Have you ever had an IQ, DNA Test experience? What does the test saying? Let’s make the test more clear and know the problems together.For the past several years, the Sunday newspaper supplement Parade has featured a column called “Ask Marilyn.” People are invited to query Marilyn vos Savant, who at age 10 had tested at a mental level of someone about 23 years old; that gave her an IQ of 228 – the highest score ever recorded. IQ tests ask you to complete verbal and visual analogies, to envision paper after it has been folded and cut, and to deduce numerical sequences, among other similar tasks. So it is a bit confusing when vos Savant fields such queries from the average Joe (whose IQ is 100) as, What’s the difference between love and fondness? Or what is the nature of luck and coincidence? It’s not obvious how the capacity to visualize objects and to figure out numerical patterns suits one to answer questions that have eluded some of the best poets and philosophers.
Clearly, intelligence encompasses more than a score on a test. Just what does it mean to be smart? How much of intelligence can be specified, and how much can we learn about it from neurology, genetics, computer science and other fields?
The defining term of intelligence in humans still seems to be the IQ score, even though IQ tests are not given as often as they used to be. The test comes primarily in two forms: the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale and the Wechsler Intelligence Scales (both come in adult and children’s version). Generally costing several hundred dollars, they are usually given only by psychologists, although variations of them populate bookstores and the World Wide Web. Superhigh scores like vos Savant’s are no longer possible, because scoring is now based on a statistical population distribution among age peers, rather than simply dividing the mental age by the chronological age and multiplying by 100. Other standardized tests, such as the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) and the Graduate Record Exam (GRE), capture the main aspects of IQ tests.
Such standardized tests may not assess all the important elements necessary to succeed in school and in life, argues Robert J. Sternberg. In his article “How Intelligent Is Intelligence Testing?”, Sternberg notes that traditional test best assess analytical and verbal skills but fail to measure creativity and practical knowledge, components also critical to problem solving and life success. Moreover, IQ test do not necessarily predict so well once populations or situations change. Research has found that IQ predicted leadership skills when the tests were given under low-stress conditions, but under high-stress conditions, IQ was negatively correlated with leadership – that is, it predicted the opposite. Anyone who has toiled through SAT will testify that test-taking skill also matters, whether it’s knowing when to guess or what questions to skip.
It is a wise father that knows his own child, but today a man can boost his paternal (fatherly) wisdom – or at least confirm that he’s the kid’s dad. All he needs to do is shell out $30 for paternity testing kit (PTK) at his local drugstore – and another $120 to get the results.
More than 60,000 people have purchased the PTKs since they first become available without prescriptions last year, according to Doug Fog, chief operating officer of Identigene, which makes the over-the-counter kits. More than two dozen companies sell DNA tests directly to the public, ranging in price from a few hundred dollars to more than $2500.
Among the most popular: paternity and kinship testing, which adopted children can use to find their biological relatives and families can use to track down kids put up for adoption. DNA testing is also the latest rage a many passionate genealogists—and supports businesses that offer to search for a family’s geographic roots.
Most tests require collecting cells by webbing saliva in the mouth and sending it to the company for testing. All tests require a potential candidate with whom to compare DNA.
But some observers are skeptical. “There is a kind of false precision being hawked by people claiming they are doing ancestry testing,” says Trey Duster, a New York University sociologist. He notes that each individual has many ancestors—numbering in the hundreds just a few centuries back. Yet most ancestry testing only considers a single lineage, either the Y chromosome inherited through men in a father’s line or mitochondrial DNA, which is passed down only from mothers. This DNA can reveal genetic information about only one or two ancestors, even though, for example, just three generations back people also have six other great-grandparents or, four generations back, 14 other great-great-grandparents.
Critics also argue that commercial genetic testing is only as good as the reference collections to which a sample is compared. Databases used by some companies don’t rely on data collected systematically but rather lump together information from different research projects. This means that a DNA database may differ depending on the company that processes the results. In addition, the computer programs a company uses to estimate relationships may be patented and not subject to peer review or outside evaluation.
In the early 1960s Wilt Chamberlain was one of only three players in the National Basketball Association (NBA) listed at over seven feet. If he had played last season, however, he would have been one of 42. The bodies playing major professional sports have changed dramatically over the years, and managers have been more than willing to adjust team uniforms to fit the growing numbers of bigger, longer frames.
The trend in sports, though, may be obscuring an unrecognized reality: Americans have generally stopped growing. Though typically about two inches taller now than 140 years ago, today’s people – especially those born to families who have lived in the U.S. for many generations – apparently reached their limit in the early 1960s. And they aren’t likely to get any taller. “In the general population today, at this genetic, environmental level, we’ve pretty much gone as far as we can go,” says anthropologist William Cameron Chumlea of Wright State University. In the case of NBA players, their increase in height appears to result from the increasingly common practice of recruiting players from all over the world.
Growth, which rarely continues beyond the age of 20, demands calories and nutrients – notably, protein – to feed expanding tissues. At the start of the 20th century, under-nutrition and childhood infections got in the way. But as diet and health improved, children and adolescents have, on average, increased in height by about an inch and a half every 20 years, a pattern known as the secular trend in height. Yet according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, average height – 5′9″ for men, 5′4″ for women – hasn’t really changed since 1960.
Genetically speaking, there are advantages to avoiding substantial height. During childbirth, larger babies have more difficulty passing through the birth canal. Moreover, even though humans have been upright for millions of years, our feet and back continue to struggle with bipedal posture and cannot easily withstand repeated strain imposed by oversize limbs. “There are some real constraints that are set by the genetic architecture of the individual organism,” says anthropologist William Leonard of Northwestern University.
Genetic maximums can change, but don’t expect this to happen soon. Claire C. Gordon, senior anthropologist at the Army Research Center in Natick, Mass., ensures that 90 percent of the uniforms and workstations fit recruits without alteration. She says that, unlike those for basketball, the length of military uniforms has not changed for some time. And if you need to predict human height in the near future to design a piece of equipment, Gordon says that by and large, “you could use today’s data and feel fairly confident.”