A while back I asked my readers to estimate the IQ of journalist Daniel Seligman based on an article he wrote in Forbes magazine.
The reason I am interested in Daniel Seligman’s IQ is he wrote one of the best IQ books ever written: A Question of Intelligence: The IQ Debate in America. This book remains, to this day, one of the most lucid and accessible introductions to the field I have ever read. If you’re someone who is fascinated by IQ, but doesn’t know much about it, the author does a very good job holding your hand through the complex web of debates.
The entire book is about IQ, and the author devotes an entire chapter to taking an IQ test, yet refuses to give his score. “Being still coy, I decline to state the number on the bottom line”, he writes on page 9. He also declines to tell the score he obtained from an IQ test he took as an undergraduate psychology student at New York university, writing on page 1:
Our instructor suggested, plausibly enough, that we would all have a better sense of intelligence testing if we had our own IQ measured…so we came out of the course with a few secrets…Four decades later, I remember my IQ score, which I will coyly not disclose, but not a whole lot else about the event.
And yet Seligman, does reveal the IQ of Arthur Jensen, despite Jensen not wanting to give his score. On page 63 he writes:
I once asked Jensen if he knew his own IQ. It turned out that he had never taken any of the standard tests, like the WAIS. The question of testing him first arose during the year of his Maryland internship, but by then he could not take the WAIS because he was too familiar with it (having administered it to others perhaps a hundred times). Of the various mental tests he has taken over the years, the Terman Concept Mastery Test (CMT) __ a high-level measure of verbal skills__probably provides the best approximation of an IQ test. Jensen took it when he was forty-three. He declined to tell me the score__and seemed distinctly unhappy at my interest in the subject__but did finally mention that his CMT score was about at the average of those members of Terman’s Gifted Group who had gone on to earn Ph.D.s.
Poking my nose into volume 5 of Terman’s Genetic Studies of Genius, I learn that this subgroup of the gifted had Stanford-Binet IQ equivalents of 156, well into the 99.9 percentile. Which possibly helps to explain why Jensen has been such a dominant figure in the IQ debate.
Although Seligman does not give his IQ, he does describe his performance on various subtests of the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale – Revised (WAIS-R), without telling us how those performances compared to the general U.S. population in his age group. Poking my nose into the WAIS-R manual, I was able to determine how well he did on several subtests, and from there, get an estimate of his full-scale IQ.
And so now, the secret Seligman has been hiding since the early 1950s, the secret he thought he took to his grave, is known by me. As a citizen journalist, do I have a responsibility to reveal this information to the World, or do I continue to participate in the 60+ year cover-up of a powerful man’s IQ? 🙂