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Last night CBC had a two hour special called Test the Nation. It was essentially a 60 question IQ test that the viewers could take along with the studio audience.

Their hook was that as the test went on, they would give some statistics about how well various groups of people were doing compared to others—the in-studio group of surgeons compared to fitness instructors (surgeons came out on top), red heads versus blondes (red heads), and men versus women (men, but only by 1 point). Shaun Majumder came out ahead of the other Canadian celebrities, but the overall winner was from the millionaire team with an IQ of 137. He won a free trip somewhere, but somehow I don’t think Daddy Warbucks was overly ecstatic about that one.

Questions varied between Sesame Street style “one of these things is not like the other” style, remembering details in a picture or video, basic mathematics, word definitions, and recognizing patterns.

Though fairly entertaining, I don’t think the test was as focused on innate intelligence as they claimed. Since you generally only had 10 to 20 seconds for each question, it often only tested how quickly you could read questions and do simple calculations. (“If two people are walking two dogs each, how many legs are there?”)

“So, it’s like the GREs,” quipped one girl in my philosophy class. The same criticisms apply to any purported intelligence test, I suppose.

One question in particular really raised a red flag. The task was to fill in the blank and complete the series: Arden, Dion, ______, Lavigne, and another name I can’t remember. How, exactly, does recognizing the last names of several female Canadian musicians indicate how intelligent I am? I’m still not sure what the pattern was. Alphabetical? Age? Juno award wins? With 1 second left, I guessed Twain; the answer was Furtado.

In the end my IQ was 126, whatever that means. I’m not sure if being able to divide two numbers, remember the definition of “altruistic”, or recognize rotational isomorphisms in 10 seconds makes me any smarter than someone who takes 15. These things can be practiced. Then again I’m also not convinced knowing why Furtado fits in the sequence makes you any smarter than me. At least this is more believable than other IQ tests I’ve taken on the internet, which have put me as high as 154 and as low as 76. Take from it what you will.

Random FAQ Comments (9)

9 Responses to “CBC’s Test the Nation”

  1. anon says:

    Uh, the Furtado was about finding a celebrity name that fit into alphabetical order. Its pattern seeking.

    Also, IQ tests are timed, that shows how well your brain works.

    IQ is not nearly as important as persistence in life. Those fixated on IQ are generally misfits with no life.

  2. GP says:

    They are timed, but generally not in a 10-seconds-per-question kind of way. That puts a lot more stress into the situation. It’s more practical for a TV test, and more fun to do, but I doubt it helps the accuracy. (Picture that last word with “finger quotes”.) The ones I’ve seen either set a length for the test as a whole, or use the time you needed to finish as a factor in the final calculation.

    The problem with the Furtado question was more that there are many possible patterns. Alphabetical is the only one that doesn’t require any knowledge of pop culture, but there was a similar question on the website that put recent prime ministers of Canada in chronological order. Maybe I was wrong about that one too… Or else the right answer fits all possible patterns.

    Either way, it’s a biased question, because if you don’t need to know who they are but do, it means you know more patterns to look for and it takes more time to consider them. If they just wanted to test alphabetization skills, they didn’t need to be cute about it.

    But of course it is just a TV show :p

  3. lambic says:

    I took the online test, and the part that annoyed me the most was being asked my star sign. What has that got to do with anything?

  4. anon says:

    I am against Astrology as its nonsense, but its great they asked that question, as if you look at the results, you see there is no correlation of IQ with Astrology.

    But in retrospect, the timed responses did create a difference. Other IQ tests I have done were timed overall, so you had extra time for the hard ones, if you went fast on the easy ones for you.

    In this IQ test, certain areas I got 100% and finished in a few seconds, whereas the Visual areas went poorly.

    But that is relevant as well, as you an see where you are weaker.

    The test was pretty accurate, it correlated with the careers pretty well.

    Celebrities are the dumbest people on earth…that is why they are Popular, as they don’t threaten others by being too smart.

  5. Craig says:

    Question #40 or #41 (not sure which) in the math category was answered incorrectly by the host.

    It read: If 2

  6. GP says:

    anon: You said “it correlated with the careers pretty well.” What you really mean is that the careers correlated with your expectations pretty well. Two different things!

    Craig: Looks like your comment got cut off. I looked up the two questions on the website:

    40) If 3x+15=30, what is x+5?

    41) If 4 < x < 6 and 2 < y < 6, what is the largest possible value of x+y? I remember both questions were answered correctly on the show. In both cases, the answer is 10.

  7. Slavik81 says:

    Actually, if 4

  8. Slavik81 says:

    5.5 + 5.5 = 11 (grr… it cuts me off)

  9. GP says:

    Well, if you want to be picky, eleven isn’t the maximum value either. With real numbers you can get arbitrarily close to 12.

    lim[(x,y)->(6,6)] x+y = 12

    There is an implicit assumption that we’re dealing with integers. Considering 11.9999…. wasn’t on the list of answers, it’s the only thing that makes sense.

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