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.