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London mayor's comments on IQ scores spur controversyFRIDAY, DECEMBER 27, 2013 16:32 PM

London''s mayor recently made some comments on IQ that both caused controversy and exposed public misunderstanding of IQ tests. Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, recently made some waves with his comments on IQ scores and his subsequent failure of an IQ test during a radio appearance. Johnson began a controversy when, during a speech in November, he seemed to mock the 16 percent of the population that have IQ scores below 85.

Johnson's comments came in the context of discussing redistribution of resources, and raised alarm among many people that he was taking a callous approach to economic inequality. But as distasteful as his statement was in a political and social sense, it also revealed the kind of misunderstanding of IQ tests that is shared by many people in the general population.

Johnson fails IQ test
Johnson attempted to defend his speech by going on a radio show to clarify his meaning. However, his appearance only served to inflame the controversy after he failed a three-question IQ test that was administered by one of the radio show's hosts.

The fact that Johnson struggled, despite a world-class education and the general opinion among those who know him that he is a particularly intelligent man, simply goes to show that there is more to an IQ test than the specific answers given to questions. It also shows that the way IQ tests are administered and assessed has very little to do with social or economic stratosphere. Instead, they are one tool, albeit an important one, in determining a person's overall capabilities.

Misunderstanding IQ
The most revealing aspect of Johnson's situation might be the fact that he seems to misunderstand the meaning of IQ tests, a misconception that many in the general public share. While IQ tests are important pieces of understanding someone's mind and abilities, they don't paint the whole picture. When it comes to understanding how human beings' minds work, we need to use every resource available, including IQ tests. However, it is one important piece of an intricate and expansive puzzle.


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