In the past, proving one's genius required having a serious desire and perseverance for doing something unique and prodigious no one had done before. Today, we see some boast about having a high IQ, even without notable achievements matching their IQ (a passive genius on hold, if not actively evil sometimes). Meanwhile, the majority of those with real achievements don't even bother to know their IQ. The definition of genius has been changed, and slightly distorted, losing its old meaning.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the concept of IQ had entered our life, before it became an obsession. Intelligence Quotient is how much intelligence you have. This "number" can stick to you all life long and decide your fate: your education, future career, friends ... It becomes part of you, just like your height, shoe size, eye color ...
So everyone wanted to know how much they weigh on the intelligence scale. Years ago before the internet, to know your IQ you had to search for the nearest psychiatrist’s clinic in town and take the test there. Now, you can just visit one of the websites for free IQ tests, to find out the truth you always wanted to know about your potential. But is it worth it, and is it true?
Many psychologists and psychometrists are enthusiastic about IQ testing although they are not certain about the validity of tests in the first place. Worse still, many believe and follow them blindly like sheep (thousands of Americans apply yearly for Mensa IQ test, to join the elite organization of "geniuses"). Isaac Asimov the famous science writer, who had been himself a vice president of Mensa International for many years, described many members of that organization as "brain-proud and aggressive about their IQs."
Ever since IQ was coined, the obsession has been spreading like fire. Now we have "estimated" IQ's for all types of humans, by race, country, belief, orientation, education, career, hobby, health, body stats, etc. ... for Asians, whites, blacks, philosophers, scientists, composers, painters, doctors, athletes, football fans, etc. ... and even for animals, e.g. cats (20) and dogs (40)!
At the time, this had fed racism, supremacy, and even incarceration and sterilization of low-IQ people by some governments. Some scientists even claimed a correlation between IQ & phrenology/physiognomy. Meanwhile, many "certified" geniuses were treated as freaks, objectified by media frenzy, while failing to help society as expected, that they could've been more useful if left alone or not taking IQ tests at all.
The consequence of incomplete research, on an issue as vital to our existence and civilization as human intelligence is, can be disastrous. Adding to the damage is the lack of social and psychological preparation. Political correctness is esp. keeping governments from addressing the subject, leaving some "unfairly" suffering shame while others taking pride in that dubious "number," that many rush to attach like a tag to everyone they know or don't know.
* * *
Genius is not a test to pass and later brag about; it's an achievement of value to humanity. Focusing on the former is an obsession, while on the latter it is dedication to a good sensible cause. Unfortunately, many IQ test applicants have no great interest in the latter goal, as passing the test is an achievement itself to them: the reward for the work they haven't done yet, or may never do.
Most applicants and test designers are pursuing uncertain "causes," if not wrong ones:
IQ tests' role is only complementary, mostly needed before meeting, admitting, employing, or enrolling a newcomer. Otherwise, there are many clues to know how intelligent someone is, such as their income, education, circle of friends, family members, use of language, or even habits and appearance. None of the above is enough alone, but a combination of which is sufficient, not only for estimating their intelligence, but also to know how to deal with and benefit from them most. Allowing time to understand other people is much more important than tests.
Taking IQ tests for pleasure or brain stimulation is good (to improve basic logical/mathematical skills, memory training, problem-solving, etc.), although life already has enough problems to stimulate our brains. Meanwhile, over-spending time, and life, on those tests will turn us eventually into mere puzzle junkies, which is what psychometrists and IQ advertisers mostly want.
Those who crave for others' attention or appreciation, by achieving a high score in a test/game/competition rather than a worthy achievement in LIFE—the real test—are missing logic if not intelligence. Genius needs work, patience and perseverance, to enjoy the "fruits" of one's work: self-satisfaction, others' appreciation, and most importantly being useful. People who prefer shortcuts to success are either weak, lazy, ignorant, or incurious about the details of the larger picture of life.