Friday, August 04, 2006


I'm sceptical about IQ tests. They supposedly measure intelligence, but really they only measure the ability to think and reason. The notion of "intelligence" should cover a wider spectrum of abilities (see Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences). A high IQ doesn't necessarily indicate someone who is "intelligent" in the normal sense of the word.

Can you see what I'm getting at? IQ tests measure the things I'm not good at, so bah! The damn things are useless!


Yeah, but anyway... I just did this IQ test and my score was okay. If you want to try it yourself, you'll need pen and paper (it's self-scoring) and 45 minutes. There are 60 questions.**

Most of my incorrect answers were to questions I thought were easy (the ones comparing patterns). But here follows a question that I comprehended quite accurately right from the start (in the sense that I had no clue whatsoever and recognised this immediately).

#60: A fish has a head 9" [9 inches] long. The tail is equal to the size of the head plus one-half the size of the body. The body is the size of the head plus the tail. How long is the fish?

Possible answers: 27" - 54" - 63" - 72" - 81"

Here's how this went in my head:

1. (imagine a fish; cut the head off) "The head is 9 inches long."
2. (cut the tail off) "The tail is 9 inches plus a bit more."
3. (stare at the fish) "That leaves the body. It's 9 inches plus 9 inches plus a bit more."
4. (stare at the fish) "Okay. So where are we up to? 9 + 9 + 9 + 9 + a bit more."
5. (chop at a few outlying bits of the fish, hoping it will help somehow)
6. "Right. Don't panic. Focus. We've got a combined length of... what? 9 + 9 + 9 + 9 + a bit more, which equals? ...36 inches plus a bit more."
7. (congratulate self: good work) "Obviously the key to this is 'a bit more'."
8. (congratulate self again: great work) "How much is 'a bit more'?"
9. (stare at the fish) "And where was it?"
10. (stare at the fish) "Come on, focus!"
11. (stare at the fish) "Don't panic! Look at the fish!" (staring! staring!)
12. "What am I looking at?"
13. "What was the question?"
14. (sigh)

Oh, what the hell, though. It takes a certain kind of intelligence to know that if a fish is too big to fit in the oven, it should have been left to live peacefully in the sea. So.

** Note:

#29 deals with copper, iron, brass, tin and lead. You need to have a rudimentary idea of what these things are, or the question requires a guess.

#40 deals with US money. If you don't know it already:
penny = 1 cent
nickel = 5 cents
dime = 10 cents
quarter = 25 cents
half-dollar = (not telling; guess)

#58 deals with Imperial measurements:
inch = one twelfth of a foot
mile = 1760 yards
acre = 4840 square yards
yard = 3 feet
foot = 12 inches