I recently watched this fantastic video called “When Ideas Have Sex” by Matt Ridley. It made me question why we even consider IQ to matter in the first place.
He suggests that our entire progress as a species, as well as the astronomical increase in living standards we have seen over the last 200 years rests on our unique ability to exchange both material goods and ideas.
“I’m not interested in the debate about IQ, about whether some groups have higher IQ’s than other groups. It’s completely irrelevant. What’s relevant to a society is how well people are communicating their ideas, and how well they’re co-operating, not how clever the individuals are…it’s the interchange of ideas, the meeting and mating of ideas that is causing technological progress, incrementally, bit by bit, however bad things happen”
So does IQ even matter?
I’m sure that like me you some people who might score high on an IQ text – but they refuse to consider the point of view of other people and remain inflexible. By the same token, other people might score low on an IQ test but remain open to new ideas and can approach issues from different perspectives.
Although there are conflicting opinions in the scientific community about whether IQ tests predict creative achievement (CA), a 2008 meta-analysis found a significantly higher relationship between divergent thinking tests and CA than IQ tests and CA. More recently, researchers investigated children’s ability to create new raven’s progressive matrices (rather than simply measuring their ability to solve them), and found that problem solving ability is not a precondition for creative reasoning, and that these two skills require different abilities.
In light of this evidence, of what value is it to judge or even attempt to measure a child’s IQ? An over emphasis on IQ might even be detrimental to a child’s overall creative and divergent thinking abilities, something that I noticed that Adrian has touched upon this week.
The world we currently live in allows virtually everyone (not just the educated or the rich elite) to share their ideas with the world, collaborate with others, and contribute to this “bit by bit” progression of civilization.
An excellent example of this is our.windowfarms.org, an online community set up by people interested in growing vegetables in the windows of their small city apartments hydroponically (i.e. pumping nutrient solution to the roots of the plant rather than growing them in soil).
Through the process of collaboration, sharing ideas, and a “research and do-it-yourself” ethos, this community progressed from generally inefficient and crude methods of hydroponic farming to developing continuously improving window farming methods.
As the internet changes the way we organize ourselves and interact, projects like our.windowfarms.org and www.ikeahackers.net will become more commonplace, and qualities such as openness, creative reasoning and experimentation will begin to supercede the narrow, convergent IQ centered type of intelligence that our current education system places such a high value on. Our education system needs to change accordingly.