Jewish World Review July 22, 2004 / 4 Menachem-Av, 5764

Jeff Elder

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Intelligence quotient; who devised the Electoral College?; more | Q: How is IQ measured and what are average and high IQ scores? - Cynthia Wilcox, Charlotte, N.C.

A: Some experts say Andy Warhol's IQ was 86. The German writer Goethe's IQ is estimated at 210.

Many people would call them both geniuses.

Einstein - considered the personification of brilliance - had an IQ of "only" 160 - five points lower than writer Charlotte Bronte's.

What, if anything, does intelligence quotient mean?

It's a number. A score that can't possibly sum up the most mysterious part of us. Many people resist the very idea of IQ.

IQ tells you what your score is on a particular test, compared to other people's scores. The aim of IQ is not to measure how much you know, but your ability to think.

The "median" score is 100. So half the population has an IQ of higher than 100 and the other half has an IQ of lower than 100. A curve plots scores so that about two-thirds of us have an IQ of between 85 and 115. And about 95 percent of us have an IQ of between 70 and 130.

IQ breakdowns are often listed something like this:


Genius - 144 and above


Gifted - 130-144


Above average - 115-129


Higher average - 100-114


Lower average - 85-99


Below average - 70-84


Borderline low - 55-69


Low - 55 and below

In 1905, French psychologist Alfred Binet and physician Theodore Simon developed a test to measure the intelligence of children, relative to kids of other ages. In 1916, American psychologist Lewis Terman published a revision called the Stanford-Binet.

Later the U.S. Army measured the ability to think to determine the best jobs for soldiers.

In recent decades, something called the Wechsler test has been used. It borrows from the Binet and Army tests and takes age into account. So, in theory, your IQ score stays the same as you age. (Although the ability to cogitate - and certainly to take tests - can be improved.)

Properly used, IQ tests CAN provide valuable insights about intellectual ability that might otherwise be overlooked or ignored. However, intelligence testing has become extremely controversial.

Some say they don't really measure intelligence, just a narrow set of mental capabilities. Others argue scores are misinterpreted and misused, treated as fixed trait such as height or a measurement of someone's potential. During the 1920s, IQ tests were even used to identify "feeble-minded" persons who were subject to forced sterilization. And others believe IQ tests are culturally biased.

Yet it is natural to want to measure our minds. IQ tests have been shown to be a good predictor of academic success.

What kinds of questions are asked on a Wechsler IQ test? Here are some examples:


What would be the next number in this series: 2, 3, 5, 8, 12, 17?


Emily is 4. Her big sister, Amy, is three times as old as Emily. How old will Amy be when she is twice as old as Emily?


What would be the next group of letters in this series: aaaa, bdzb, cgac, djzd?

(The answers? It's an IQ test. Surely you don't need MY help.)

Some experts have sought to go beyond traditional IQ tests. American psychologist Howard Gardner proposed a theory of "multiple intelligences."

He identitifed these areas of intelligence, and proposed a model person for each:


Linguistics - T.S. Eliot.


Logic - Albert Einstein.


Spatial intelligence - Pablo Picasso.


Music - Igor Stravinsky.


Bodily intelligence - Martha Graham.


Interpersonal intelligence - Sigmund Freud.


Intrapersonal intelligence - Mohandas Gandhi.


Naturalist intelligence - Charles Darwin.

Many educators embraced Gardner's theory, because it suggests a wider goal than traditional IQ.

In the 1990s, other experts introduced the concept of "emotional intelligence" - the ability to perceive, understand, express, and regulate feelings.

Sources: Psychology Today, "The Early Mental Traits of Three Hundred Geniuses" by Catharine M. Cox, Psychology Online, "Intelligence," Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia

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Q: Who in the world came up with the idea of the Electoral College? - Martha Gettys

A: What do Samuel Tilden, Grover Cleveland and Al Gore have in common?

No, they did not all play Darren on the sitcom "Bewitched." All three won the popular vote, but lost a presidential election.

Tilden lost to Rutherford B. Hayes in 1876. Cleveland lost to Benjamin Harrison in 1888. And Gore lost to the current prez way back in 2000.

Andrew Jackson won the popular and the electoral vote in 1824. But no one in that four-man race won a majority of electoral votes, and the House of Representatives picked John Quincy Adams.

Just in time for presidential campaign season, here's your how-to-sound-smart-at-the-cookout quickie lesson on the Electoral College.

(Tip No. 1: Don't say "electrical.")

The Founding Fathers were somewhat wary of direct elections. They believed that too much power in the hands of voters could make them vulnerable to last-minute gimmicks and fraud.

Originally, the only federal lawmakers directly elected were members of the House of Representatives. Senators were chosen by state legislatures until 1913. This was all seen as part of a necessary balance of power.

Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution stipulates that each state would be allotted a number of "electors" equal to the total of its congressional representation. (One for each House member and one for each of its two senators.)

When a presidential candidate receives the most popular votes in a state, electors pledged to him control all the state's electoral votes. (This is not true in Nebraska and Maine, where electors are chosen by congressional district.) The presidential ticket that receives a majority of the electoral votes become president and vice -president.

What if a ticket comes very close but still doesn't take populous states? Despite pulling in many popular votes, they still don't win any of those states' electoral votes. What if those losing candidates also win many smaller states by landslides, piling up popular votes while winning relatively few electoral votes?

That's how it's possible for a candidate to win the popular vote and lose the election. And that's the biggest argument against the Electoral College. In 8 elections between 1824 and 2000, presidents were elected without popular majorities - including Abraham Lincoln, who won election in 1860 with under 40 percent of the national vote.

So why have the Electoral College?

Many experts believe it provides a national mandate, unifies the parties, requires broad geographic support and protects the interests of small states and sparsely populated areas.

Debates abound - including those at election season cookouts. Find out more online at

Source: Encyclopedia Britannica



On quotes ...

Who said the following?

1. "Let's get out of these wet clothes and into a dry martini."

2. "She got her looks from her father. He's a plastic surgeon."

3. "Everything I did in my life that was worthwhile, I caught hell for."

4. "Dance like no one is watching. Sing like no one is listening. Love like you've never been hurt. And live like it's heaven on Earth."

5. "No comment. But don't quote me."



1. Robert Benchley

2. Groucho Marx

3. Chief Justice Earl Warren

4. Mark Twain

5. Dan Quayle

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Jeff Elder is a columnist for The Charlotte Observer. Comment or try to stump him by clicking here. If you send him a great question, he'll send you a Glad You Asked T-shirt.


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