Sunday, September 26, 2010

Can you build a jungle shelter?

In reflection of this past week, one idea mentioned in lecture particularly stuck in my mind. This was the question of how accurate is quantitative research when attempting to measure intelligence? I recently finished reading an excellent book, Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond, and he makes a funny observation about IQ tests. He states that IQ tests "measure cultural learning and not pure innate intelligence" (20). Using the example of New Guinea, Diamond states that their idea of intelligence is one's ability to build shelters out of jungle materials or mentally memorize a map of terrain, etc. This is much different from Western society, which values math/language skills instead. So, how effective is an IQ test? Can one's intelligence be measured through quantitative research? I'm not sure of the answer myself, but I realize that many parts of society vouch for their accuracy. For example, while I have never willfully done an IQ test, I have been forced to take part in numerous intelligence tests. In grade 2 my parents had me take the gifted test. In grades 3, 6 and 9 (like many of you, I'm sure) I had to participate in the EQAO testing. I think it's really interesting that measuring intelligence is constantly being attempted, and I have to wonder what institutions do with the kind of information they receive.

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