Smarter than Stephen Hawking and Albert Einstein? 11-year-old achieves highest IQ score

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A boy reports to school (symbol image). © photo alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Matthew bone

An 11-year-old boy from Leeds scored a maximum of 162 on Mensa’s intelligence test. At the age of seven he discovered a mathematical phenomenon.

Leeds – Yusuf Shah, an 11-year-old boy from the British city of Leeds, scored 162 points on an intelligence test – the highest score possible. The media called the prodigy “smarter than Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking”, whose IQ is said to be 160 points – although this value is based only on estimates, not test results. Experts also emphasize that intelligence scores can only be compared within one country and one generation.

Intelligence test results: 11-year-old child prodigy in top 1 percent

Yusuf Shah made headlines because his intelligence quotient (IQ) scored 162 out of a possible 162 on a Mensa test. Mensa is an international umbrella organization for the gifted. “Everyone at school thinks I’m very smart and I’ve always wanted to know if I’m in the top 2 percent of the exam candidates,” 11-year-old Yusuf Shah told the British newspaper. Yorkshire Evening Post. The exceptional IQ score of the sixth grader was even in the top 1 percent.

Yusuf’s talent was already noticeable in kindergarten. For example, when he was seven, he recognized the mathematical rule that multiplying two equal numbers always produces one more result than multiplying the numbers before and after. For example, the result of eight times eight is 64, seven times nine is 63.

His family is proud of the prodigy, but his father also keeps him grounded. “I still tell him, ‘Your father is still smarter than you,'” Irfan Shah said Yorkshire Evening Post, “We take everything with humor. Even if you have talent, you have to be the ‘hardest worker’.” Yusuf doesn’t know exactly what he wants to be when he grows up. But one thing is apparently certain: “If you ask him, he always says he wants to do math,” says the 11-year-old’s father.

Intelligence is normally distributed among the population: only two percent of people are gifted

There are always child prodigies. Laurent Simons from Belgium, for example, graduated from high school at the age of eight, completed his studies in quantum physics at the age of eleven and accepted a PhD position in Munich in 2022 at the age of twelve. His intelligence quotient (IQ) would be over 145 points. Intelligence is normally distributed among the population. Accordingly, only about two percent of people are gifted. To become a member of the Association for the Gifted Mensa, you must have an intelligence quotient higher than that of 98 percent of the population in your country of origin, which usually corresponds to a value of 130 points.

normal distribution gauss bell curve intelligence society distribution
The normal distribution in statistics. For example, the Gaussian bell curve shows how intelligence is distributed in society. ©Marek Uliasz/Panthermedia/Imago

This is the critique of intelligence testing

But intelligence tests are also subject to criticism. Intelligence cannot be measured directly, said the test’s inventor, Alfred Binet. Instead, intelligence is queried about sub-areas. Creativity, musical or athletic ability are often considered forms of intelligence but are not included in standard tests. In addition, the test questions contain cultural components. Intelligence tests conducted in the United States, for example, target students from the affluent, white strata of society, as noted by Jamie Loftus’ podcast “My year in Mensa.”

This makes it difficult for colored and poorer students to achieve good results. The French psychologist Alfred Binet invented the intelligence test more than a hundred years ago to identify and support students with learning difficulties. Not to exclude them – but that’s exactly what Mensa does, according to Loftus’ critique.

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