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Trump Challenges Tillerson To An IQ Test. But Are IQ Test Actually Accurate?

October 10, 2017, 2:35 PM UTC

The curious and increasingly combative relationship between President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson took another turn for the bizarre Tuesday, when Trump suggested the two “compare IQ tests” amid reports Tillerson had called him a “moron.”

There’s a hurdle, though. Regardless of who would win that competition — Trump implied he win — it would do nothing to answer the question of who is smarter.

Roughly five years ago, researchers concluded that IQ tests were not an accurate way to determine someone’s intelligence. Instead, they determined, there are at least three separate components of intelligence — short-term memory, reasoning and a verbal component — which can’t necessarily be combined into a single number that represents a person’s intelligence.

The Brain and Mind Institute Natural Sciences Centre in London, Ontario, Canada studied over 100,000 people as part of the test. Participants took 12 online cognitive tests and had their brains scanned with a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine, to see how cognitive abilities were controlled by different parts of the brain.

“IQ is a massive oversimplification of the spectrum of human cognitive ability,” said researcher Adam Hampshire, PhD.