Saturday, August 27, 2016

I Don't Want To Brag, But .....

Sometime in my early life, probably while still in high school, maybe even grade school, someone told me that I had an IQ of 127.  

I didn’t know what it meant nor was I particularly interested in it.  But the numbers stuck.  I never followed up to see what it meant, but when I joined the Army in February of 1960, I was told by an Army processing person in Dallas that my Army aptitude scores were quite high. He asked me if I had taken an IQ test.  I told him that I remember taking lots of strange tests, none of which seemed to be related to classes I was taking in school, but the only time I ever heard of IQ when someone told me I had an IQ of 127.  He said, well that explains why you scored high on the Army’s tests.

He went on to say that I qualified to go into the Army Security Agency.  And by that evening I was on a bus headed to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.  It was February 29th, a Leap Year, and there was snow on the ground from Dallas to Missouri.  And it was cold.  I was dressed for Central Louisiana weather.

Somewhere about the third week of basic training, I was told to report to a building on base.  No reason was given other than just be there, people are waiting to see me.

I arrived promptly at the time I was told to be there and found three men in civilian suits hovering around a coal-burning pot-bellied stove.  They showed me their FBI badges and told me to sit down, that they had some questions to ask and that I would undergo a polygraph test.  I didn’t know what a polygraph test was, but I figured it was just another of the Army’s endless battery of tests to find out what I was suited for in the Army.

Although these tests were similar to some I had taken in High School and during the early processing of my joining the Army, they were a lot more complex.  Some of the questions didn’t make sense at all, nor did the choices of answers to select from.  Plus, it was a timed test and they made me stop immediately when the timer bell went off.

They didn’t grade the test or even look at it, just stuffed it into an envelope.  Then they explained the polygraph to me and that it would be used to see if I was lying about any of the questions they asked me.  In fact, they made it sound like they would not only know if I was lying in my answers to their questions, they would know if I had ever lied about anything ‘ever’ in my life.  I just knew they were going to ask me some highly personal questions that I preferred they not ask.  But I told them I was ready because I was also a bit curious.

A strap was placed around my chest, a cuff around my upper arm and a small device was clamped to my finger.  I also seem to recall there was a small flat coin-like device to hold in the palm of my hand which would detect moisture.  (Apparently your palm sweats when you lie)  Each was explained to me as to what happens when I answer a question.  Simple questions, such as “are you sitting down?” would probably not excite any of the devices and therefore would not excite the polygraph machine’s chart needles.  But more complicated “think type” questions might and probably would generate more excitement and therefore cause the needles to record on the graph that excitement.

But if I was lying, or deliberately being deceptive, the excitement would be detected in my increased breathing, blood pressure or pulse rate, and recorded on the graph.  Simple enough to understand now but to an 18 year old small town boy in the 1960’s, it was ‘Rocket Science.’

As with the earlier written test, they just looked over the chart and stuck it into an envelope without saying anything.  Then they told me to report back to my unit. 

After I returned to my unit, I really didn’t give much thought to the whole process I had just gone through. 

About six weeks later I was in Fort Devens, Massachusetts, assigned to the Army Security Agency's Morse Code 058 MOS classes. It took our class six months to get up to the expected proficiency the Army needed.  

Meanwhile, some of us were ahead of schedule and added Voice Intercept 055 MOS training, before the entire class graduated and was transferred to Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

I can’t recall ever once being asked for my IQ after that.  Until yesterday when I suddenly remembered it and decided to look it up using Google.

The very first thing that came up said, “127 IQ sd 15 means your IQ is at the 96.4 percentile. That means your IQ is higher than 96.4% of the general population. Pretty darn good.

Well, that made me feel good about myself, at least until I read the next one that said, “It means that you have been tested and that the result of that test is that you have an IQ of 127. Other than that it means nothing at all in real life.”

Well Pooh!  I thought I could brag about my IQ, but it’s nothing but a ‘so what!’ number.

Now I know…

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