Friedman: "IQ distributions are a bell curve: there are very few people at the low (retarded) end of intelligence, and there are very few at the high (genius) end of intelligence. Most of us are bunched in the middle. The distribution is much the same as a distribution of humans' heights: Tom Cruise is below average in height and Yao Ming is above average. (But Tom Cruise is closer to the average than Ming.)"
Doc: "Wrong. I've been 5'9 the whole time my IQ has been measured everywhere from very smart to very dumb. Intelligence is complicated, conditional and hard to measure. The belief that people have "an IQ," however, comes easy. Too easy. "
I'm not so sure that the disagreement is as violent as it sounds. It would surprise me to find that intelligence isn't distributed on a bell curve - it wouldn't surprise me at all to find that measuring it is difficult, and that our current methods miss-classify people. To take a simple case - my Dad is mildly dyslexic, and never really liked to read because of that. I would guess that many IQ tests would rank him low because of that. A failure of methodology doesn't imply that a thing doesn't exist.
Doc wants to believe this:
The unwelcome point I've been making here, and that John Taylor Gatto has been making for much longer, is that most people are born smart and that we use theh likes of IQ tests to pound populations of uniquely gifted individuals into bell curves.
And sure, there's plenty of round pegging going on in the schools. The inability of the schools to deliver mass customization is a completely different problem though, and doesn't really speak to the distribution of intelligence. I'd agree with Doc that most current IQ tests are worse than useless. I do think there's something that could be measured, if we had any idea how. Ironically, his closing anecdote makes my point:
By the way, back when I got out of college, I was spared boring jobs at two insurance companies by flunking IQ tests. One was Aetna. That was administered right at the employment agency. No waiting. Impressive. I forget the name fo the other one, but I remember the setting vividly. It was in Newark. Nice offices, friendly people. The guy who interviewed me told the employment agency something like, "I was so impressed by the interview. He seemed real smart, and knew an awful lot of stuff. But then when we got the IQ test back we found out he was really dumb."
Placing the interviewer right down there towards the lower end of the bell curve, I think...