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IQ's, Test-Scores, and the General Fuck-You - Salvador Dali in a lawn chair.
I'm invisible without 3D glasses.
IQ's, Test-Scores, and the General Fuck-You
On a sour note, I was reminded of one of my persistent pet peeves, if you will, my general distastes, if you won't. There aren't many things that can immediately drive me to anger and frustration. I usually try to examine the entire situation before I allow myself to emotionally respond. However, there is one thing for certain that can push me into a near frenzy.

I positively despise when people speak of their own IQ's or standardized test scores (SAT, ACT, pSAT, LSAT, GRE, GMAT, MCAT, Rubik's Cube), as if the number itself as if the number itself provided a legitimate claim for their intellectual superiority. I hate bragging out of general principle in most circumstances, but I hate bragging about something so petty as an IQ or test score even more.

IQ's mean nothing. Test scores mean nothing. They don't make you a better person, a smarter person, or a cooler person. Scores on a paper test have no intrinsic worth of their own. They are simply pieces of paper with numbers on them that serve a socially-engineered function of selecting or de-selecting children for specialized educational programs. People can either far outperform or under-perform the estimations of these sometimes seemingly arbitrary numbers. Tests are a necessary evil in a world of limited resources.

However, it is very common to see people, especially those who do find merit in their own achievements, to brag about their IQ's, go so far as to use their IQ as a basis for getting people to trust their judgment, or even more despicable, use their high IQ as a basis to ridicule others whom they think to be possessing of lesser intelligence. It's illogical, unbecoming, and rude. I have lost respect for even some of my friends, despite how much I like or love them or how much they've intelligence they've shown beforehand.

I don't give your opinions any more weight if you have, or think you have, a 180 IQ. Nor does the fact that you were a National Merit Finalist in high school and made a 1575 on the SAT1 vindicate your claim to superiority over the rest of the average joe-schmoes in the world.

Your IQ does not make you special. It doesn't not make you important. Your life, your intelligence, your opinions, your test scores, and your IQ are nothing until you've done something with it, given those meaningless numbers some value by putting action with the proposed intelligence claim. If you want to make me believe you or respect your opinions, you have to support your opinions with reason, logic, or even charisma. Don't just give me a triple-digit number and tell me that that qualifies you as smaaaaaarrt.

Hey, you should be proud of your accomplishments. Be proud of your good grades, the fact that you've done well in the past, and that you have great hopes of achievement for the future. If someone asks you what your IQ is or what you made on the ACT, tell them truthfully. Perhaps the impressive number will even make them sorry that they asked. Confidence is both flattering and attractive. Nobody likes a self-deprecating fool with their self-esteem at their ankles, constantly wallowing in self-pity.

But at the same time, I respect even less the pretentious snob who speaks so highly of their nose-bleed high IQ and who has the urge to qualify every statement with their supposed intelligence. If you were really as smart as you say you are, then you wouldn't have to tell everyone about your IQ to convince them. I suppose it's all similar to being cool. If you have to tell people that you're cool, then you're not cool at all. If you actually are smart, then your intelligence should be able to stand on its own feet.

My solution and request is this: Tell me how wonderful you are. I really do want to hear it. Talk to me of your opinions, of your past, of your dreams, of your future. Tell me what you think is wrong with the world, what you think of people you like and don't like. However, support those ideas and opinions with something that matters like your experience, logic, something you've read, or something you're writing. Don't give me an empty, meaningless number and expect me to be impressed.

1. As if high school really matters in the long term. If it did, half the U.S. population would be raging, babbling psychopaths, drooling on the corpses of all the people who used to pick on them in those...air quotes...sensitive years.../airquotes). What you did in high school can be remembered fondly or horribly, but it does not determine your overall success in life, much less your personal and professional self-worth. Take it from me. I was a grade-A, super-star badass in high school, but there are times when I've felt like my college career has been a complete bust. I'm still searching to find those same characteristics I used to have and find motivation again.

2. Because I know someone is going to ask or think this is written specifically for them, I'm going to explain what provoked my writing this now. On livejournal tonight, I read a friend of mine's journal. This friend didn't say anything to spark my anger, but it was a comment made by another person whom I don't even know that reminded me of my general outlook concerning IQ's and their most common use, shit-talking. I am not angry with anyone in particular. This is just a long-seated opinion that has been itching for me to write in my journal and commit to at least electronic paper.

mood: angry angry

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kacarson From: kacarson Date: July 28th, 2002 07:25 am (UTC) (link)

I happen to agree with you, L_A.

I couldn't tell you (even if I wanted to) what level my IQ tests at. I'm sure that at some point in my almost 23 years (it'll be 23 on August 1st, hint, hint...) my folks had it tested, most likely when I was very young. However, it never made much of an impression on a 7- to 8-year-old, and I haven't asked after it since... :-) AND, while I could spout standardized test scores, I'm not going to... On most of them, it's not what you know, but the test-taking strategies you use, no kidding.

A truer test, therefore, is what you do with your life. Make the best of a bad roll, and you're pretty smart. Snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, and you must not be... Or at very least, you're really unlucky
adara1031 From: adara1031 Date: July 28th, 2002 07:44 am (UTC) (link)
Good points, all of them. I knew so many know-it-all pricks in college that would brag about this and that when it came to test scores, but they were either such assholes that no one wanted anything to do with them, or they were so arrogent that wanted nothing to do with their peers. Needless to say, they didn't enrich the world by being a person... They were nothing more than a test score... a statistic.
On the other hand, I'm surrounded by intelligent people in my class, but what's so great about my classmates is that they all seem personable. None of us talk about class rank and test scores -- in fact, it's damn near impossible to get something other than the vague "I passed" from my classmates. So I guess for every ass that thinks s/he's all that because of a test score, there's a more modest counterpart that shows not only intelligence but a caring and friendly personality through their deeds. =)
lost_angel From: lost_angel Date: July 28th, 2002 05:46 pm (UTC) (link)
So I guess for every ass that thinks s/he's all that because of a test score, there's a more modest counterpart that shows not only intelligence but a caring and friendly personality through their deeds. =)

Yup yup, Adara, I agree with you completely. It's that type of person that makes humility and modesty virtues.

Just for the record, I don't have a problem with arrogance, especially if you can back it up. But I wish that people would be arrogant about something that bloody well mattered, you know?

I know you know what I'm talking about, but I can't say this to some people without looking like a total bitch or openly criticizing people who would never be open to criticism in the first place.
adara1031 From: adara1031 Date: July 28th, 2002 08:17 pm (UTC) (link)


You? come off as bitchy? huh??? Seriously, you seem to be much more tolerant of people than I am. But as for the arrogance thing, yeah, I agree. So what if a person scored 180 on an IQ test... if they're sitting on their ass doing nothing with it, then it's not doing them much good. =)
havoknkaos From: havoknkaos Date: July 28th, 2002 09:40 pm (UTC) (link)
Preach it, sista.

I was given the chance to skip 5 grades because of test scores. Dad said I wasn't worth the $35 for the test fee they'd given me without charging; but couldn't award the GED to the seventh grader without someone actually paying for it.

Would this have been a good thing? *ponder* I doubt it.

I'd have started college at 14. As it was, I did start college at 17 - again, because I dropped out of school in my junior year and got that GED. I've dropped out of college twice; it's been 7 years almost since I was last in a college classroom; save for two exceptions.

Test scores got me out of school; into college; and convinced that there was no reason I would actually have to work at my classes. Why? Because I scored highly, and everyone was doting on how good my scores were, how I'd have no problem. Out of two full-time semesters of college, I've earned a total of 9 credit hours.

So maybe the tests aren't so great. Because yeah, I got a ___ on the IQ test. And a ___ on my GED (the highest score in the county, ever!) And then a ___ on the ACT (higher than the class princess, which pissed everyone off) which got me scholarships. But I also got an F in college and a D in real life. Things you can't test for.

The two exceptions to setting foot in a college classroom? I worked as a janitor for Arkansas State University, making $8/hr, 40 hours a week, cleaning the College of Business.

And the time I walked into Dr. Maginnis' class and told him, "I don't have a degree, but I have 6 years of experience using Linux, and I need a job." No test scores. Just real experience.

*shrug* I got the job...writing test materials.
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