I have been interested in IQ for quite a few years now – especially due to its relevance in the forbidden topic of race. I was curious about discovering my own IQ as a result of this interest. The easiest and cheapest way seemed to be through Mensa but where I was living until recently made this difficult and it is only this year that I’ve had the chance to go through and do it. I estimated I would be above average but not by much and expected to be dragged down because of the way I struggled with mathematics and science in school.
I got the results and was offered the opportunity to join Mensa with my total intelligence score listed at 137. My quantitative intelligence was only slightly above average which was what I expected. This overall score puts me in the top 99th percentile (52nd for quantitative intelligence). If I understand correctly this means in a random sampling of one hundred people in the population, I would be number one or at least quite high. I did not know what to think when I got the results and I quickly reminded myself that it means nothing on a person to person basis. IQ generally correlates with life success but this doesn’t mean that everyone with a higher than average IQ will be successful; it just makes it more likely. In some cases, I understand it can make people less successful despite their potential.
Far from making me feel more confident or in any sense superior, my result got me thinking about what I had actually done with the potential I have. Not much, I would say. Imagine a person who is naturally muscular whose job is to stuff goose feathers into a quilt. Certainly, he is doing valuable work but he is not using his strength the way he could be. I have been wondering the same thing since getting the results.
Despite having an objective as possible evidence of high intelligence, I don’t feel like I have done much at all with my life. I was a fairly poor student throughout school and only made a real effort to improve in my final year when it really was important. I achieved a fairly average tertiary entrance score that was enough to get into the course I wanted. I went through University with consistently average grades with jumps here and there for subjects I was particularly interested in. I completed the whole thing and went straight into teaching which is a profession that requires average to above intelligence depending on the subject.
One of the problems I think is that with the natural potential I have, I am mainly limited in our society to white-collar work. Outside of teaching, I think of academia, government work such as an office clerk or really anything that requires a lot of paper work. While I do enjoy writing, reading, organising and problem solving, I don’t like it when I can tell that the work is largely superfluous which eliminates most of these jobs in my estimation. There are also other problems in this sort of work related to their politics, ethos, policies and guidelines which I generally find nauseating at best and nefarious at worst.
The above paragraph is just me making excuses though. The main problem is that I’m simply lazy. I have been lazy for most of my life and it is my fault. I do occasionally get bursts of passion and energy when something really engages me but I haven’t really ever developed genuine skill in any area. I have dabbled about when I’ve been interested but I can’t say I have ever put the energy into really getting my head around something. In fact, one of the reasons I started this blog was as a way to focus energy into improving my writing which I have been somewhat successful with though it won’t cover any bills. This fits in with the old joke about why people who can’t do anything become teachers. But I think this is somewhat unfair as teachers with boots on the ground (as in the classroom) are genuinely skilled in what they do – it is just the people above that cause them trouble for the most part.
So the main thing to take from all this is having an IQ is worthless if you don’t make use of that potential. A big pistol is useless if you keep it locked up and never get any ammunition. There are of course other problems such as what an acquaintance suggested was a tendency to shoot myself in the foot. What is meant by this is my tendency to notice problems and speak my mind. One should always be careful about doing this whether right or wrong. But ultimately I’m just lazy and that’s why.
As for Mensa, I did not join because I really don’t see any point in it. Being a member doesn’t really mean anything and I imagine it could be counter-productive if I mentioned such membership to a potential employer that was himself rejected. I suppose it might have been helpful for networking but I am guessing that most of the membership are squarely to my left politically and probably aren’t at all religious like I am.
And one final thing I have to wonder about. It is interesting that I don’t have much trouble understanding statistics the way so many do despite my very average mathematical ability. Think of the usual scenario where you tell a woman that 50% of blondes have large bottoms and the very offended (and very blonde) woman reacts by pointing out that hers isn’t. But to answer my own observation, understanding statistics is related more to logic than raw mathematics. Which is also why my IQ doesn’t matter on its own but does in population groups.