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IQ Myths

Ever since the first IQ test was made by French psychologist Alfred Binet in 1905 and the term "Intelligence Quotient" was coined by American psychologist Lewis Terman in 1916, IQ has been the most discussed topic across the globe. IQ has fascinated many eminent scientists and psychologists around the world and several studies and researches have been conducted on it. Although there is no argument over the fact that a person who has a high IQ is considered as a genius, yet there are several myths related to IQ.

In this article, I will discuss with you the myths associated with IQ and also provide you with the evidence that negates it.

Myth: IQ can measure intelligence.
This is the first and the most common IQ myth. Majority of the people tend to confuse themselves between IQ and intelligence.

A person is said to have a high degree of intelligence if he or she can quickly adapt to new surroundings and act according to the immediate demands of the new situation. If that person is successful in overcoming all the hurdles and in the process acquires some specialized knowledge from which he can benefit immensely in his future, he is declared as an intelligent person. Intelligence is just a relative term. It cannot be measured. On the other hand, IQ is a "measure of relative intelligence which is determined by a single or a set of standardized test." IQ is a mathematical ratio.

Myth: IQ is fixed; it doesn't change.
The second most common IQ myth is that a person's IQ never changes. People who are found to be academically poor in their childhood are tagged as one with low IQ for the rest of their lives.

Since IQ is a ratio, the number changes depending on what a person learns. A study at Michigan University led by Swiss postdoctoral fellows Susanne M. Jaeggi and Martin Buschkuehl has revealed that at least one aspect of the IQ - a person's fluid intelligence can be improved. Fluid intelligence depends upon short-term memory. The researchers gathered four volunteering groups and provided them with auditory and visual cues that they were supposed to store and recall. The training session would be held for half an hour after a gap of several days. The researchers found that the volunteer's fluid intelligence would go up after every session.

Myth: IQ depends fully on the genes of a person and is hereditary.
This is also a popular myth. People have this misconception that IQ is solely the product of good genes. A child born out of parents having low IQ will also have low IQ. Besides, they also believe that this IQ will never change.

We all know that IQ comes from a combination of both genetics and environment. Experts believe that the genes affect our IQ by 40 to 80 percent and the remaining comes from external environment. Now, just think what will happen if a person is kept in isolation from all external stimuli? What will be the proportion of their intelligence coming from the environment? Obviously zero! Isn't? Hence, the more stimuli a person gets from the world, the more is their intelligence based on the environment. It is, thus, proved that IQ is not fully depended on the genes and it does change based on the environment. Besides, studies have also found significant increase in IQ from one generation to the other. It increases 21 points on an average in 30 years.

Myth: IQ is restricted to a single parameter of intelligence.
Since there many types of intelligence and some people are good at something and some bad in that thing, most people have proclaimed that IQ is just restricted to a particular type of intelligence.

IQ covers all types of intelligence. It deals with the general mental ability. Research has shown that different types of intelligence are highly correlated and IQ measures this relative intelligence. In short, smart people tend do well on most tasks, while a dull person fails to do most of those tasks.

Myth: IQ is a racist term and minorities have low IQ.
This is a myth prevalent mostly among the minorities who unfortunately have low IQs. These people have unanimously declared that IQ is a racist term used for discriminating the minorities.

We all know that IQ is not entirely genetic and is very much dependent upon the surrounding environmental changes. Low IQs of the minorities are more likely a result of discrimination in education and the atmosphere in which they have grown up. It has nothing to do with Europe or Asia, White or Black, Christians or Jews etc. It is always possible that a white person can have a low IQ and a black a high IQ and vice-versa.

Myth: IQ is not important; it doesn't matter at all!
This is the last and the most deadly myth of IQ. Many people have this false notion that IQ is not required for success in life. Success depends more on personality, motivation and hard work.

Personality, motivation and hard work are needed for success in all our endeavors, but these are primary requirements. The basic and the most important requirement for success is at least an average IQ. It is IQ that is the best predictor of a person's capabilities. Moreover, it is hard to measure motivation while personality measures can be faked. Generally, it is IQ that is incredibly used for choosing employees at work place or students at a school. Hence, IQ does matter and one has to work upon it.

I hope the evidences and justifications which I have presented before you must have shattered all the IQ myths and cleared several of your misconceptions regarding IQ. However, it is quite unfortunate that a huge number of people, despite being able to see the differences between myths and realities, are still eager to promote these IQ myths for gaining their selfish ends.

To sum it all, I can just say that there have been many controversies concerning IQ and its meanings, and the controversies are likely to continue. But no one can deny that if you want to be a genius like Einstein and Newton, you need to have a high IQ. This is because Einstein and Newton were considered genius only for their extraordinary IQs that was far superior to the general mass.

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