What do you think about intelligence? Do you have preconceived notions about what intelligence looks like? Do you imagine a rocket scientist or a wise old professor with glasses giving lectures about Plato? As the film “Intelligent Lives” points out, 49 out of 50 states still use intelligence tests to sort people, but what if the use of intelligence tests has been perverted and is biased in many ways including racially and culturally? What if intelligence doesn’t fit so neatly into a scored box?
Alfred Binet developed the first IQ test in the early 20th century, but from all accounts he didn’t mean for the test to be used in the ways that it has been. As is pointed out in the preview version of “Intelligent Lives,” IQ tests were used to further eugenics movements including those in Nazi Germany and the US. Thankfully, we are no longer living in those times, but many people still believe that a number on an IQ test will dictate how a person can live their life. While IQ tests might be instructive in certain circumstances, they were never intended as something to base a person’s life on.
The film “Intelligent Lives” breaks this idea that people are nothing more than their IQ scores. In this documentary “filmmaker Dan Habib will explore how the segregation of people with intellectual disabilities became the norm, why this segregation is slowly being dismantled, and how some people with intellectual disabilities are blazing a bold new path” (Intelligent Lives Website: About-Project).
Actor Chris Cooper, who is the narrator of the film, talks about his son Jesse (who had cerebral palsy) and how IQ tests could tell them “nothing about Jesse’s potential. About who he was as a person” (Psychology Today, 2016). As well, Habib shared with Psychology Today that “because his son uses a wheelchair, he is sometimes not treated as a teenager, but rather infantilized: ‘The perception of someone’s intelligence; the perception of someone’s capacity, dramatically affects their opportunities in life.’” (Psychology Today, 2016). In the preview for the film we meet a man named Micah Fialka-Feldman who has an intellectual disability, and is a teacher/student at Syracuse University. We also meet Naieer Shaheed who is going to school, is artistically gifted, and has an intellectual disability. These are just a few of the “intelligent lives” that Habib shares in the film.
In addition, please check out the TEDTalk documentary below given by filmmaker Dan Habib.
To see our prior post about "Intelligent Lives," click this link.
Psychology Today, https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/welcoming-intellectual-disability/201606/intelligent-lives
Intelligent Lives Website, https://iod.unh.edu/projects/intelligent-lives