'What is intelligence?' Asked Marmaduke, at one of the permitted intervals.

'Intelligence,' said the Magister, 'is an activity that men put their minds to in the manner that a frog kicks its legs to swim.

But; see how you have glanced off the exact stroke of the essence. The way along the parapet is not for the forward footed. We have heard the fourth gong toll - be content for the nonce.

(Jack Vance, "Starking")

What Is Intelligence?

If intelligence was to be measured, thought some, it must first be defined.

Perhaps taking their lead from the operational definitions of the theory of relativity - for example, time is what it says on the face of a clock - one definition was:

A person's intelligence is the score they get on an intelligence test.

Scientific Status

Defining mental penetration like this seems the only way a scientific status may be lent to a measurement of IQ. And it is profoundly important to claim scientific-ness: Only then is the agreement of everyone coerced:

"You have to agree with us - this is science. You may no more disagree with this than disagree with gravity and jump, thereby, unharmed over a cliff." (Social Control - David Hume and the Source of All Power (idea))

Reversing the Marking Scheme

Couldn't the following maneuver destroy the scientific legitimacy of IQ tests?

  1. Test a group of people and note their scores. The ones with the higher scores are the more intelligent - by definition.
  2. Reverse the marking scheme - "correct" answers score little, "wrong" answers score maximum.
  3. Conduct the test again. Now, by definition, the retards are the geniuses and vice versa.

Derive a Contradiction

It therefore seems possible to prove the same person to be a prodigy or a cretin without breaking the definition; dooming IQ testing to non-science status.

(See: The Mismeasure of Man.)