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Pierre Brassau, Monkey Artist, 1964
Snowball the Monster Cat, 2000
Cat that walked 3000 miles to find its owners, 1951
What do the lines on Solo cups mean?
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The disumbrationist art hoax, 1924
Old-Time Photo Fakery, 1900 to 1919
Use your left ear to detect lies
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Prof. Wingard's Death Ray Hoax, 1876
IQ Challenge
Status: Practical joke
I evidently don't spend enough time on LiveJournal, because if I did I would have known about the IQ Challenge sooner. (It was evidently quite popular on LiveJournal.) As it is, I completely missed out on it, and now it's over.

What it was (or claimed to be) was an IQ test offered by Once you completed the test, it produced a small graphic showing your score that you could post on your site. The joke was that the test gave everyone a high score. But the graphic that you posted on your site would (unbeknownst to you) show a low score. You can imagine the results this produced. Here's one person's description:
a lot of people got really cocky about how they scored on the IQ test. I saw one woman post the results on her blog and beneath the image she wrote something like: “Wow, I scored a 155! [My friend] only scored a 70. I guess I scored so much higher due to life experience and being a good test taker.” But the image said she only scored a 70-something as well.
Someone else’s blog post said, “I’m superior! I always knew I was brilliant!”
Just check out Google blogsearch…there are a ton of posts, mostly on Livejournal, of people proudly showing off their phony IQ scores. A few people even said, “This is a much better and more accurate IQ test than the one at!” Even though you could have guessed any question wrong on the phony test and have scored a 150+.
The weird thing is that I bet those people who believed they scored well on the test will continue to believe they have above-average intelligence, even after finding out that the test results were meaningless. That's just the way the mind works.

The test is no longer online, although I think whoever created it should keep it up. It would be like a permanent trap for the gullible.
Categories: Psychology
Posted by The Curator on Wed May 10, 2006
Comments (36)
A little cognitive dissonance goes a long way, the people bragging about their scores expected a high score before the test and still do even now. Though it is interesting that the word "gullible" is not in the dictionary.
Posted by Lonewatchman  on  Wed May 10, 2006  at  01:18 AM
Yeah, those people are pretty dumb. It's shocking to note that in America, education is so messed up that over 49% of students have below average intelligence. 49%!
Posted by Citizen Premier  in  spite of public outcry  on  Wed May 10, 2006  at  01:34 AM
My pals on LJ figured it out within a day, but only a few of us even bothered taking the quiz. (2 out of 40+.)
Posted by cvirtue  on  Wed May 10, 2006  at  01:39 AM
If it's no longer up, it's probably been a victim of its own popularity. It doesn't take much to wang someone's site into oblivion, and memes spread through LJ at a rate codified by scientists as 'Damn Fast Per Second'.
Posted by Robin Bobcat  in  Californian Wierdo  on  Wed May 10, 2006  at  01:55 AM
The IQ test itself, when considered as a mathematical "measure" of "intelligence", is not much more than a hoax.
Posted by Christophe Thill  on  Wed May 10, 2006  at  03:51 AM
i am not so sure about 49% of population.
Posted by buba  on  Wed May 10, 2006  at  08:50 AM
I was part of this even, and yes, people did say "But the original score was accurate", even though the test did not take age, location, primaray language, or the time taken to answer the questions into account.
The questions were taken from real tests but the score was randomly generated.
Posted by 50%hoaxer  on  Wed May 10, 2006  at  09:43 AM
I really enjoyed the text left on the site. And I agree with it. Intelligence is over-rated. I was watching a documentary on stupidity the other night, and someone said: 'Even the most intelligent people can not define stupidity accurately. Fact is, nobody agrees on what stupid or intelligent really is'.
Posted by StarLizard  in  Quebec, Canada  on  Wed May 10, 2006  at  10:28 AM
Apparently Buba missed the joke..."49% below average intelligence" is just about as meaningful as "3/4 of America makes up 75% of the population."

Must agree with Christophe. I know plenty of people who scored "high" on professionally-given IQ tests (not online ones) and are complete morons. Hell, even I scored pretty high.

IQ is simply a person's POTENTIAL for intelligence, not actual intelligence. A person can opt to take advantage of that potential, or they can remain idiots and just brag to everyone how high their IQ is.
Posted by Julian  on  Wed May 10, 2006  at  10:54 AM
Ahh yes, the old 49% joke... of course, if 9 people have an IQ of 10, and 1 person has an IQ of 1, the average IQ is 9.1 , and clearly only 10% of the people have below average IQ.....
Posted by rayban  on  Wed May 10, 2006  at  11:45 AM
IQ is even less than "a person's POTENTIAL for intelligence." It is at best a measure of aptitude for the small and abstract puzzles typically found on an IQ test. Most likely, it is nothing more than a measure of the ability to score well on IQ tests.
Posted by tighthead  in  Whitehorse, Yukon  on  Wed May 10, 2006  at  01:56 PM
thank you rayban,
i got the joke i missed the logic.
Posted by buba  on  Wed May 10, 2006  at  02:03 PM
I think the statistical measure you have in mind is closer to the median than the average...
Posted by E Galois  on  Wed May 10, 2006  at  02:59 PM
As it so happens I am a member of MENSA and I did score a 152 on their tests.

I *do* think the tests measure something (at the very least how much better you do/do not perfom on that specific test) but I don't think they are an indicator for succes or making smart decisions.

I can tell you from experience that it doesn't help much in RL (real life for you non-mensa members... just kidding).

I've grown *very* weary of telling anyone I'm a member too as I usually get one of two of reactions:

#1 the 'I guessed so already' or 'that explains' reaction (i.e. someone seems to agree with the test that I'm not all that stupid, and perhaps a little smarter on certain subjects/tasks)

#2 the 'dismissive' reaction, where people decide it's best to make fun of it/you, either because they sincerely don't believe the test results indicate anything, or simply because knowing someone else scored high on the MENSA test makes them feel they're less / more insecure... (Donald Trump seems to be a good example of the latter).

Anyhow, I've met some nice people through MENSA, especially in Europe, i.e. people who genuinely care about making sure that people who suffer from a High IQ score receive as much attention as those who perform badly.

Also, as a lot of 'us' are kinda low-IQ on the EQ/communication skills, myself included, I've always valued the chance of meeting 'like-minded' people. In your typical MENSA group skipping a few steps in a discussion does not lead to a glazed-over look, bluntness is accepted and common, critical discussion/review of another's viewpoints expected, (your) authority always questioned, and non-conforming considered a badge of honor.

I tried to meet a similar group in the US (NYC) and was shocked to find that some of 'us' here would more easily be identified as eugenics-prone Nazi's if it weren't a fact that close to 50% here are Jewish (I'm not), and then there's a very large percentage who seem to believe in UFOs, the Lord/Jesus and other figments of non-scientific popular imagination...

In short: I'm all IQd out.
Posted by Jim Smoth  in  NYC  on  Wed May 10, 2006  at  04:01 PM
in short: who cares? It has always seemed to me that people who join mensa are those that feel the need to prove to others their worth. People with any sort of brilliance and inspiration (how's that for a definitionb of intelligence?) are out doing real things instead of petty-intellectual one-upmanship.
Posted by bhubba  in  europe  on  Wed May 10, 2006  at  05:28 PM
Well Jim sure did live up to the elitist, snobbish, "my ideas are clearly superior to yours" stereotype of those who perform well on IQ tests and follow it up with exclusive pat-on-the-back groups. I wish I could get my nose that far in the air, but then I suspect it's hard to really get around much with a head that big.
Posted by Lonewatchman  on  Wed May 10, 2006  at  05:40 PM
From bhubba:
1. dismissive insult
2. unsubstantiated value judgement
3. unsubstantiated assertion combined with insult

From Lonewatchman:
1. Five insults in one sentence. Impressive!
2. Two insults in one sentence.

Along the lines of taking it as well as they dish it out, I'd sure love to hear responses from bhubba and Lonewatchman to this accusation:

You two sure are living up to the stereotype of petty jealous have-nots equating sour grapes with what is in fact a beautiful thing: a human mind that happens be be superior at certain types of processing.

Getting mad at people for having big brains makes about as much sense as getting mad at people with big bodies. Getting mad at people with big brains for joining clubs with other people with big brains makes about as much sense as getting mad at tall people for playing basketball.

So, the guy is smart. I reccommend getting over it, or at least sparing us the sour grapes, insults and unsubstantiated opinions.
Posted by intjudo  on  Wed May 10, 2006  at  07:46 PM
Acually, to be a pure pain in the arse, cognitive assessment ("I.Q.") raw scores are standardized, in which they are curved (like a bell curve), with the ultimate average score (100) most heavily populated. So, actually, it's already fewer than 49% scoring below "exact" average.

Additionally, the actual "average" range is between 90 to 110. Figuring the standardized curve into it, I'd estimate that less than 1/3 of the population scores below average.

FINALLY, you can't educate a student into scoring well on a valid (non-culturally biased) cognitive test. Academic growth is measured by academic achievement tests.

Ah... I've always wanted to sound snobbier than a Mensa member. I think I've succeeded. smile
Posted by karen  on  Wed May 10, 2006  at  09:19 PM
That's a pretty funny hoax. The Fallacy of Personal Validation is alive and well.
Posted by Karl M. Bunday  in  Minnesota  on  Wed May 10, 2006  at  09:57 PM
"Culturally biased test" just refers to any test that requires the student has learned something in his time at school.

Which brings me to the California High School Exit exam; 11% of students haven't passed it. Even if it's not their fault that they didn't learn basic english skills, I don't think they deserve a high school diploma. What good is a high school diploma if it doesn't certify any intelligence or talent? Why not have free Harvard diplomas for everyone?
Posted by Citizen Premier  in  spite of public outcry  on  Thu May 11, 2006  at  01:19 AM
Just found a software that trains your IQ (link attached)
Posted by Joe  on  Thu May 11, 2006  at  04:24 AM
Oh,here is the link
Posted by Joe  on  Thu May 11, 2006  at  04:26 AM
I took an IQ test on some matchmaker site that claimed to hook you up with similarly intelligent people. I scored a 129... okay so thats about average intelligence. (I know when I was younger that I scored in the 150's, but IQ can decrease with age so I wasnt too concerned..)

I then proceeded to take the test again, looking up the answers to the problems (lot of those which one of these doesnt belong... verbal stuff like foot is to shoe as hand is to ____ I forget what they're called)... I got a 129 again. I can assume at this point that it was rigged.

Anyway IQ doesnt mean much... I had near genius IQ when I was in grade school, and now Im some schlub working in a hospital laboratory. Its all in how you apply yourself.. which I never bothered to do... nothing with being cocky Im just lazy...
Posted by Emidawg  on  Thu May 11, 2006  at  04:37 AM
Emidawg - 129 is not average. 100 is. By definition.

IQ does not decrease with age - sorry...however, scores given do have an age factor added during calculation.

The reason you got the same score is that you probably got all the questions right. Each test has its limits - for most, it is 130; for some, 140.

Why didn't you score 130 each time? Because the age factor means that the top mark gets a different IQ score depending on what age group you are in.

You can take tests for higher IQs. But they all have their limits.

However, please don't mistake IQ for intelligence. It isn't. Is isn't even potential to be intelligent. It's an aspect of intelligence. Just that.

None of the tests will tell you how well you will get on in life. It's just a way to measure up and brag in the playground (if you'd like to know, I score 150 on 150-max tests; but I don't care - I have a job & life I enjoy which is nothing to do with my IQ). But measuring length/breadth of parts of your body is a more accurate (and more fun) way to do that. wink

Do a Google on IQ to check my facts.
Posted by Walders  on  Thu May 11, 2006  at  10:37 AM
I noticed that there definitely were a few people who did continue to justify their IQ score. Some people just did want to accept that the thing was a hoax.
Posted by Kristine  in  Newton, MA  on  Thu May 11, 2006  at  04:54 PM
"... FINALLY, you can't educate a student into scoring well on a valid (non-culturally biased)cognitive test."

Well, I suppose that's true by definition. The problem is that there is no such thing as a valid, non-culturally-biased, cognitive test. Reading the history of IQ testing, or even looking at a few of the tests themselves, makes this obvious.

As tighthead says, about all any of those tests really measure is how good you are at taking that type of test.

I score very high on IQ tests and most other standarized tests, so I'd like to tell everybody that means I'm hot stuff, but it really just means I have a talent for taking tests.
Posted by Big Gary  in  Gun Barrel City, Texas, USA  on  Thu May 11, 2006  at  06:34 PM
Reminds me of an episode of "King of the Hill"--or the various "Who's Who" book scams around. You've been selected for some honor--now would you like to buy the handsome, leather-bound proof of this honor?

I believe this is at least an aspect of the Forer Effect. (I am somehow special and different from everyone else--even though everyone feels that way.)
Posted by Joe in St. Louis  on  Thu May 11, 2006  at  11:03 PM
Actually, Citizen, you're only partially correct. Since IQ (cognitive) tests are meant to NOT test what's learned in school, valid cognitive tests work hard to NOT test what's been learned in school.

An oft-cited example of a culturally biased question is this: "What sort of roof would be best in a snowy region?" (Giving various examples of steep, and relatively flat.) Of course, if you grew up in South Africa, you may not ever have seen snow and don't know how to answer that. This is an indicator of learning and experience, not intelligence.

The common confusion is that intelligence (cognitive ability) is knowledge. It is not. Intelligence is the predicted capacity to learn and perform. Not a record of what has been learned.

All the school assessments we give students to demonstrate whether or not they are learning are NOT intelligence tests. They are academic achievement tests. (So you would expect a High School proficiency to NOT test intelligence.)

(By the way, the instant you see a trivia question on an internet IQ test, you can be guaranteed that the test is pure BS.)

In fact, your post gives a perfect example of non-teachable intelligence. Would you expect talent really to be teachable? No, of course not. Neither is intelligence.

Skills and knowledge are teachable. Intelligence and talent are not.

Oakely dokely.
Posted by karen  on  Thu May 11, 2006  at  11:16 PM
Oh, and to my knowledge, valid cognitive (IQ) tests are only given on an individual basis: one test taker and the test administrator. I could be wrong on this, but I don't know of any accepted cognitive assessment given any other way.

And you're right, Big Gary, truly culturally unbiased tests are a bit of a Holy Grail. But they're getting closer. smile
Posted by karen  on  Thu May 11, 2006  at  11:27 PM
The problem with testing the capacity to learn instead of what somebody has already learned is that learning things does increase someone's capacity to learn, in a way analogous to how lifting weight increases one's capacity to lift weight. So nobody can really make a strong, well-founded claim that a certain test measures capacity to learn rather than the tested person's history of learning.
If I were really smart, I might be able to figure out the Pythagorean Theorum on my own, but if I've been through high school, I should know it without having to puzzle it out.

Even more than they are culturally biased, IQ tests are linguistically biased. In the early 20th century, IQ tests administered to millions of U.S. military recruits led to the conclusion that a high percentage of immigrants were of sub-normal intelligence, because they couldn't answer questions like, "Who is Shoeless Joe Jackson," or "What's the difference between an angle and and angel?" Remember that the immigrants being tested knew only limited English, and many of them had had little or no schooling. Nonetheless, these test results were used for decades to bolster arguments for restricting immigration. They have also been used, in subtle and unsubtle ways, to support race-based and sex-based discrimination.
Posted by Big Gary  in  Gun Barrel City, Texas, USA  on  Fri May 12, 2006  at  08:34 AM
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