IQ Measures Not Just Brains, But Also Culture

Smarts index is rising because the world's more 'demanding'
By Jonas Oransky,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 13, 2007 4:55 PM CST

(Newser) – The average global IQ is rising three points per decade not because humans are getting smarter, but because culture is getting more challenging—and the measure isn’t just a test of our smarts genes. The quotient effectively tests “the quality of the world [a] person lives in,” the New Yorker’s Malcolm Gladwell writes, dissolving the myth that intelligence is fixed.

Far from demonstrating innate race-based brain differences—Asians are smarter than Europeans, white Americans are smarter than black Americans—differing IQ results in different cultures prove that the test measures the effects of culture on cognition. Its mutability over time shows modern cultures are more demanding of abstract thinking—that the brain is dynamic and deserving of a better exam.