Is dumping IQ a genius idea?

Paul Raven @ 02-02-2009

Albert EinsteinThe more we learn about the nature of our own intelligence, the more our definitions of it change… but we’re still fairly fixated on the old-fashioned IQ test as a metric for judging how smart someone is. [Einstein portrait courtesy Wikimedia Commons]

George Dvorsky reports on the ideas of one Keith E. Stanovich, who recommends we expand the concept of intelligence to encompass more functions than just number-crunching, spatial logic and the more recent addition of ’emotional intelligence’:

Stanovich suggests that IQ tests should be adjusted to focus on valuable qualities and capacities that are highly relevant to our daily lives. He argues that IQ tests would be far more effective if they took into account not only mental “brightness” but also rationality — including such abilities as “judicious decision making, efficient behavioral regulation, sensible goal prioritization … [and] the proper calibration of evidence.”

Sounds to me like we should start blanket testing for those latter traits at the doors of our seats of government…

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4 Responses to “Is dumping IQ a genius idea?”

  1. Screen Sleuth says:

    Agreed…I know many “smart” people with multiple degrees that couldn’t find their own ass with a compass and a GPS when it comes to common sense or basic social values. IQ and book intelligence is only part of the equation for judging how smart someone is.

  2. Dave says:

    We can recognize that things other than intelligence matter without expanding the definition of intelligence to include all those other things. The latter approach is silly and probably intellectually dishonest.

    IQ is not everything, and it is not meant to encompass everything — therefore, pointing out that IQ does not include X for some valuable X is not a very good criticism of IQ.

    However, it is worth pointing out the (well-established) observation that tests that seem to measure a wide variety of “different intelligences” — spatial, memory, etc. — are highly correlated with each other. This is the observation that lead to the invention of IQ in the first place. Social forces — like, importantly, PC discomfort — make us want to look for ways around this fact, but it’s better to simply acknowledge that, while IQ is a decent way of thinking about intelligence, it’s not a measure of human worth or even of every important survival skill.

  3. Buck Ram Dass says:

    I am thinking that we should be making diversity a part of this test. It disturbs to think that some group score one or two standard deviations lower than mean IQ score for alpha groups (Euros, E. Asians, Brahmins, Ashkenazim, eso). We must be taking new approach and add points to score, like the affirming action admitting to school or job. Just add point to be diversity.

  4. Dave says:

    You’re kidding, right? You can’t improve “diversity” by fudging a psychometric. That’s like fighting sexism by adding a couple inches to women’s heights.

    Better to simply acknowledge that IQ, while meaningful, is far from the only thing that’s meaningful; diversity may be another (separate!) meaningful attribute in many contexts.