chapter  3
8 Pages

Why do we care about intelligence?

Most of us had our first ‘intelligence’ test, of sorts, when we were born. Within minutes, midwives and doctors administer the Apgar test. This test, devised by Virginia Apgar in 1952, does not require pushing, prodding, needles or any kind of intrusive measures. It involves rating the baby’s appearance (blue to pink), pulse or heart rate (<100 bpm to >100 bpm), grimace (no response to sneezing or coughing), activity (in arms and legs to all-over movement) and respiration (slow and irregular to good and crying). If the baby’s Apgar score is less than 7 much more attention is given to the development and activities of the baby over the next hours and days. The claim is that the Apgar score predicts subsequent survival and development. In this sense, the Apgar score is valuable – it is not directly a measure of health, but a surrogate or approximation that is easier to obtain than plugging in heart monitors, using injections to draw blood and so on. The power of the Apgar score is that it unobtrusively measures and that it predicts. In the same way we need to ask in what ways a measure of intelligence (the IQ test) is valuable – what does it predict or explain? Is what it predicts useful? Do the positive consequences exceed the negative?