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Home > Culture and Society

Dicks: Clever - A Woman Writes

2 September 2005

Intelligence can be a bit of an albatross, and the media really love to whip out the blunderbuss and take some pot shots at it whenever they can. For the third week in a row, it’s a story – first A-Levels (results too good, students appear to be too clever, or is it that the exams are a doddle), then GCSEs (results good, students smart, no it’s all a big sham, for shame, although we’re not sure upon whom). This week, it’s some tiresome piffle about IQ tests. Apparently, research shows that men are more intelligent than women. Get Buerk on the phone! Vindication is nigh!

IQ tests have always been a slightly potty idea. It’s indicative of that particular cul-de-sac of human nature which yearns for every amorphous, un-pin-downable thing to be squeezed into a bland numeric figure, like a voluptuous arse into Courteney Cox’s child-sized jeans. Anyone who’s ever glanced at an IQ test knows that they consist mostly of baffling logic puzzles involving angular shapes and patterns – like Fisher Price blocks for geniuses. (Geniuii?) The only sane answer to such ludicrousness is ‘But intelligence in all its wondrous complexity cannot be measured by the manner in which one arranges some trapezoids – how dare you endeavour to reduce, nay, to *debase* the idiosyncratic glory of my intellect with such trogolydytically blunt tools’. (Delivered with an incredulous mug to camera.) Like the apocryphal philosophy student who, when asked in an exam to define courage, wrote ‘This is’ and left the room, this should get you full marks instantly for searing through the whole racket with your mighty brain. A whole galaxy of gold stars for you, and a big fluffy Einstein wig, and a pot of the money such gumption of the grey matter should incur in the presence of a just and fair God.

But to indulge Professor Richard Lynn and his chum Dr Paul Irwing for a moment, the bald statistics of their study show that at the highest level of IQ, men leave women standing as beside a car whose flat tyre they haven’t a hope of changing. They assert that until the age of 14, the sexes are neck and neck. Then it all starts to go horribly awry for women, who commence stuffing up their little heads with gossip and makeup tips and horoscopes and kittens. Actually, no, there’s still not much in it – it’s at genius level where men really get ahead. An IQ score of 125 represents approximately first-class degree standard, and there are twice as many men in their sample with this score as there are women. For every woman with a whopping genius-score of 155, there are 5.5 men. Five and one-fifth men! (The study doesn’t reveal which fifth, but we’re certainly not going to go there. At least, not while the children are still up.)

The boffins are keen to close any of the Buerkian gobs preparing to open in outrage, given that as they say ‘women (are) dramatically overtaking men in educational attainment and making very rapid advances in terms of occupational achievement’. Apparently, women can achieve more than men at the same level of IQ because they work harder and are more focussed, and don’t spend half their working day surreptitiously wanking over doctored images of Kelly Brook being taken from behind by a wild boar.

So this all explains, apparently, why there aren’t very many Nobel prize-winning women or female chess grandmasters. But we have two notes of dissent to voice. Firstly, dippy beshorted uberblonde Jessica Simpson purportedly has an IQ of 130, and she thinks buffalo wings are harvested from flocks of buffalo that flit from tree to tree. Secondly, it could be said that men are merely better at IQ tests than women because of their nerdy eagerness and testosterone-fuelled competitiveness (yes it could). Consider the cat; throw her a stick, and she will look at you with withering contempt – not because she couldn’t fetch it for you, but because she cannot understand why you’d throw the thing away in the first place if you wanted it so much. Thirdly – well, we may not be able to do fractions but we give great metaphor.

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