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An IQ Test

February 15, 2011

I read something interesting in the book Switch: How To Change Things When Change Is Hard the other day. (Great book, by the way). They talked about tests being run by a couple of psychologists in which a total stranger walks into a room filled with people. No one knows him, and he reads a weather report then leaves the room. Here is the question asked to the participants – What is this man’s IQ? Of course, there is no way they can make an educated guess from just one interaction. They take a wild guess at the fake weatherman’s IQ. Then they ask the weatherman to guess his IQ. Here is the crazy part – the total strangers get closer 66% of the time!

Think about that for a minute – the fake weatherman has all the information to make the right prediction. He knows how he thinks, he knows his aptitude, he knows the grade he has gotten in school, etc. The weatherman in this experiment consistently rated himself higher than he actually was. Because of that, the total strangers usually get closer.

It reminded me that we have a hard time assessing ourselves accurately. We tend to overrate our talents and abilities. The authors went on to say that 25% of people surveyed believed they were in the top 1% in the ability to get along with people. 94% of college professors report that they do above-average work. Case in point – American Idol auditions were recently aired for this season, and the same pattern emerged. No one who was rejected stopped to say, “Well, maybe I should do something else.” They all said something to the effect, “The judges are wrong – I am a star!” When we decide to, we can convince ourselves of just about anything.

It seems to me that in our relationship with God, the same danger exists. I think that is why so many scriptures caution against pride. Paul told the Romans not to think of themselves more highly than the ought to (Romans 12:16), and that is a constant challenge for us. So how do we assess ourselves? Maybe if we constantly compared our lives to the life of Christ, it would be easier to keep things in perspective.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 15, 2011 10:58 am

    I love this story. It’s definitely true. I think one of the biggest problems with this younger generation is their inability to accept criticism. You simply can’t point out flaws about anyone without getting attacked in return…even if they have been clearly and demonstrably in the wrong. That was one thing I gained from playing in bands in high school and college. We would collaborate on songwriting, and we had to have the ability to say, “This is good” or “This is not good” without taking it personally if someone didn’t like our suggestion. Most of the time, even if they overshoot it, there is some degree of truth in what our critics say to us.

  2. Phil Waggoner permalink
    February 15, 2011 12:02 pm

    I would rather have a picture of this weatherman on my wall than Michael Jordan anyday…

    I kid I kid…:)

    good article…interesting to think about

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