The WQ of Solomon?
November 14, 2006 2:11 AM   Subscribe

We all know about IQ - but has anybody ever tried to make a standardised test for wisdom?

I know that wisdom is a valuable asset and that it is something pretty much impossible to measure objectively. Then again so is intelligence and that hasn't stopped the world wading in. It does seem to me that at least some aspects of wisdom - such as the ability to plan well, accurate understanding of human behaviour, a tendency to copy or agree with others that have been successful or even a good knowledge of "wise sayings" - would indeed be quite measurable. Equally I guess it would be possible to measure wisdom in terms of conformance to a religious doctrine. Has anybody ever tried to do this in a systematic way?
posted by rongorongo to Religion & Philosophy (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
posted by bigmusic at 2:30 AM on November 14, 2006

Bigmusic - thanks. I did have a look at some of these before posting the question. The Magellan's Log post looks closest to what I was thinking about - but I think he is just having fun. Others seem to be selling rather dubious sounding life coaching products. I wondered if anybody had tried anything more serious - in the manner of other standardised tests.
posted by rongorongo at 3:24 AM on November 14, 2006

It's not a standardised test but I always enjoyed this story.
There is a reason for this. Each year, Boggs, a Cuban-born fifty-six-year-old polymath, administers what he calls a "general knowledge" test—he avoids the term "trivia"—to the roughly one hundred law-school graduates he is considering for his clerkships. Last year's quiz had seventy-one questions, including "Who gave the famous speech 'Ain't I a Woman?' " (Sojourner Truth); "What does the Herfindahl-Hirschman index measure?" (industry concentration); and "Who killed (a) Duncan (b) McKinley (c) Cock Robin (d) Ron Goldman, and (e) Vaudeville?" (Macbeth, Czolgosz, the sparrow with the bow and arrow, etc.) The Judge seems to have a thing for questions involving Shakespeare, T. S. Eliot, and the phrase "order of magnitude." For most aspiring lawyers, the quiz is not easy. The average score is about thirty per cent.

posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 4:54 AM on November 14, 2006

Also google "Robert Sternberg."
posted by availablelight at 7:02 AM on November 14, 2006

Thanks availablelight. Sternberg mentions his "Balance Theory of Wisdom" and that he is currently testing it out in schools. He mentions that he has developed some psychometric tests of wisdom. This is the sort of thing I was thinking of.
posted by rongorongo at 7:37 AM on November 14, 2006

Paul Graham's essay on the difference between wisdom and intelligence is worthwhile reading here.
posted by rongorongo at 4:41 AM on February 15, 2007

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