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IQ 'a Myth,' Study Says 530

An anonymous reader send this quote from The Star: "The idea that intelligence can be measured by a single number — your IQ — is wrong, according to a recent study led by researchers at the University of Western Ontario (abstract). The study, published in the journal Neuron on Wednesday, involved 100,000 participants around the world taking 12 cognitive tests, with a smaller sample of the group undergoing simultaneous brain-scan testing. 'When we looked at the data, the bottom line is the whole concept of IQ — or of you having a higher IQ than me — is a myth,' said Dr. Adrian Owen, the study’s senior investigator... 'There is no such thing as a single measure of IQ or a measure of general intelligence.'"
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IQ 'a Myth,' Study Says

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  • True (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @06:22PM (#42341637)

    I have an IQ of 150, am a member of a 3 sigma IQ society. But I cannot remember names, and if I had to do manual skilled labor, I would starve to death. There are people with a much lower IQ who I admire greatly for their skill sets and abilities that I will never have

    -- MyLongNickName

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @06:22PM (#42341641)

    ... there are obvious trends that some people learn more and learn faster then others and I'm certain this can be measured at a gross level. I bet there are methodological flaws with the study that will be debunked soon.

  • Re:lemme guess (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Nialin ( 570647 ) on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @06:24PM (#42341665)
    The whole notion of IQ has been discussed ad nauseam here on the boards. We all know it's bullshit, so there's really no point in discussing it further.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @06:24PM (#42341671)

    > Rather, the study determined three factors — reasoning, short-term memory and verbal ability — that combined to create human intelligence or “cognitive profile.”

    And IQ tests test 2 of those factors... reasoning (through math), and verbal (through written). They've just discovered that "memory" is important to "cognitive ability."

    Saying that IQ is a myth is hyperbole. They've identified that it exists and that it has 3 (instead of 2) components.

  • Yeah, again. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Geoffrey.landis ( 926948 ) on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @06:26PM (#42341687) Homepage

    Yeah, again. Seems every five years or so there's a book, article, or study saying that IQ is not a single thing.


    The professor in my "introduction to psychology and brain science" course said "IQ is defined as what is measured by IQ tests." So it's not that it doesn't exist. The question is, what is it, and does it matter?

  • Works for me (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jethro ( 14165 ) on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @06:27PM (#42341713) Homepage

    When I was a child, I was diagnosed with having a really high IQ. As a result people have been telling me I'm a "genius" for most my life and always pushing me to "achieve my full potential" and crap like that.

    It's nonsense. Maybe I'm smart, maybe I'm not. I think trying to measure that is crazy and impracticable. I'd rather be judged by what I do, not what some test says about me.

    And frankly I don't really want to be judged at all. I think I'm doing OK with my life, and that's really all that matters. All this unnecessary categorising of people... it's all kind of pointless.

  • by bogaboga ( 793279 ) on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @06:30PM (#42341767)

    'There is no such thing as a single measure of IQ or a measure of general intelligence.'

    I once taught a mixture of kids from so called "3rd world environments", who also had very low IQ scores compared to the typical "exposed" American kids.

    In my 11 years of teaching, not once did our American kids score better than the "3rd world" kids at all! This was despite the fact that these poor kids had to learn English grammar. Heck, one of them even reminded me of a few math tricks that I employed myself while in school.

    I once escorted one such kid to her parent, and it was a shock to hear her switch to some foreign tongue before switching to English in order to introduce me. This particular kid is now at BP in Texas, and still writes to me. Incredible!

  • Re:Yeah, again. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PPalmgren ( 1009823 ) on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @06:33PM (#42341803)

    I'd mod you up but I want to participate. I see where the study is coming from, and I think you've asked the right question. I think what's measured by IQ tests is the ability to find solutions to abstract problems. In this sene, IQ measures your problem solving productivity. Of course, this doesn't make you the most amazing person ever. As the saying goes, it takes all kinds.

    Unfortunately, other types of intelligence are not easily quantified. A social butterfly serves a great role in a production environment that I could never manage to fill without eventually having a breakdown, and there's really no question that their brainpower devoted to this is significantly more refined than mine. So, they have a much higher Social Intelligence than I do, but I may have a higher IQ than they do. Does that make either of us more valuable? No. Just two different cogs for two different parts in the big machine.

  • by steviesteveo12 ( 2755637 ) on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @06:38PM (#42341865)
    There was a good point made that only people who aren't thought of as smart have anything to gain by joining MENSA. For example, if you found out Stephen Hawking was a member of MENSA you might just about manage a "well, figures" but if you found out Sarah Palin was in it you'd go "wow, never expected that".
  • Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ardeaem ( 625311 ) on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @06:39PM (#42341887)

    “If there is something in the brain that is IQ, we should be able to find it by scanning. But it turns out there is no one area in the brain that accounts for people’s so-called IQ."

    Wow, the study's senior investigator said something this mind-numbingly dumb? Just because you can't find it using a machine that measures blood flow does not mean it isn't a meaningful concept. IQ definitely exists - it is a measurement. The question is whether it measures anything meaningful. But we wouldn't necessarily expect to be able to confirm that by sticking people in a magnet; it's a statistical question, not a question of blood flow in the brain...

  • Re:True (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @06:39PM (#42341893)

    My point wasn't that all high-IQ folks are inept in other areas but that high-IQ does not guarantee high performance in all areas. I am glad you are well rounded, but I agree with the summary in that intelligence is not reducible to a single number.

  • by AK Marc ( 707885 ) on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @06:40PM (#42341913)
    Even the people that "invented" IQ didn't believe in it. It was designed to be a simple and useful measure of relative "intelligence" between people. Intelligence wasn't fully defined at the time, and the test was rigged to try to be fair, even when it was found to not be. Just by changing questions, I can change the relative performance of identified groups (woman and minorities two common groups to target). That was always known, and there are other limitations. This isn't a new position, and I didn't see anything interesting in the article.

    Might as well be saying that shoe size is a myth because people have different widths for a particular size. That doesn't make the size a myth.
  • Re:Yeah, again. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by epyT-R ( 613989 ) on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @06:43PM (#42341945)

    'Social intelligence' like 'emotional intelligence' are just examples of political correctness types responding to the possibility that IQ measures something useful. This is why they rail against standardize testing of any kind in schools too. Insecure people don't ever want to be compared by any objective method.

    While I think there's a correlation with high IQ and high function, I don't think a single number proves jack shit by itself.

  • Re:True (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rakarra ( 112805 ) on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @06:44PM (#42341963)

    I have an IQ of 150, am a member of a 3 sigma IQ society. But I cannot remember names, and if I had to do manual skilled labor, I would starve to death

    Manual skilled labor doesn't have too much to do IQ. The 'skilled' part, but not the manual labor part. It should be noted that IQ shouldn't determine a person's worthiness or value.

    As for names, I can remember strange stuff. Chatting with my partner in the car, I could remember that Galadriel crossed into Middle Earth with Feanor after Morgoth stole the Silmarils and killed King Finwe. I then confessed that I didn't know what it meant that somehow I was able to remember Finwe's name easily, even though it'd been years since I'd read the Silmarillion, yet I had a hard time recalling names of co-workers I had worked closely with a few years back. What does that mean? How does THAT fit into 'IQ?'

  • by gnoshi ( 314933 ) on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @06:49PM (#42342037)

    Then there is the fact that there is 0 correlation between success in life and IQ

    Tell that to an intellectual disabled permos (defined as IQ 75 in Australia).
    It is a long way from a perfect correlation, but to claim there is 0 correlation is rubbish unless you are choosing some fairly bizzare measures of 'success'.

  • Re:True (Score:5, Insightful)

    by aix tom ( 902140 ) on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @06:53PM (#42342097)

    Definitely true. IQ is just a number. It measures the skill at solving a defined set of cognitive problems.

    But on the other hand claiming that "IQ is a myth" is just as claiming "Height is a myth" just because there is not measurable correlation between a persons height and their overall performance in basketball. The performance in basketball is just rooted in A LOT more factors than just height, the same way that "real life" problem solving skills and success is rooted in a lot more factors than just the IQ.

  • Re:lemme guess (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @06:57PM (#42342151)

    Considering how little is know about the brain, current scanning technologies are more like radio telescopes looking at the sky. You can look, compare, theorize, but can't get any closer for validation.

  • by poity ( 465672 ) on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @07:00PM (#42342199)

    They should just call it Pattern Matching and Spatial Reasoning Quotient. "Intelligence" is too ambiguous a term.

  • Re:True (Score:5, Insightful)

    by interval1066 ( 668936 ) on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @07:01PM (#42342213) Homepage Journal
    I have no idea what my IQ is, never cared, and this study shows I was correct in never giving a damn about it.
  • Re:RTFA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PRMan ( 959735 ) on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @07:13PM (#42342381)
    IQ is an extremely good way of measuring problem-solving abilities, useful in fields such as Computer Science. If your IQ is 100 or under, you probably aren't going to be a good coder, ever. Just like, if you are less than 6 feet, you probably won't be in the NBA, ever.
  • by amicusNYCL ( 1538833 ) on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @07:13PM (#42342391)

    Dogs can be trained to do a lot of things, and therefore can be very "useful". So people feed them.

    Cats almost can't be trained, they sleep or play around the whole day. An yet people feed them as well.

    People don't feed their pet dog because it can theoretically be "useful". They feed it for the same reason they feed their cat.

  • Re:True (Score:4, Insightful)

    by icebike ( 68054 ) on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @07:15PM (#42342417)

    That people have multidimensional interests, and skills, a fact that was well understood by the developers of intelligence tests, does not invalidate these tests for their intended purpose.

    This "new finding" is nothing more than a rehash of the criticism of lQ tests since the Pleistocene.

    But in truth, they were never intended as a single ruler to measure all dimensions of human intelligence, or the ability to learn. And, used as a general guide, they work quite well for their intend purposes .

    Apparently the last people on earth laboring under the misconception of the purpose of these tests were the authors of this study.

  • Re:True (Score:5, Insightful)

    by maxwell demon ( 590494 ) on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @07:38PM (#42342737) Journal

    Everyone has the same capability of being stupid, but some of us at times have a greater capability of intelligence.

    There are levels of stupidity which are inaccessible for most people.

  • This Is Ridiculous (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @10:00PM (#42343837)
    From TFA:

    "Rather, the study determined three factors â" reasoning, short-term memory and verbal ability â" that combined to create human intelligence or âoecognitive profile.â

    Uh... pardon me, researcher guys, but WTF do you think IQ tests typically MEASURE??? Hint: short-term memory, reasoning, and verbal ability!!!

    The idea that IQ is bullshit, is bullshit. There is a very long and well estblished, very strong statistical correlation between high IQ and all three of these factors.

    From what I read of TFA, whoever did the study doesn't know squat about prior research into IQ.

    Granted: no one number can measure everything. And IQ doesn't pretend to. There is still a great deal of debate about what IQ actually means, in regard to a person's overall intelligence. But what is known is that the statistical correlation is very real, and no single, shoddy study, no matter how many participants, will make that go away.

  • Re:lemme guess (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Runaway1956 ( 1322357 ) on Wednesday December 19, 2012 @10:32PM (#42344053) Homepage Journal

    Slashdot karma probably indicates different things for different people. Some people who post here are IT people, who bring a long history of mixed education and experience to the board. Other people are just interested readers who are excellent thinkers, and bring little more than intelligence with them. Other people manage to maintain high karma based on being funny. Some folk may not be especially smart, and may not offer a whole lot to any particular discussion, but they read much more than they write, so that when they do make a post, it's well thought out, and contributes something.

    A high karma rating really only indicates one thing, when all is said and done.

    You've posted some posts that were liked by more people than disliked.

  • Re:lemme guess (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 20, 2012 @03:30AM (#42345475)

    I maintain karma by being a snarky ass trying to be funny, but then I get modded insightful for some reason.

  • by L4t3r4lu5 ( 1216702 ) on Thursday December 20, 2012 @05:33AM (#42345825)
    One sentence paragraphs, starting sentences with conjunction, and splitting a subject between paragraphs are all signs of an imperfect grasp of English grammar, just as you are suggesting. By any chance are you a member of MENSA? ~
  • Re:True (Score:4, Insightful)

    by xenobyte ( 446878 ) on Thursday December 20, 2012 @05:45AM (#42345869)

    "The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter." - Winston Churchill

  • by jc42 ( 318812 ) on Thursday December 20, 2012 @10:17AM (#42347095) Homepage Journal

    So which story are you standing behind: Is IQ a single real thing which can be directly measured, or is it a statistical analysis of a variety of different factors like the researchers in this story are claiming?

    Is weight a single real thing which can be directly measured, or is it a sum of a variety of different body parts?

    A traditional term for this sort of question is "false dichotomy".

    We all understand why your weight isn't a very useful measure of size when buying shoes or gloves or hats, or just about any other article of clothing. Why is it so difficult to understand that the same might be true of intelligence?

Radioactive cats have 18 half-lives.