Often we come across people whom we label as intelligent. We even go ahead with designating different nicknames to them. No need to mention, humans derive a lot of thrill in comparing and ranking each other's brains. But as it turns out, historically, we are utterly poor at such a task.

What is wrong with intelligence testing

We have a dark and shady history associated with intelligence testing. In the 1900s, eugenicists used the test to judge people for sterilization. The eugenicist had this belief that aim to improve the genetic quality of a human population by excluding certain genetic groups judged to be inferior, and promoting other genetic groups judged to be superior (Nazi's were amongst them).

These tests were nothing but biased cultural tests aimed at establishing their pre-existing stereotypes (confirmatory bias).

It is highly problematic to reduce the term intelligence to a single numerical test score. It's a lot trickier to define intelligence than to assign nicknames.

This has contaminated the education system

Our present-day reality is not much different, isn’t that often we assign the one who scores 'higher marks' or performs academically well as intelligent. No surprise, education has become a mere hub of business factories with all the coaching centres promising 100% results. With everyone blindly running the race to crack the examinations. The obligation to win this race is immense. But what follows when one gets left in the rat race. India Today reports that 8 lakh students are suiciding each year in India. Failure in examinations led to 2,413 suicides by students in 2016, or seven every day, accounting for 25 per cent of student suicides.

The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) in its 2015 data made a shocking revelation that in India, one student commits suicide every hour.

Clearly, our education system does have many loopholes. But what is it that makes the person wonder his own self-worth based on a single examination, what makes them question their intelligence, their being, and their own existence itself.



Where does intelligence come from?

Intelligence is one of the hotly debated topics among psychologists. Primarily, the never-ending nature and nurture debate.

Is IQ already present in our genes, something that we are born with (hereditary) or does it develops after we come into this world due to environmental factors (nurture).

From what we know today, intelligence, don't get influenced either by genetics or environment, but by both. Evidence that comes from studies that include family studies, twin studies, and adoption studies establish the influence of both genetics and environment in intelligence. Heredity can be best viewed as something that sets a range within which an individual's development actually shaped by the support and opportunity of the environment.

There is much more to the story!

However, there are still many underlining factors that we don't fully understand and are questions for research. How elements like personal history (trauma), cultural background or conditions like poverty, access to education and stress work. How or by how much amount they affect intelligence. As far as testing is concerned, starting with the least, for a test to be a good measure it needs to be standardized, reliable, valid and must be free from any prejudice or stereotype.

Was "Sherlock Holmes" Intelligent?

The famous fictional character, Sherlock Holmes has a high level of cognitive intelligence i.e. analytical skill, reasoning skills, abstract thinking, he was able to capture very fine details from the environment and derive a pattern or meaning out of it with such ease. But he was insufficient in a particular area of intelligence. Any guesses what was it?

Many psychologists believe that standard measures of intelligence (IQ) didn't encompass the full range of human intelligence.

Gardner proposed the theory of multiple intelligences, including musical, interpersonal, spatial-visual, and linguistic intelligences, etc., suggesting people may have different strengths in these areas. Intelligence generally refers to the cognitive intelligence measured in terms of IQ (Intelligence Quotient). But there are less tangible forms of intelligence like Creative intelligence and Emotional intelligence (which sounds more like an oxymoron to common understanding)

In spite of the high IQ level, Sherlock Holmes struggles when it comes to dealing with people when it comes to dealing with emotions. What he lacks is emotional intelligence.

Why it is important for you to be aware of mental health

Emotions are part of your intelligence

Emotions and intelligence seem to be a completely different entity. Historically, we were told to keep our emotions at bay (or rather shut them down) if we need to succeed whereas, for intelligence, they seemed to be much desirable in the workplace environment. Thanks to the recent years of development in research, much of the narrative has changed. In times where we are surrounded by machines and artificial intelligence, the need for emotions is deeply felt.

Emotional intelligence is measured in terms of EQ (Emotional Quotient) (ADD link: to know more refer to the article Emotional intelligence). There are ongoing controversies and debates over the reliable standardized test to measure EQ but despite that, its importance can't be disregarded.
Many experts believe that EQ can play an equally important role, if not more than IQ in how well people fare in life.

"When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion." ~Dale Carnegie

Looking at future ahead

From what we gather is that no single test at present date can capture the immense scope of human intelligence and assigning a numerical value to that makes it all the more complicated. There is an endless variety of tests that measure different elements of intelligence (some of the most famous, Raven’s Progressive Matrices Test (fluid intelligence test), Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale  (full-scale test), Stanford-Binet test. etc.).

The important thing to remember, the next time you ace a test and give it the significance of life or death, understand that you are much more complicated than that.

Don't let a number make you fly or drag you down. Just don't let a number define you or your worth.

What we need to realize is that we all have room for improvement. We all are full of infinite surprising potential and even more.