The absurdity of IQ

Assume that we came up with a test for athletic ability. We would have athletes take a standardized test in a variety of sports and award them an ‘athletic quotient’ based on cumulative performance. We would then award a gold medal to athletes that performed the best.

Doing that would totally ruin the Olympics. And yet, this is exactly how we treat cognitive intelligence by using the IQ test.

Cognitive intelligence is specific – an accomplished painter, a literary savant, a PhD in molecular biology and a Michelin star chef are all exceptionally intelligent people in different ways. And yet, a standardized measure of intelligence would fail to acknowledge their brilliance in their respective fields.

Intelligence is specific – like ice-cream flavours. To attempt to summarize it with one metric is like trying to mix all the different flavours and assign a score based on how the unsavoury concoction tastes.

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