Letters to the Editors; March 1996; Scientific American Magazine; by Staff Editor; 1 Page(s)
Thanks for John Horgan's thought-provoking news story on the long-term rise in IQ scores, "Get Smart, Take a Test" ["Science and the Citizen," SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, November 1995]. Could it be that the modern person uses a different aspect of intelligence than his counterpart of a century ago? And if the average person today utilizes left-brain processes more effectively, is it possible that other, more right-brained forms of intelligence are underdeveloped? Compare the rich verbal expressions of 19th-century writers and average citizens to works of present-day people. I'm reminded of Picasso's remark as he emerged from viewing the cave paintings in Lascaux, France: "We have invented nothing!"
The only IQ test I ever took was a Stanford-Binet, back in high school in 1947. It had a maximum score of 140. Just a decade later my daughter was given her first IQ test, in elementary school. Her tests were apparently open-ended, and she consistently scored some 25 points higher than I. She is now in her forties, and my personal, lifetime assessment is that her actual IQ is little, if any, higher than mine. Early on, nobody expected such high scores, so tests were not designed to be open-ended in their scoring system. Is this an explanation for the gradual rise in IQ tests over the years?