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IQ means more -- and less -- than we think it does

Since the beginning of time, mankind has been trying to advance itself and its surroundings. But to advance our surroundings, we first must understand what makes us human.

Intelligence isn’t only how we see and understand things; it’s so much more. "IQ" or intelligence quotient, is a number that tells us how cognitively efficiently a person functions. For example, the IQ of the average American is 100.

Most people think the IQ has to do with how smart a person is. But IQ isn’t that easy. It doesn’t have to do with how well a person scores on a test or how many big words a person uses when they talk, it has to do with much more.

IQ can be affected by age, the gross amount of sleep a person gets while they’re still developing as a child, and even how often a person gets sick.

Most people have slowly growing IQs through childhood that plateau around the age of 20 to 25, and then very slowly decrease as a person ages. Generally speaking, if a person is admitted to a hospital frequently on "sick visits," their IQ can drop up to 5.54 units.

It’s quite difficult to guess one’s own IQ correctly, since the only way to know for sure is to get tested.

When people submit themselves to testing, they go through many variations of matching, memory and problem-solving stages. Those free online quizzes you see in your Google searches unfortunately aren’t the real deal, they just put spam in your inbox.

The idea of an IQ was invented by Franz Gall, a 19th century phrenologist. Phrenology is the science that holds that the size and shape of the brain affects how smart a person is, as well as other personality traits such as being talkative. Gall had a list of over 37 strengths and weaknesses that he believed could be explained by the size and shape of the brain.

Even though much has changed since the concept of IQ was first devised, the idea of having an exponentially higher IQ than everyone else still is the dream of many people, who hope that their intelligence could give them superpowers or solutions for world hunger.

But in reality, having a higher IQ just makes people read faster and quickly figure out that a square peg won’t fit into a round hole.

Madison Ginter is a sophomore at Orchard Park High School.


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