Do IQ Tests Measure Intelligence?

AJM said:

I think “IQ tests accurately measure intelligence” is a simplistic statement, which may not be true. If a person only speaks French, but you give him an IQ test in English, he may score zero. You may say of course the test must be in the language native to the person being tested, but there are many subtle issues relating to a cultural group which the designer of a test may not allow for. A hunter gatherer may be able to climb a tall tree and gather honey from a wild bee hive, which likely involves quite a lot of intelligence, but he might not be able to answer questions about abstract things or things that are common knowledge to people who grow up in a different context. A hunter gatherer has the intelligence to survive in his own environment, where a city person with a PhD might be dead in a week. I suspect that different races have evolved over long periods to adapt to their environments. Intelligence is likely adapted also, as much as physical adaption. IQ tests may focus on different aspects of intelligence which a person from a particular race may not have his greatest strengths in. It is many years since I did an IQ test, and it is not a subject I know a great deal about. I just feel that designers of IQ tests may have egg shaped heads, and may often make assumptions about the test subjects experience and environment which may not be true. I don’t think a “one size fits all” test would work to compare persons from different cultures, races, and environments.

There are tests now like Raven’s Progressive Matrices that are so culture-fair that they utilize no language whatsoever. It’s all pattern recognition and whatnot. IQ tests line up very well with life success, grades in school, occupational status, degrees achieved, and tests of reaction time, head size, brain size on MRI, and a test for well the brain utilizes glucose metabolism. Reaction time and glucose utilization tests are tests of raw neurological speed and efficiency. Head size and brain size increases with rising IQ. The higher the IQ, the better the grades and the more and higher degrees one gets. Looks like it lines up pretty well with tests of brain size, speed and efficiency along with the things we associate with intelligence in a modern society. That hunter-gatherer has interesting skills, but now many of them are living in cities where their honey-gathering skills are useless? How useful is that “ability to survive in the wild intelligence” in a large modern First World City?

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67 thoughts on “Do IQ Tests Measure Intelligence?”

  1. isn’t the iq head size correlation like 0.2? if so, how much of the black-white phenotypic gap can be explained by head size? Not much I imagine..??

  2. On MRI, the correlation in raw brain size is a lot higher, maybe .45 to .5.
    I am not sure, but as far as head sizes goes, largest to smallest heads:
    Asians -> Whites -> Blacks.
    Highest to lowest IQ’s:
    Asians -> Whites -> Blacks.
    As you can see, they do line up.

    1. Yes, I know they line up, even despite overall body size and mass going the other way.
      If its .4 or .5, that’s really something. I’d like to know how much of the gap it explains…

    2. They brought up this subject on “Django Unchained” where a plantation owner had a skull of a former black slave on his desk.

        1. The theory of evolution is from the 19th century too.
          If there are average size differences, there are average size differences. You don’t deny the group differences in height do you?

        2. But it isn’t. The correlation between brain size and IQ on MRI is .42. That is pretty good.
          As far as head sizes goes, largest to smallest heads:
          Asians -> Whites -> Blacks.
          Highest to lowest IQ’s:
          Asians -> Whites -> Blacks.
          As you can see, they do line up.
          It looks like there is something going on here. I don’t really want to get into comparing the different races on heads, but I would like to pitch the idea that head size and especially brain size is correlated with IQ.

        3. Any time you deal with head size and IQ, your also talking about development. Just cause you got prime real estate, doesn’t mean you put a hotel on it. As with Aesop, sometimes the turtle beats the rabbit.

      1. if you could judge somebody’s iq just by looking at their head size, nobody would ever be able to judge somebody’s iq from their race…just look at that individuals head, whatever their race. Even if there is an average difference, some blacks would have heads way above the Asian average.
        Its not that easy to tell somebody’s iq from their head size of course…and there will be individuals with small heads and high iqs.

        1. Chuck wrote in 2011:
          “My guess is that a lot of the difference is environmental; based on Beals there is a ~1.2 SD average difference between Africans and Europeans; between African-Americans and European Americans the difference is maybe ~.3SD at most and some of the data shows an AA advantage. It’s hard to say.”
          .3sd difference in head size and a 1sd difference in iq between white and african americans.

        2. but of course the European African iq gap is like 1.5-2sd with a 1.2sd in head size…so where does that leave us? with more than a 0.3 sds of the white black gap explained by head size i assume.

          1. Yes the race, brain size, IQ stuff is a bit messy, but you are a graduate of the social sciences. You know social science data is often messy and scattery, simply because you are dealing with humans and there is so much variation that is hard to measure.

        3. Yes the correlation is weak in come cases. Vietnamese have some of the smallest heads of all, and they have high IQ’s. Kenyan heads are as big as Italian heads = Italian IQ = ~100, Kenyan IQ = ~70. Eskimos have the largest heads of all, but they have 91 IQ’s.

        4. Have you ever seen that guy on Youtube who is supposedly the smartest man in the world? He has worked odd jobs his whole life, plumber, bar bouncer, logger. One thing that really sticks out about him is that he HAS A HUGE HEAD.

        5. yeah I saw that video. He has piercing eyes too.
          I read the start of some philosophy paper he wrote. It was pretty intense and hard to follow. He has some philosophical conception of God.
          It would be cool to believe he really is the most intelligent person in the world but I doubt it. Most people haven’t been tested.

        6. n yeah something seems simple then you look into it and its messy and complex and its difficult to find anything out for sure because there’s always another possible explanation that somebody comes u with…white people have bigger brains, hey maybe black people’s brains are wired in a way that compensates for the size difference so brain size is related to iq within but not between races. Doesn’t really seem likely but you how do you disprove it?
          I keep saying, this issue of race and iq will only be resolved, if at all, by the hard sciences ie genome wide association studies etc.

    3. If you go backwards you get the dick size, lol. In other words, as they say in math, an inverse relationship.

      1. Much has been made of this.
        Head size and IQ:
        Larger heads: Asians -> Whites -> Blacks
        Higher IQ’s: Asians -> Whites -> Blacks
        Penis size:
        Larger penises: Blacks -> Whites -> Asians.
        As the brain grows bigger, the dick grows smaller and vice versa.

        1. I thought the dick size differences were because of testosterone differences but not sure. not sure how that relates to brain size…?
          Gorillas and Chimpanzees erect penises are 1.5 inches and 3 inches respectively, according to slate.

        1. “Yes Asians have large heads relative to body size, correct. If you spend a lot of time around them, you will notice this.”
          you can notice it just sitting on the bus. there is a fairly big Chinese community where I live and loads of Chinese students.

        2. My head measures 62cm, but i’m almost 6’2 with a very prominent brow. My dad -who is white- has an exceptionally large head and brow, I suspect his performance IQ is around 120-125 because he invented a gas purification system which earned him a 6 figure income.

        3. I never measured my head, but I have measured my dick many times. I tell gf’s that, and they can’t stop laughing. “You actually measured your dick!? LOL!”

      1. The brain cavity is the actual measurement. Frank Galton? No? The other thing was Jay-Gould who tried to misrepresent the original study? That virtually everything has been invented and designed by egg headed whites, I think we have the answer. The Physical Anthropologists were simply looking for evidence that backed up what was happening in reality. Why do white people happen to have trumped everyone else? Brains?

    1. Men have bigger brain size than women on average….. But not many men win more than 10% arguments with their wife and live to tell the tale.

  3. I wonder what the correlation is between head size and brain size, i suspect it’s quite high. So why then is the correlation between head size and IQ not a lot higher?

  4. There also might be an inverse relationship between intelligence (head size) and happiness. The less intelligent are more happy.

      1. If that’s true, then why do white nationalists want to enslave or kill the less intelligent? Could it be envy of happiness?

      2. My philosophy professor said the most happy people accepted their lot in life. For instance, somebody with a low IQ might not strive for jobs better than fast food. However, they’re happy, because they don’t suffer from the frustration (as Buddha said) of constantly striving for higher goals.

  5. Notice that people from advanced nations go to simple cultures and admire happiness present in those places, often paying thousands of dollars for a vacation. When somebody retires, then where do they go? Some third world place with happy people and beautiful women.

    1. People go to lots of places when they retire.
      I don’t believe that the less intelligent are more happy but I think people are more cheerful in sunny countries. I think it affects the culture. take Australians; they are basically Brits with a more sunny disposition. I know that I sometimes feel happier and more motivated when the sun is shining.

      1. People probably drink more in cold countries too. I don’t know but Brits drink a lot, Finns drink a lot and Russians do. In southern Europe they seem to take it easier and there is a less hostile atmosphere, people just amble around and have a few drinks, drink a bit of wine. In Britain, if you are in for a penny, you are in for a pound.

        1. Men drink a lot worldwide, including in the 3rd world where they also drink like fish. For instance, Filipino men are constantly drinking heavily and smoking.

        2. There are national differences in alcohol consumption and there is quite big variation. As per the stereotype, the Irish do drink a lot.

        3. Koreans drink a lot. That’s also a cold nation, well, most of it. Irish drink a lot, but resent the negative stereotype.

  6. I guess what were asking is the purpose of life. Considering everybody dies within 100 years, intelligent and non-intelligent, then what will make people live a fulfilling and happy life. Even among the intelligent, they don’t know everything. Some high IQ people can’t do Calculus. They may never know how to do it, or care to learn it. Does it make them less of a person? Among the so called “low IQ” people, well, do we really know what they know? They might know a lot. They just can’t prove it with a college degree.

    1. I’d rather have an 80 iq and be happy than a 120 and be miserable. I think. Yeah. And its true intelligence isn’t the same as wisdom.
      I just felt like expressing an opinion you might actually like for once.

      1. Agreed, and also we have to rethink IQ. Life is all about survival. Putting bread on the table. If a low IQ person in the third world can fish and hunt for his family, then that’s pretty smart. What good is Calculus on the TV show “Naked and Afraid”? It would take just as much street smarts to find edible plants, as it would to do physics.

        1. Nobody is saying those things aren’t valuable but when most of us live in modern cities, a person’s ‘ability to handle complexity’ is a major factor in their success in life in numerous dimensions- education, wealth, health, staying out of trouble etc.
          There is also something valuable about having the intelligence to wonder and to inquire and gain a batter understanding of things.
          Also, it is due to the extremely intelligent that we have modern science and technology and medicine, whatever you think that is worth.
          I do think the pace and stress of life has increased and people probably have been happier living a more simple life (when the circumstances were right- living in a positive culture, having a good supply of food, not being massacred by a marauding army).

        2. Especially I think our society is too materialistic and not spiritual enough. Just because I am defending IQ and its applications in modern society doesn’t mean I think modern society is perfect or that intelligence is everything.

  7. One of the great scientists of the 20th century Richard Feynman was an infectiously joyful person with a great passion for science and he loved women, got laid a fair bit. On the second link, which is a great documentary, he is having a grand old time playing drums. I said I would prefer a low IQ and happiness than the opposite but I would most like to be intelligent and happy.

  8. IQ test don’t measure certain types of talent, like musical talent – apart from music with a greater mathematical emphasis, like classical music. Black people are clearly the most gifted at creating catchy and memorable pop music. White people are a close second, yet their IQs are higher. Asians seem to be themost gifted at classical music, yet their ability to create pop music is pitiful.

        1. If i said summer is hotter than winter, would some one be naive enough to respond, ‘oh but i once had a cold day in summer’, as if that one exception would disprove the generalization.

    1. Most of the popular music I like most was made by white people, although black people were integral to the development of rock n roll, n blues etc. The two best lyricists imo are Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen, both Jews, who have high iqs, especially verbal.

      1. I think some genres outside of pop, like rock and metal, may require a higher IQ, be it verbal or spatial. I don’t know much about music theory, but i’m surprised a seemingly complicated genre like jazz, doesn’t seem to require a 125 + IQ in order to be a genius at it.

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