Study: undergraduate students now of average intelligence

Oh I definitely dont :wink:

However, in the very specific case of intellectual disability it’s a usefull metric, but only one of many specific tests. I absolutely agree general population IQ testing is basically useless.


Not saying you you, that was the abstract, conversational “you.”
(Figure you knew that, just clarifying.)

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I’m going to venture in here cautiously because I’m one of those folks who sometimes experiences disagreement as argument and I like you. And because I don’t want to miscommunicate, I’m probably going to be wordier than needed so I apologize ahead of time!

I think you’re falling victim to the hype of the IQ zealots and maybe reacting to the marketing they created. Those of us who are reputable and use IQ today, and have studied it in the last 10-20 years, disagree with so much of how it was marketed and developed that the IQ discussed by most current psychologists doesn’t much resemble the IQ discussed even 30 years ago. The application within the field is far different today than it was in the past and the application outside of psychology and education often still lags into the past where it was oversold.

Imagine if, 100 years ago, someone developed a way to measure blood pressure. They then sold that idea to a bunch of racist elites as part of a whole eugenics movement and portrayed blood pressure as the most important vital sign, and one which could tell you everything you need to know about a person. Then flash forward 75 years and the field has evolved. All the racist garbage has been discredited, the eugenics angle has been dropped. But blood pressure somehow stayed en vogue as being a thing that was used to evaluate something more than just the amount of pressure inside blood vessels. The professionals working in the field in the final intervening 25 years were trying really hard to say “no, it’s not a perfect measure of total health…no, it can’t predict lifespan…no, it can’t give you superpowers…it’s just a useful measure of this very specific thing.” Of course, the history hasn’t gone away and all the preceding 75 years are now common knowledge both in and outside the field. So now, anytime some physician notices something about how blood pressure works, the folks who report on it present it as “blood pressure can predict your date of death” or something similarly overblown. Because the marketing hype has taken on a life of its own. And in the meantime, the current crop of reputable physicians is trying to say “no, that’s all outdated and we don’t think that anymore.” Of course, they’re undermined by the Dr. Phil’s and Jordan Peterson’s of the profession who still kind of miss the old days of the eugenics movement.

That’s what it’s like to be a psychologist today, who sees the limited utility of IQ and understands those limits. Thats very much how my mentors feel too, as even the neuropsychologists who trained me are very clear that IQ is not what we used to think but does still have some utility. I wish we’d change the name as a field to drop the ugly history and the misinformation that keeps getting perpetuated, both by shady psychologists and by those outside the field who’ve absorbed the history. But we insist on keeping the term, so we have the baggage whether we like it or not.

Sorry for the lengthy post and I hope I’ve presented a cogent argument that maybe those of us who still look at IQ aren’t as worthless as phrenologists, since we do know the limits of what we’re looking at. And on topic…this seems like another example of bad reporting and unclear information related to psychological science. It’s endemic in the field I’m afraid.


I mean… that sounds great? Too bad college is so expensive though, but I don’t really see why I shouldn’t be happy that people of average intelligence or who IQ test slightly below that are also getting degrees? I also don’t see why I should assume the degrees are of lower quality?


I am familiar with how it is used professionally. This is not how it is being presented here. IQ (or, more properly, IQ’s, as there are a multitude of different characteristics measured on different scales) can be useful in assessing appropriate interventions. But there is no unitary measure of “intelligence” as such, and the use of those stupid questionnaires to determine who is “worthy” of college prep classes or support in the college admission process is (IMHO) malpractice. To use an analogy from a different area where I am very familiar, I was an All-American swimmer in college. I have not one ounce of athletic ability or coordination. (I chose swimming primarily because you cannot fall down while swimming.) What I had was I was too stupid to quit when it hurt. I just got mad and worked harder. This lead to beating lots of folks with far more talent and ability than I had. Had there been an “athletic quotient” test, I would have been left behind very early. I work very closely with the psychologists and therapists here, and feel quite comfortable with the way they use and interpret what are popularly known as IQ tests, although you will not find them using that term. This sort of application/propaganda infuriates me mostly because it implies (where it does not outright state) that there are certain identifiable classes of lesser-thans who can be safely disregarded when it comes to education. Like lots of things in the world, the overly simplified, popular understanding of a thing bears precious little resemblance to what we use in the profession. But that popular “understanding” (much more so misunderstanding) needs to be called out when it appears. I certainly did not mean to degrade your profession, only to point out that this usage of an “IQ measure” is useless and inappropriate.


Relatively few people are of average intelligence.

The troublesome outcome is that nearly half the people in college have less than gen pop average IQ (which is not intelligence, but may be correlated with educational outcome)

Well, within 1 standard deviation they are.

Nah. More people are getting some book learning, which is just fine.


To be honest, the article feels like a way of telling lots of people they shouldn’t go to university because they don’t deserve it, or whatever.


I have heard that as an argument against financial assistance in college as well, since it “drives up the price of college and allows kids who don’t belong there to reach above their station.” (That is a direct quote, FYI.) Inappropriate use of metrics is inappropriate.


Even if the IQ test was a good measure, today’s tests are not using the same standard. The common Stanford-Binet LM has not been updated and the Wechsler scale has ceiling effects in the 135-139 range so they can’t be fairly compared.

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Happy Excuse Me GIF


Yeah, but… IQ is eugenics bullshit, so… who cares?

We should all have access to as much education as we can handle, of whatever kind we’d like… give ALL kids the fundamentals, and let them make choices that bring them joy and happiness. I’m really tired of living in a world where racist bullshit rules the day, and where we’re all sorted into categories of “worthy” or “not worthy”… we’re all worthy and we all should be able to spend our lives learning, because that’s a thing of joy and beauty, for all of us.


Quiet, peon!
And back to work, you’ve just used up today’s bathroom break time.


Nicely put.

Alfred Binet, the inventor of the IQ test in 1904, must’ve caused a few minor earthquakes by spinning so hard in his grave.


Binet was forthright about the limitations of his scale. He stressed the remarkable diversity of intelligence and the subsequent need to study it using qualitative, as opposed to quantitative, measures. Binet also stressed that intellectual development progressed at variable rates and could be influenced by the environment; therefore, intelligence was not based solely on genetics, was malleable rather than fixed, and could only be found in children with comparable backgrounds.

Can’t find a clean online summary, but I read in “The Mismeasure of Man” by Stephen Jay Gould that Binet’s sole focus with the IQ test was to identify children who needed assistance at school. He stated that above-average test results were meaningless, because the test wasn’t designed to rank high-achievers.

When the subject comes up, I point these things out, and conclude that “IQ tests do, however, very accurately measure one’s ability to perform IQ tests.”

ETA: I read further in the thread and see this was covered. Carbonated beverages all around!


I graduated UCLA in the top 3% decades ago. And, what I can tell you is that if you go in dumb, you come out dumb. Likewise, if you go un smart, you usually come out smart, albeit, with a little indoctrination thrown in.

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Think of how dumb the average person is. Now realize that by definition, half of them are dumber than that.

Pedant mode on:
No, that’d be the definition of the median, not the average.
Averages might be skewed by small sets of outlier data.
Pedant mode off.

IF some conditions are verified - e.g. a uniform, or Gaussian distribution can be assumed, as is often the case and probably this one - that’d be the same.


IQ doesn’t work like that though. The median IQ will always be 100, even if everyone is a genius compared to now. A supposed decline could indicate an increase in intelligence.

I’ll leave the discussion on the numerous other problems with IQ tests for another time.


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