How important is IQ?

The IQ test wars: Why screening for intelligence is still so controversial

This really is an ancient argument. The only reason IQ tests are a problem is that they have been misused as a means of classifying and stratifying individuals as worthy or unworthy, or to support racism.

So long as IQ tests are used in the context of the history and educational background of the individual, they can be a valuable tool in deciding what resources the individual needs to succeed in life, what educational services they would benefit from.

They can be helpful, so long as we don’t draw general conclusions about the results. They are measurements of mental acuity at the time they are set, but what the results mean needs to be considered carefully, given the circumstances of the test taker. They should be treated as a tool for medical intervention, or for catering to special educational needs and opportunities, not as a benchmark for assessing the value of a human being, let alone any race or class.

We have used IQ testing in the past to denigrate those classes and races that do not perform well on standardised tests, tests that were standardised on the basis of white male privileged education. As long as we keep that in mind, and use IQ tests as a means of improving opportunities for individuals rather than an excuse for classifying them, they are a useful tool.

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