classifications have little to do with real life; the curve is useless for anything over 146 or so, and putting Wintersweet in the same category with Albert Einstein is plainly stupid.

I.Q. is also the title of a 1994 romantic comedy set in the 1950s. It stars Meg Ryan, Tim Robbins, and Walter Matthau as Albert Einstein.

The story goes that Tim Robbins is a lowly car mechanic after the heart of the engaged Meg Ryan. Meg Ryan's character is an aspiring mathmetician under the shadow of her uncle Albert Einstein. Einstein and his physicist friends decide to try and set Tim Robbins and Meg Ryan up as a favor to both of them. It turns out that the car mechanic pretends to be an ameteur physicist to impress Meg Ryan. Tim Robbins develops a process to use cold fusion to power a spacecraft, which during the cold war and spacerace was extremely important. However, this process didn't exist, Meg Ryan finds out that Tim Robbins is a fraud, and Albert Einstein goes to the hospital. However, like all movies, it turns out good in the end.

One of my most favorite lines from the movie is in a dialogue between Albert Einstein and Tim Robbins. They are discussing how to get Meg Ryan to go out with Tim Robbins. Meg Ryan will only go out with intellectual types.

Albert Einstein: "The problem is she would never go out with a guy like you."

Tim Robbins: "Well that's easy. Lend me your brain for a while."

Einstein: "Are you thinking what I'm thinking?"

Robbins: "Now what are the odds of that happening?"

The other writeups in this node do an excellent job in showing why using the IQ test to try and generalize a person's "worth" is a Bad Thing. Having said that, I don't think IQ testing is totally worthless. While people shouldn't make too big a deal of it I think IQ testing may be useful in the following situations:

  • Testing whether a person suffers from sort of retardation - if a score is drastically way under the norm, then it may mean that the person could benefit from some sort of help.
  • To try and test for specific skills given two reasonably equal individuals. Just as a somewhat abstract example, if I were to choose a person to decypher ancient Aztec symbols, I would probably go for the person with a higher score on the mathematical / symbol nature of an IQ test. Of course, that is, assuming that both people are reasonably matched in terms of other aspects (general well being, work ethic, etc.etc). To pick a more realistic example, imagine say data entry. Picking a person who did particularily well on 'spot the one out' may prove to be more suited to the task, presuming that two applicants had same data entry capabilities and what not

Personally, I think having a high IQ is something that can, to a certain extent be learnt anyhow. Some people are naturally gifted in one way or the other. Others might have to work harder to get to the same level. What's important here is that they're at the same level. I may have had to do an extra 10 problems to understand some maths properly, but at the end of that, I understand the maths just as well as you.

Just lastly, I think "intelligence" is just a tool like everything else. Some people are fast runners, or good speakers, or good painters or just average people. Just because someone has a better tool in one aspect, doesn't mean they're better people overall. What counts is not what your potential is, but what you do with what you have. The human condition isn't necessarily improved because 10% of the population is able to do hyper-mad-physics, but it is improved if we all treat each other with respect and an honest effort to try and be friendly.

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