The Binet-Simon test is an early analog of the test which would later determine the Stanford-Binet Intelligence scale which is used today to quantify intelligence

In the early twentieth century, French psychologist Alfred Binet was commissioned by his government to develop a test which would identify "mentally deficient" children for placement in special education programs. Binet enlisted the aid of the young doctoral student Théodore Simon. Simon had been working in an asylum and in 1900 wrote his thesis on the various abnormal children who were his patients. Simon ended up working at a few different institutions in France and began formulating a test with Binet.

The first version of their test was finalized in 1905. This test was meant to determine a subject's ability to invent, reason, judge, and comprehend.

These qualities were determined by way of a variety of simple tasks involving poking, prodding, verbal probing, memory tests, rhyming, visual comparisions, abstraction, synthesis, analysis, and food.

The test was later revised in 1908 and again in 1911, shortly before Binet's death. The revisions were based upon research upon those of "normal" intelligence; the tests would later be applied to all children.

For the remainder of his life, Simon remained critical of the misuse and overuse of the test he developed. He firmly believed that such activity would prevent Binet's goal of understanding the individual, human nature and development


Drawing from this history of study in asylums and the subsequent overuse/misuse of IQ tests in general, the performance artist Miranda July chose the title of the original IQ test for her second CD. The disc was released by Kill Rock Stars in 1998 and is one of the most disturbing, entertainingly fucked up things you could ever listen to. The entire disc is a series of skits in which July plays both doctors and patients, presumably going through some variation upon an IQ test. Mostly it just sounds crazy. 

None are safe from July's satirical test: those stratified by IQ tests, the tests themselves, those administering the tests, the intelligence community, and the culture of therapy which has come to envelop post-industrial nations. 

If you enjoy Chris Morris's Blue Jam, then chances are that you'll appreciate Miranda July's rendering of The Binet-Simon Test. July's skits expand the notions of "intelligence" past the point of exploding.

Sample track: 
I Can Japan

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