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Ever wanted to determine the IQ of someone who didn’t want to be tested? I have the solution. Simply say “I’m doing a survey, in your opinion, who are the 10 most influential people in history? By influential I mean, had the greatest impact on history and humanity.”

Before reading any further, readers should ask themselves this question, and write down your answers.

While many people don’t like taking IQ tests because they fear they’re being judged, people are more tolerant of surveys, especially short ones, especially when they feel their opinion is being valued. So this is a brief one question IQ test disguised as a survey.

So once you get people to give their opinions, it’s time to score their answers. For each of the 10 people they name who ranks in the top ten of Michael Hart’s list of the 100 most influential persons in history, they get 2 points. For each of the 10 people they name who ranks from #11 to #100, they get 1 point. For each person they name who is not on Hart’s list, they get 0 points. Maximum score 20 points.

Converting these raw points into IQ equivalents will take some research but I suspect this test might have a respectable correlation with IQ because it takes general knowledge and judgement to identify the 10 most influential people in history, and general knowledge correlates highly with general intelligence.

Because history was influenced by science, religion, politics, literature etc, one needs a knowledge and understanding of all those topics to answer this question competently so general knowledge is crucial.

While psychiatrists have long used measures of general knowledge as a rough and ready measure of intelligence, psychologists avoided it, understanding that intelligence and knowledge are two different things. However when the results of the army IQ tests came in during WWI, the big surprise was that general knowledge correlated better with overall IQ than any other subtest. As David Wechsler would later say, the size of a man’s knowledge is not only an index of his schooling, but a measure of his intellect. While knowledge and intelligence should never be confused, it’s obvious that smarter brains can absorb more information, better organize and categorize it, and more quickly retrieve it.

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