Saturday, 19 January 2013

What Makes You So Smart?

IQ (Intelligence Quotient) is a standardized test to determine one's intelligence. There are many problems associated with the IQ test, first of all, it only measures mathematical and analytics skills. Secondly, and most importantly, what is intelligence? Is it the speed with which one can learn, the amount of information one can store, or the knowledge one has? Well, there is no concrete answer to that, which is why many argue that IQ test should include other tests, such as intuition, music, art etc. There however other tests which also measure one's creativity (Creativity Quotient) and emotions (Emotional Quotient).

Here are interesting statistics associated with IQ Test:

1. The Flynn Effect
Is the long-sustained increase in the average IQ of the human population across the globe since the 1930's. The increase is estimated to be 3 points every 10 years, or 9 points every generation, which is a very significant increase. However, Flynn himself is suspicious of the results. Malcolm Gladwell, the author of "Tipping Point" had this to say about the strange phenomenon: “If we work in the opposite direction, the typical teenager of today, with an IQ of 100, would have grandparents with average IQs of 82—seemingly below the threshold necessary to graduate from high school .... And, if we go back even farther, the Flynn effect puts the average IQs of the schoolchildren of 1900 at around 70, which is to suggest, bizarrely, that a century ago the United States was populated largely by people who today would be considered mentally retarded.”

So what is happening? Was the earth populated by mentally disabled people, or is the IQ test not the best way to measure intelligence? I'd say the second one...probably.

2. IQ and the Wealth of Nations
Is a 2002 book by Doctor Richard Lynn. In it Lynn argues that the national IQ of the country is for the most part dependent on it's national income. The results seems to be somewhat consistent, although there are some notable exceptions. For example China, a country with the GDP per capita of $10,000 has one of the highest IQ in the world (along with Korea and Japan), while oil rich Arab countries (such as Qatar) have relatively low average national IQs (85-90) while their GDPs are amongst the highest in the world (Qatar has the highest GDP in the world, of $87,000). Lynn explains this by stating that countries such as Qatar were not supposed to develop so rapidly (oil is their largest export) that their IQs couldn't catch up. China, on the other hand, is developed enough to have high average national IQ but is not yet fully developed because of their communist ideology. It's also interesting that  East Asian countries have highest IQs, which fully justifies the image below:

Average national IQ according to IQ and the Wealth of Nations:

Further readings here, here, here, here, and here 


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