IQ tests disregard diversity


Rochita Ghosh

Flashes of colors appear before my eyes as the test administrator flips through card after card of varying shapes and hues, asking me what comes next in the pattern. For the first few questions, I play along with the game, but a lightning bolt of realization soon struck me; a realization of how little I cared about the pattern, of how utterly ridiculous the entire situation was. So much apathy developed inside of me for the patterns of shapes, prompting me to start selecting the next shape at random, unmotivated to put forth the effort in analyzing the card.
I was chosen for an unbelievably prestigious opportunity to participate in the Missouri Scholars Academy, but many others were as well. In order to narrow the selection, the coordinators of the program imposed upon us an Intelligent Quotient (IQ) test; the most infallible way to prove if a person was smart enough to continue on with the program, of course.
The art of picking shapes is standard practice for such tests, but it doesn’t stop there. Not only did the administrator ask me to select a shape, but she also requested for me to rearrange colored boxes into a certain shape, and asked me how two certain words were related to each other.
Who knew that dream and reality — both completely opposite concepts —  had something in common?
Who knew the intelligence of a person could be determined through selecting a shape? IQ tests may measure only convergent thinking, according to Cengage Learning, but it’s not like there are different types of thinking — what an odd thought. Divergent thinking, which characterizes creativity, is totally worthless compared to convergent thinking. There’s only one way to see a problem, only one right way to think, right?
The IQ test is a product of the 20th century and was first a request by the French government, which wanted a way to determine which students would most likely face difficulty in school, according to a paper written by Thomas Hally. A noble cause, of course, as what person doesn’t want to help people succeed?
After all, only written assessments can determine learning difficulties. Why examine their behavior in class and at home, something that has proven to be more effective at diagnosing specific learning disabilities according to the American Psychological Association? A test, obviously, will tell exactly what a person needs in order to succeed.
Since the IQ test was a result of benevolent intentions, there’s no way people could have used it against others. The United States government later applied the assessment onto incoming Jewish and Southern European immigrants in the early 1900s, and the results proved the beliefs that these immigrants had a “surprisingly low intelligence,” according to Hally. Therefore, the government deported the thousands of people only searching for a better life, on the basis of being “unfit” for America.
The fact that the test was in English, a language that said immigrants did not understand, definitely did not play a part in the results. Even if a person doesn’t know a certain language, that’s no excuse for failing a test written in said language. It’s obvious that these immigrants were less intelligent than the rest of America.
This is just a thing of the past, of course. Like every other invention, IQ tests have undergone a series of improvements and some psychologists believe that these efforts lessened the bias against groups of people that are in a more unfavorable position. Sure, Caucasians may score better than African-Americans and the rich higher than the poor, according to a Neuroethics blog sponsored by Emory University, but these discrepancies are merely coincidence. This doesn’t indicate any sort of education gap between these groups of people.
For years past and present, people search for ways to measure intelligence, as seen through IQ tests and their improved successors. These methods continue to elude researchers, for everyone’s brain works in ways foreign to anyone else. Yet a number is completely definitive of a person’s intelligence and capabilities, right?
The IQ test does not properly show how smart a person is, and, for this reason, people should not take it seriously. I admit, the test is alluring, similar to the appeal of the many quizzes on the Internet that say what Hogwarts house a person belongs in or what type of mythical creature someone is. The difference between these quizzes and an IQ test is that the former is meant for jovial purposes, while the latter was made with the idea of determining intelligence.
Intelligence is not a trait that can be quantified. Countless factors play into its creation in each person, making each person’s intellectual level unique. When I look at a collection of shapes, another person might see a pattern that I may not, and vice versa. This does not mean either party is inherently dumber — it only means that we think differently from one another.
There is nothing wrong with having a style of thinking that isn’t what is suggested by society. Were everyone to only be able to process convergent thinking, global progress would come to a standstill since everyone would be thinking the exact same way on a problem. Unique paths of thought encourage progress, and should not be constrained because they aren’t a certain path — instead, they should be celebrated.
What is your opinion on IQ tests? Leave a comment below.