[FOUNTAIN]More Intelligent, but Not as Smart

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[FOUNTAIN]More Intelligent, but Not as Smart

Intelligence tests are a 20 century product. French psychologist Alfred Binet devised the test for the first time in 1905. The purpose was to screen mentally deficient children entering school. The test estimated the mental age of children through 30 questions and answers. Lewis Terman, a professor at Stanford University, revised the Binet Test to come up with the Stanford-Binet method in 1916. The new method compares the chronological age and mental age so that the average child of any age has an IQ of 100 in percentile. For example, if a 10 year old child exhibits the mental capability of a 13 year old, his IQ is denoted at 130.

The United States' entry into World War I offered an important occasion to generalize the IQ test. When the U.S. army had to select a large number of soldiers in a relatively short period of time, the army developed a written IQ test by applying the concepts from the Stanford-Bidet method. So-called military examinations became the prototype of the modern IQ test, which is based on four elements, linguistic ability, mathematical ability, reasoning ability and spatial ability.

Newsweek, the American weekly magazine, said in its May 9th edition that children's IQ is rising sharply. If the IQ of American children was 100, on average, 30 years ago, that of contemporary children would be 112. A theory called the "Flynn Effect," presented in 1984, says human intelligence advances from one generation to another. Dr. James Flynn, a political scientist in New Zealand said, the average IQ score of Americans rises 3 points every 10 years after he analyzed IQ test results of U.S. Army applicants. There were similar results when researchers studied the scores on IQ test in 14 countries in 1987. In Belgium, Netherlands and Israel, in one generation, or 30 years, the average IQ score rose 20 points. This phenomenon might be caused by the interaction between genetic and environmental elements, but it is difficult to clearly explain why.

These days, there are a lot of smart children. Even before entering elementary school, they basically know how to read and write and have excellent vocabularies and can freely express what they think. They know how to calculate well and even speak simple English. They use computers. They can also play musical instruments and many different sports. Sometimes, they even seem shrewd.

This might be due to the Flynn Effect, but it also appears logical that the IQ of children is higher than their parents', considering early education by over-enthusiastic mothers and fathers. But it is worrisome that the mathematical ability of university freshmen has been falling gradually. It is a pity that poor education systems are raising "smart fools".

by Bae Myung-bok

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