I.Q. can help measure handicaps, not intelligence

When I read Nicholas D. Kristof on Pr. Richard Nisbett's "Intelligence and How to Get It"*, I had in mind the image of labels on boxes of cereals, you know, the ones featuring a few good scores on key items just to persuade the consumer that he or she is not eating completely junk food. In Kristof's op-ed, the idea is to help Americans get better IQ scores.

Unfortunately, I.Q. is an heresy : you simply cannot sum up intelligence in one dimension. Actually, that would mean destroying it.

Intelligence is not something absolute. You can be very intelligent in certain situations and dumb in others, and there is no such thing as one kind of intelligence.

I defined** intelligence as "the capacity to apprehend (ie your environment, other people, situations...), understand, and give sense beyond your own senses, what you see, feel, touch, smell, or hear". Many people consider the ability to memorize a lot of information as a sign of intelligence, but the cleverest people I know make complex things look simple - simplicity is not always a sign of stupidity but often the key to intelligibility, apprehensibility.

If I.Q. measures something, it can't be intelligence. What it does measure for sure is the capacity to apprehend an I.Q. test. It somehow helps pointing out handicaps : it measures the ability to survive in the society that designed the set of questions. Call that a part of the Social Quotient if you please, but please don't call that Intelligence with a capital I.

blogules 2009

* "
How to Raise Our I.Q." (NY Times 20090415)

** "
Define: intelligence vs information"

1 comment:

  1. Hey! exactly my sentiments...
    Well, not exactly EXACTLY. But pretty much so.


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