When it comes to human intelligence, it’s more complicated than a simple IQ number Yassir Arjouni The Skeptic

In 1905, Alfred Binet administered the first IQ test to measure the cognitive ability of children of different age categories. By quantifying the average score of each category, he was able to determine which children were challenged (scoring lower than average for their age) and which were gifted (scoring higher than average for their age).

The fervour of measuring human intelligence soon spread to the rest of Europe and the world; in Germany, Willian Stern expanded upon Binet’s work through the introduction of an IQ formula; In the United States, Lewis Terman pioneered the Stanford-Binet test, and David Wechsler, taking the limitations of the previous models into account, devised the Wechsler-Bellevue Intelligence Scale. Within the span of a century, IQ tests became a globally recognised measure of intelligence, and as such were used to draw further conclusions about the factors that influence human intelligence, the most contentious of which were ethnicity and wealth.

If you have ever had a look at IQ scores around the globe, you must have noticed that East Asian countries almost always top the list. This is the very root of ‘’Asian people are smart.’’, but is it of any substance?

Let us hush the audacity of causality between East Asian ethnicity and intelligence for a sentence’s length — why did Mongolia, an East Asian country, rank 53rd in the IQ index? How about a 22nd North Korea ranking below what should be a less intelligent Belarus, which came 7th? Why did South Korea, ranked 6th, outperform North Korea despite the two being of the same ethnic extraction?

If we were to believe that ethnicity is the single most important factor in determining intellectual capacity, why did some of the most accomplished ethnicities in history fail to rank in the top 100 of the IQ index? Had Egypt not been the beacon of high culture for thousands of years? If so, why did it rank 142nd? Did Persia, ranked a ghastly 119th, not give rise to the Achaemenid civilisation and countless others? How about the heart of the wondrous Inca civilisation, Peru? Does Machu Picchu not attest to the genius of Peruvians? If so, why did Peru rank 112th?

If there is any relationship between ethnicity and intelligence, its complexity is seriously underestimated at best – or is downright non-existent because ethnicity carries more social than scientific value.

Going back to the IQ index, you may also notice that a plurality of high IQ countries is wealthy. The hypothesis that there is a relationship between wealth and IQ is not new. As a matter of fact, a controversy-ridden study by Lynn and Vanhanen postulated that low GDP causes low IQ, and vice versa.

If high GDP translated to high IQ, how can China rank 77th in the GDP per capita index and 5th in the IQ index? How can Qatar boast the world’s 4th highest GDP and stumble at the 116th IQ mark? Why does Brunei enjoy the 8th highest GDP while it is only good enough to be the 74th smartest country?

While wealth could increase the likelihood of fulfilling intellectual potential through facilitating access to quality education, it is evident it cannot be a guarantor of high IQ.

IQ could be influenced by virtually any variable; local culture, language, food and even sex drive all correlate with IQ. While covering each of them in detail is beyond the scope of this article, it is indispensable to comprehend just how much of a black hole the concept is to at least warrant a more reserved attitude towards it.

The quest to understand human intelligence is laudable, but attempts to identify the sole or primary cause of intelligence have arguably done more harm than good. Perhaps inadvertently, it sustained and promoted racial prejudice and causal fallacies. Some psychologists went as far as to say that IQ tests are inconsequential (a euphemism for useless) in diagnosing learning disabilities, the purpose for which Binet designed the first model in the first place.

The post When it comes to human intelligence, it’s more complicated than a simple IQ number appeared first on The Skeptic.

The quest to understand human intelligence is laudable, but attempts to identify the primary cause of intelligence have arguably done more harm than good
The post When it comes to human intelligence, it’s more complicated than a simple IQ number appeared first on The Skeptic.

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