1/12/13 Thanks Boris.

Imagine, if you will, me having some manner of drag race with BBC Topgear’s mysterious and tame racing driver, The Stig.

No, not cross-dressing, silly…a race on a quarter of a mile racing track…

I’m given a top of the range Ferrari and he’s driving an equally top of the range wheelbarrow from B&Q.

We have the race, I’m victorious (just, it was a lot closer than I’d have liked) – an outcome that clearly demonstrates that I’m the superior driver.

In a recent speech – the Margaret Thatcher Speech to be exact – Boris Johnson, mayor of all he surveys, put forward the argument that social stratification – where we sit in our er, classless society – is down to ones’ IQ.

In short, the wealthy deserve to be at the top of the pile, with all the opulence that goes with it….

…and that envy is the engine of the poor that drives them to do, er…better?

Thanks Boris – this is like shooting fish in a barrel – a past time that I wouldn’t recommend.

Back in the day, circa 1980-odd, I studied psychology to degree level.

In part of the course, we looked at IQ – intelligence quotient – a somewhat grandiose claim by psychologists that we could definitively measure the comparative braininess of folk.

The average score would be 100 and the rest of the population would fall on either side of this point – some more intelligent – some less so.

Why have such a measurement? Well, if we look back in recent (1950’s/ ’60’s) history, we find that IQ tests were used to demonstrate that wealthy white folk were more intelligent than poor black folk. As such, society was perfect and everyone was where they should be…

The end.

However, it didn’t take long before we found that the tests were strongly weighted in favour of WASPS – white Anglo-Saxon Protestants – and that they failed to take into account cultural differences…

Studies soon showed that black folk from a wasplike background did as well, if not better than their white counterparts.


Further investigation into this scientific study of intelligence found that IQ tests measure what IQ tests measure…

That is, IQ tests measure your ability to do IQ tests.

It ignores the more artistic, the more emotional, squashy stuff.

Not convinced?

If an IQ test is a measure of ones absolute intelligence, then this shouldn’t improve with practice.

However – the more you do IQ tests, the better you become at them.

Er…but it’s science…it can’t be wrong…

Cue some mischievous psychologists – I may have said in earlier blogs that psychologists are a duplicitous bunch and that you should think long and hard before buying a used car from…

The classic IQ study went something like this –

They did a test on some 7 year old children. From the results of this study they concluded that some children would have an intelligence growth spurt when they were, let’s for the sake of my memory say 10 years old… And that some wouldn’t….

The early test results proved to be uncannily accurate…

Amazing – these psychs are really…

Only, they didn’t really do any tests on the younger children – they randomly placed them into the intelligence spurt/ none intelligence spurt groups…

Hey! Why I oughtta…

This, ladies and gentlemen, was a fabulous case of self fulfilling prophecy. Because the teachers had been told that the children would have a brainy spurt – they were treated accordingly – with a brainy bias.

So, in short, in case I’m not being particularly clear, I believe IQ tests are, by and large, a load of old bollocks…

But that’s all by the by…

In the UK, we infer someone’s intelligence through their ability to pass exams.

Again, I won’t push the point too hard here – but it has been shown, time and again, that there are a zillion factors to be taken into account here – class size – resources available to teachers – resources available to students – socioeconomic background – the all round cultural background and expectations of those around our little learners.

Then, of course, we have what is commonly known as reality.

Do people with better qualifications get the best jobs? Or do folk whose parents can afford to get them into unpaid internships (not to be confused with workfare) get that cultural leg up that isn’t available to others?

Add to this the fear of getting into ¬£Zillions of debt as a student in the UK…

When I first started social workering at the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh I realised I had wandered through life with a number of assumptions. One of which was that doctors were universally brainy.

Suffice is it to say, they’re not – a number of folk in this fine profession who I encountered had been gently guided through their academic lives in a way that they reached their full potential because of a privilege that should be available to us all…

The thing is, Boris has made these grand claims with little/ no evidence which, at best, makes him a big silly.

I imagine his isn’t the only privileged voice using this made up evidence to justify their place in society.

But I’m not one to be churlish – I’m open to the viewpoints of others. I’m willing to look at up to date research to explore new ideas…

Let’s look at a recent IQ study reported in the Huffington post last year….


The heading pretty much says it all…

‘Intelligence Study Links Low I.Q. To Prejudice, Racism, Conservatism’

Tongue firmly in cheek – made me smile though.

So, in short, thanks Boris for making me feel intellectually gifted…

Fish in a barrel.

Walk a Mile


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