01 June 2007

Turns out I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer, or, a Friday time-waster for you

According to Lumosity, anyway. It's another of those brain training games which claims to be able to "improve your memory, attention [ed: do they mean attention span?] and processing speed." This involves playing games with which involve spacial memory (yes, like the child's matching game, Memory) and basic arithmetic.

Obviously I could be accused of sour grapes here since I seem to be in the sub-normal range. Hehehehehe, they don't seem to give any credit for smart aleckery or uneccesary new word formations. But - I don't know about you, but when someone asks me what 7 x 8 is, I will tell them it's 56 not because I've done the multiplication in my head but because I memorized it in third grade. I'd guess my score would be better if I tried to play the game a second time because this time I understand how it works (I probably should have read the instructions on the games) and also, it's easy to figure out ways to manipulate the system.

What it actually made me think about is how limited our standard ways to judge IQ are. Seriously. I've had a very thorough IQ evaluation (they wouldn't tell me my number, they just said, "You're very talented, don't worry about the number" Condescending fuckheads!) ... anyway, IQ tests are horribly limited in not having any way to assess the creative (don't give me your Rorschach tests - just because I saw identical twin circus monkeys in most of the blots doesn't mean I'm creative). Ya know, plus I think snappy wordplay is a totally valid skill (not to mention, really helpful with real life stuff like job interviews and email crafting and ass-covering exercises) and indicative of smartness, but there's nada in the standard IQ tests to look at that stuff. (Well, there wasn't - that I remember - in the ones I took. I did a lot of verbal and math stuff - it was like the SATs, but longer and more boring.) Why does it matter if you can do instant multiplication in your head but you can't maintain a relationship? It all seems so limiting.

To be fair, Lumosity doesn't claim to be an IQ evaluator, and to be honest, my short term memory is for shit, so I might actually benefit from playing the game some more. (Noooo, I'm not skivving. I'm smartening myself so I can work better!)

At bottom, though, are you really going to learn skills which are applicable to myriad aras of your life, or are you just going to learn how to play Lumosity better? I guess it would be great if I could remember a grocery list longer than 12 items (I used to be able to), but where's the real world application in this, since in the real world I tend to write lists? Because, you know, I have pens and paper. Tools. Isn't the extensive use of tools what is supposed to make humans so much smarter than animals anyway? Unless my job required memorizing a lot of things. In my experience, though, organized detail oriented people (like me ... I'm a fucking data analyst, for dog's sake) don't do it all from memory ... why would you, anyway? Not having to remember everything frees me up to do important things ... like blogging! No, seriously, like looking for patterns and discrepancies and results and changes and detectivating (o I am on a roll today) what might have caused changes.

That said, I might be completely wrong about the applicability of this little game (maybe it prevents alzheimer's! I swear I'd play for an hour a day. Anything to avoid becoming the drooling zombie that my grandmother (life-long crossword puzzler and wheel-of-fortune watcher) turned into in the last ten years of her life.) and am open to being corrected on this.

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