Too many of us use the terms “IQ” and “intelligence” as if they’re interchangeable. They’re not. An IQ score isn’t a magical signifier of smarts; it merely quantifies your ability to take a particular kind of test. Wealthy, white Westerners tend to perform among the best on these exams, but that doesn’t mean they’re smarter than the rest of the world. Research increasingly indicates that the advantages that group enjoys—like better education and healthcare—set them up for success on such evaluations. And it doesn’t hurt that the most expensive education is generally geared toward improving one’s ability to fill in the proper bubbles. Access to money, school, and medicine can all change apparent acumen—but IQ ignores inherent intellect.
In some parts of the world, kids given IQ assessments were unfamiliar even with the concept of standardized testing, let alone with the question format or subject matter. The established correlation between race and IQ doesn’t reveal an inherent genetic advantage. It shows how closely your score is tied to health, wealth, and access to education.