Although most people would say that the ability to think rationally is a clear sign of superior intellect, standard IQ tests devote no section to rational thinking as cognitive scientists would define the term. To think rationally means adopting appropriate goals, taking the appropriate action given one's goals and beliefs, and holding beliefs that are commensurate with available evidence. Although IQ tests do assess the ability to focus on an immediate goal in the face of distraction, they do not assess at all whether a person has the tendency to develop goals that are rational in the first place. Likewise, IQ tests are good measures of how well a person can hold beliefs in short-term memory and manipulate those beliefs, but they do not assess at all whether a person has the tendency to form beliefs rationally when presented with evidence. And again, similarly, IQ tests are good measures of how efficiently a person processes information that has been provided, but they do not at all assess whether the person is a critical assessor of information as it is gathered in the natural environment.
Given that IQ tests measure only a small set of the thinking abilities that people need, it is amazing that they have acquired the power that they have. IQ tests determine, to an important degree, the academic and professional careers of millions of people in the United States. University admission officers depend on indicators that are nothing but proxies for IQ scores, even if the admissions office dare not label them as such. The vaunted SAT test has undergone many name changes (from Scholastic Achievement Test, to Scholastic Aptitute Test, to Scholastic Assessment Test, to simply the letters SAT) in order to disguise one basic fact that has remained constant throughout these changes - it is a stand-in for an IQ test.
It's truly amazing how we can become so narrow minded in our measurements. When we become so focused on emprirical measurements, we place far too much emphasis on analytical thinking at the cost of intuitive and rational thinking.
People who place any kind of importance on IQ tests should listen to Mark Twain very carefully:
It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.I've cited this Twain quote more than a few times. I think it embodies the underlying message of most of my blog posts.