“FUCKING MORON” DOESN’T QUITE DESCRIBE TRUMP
Does anyone remember national headlines covering stories about the President being called “a fucking moron” by the Secretary of State? I mean, until this past week? Well, if you didn’t know you can’t remember, though you can try now. But the high low drama only got deeper when President Trump’s response was to talk about how he has the higher IQ score. But to make matters, ahem, measurably worse, both of their metrics are flawed. In other words, an IQ test is a bad measure for Trump and anyone else besides.
MORON, IDIOT, IMBECILE OLD TECHNICAL TERMS, BUT MORON WAS FOR FORREST GUMPS
Let’s first address the nomenclature of moron. First let’s dispense with the boring details, which are that the terms moron, idiot and imbecile were all technical terms for people with cognitive disabilities. Just over a century ago anyone with an IQ under 30 was literally labeled an idiot. People with Down’s syndrome were once called Mongolian idiots. But the term moron was coined by the Psychologist Henry Goddard to apply to people that might be in the range of the fictional character Forrest Gump.
These words are all obsolete as medical terms today, and they should probably be retired as insults too. But what if we just stick with IQ scores? Is it fair to prove your intelligence by dueling with pencils and paper?
IQ TESTS A BAD MEASURE, SCORES CAN CHANGE WITH EDUCATION, BIASES BY RACE AND CLASS BACKGROUNDS
Yes, if you only care about intelligence in its definition as “what intelligence tests measure.” But even though these tests are supposed to capture some kind of innate smartness, they don’t reveal an absolute truth about your inner self. “Your” IQ can change over time and with education. IQ tests can also carry racial and class biases that mean some test-takers score lower than others because the test was written with a certain type of person in mind. Intelligence test makers are constantly trying to make their tests better and more fair, but there’s a major problem: no matter how the test works, it’s trying to boil down all of “intelligence” to a single number.
AN IQ TEST CAN HAVE CLINICAL VALUE, USUALLY FOR TRAUMA VICTIMS OR DISABILITY ASSISTANCE (NOT FOR FUCKING MORONS)
A high IQ doesn’t mean you’ll make better decisions, or learn things faster, or be more successful in school or in life. So, in that sense it doesn’t matter what your IQ “really” is. Well, sometimes it does. Here’s one chilling explanation I found on Quora, from psychologist Julie Gurner:
As someone who has given [intelligence tests], they are not (as you say) “bullshit.” Here’s why:
- They often determine when a child/adult is eligible to receive disability benefits or assistance. (down syndrome and other cognitive disabilities)
- They can determine learning disorders to help children/adults get the assistance they need to function more effectively.
- They determine who is able to be executed (in America)
- They are able to help individuals after brain injuries to determine where their areas of weakness are and what has been affected – particularly if we have a baseline…so it can help determine specific areas of rehab.
But, I am talking about real Wechsler IQ tests…not the crap you find on the internet.
Those are some very real results based on how we interpret the arguably fake quality of an IQ test. Here’s another take from psychologist W. Joel Schneider, who told Scientific American:
IQ is an imperfect predictor of many outcomes. A person who scores very low on a competently administered IQ test is likely to struggle in many domains. However, an IQ score will miss the mark in many individuals, in both directions.
Should we be angry at the IQ test when it misses the mark? No. All psychological measures are rubber rulers. It is in their nature to miss the mark from time to time. If the score was wrong because of incompetence, we should be angry at incompetent test administrators. We should be angry at institutions that use IQ tests to justify oppression. However, if the grossly incorrect test score was obtained by a competent, caring, and conscientious clinician, we have to accept that there are limits to what can be known. Competent, caring, and conscientious clinicians understand these limits and factor their uncertainty into their interpretations and into any decisions based on these interpretations. If an institution uses test scores to make high-stakes decisions, the institution should have mechanisms in place to identify its mistakes (e.g., occasional re-evaluations).
Hear that? Maybe we shouldn’t put blind trust into IQ test scores for high-stakes decisions. Like, perhaps, deciding who is the best person to negotiate us out of a nuclear war.