Flynn Effect – IQ Test Scores say We Are Getting Smarter Every Year

By Anupum Pant

My Opinion of the IQ tests

I don’t like IQ tests (WAIS, WISC, etc). Why?

Well, IQ tests are designed with an assumed definition of the word “intelligence”. They assume that “intelligence” can be estimated by measuring how closely a person thinks like the other “intelligent” people (probably the ones who design the test). IQ tests measure general Intelligence, not “intelligence”. However, today general intelligence and intelligence are used interchangeably by most of us.

IQ tests are standardised tests that give you standardized test scores which merely indicate how well you would perform at other standardized tests (academic performance). Also, these tests are not an indicator of how well a person would do in his/her life.

IQ tests assume that General intelligence and Intelligence are the same things, or this is what the society has come to believe. To them, the other sub-intelligence types like interpersonal intelligence, intra-personal intelligence, musical intelligence, creativity, memory etc. mean nothing.

I think, intelligence is a much more complex quality than what IQ tests assume it to be. Quantifying intelligence is hard and presently no test does it properly; probably no test ever will…

For instance, the Megasavant, Kim Peek (Rainman) scored a below average (87 points) on general IQ tests. Agreed, he couldn’t button up his shirt, but he could speed read a book in about an hour and remember almost everything he had read. Besides, he could accurately recall the contents of at least 12,000 books which he had read in his life. And yet, this incredible ability meant nothing to the IQ tests. IQ tests looked at him as a guy with just a below-average IQ.

However, I’m not here to debate on IQ tests today. Let’s take it to the comments section. Tell me what do you think about these tests.

I like it or not, I can’t deny the fact that it is a world standard. And there is definitely a solid reason for that. So let’s just learn something about these tests…

The Flynn effect

Did you know, the IQ test scores are not absolute. The score you get is adjusted in a way that keeps the average IQ at 100 and also ensures that 2/3 people lie in an IQ band of 85-115 points.

But that is what IQ tests and scores are based on, so many people probably know that. There is one other thing you almost certainly did not know…

The WISC test: One of the widely used IQ test is called WISC (Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children). It started in the year 1947, and to ensure that the average IQ remains 100, it has been recalibrated 3 times in the 70s, 80s and the 2000s decade. Today WISC IV is used.

Had our grandparents taken the present WISC IV test about a century back, they would have probably scored 70 points on an average. That would have classified them as mentally retarded! Clearly, we have become smarter. Or what?

Yes, in fact the constant increase in this average IQ test scores has been observed for a long time by scientists. They have measured a gradual rise of 3 points every decade and this effect is called Flynn effect. And that is the reason the test has to be recalibrated regularly – to keep the average at 100 points. Is this evolution doing its work?

Why does it happen

Frankly, no one knows for sure. Like the theories that offer explanation on what sleep exactly does to our brains, even Flynn effect has a couple of possible explanations. Three of the most plausible ones are these:

  1. “Better” schooling or in other words better training  at schools which makes students get familiar with the IQ test pattern, is one explanation. Our schools have evolved to impart education in a form that helps a kid do better at IQ tests. This is pretty clear from the way our present education system doesn’t give much importance to creativity, just like IQ tests don’t…although it beats me, why memory is given a substantial weight-age at schools.
  2. Improved nutrition is another explanation. Most certainly, excluding fast foods and other such foods, we eat better things than what our grand-parents used to. The inclusion of iodine in common salt is one such example. Also, parents these days ensure that the children in their formative years get the best nutrition – exactly at the time when the brain forms most connections. That could have clearly helped us get smarter.
  3. Some researchers have a different take on how better education and nutrition has helped us get smarter. They suggest that the better lifestyle, education and nutrition has had an effect on our IQs by reducing the intensity of infectious diseases.

What do you think? Do you agree with the IQ test system. Do you think it isn’t just a social phenomena? What else could be the reason that we are getting smarter? Tell me in the comments.

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Myths on Facebook – Negative Calorie Foods

By Anupum Pant

I have never felt the necessity to pay attention to diet related news/facts till date (now I do).
So, never in my life had I read the phrase “negative calorie foods”, until yesterday, when a friend posted the following “WTF fact” on Facebook:

Celery has negative calories! It takes more calories to eat a piece of celery than the celery has in it.

BS! I cried, and like with everything I read on the internet, I was skeptical about this too. Hence, I decided to investigate. Here is what I found out.

Negative Calories in theory

Theoretically, it is indeed possible for edible items to be negative calorie foods. It works this way.

The body takes more calories to process a negative calorie food item than it (the food item) provides to the body. That basically means that you can sit all day, eat celery, fill your tummy and still keep losing weight. Sounds too good to be true. Exactly!

A Myth

It has been proved once and again that the number of calories your body burns while processing food is tiny when compared with the calories in that food item. So, scientists haven’t yet found a truly “negative calorie” food item.
For instance, a stalk of celery provides 6 calories to the body, but the body expends only half of a single calorie digesting it. That is +five and half calories. As expected, It isn’t negative. In fact, none of the foods advertised have been conclusively proved as actually negative calorie foods. Except one, which again, isn’t really food.

Ice cold water is the only known negative calorie thing you can ingest. It needs more amount of calories to get processed in the body than it give the body.  Most of this energy expended by the body goes into warming up the ice-cold water.

Celery is still good

However, that doesn’t mean celery is not a healthy food item. When compared to other greasy things you could ingest, celery of course is a good alternative (if you are looking to eat healthy). In terms of calorie intake, you’ll be doing great by eating a lot of celery to fill your stomach. But, positive calories mean that you’ll not lose weight unless you get moving. No wonder, virtually every dietitian has a load of celery mentioned in his/her diet plan.

Also, note that, while it is a good food, it isn’t something you could survive on. If you are thinking of trying an only-celery diet, you should know that you’ll be depriving your body of several necessary nutrients by trying that. Consult an informed nutritionist before trying a diet plan.

Finding an informed Nutritionist

To confirm if it is a good nutritionist you are talking to, you could probably test them by innocently inquiring if celery is a negative calorie food item or not. If he/she LOLs and tells you that it is a myth, it would be a good idea to go to them for diet plans.

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