I’ve always been sceptical about whether you can really measure intelligence by a specific test. Some of the brainiest people I know are the least practical and often the smartest people, in the sense of being able to make their way in the world, wouldn’t necessarily appear in the upper percentiles of scores, if they sat a conventional IQ test.
But there is some attraction, if only superficial, in establishing how smart (or otherwise) you are and achieving a metric against which you can judge yourself against others. The tests tend to be rather long-winded and, frankly, few of us are interested enough or have the time to see it through to the bitter end.
However, a rediscovered research paper, first published in 2005, by professor Shane Frederick of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology contained a maths test of just three short questions, designed to test your cognitive abilities. He asked over 3,000 participants, from a range of educational backgrounds and abilities, to take it and, astonishingly, only 18% got all three questions right.
What it says about anything is anybody’s guess bit if you want to have a go, here they are:
- A bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat costs $1 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?
- If it takes five machines five minutes to make five widgets, how long would it take 100 machines to make 100 widgets?
- In a lake, there is a patch of lily pads. Every day, the patch doubles in size. If it takes 48 days for the patch to cover the entire lake, how long would it take for the patch to cover half of the lake?
I will share the answers on Saturday, 10th August