A simple question of intelligence

A QUIZ question for you: Who said "There are lies, damned lies, and statistics"?Answer: Benjamin Disraeli, in many ways a wiser prime minister than any we have had in my lifetime.

A QUIZ question for you: Who said "There are lies, damned lies, and statistics"?

Answer: Benjamin Disraeli, in many ways a wiser prime minister than any we have had in my lifetime.

His words are apparently the most frequently used quotation in the British media. What a cracking statistic that is.

Here are a few more, compiled from the responses to an online "family quiz" run by Microsoft.

Brighton is, apparently, the "brainiest town in Britain" because families from there who took part in the quiz scored an average 87 per cent.

Wolverhampton is supposedly the thickest place in the land, with an average score of just 36pc. Cambridge, perhaps surprisingly, rated the second most stupid.

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Ipswich, 18th in the league table with an average of 54pc, was just pipped by Norwich (17th with 55pc).

All of which is fair enough if you accept it's just a bit of fun.

But then comes a supposed educational psychologist (who should know better) saying: "You could be forgiven for assuming that the average person's general knowledge would consist mainly of sport and entertainment. It's very encouraging to see that these results refute that."

The average score on the science questions was 77pc, compared with 68pc on sport and 58pc on entertainment.

What does this tell this? Could it just be that the science questions were easier than the sport and entertainment ones?

And why are people who do well in general knowledge quizzes considered "brainier" than those who don't?

As both a contestant and setter of quizzes, this bothers me.

It bothers me most of all when people start making value judgements based on this nonsense.

The racist HJ Eysenck is pretty much discredited now among psychologists. Unfortunately, his rubbish still turns up all too often in newspapers and magazines.

Eysenck is the guru of that daft concept the IQ.

Many years ago I took part in one of his "tests" which purported to put a score on my intelligence.

One of the questions listed four American products and asked which one was a fancy car.

Amazingly, this demonstrated that people living in Africa were less "intelligent" than those in Europe – while the "brainiest" of all were Americans. Well I never!

EVEN with this sort of help, you might not expect George W Bush to score very highly in an IQ test.

This, remember, is the man who gave us such gems of wit as:

"Families is where our nation finds hope, where wings take dream."

"I think we ought to raise the age at which juveniles can have a gun."

"If you know what you believe, it makes it a lot easier to answer questions. I can't answer your question."

"More and more of our imports are coming from overseas."

"A tax cut is really one of the anecdotes to coming out of an economic illness."

There are plenty, plenty more where they came from (actually www.bushisms.com, but there are plenty of other collections). The man is a global village idiot.

It would all be screamingly funny if this wasn't the nincompoop with his finger on the trigger of the biggest gun in history.

The screaming part still applies, anyway.

WITHIN the next week US (and probably British) warplanes will be blitzing Iraq. With or without the blessing of the United Nations. Probably without.

So what is the UN actually for?

It will enable the French, Germans and Russians to claim the moral high ground.

It will demonstrate once again to the world that America and Britain (or at least their governments) are moral swamp-dwellers.

And it will do absolutely nothing to prevent the coming bloodbath.

The UN was created to provide a peaceful, practical alternative to war. It was a good idea as long as all the powerful nations accepted its decisions.

When the Americans just go ahead and do what they want anyway, it's as useless as the Kyoto agreement on climate change. Which, tragically, turned out to be just so much hot air.

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