The great Gordon Lightfoot turned 83 today! Roughly the same age as the Wechsler IQ scales, especially the beloved ancient WBI. Which is fitting since it was the Wechsler scales that taught me who this Canadian treasure is. One should never discuss items on IQ tests but this item is no longer used, and was only ever used in Canada…
Immediately after taking the WISC-R at age 12, I became obsessed with owning these tests. But I was just a 12-year-old kid, and even if I had the huge amount of money needed to buy it, I didn’t have a graduate degree in psychology so it couldn’t be sold to me.
So I went to a payphone and just started phoning every psychologist, pretending to be a woman (I was too young to pretend to be a man) telling them they were under inspection to make sure they were following proper testing protocol and to pretend I was a patient they were administering the test to (so I could make sure they were doing it right). These poor psychologists would spend an hour on the phone administering the test to me in as I rapidly wrote down each item.
The problem was, my general knowledge has always been way below my overall IQ (I scored at the 75th percentile at age 12 among 12-year-olds when officially tested), but now I was pretending to be a grown-ass woman taking the ADULT Wechsler Information subtest. I flew through the first few questions without any difficulty, but then she asks “Who is Gordon Lightfoot?”
“A lumberjack,” I stupidly replied. And that was the beginning of my downward spiral on the WAIS-R Information subtest (I got a scaled score of 7 which was probably high for a 12-year-old but below average for the adult I was pretending to be). The country’s psychometric field is run by dimwits the psychologist must have thought.
It turns out the actual question concerned a famous jazz musician (who I did know) but since they were administering the test in Canada, they arbitrarily substituted Gordon Lightfoot.
That night I asked my mom if she knew who Gordon Lightfoot was: “OF COURSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” she screamed.
A few years later I administered the entire WAIS-R to my 9th grade English teacher who I adored because she gave me the highest mark in the school’s history on my book report of George Orwell’s 1984 (despite me never reading the book). When I asked her “Who was Gordon Lightfoot?” her elderly smile lit up the room as she got out of the chair and danced, saying “Gordon Lightfoot is the most wonderful Canadian folk singer!” It was great to see that a woman with such a high opinion of my book report score so high on the WAIS-R.
Sadly, in 2019 I met a super scrawny short guy who told me Lightfoot was a POS. Normally I have the highest respect for scrawny people, but this guy just looked like he had AIDS (no offense). Apparently he was working as a cook when Lightfoot ordered some food and as a huge fan, the restaurant at which he worked approached the singer and said “a member of our staff is such a huge fan of yours and he would just be so honored to meet you” and outwalked this lowly young cook who looked like he had AIDS.
Apparently Lightfoot was nonplused and a bit annoyed, so the cook was obviously devastated. But then I’d be annoyed too if I were just trying to enjoy dinner and I was introduced to some freak whose only relevance was that he was a fan of my music, like everyone else in Canada!
And what great music it is!