Your IQ Test Thinks You’re Smart Because It’s Dumb

Your IQ is ... ?

The latest viral pandemic spreading across social media is a test proclaiming how smart you are. Perhaps I have particularly brainy friends, or anyone with a supposed IQ beneath genius level is too ashamed to share their score, but I’ve come to the scientific conclusion that the test is utter bunk.

It’s not entirely the fault of the test’s creator, Memorado. They’re just trying to make a buck doing what looks like the exact same thing Lumosity does: show people quick puzzles that make them think briefly and tell them they’re smartening up. Sure.

But the whole idea behind IQ tests – or at least the common perception of them – is flawed. They measure a certain type of intelligence, at the day and time the test is taken, when proctored by a professional. They tend to correlate with academic achievement. They do not measure aptitude for a wide variety of tasks, professions, or skills. In short, there’s a lot they don’t tell you.

A portion of any standardized test assumes the taker can just about read the test creator’s mind. Typically this is in the language portion, where words are reduced to bland signifiers with one and only one relationship to each other. Memorado’s test is no different.

Which word doesn't fit?

The test’s very first question is among its worst. Just three of the possible groupings are labeled. One grouping depends on the meaning and context of the words, while the others analyze the makeup of the words themselves. Which is the intended grouping? Probably the first, excluding “Smiling” from three of the traditional five senses, but the other groupings are perfectly valid.

Which word doesn't fit?

Again, the different groupings I’ve highlighted are depend on whether you’re concerned with the meaning of the words or the construction of the words. You could also say that paintings, poems, and flowers are beautiful things you appreciate by looking at them while you listen to a song, or that the word Painting is the only one without an O in it (or the only one with the letters I or A).

Coffee is to cup, what cake is to...


I’ll not try to argue that you can pick up a piece of cake with a napkin and bring it to your mouth (although you totally can), but using a napkin instead of a plate? That absolutely happens. All the time. Birthday parties, especially in offices, never have enough plates, if any.

And of course you don’t slurp up your cake directly from the plate. You grab a piece of the cake with a fork and put that in your mouth. The coffee cup, on the other hand, is both the storage medium and the conveyance. This analogy is so bad it almost soils cake for me.


Okay, fine, that’s hyperbole. Cake is amazing.

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