A Lie That Became A Truth…

Opinion commentators erect ideological castles from the sand of legends and myths. Take Lawrence Richards, who wrote a popular essay attempting to explain the scale of the amusement that greeted the claims that David Cameron had committed unsavoury acts with a dead pig. It was, he said, one in the eye for the elitists who maintain their power through clubbish tactics while insisting that it is through merit. Here is one of his arguments on that theme…

Alumnus of Eton and former Bullingdon boy Boris Johnson said in a speech to the Centre for Policy Studies that the people with the highest IQ have the best jobs because they’re smart. Not only was this not even remotely true, Boris then ‘failed’ a live IQ test on air, yet persisted in the notion that kids who go to independent schools do well because they’re brilliant.

No, Johnson did not fail an IQ test. Here is one of the questions that was put to him…

A man builds a house with four sides of rectangular construction each side with southern exposure. A big bear comes along. What is the colour of the bear?

This would be an awful question for an IQ test because it relies on one’s knowledge of the natural world. Ironically, given that critics of IQ testing maintain that it is culturally biased, this is a clear example of weighting a question towards the educated. It is a poor measure of intelligence.

Nonetheless, commentators from the left and right have spent almost two years asserting that this non-event is a significant refutation of IQ testing, the concept of inherited intelligence or the idea of a meritocracy. Such bangers-on are either too ignorant to understand their data or too biased to think to check it. One should always give their castles a good shove in case they crumble.

About bsixsmith

I am a writer of stories and poems - published by Every Day Fiction, The London Journal of Fiction, 365 Tomorrows and Det Poetiske Bureau - and a columnist for Quillette, Areo and Bombs & Dollars.
This entry was posted in Media, Scepticism, Science. Bookmark the permalink.

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