There are a lot of people who believe that they are smarter than almost everyone else. Usually, this idea is unsubstantiated. However, in the case of 4-year-old Heidi Hankins, the data actually backs it up. Hankins has scored an IQ of 159 – just one point beneath the estimated IQ of Albert Einstein, father of the Theory of Relativity, and comparable to the estimated IQ of Stephen Hawking, one of the most noted physicists of the modern age.
Yet scientists say the score shouldn’t be seen as a necessary indicator that Hankins is born for greatness:
As many media outlets have reported, Heidi Hankins of Winchester, England, scored only a point below Einstein and physicist Stephen Hawking on standardized intelligence tests. While there’s no doubt that Hankins is bright (according to reports, she read at an 8-year-old level, and could count to 40, by age 2), it’s not possible to compare IQ across age groups, according to Frank Lawlis, the supervisory psychologist for American Mensa.
“All you’re doing with IQ testing is testing within a certain age group,” Lawlis told LiveScience, explaining, “You’re saying the 4-year-old is smarter than 99.5 or 99.8 of [her] age group, but that doesn’t mean you can compare to another age group.”
In fact, IQ scores in general have been rising over time, Lawlis said. IQ tests are always standardized so that the average score is 100. Higher scorers are brighter (at least in the domains measured by IQ testing). But in a widely noted phenomenon called the “Flynn effect,” new generations taking older IQ tests score higher than 100 on average. There are multiple theories for this effect, including improved childhood nutrition, increasingly stimulating environments, and a greater number of children who are familiar with standardized tests and thus perform better.
“This is kind of a theoretical thought,” Lawlis said, “but one day we may all be as smart as Einstein, and then Einstein would become average.”
This segment from Sky News on Hankins features commentary on what the best approach for teaching children with high aptitude is:
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