Saturday, October 20, 2007

The cult of IQ

It occurred to me that Greens and Grays and IQ is a good excuse to say something about the cult of IQ (that is, whatever IQ tests measure).

Very quickly (because the kids are getting restless):
  1. Whatever IQ score means, it's only loosely correlated with most measures of "success" - at least in our world. It certainly doesn't correlate with number of genetic descendants, but it doesn't correlate with leadership success or even wealth either. There are lots of poor and/or unhappy members of Mensa, and lots of very successful entrepreneurs with unremarkable IQ scores.
  2. Whatever value IQ might have in today's world, it will probably have about as much value in 30 years as muscle has had since the steam engine was fully implemented. The strong become weak, the weak become strong; it's the selfish justification for "compassion".
  3. There's not much evidence that IQ correlates with either insight or judgment. I suspect one day we'll figure out they have pretty different physiology, evolutionary history, and adaptive advantages. I don't think George Bush's problem is that he's dumb, his old SAT scores tell us that, at least as a teen, he had a quite decent IQ.
IQ is useful, but generally overrated.

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