AN 11-year-old black child has joined Mensa after scoring higher than Stephen Hawking, Bill Gates and Albert Einstein in an IQ test. Ramarni Wilfred started showing signs of genius as a toddler, when his favourite book was an encyclopedia. He could read and write by the time he started reception at school and last year, at the age of 10 and still in primary school, wrote a philosophy paper on fairness that earned him a 2:1 and a mock Oxford graduation. Prof. Hawking, Microsoft founder Gates and Einstein all have 160 IQs. Ramarni scored 162, putting him in the top 1% in the UK. Children hold the future. Like if you respect intelligence This really made me proud.
“people should have to take IQ tests before they vote” ok but what if instead we required privileged rich assholes to take a test to prove they have compassion for their fellow human beings or at least a tenuous grip on right vs. wrong
I’m really unbelievably tired of (mostly male) characters being “redeemed” from their bad attitudes, bad manners,
poor treatment of other characters, etc. by the big reveal of their supposed genius.
Being intelligent (no matter how intelligent) doesn’t make a person worth more than anyone else. It doesn’t excuse any of those things. It isn’t a get-out-of-jail-free card for bad behavior, and having other skills (no matter what they are) doesn’t justify never prioritizing learning how to not hurt the people around them.
It’s not an excuse.
And I think this is especially important to bring up for (mostly white) male characters, because actual men outside of fiction are excused by society in the same way that narratives excuse them in fiction. As long as they’re perceived by society as being “more important” than other people (which they already are by default if they’re men, and even more so if they’re white, etc.), any inappropriate, harmful, or offensive behavior toward other people is excused.
The excuses are always that it would be “hard” for someone who is SO INCREDIBLY GIFTED to… be kind? Show compassion? Consider the effects of their actions on others and act accordingly?
Fundamentally the trope is ableist (by basing someone’s worth around their mental capacity), with undertones of classism and racism (in the same ways that IQ tests are classist and racist), and it perpetuates a narrative of male privilege and entitlement.
And by the way, if you were reading this post and thinking “Is this about [specific male character who does this]?” then the answer is yes.
So, last semester at uni we learned about intelligence and how it’s defined and measured in tests.
The most common test design focuses on four aspects seen as main parts of intelligence - perceptual speed, working memory (also falsely known as short term memory) capacity, perception bound logical thinking and simple linguistic understanding. If you score low on one of these aspects, it can greatly impact the IQ-score-result.
Perceptual speed mainly focuses on how fast your brain can work with information. Working memory focuses on how much information can be memorized over a short term (like e.g. a string consisting of seven numbers for a minute). Perception bound logical thinking focuses on the ability of an individual to recognize certain patterns and to apply them. And linguistic understanding mainly focuses on simple word-recognition and so on (e.g. answering questions like “which day comes after Tuesday?”).
Autistic people struggle with different parts of cognition and thus intelligence, while we tend to exceed in others. This can greatly mess with our IQ-Scores, depending on which part of intelligence is measured.
For example, I had to take a usual test once in which all four aspects were balanced. My personal weakness is the working memory span, even more when I’m supposed to memorize auditory information. However, I have a super high perceptual speed and I’m also really good at perception bound logical thinking like probably a lot of us autistic people.
Thus, my talents exceeded my shortcomings and I got a rather high score.
Recently, I took a test which focused more on working memory and I had a really damn low score.
What I want to say by this anecdote is that intelligence how psychology describes it is nothing but a theoretical concept. And that the “intelligence” a person has depends highly on how the test was made and which deficits a person has.
I met people that I would describe as highly intelligent, who, however, scored really low on an IQ-test because of their personal deficits.
This also further shows that the concept we have of intelligence is highly ableist in many aspects because those deficits don’t always have an influence as big as these tests suggest on actual cognitive ability.
And because those deficits are not taken into account when the tests are applied on disabled people. It’s like letting a person in a wheelchair race against people who practice running twice a week - it’s an unfair competition to begin with and the wheelchair user doesn’t have a fair chance to begin with. (I really hope this metaphor is not ableist, I just really don’t know what kind of different example I could use to explain this concept. If you feel offended by this, please feel free to let me know and maybe, if you have the time, give me advice on what else to use so I can edit this post.)
Thus, saying that autistic people often aren’t as “intelligent” is simply like stating “people with disabilities that affect their ability to walk can’t run as fast as people who aren’t disabled in that way”.
And furthermore, seeing the IQ result as the be-all and end-all of intelligence is a wrong conclusion to begin with because science has not an effing clue what intelligence actually is. (Our prof literally said “IQ-tests measure what they measure and there is no evidence whatsoever that what they measure is actual intelligence. They just measure what we decided we would define as aspects of intelligence without an explanation why we even see these aspects as factors that could play into whatever intelligence actually is.”)
As early as the 1920s, researchers giving IQ tests to non-Westerners realized that any test of intelligence is strongly, if subtly, imbued with cultural biases… Samoans, when given a test requiring them to trace a route form point A to point B, often chose not the most direct route (the “correct” answer), but rather the most aesthetically pleasing one. Australian aborigines find it difficult to understand why a friend would ask them to solve a difficult puzzle and not help them with it. Indeed, the assumption that one must provide answers alone, without assistance from those who are older and wiser, is a statement about the culture-bound view of intelligence. Certainly the smartest thing to do, when face with a difficult problem, is to seek the advice of more experienced relatives and friends!
Jonathan Marks - Anthropology and the Bell Curve