Culture & Religion

Is Western Society Overly Fixated on “IQ”?

Donald Trump is an individual who is seemingly obsessed with IQ. A quick glance at his Twitter account summons a hearty selection of tweets referencing his Intelligence Quotient, which is peculiar given that he has never once produced evidence of his self-declared “one of the highest” IQs.

“Sorry losers and haters, but my I.Q. is one of the highest -and you all know it! Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure, it’s not your fault”

Donald Trump on Twitterin 2013

From challenging London Mayor Sadiq Khan to compare IQ scores, to threatening the college board with jail time should they release his grades, Trump appears to be rather devoted to this, arguably archaic, form of intelligence testing.

“Congresswoman Maxine Waters, an extraordinarily low IQ person, has become, together with Nancy Pelosi, the Face of the Democrat Party.”

Donald Trump on Twitter in 2018

“Joe Biden got tongue tied over the weekend when he was unable to properly deliver a very simple line about his decision to run for President. Get used to it, another low I.Q. individual!”

Donald Trump on Twitter in 2019

This may be a sign of an increasingly common fixation for many people, particularly those from demographics shown to display largest average IQ results. But, is this intense value placed on IQ actually detrimental? Do we place too much value on it? And how much can it actually reveal about a person or a group of people?

“I know some of you may think I’m tough and harsh but actually I’m a very compassionate person (with a very high IQ) with strong common sense”

Donald Trump on Twitter in 2013

“Robert De Niro, a very Low IQ individual, has received too many shots to the head by real boxers in movies.”

Donald Trump on Twitter in 2018

Plenty of graphs show us the correlations between IQ and career, income, and even mortality rates; this suggests that it may be worthwhile to investigate these correlations. Popular culture, including literature and films like “We Need to Talk About Algernon”, also frequently mention IQ, which is a product of a society which places so much emphasis on it.

The creator of IQ tests, a Frenchman called Alfred Binet, originally designed the tests to make it easier to screen school-children. Binet himself was sure to note the fundamental flaws with the system, warning that people should never rely on a number alone to determine intelligence. And this makes perfect sense: the simple, easy to compute nature of the test, surely, cannot just spit out a number to comprehensively represent an individual’s intelligence. Right?

As referenced earlier, the correlation with a higher IQ and more desirable data points like a “good” job, higher income, and a longer lifespan, encompasses one of the largest reasons why people can become unhealthily obsessed with IQ. They desire the ‘higher’ quality of living, as seen by most in our society, and the neatest way to sum up this want is through a want or display of a high IQ. Whipping out a 150 IQ can be intimidating and impressive. And thus, with more and more people finding a higher score impressive, the more and more importance we place on it. We are the issue and the cause, and it is intrinsic to human nature to aspire to be the best.

IQ is ultimately a very simplified way to communicate an extremely complex trait, one which we have yet to find an effective method of measuring: intelligence. This preoccupation with IQ might prevent us from searching further for a better way to represent it. Even practicing taking IQ tests can be shown to improve your score, which some feel undermines the entire concept of the IQ test offering a “meaningful, stable, and reliable measure of intelligence.”

Perhaps it is time, as a society, to get over this fixation on IQ tests.

By Maud Webster

A young writer & researcher specialising in STEM and current affairs, from Norfolk, UK. An aspiring Architect interested in helping to close the gender inequality gap within STEM fields. Can often be found in the library or watching trash Netflix shows.

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