« Hey Albert, » said Marilyn [IQ: 163]. « Imagine if we had a baby and it had my looks and your brains it could do anything it wanted. » « Yes, my dear, » replied Einstein [IQ: 160]. « But what if it has my looks and your brains? ».
You do not take a person who, for years, has been hobbled by chains and liberate him, bring him up to the starting line in a race and then say, ‘you are free to compete with all the others’, and still justly believe that you have been completely fair. (Lyndon Johnson, 1965)
En ces temps où il est de bon ton de cracher sur l’intelligence ou sur les projets d’égalisation des chances comme l' »affirmative action » américaine (qui après 40 ans a peut-être effectivement bien gagné sa retraite) ou la toute nouvelle (vélléité de) « discrimination positive » française (reprenant, petit retard oblige, la formule oxymorique depuis longtemps abandonnée par les Américains) …
On ne peut s’empêcher de repenser (histoire de voir le chemin parcouru) à… ces temps héroïques du test de Binet-Simon!
Conçu à l’origine, comme le rappelle wikipedia, pour détecter à l’avance les élèves faibles scolairement (« âge mental », 1905) et inspiré en fait par l’Anglais Spearman (1904 – inspiré lui-même par le cousin eugéniste de Darwin Galton et l’Américain Cattell) et amélioré par l’Allemand Stern (« quotient intellectuel« , 1912) puis l’Américain Wechsler (pour trier les nouvelles recrues, QI par rang, applicable aux adultes, 1939) …
Et qui eut son heure de gloire en France même en 1961 quand (wikipedia toujours)… « un jeune travailleur agricole ‘quasiment illettré’ nommé Jean Frêne se voit créditer aux trois jours de sélection militaire d’un QI exceptionnel. L’affaire remonte au ministère des Armées (= de la Défense) qui lui accorde un sursis et une bourse : cinq ans plus tard, Jean Frêne décroche son diplôme d’ingénieur et embraye directement sur un doctorat. Il est actuellement (2004) professeur à l’université de Poitiers (chaire de tribologie). Cette affaire popularisera l’intérêt de la notion de QI en France. Jean Frêne y est devenu le troisième Français à obtenir la prestigieuse médaille d’or internationale de tribologie.’
Ou en 1963 avec… « Le jeune Alexandre Boviatsis, lui aussi crédité d’un important QI et dont la mère assure pour cette raison l’éducation, obtient son « premier bac » (nom de la partie du baccalauréat située à l’époque à la fin de la classe de première) à 13 ans 1/2. »
Et, sans parler du sud-coréen Ung-Yong Kim, surtout en Amérique avec l’enfant prodige ukraino-américain William James Sidis (254 ?) ou en 1956 avec… le plus grand QI certifié par les bières Guiness et obtenu par une femme, Marilyn vos Savant (228 = âge mental à 10 ans de 23 ans), qui a aujourd’hui 60 ans et a sa propre chronique (« Ask Marilyn ») dans un supplément dominical intitulé Parade (aussi en ligne) où elle répond aux questions de ses lecteurs.
Does the disparity between men and women in the sciences say something about their relative intelligence? Marilyn weighs in on this controversial debate.
Are Men Smarter Than Women?
Marilyn vos Savant
July 17, 2005
Dear Marilyn: How do you view the idea that the gender disparity in the sciences might be due to differences in the inherent aptitudes of women? I’m curious to hear a thoughtful and objective opinion on this controversial subject.—Melissa Hardison, Tallahassee, Fla.
A gender gap exists in many occupations, but the disparity in the sciences hits close to one of the scariest marks of all, which is the reason a controversy erupted: Are men smarter than women?
The concern unfolds in two questions: 1) Are women handicapped by their upbringing, social pressures, discrimination from men, and more—not just in science but also in other areas? 2) Or are women less bright than men?
The answer to the first question is too obvious for argument: Yes, and in my opinion, upbringing is the No. 1 cause—not discrimination, conscious or not, from men. Just as significant is the fact (not the problem) that many women are far more interested in their families than outside work, and society clearly approves. Top positions do require time, energy and dedication to goals that may even be selfish.The second question is the hot spot. The average IQ of females is equal to the average IQ of males. But averages can be misleading. In the case of intelligence tests, many more males score at the top and the bottom of the intelligence scale. This could account for the greater number of men in the sciences and—on the other end—in the prison population. So: Does the gender disparity in science give credence to the idea that men are more intelligent than women? My answer is “no,” and these are my reasons:
•No evidence indicates that the sciences attract the brightest people. The unspoken assumption that science attracts the smartest people is the foundation upon which we have built the conclusion: “If the sciences are filled with men, men must be smarter, unless women have a good excuse for being absent.” I believe that science—like chess— attracts bright people, but only the ones with certain personality characteristics. Those traits might be more common in men. In the case of chess, the game was developed by males for intellectual sparring with other males. Maybe females simply don’t find the game as fascinating. And note that dictators—who aren’t any stronger than other men—are never women. Maybe females just don’t have whatever it takes to bulldoze their way to this dubious sort of “success.” No one thinks the paucity of women in the field of ruthless domination is because they aren’t smart enough! So why should anyone be shocked to find that most bright people—including women—would flee from the sight of a microscope?!To me, it is clear that the brightest people are spread over all sorts of other occupations. Motherhood is likely among them, and why not? I was a stay-at-home mom while my children were small, and I loved it.
•Even professionally administered IQ tests are primitive measures of intelligence. Intelligence tests are fine for practical purposes, but not for analytical ones. Too much unavoidable bias (not prejudice) is present: Any test-maker (not just IQ test-creators) must first develop standards upon which the test-takers will be judged. In other words, to test intelligence, the designer must formulate a definition of intelligence. Now, who could possibly do this?
Can Intelligence Be Defined?
In my opinion, defining intelligence is much like defining beauty, and I don’t mean that it’s in the eye of the beholder. To illustrate, let’s say that you are the only beholder, and your word is final. Would you be able to choose the 1000 most beautiful women in the country? And if that sounds impossible, consider this: Say you’re now looking at your picks. Could you compare them to each other and say which one is more beautiful? For example, who is more beautiful— Katie Holmes or Angelina Jolie? How about Angelina Jolie or Catherine Zeta-Jones? I think intelligence is like this. So many factors are involved that attempts to measure it are useless. Not that IQ tests are useless. Far from it. Good tests work: They measure a variety of mental abilities, and the best tests do it well. But they don’t measure intelligence itself. Perhaps most convincing of all are these facts from other outposts in the animal kingdom:
•Female chimpanzees learn complex tasks as easily as males.
•Female gorillas can be taught sign language as well as males.
•Female guide dogs are as capable at their work as males.
•Female dolphins perform practical jokes as often as males.
•Female parrots are able to mime and talk as well as males.
•Female rats and mice run mazes just as efficiently as males.
Would you prefer to adopt a male puppy because you thought you could teach him more tricks? No, you know better. (And we don’t find more female moths in our light fixtures!) Why should anyone think that human females are an exception?!
When asked that question, PARADE columnist Marilyn vos Savant and her husband, Dr. Robert Jarvik, instinctively point to each other. Marilyn, of course, was in the Guinness Book for having the highest IQ ever recorded. But Dr. Jarvik—inventor of the Jarvik-7 and Jarvik-2000 artificial hearts, used to support patients with congestive heart failure—is no intellectual lightweight either. What do they talk about over dinner? “Medicine and world affairs are the main topics of discussion,” says Marilyn. “For entertainment, we love music, dance and going to movies.” Both are avid runners but don’t enjoy sports and never play games. Marilyn adds, “Rob is more competitive than I am—but, then again, everybody is!”
The infinite variety of our minds
Just a glance at these bright high-achievers—men and women who have made their mark in an array of fields—tells us that intelligence is complex and multi-dimensional. Comparing one to the other is like comparing apples and oranges.
Dr. Ruth (Westheimer)
Dr. Phil (McGraw)
George S. Patton Jr.