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This 12-year-old has a higher IQ than Einstein and Stephen Hawking

But that doesn't necessarily make her smarter.

FIONA MACDONALD
12 AUG 2015
 

Twelve-year-old Nicole Barr, who lives in Essex in the UK, has scored 162 on an IQ test - beating renowned geniuses Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking by two points.

Barr took the Mensa IQ test after her father suspected that her impressive memory might qualify her for the illustrious society, which only accepts people with the top 2 percent of IQs. A 'genius' test score is generally anything over 140, and the average score is 100. 

 

Barr's ranking has since made headlines all around the world, but the results don't necessarily mean that she's any smarter than Einstein or Hawking - or, for that matter, anyone who scores lower than her on the test. Over the past decade, neuroscientists have shown that IQ, or intelligence quotient, tests don't really tell the full picture about intelligence.

While the tests can adequately measure memory, mathematical ability, verbal reasoning, and logic, research has shown that they're fundamentally flawed when it comes to predicting overall intelligence, which involves the synchronisation of several brain regions at once.

In fact, a 2012 study disproved "once and for all the idea that a single measure of intelligence, such as IQ, is enough to capture all of the differences in cognitive ability that we see between people", lead author Roger Highfield from the Science Museum in London told Steve Connor from The Independent at the time.

But the fact remains that IQ tests are still a heavily relied-upon tool by which society measure intellectual prowess, and so beating two of the most famous minds in history is pretty impressive.

"When I found out I got such a high score, it was so unexpected. I was shocked," Barr told The Western Daily Press. The school student who is currently based in Essex plans to be a doctor one day, and has always been an avid learner.

"From a young age she's been picking out mistakes in books and magazines. She's a happy, fun-loving girl who is always asking for extra homework," her mother Dolly Buckland told The Mirror.

The news has been particularly well received in the gypsy community, which is better known for shows like My Big Fat Gypsy Weddings"It's nice for us to be in the news for something good for a change," Barr's father, James, told The Western Daily Press. "This shows that it doesn't matter where you come from, anyone can be academically brilliant."

There's no word as yet on whether Barr will be admitted into Mensa, which has more than 120,000 members worldwide. Of those, only 35 percent are female, and just 8 percent are children. 

But if her test scores are anything to go by, it's definitely on the cards. "Nicole's IQ score puts her comfortably within the top 1 percent of the population," Mensa representative Ann Clarkson told The Western Daily Press. 

Update 14 August 2015: James Barr has contacted us via email to let us know that Nicole has been accepted to Mensa. Congratulations! We also incorrectly stated in our original article that Nicole lived in a travelling caravan community, which was incorrect. This has been updated.

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