I.Q. You Q. He, She, or It Qs.

I have, in recent years, come to believe that IQ tests are a waste of time for most of us, and a waste of money for some of us. In fact, as a general rule of thumb, if you want to know how stupid you are, check to see if you're paying for an online IQ test.

In the course of my short and, let's face it, aimless life, I've taken numerous IQ tests when bored, with scores ranging from the high end of piss-average (109) to the screaming madman genius stage (158), and pretty much everything in between.

As such, I've come to think that nobody actually knows how smart anyone else is, except in the broadest possible terms.

I have been told that MENSA tests are definitive, but to be honest I stopped playing after I scored that 158 and I don't intend to consult MENSA from sheer egotistical fear that they will, as a particularly grating series of adverts might put it, "quote me unhappy."

I was, however, amused today by a pop up ad beseeching me to take yet another IQ test. Most of them say fairly obvious things like "What's your IQ?" or "How smart are you?"

This one took the novel and amusingly confrontational approach of "Are you stupid?" I can't help but feel that if anyone did shout "No!!" and click it, the answer would unavoidably be "yes", but I digress.

It's quite scary, in actuality, when you can feel marketing ploys or ad campaigns working on you. It's like an out-of-brain experience. You know that you're just being rash and impulsive based on a catchy slogan, a shiny wrapper or on whatever would look cool, but you can't help it. I'm 90% sure this is how Arnold Schwarzenegger was elected.

Some time back, my local supermarket reorganised it's layout, with unexpected things in the midst of the more commonplace. For example, I went in for a bar of chocolate, and on one of the shelves in the chocolate aisle they had a small collection of CDs.

Ten minutes later I found myself outside with a Boost, a copy of "Blonde on Blonde" and a bemused look on my face.

I can't help but be all the more astounded, then, at the universally dire nature of the vast majority of modern advertising. I can't sit through more than about ten minutes of television these days without the really-quite-rational desire to hit someone in the face with a brick. Quite often it's that prick from the Halifax who gives you extra. (I can only speculate as to extra what, although my money is on nausea...)

It could be possible that all the decent advert-men (and believe me, I really can't think of a more mature sounding term for this profession) are working on online IQ tests, but when you look at the sheer volume of frankly terrible online adverts, one begins to wonder if there isn't a universal creativity drought.

Personally, I blame the universities. In fact, I blame the universities for pretty much everything I can, but on this one it does at least have some rationality. The more we send talented people to design schools and art colleges, the more fodder we give to what is essentially a production line, and, subsequently, we can only expect the same sorts of ideas to crop up.

I'm not entirely sure where I lost the thread about IQ tests, but then I'm notoriously absent minded and tend to go off on tangents. I can barely even keep track of the things I've written about; IQ tests, advertising, universities, two large fries and a diet coke, the lost ark of the covenant, a partridge in a pear tree, go fifty-fifty or phone a friend. ?see?

Luke Haines


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