May 9th, 2006

Cautious Pessimism

It was fake

The thing is, I had just submitted my answer to question #24 when the guy yanked the quiz and put up his fairly accurate indictment of the intelligence testing business. Awesome! I can add "first guy to discover the IQ Challenge was fake" to my Internet resume now.

Here's the thing: when I was younger, grade 11 I think, I went in for some kind of "learning testing." Not actually intelligence testing, just some general mind wizardry to figure out if I had ADD or ADHD or whatever the hell they call it now. You get two one-on-one sessions, a few hours at a time, with a psychologist who gives you a ton of brainteasing activities, ranging from "arrange the patterned cubes to match this card" to "repeat a series of digits back to me in order and then backwards" and perennial favourite "memorize what this blackboard says and then write it down again from memory." Naturally, the heads-up aspect works much better than the faceless paper or computer test that so many people put stock in; the psychologist can observe the subject, ask them questions about their learning techniques and patterns, and get a really good idea of how their mind works.

We discovered that I was in the 99th percentile on every type of learning except for trying to copy something down that was written while also listening to someone talk, which is apparently a learning disability just specialized enough to give me bad grades in high school while not qualifying me for extra time on exams. We also discovered my intelligence quotient, but she wouldn't tell me, because of some kind of privacy issue. In retrospect, maybe it was a reasoned decision made by the company that did the testing based on precisely the kind of arguments that Mr. Fake-Q Test brings up. I don't remember and it's too late at night to ask anyone who would know.

So in the car, I mention to my parents, "it was pretty cool finding out about my brain, but I wish she would've told me my IQ."

My dad says, "it's 160."

It turns out that as my mother and I were speaking to the psychologist in the lobby, my dad snuck into her office behind her back and took a peek at my file, which was left out in the open on the desk. There it was, clear as day. 160.

I can't honestly go and claim that as fact. Maybe he didn't see the right number, or maybe he just made it up for whatever reason. But as far as I'm concerned, my father was the smartest person in the room, psychology degrees and learning tests be damned. So forget testing. There's no such thing as a test for street smarts.

Also: it amuses me that the guy who drew the rabbit banner also draws Shetland pony cheesecake for commissions. If there was a test for street smarts, the people who could make a living selling pictures of naked anthropomorphic animals would probably rate pretty high.