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On my ineptitude, travel and IQ tests.

I’m going to Toronto tomorrow morning. My dog Niko is moving to a whole new continent, and I’m going with him, just to make sure he makes it there safely. I’m a little nervous, not because I am in any way afraid of flying; I was only 6 weeks old when I took my first flight, and have taken hundreds of flights since then. Nothing remarkable has ever happened. There have been a few drunken and belligerent people, but there’s drunken belligerent people pretty much everywhere.  Anyway, I am worried for Nick though. I’m sure he’ll be safe, but I worry that he will stress and/or freak out. I also worry because I was the one to put together his travel-cage.

There are some things I am pretty good at. There are many more that I am absolutely useless at. For instance, I have a degree in agriculture, and if there is one thing I know virtually nothing about, it is agriculture. I somehow managed to get through three years of schooling without learning much of anything, and I think it says something about myself, the educational system, and the (sorry to all of those who find agriculture thrilling) boring nature of agriculture.

I am also (as previously mentioned) completely  unable to comprehend instruction manuals, no matter how simply written. Just look at the abomination below:

This is the instruction manual. My mind cannot process or even begin to comprehend what it wants me to do.

This is the instruction manual. My mind could not process or even begin to comprehend what it wanted me to do.

It took me about an hour and a half to put the thing together, and at one point, I had several parts I didn’t know the function of. I put them where the instruction manual told me to, but I am still not sure what they do.

What is this? What function does it serve?

What is this? What function does it serve?

I finally got the cage/box together though, and it looks like this:



It may very well collapse mid-flight and I sure hope Niko will be ok when it does..

Anyway, that brings me to the topic of IQ-tests.

I would likely receive a  high-ish score, both because I am somewhat academically inclined, but also because I know how they work (knowing what I know, I would cheat. It is a sad realization, but let’s be honest. I would TOTALLY likely cheat and I’d probably feel pretty smug about it too). I am nevertheless useless at tasks an average 9 year old would have no problems carrying out.

I have, as previously mentioned, tested IQ in a research setting. And, if there is one thing testing IQ teaches you, it is the uselessness of IQ-tests. Case in point: the two highest scoring individuals I tested were (long-term) unemployed, and one of them was homeless. I don’t mean to carve on the homeless or the unemployed, but people seem to assume that a high IQ is linked to great success. It is not. IQ-tests tap into how you may do academically. That is,  if you’ve been taught to think like a westerner; if you have had access to resources (read, money/education) and most importantly, if you have the motivation and drive to do well.  Motivation is key Without it, you’ll get nowhere (unless you’re one of those who were born into money. Some people make money simply by existing and having a recognizable name, but they don’t count. Or, they shouldn’t anyway). Regardless, the homeless guy had plenty of intellectual ability, he just wasn’t motivated or moneyed. Someone with an IQ considerably lower than his, but with higher motivation, would likely do much much better in life.

Another problem is that the tests are timed, and I find this to be problematic stupid. Who cares if it takes you 2 minutes, 20 minutes or 2 days to arrive at an adequate answer, as long as you eventually arrive at said answer? I bet it took Galileo, Descartes, Curie (did you know she was Polish? She was! I always assumed she was French), Somerville  and Einstein quite a while to come up with their respective theories/research findings.  ”Hey dummy, why so slow?” doesn’t really apply in those cases. So, timing intellect seems pretty silly and thoughtless when placed in context, no?

IQ tests are also culturally biased. They have been used to oppress and marginalize people who deserved better, and I personally think they should be made away with. But that’s just me.

Thanks for reading, I really appreciate it :)


2 thoughts on “On my ineptitude, travel and IQ tests.

  1. Javier

    Great post, as always, Susan! Good luck in your trip and also to Niko!! My late german shepherd´s name was Nikita!! (Luc Besson´s La Femme Nikita, I LOVED that dog!!)

    I was a victim of several IQ-tests when I was a kid and once in collegue, I didn´t like them or care for them much, I have experienced (thirdhand of course) that there is a certain degree of social recogntion (or rejection) and academic acceptance (two of the collegues I applied to made that kind of tests, we have no equivalent SAT :)) related to your results.

    I think that high IQ most of the times is an obstacle (in business you have to be very narrow oriented, nevermind the bipolar possibilities or existencialist distractions :)) that an advantage to achieve average or above average monetary success, in few business circumstances is a powerful tool but I believe is more a combination of factors that the high IQ itself.

    IQ is a romantic (sometimes cruel and unfair or just plain inaccurate) notion and propostion of what society should look, desire and measure, admire or fear, and that often happens with scarce situations, resources or abilities, the so called intelligence in this case, very misleading indeed.

    Thanks for posting!!

    Best Regards Susan!!

    p.s. I will be working on my “How good, trustworthy and altruistic person you are coefficient test/matrix” :)

    1. admin Post author

      Hi Javier! :) I completely agree that a combination of factors is the key to success; in business, some level of ruthlessness seems to be (almost) a necessity for great (monetary) success. The “Trustworthy-Altruistic-Good Scale/coefficient” (I had to rearrange the letters; the TAGS works while the GTAS is more difficult to work with ;)) is a totally a worthwhile project, I’d love to parttake in developing it! :D

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