Re: iq tests

From: James Rogers (
Date: Thu May 18 2000 - 07:00:36 MDT

On Wed, 17 May 2000, Emlyn wrote:
> Funny thing about these "culturally neutral" tests, is that you get better
> at them the more of them you do. It gets easier to spot patterns in the way
> the questions are formulated.
> Also, powers of 2, pascal and fibbonacci sequences, come on. That's got to
> be heavily culturally biased. Or maybe people who don't know the powers of 2
> by sight are thickies?

A better choice would have been powers of 7, which is far less likely to
pick up a familiarity bias.

I would expect that many computer programmers and some types of engineers
would not only recognize powers of 2, but could do arbitrary manipulations
of them in their sleep; I also would not expect the average person to
catch on as quickly. This is especially true for programmers that use
languages that require you to be familiar with the hardware. I certainly
know that I can effortlessly and naturally manipulate integers in base
16/10/2 that are binary encoded whether their representation is in
decimal, hex, or binary, largely as a result of doing C programming for
many years. Recognizing the power set of a given base is pretty
fundamental to manipulating numbers in that base.

I suspect that any symbolic manipulation will be subject to the biases
that result from culture specific activities that do cognitively similar
manipulations. I do think it is possible to create a nearly bias-free
symbolic test, but it would probably require a lot of research to do well.

-James Rogers

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