Why IQ Tests Make You Dumb


Have you ever taken the IQ test? In my experience “Smart” people absolutely love the IQ test. They can see how much they know and see how smart they are compared to other people.  This, of course, results in them rubbing it in your face. For this very reason I’ve avoided taking the IQ test my whole life (yes that even includes the free pop up ad ones online). I’ve had my fair share of smart friends and know that if given the information that I scored lower than them on some random IQ test, they would eat it up and I don’t feel like giving them that satisfaction. I also don’t need a test to tell me my potential.

To me it seems pointless, to know how much you have the potential to do. By taking a test and looking at the results you are saying that you are only so smart, and you can only produce so many good answers. In reality, all of us have the potential to do anything we want.  The IQ test makes many people small when all of us are giants who have yet to awaken, we are in the prison of perspective handed down to us by society.  If we want something bad enough, our IQ will be yet another thing we simply break through to get it.

A New Way of Looking at IQ
Dr. Howard Gardner Decided in 1983 to develop a new way of looking at intelligence by breaking it down into types of intelligence. These were the groupings he decided were appropriate for describing types of intelligence:

1. Naturalist Intelligence (“Nature Smart”)
2. Musical Intelligence (“Musical Smart”)
3. Logical-Mathematical Intelligence (Number/Reasoning Smart)
4. Existential Intelligence
5. Interpersonal Intelligence (People Smart”)
6. Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence (“Body Smart”)
7. Linguistic Intelligence (Word Smart)
8. Intra-personal Intelligence (Self Smart”)
9. Spatial Intelligence (“Picture Smart”)

Recently the idea of intelligence as a whole has been turned on its side.  I agree that this is appropriate and needed.  I remember talking to friends who thought they were stupid because they failed a math test in high school and college. I would remind them that they were not stupid if they failed at something, and were also not stupid if they were not good at one particular skill set.

There is no person in the world that is good at everything. Michael Jordan can shoot basketballs, but can he knit the best sweater in the world or play the star spangled banner on trumpet? These same friends that may have failed in math excelled in music and the arts, they were able to communicate more effectively with friends and other students, yet they felt dumb because of a math test. Let’s get real here! Warren Buffet, the richest man in the world said this about making investments and math:

“If you need to use a computer or a calculator to make the calculation, you shouldn’t buy it.”

My friends who failed a math test in calculus could still be the best investor in the world. The IQ, like these math tests, is not important to your success.

The Problem with Intelligence
The problem with intelligence is that it cannot be defined. A test, a book, or an opinion will not justify your true intelligence. Each us are given gifts that are beyond the scope of a few questions on a sheet of paper. Each of us don’t even know how good we are and the potential we have.

The very word intelligence creates two categories: The haves and the have nots. If you are a have not, you lose hope in your abilities and think you don’t have potential. This is where you are wrong, and this is where the world needs to reassess how it judges intelligence.

IQ Questions I’d Like to See
More than your ability to answer math questions or find patterns I’d like to have an exam that tests your ability to realize your potential. This exam would open your eyes to what you’ve been doing and make it possible to learn the best possible outcome in many REAL LIFE scenarios, not useless theories.

Here are some questions I think would be appropriate:

If given the opportunity to pursue your dreams would you:
a. Get a career and forget about them.
b. Do what your parents have told you to do.
c. Try them, but give up within a year.
d. Make it your life’s purpose to achieve them.

If you were in a bad relationships would you:
a. Stay with that person.
b. Complain a lot and stay with that person.
c. Complain even more and stay with that person.
d. Remove yourself from the relationship.

You’ve just failed at a business and have gone bankrupt do you:
a. Start another business right away.
b. Find a job and settle for the rest of your life.
c. Evaluate what you’ve learned over the course of the next year and make changes accordingly.
d. Go around telling everyone that starting a business is the dumbest idea ever because you failed.

If you could pass this exam I would value your judgement more than if you got a 130 on your IQ test.

One Size Doesn’t Fit All
Growing up we all take the same courses have the classes and are judged accordingly. Even worse many schools have gifted and talented that magnifies the divide of the haves and have nots of intelligence. In elementary school I distinctly remember not being a part of gifted and talented program along with how it made me fell… like shit.

Each child and adult is completely different and by judging them via a face value approach you’re doing them a complete disservice and not thinking critically about them. Rather you’re thinking like the majority of society. Similarly if ar person does not have money it doesn’t mean they don’t have intelligence. Was Mother Teresa not intelligent? With each person you meet take a chance to get to know them and you’ll discover that although they may not have a high IQ they have dreams, skills, and abilities you would’ve never seen without stopping to ask.


Scoring High on an IQ Test is a Bad Thing
I like being an underdog, someone who is told that they can’t do something. This motivates me to prove them wrong and show myself that I can accomplish whatever I set my mind to. A test that determines your mental net worth is something that would jade a lot of people,much like rich people who’ve become jaded by their money. If you score high on the IQ test it doesn’t change your life, it won’t make you any more or less successful, but it will rub your ego and inflate you above others. This thought – the thought of being better than others is something that actually creates a weakness. Thinking you’re smarter and better than other people is a one way ticket to being unsuccessful in life.

All You Really Need to Know
All you need to know is that you can achieve anything you want in life. The most important ingredient for this success is not your IQ, it’s your determination and persistence to work consistently towards whatever it is that you desire.

“Money grows on the tree of persistence”
-Japanese Proverb-

So next time your friend reminds you that their IQ is higher than theirs, simply smile, nod and persist to become more successful than them.  Genius without work ethic is nothing, average intelligence with work ethic is more genius anyways.

Image from Piper

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4 Comments on "Why IQ Tests Make You Dumb"

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Great Post Ryan! I was given an IQ test when I was 8. Apparently I did well because my parents tried to send me to a special school, but I pitched such a fit about leaving my friends and the school we all went to, that they relented. I have since decided that I am just good at tests. It has nothing to do with”smart.” I take the tests online and never get the results because I have never been willing to give up my cell phone number, etc, and the truth is I didn’t care, I just enjoyed playing… Read more »
Bytta@151 Days Off
I think many people misunderstand the virtues of intelligence. In my understanding (and through experience), intelligent people are capable of grasping numerous concepts (new and old) thoroughly and quickly. The depth and breadth of concepts are what challenging them. This skill requires great amount of logic (to process information), memory (to store information), language (to communicate information), inter and intra personal skills (to apply information and decision) and maybe others. Note that people with higher IQ will have better chance (not guaranteed) to improve their EQ because they are able to grasp the concept of inter-personal and intra-personal skills better… Read more »