I was out to dinner with Matty and Natasha a couple of weeks ago, and the subject of IQs came up. Natasha said, and I agree, that people with high IQs who are told what they are as children almost always turn out to be douchebags. (See: Gabe from Intervention.) To this day I don’t know what mine is.
Mensa makes you take a preliminary test before they can deem you worthy of taking the actual entrance exam or not. The point being, I guess, that they can weed out the total lunkheads and not waste their time or have to come into physical contact with them. I took this test once, more out of boredom than anything else, and passed. The next step was for them to mail me a list of times and locations in my area where I could take the entrance exam, should I be interested. But when I got it, my last name was misspelled so badly that I decided against it.
I was once tested as a child, in 1st grade, to see if I qualified for my state’s GATE program, which was 2nd-6th grades. I did, so I guess I did okay on the test. They wouldn’t tell you what your IQ was though, they would only tell your parents and it was up to them to decide if they wanted you to know it or not. My mother decided not to tell me. I don’t know if she had a similar “knowledge of high IQ = potential future douchebag” hypothesis, or another reason altogether. I’d ask her, but I’m in my mid-30s now and I doubt she remembers.
It’s weird, I have so few memories of my childhood, but I remember a lot about that test. The tester’s name was Nestor, and he called himself “Nestor the Tester”. He made me string beads of different colors and shapes to demonstrate my grasp of pattern recognition. And he showed me a picture similar to the one above, and asked me what was wrong with it. I studied it for a moment, then answered “The man’s shadow is on the wrong side”. His eyes practically bugged out of his head, and he said no one ever got that one right.
But here’s the thing: I didn’t know for certain at the time that that was the right answer. It just seemed the most likely, out of all possible answers. And ever since then, I’ve kind of felt like a fraud, like I’m not really as smart as people think I am; I’m just good at faking it. It’s maybe why I get so defensive when I’m questioned about anything, I take it personally because I feel like I’m being called out.
But lately I’ve been thinking about that, and I’ve come to realize that educated guesses are a large part of intelligence. When I watch Jeopardy!, I’m able to answer a lot of the questions, about 90% of them for most episodes. And it’s not because I know for certain that, say, Genghis Khan conquered the Khwarizm empire (present-day Uzbekistan) in 1219. It’s just that I’m able to pick up on certain key indicators — Mongol, 13th century, -stan — and figure out what the most likely answer is.
So I vow to feel less weirdly guilty about my intelligence from now on.
(By the way, none of the above entry is to brag. I’ve done nothing with my alleged high IQ, probably because I totally lack ambition and self-discipline, and it’s certainly never made my life any easier.)