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June 6, 2008 3:33 PM   Subscribe


 
I'm definitely getting stupider with age. I'm glad to hear it goes the other way too.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:37 PM on June 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Wow, I was getting ready to say I was impressed, since the media usually pimps the stuff suggesting nature over nurture so as to suck up to the Nazi-wannabes who line up to fund such studies. Then I noticed that the link isn't a media outlet, it's the NSF. I'm not holding my breath waiting for it to hit CNN.
posted by localroger at 3:40 PM on June 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


In related news: Test reveals that people with the highest IQs use Firefox on a Mac PPC, and those with the lowest use Firefox on Windows 98.
posted by ericb at 3:47 PM on June 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


Yeah this story has been making the rounds. The problem is they didnt control for any other type of brain training game. His thesis is that most of these training games don't show 'transfer' to general iq, yet they failed to demonstrate significant transfer of their n-back test in comparison to these other previously tested tests. That is, they did not control for general training effect from the n-back.
posted by norabarnacl3 at 3:48 PM on June 6, 2008


I'm definitely getting stupider with age. I'm glad to hear it goes the other way too.

Ditto.
posted by Pollomacho at 4:06 PM on June 6, 2008


ericb's site also taught me that there is Safari for Windows and that over 200 people use it. It sounds to me like having Internet Explorer for Ubuntu: in general, why would anyone use either over Firefox, but why especially would you bother setting it up on platform that doesn't even force it on you?
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 4:10 PM on June 6, 2008


Not that the notion of IQ being a valid test for intelligence hasn't been torpedoed. Or it's value deflated.

I have a theory that folks lower on the IQ scale might be better adapted to success in life anyways. To wit, the schoolyard bully, stereotypically has an IQ 30 or more points lower then the stereotypical bullied. When it comes to extracting the lunch money from a victim, clearly the schoolyard bully is more endowed with the survival skill of obtaining currency. A sort of Darwinian survival of the fittest.

Now, fast forward to adult life. There are, arguably, not many Nobel Prize winners (stereotypical high IQs) who are the heads of investment groups, Fortune 500 CEOs, (the less than moral bunch of folks fleecing us every minute of every day - doing nothing but getting rich off the sweat from our collective brow) heck, I don't have the data to back this up, but I would posit that the wealthiest folks are not the ones with the highest IQs. (I wanted to insert name here, but out of deference to those who would argue that the poor celebrities that I look down on as not particularly bright [such as Tom Cruise] would incite a riot with examples of how smart they truly is [so says Emperor Krakatu of Rigel 3]. But let's debate whether Jobs and Gates are brighter than Hawking and Boehm - I think that I have a prima-facie case to make.)

I work in insurance, and while the smartest folks in the room are generally the Actuaries, they are not necessarily the best paid folks in the room. The sales guys, who are much more likely to have been the bullies to the actuarial bullied are going to be bringing home the cheddar. Take professional sports, the highest paid athletes are not usually known (generalizing out of necessity, because someone out there would totally come to the side of Peyton Manning and argue how intelligent he is, regardless of those Oreo commercials as proof to the contrary) for their IQ, rather it's the coaches who are regarded as genius.

So we might have been better off without those AP classes in Physics and Calculus, and of course, without those stupid tests.
posted by valentinepig at 4:38 PM on June 6, 2008


It could be true... it could be bunk. It's way too vague to tell.

... Still, I wish the article had said WHICH memory exercises they're using so I could start exercising...
posted by madpercolator at 4:44 PM on June 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm always surprised when people seem to still believe that IQ's are static. It's been shown many times that IQ scores change depending on education, and the basic test is a simplistic early 20th c / eugenicist notion of intelligence to start with...
anyone studying intelligence or neuroscience in more depth already assumes this. That some portion of the general population still has a love affair with the mensa threshold is just unfortunate.
posted by mdn at 4:44 PM on June 6, 2008 [5 favorites]


I don't think you need that high of an IQ to figure out that there might be better ways to measure success in life than monetary wealth.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 4:46 PM on June 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


It sounds to me like having Internet Explorer for Ubuntu: in general, why would anyone use either over Firefox, but why especially would you bother setting it up on platform that doesn't even force it on you?

I used to use Internet Explorer on Linux because it was an easier way to test the appearance of my web site in IE than finding a Windows box.
posted by grouse at 4:47 PM on June 6, 2008


Sure, yes - monetary success. The success that matters to a capitalist society. It's a theoretical sort of thing anyway.

They say that money can't buy happiness, but you sure can choose your own misery.

Clearly, my low IQ and low rent wallet combine to disprove my theory. But as the IQ tests are known to favor middle and upper class white males, I stand by the critics of it as a valid measure of anything other than who can answer the questions posed the best. And so, yeah, it's pretty obvious to anyone paying attention that you can get better at answering them if you try.

Anyone remember what a deuce and a quarter is?
posted by valentinepig at 4:59 PM on June 6, 2008


A shitty quarter.
posted by stavrogin at 5:06 PM on June 6, 2008 [4 favorites]


There was a piece on measuring intelligence on Quirks and Quarks a few weeks ago. ("A Dummy's Guide to Intelligence" — scroll down a bit for the ogg/mp3. How I loves thee, Bob McDonald.)
posted by ~ at 5:35 PM on June 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


...suggesting nature over nurture so as to suck up to the Nazi-wannabes who line up to fund such studies.

The important thing is, you are open to non-creationist explanations of human intelligence.
posted by DU at 5:35 PM on June 6, 2008


BTDT

They are not actually measuring IQ here. They are measuring crystal and fluid intelligence, and applying an IQ-like metric (i.e., 100 = average, 15-pt. STDEV). If you think I am just splitting hairs, you either have not studied intelligence or you did not have a sufficiently high enough or low enough IQ as a child to realize how problematic it is as a (misused) concept.

Yes, the brain is elastic, but less elastic with age. Yes, it is a use-it-or-lose-it proposition. No, it is not all-or-nothing. Yes, there are different types of intelligence (though not necessarily Gardner's). IQ, in children, is a predictor of how well they will do in school; essentially a test to see how good they are at tests. That is all it was designed for. Yes, it correlates to a certain extent with success in life, but that's not the whole story. Do not give up your day job, but also do not give up your dreams. You are not a number, you are a free man (or woman).

This post is self-derailing, in part thanks to the article. Honestly, I can't believe the research was funded; I thought this stuff was common knowledge when I was in college studying it a decade ago. I mean, no it's probably not obvious to you, but folks in the scientific community can't honestly believe this stuff any more than they still believe evolution is a ladder (it's not). I need to go to grad school now, I guess, while they're handing out funding to anyone with a lab coat, a composition notebook, and some respectable-looking glasses.

Grr, psychologist rage! Why am I still at work? Who are all you people? Where are my pants?
posted by Eideteker at 5:43 PM on June 6, 2008 [4 favorites]


Um, "science" never thought IQ was static at all. The "background" in this article is totally bogus.

ericb's site also taught me that there is Safari for Windows and that over 200 people use it. It sounds to me like having Internet Explorer for Ubuntu: in general, why would anyone use either over Firefox

It's intended to be used by web designers to test pages without owning a Mac.
posted by delmoi at 5:49 PM on June 6, 2008


I wish the article had said WHICH memory exercises they're using so I could start exercising

Here are some to try:

Version 1
Version 2
Version 3
posted by flug at 7:10 PM on June 6, 2008 [9 favorites]


Use it or lose it.

MetaFilter is definitely an IQ enhancer if used properly. Read challenging books, do the New York Times Crossword puzzle, compose music, write, create, absorb other's creations, analyze politics, play chess, perform well in a job which requires analysis, just think ..... but on the other hand watch too much reality tv or dancing with the so called stars and watch your IQ wither....

I am not sure that this is not something that we didn't already know though.
posted by caddis at 7:33 PM on June 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


That some portion of the general population still has a love affair with the mensa threshold is just unfortunate.

People are people. Jocks like to brag about how much they can bench press. Nerds like to brag about their IQ score. I, personally, brag about how mediocre I am. I figure it's best to hedge your bets.

(seriously, people tend to value whatever trait they have in abundance. Smart people value smarts. Pretty people value prettiness. Atletes value strength, blablabla. None of these things are the whole ball game)
posted by jonmc at 7:42 PM on June 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


I don't think you need that high of an IQ to figure out that there might be better ways to measure success in life than monetary wealth.

Unfortunately, that's the scoring system the world uses.
posted by rokusan at 7:50 PM on June 6, 2008


Nerds like to brag about their IQ score.

Really? Really?

Most of the smartest people I know are very very shy about that.
posted by rokusan at 7:51 PM on June 6, 2008


Really? Really?

Most of the smartest people I know are very very shy about that.


Maybe. Let me put it this way: self proclaimed smart people like to brag about how smart they are. (and that could apply equally to the other traits I mentioned as well). For the record, I consider myself a fairly smart person, but if you gave me a choice between hanging out with a certified genius who was an utter prick with an unpleasant personality and a person of mediocre intellect who was a decent person and good company, I'd choose the latter. What that means I don't know.
posted by jonmc at 7:55 PM on June 6, 2008


Then why do you hang out on MetaFilter.
posted by dgaicun at 8:09 PM on June 6, 2008


Mainly for the free drugs and groupies.
posted by jonmc at 8:11 PM on June 6, 2008


because he actually is pretty smart, and here he hangs out with a lot of people just like himself, smart and nice
posted by caddis at 8:11 PM on June 6, 2008


No, caddis, it's really for the free drugs and groupies. Now, don't bogart, man...
posted by jonmc at 8:14 PM on June 6, 2008


I know for a fact that my IQ has been decreasing ever since March 15, 2002.
posted by yhbc at 8:19 PM on June 6, 2008


thanks flug, i needed the brain exercise
posted by ntoken at 8:22 PM on June 6, 2008


since the media usually pimps the stuff suggesting nature over nurture so as to suck up to the Nazi-wannabes

Wow. You suck.
posted by spaltavian at 8:43 PM on June 6, 2008


Intelligence quotient. One hundred times mental age over chronological age. Of course it's dynamic.

I thought the "new" pop psych was full of "your IQ has gone down 10 points by the time you return to work from vacation" and the like. Is this not just a cultural strawman by now?
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:46 PM on June 6, 2008


Mainly for the free drugs and groupies.

I have not been receiving my due. Is it because I haven't taken some Metafilter IQ test yet?
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 8:50 PM on June 6, 2008


Is this something that you would have to be smart to care about?
posted by The Light Fantastic at 9:21 PM on June 6, 2008


Yeah - Kick down!
posted by valentinepig at 9:24 PM on June 6, 2008


For an old, racist tool devised to keeps blacks out of the Armed Forces, IQ tests still do have quite a fan base, I have to admit
posted by matteo at 9:36 PM on June 6, 2008


I'm willing to bet if you polled 100 people at least 95% of them would say they have above-average intelligence.
posted by loiseau at 10:11 PM on June 6, 2008


...uhm, what were we talking about?

Ooh! Look! Shiny!
posted by ZachsMind at 11:36 PM on June 6, 2008


There are, arguably, not many Nobel Prize winners (stereotypical high IQs) who are the heads of investment groups

Four words: "Long-Term Capital Management" (alright, they're now best known for failing more spectacularly than anyone before them, but their "picking up pennies in front of a steamroller" model is used by everyone these days -- as we've recently seen).
posted by effbot at 2:07 AM on June 7, 2008


"I, personally, brag about how mediocre I am."

You're just covering up your shameful adequacy.
posted by Eideteker at 2:07 AM on June 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm willing to bet if you polled 100 people at least 95% of them would say they have above-average intelligence.

Above median, even.
posted by effbot at 3:33 AM on June 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Anyone remember what a deuce and a quarter is?

Yep. That'd be a Buick Electra 225. I had this one, which is why I know the answer to that question.

I vaguely recall a study that used knowledge of the answer to that question as an example of the type of questions commonly used on IQ tests that were culturally specific, and not indicative of intelligence, per sé
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 3:36 AM on June 7, 2008


When I read the post title, I thought the Singularity had occurred.
posted by lukemeister at 7:36 AM on June 7, 2008


You would think the National Science Foundation would provide more... scientific press releases. Not only is there no mention of how IQ was evaluated (did they somehow use the double n-back test to derive IQ?), but there's no mention of the age of participants, or the participants' educational background, hell they don't even mention the gains in IQ! What's more they don't even provide a citation of the article's source publication so there's no way of finding these things out.

It's actually a pretty meaningless article.
posted by tybeet at 8:44 AM on June 7, 2008


Intelligent people are aware of their limitations, and thus disinclined to boast.
posted by SPrintF at 9:18 AM on June 7, 2008


Intelligent Conscientious people are aware of their limitations, and thus disinclined to boast.
posted by tybeet at 9:52 AM on June 7, 2008


Durn Bronzefist: Intelligence quotient. One hundred times mental age over chronological age. Of course it's dynamic.
Isn't IQ, though, actually a z-score reflecting rarity and not the older mental/physical age division (which is why the not terrifically smart Marilyn vos Savant gets to boast having an IQ of 24, simply because she was at 10 "as smart as an average 24-year-old"- hardly much of an accomplishment when you consider the average 24-year-old)? I.e., with an SD of 15, IQ=115 is 'smarter' than 84.1% of the population, IQ=130 is 'smarter' than 97.7%, 145 -> 99.9%. A quotient is linear; IQ is not. Indeed, those people who like to boast of IQ's that are 160+ all but define they don't have one; that's sufficiently rare as to be "1 in 30,000" assuming a normal distribution.

Some schmuck on the blogotubes tries to run a "Mega" society for IQs of I think 190 or higher, despite the fact that such an IQ would be expected to occur something like one time in a billion or more... clearly such a thing is untestable in any sense (how does one sample for a trait that only 6 people on the planet likely have). The guy's probably reasonably bright, but obviously not nearly as smart as he thinks he is, if his one in a billion brain can't figure out z-scores... I suppose that guy is more the case you're talking about, jonmc, but I'd say he's the exception.
Most of the smartest people I know are very very shy about that.
jonmc: Maybe. Let me put it this way: self proclaimed smart people like to brag about how smart they are. (and that could apply equally to the other traits I mentioned as well). For the record, I consider myself a fairly smart person, but if you gave me a choice between hanging out with a certified genius who was an utter prick with an unpleasant personality and a person of mediocre intellect who was a decent person and good company, I'd choose the latter. What that means I don't know.
I think what you're doing is odd; you're demonizing smart people, despite being at least reasonably bright, and hanging out with other smart people. It's not that dissimilar to saying "I hate liberals, they're so awful they way they always do ______ and say stuff like _____!" then unknowingly being a liberal by dint of embracing a huge number of liberal values. Kind of like the majority of the United States, for example. You've created a false choice; why isn't it just as likely that the genius is the well-rounded, ethical, polite person, funny and interesting, while the "average guy" might be boring, a bit amoral or even self-serving/narcissitic, and generally unpleasant? Actually, that's also not unlike the American public, in regard to the 2000 elections...


"Self proclaimed smart people like to brag about how smart they are" is a tautology. That is the practically the definition of self proclaimed, no? But clearly the set of all smart people has only a subset that are self proclaimed- and maybe not even a subset. As above, I'd posit those who overstate, in both senses of the word, their alleged IQ are compensating for their secret fear and certainty that they aren't that bright.

The smartest people I know tend to also be witty; they're good with language and jokes, often possess one or more unusual talents, and have a diverse set of interests allowing them to hold a good conversation on almost any topic. I suspect Metafilter has quite a few uncertified geniuses, who are among the most liked people here. When cortex has yet another "cool" project posted to the front page or most-favorited song post, or when robocop is bleeding whips out another brilliant fictional anecdote in the comments that garners a few hundred breathless favorites... these are not unlikable people, jonmc.
posted by hincandenza at 9:53 AM on June 7, 2008 [3 favorites]


Isn't IQ, though, actually a z-score reflecting rarity and not the older mental/physical age division...

Yes. Exactly. The original incarnation was mental age divided by chronological age x100, but we use norm-based metrics nowadays for literally all our standardized intelligence tests. I would actually not call it "rarity" but "normalcy" considering we're basing our measures on a relation to the norm, not a relation to the outliers, but that's just a quip about terms. Quite often our intelligence tests are even validated based on other intelligence tests (the Weschler or the Stanford-Binet), which gets into all sorts of problems regarding objective-truth value of the measures, but that's something beyond the scope of this thread.
posted by tybeet at 10:02 AM on June 7, 2008


The concept of IQ is too simplistic. Gardner's Frames of Mind theory of multiple intelligences is much more realistic.
posted by neuron at 2:09 PM on June 7, 2008


matteo: For an old, racist tool devised to keeps blacks out of the Armed Forces, IQ tests still do have quite a fan base, I have to admit

Bzuh? Granted, you're completely right about how the American military ended up using early versions of the IQ test (oh, let's not forget about the Poles, Italians, and anyone else Insufficiently White), but what we now know as the IQ test was created by the psychologist Alfred Binet (and collaborator Theodore Simon) to help identify children with learning disabilities in the specific context of the French educational system of the time. It should be noted that he was vociferously against the idea of using the test to permanently "classify" and rank individuals - if a child got a low score, that was an indication that they needed extra help in class, not that they were stupid.

Shame how we've gone backwards and all.
posted by bettafish at 2:09 PM on June 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


The concept of IQ is too simplistic. Gardner's Frames of Mind theory of multiple intelligences is much more realistic.

Gardner is right that there are very many skills that humans have. Calling them all "intelligence" destroys the meaning of the word and isn't really very helpful. Or clever. Or intelligent.
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:11 AM on June 18, 2008


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