Paper IQ

Paper IQ
Sketch of a kid with his "paper IQ", possibly derived from some test, which he seems to be handing to a person in authority.
In genius studies, paper IQ refers to an IQ that one has printed on a sheet of paper, e.g. an IQ test certificate, conducted either under supervision of a trained psychologist, in school, via a mail-in method (e.g. Mensa Test, Mega Test), online, among other methods; a paper IQ, more often than not, however, if claimed to be in the genius range (IQ:140+), tends to be an off or over approximation; something more “show” than “tell” (compare: real IQ; mislabeled geniuses and IQ tests).

In 1961, Isaac Asimov, as retrospectively discussed in his I, Asimov: a Memoir (c.1990) (Ѻ)(Ѻ), was asked, by a friend, to join Mensa; firstly, he stated his reservations about this as follows:

“I have been a lifelong beneficiary of intelligence tests, I don't think much of them. I believe they test only one facet of intelligence—the ability to answer the kind of questions other people with the same facet of intelligence are likely to ask. My IQ rating has always been out of sight, but I am perfectly aware that in many respects I am remarkably stupid. Second, it seemed to me to be beneath my dignity to take an intelligence test. Surely, my life and work were ample testimony to my intelligence (such as it was).”

Then he discussed his joining experience:

“I took the test, scored high, and became a member of Mensa. It was not on the whole, a happy experience. I met a number of wonderful Mensans, but there were other Mensans who were brain-proud and aggressive about their IQs, who, one got the impression, would like, on being introduced, to be able to say, ’I’m Joe Doakes, and my IQ is 172,’ or, perhaps, have the figure tattooed on their forehead. They were, as I had been in my youth, forcing their intelligence on unwilling victims. In general, too, they felt underappreciated and undersuccessful. As a result, they had soured on the universe and tended to be disagreeable.

What’s more, they were constantly jousting with each other, testing their intelligence on each other, and that sort of thing becomes wearing after awhile. Furthermore, I became uncomfortably aware that Mensans, however high their paper IQ might be, were likely to be as irrational as anyone else. Many of them believed themselves to be part of a ‘superior’ group that ought to rule the world, and despised non-Mensans as inferiors. Naturally, they tended to be right-wing conservatives, and I generally feel terribly out of sympathy with such views.

Worse yet, there were groups among them, I found out eventually, who accepted astrology and many other pseudoscientific beliefs, and who formed ‘SIGs’ (‘special interest groups’) devoted to different varieties of intellectual trash. Where was the credit of being associated with that sort of thing, even tangentially?... I stayed on in Mensa for years, getting more and more tired of it. ... Eventually, after both Marvin and Margot [two of the New York Mensans he acknowledged as "delightful and intelligent"] had died, I did resign.”

Asimov was a bit of an open speaker about his perceived level of intelligence:

“Those people who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do.”
Isaac Asimov (c.1960) [37]

“Marvin Minsky [1927-2016] and Carl Sagan [1934-1996] are two men I conceded were more intelligent than I was.”
Isaac Asimov (1980), In Joy Still Felt: Autobiography [16]

In 1976, Asimov, in the non-fiction work The Planet That Wasn't, claimed to have an IQ of 300. He got it that high by taking one of the instant IQ-tests found in a book, but taking 15 minutes instead of the 30 that was recommended. The score calculation provided an IQ of 150, and Isaac doubled the score to account for half the time. He then explained why he doesn't have much faith in these IQ tests (the most important claim being that they penalize for slowness but give no bonus for speed). (Ѻ)

1. Tibballs, Geoff. (2004). The Mammoth Book of Zingers, Quips, and One-Liners (pg. 299). Running Press.
2. Asimov, Isaac. (1980). In Joy Still Felt: the Autobiography of Isaac Asimov, 1954-1978 (pgs. 217, 302, 519). Doubleday.

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