Many people wonder about my fascination with IQ and where it came from. For example commenter Afrosapiens wrote the following to me:
First thing, I kind of appreciate you, you don’t pretend having universal and omniscient eyes and you are quite honest with respect to the extent of your knowledge of the world.
However, when I read about your fascination for IQ, how amazing this number appears to you with its ability to “predict” various life outcomes, you sound to me as someone who just met god. A world that was mysterious and obscure to you suddenly became limpid and self-evident thanks to IQ and genes (or rather heritability) much like god and the holy spirit are in other belief systems.
I think there’s some truth to that. I think most humans have a need for some kind of simple explanation to bring order to the World. For most people it might be religion or spirituality; for others it might be Marxism or libertarianism, and for me it happens to be IQ and HBD.
For me, discovering IQ was kind of like discovering something mystical. I remember as child seeing an East Indian woman reading palms and tarot cards in the middle of an urban street, and so growing up, I had associated Indian women with fortune telling. So when I was told by my teacher that I was going to have my IQ tested by an Indian woman who was coming from far, far away to my school, just to test me, I was both fascinated and terrified. For this test would tell my future; prophesize my biological destiny.
But first a teacher at my school had to give me an IQ test. Her test consisted mostly of general knowledge, arithmetic, and vocabulary. This was just a warm-up test, to see if I was worthy of taking the school board’s official test, that the Indian woman would give. The teacher explained that she’s not qualified to give the board’s test, which is extremely expensive to have administered, so first I had to take this warm-up test to see if there was just cause to take the board’s test. The board’s test was much much more accurate, the teacher explained. The board’s test was much more interactive and involved.
“I don’t want to take the board’s test,” I replied. “I’m scared”
The teacher explained that sometimes kindergarten kids are scared when they take the board’s test because the Indian woman who administers it dressed in very exotic colorful saris, but that the Indian woman was a pro who would put them right at ease.
My parents had to come in for several meetings to discuss the possibility of taking the board’s test and all the implications. My father did not want me tested, but my mother did. They had to sign many documents as did the school administrator and school board officials. There were so many kids on the waiting list to take this test that I had to wait many months.
Day after day, I waited in fear for the Indian woman to come and test me.
Days turned into weeks.
Weeks turned into months.
Months turned into a summer vacation and the start of a new school year at a new school.
And then one cold autumn day during seventh grade French class, there was a knock on the classroom door…
I followed the Indian woman down a long dark deserted hallway, to the school resource room. And then to a tiny room within the resource room with nothing in it but a circular table and two chairs.
“We’re going to play some games,” she explained…
What followed, were the two most fascinating hours of my life, as the Indian woman would reach into her fluorescent pink envelope and obtain a wide range of items. Cartoon panels of black people engaged in everyday activities:
“Put these in order so that the story makes sense!” she said smiling, as she pushed the stop clock.
When I completed the task, she would reach into the envelope for even more cartoon panels of black people.
“Since you’re doing so well, put ALL THESE in order so that the story makes sense!”
She would later reach in to her envelope for a handful of blocks and dropped them on the table.
“Using these blocks, make this design” she said, pointing to a picture of some abstract shape.
After I successfully completed several designs, she reached into her envelope for even more blocks:
“since you’re doing so well, using ALL THESE blocks, make THIS design.”
I had never seen anything like those blocks. It was the purest measure of intelligence I could imagine. Uncontaminated by schooling or prior knowledge, pure unadulterated novel problem solving..or at least that’s how it seemed to my twelve-year-old mind.
I remembered thinking, how can this endless stream of blocks, puzzles and picture all be coming out of that skinny little envelope she’s holding? It was like Oscar the Grouch pulling swimming pools and trucks out of his garbage can. It felt like magic.
At one point she asked me to put four cardboard pieces together to make a certain animal, and her very old clock start ticking, but instead of numbers of the clock, there were intelligence levels: Very superior, Superior, High Average, Average, Low Average, Borderline, Educable (mild) retardation, Trainable (moderate) retardation.
For the first time on the test, I stumbled. I put the pieces together and it looked like an animal, but it looked really demented and elongated. I knew it was not the right solution.
I was terrified that if I didn’t complete the puzzle before the red hand on the clock ticked all the way down to the Trainable Mentally Retarded level, I would be forced to leave the school, and attend a special school for the TMR, rotting away in an old abandoned field down the road. The educable mentally retarded were only forced to attend a special class but could still stay within the school, but the trainable, they had to attend a special school miles away.
And then suddenly, the correct solution dawned on me, long before the time ran out.
After that, she quizzed me on vocabulary, general knowledge, arithmetic, common sense judgement, word association, etc. After the stress of racing against the clock, it all seemed nice and relaxing.
“How did I do on the test?” I asked.
“You did extremely well,” she said with a smile. “You’re a star, and that’s where I want to see you. Shining.”