Dan Hurley, What Your I.Q. Means

I take the list below, “What your I.Q. means,” from an article by Dan Hurley in the NYTimes. Now, I’ve often heard that I.Q. is not important, or that at least we shouldn’t make too much of it. For we probably don’t, and with good intentions as well as good reasons, want to separate ourselves even further from one another in respect to our  I.Q.s. There are already enough things separating us without that.

And in fact, perhaps to minimize the importance of I.Q., we’ve even come up with seven or more intelligences in its place, thinking thereby that everyone is going to have a high or above average score in at least one of the intelligences thereby making I.Q. less important.

But then as Hurley tells us Mozart and Bobby Fischer had I.Q.s of 164 or more. And isn’t that important? For Mozart’s music, and Bobby Fischer’s chess game have brought great joy to many of us. And what could be more important than their sharing their great gifts with us. And I.Q. does seem to be a measure of their gifts.

But then we’re told that an I.Q. of 164 or greater occurs once in every 30,000 of us. That which means that there should be some 10,000 in a country of 300 million with Mozart or Fischer I.Q. scores. And in a world of some 7 billion people some 230,000. Yet how many Mozarts have we known since January 27, 1756, the year of Mozart’s birth, or since 1943, the year of Fischer’s birth. Only one of each. So something else is going on and I.Q. is not important?

For if I.Q. were so important shouldn’t we try to identify the some 230,000 or more individuals with that score who are alive today and turn the world over to them, much as George Bernard Show would have turned the running of Britain over to the Chinese. But when we think of Mozart, or even more so of Fischer at the helm then we think how unimportant I.Q. may very well be.

In Mozart’s case we wonder what is it that we are measuring by I. Q. It’s probably not musical talent, nor is it probably chess genius in Fischer’s case, because then the world should be hearing more music and seeing more chess from at least a good number of the other hundreds of thousands of individuals alive today with similar I.Q. scores. And that’s not the case.

What Your I.Q. Means –

116+ 17 percent of the world population; superior I.Q.; appropriate average for individuals in professional occupations.

121+ 10 percent; potentially gifted; average for college graduates

132+ 2 percent; borderline genius; average I.Q. of most Ph.D. recipients

143+ 1 percent; genius level; about average for Ph.D.’s in physics

158+ 1 in 10,000; Nobel Prize winners

164+ 1 in 30,000; Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and the chess champion Bobby Fischer.

One thought on “Dan Hurley, What Your I.Q. Means”

  1. Hi there, this is Dan Hurley, the author of the NY Times article. It was a little surreal to see my name in the title of your blog here, but you raise some good points, which I actually agree with. Although I wrote the article, I did not create the sidebar you refer to in which the editors listed various IQ levels and then associated them with various famous people. My point was certainly not to say that intelligence is the only important thing that matters in achievement. Determination, emotional resilience, and even opportunities matter. A very smart person stuck in some third-world slum is going to have a much harder time making anything of herself than someone growing up in a nice section of Paris or Tampa. But intelligence is part of the equation–only one part, but an important part. Not in everything, but in some things. If you want to get a PhD, you better be pretty darn smart. If you want to be a physicist, or a rocket scientist, it’s important. But wait a minute. Even if you want to write a blog, or even just live independently and hold down a job, you need a certain minimum intelligence. That’s why people with Down syndrome (a topic on which I wrote last summer) also need help with their intelligence. Anyway, thanks for posting your interesting thoughts.


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