International High IQ Society tests
November 14, 2002 5:45 AM   Subscribe

International High IQ Society tests. The site gives the impression that these tests are a lot more accurate at judging intelligence (whatever that is) that most of the junk on the web. What do you think? Do we have any 'universal geniuses'?
posted by Pretty_Generic (109 comments total)

I came across that site a few days ago. That iq test for exceptional intelligence is off the wall. If you can get over 10 of those give yourself a good pat on the back. If you try that one taking any other iq test will seem like you were back in kindergarten.
posted by Hypharse at 5:53 AM on November 14, 2002

I got 127 on the 5 minute test. must be a scam cause if you get over 126 you can join the society (ie fork out money).

anyway it's nice to think i'm GIFTED.
posted by carfilhiot at 6:05 AM on November 14, 2002

So because you got one more than the pass mark, the tests must be inaccurate?
posted by Pretty_Generic at 6:08 AM on November 14, 2002

well, in my *gifted* opinion, it just seems a little fishy.

oh boy, i'm going to be a terribly arrogant git for the rest of the day now. hohum whats new.
posted by carfilhiot at 6:12 AM on November 14, 2002

I'm gifted as well. Then I went back and hit all of the top answers (for the 5 minute test) and got scored a 111. It does seem a bit fishy.
posted by Hall at 6:26 AM on November 14, 2002

According to the five minute test, I'm eligible to join the club, too. Wheeee!
posted by drew_alley at 6:26 AM on November 14, 2002

High IQ societies seem like a bit of a wank. I'm more impressed by people who've done useful stuff with their brains, no matter how they score on simplistic and fashionable pseudoscientific tests. It's also worth bearing in mind that that IQ tests are designed for testing subnormal intelligence, not for quantifying how smart normal people are.
posted by Bletch at 6:27 AM on November 14, 2002

Well I got 125 and I guessed anything too complicated because I've got a hangover. Does seem a bit odd.
posted by Summer at 6:28 AM on November 14, 2002

138 on the five-minute test.

And, I'm Long John Smurf.
posted by yhbc at 6:32 AM on November 14, 2002

yhbc - is that a good or bad thing?
posted by Pretty_Generic at 6:34 AM on November 14, 2002

score badly then Bletch?

i tried the 12 minute test but i ran out of time and then my browser window (crazybrowser) just closed.
posted by carfilhiot at 6:34 AM on November 14, 2002

I intentionally answered wrong or BAD answers on the 5 minute test and still scored a 96. As a result I'd say the tests are inherently flawed.
posted by dwivian at 6:35 AM on November 14, 2002

There's a fellow with a confirmed 200 IQ, I think he lives in NY. He works as a bar-bouncer, or did last I heard. He was in Esquire magazine a couple years back.

I've heard the average IQ in America is about 100. Shocking, but it explains plenty.
posted by Shane at 6:37 AM on November 14, 2002

I came across this a while back; I am also invited to join, and I also stand in awe of anyone who can do well on the "exceptional" test. If you dwell amongst us, please tell... we won't just think you are showing off. Promise!
posted by taz at 6:37 AM on November 14, 2002

141 on the "Ultimate IQ Test." I'm off to take the five-minute test. I still think it's a scam, though.
posted by pardonyou? at 6:38 AM on November 14, 2002

they must give you 95 IQ points for finding their page.
posted by statusquo at 6:38 AM on November 14, 2002

It's perfectly possible to score 90 or below, but as the site says the tests are designed to be difficult, in order to make more precise calculations for high intelligence. This means you only need to get a few right to get 100. Maybe they would be more universally accurate if there was a penalty for getting a wrong answer, encouraging you to leave blank rather than guess.

Shane - I dearly hope you're taking the piss.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 6:38 AM on November 14, 2002

I've heard the average IQ in America is about 100. Shocking, but it explains plenty.

you're kidding right?
posted by carfilhiot at 6:39 AM on November 14, 2002

40% of all employee sick days are taken on Monday or Friday, too. Malingerers!

P_G: The smurf bit was a reference to iconomy's rant against "what x are you" posts in a Metatalk thread.
posted by yhbc at 6:43 AM on November 14, 2002

President Eisenhower expressed astonishment and alarm on discovering that fully half of all Americans have below average intelligence!
posted by Pretty_Generic at 6:58 AM on November 14, 2002

I have just founded the International High Metafilter Member Number Society*. Your Metafilter Member number must exceed 10,000 to join. The cost is twenty dollars american. You may fax your cash payment directly to me. Enhance your Metafilter experience with the knowledge that you belong to this elite Society!

*The International High Metafilter Member Number Society is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the International Low Metafilter Member Number Society.
posted by putzface_dickman at 7:00 AM on November 14, 2002

you're kidding / you're taking the piss

My reaction exactly. Then, "Hmm... this sort of makes sense."

The person who told me this was a school teacher with a background in sociology. I don't trust her opinion that well, but careful observation does little to contradict... This link says average is 100 - 121. This one about the standard Binet says:

Terman coins intelligence quotient
An American psychologist named Lewis Terman coined the term intelligence quotient for Stern's Binet test scoring system. An average IQ score on a Binet test was 100. Any score above 100 was deemed above average, while any score below 100 was below average.

International High Metafilter Member Number Society = "Metsa"?
posted by Shane at 7:07 AM on November 14, 2002

I've heard the average IQ in America is about 100. Shocking, but it explains plenty.

Is this a joke? The bell curve is a function of averages.
posted by four panels at 7:07 AM on November 14, 2002

I've heard the average IQ in America is about 100. Shocking, but it explains plenty.

Just in case you're not kidding, the way that IQ scores work is that they're based on average intelligence, with the average being 100. If you score more than 100, you're more intelligent than the average person. If you score less, you're not as bright as the average person.

By definition, the average IQ is 100. Everywhere.
posted by toothgnip at 7:09 AM on November 14, 2002

I scored 145, and I have trouble tying my shoes in the morning. Something is wrong here.

I've taken regular IQ tests, and this one seems....well, frighteningly simple. I bet Corky from Life Goes On could score around 150 or so.
posted by bradth27 at 7:10 AM on November 14, 2002

By definition, the average IQ is 100. Everywhere.

And it's still shocking...
posted by Shane at 7:10 AM on November 14, 2002

Shane, carilhiot, as I understand it, 100 is average by definition. "Intelligence Quotient" is calculated by dividing mental age by physical age. The result is multiplied by 100 to reduce the need for a decimal point. The point is, if your "mental age" is average for your physical age, your IQ is 100. If "average" scores are coming out higher than 100 then the test is inaccurate. Can any psychologists out there confirm or correct this?

On preview, thank you toothgnip.
posted by Songdog at 7:11 AM on November 14, 2002

131 on the 5 minute test
posted by mkelley at 7:14 AM on November 14, 2002

The average IQ in Monaco is probably higher than the average IQ in Chad. I wonder how this 100 average level is calculated - do they really try to make a global average or just a USA/first world one?

Yeah, I'm talking about education levels here, not race.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 7:16 AM on November 14, 2002

Shane, carilhiot, as I understand it, 100 is average by definition.

Well, see, this is what you get when you ask someone with a 96 IQ a question about IQ. Why are you asking me these things? Especially on a Monday? Wait, it's Friday, isn't it? (And do I need to convert my 96 IQ by 2.2046 into KGs? I like KGs.)

I still say it's shocking...
posted by Shane at 7:18 AM on November 14, 2002

Strangely, I shudder at even joking about having a 96 IQ. I really need to loosen up.
posted by Shane at 7:19 AM on November 14, 2002

It's the average for the "population", but what population is their test calibrated for? I just took the 5-minute test and would venture to say that they're expecting fairly literate speakers of English (since one can be intelligent without having a large vocabulary). I only hope that they're assuming knowledge of vocabulary so as to test comprehension and reasoning, rather than simply testing knowledge of the vocabulary itself.
posted by Songdog at 7:21 AM on November 14, 2002

Yeah, I'm talking about education levels here...

I still say a good IQ test should not be affected by education level. It should be a test of pure logic, reasoning ability, etc.

(On preview, this is similar to what songdog just said)
posted by Shane at 7:22 AM on November 14, 2002

137 on the 5-minute test. A very narrow test of intelligence though.

I've scored 165 on a standardized IQ test before... a couple of weeks after taking a very similar one and getting a 155.

IQ is pretty bogus, and I've always thought high-IQ clubs were about as useful to society as long-dick clubs or white-skin clubs.
posted by Foosnark at 7:31 AM on November 14, 2002

Recommended reading: The IQ Myth. These tests are crap, and measure very little more than how well you take IQ tests. Just saying.

Before anybody impugns my IQ, I scored a 156 on their ultimate test. That's actually a little bit lower than my "scientifically measured" IQ.

I'm off to take the universal test -- I'll let you know how it goes.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 7:32 AM on November 14, 2002

145 on the 5-minute. It's not an intelligence test so much as a test of the subtleties of English vocabulary. I don't know about the other tests, but I sincerely doubt the reputability of anyone who would call such a thing a test of intelligence...especially if I could get such a score on it.
posted by oissubke at 7:34 AM on November 14, 2002

Maybe we can have a thread where we measure our genitalia!
posted by websavvy at 7:35 AM on November 14, 2002

I love how everyone posts their IQ, but then says something to the effect of "Boy, this test is flawed because, gosh darnit, I'm just not that smart!"...uh huh. This may be the tumor talking, but I'm on to all of you.
posted by foot at 7:36 AM on November 14, 2002

Anyone here ever take the Wiesen Mechanical Aptitude Test? I kicked its ass once, even though I'm not terribly mechanical. I think it's a fairly objective test, requiring little real knowledge of physics or mechanics. Common sense, really, despite what one would expect. I like the Wiesen, it's fun.

IQ is pretty bogus...

I agree. I think a bit of my ego still revolves around it, though, even if I consciously realize how arbitrary it is to rate something as abstract as IQ. I was kind of a pathological underachiever in school, but I still felt pressure to someday do something... So I guess I took comfort in doing well on standardized tests, while I got D's in my classes.

Anyone else have any personal takes on IQ, school, etc?
posted by Shane at 7:38 AM on November 14, 2002

Maybe we can have a thread where we measure our genitalia!

Here are some printable paper rulers. You all know what to do now, right? Okay, maybe not Shane '96', but somebody can probably explain it to him.
posted by Ufez Jones at 7:43 AM on November 14, 2002

I've scored 165 on a standardized IQ test before... a couple of weeks after taking a very similar one and getting a 155.
IQ is pretty bogus, and I've always thought high-IQ clubs were about as useful to society as long-dick clubs or white-skin clubs.

Then why to you propagate the idea with florid details of your past IQ scores?
posted by four panels at 7:43 AM on November 14, 2002

"Intelligence Quotient" is calculated by dividing mental age by physical age. The result is multiplied by 100 to reduce the need for a decimal point. The point is, if your "mental age" is average for your physical age, your IQ is 100. If "average" scores are coming out higher than 100 then the test is inaccurate. Can any psychologists out there confirm or correct this?

I'm a web designer, but I got a little knowledge. That method is no longer in use. Here is a good, simple article.

I've heard the average IQ in America is about 100.

The American average is actually 98. (Table 5)

btw, I'm Disco Smurf.
posted by dgaicun at 7:44 AM on November 14, 2002

...dividing mental age by physical age... That method is no longer in use.

Phew! That's good, 'cuz my mental age is about 7. Anyone catch Dexter's Lab or the Justice League last week?
posted by Shane at 7:47 AM on November 14, 2002

Aha! Chad gets 72... Anyone found Monaco?
posted by Pretty_Generic at 7:48 AM on November 14, 2002

Thanks, dgaicun! I was hoping someone would know, and I'm too busy reading MeFi and taking online tests to look anything up myself ;). It's interesting that 100 is taken to be the median rather than the mean intelligence in the population, but I doubt it makes much difference in this case.
posted by Songdog at 7:58 AM on November 14, 2002

Table 5

Now do you understand that the human world is effing-well doomed? If we add in the generally miniscule "Conscience Quotient" of humanity, we can all realize that there's no point in arguing between political parties or Liberal and Conservative. As Gumby once put it, "We're on an express elevator to Hell!"* Sure, it takes heart, not brains, to make a better world. But where's the heart?

*Quote is aproximate and is from the Gumby Winter Fun Special, guest starring Santa Claus. I don't know, maybe Santa said it, not Gumby.
posted by Shane at 8:05 AM on November 14, 2002

four -- Those of us that think that these tests are pieces of crap are kind of obligated to post our scores, since the immediate reaction from others is to assume that we didn't do well -- see posts by foot and carfilhiot.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 8:07 AM on November 14, 2002

Shane: You mean...?
posted by Pretty_Generic at 8:15 AM on November 14, 2002

You mean...?

posted by Shane at 8:20 AM on November 14, 2002

I tried the Ultimate Test. But the score page kept giving me a "dead page" error. Most infuriating, as I'd like to know how badly I did.
posted by Dark Messiah at 8:23 AM on November 14, 2002

OOH, OOH! I got a question!
So, is 100 IQ a "median" or a "mean"? Meaning, if everyone in the world suddenly got way smarter, would 100 still be considered the "average" IQ (even though 100 would be "smarter" than before)? Help me out here...

posted by Shane at 8:30 AM on November 14, 2002

Shane: Anyone here ever take the Wiesen Mechanical Aptitude Test?

No, but I took the Wiesn test a few weeks ago, and my performance was well into the 99th percentile.

On a related note, my IQ scores have dropped precipitously since I took the aforementioned test.
posted by syzygy at 8:36 AM on November 14, 2002

LittleMissCranky - well, I'm a little skeptical of people who feel "obligated" to tell me what they scored on an IQ test. For example, when I moved in with my current roommate, the first thing he asked me was what I had scored on the SAT. I mean, what the fuck all kind of question is that? I wasn't implying that I don't believe your scientifically measured intelligence, it's just that I've had bad experiences with blowhards that use these tests as a way to reconfirm their mental superiority. This isn't a personal attack, but the tumor is really pushing against the aggression center of my brain.
posted by foot at 8:38 AM on November 14, 2002

English is not my first language (it's third, or something) and I got 129 in the 5 min test.

I think those tests are being made somewhat easier to make you feel better after giving away those 50 something dollars...
posted by samelborp at 8:45 AM on November 14, 2002

This is actually a fairly interesting point for me personally, as I grew up with the equivalent of a "Hello, My Name is High IQ" tag on my chest (pre-boobies, anyway) after the barrage of tests etc. I was subjected to as a child.

That said, I haven't taken an IQ test (formally) since age 11, nor have I take the SATs since age 12, and I scored decently on both (not brilliantly on either, although certainly worthy of a handshake on the IQ test). Having had enough therapy and years between now and then, I no longer wear the nametag, and I haven't felt a burning need to update my scorecard since passing puberty.

My point -- speaking as someone who has both scored reasonably high on these sorts of things, and taken comfort in those scores when niceties like, say, social graces failed me -- is that they're basically not very useful when it comes to applied or applicable intelligence, nor in calculating the general usefulness of a human being (I tend to measure people in usefulness. Not to ME, to the world, or whatever, it's sort of a conceptual thing. Someday I'll have to figure out a unit of measurement for that one.)

Also, the fact that the one MENSA night I ever went to (they were in some kind of wacky recruitment drive thing, and I was a lonely 12 year old girl) scared the living jeezum crow out of me, which also probably helped to forcibly remove some of those brainpowerism tendencies for me.

oh yeah. the quizzes. Did fine on the 5-minute one. The exceptional one I boggled at. I tried others and tried finishing the exceptional one but Mozilla wept.
posted by babylon at 8:52 AM on November 14, 2002

Shane - our scores are neither medians nor means. The tests are calibrated so that out of the set of all the scores (for a population of test subjects) the median score will be 100. If everyone suddenly got smarter, they'd have to recalibrate the test, because the test measures intelligence relative to the median score within a population, and if everybody's intelligence is increased, the median goes up too. But you could theoretically take an older test (assuming it was accurate at the time) to see how your score compares against the "dumber" median of the past.

On preview: babylon, you took the SAT's at twelve? You go, girl! Also, ouch!
posted by Songdog at 8:56 AM on November 14, 2002

The five-minute test seems to be a test of how well you can remember cultural catch-phrases rather than a test of reasoning or mental acuity. "The map is not the terrain". If you've never heard Hayakawa's quote what chance have you on this question? By my count there were at least half a dozen straight-up quotes in this "IQ test". That's about 20% based on recollection alone. Is this intelligence?
posted by bonehead at 8:56 AM on November 14, 2002

OOH, OOH! I got a question!
So, is 100 IQ a "median" or a "mean"? Meaning, if everyone in the world suddenly got way smarter, would 100 still be considered the "average" IQ (even though 100 would be "smarter" than before)? Help me out here...

Your example is not a hypothetical, everyone in the world has gotten way smarter. By an average of about 3 IQ points per decade, in fact. It is what's known as the Flynn Effect. No one noticed until Flynn, because 100 was still considered the average. The average increased as everyone got smarter.
posted by dgaicun at 8:58 AM on November 14, 2002

...had bad experiences with blowhards that use these tests as a way to reconfirm their mental superiority.

Heh--I always used them to prove I wasn't a total f***up after all. But the jury's still out on that one ; )

I think those tests are being made somewhat easier to make you feel better after giving away those 50 something dollars...

That and the MeFi IQ is above the norm.

Babylon, I kind of know what you mean--testing well at an early age forces a kind of identity on you as well as so many vague expectations. I don't know that our society deals with these things in a healthy way, or prepares children for what is really important in life. Very few of the "gifted" friends of my childhood are happy or well-adjusted now. But who really is?
posted by Shane at 9:13 AM on November 14, 2002

Songdog: eek. No big deal on that one actually, I had to take them to get into some program thing. And it's not like I hit 1600 or even close or anything.

Bonehead: a lot of these sorts of tests, especially the online ones, are like that. What really galls me, though, is that I much prefer the articulation "the map is not the territory" -- I find that to be a much more elegant statement.

Also, and feel free to call me the village idiot on this one, some of those questions/examples just seemed to make no sense at ALL. Example:

One ball with three little balls = 13. Okay, I can deal with that. Big ball = 10, little ball = 1.

Two big balls with FIVE little balls = 24. Wha? I couldn't come up with any permutation here that made any sense. When 2 big balls stuck together, equals (ball + ball) - 1? Anything? Anyone?

Even more confusing is the one you're supposed to solve: one big ball with one little ball attached and one little ball floating. Now, I don't think I'm exactly a deductive slouch, but I'm no Holmes, either. Still -- there were no floaty balls in the previous two examples! Add that to the fact that I still couldn't wrap my head around how 25 got made, and I'm totally baffled.

This one is gonna give me nightmares, I can tell. Seriously, I just wrote all that out without even looking back at the quiz. Logicians, save me!
posted by babylon at 9:14 AM on November 14, 2002

137 on the five minute test. What's the answer to this one?

The tractor _______ up an acre of trees.

posted by dydecker at 9:18 AM on November 14, 2002

Babylon, one big ball = 7, one little ball = 2.
posted by Ufez Jones at 9:29 AM on November 14, 2002

I'm with you on that one, too, dydecker, since the poetically-minded would find several of those acceptable, and the truth is that a tractor alone would do no plowing -- for that, it would require (duh) a plow attachment.

That said, I'm pretty sure the answer is "plowed".

Interesting would be to compare the number of correct answers if the word was spelled "ploughed" with the spelling above.
posted by babylon at 9:31 AM on November 14, 2002

The tractor _______ up an acre of trees.

The tractor barrelled through the maze of trees after the fleeing squirrell who, chattering mockingly, ran up an oak and pissed on the driver's head.

What, I get zero points for creativity? Well, therein lies the flaw...
posted by Shane at 9:31 AM on November 14, 2002


babylon, I didn't try that test, but if 1 big ball plus 3 littlle balls = 13 and 2 big balls plus 5 little balls = 24, then a little algebra tells me that the big ball must be worth 7 and the little ball worth 2. The 1 big plus 3 little = 13 is designed to attract one to the wrong answer. I can't help with the other one without seeing it, though.

On preview: what Ufez said.
posted by Songdog at 9:33 AM on November 14, 2002

Eh. The Cranky One nailed it... on the one hand I can say that IQ doesn't mean much, and on the other, still be irrationally defensive about it and make sure people don't assume I'm just saying that 'cause I score low. :) But then, I did score real low on that Emotional Intelligence test...

It's probably safe to say that somebody with a 200 is functionally "smarter" than someone with a 90. But it's ridiculous to say that someone who scores 127 is highly intelligent while someone with a 126 is just a shmo.
posted by Foosnark at 9:35 AM on November 14, 2002

Ufez and Songdog, thank you so much. Now I see that it is the sad fact that I am utterly incapable of performing simple math in my head that destroyed my ability to figure that one out, not my logistical ineptitude.
posted by babylon at 9:35 AM on November 14, 2002

Hey babylon, if you and I had babies, we could really fuck 'em up by the time they were teenagers. "You have a genius level IQ! Both your parents are geniuses! Why aren't you a neurosurgeon or an astrophysicist yet?!"

Which isn't to say my parents ever pressured me (they were a little confused and intimidated by the whole "your son is a genius" thing). Teachers and state academic officials, on the other hand ...

I lucked my way into a high result on a preteen IQ test, took the SAT at 12, got "go to Harvard!" scores (pure luck on the math, I didn't really understand it), and was then subsequently harassed (achieve! achieve!) by everyone who had access to my record. I ended up getting failing grades in high school and eventually dropping out six weeks into my senior year. One of the best geniusy decisions I ever made.

I don't take IQ tests now because they're crap. I'm no smarter than my smart friends, and I've achieved a lot less than some of them. Then again, I think I'm a lot happier, perhaps because that early pressure made me evaluate what was important in life--happiness--at a very early age. That's what I've been doing instead of curing cancer--working towards being happy.

These "I AM SMRT" clubs have always struck me as sad and sort of desperate. Because of my circumstance, I knew a lot of high IQ kids growing up, and for many of them, that big ol' number was all they had going for them. I can remember watching bitter feuds over a difference of two or three IQ points. Ugh.

And anyway, yeah, most "child geniuses" go on to either be really tormented and fucked up adults, or huge "under achievers" (like me!), probably as a result of all that childhood pressure and expectation. It is a bitch to be one of these kids and then hit something you just don't get (higher math, for me). Everyone looks at you like you're faking being stupid, instead of actually trying to figure out how to teach something to you.

Tests: didn't take them.
posted by KiloHeavy at 9:35 AM on November 14, 2002

IQ tests are, to put it lightly, a giant fucking mess, thanks to misapplication and overgenerality, as well as fuzziness on what actually constitutes intelligence.

The original use of the Binet test, which it did quite well, was to identify children who required additional educational assistance - more or less, it measured learning ability, not intelligence. A child under the age of 16 performed a series of tasks whose development was known (e.g. "Children can do such and such by age three"), and the number of tasks they could complete was tabulated into a score. That score was divided by their age, giving an 'IQ', which determined whether they were precocious or retarded (in the literal sense of developing more slowly than they should). Binet didn't recommend the tests for use on adults, as all adults had, if they developed normally, similar capacities - we can all perform operational reasoning, for example. Binet didn't bother to measure whether one person was a 'better reasoner' than another person, only whether they could reason or not.

The big mess begins during World War 1, when the US needed to select candidates for engineer and officer training. A chap whose name I seem to recall as 'Spenner', but am not 100% on, decided to use a modified version of the test to determine the academic aptitude of American GIs, with the idea being that if you could identify the fastest learners, you would have to devote fewer resources to training and educating them on the basics of their job. A heavily modified version of the Binet test was used, without much evidence to back up the science behind it.

And from that, we got the fad for 'standardised testing' that led to the SAT and the WAIS and Raven's Matrices and all that.

In the mean time however, the notion of a 'general intelligence' was being overthrown, and the idea of 'specific intelligence' came to the fore briefly. Specific intelligence is probably closer to what we'd call aptitude, and the theory basically says that we have a varying number of attributes which allow us to be more or less capable at specific tasks - you can be good at math but bad at language skills, for example. We say 'No shit sherlock', but it was revolutionary at the time, and undercut the science of Binet-style IQ tests. Not that it stopped their use, but it made them fairly ridiculous.

Anyhow, eventually the idea of purely specific aptitudes was itself thrown out, and most psychologists these days admit that there is some combination of s-factors and a g-factor which determine a person's intelligence. S-factors are fairly easy to measure, because of their specificity - Get me to do a hundred, increasingly more complex mathematical problems, and you can tell how good I am at math. Unfortunately, a lot of fuzzy things like creativity and problem-solving seem to be strongly-linked to G (general intelligence) which so far, evades measurement in adults. The closest that we've really come to measuring it is to take the measurement of several specific abilities, and then try and find G from that - the methodology of which is at best, highly contentious.

Overall though, I wouldn't put too much stock in anything calling itself an 'IQ' test, especially if it wasn't administered by a psychologist. At best, it's measuring your aptitude at a highly specific range of problems. Generally though, it's pseudoscience of the worst kind.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 9:52 AM on November 14, 2002

Like many others, did well on the 5-minute, don't think much of IQ tests. (And the one Mensa meeting I was dragged to was truly scary -- I wound up swigging stolen champagne in the basement with a fellow reprobate.) Like dydecker, I balked at the choices in that question (I picked "chewed," but who knows what the "correct" answer is). And I decided the test was bullshit when I got to the question about the "common saying" (or whatever their phrase is) "The map is not the ___." The correct answer, territory, was not even on their list. (I picked the closest match, "terrain," which I imagine they think is correct.)
posted by languagehat at 9:54 AM on November 14, 2002

A long time ago (in high school), I scored well on an IQ test. As a result, I never wanted to take another IQ test for fear of scoring lower, which I am sure would happen as I don't regularly play the "fill in the blank" or "which one is not like the other" game much anymore. After all these years, why would I want to find out that I'm really not a "genius" now?

I scored within 2 points of my measured IQ on these tests for what that's worth. Of course, all of this IQ-power didn't do me much good when I unleashed it on the wrong file at work yesterday.

Intelligence is so much more than can be measured on a test; sometimes it's just double-checking the label on the file before you proceed to work with it all afternoon.
posted by probablysteve at 10:08 AM on November 14, 2002

Languagehat, I think you and I were separated at birth (see my posts above).

Pseudoephedrine, when joined with hydrochloride, you helped me write 98% of my college term papers, in quanities large enough to kill a medium-sized pony.

And: this site seems to have a nice overview of the history of IQ testing, but I must admit I have not yet had time to peruse much of it.
posted by babylon at 10:13 AM on November 14, 2002

95-105 Range for Average, Normal people
105-115 Your typical college student (in theory)
85-95 Our president. Functional, but mild retardation
65-85 Can't even tie your own shoes. Extreme retardation
130 Average IQ for Doctors
165 Einstein

While IQ does not and cannot account for all kinds and levels of intelligent, it does measure something.

Something else to consider: The space between being unable to tie your own shoes and going to college is about 30 points - depending on where you draw the line.

The difference between Einstein and a college student is 45 points. So if you're a college student, you're not smart enough to tie Einstein's shoes.

I'm not sure how accurate the "college student" thing is, anymore, since just about everyone is trying to go to college these days, including some super dumb people, like say, our president. I mean if he got into Yale or Harvard or whatever, imagine how dumb the people are that are getting into local community colleges.

(seriously people, that last one is *just* a joke, truth be told, more smart people prolly hang out at community colleges than at Yale)
posted by jaded at 10:26 AM on November 14, 2002

I am smart! S-M-R-T!
posted by bwg at 10:30 AM on November 14, 2002

The tractor _______ up an acre of trees.

i was baffled by that one, too. none of the given answers make sense to me. anyone know what it was supposed to be? because there is no way you can "plow" a "tree" -- let alone an acre of them.

why am i wasting my thursday morning on this?
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 10:38 AM on November 14, 2002

Yale or Harvard or whatever
...have come under fire for having lax standards, once you get admitted. I've heard the same thing from people who have attended Ivy league schools: once they've got you, they want to keep you and they want you to do well; It doesn't look good to have students getting D's or flunking out.

My first year of college (I haven't finished, and I transferred out of this school) at the Univ of Rochester, my friend Pete and I used to look at all the blue-books from junior-level Poli-Sci essay tests (they were "returned" to students, tossed in a box outside the classroom after grading, sitting there for us to read when we picked up ours). Many contained sentence after sentence that made no sense or had no verbs--but the lowest grade was always a C. (Pete and I got B's usually--I studied the night before, and Pete read the material at his leisure during the semester and then reviewed a little the week of the test while smoking a bong of hash.)

Can you say "Recruitment for Bureaucracy or for the 'Elite Class'"? (or say anything except "Education," which wasn't exactly applicable.)
posted by Shane at 10:41 AM on November 14, 2002

I think those tests are being made somewhat easier to make you feel better after giving away those 50 something dollars

IMHO, anyone who would join this club is pretty dumb. Nor would I care to belong to any club that will have me as a member.
posted by moonbiter at 10:47 AM on November 14, 2002

I have sleep problems and take a mild anti-depressant. That's gotta knock at least 20% off my score. I've always tested tantalizingly close to "really smart" but never crossed the line. If I had any motivation I'd be really dangerous.
posted by mecran01 at 10:56 AM on November 14, 2002

babylon - you're welcome. But I didn't even try to figure it in my head. It was literally a back-of-the-Post-it-note calculation.

others - I also picked "terrain" and "plowed." Who knows what they wanted?

It's definitely an imperfect test on top of being limited in its utility to people without the knowledge and vocabulary (both quite different from intelligence, of course) of the test-writers, and on top, further, of the flaws of this kind of intelligence test in general. I have known a number of people who would do very poorly on this test despite a good capacity for English, but who are absolutely brilliant in areas this test fails to address.
posted by Songdog at 10:58 AM on November 14, 2002

I too was frustrated not to know what the "correct" answer on the tractor question was. I was anxious about finishing the whole test, so I got done early and was invited to "review" my answers. When I got to that one again, I changed it, either from "divided" to "plowed" or vice versa. I was hoping for some kind of "here's how we scored you" explanation at the end, but nada.

As to the map and the "terrain," though, I do think that's a better answer than "territory," regardless of whether someone has said the latter as a quote. Lewis Carroll's Sylvie & Bruno had a whole passage on this idea (taken literally) and I know there have been others throughout antiquity. Terrain is what a map applies to, whereas territory, with its political overtones, is a more limited subset.

Still, there did seem to be a lot of questions where it was deliberately unclear whether you were supposed to give the most sensical answer or complete some quotation.
posted by soyjoy at 11:10 AM on November 14, 2002

There is a natural aristocracy among humans. The formula for this is _________ and talent.

1) ancestry
2) money
3) politics
4) virtue
5) wit

I got hung up on the tractor question too. The writer in me wanted "chewed", but I picked "plowed" because I thought that is what they would probably think was correct. But the one that really set my teeth on edge is the one above - sounds like a Rand quote and kind of gives you a glimpse into the psyche of the test makers, non? (Just for clarification, I think they wanted 4.)

A very real case could be made for omitting the provided word "talent" in the sentence and then filling in the two blanks with some combination of 1, 2, or 3.

(Oops, sorry... my Marxist tendencies are showing. ;)
posted by edlark at 11:13 AM on November 14, 2002

The best IQ tests are administered by a human, interactively.

I was given one when I was in 5th grade. (back when dinosaurs roamed...), and part of it consisted of a giving antonyms (opposites) to the words the tester gave me.

One of the words was "brunette". I didn't know what it meant and told her. She said "brown hair". So I had the obvious answer, "blond". My point being, that they weren't testing my vocabulary, necessarily, but my ability to understand something or other. Unless you're being given the test interactively, by a human, things like that ruin the test.
posted by jaded at 11:16 AM on November 14, 2002

soyjoy: I disagree (totally subjectively, I think) about the map/territory quote. While the much-maligned Merriam Webster has terrain and territory as nigh-synonyms, with the territory definition verging more towards the politically-charged "boundary" concept, I believe that it is the spirit of the quotation that is better-upheld by the word "territory".

The phrase itself has taken on a variety of connotations, but I personally find the expression much richer, as I find the more-complex "territory" has a greater number of dimensions to me personally than the seemingly more cartographic "terrain".

As an example: Game/3d developers create terrain: the players/inhabitants create territories.
posted by babylon at 11:23 AM on November 14, 2002

I am smart! S-M-R-T!

In a few Slavic languages, smrt is the word for "death." Perhaps KiloHeavy wasn't making a typo so much as commenting on the relationship between "knowledge" and "death."

But that's the problem with these genius types, you never know their intentions.
posted by Ljubljana at 11:28 AM on November 14, 2002

Very interesting how much our 'wrong' choices say about us. I picked 'the map is not the way' which in retrospect seems very taoist to me...
posted by widdershins at 11:30 AM on November 14, 2002


I like your example, but would use it as an example of why IQ tests don't really prove anything.

Blond sounds like what the tester would be looking for as an antonym to brunette (although I don't think you can define blond/brunette as opposites). But what if you or another kid answered "bald" instead of blond? Such a question, What is the antonym of brunette?" really doesn't have a hard and fast answer. And if there is no clear answer, then whether one answer is more correct than any other "correct" answer is purely subjective.

Add to this the fact that an awareness of, and ability to work with, ambiguity is, to my mind one of the harbingers of higher intelligence, and you're really setting yourself up for a mess of a time in designing a test for intelligence. The responses on this thread regarding word choice are a perfect illustration of this.

How can you design an objective test to measure subjective norms?
posted by edlark at 11:33 AM on November 14, 2002

Speaking of word choice: I'm thinking harbingers is crap and would like to replace it with indicators.
posted by edlark at 11:43 AM on November 14, 2002

You know what it's needed as a good IQ test ? An Election.
No IQ test, even if served by internet, can reach so many people on such a simple subject: vote X or Y

For instance, given that George won because :

a) some votes were lost
b) some votes were not compiled correctly
c) they were OH so tired of counting ballots over and over
again that they gave him victory

we can safely conclude that

a) the election was flaved
b) the average american elector apparently don't care if his/her vote is counted, they didn't ask for a rerun.
c) yet they pretend to support somebody instead of somebody else
d) we conclude that the average IQ of the average elector is less or equal to 0


1)If +1 vote is better then 0 Vote
2)If I don't care if the vote is counted or not

Then I don't care if my President lost becase my vote
didn't help, because I didn't care if my vote was counted or not.

Need any more proof of negative IQ ?
posted by elpapacito at 11:44 AM on November 14, 2002

[ignoring election tangent]

edlark, I am crying out in distinct pain from your suggestion that we lose "harbinger"!!

First, there's the fabulously absurd pronunciation (har-bin-JER, not har-BING-er), which stands apart from nearly every other word in the english language.

Second, you've got the fact that it's just a great word. The sentence "midgets are indicators of doom" is nowhere NEAR as powerful as "midgets are harbingers of doom" [apologies in advance to the midgets].

Third, they don't mean the same thing: a harbinger is more like a sign, a precursor, an omen -- a horseman to an apocalypse, a whore to a babylon, a falling sky to the end of the world, a blurry configuration of tea leaves in the cup to your inevitable demise. An indicator is a much more, well, *science-y* bit of business.
posted by babylon at 11:52 AM on November 14, 2002

Well, I took the 5 minute quiz and was reminded why I think that IQ tests are ridiculous. It didn't test anything other than my ability to put together a coherent sentence, given a blank, and a few choices of what to put in the blank.

My question for the high iq society: is there any member of the high iq society, anywhere, who I'd want to shoot darts and drink beers with?
posted by mosch at 11:53 AM on November 14, 2002

babylon, I was in the same pre-adolescent boat that you were. From fourth grade to sixth grade, I was in a class that was made up of the 28 highest IQ kids in my state so that people could study highly gifted child-child interaction and education.

The funny thing is, out of the 24 of us still living (one was killed in an accident, one by a heart condition, and two killed themselves), we have a huge range of actual achievement. One kid went to Cal Tech at 16 and is now a really promising astrophysicist. Several of us are pursuing medical careers, business careers, whatever. A whole lot of us washed out, though. One guy flunked out of community college and works at a gas station. One girl is a stripper who just got arrested.

IQ is such an unreliable predictor of anything that it's pretty useless. It doesn't predict academic or real-world success, and it certainly doesn't predict the ability to get along in society. It's nice to be able to believe that you have some special spark because you do well on standardized tests, but I just don't think that you can measure intelligence in a vacuum and retain any kind of meaning.

Also, yes, I do think that you have to be "smart," whatever that means, to do well on standardized tests. However, you don't have to be stupid to score poorly. You may be a poor test taker, overly creative, or have a processing disability. In other words, I don't think that it's true that someone who scores a 160 is necessarily smarter than someone who scores a 120. It might very well be that the 160 is a great test taker, and the 120 not so much.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 11:56 AM on November 14, 2002

HAR-bin-jer, surely...
posted by Grangousier at 11:56 AM on November 14, 2002

Edlark, by chance just I stumbled across that quote in a book. It is misquoted Thomas Jefferson.

There is a natural aristocracy among men. The grounds of this are virtue and talents.

Unfamiliar with it, I chose "wit". I guess I've met too many talented bastards in my time.
posted by dydecker at 11:59 AM on November 14, 2002

I got 134 on the Ultimate test- and before you all git on me about revealing my blowhardedness and secret superiority, I guess on all but 3.
posted by oflinkey at 12:00 PM on November 14, 2002

grang, my bad. I started out just trying to emphasize, and allowed myself to get carried away, leading in my enthusiasm to erroneous pronunciation exposition. sorry!

Also: I have GOT to note that I don't generally speak like that sentence above this one right here. In fact, I don't even WRITE like that generally. So, um, sorry for that too. Let's chalk it up to my quitting smoking this week.
posted by babylon at 12:04 PM on November 14, 2002

Nobody has mentioned the culture-fair IQ test on the site. Anybody else try it? Now that is an IQ test. Fortunately it isn't timed because I spent twenty minutes on a couple of the questions. And you know what? I could feel the gears in my mind turning while taking the culture-fair IQ test. When taking the other tests, I was more concerned with whether a tractor could plow, divide, or chew trees than whether or not I was actually thinking about anything. Which is a better measure of intelligence?
posted by jdroth at 12:13 PM on November 14, 2002

babylon: thanks for ignoring :) but consider this

IQ test: you have to choose which candidate is going to be the best for YOU.You'll evaluate 1 or 100 or 1000 variable
and give him/her a score. Then you go vote the one who has got the highest score. Rational, isn't it ?

After the voting is done, you discover your vote wasn't counted. Same as in a IQ test, if your answer isn't counted the whole IQ test is flawed, no matter if the answer was wrong or right because what matters is that all the variables (your answer) are counted and evaluated.

Wouldn't you say that the IQ score given to you by such a test is wrong ? You probably would complain.

But it seems they didn't complain about all the election mess, by -ignoring- what media reported or not considering it worth time.

Now anybody doing that may have an IQ of 600 at choosing a candidate, but they do also have an IQ of 0
at defending their rights.

So you see it wasn't really a -tangent- :) rather a practical example of how IQ isn't an absolute, any-conditions always valid value. In theory, there are as many IQ as many situation/problem/condition combinations.
posted by elpapacito at 12:50 PM on November 14, 2002


Poetically, I like harbinger better myself. However, putting it into a post that was all about the subtleties of word choice made me second guess. Technically indicator is the more correct word, as my whole point was that ability to handle ambiguity might indicate or signal the presence of higher intelligence. Harbinger, while flowing nicely off the tongue, turns the meaning of my sentence into something like: The ability to work with ambiguity is one of the things that comes before intelligence. Which really doesn't work at all.

My meaning was probably not unclear to my fellow MeFites, but my word choice was, unfortunately, imprecise. If the topic of the post had been about anything else, I would likely have just left it alone, but as it was, it made me paranoid. (Such is the small and sad life I lead. ;)
posted by edlark at 12:54 PM on November 14, 2002

Scored 163, "Profoundly gifted," on Ultimate Test. Woo hoo!
posted by Hieronymous Coward at 12:59 PM on November 14, 2002

edlark: Oopsie. It sounded like you meant to get rid of the word "harbinger" completely, as in, eliminate it from the English language.

That said, I must admit I really like the idea that the ability to work with ambiguity is one of the things that comes *before* intelligence. I suppose that the whole meaning of the word intelligence is as always up for debate, but from my tiny little dais, harbinger of intelligence is a fabulous concept.

elpapacito: Continuing to ignore the election concept, but in response -- in my tiny little world (the one that contains the tiny little dais, actually, let's make that a chaise, much more comfortable), nothing is absolute, certainly not IQ, and much more certainly not the relationship between brains, brawn, and the owner of same's state of not being a waste of air.
posted by babylon at 1:09 PM on November 14, 2002

babylon: Maybe we were separated at birth; I too love the word "harbinger&quot, as well as its messy etymology: it's from herbeger (with -ar- for -er- as in "parson" and intrusive -n- as in "passenger" and "messenger"), and that's from herberger 'one sent on before to purvey lodgings for an army, a royal train, etc.' (as in Chaucer), which is from Old French herbergere from Old German heriberga 'shelter for an army' (heri 'army').

edlark: Thanks for reminding me of another question that really pissed me off! That's probably the one I spent the most time on before giving up and picking, I think, "virtue" because it seemed like what would appeal to them.
posted by languagehat at 1:13 PM on November 14, 2002

Hey, I'm a "highly gifted" American and an average Brit (the BBC test). Oh well, I didn't understand those British addresses. These things are fun but, I agree, goofy.
posted by rotifer at 1:15 PM on November 14, 2002

I scored 118 on the test for exceptional intelligence, which is what, one right on a test geared that high? That thing is killer, I loved it. I did much better on the ultimate and five minute, of course. Same quibbles as the previous postes, but the answers did seem, if not exactly right, better than all the other options in the context of a test.
posted by Nothing at 2:33 AM on November 15, 2002

"Marilyn Vos Savant has been listed in the Guinness Book of World Records Hall of Fame for her IQ score of 228. She is the author of the popular column "Ask Marilyn" in Parade magazine."

posted by Devils Slide at 2:51 AM on November 15, 2002

Join the Big MetaFilter Thread Starters Organization. It's Elite!
posted by Pretty_Generic at 4:01 AM on November 15, 2002

I wonder if Marilyn is from Connecticut?

Imagine what a burden it must be to have this reputation. At any rate we can safely assume that either Marilyn is Wrong or Marilyn is Right.

Not necessarily connected, but lots of fun is this nice brainteaser I found when looking for info about Ms. Savant. (the google cache, in case we break the original)
posted by taz at 4:23 AM on November 15, 2002

Good puzzle, Taz. Here's a related one that I've always enjoyed:

A hole precisely six inches long is drilled through the center of a sphere. What is the volume remaining in the sphere?
posted by Hieronymous Coward at 8:16 PM on November 15, 2002

I would guess it was the same volume as before the hole was drilled, Hierony-san.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 3:55 AM on November 16, 2002

Me: A hole precisely six inches long is drilled through the center of a sphere. What is the volume remaining in the sphere? I first heard this elegant little puzzle from Martin Gardner...

Hmm, there's so little information here to go on... What's the hole's diameter? What's the sphere's diameter? Tell me anything!?!

And that's the key. You don't need to know any of those. From the vague way the problem is posed one might make the intuitive leap (justified by the math) that those don't matter. Thus you can make them arbitrary -- say, choose a hole of zero radius. Then the sphere's diameter is 6 inches, the hole's volume is zero, and the problem becomes trivial. The remaining volume is 36pi, regardless of whether the sphere is 6.1 inches wide, or a mile wide -- it doesn't matter. Beautiful.
posted by Hieronymous Coward at 12:36 PM on November 18, 2002

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