Smarter Than Einstein: Many Say 12-Year Olds Nicole Barr and Lydia Sebatian Are The World’s Next Great Thinkers, But Experts Disagree
For the past month, social media outlets and news sources such as Mirror, Cosmopolitan, and many more have been ablaze with the news that Nicole Barr, the British schoolgirl of Roma origin, scored a 162 on Mensa’s Cattell III B IQ test. That figure, most of the sources pointed out, is higher than the IQ of Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking, or Bill Gates. The usual conclusion was that Barr was smarter than any of those three great minds.
Even more recently, Lydia Sebastian, another British girl of 12, joined Barr by achieving the same score on the 150-question exam. Sources like The Economic Times and CNN have been making similar claims about her as they did with Barr; namely, that she is smarter than Einstein.
There are multiple inconsistencies with that claim.
First, as Ann Clarkson, a communication manager working for British Mensa, told Yahoo in an email, neither Einstein nor Hawking’s IQ has ever been reported.
“There is, as far as anyone knows, no evidence that Einstein ever actually took an IQ test,” she said. “I think Hawking probably has, if only as part of his treatment for motor neurone disease, but it seems he has never made the score public.”
Secondly, it would not even be possible for an above-18 years old Einstein or Hawking to score that high even if they had taken Mensa’s test, Clarkson explains.
“Only children can get a score higher than 161, because that is the maximum IQ score for an adult. The test is age-adjusted for children.”
The idea that Einstein had an IQ of 160 is a guess, according to Clarkson.
Thirdly, just saying that someone is “smarter than” someone else is relative. Having a great mind and scoring really high on an IQ test could be due to completely different mental factors at work, and claims that children with high IQs are or will be better than Einstein or Hawking at using their brains to solve the world’s questions… those claims are rather ludicrous.
The claims “open up a whole different debate about the difference between IQ and genius,” said Clarkson.
None of this is meant to belittle the accomplishment of Barr, Sebastian, or Aahil Jouher, yet another preteen who scored perfectly on British Mensa’s IQ test this year. They are all certainly smarter than most students that finish at the top of their classes. Indeed, less than one percent of children who take the test are awarded a 162. But saying any of the girls is “smarter than Einstein” might be overkill.
[Image via Jim Barr/Instragram, Tendencias en Panama/Twitter, and Steffen Kugler/Getty Images]