Has anybody been watching evening TV in the US lately?
I have been watching this interesting Quiz show on CBS called “Are you smarter than a 5th Grader”. The questions are usually not that difficult but for adults who have left school for long time some are tricky, on 5th grade subjects like World History, World Geography, American History, Science, etc. The awards start at $5,000, $10,000, $25,000, $50,000, al the way to $1 Million. For the past few weeks none of the contestants have reached beyond $100,000.
This evening, October 5, 2007 they had a guy who said his IQ is 143, a genius, and member of “Mensa Club” – a genius club established in the US. Okay, they kept going and going – remember these are fun stuff and there are Fifth Graders in a classroom environment doing the quiz with him. The funny thing is that for the first time a contestant, this man with the genius IQ reached $500,000 before he quit. Whiles there was general excitement, I kept asking myself many questions as my mind raced through reason whey some countries are poorer than others and other nations actually took others as slaves in the past.
Some of the questions were:
What State is Yosemite Park?
What was the first name of the [30th ] US President called Hayes, who was in power in 1877?
What is the Capital of Brazil?
What is the full name of the periodic Table element Ag?
This is nowhere near the difficultly of the Game Show called Jeopardy where people win at best sometimes $30,000 after grueling competition with two or three others?
Well, what is the lesson here?
Let’s remember that the kind of tests they give for measuring IQ are not these kinds of Geography or Chemistry questions, but rather mathematical and verbal puzzles put together to make them almost universal for use irrespective or language or culture.
QUESTIONS I have are: Do geniuses have a better memory? After all we all studies these things in elementary school, as far back as Fifth grade. Do higher IQ people make better and smarter decisions that lead to higher economic status? Are geniuses more competitive? Are nations that are poor because their leaders are not as smart as the leaders in developed nations? Is US President George Bush necessarily smarter than Ghana President J.A. Kufuor? Or was it the founders of America who were of high IQ and hence established the institutions and systems that are used to monitor their leaders and society members? What influence does culture have on the establishment of these systems and institutions and why is it that 50 years of independence has shown Ghana and Singapore or Taiwan so far apart in economic and human development?
These questions are part of the general questions I ask and keep trying to find the answers to why in the regions of the world where people are classified as poor, using known economic and human development indices, a study by Prof. Richard Lynn (University of Ulster, Northern Ireland) and Prof. Tatu Vanhanen (University of Helsinki, Finland) showed the average IQ are also lower!! In fact there is a positive correlation between average national IQ and economic development, according to that study. Here are selected sample results:
Antigua & Barbuda - 75 Barbados - 78 Algeria -84 Morocco -85 Egypt -83 Argentina -96
Australia -98 Austria -102 Botswana -72 Brazil -87 Burundi -70 Canada -97 Cameroon -70 Chad -72 China -100 Congo-Braz -73 Congo-Zaire -65
Cote d’Ivoire -71 Dominica -75 Ethiopia -63
France -98 Ghana -71 Guinea -63 Guyana -84 Haiti -72 India -81 Jamaica -72
Kenya -72 Mexico -87 Netherlands -102 Nigeria -67 Philippines -86 Russia -96 Sierra Leone -64
South Africa -72 Sweden -101
Taiwan -104 Togo -69 Thailand -91 Uganda -73
UK -100 United States -98 Zambia -77
In informal conversation with some friends, I have been told there is a study demonstrating a deterioration of brain growth and functions from the use of malaria tablets used to treat malaria in some countries, or simply form the malaria itself. I have not been able to find any academic subjects on this subject matter and invite experts and anybody with information to share. It appears from a casual examination that the lower IQ nations are more in the tropical climates and not necessarily in Africa. Ghana is reported to lose about 50,000 people every year due to malaria. We should not forget that the mosquito is alive and well in even America and 100years ago the American south was no better in terms of malaria deaths. However the number of deaths reported for malaria has been reduced to a very few dozens, i.e., almost eliminated. Each state monitors these numbers, and the mosquito is related to the West Nile virus which is highly monitored in California.
Why have our leaders in Ghana and in these countries not seen the need to make absolute priority to create clean atmosphere and eliminate the mosquito? Why is it that the government still builds open gutters in the best residential areas in Accra such as East Legon, Airport and Cantonment? Does one need a high IQ to see that 50,000 people dying per year is a major priority? And does creating a central sewage system cost that much compared to using concrete gutters? Have homeowners ever been asked to make a choice and pay for the difference in cost, if any? What it does it take for the old Town Council system that was in existence in the colonial days to be re-established in our town and communities? Will the President reduce his powers and allow Communities to vote for their own town Mayors or Chief Executives? Will this be too difficult for a 5th Grader to do?
These are the questions that run through my mind as election season starts again in Ghana with many educated people masquerading as the new saviors. Some party loyalists suggest that once we have elections and we are a democratic nation, we are on our way to human and economic development to be like others. A few years ago a seven years old daughter of a friend in Colorado said after their daughter returned from a summer in Ghana, during a conversation she remarked to correct the mother “they (in Accra) don’t have streets and avenues, they have roads”. It puzzled the father. Questions are: Are we there yet? When are we going to be like others? Or what does it take to see some of these simple solutions by our leaders? Are we happy as we are?
If I dare ask: Are Ghanaian leaders smarter than 5th Graders?