You may or may not know this by now, but I am very interested in the actual literal meaning of words. If the goal is to use complete accuracy in the way I express myself, I have to admit that I fall short even as I strive in that direction. There are a lot of words that get misused in our country, and that misuse leads to actual changes in their definitions. It’s hard to find a modern dictionary that tells us what one would have told us just a few years ago if you looked up certain terms.
Take, for example, the words we use to insult people that we don’t think are as smart as they should be. You have surely heard people use words like ‘idiot’, ‘moron’ or ‘imbecile’ in these instances; but you might not have realized that it was the accuser’s knowledge that was more likely lacking than the other person’s intellect, when they did. These originated as psychological terms, with very specific definitions, and it turns out that many people don’t realize that.
An idiot is someone with an IQ that falls in the range of zero to twenty-five, according to the original definition. An imbecile is smarter than an idiot, testing somewhere between twenty-six and fifty in intelligence quotient. The moron is even more clever than the idiot or the imbecile, as they have an IQ between fifty-one and seventy. With the average IQ of modern day Americans falling somewhere between eighty-five and one hundred fifteen, a very small portion of the population can accurately be described using such specific terms.
That being said, most idiots are men.
So are most imbeciles, and most morons. We have come to use different terms when talking about folks with mental challenges, since we considered it mean to call them idiots, imbeciles and morons. Science moved on to ‘mentally retarded’ for awhile, but even that started to offend folks. ‘Mental’ relates to thought, and ‘retarding’ something slows it down; so the two words seem more apt and less cruel than the others. Nonetheless, popular use made it unpopular, and it’s one of the terms that the current collective Orwellian mind has tried to eliminate.
Let’s talk about mentally challenged people, then.
Like I said before, most of them are men. It’s way more common for males to be born with an IQ under seventy. That doesn’t make them idiots, or even imbeciles; but it does make them morons at best, and easily classifies them as mentally challenged within our current acceptable lingo. It’s not to say that no females are born that fall into this category; it’s just that there are way less. Although it’s still pretty ignorant to say that most men are idiots, it’s accurate to say that more men are idiots than women. It’s not quite as catchy, as far as sayings go; but at least it’s true. To keep it snappy and short, while maintaining that accuracy, we can always just switch a couple words around.
Most idiots are men!
There we go, both snappy and true. It’s still missing something, though; and we’d be remiss not to mention it here.
Most geniuses are men, too.
In fact, average intelligence is a different thing when you are considering different sexes. Women and men have about the same overall average in our country, but the numbers are a little less scattered along the spectrum for one sex than the other. Women tend to have less variation, which means that most women are more intelligent than most men. Although the averages are about the same whether it’s a mean average or a median average, the groupings themselves are still pretty different.
To refresh my own memory, a mean average is when you take a bunch of numbers, add them up and divide by the number of numbers you added. The resulting number is a mean average. If you tested three men with IQs of seventy, a hundred and a hundred thirty, you would arrive at an average of one hundred.
A median average is different in that it takes the middle number and calls it the average. In this instance, we get the same number. We might not if that fellow in the middle was a little smarter, or slightly dumber; if his score was ninety-five or one hundred five, that would be our median average while the mean average would go up or down by one or two…but you get the point.
Now, take three random women and you’ll probably get different numbers from their tests. They are likely to be grouped a little more closely together, and it would not be surprising to find that they have IQs of ninety, one hundred and one hundred ten. You’d get the same mean and median average out of this group, but you can also see how this group might relate to the other one. All three of these test subjects are way smarter than the guy with the lowest score; to them, he probably looks like a bit of an idiot.
He’s not, though; he’s a moron, and pretty smart as morons go.
Two of these women are as smart or smarter than the middle guy, and the third is close enough that she can relate to him without any level of difficulty. Ten intelligence quotient points don’t account for any huge differences, when it comes to comprehension or problem-solving abilities.
Now, it’s time to talk about that third guy.
At a hundred thirty IQ, our third guy is not a genius. He is, however, quite a bit smarter than any of our other test subjects. His ability to understand more complicated concepts and solve more difficult problems has been demonstrated by that test they all took. He may be able to explain these complicated concepts in a way that the others will also understand, even; since he has likely spent his whole life dealing with men and women that were significantly less intelligent than him.
Or he might hold his tongue, lest he be accused of ‘mansplaining’.
There is way more variance in people than our thought experiment allowed for, and there are plenty of females out there that are of genius IQ. In fact, the highest score ever recorded was a woman. You probably even recognize her name.
Marilyn Vos Savant has the highest recorded IQ score. Although many people insist that her scores are literally off the chart, since most standardized testing methods top out at one hundred seventy, Savant holds the world record at two hundred twenty-eight.
Now, that’s wicked smart.
As an aside…what’s the first word you think of when I say ‘savant’?
By any chance…it isn’t ‘idiot’, is it?
Is that messed up, or what?
We should listen to what Ms. Savant says, if intelligence quotient matters. According to her, the testing of intelligence is based on so many varying factors that current methods fall far short of reliably measuring it.
Wait? Did the person with the best IQ score ever really say that the tests are unreliable and inaccurate? I wish we could talk; I’d love to her have explain that to me.
I mean, I can’t say that I would understand the explanation; but I’d sure like to try. If only she wrote a column, where I could send in my question and she would answer it…
Next week, we’ll be looking at what kind of choices rats make when they are locked in a cage and studied. I hope you haven’t concluded that I am an idiot at this point; I’d love to have you back next week for…
‘Cocaine or Freedom?’
Thanks for reading!
All the best,