Thursday, December 13, 2007

IQ v. Intelligence

The debate “Does IQ measure Intelligence” keeps coming back. I have never paid much attention to it, but I sometimes wonder whether IQ, a quotient abstracted from answers to a set of test questions devised by human intelligence can measure the very intelligence that created it. If so, how accurate can it be? I wasn’t convinced.

Then I find (magazine>>special features>>July-August 2007>>Psychology: Cutting Edge of innovation – Decoding Genius) that even the numbers concerning genius are temperamental. While IQ tests have traditionally been used to measure intelligence, figures don't always tell the tale. According to the Stanford Binet scale, average human IQ is between 85 and 115. A genius is someone who scores 145 to 165 on the scale and a so called high genius falls between 166 and 180. Only one percent of people have an IQ of over 135. Einstein is said to have had an IQ of 160 and renowned physicist Richard Feynman just 122. The highest IQ score ever recorded was that of Marilyn vos Savant. She scored 228 but gave the world only a question-and-answer column which she wrote for Parade magazine.

So does it tilt the scales against the fairness of IQ indices? May be, may be not, since we haven’t got another measure to upend it.

But I presume Genius is, of course, inevitably characterized by prodigious productivity. It is said that Thomas Edison assigned himself an invention quota that consisted of one minor invention every 10 days and a major one every six months. The intellectual demands he placed on himself were certainly effective for he holds the record, still unbroken, of 1,093 patents. Mozart composed more than 600 pieces of music, and Picasso and Dali both created a vast body of work.

Serendipity is often used to explain creative accidents. Yet the true genius is one whose antenna is able to pick out those fortuitous occurrences. Alexander Fleming noticed the mold formed on an exposed culture, an observation that led to the discovery of penicillin. Thomas Edison got the idea of the carbon filament when playing with a piece of putty and went on to create history.

So what do you think…? Can we use the same scales to measure scientific and artistic genius? Can Pablo Picasso and Albert Einstein be compared based on IQ levels? Mozart and Gregory Mendel? Tiger Woods and Rickie Ponting?



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