That old hatred of IQ again

It's seldom that I laugh out loud while reading a bit of Left-leaning, do-gooder nonsense but I have just had that experience.

I don't know how the editor of the Green/Left "New Scientist" (Roger Highfield) got to write for the generally conservative "Daily Telegraph" but it has happened -- but not in a good way. After a series of dogmatic and unreferenced assertions in which he pours out contempt and contumely on conventional IQ tests, he then says that there is a new type of test which is much better. He then however goes on to admit that he doesn't know if the new test works!
Dr Owen is part of the Medical Research Council's Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit in Cambridge. With his colleague, Adam Hampshire, he has devised the ultimate intelligence test. Drawing on data from brain scans, his test – featuring a dozen tasks – triggers as much of the brain's anatomy as possible, combining the fewest tasks to cover the broadest range of cognitive skills.

For example, spot-the-difference puzzles boost activity in a range of areas at the back and bottom of the brain. Similarly, when you navigate your way around an unfamiliar supermarket, you rely on visuospatial working memory, which is linked to activity in the ventrolateral frontal cortex behind the eyes and the parietal lobe at the back and on top of the brain. However, as the questions become more complex, demanding more use of strategies and stored memories, broader regions of the frontal and parietal lobes become active – in particular, the large area behind the temples known as the dorsolateral frontal cortex.

Adrian and Adam regard this as the ultimate intelligence test – so all that is left is to find out whether it works. To that end, New Scientist has put it online, in a joint project with the Discovery Channel. If you have a half-hour to spare, and want to put your brain through its paces while advancing the cause of neuroscience, have a go here.


Highfield has obviously drawn his conclusions before he has seen the evidence -- which is exactly the opposite of what scientists do. But that is just standard Leftist practice so we must not be at all surprised.

The only further comment I would make is that it is quite an absurd assumption to say that a good measure of intelligence should use as many areas of the brain as possible. The brain does many things and problem solving is only one of them. That problem solving ability should involve only a few parts of the brain would seem a much more reasonable expectation.

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