Tel’s comment on my IQ tests post

My friend Tel wrote a comment on my post on IQ tests, and I liked it so much that I’ve taken the liberty of reproducing it below, along with the offensive question.

The article Tel links to is well worth reading, as it summarises nicely the kinds of arguments I wrote in my post. The offensive IQ question was:

John likes 400 but not 300; he likes 100 but not 99; he likes 3600 but not 3700. Which does he like: 900, 1000, 1100, 1200.


Hi Sacha,

Horrible question, the “obvious” answer depends on the assumption that 
John is as mathematically naive as the writer of the question.

This month’s issue of the AustMS gazette has a nice article by Imre

Problem 1.         1,2,3,x,…                 Find x.

He goes on to give examples which show the question is ill-formed. The
question in the intellignece test and many questions like it are
ill-formed and thus do not  have a solution.

See Bokor’s article, well worth the read

6 Responses to Tel’s comment on my IQ tests post

  1. GMB says:

    Sacha my hands are tied at Catallaxy. It would be neat to take up the Catallaxy debate here.

  2. Sacha says:

    What was the Catallaxy debate? I havn’t had much free time recently.

  3. Sacha says:

    The unfortunate thing, Tel, is that many questions on intelligence tests are ill-posed and don’t have solutions. How do we get this idea into the culture of people who use and write these tests? I don’t know.

  4. Sacha says:

    I wrote to Imre suggesting that he consider publishing his article in a Teacher’s publication or an Education journal.

  5. morganusvitus says:

    The site looks great ! Thanks for all your help ( past, present and future !)

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