copy of a letter to an academic
People were always implying that I believed things about my IQ, and that this influenced me in wanting to take more subjects than other people and/or to take exams in them at an earlier age.
It should be pointed out that ideas about IQ and genius were not in my mind or my environment at all, until statements about them were explicitly made by the psychologist who volunteered to do an IQ test on me in an apparently casual way when I was ten. This was just after I had taken the grammar school scholarship exam in Essex – and before my parents and I were told by the Reverend Mother, at a preliminary interview, that I had come top of the county with a 100% score on every paper.
A few days after my taking the test, my father transmitted the following information: my IQ was 180 which supposedly meant I was ‘near-genius’. The IQ of a child was said to be loosely equivalent to mental age* divided by chronological age, which implied that a ten-year-old with an IQ of 140 would have a mental age of fourteen, and that at the age of ten my own mental age was eighteen.
‘Genius’ was defined as having an IQ score of 200 or over. My IQ was 180, and that was allegedly ‘near-genius’. In fact, the cut-off value for the test I took was 180, so that it was impossible to get a reported value above this, but I did not realise this until some years later.
Such statements would not be made nowadays, but at that time they were transmitted to me (via my father) by the educational psychologist, employed by the local education authority, who had administered the test.
One wonders what could have been the motivation of the local council in allowing him to make such definite assertions.
In fact, I developed a view of the situation, as perhaps I was supposed to, in which there was a considerable population of people with IQs between 180 and 200, and even a considerable population of people with IQs over 200. So I felt there was nothing remarkable in the IQ that I had.
I did not think that they might have understated my IQ until decades later, when I read in C.W. Valentine’s The Normal Child and some of his Abnormalities – which had not been published at the time I took the test – that a girl who could read a primer fluently at the age of two (as I could myself) was said to have a possible IQ of 300, since reading implied a mental age of at least six or seven.
* The term ‘intelligence quotient’ was originally coined by German psychologist William Stern to express this relationship between mental age and chronological age.
I appeal for financial and moral support in improving my position. I need people to provide moral support both for fundraising, and as temporary or possibly long-term workers. Those interested should read my post on interns.