12-Year-Old Olivia Manning Beats Einstein In IQ Test
Olivia Manning, a 12-year-old girl from Liverpool, England, has recently been accepted into Mensa as a result of scoring a 162 on an IQ test. Her score puts her in the top one percent intelligence-wise, as well as two points higher than Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking.
It was just this year that, after 100 years of placing second, women as a whole have scored higher than men on intelligence testing. The reason for this is unclear. Hypotheses include women finally having comparable opportunities in education to men’s or the demand for women to juggle both family and career. (Obviously the last probably doesn’t concern Manning quite yet.)
The IQ test is, of course, only one way to measure intelligence. NYU cognitive psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman explains that the common IQ test measures convergent thinking instead of than divergent thinking. Rather, to score well on an IQ test, one must answer with exactly what the test maker came up with; one’s answer must converge with the test’s answer. A more creative, divergent, intelligence requires one to identify both the problem and a potential answer (because there is no one right answer).
This is not, in any way, to knock Manning’s exceptional performance on the test. She is clearly a very bright young girl. However, she is just that, a young girl. While it is beneficial to push young people and encourage them to understand and be driven by their potential, we as the media and champions for women must watch ourselves.
We need to make sure we encourage bright young women to try things and make mistakes and follow what they feel called to do. It would be unfair and irresponsible to paint Manning as some sort of poster child for genius. If this allows her to realize her dream of becoming a world-changing physicist, then awesome! But she may really want to be a chef, or an artist, or a preschool teacher. Or maybe she has absolutely no idea what she wants to do with her life. And that’s cool, too.
One of Manning’s teacher’s joked, “We have given her extra work to do and will now want to know why she’s not getting As in everything.” As I said, I think it’s important to push people, but I also said that IQ is only one measure of intelligence. To indicate that it’s impossible for someone to fail is a dangerous game. It can keep people from taking chances and trying new things, an essential part of innovation, leadership, and life.
So, while I’d like to congratulate Olivia Manning on her excellent performance on the IQ exam, I’ll now turn her life back over to her now to do what she wishes.
Written by Caroline Slavin
Follow her on Twitter @hpcaro!