Isn't "IQ" rather arbitrary and dependent upon which series of tests are taken? How can estimates of the IQs of dead people make any sense if the number itself doesn't mean much.

I turned off the estimated link provided when it claimed that the (small sample) average score for soldiers was 133. As one with access to all records in the Marine Corps office, I'd estimate the average to be closer to 105 - which is close enough to what is considered to be, by definition, the overall population average, right?.

I'd always heard that "genius" was above 160, but then it doesn't make sense that Einstein was 160. He's the paragon of  "genius". I'd have thought that Einstein would be approaching the level of H3xx at 180.

I know what my military test score was (it was called GCT, I think), but what is it a count of? I've just sent an email to Mensa asking what a Mensa score means. I believe membership is Mensa indicates top 2%. But I wonder if there's a number associated with that.

Who knows what IQ means = (outside "Intelligence Quotient")?

Tags: genius, intelligence, tests

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I repeat: 1) You've never heard of scholarships? They are even available to foreigners and they do not always rely totally on test scores if the institution feels the person can be brought up to speed.

People from Third World countries can still get scholarships to US universities. If they have no academic background at all, if they spend their days looking through the local dump for scraps of food, yes, that's a problem, but many US universities go out of their way to bring in foreign students through scholarships.

Not even all Americans can, and many institutions, as I've stated, will lower their standards for students they feel can be brought up to speed. But you don't have to leave the US to find people who can't get into college.

If your point is that there are sad situations, we already knew that.

Intelligence is meaningful. IQ is meaningless. One is practical the other measurable. Probably the first example that comes to mind (mine, anyway) is chess masters, who can show an absolute mastery of one of the most complicated games ever invented, yet many failed in almost every other respect, living and dying in poverty. Mathematicians provide many other examples. While some were great successes in many respects, such as Bertrand Russell, quite a few were just total messes otherwise.

I disagree. The tests are unbiased and do not “test” for general knowledge or for any esoteric knowledge on (say) advanced physics. Granted basic numeracy and literacy are requirements but the tests are geared towards speed and accuracy and not specific knowledge. So someone with a Phd does not have an advantage over someone that never attended higher education.

Mensa and other such organisations may appear elitist and I suppose they are to an extent based on entry requirements. However the tests are written in such a way to remove cultural and academic biases. The test is not expensive. You can do a basic test at home for free and if you score highly enough you will be offered the full entrance test for about $20.

Have a go before Sunday School.

Mensa will accept other tests, even the SAT and ACT, with certain minimum scores. 

http://www.us.mensa.org/join/testscores/qualifyingscores/

(Note the newer SAT and ACT tests aren't accepted as yet.)

The thing to note at the bottom of that page is the widely varying "IQ" numbers needed to be considered top two percentiles, so the tests clearly aren't "calibrated" the same against the population; a standard deviation above or below average won't give you the same numbers on different tests (and that's distinct from the likelihood that they probably measure different things from each other).

I did actually join for a year many years ago, and it was before I was a senior in high school, so they administered two different tests to me one afternoon... and the scores were twenty points apart (and well above their minimums).  When someone brags on their IQ and it's up in the 130s or 140s range, then, I really cannot compare it to another person's brag, because it could have been a totally different test.  Just as well, because I have certainly met many rationilistic horses' asses who claimed high IQs.

I'm honored to be noticed :)

I like to think that IQ doesn't really indicate intelligence, but more likely potential intelligence or ability to learn. I'm not a mathematician, or even a very good student. But one of my favorite pastimes is learning. I spend hours on Google, just asking questions and assimilating information and trivia on all kinds of subjects. I listen to audiobooks while I'm doing other things as well. I pay attention to people around me, and whenever I or others make a mistake I make a mental note about it. However, I notice that some people don't seem to learn, some even seem to refuse to learn, and it confuses me dreadfully. I haven't actually researched any of this, but this is my uninformed two cents.

When I posted the link I didn't even think anyone was paying attention lol! Glad to see I can still stir the pot a little. I scored a 1540 on the SAT right before I dropped out, but I would rather take the test at a Mensa facility. And maybe not even just that one. As has been made aware, many test results will differ, due to many variables. I would like to get a mean estimate, rather than one shot in the theoretical dark.

In college I majored in math, economics and physics. I did computer work for ten years before I heard about Mensa. They accepted the tests I had taken 20 years earlier when I went into the Navy. My work required some moving and I went to Mensa meetings in two major cities.

In the first, a woman member told me Mensa men can be cruel in very clever ways. My own take on that Mensa was that some were okay people while others, and don't take this as a fault, were socially retarded.

People are socially retarded for several reasons; I know one of them. To stay out of my dad's sometimes violent ways I kept my face in books. I didn't often hang around with other kids but won most grade school spelling bees. In 11th and 12th grades I went to a small high school where there was nothing to do but hang out with other boys. Their constant talk about cars or the last week's footbalI game bored me silly and I didn't take part. So yes, I too was socially retarded.

In the second Mensa, in another city after I came out of my shell, I liked the people there but my work kept me away from most meetings.

After I quit computer work I went to college again to study art and the social sciences. A psych instructor said IQ is the \number people get after they take an IQ test.

That was around 1980 when IQ test makers were reeling from criticism that they were, without knowing it, putting their own socio-economic values into their questions. During the next several years I read about researchers finding many different kinds of intelligence.

During my computer years, the 1960s and early 1970s, the idea of artificial intelligence got computer people excited. But early attempts at language translation were disappointing. Around 1996, in a group conversation a man asked me what I thought of AI. I said that if we ever find out what real intelligence is, we might do something with AI. It brought chuckles from others in the group. I was glad; some of them knew I was tutoring their high school kids in algebra.

"early attempts at language translation were disappointing"

I remember an urban legend from that time: in testing their translator, the programmers put in "traffic jam", translated it to French, then translated the results back into English. The result "car-flavored marmalade". 

Another legend told of translating "The flesh is weak but the spirit is willing" into Russian, back into English, and obtaining something about meat and the vodka's being good.

Isn't "IQ" rather arbitrary and dependent upon which series of tests are taken?

No, and yes. My understanding of the origin of IQ testing is that it served as a diagnostic for learning deficiencies. If 'intelligence' is reasonably defined for the purpose of the test and the testing method is consistent, then the results should not be arbitrary (though there are arbitrary factors which could skew individual results).

Different testing methods may provide different numeric results, but this could be a matter of refining the testing method to get superior or more granular results, or the test is modified to fulfill a slightly different purpose. Still, I don't think you should be getting wildly different results.

The problem arises when people lose sight of the purpose for and the limitations of the test. There is no perfect way to quantify what we very generally term 'intelligence' in common usage. If an IQ test was geared as a good predictor of academic aptitude, then there should be some correlation between IQ score and academic results such as standardized test scores. Under the assumption that a student performed to the best of their ability on a given test, it's reasonable to estimate their IQ based on test results. It's consistent and practical within that definition of intelligence. I doubt most of evaluate intelligence with such a narrow definition though.

I'd have thought that Einstein would be approaching the level of H3xx at 180.

I've never really seen the point of assessing IQ past a certain point unless its for high IQ societies. There is a point in primary education where it's helpful to identify students needing enrichment programs, but that threshold falls below genius level.

Even if we assume for the sake of argument that the scores are pretty accurate, aptitude and appreciable performance won't necessarily match. There could be discrepancies in motivation or opportunity. Someone like Einstein could hypothetically be extraordinary in a limited number of aspects yet rather average in others, where other individuals could be strongly talented across the board resulting in a higher overall IQ. Also, Einstein and his contributions could simply be overestimated compared to others because he was a cultural icon.

The news: "People in prisons are learning computer skills."

Me (in the late 1960s): "What? That endangers my future employment!"

A serious discussion about IQ requires discussion also of its relationship to law breaking behavior, and even anti-social personality disorder (formerly known as psychopathy or sociopathy).

After a half-hour chat in 1975 with a high-ranking member of Congress, I returned to my car not knowing if I had a knife in my back. Two people more expert than I in politics had warned me he was "smooth". A man who told me he had worked in the Congressmember's first election 20 years earlier told me he regretted having done so. At a speech contest I met the Congressmember's sister; she told me she didn't know what had happened with her brother.

I soon started researching psycho/sociopathy but much of what I found was anecdotal. More recent research using brain scans has revealed much. Googling <Robert Hare> or <workplace psychopathy> are two places to start.

The first full-length book I've seen on the subject is Kevin Dutton's 2012 The Wisdom of Psychopaths: What Saints, Spies, and Serial Killers Can Teach Us about Success. I'm into it, but not far enough to comment here.

Have fun learning.

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