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10 Celebrities With Genius Level I.Q.s

Mensa released a list of celebrities with genius level I.Q.s, Madonna and Shakira made the list with I.Q.s of 140. I have never doubted that Madonna was a genius. It was not surprising at all.

I.Q. or “Intelligent Quotient” is a tool used to measure intelligence. Those who score 140 or higher are considered to be geniuses. If you don’t score high on an I.Q. test, I wouldn’t worry. The I.Q. test is highly problematic as most tests are. They ignore race, gender, culture and class. The problem with this is that the way questions are articulated and the “correct answers” on them is determined by a specific kind of reasoning or cultural knowledge that is not instinctual to humans, so much as it is shaped by modern thinking.

As Malcom Gladwell pointed out in a New Yorker piece, after reading James Flynn’s What Is Intelligence, “The big gains [..] are largely in the category known as ‘similarities,’ where you get questions such as ‘In what way are ‘dogs’ and ‘rabbits’ alike?’ Today, we tend to give what, for the purposes of I.Q. tests, is the right answer: dogs and rabbits are both mammals. A nineteenth-century American would have said that ‘you use dogs to hunt rabbits.’ ‘If the everyday world is your cognitive home, it is not natural to detach abstractions and logic and the hypothetical from their concrete referents,’ Flynn writes. Our great-grandparents may have been perfectly intelligent. But they would have done poorly on I.Q. tests because they did not participate in the twentieth century’s great cognitive revolution, in which we learned to sort experience according to a new set of abstract categories.”

Based on the cultural precursors expected of the test taker, the I.Q. test favors affluent white males. I.Q. tests measure cognitive ability, which is really one small facet of a person’s ability. They do not measure things like linguistic, logical-mathematical, musical, bodily-kinesthetic, spatial, interpersonal, intra-personal or emotional ability, nor do they measure adaptability or resilience. I.Q. rarely predicts the behavior or future of individuals who have low or high ones. That doesn’t mean it’s not useful, it just means it shouldn’t be the only guideline (as it is often presented that way) in determining how capable, intelligent or successful a person is.

I have no idea how I would score on the test, of course I’d feel terrible if I got a low score but that’s really the point of tests isn’t it? To categorize people by imposing a standard that suggests these are the good ones and those are the bad ones. Creating a pecking order of human importance has never turned out well. Just look at, um, human history. Don’t even get me started on how I.Q.s were used a determinant for racial eugenics! Have you ever taken an I.Q. test? What was it like? Were you satisfied with your score?

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