The bits and pieces of our IQ

Being smart is very nice, but IQ [intelligence quotient] is not something we can boast about. It does not guarantee achievements, its measurement is somewhat arbitrary, and many people simply do not understand it. So, what is this IQ and how can we use it? In today’s article, I suggest you top read here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Why should we care about IQ?

Personally, I think IQ is overrated. Those who value the IQ as an important factor state the following:

  1. People with high IQ have better academic achievements, especially in math.
  2. The career advance and earning potential is correlated with IQ.
  3. High IQ is correlated with a long life expectancy, lower divorce rates, and overall happiness.\
  4. IQ is not a constant factor, and learning can modify IQ. The people who have a healthy lifestyle and learning experiences will get high I scores

From what I understand, all of these ideas are scientifically sound and were tested by multiple independent studies,

So, what does Lev Goldentouch have against the IQ tests?

Personally, I have issues with IQ testing, because people decide what they can and cannot do based on IQ measurement. Simple correlation and minor biases are not enough to make decisions. Richard Feynman, one of the most brilliant minds of 20th century had IQ of around 120. This did not stop him from developing a radical theory and winning a Nobel price in physics. On the other side, we have multiple people whose IQ is above 160 and who achieve nearly nothing in their lives. IQ is just just a minor factor in aa huge array of factors that generate a brilliant person. For example, grit, social skills and ability to work in a team often play a larger role in someone’s success, both in school and in real life. And this is before we mention creativity, which can be a real gamechanger.

IQ measurement is arbitrary

People who do not sleep enough, are tired,  insist on an unhealthy diet and otherwise abuse their bodies will get a lower IQ score.  Taking multiple IQ tests and learning certain problem-solving strategies will help score higher IQ scores, without helping anywhere else. Countries that allow one test to determine the future of the person, like for example in Korea, place a huge bet on someone’s luck. On the other hand, countries which allow a person to take multiple IQ tests, admit that the more tests a person takes the higher the chance of the wrong person getting a very high score. I have many friends who failed miserably in their first IQ test and were very successful in the second IQ test. Which test is more representative?

Pure genius is beyond the IQ scales

Not only we understand that people with a very high IQ cannot be measured by normal IQ tests, but we also understand that people with very specific genius will not score equally high in other disciplines. Einstein scored very high in math, but his language skill was not above the average.  My wife Anna did not score highly on here IQ exam, yet she developed a methodology that helped hundreds of thousands to become their better selves.

What does this IQ testing measure?

Usually, IQ tests certain problem-solving skills, by placing a person within the distribution of other people who took the test. For example, if the IQ is 100 the results were perfectly average. An IQ of 120 indicates the results of two standard deviations above the average. The distribution is not gaussian, but who cares? The normal tests use a combination of language questions, math questions, and logical riddles to determine one’s IQ. IQ above 130 is considered extremely high, and professionals suggest that it should be measured using a different test with a huge emphasis on more complex riddles. My personal IQ  is quite high, but I fail to solve riddles to so I do not score very high on the advanced IQ scale.

Nine types of intelligence

In fact, there are many more types of intelligence often qualified as EQ or emotional quotient. For example, many people thin with their bodies. If someone shows me a dance move, I will need to practice it for a while before I remember it, while somebody else will understand it perfectly in a second. On the other hand, I am very good in tastes and how different tastes combine with each other. All of these extra kinds of intelligence can be used in learning and problem solving, even if this requires some creative approach.

Understanding and motivating other people or personal self-regulation and grit are much more important for a healthy lifestyle and financial success than IQ, but they are also harder to measure. So scientists often rely on weaker indicators including IQ and socioeconomic status of the parents to predict the financial success chances.

If only one could easily measure all kinds of intelligence, and then evaluate a winning portfolio of skills….

More than the sum of its parts

In fact, our overall intelligence is more than the sum of its parts. We rely on a certain portfolio of skills to solve real-life challenges. More often than not we do not understand which particular skills helped us address effectively a specific challenge. Typically it’s not luck or another person saving us, but some sort of subconscious ability which we do not measure or notice. When we can align several of our strengths facing a specific challenge, we build a portfolio of skills which is often much more potent than each skill by itself. For example, any ability will be magnified by a healthy dose of creativity.

Simon-Binet IQ measures to be too broad and unable to capture meaningful subcomponents of patients’ thinking and reasoning abilities. He provided a new definition of IQ which is still used today: “Intelligence is the aggregate or global capacity of the individual to act purposefully, to think rationally, and to deal effectively with his environment” (1944)

Will smart people save us?

If you learn more about some of the smartest people alive (notice the date of the article, some of the people already died), you will feel that many of them are semi-crazy and inadequate to make life or death decisions.

Our reality is very complex, and we face multiple challenges. Quite often we put our trust in smart people hoping they will save us. Most of us put our faith in medical doctors, except the doctors themselves who have the statistics of medical negligence before their eyes.  Since I have some experience in medical subjects as an engineer and saved many lives from the adverse effects of medical mistakes, I double-check every advice and decision of my doctors and believe me the doctors I see when I need medical help are some of the best doctors of the world.

The smartest people in the world can solve very complex problems, and can often motivate and inspire the rest of us, but they are only humans – each with his own array of weaknesses. I think even Einstein was wrong much more often than he was right, simply he could manage math and though experiments nobody else in his time could handle.

Is there a test more accurate than IQ?

When making an important decision, like where to learn or which professional to trust, we need some sort of criteria. While most examinations are subjective, big organization require some sort of seemingly objective testing.  Usually, this testing includes a combination of school grades and degrees, IQ tests, psychological profiling, and arbitrary mambo-jumbo.  Unfortunately, so far, IQ testing is the most reliable objective element in predicting someone’s performance, which means we are stuck with it. Some people try to invent a better methodology, while others learn to score higher in IQ testing.

Can I improve my IQ?

After everything I said above, most of you will probably still want to score higher on the IQ tests. This is quite simple.  Here are some of the relevant pieces of advice:

  1. Do not sabotage yourself.  Have enough sleep, do not abuse substances,  get the rest that you want and do not get overly excited. If you feel that you can handle the task no matter what, you will score higher.
  2. Get yourself examines. The inconvenient truth is that people who get certain help based on their limitations score higher in tests. Oral tests are easier than written tests and time extension can be used.
  3. Come prepared. Certain classes provide specific strategies for scoring higher on IQ tests. They are taught in dedicates schools. If you need a high mark, learn the required strategies and get some practice.
  4. Read faster and remember more. We do not market our own courses of speedreading and memory specifically to the people who need to improve their IQ rates. Yet, faster reading, a better understanding of the questions,  easier recall and significant general knowledge definitely boost the IQ scores.  Fast reading provides more time to think and rest. Our students on average score significantly higher in the IQ tests, even though we do not specifically train them for the testing,
  5. Use psychological training. Some people fail IQ testing not because they are not smart, but because their confidence is too high or too low. Worrying during the examination will certainly reduce the examination score. Nothing fancy is needed: positive self-talk and reframing might be sufficient to boost the examination results.
  6. The things that we regularly do can influence our IQ. Something as simple as playing video games, athletic activity or playing a musical instrument can get us higher IQ scores.



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