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The controversy over intelligence quotient (IQ) tests (also called cognitive ability tests), what they measure, and what this means for society has not abated since their initial development by Alfred Binet.

IQ tests rely largely upon Symbolic Logic (etc.) as a means to scoring, and as Symbolic Logic is not inherently synonymous with intelligence, the question remains as to exactly what is being measured via such tests. For instance, it is feasible that someone could possess a prodigious wealth of emotional intelligence while being simultaneously unable to comprehend the significance of sequentially arranged shapes. Additionally, someone who cannot read would be at a significant disadvantage on an IQ test, though illiteracy is not indicative of unintelligence. Measurements of other forms of "intelligence" have been proposed to augment the current IQ Testing Methodology, though such alternative measurements may also be a subject of debate.

Some key issues in the debate include defining intelligence itself (see general intelligence factor) and the political ramification of findings.

Some proponents of IQ testing argue that lower scores by certain groups justify cutting back on welfare and programs like Head Start and New Deal. Many proponents believe different IQ scores demonstrate that power and wealth will always be distributed unequally. Critics claim that IQ tests do not measure intelligence, but rather a specific skill set valued by those who create IQ tests.

Various statistical studies have reported that income level, education level, nutrition level, race, and sex all correlate with IQ scores, but what this means is debated.

Some researchers have concluded from twin studies and adoption studies that IQ has high heritability, and this is often interpreted by the general public as meaning that there is an immutable genetic factor affecting or determining intelligence. This hereditarian interpretation fuels much of the controversy over books such as The Bell Curve, which claimed that various racial groups have lower or higher group intelligence than other racial and ethnic groups (East Asians and Ashkenazi Jews, according to The Bell Curve, are slightly more intelligent than generic whites, whereas blacks have slightly lower IQs) and suggested changing public policy as a result of these findings.

The degree to which nature versus nurture influences the development of human traits (especially intelligence) is one of the most intractable scholarly controversies of modern times.

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