Thursday, April 1, 2010

Cunning beats Brains

People with very high IQ’s are silly. I came to this controversial conclusion in my last year at college, when I spotted an advertisement in the Daily Telegraph that launched my brilliant career.

Yippee, I thought, when I read what was on offer. Oodles of dosh (I was skint), plus three months of residential training (I was homeless) together with 11 other young people who would be hand-picked from the crème de la crème of UK science graduates (I adore cream).

However, there were issues that seemed to put the prospect beyond my reach. The opportunity was in something called third-generation computing, which at the time was considered hugely wizzy and revolutionary and only for the exceptionally gifted (this was back in the early Sixties). And successful candidates would have to pass some exceptionally wizzy and revolutionary computer aptitude tests. Alas, I had no idea what a computer aptitude test involved.

Of course it was the elitist tone of the advertisement that got my gander up. I’d spent three miserable years studying Physics, being the dunce of the faculty, surrounded by very brainy tweed sports jackets and blue stockings who looked down at the prospect of any career other than teaching. How I wished I'd enrolled in the nearby Arts College; no "smart informal" attire, and the lady students were scrumptious...

But I digress. I sent in my application, and got busy finding out about computer aptitude tests. But there was no information, anywhere. My college didn’t have a computer. There was no information in the college library, nor in the public library. And I didn’t know anyone who worked with computers. I was stumped.

Then I had a cunning idea. It came to me shortly after I learnt the date and venue for my interview. The advertisement had mentioned a series of interviews stretching over several weeks. Mine was was scheduled to be in the final week. So I borrowed a tweed jacket, tie, and grey flannels from a fellow student, and started to hang out just outside the central London venue.

I struck lucky almost immediately, as I mingled with a batch of tweed-jacketed mirror images of myself emerging from their aptitude tests. “Wow – that was fun - let’s have a coffee and discuss” I suggested, pointing to a café just across the road....

In the ensuing conversation, I gleaned a lot. It seemed to me that the computer aptitude tests were startlingly similar to standard IQ tests. Next day, and for the following week, I esconsed myself in the Marylebone Public Library poring over as many IQ tests with model answers as I could lay my hands on. I came across three IQ tests with questions that were the same as the ones I had heard discussed in the café. Fan-dabby-dozey! I swotted, and learnt all the answers in the tests by rote.

To cut a long story short, I attended my interview in my borrowed gear, and my self-confidence was impressive. And just by chance, I sat two so-called “computer aptitude tests” that were identical to two of the IQ tests that I had learnt by rote. My scores were as close to 100% as I thought would be reasonable without arousing suspicion.

99.99% did the trick.

"Chance" is something one should never leave things up to, don’t you think?

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