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Monday, May 18, 2015

The Excluded

This concept of intellectual exclusion may help explain why the credentialed elite are so often at odds with me. They can't believe I am willing and able to challenge them so successfully, and I can't believe what clueless idiots they are despite their credentialed positions of intellectual authority. It explains an awful lot; I thought they were smarter than they apparently are:
The probability of entering and remaining in an intellectually elite profession such as Physician, Judge, Professor, Scientist, Corporate Executive, etc. increases with IQ to about 133. It then falls about 1/3 by 140. By 150 IQ the probability has fallen by 97%! In other words, a significant percentage of people with IQs over 140 are being systematically and, most likely inappropriately, excluded from the population that addresses the biggest problems of our time or who are responsible for assuring the efficient operation of social, scientific, political and economic institutions.

"Over an extensive range of studies and with remarkable consistency, from Physicians to Professors to CEOs, the mean IQ of intellectually elite professions is about 125 and the standard deviation is about 6.5.  For example, Gibson and Light found that 148 members of the Cambridge University faculty had a mean IQ of 126 with a standard deviation of 6.3.  The highest score was 139."

"From a theoretical standpoint, democratic meritocracies should evolve five IQ defined 'castes', The Leaders, The Advisors, The Followers, The Clueless and The Excluded. These castes are natural in that they are the result of how people of different intellectual abilities relate to one another.  This is based on research done by Leta Hollingworth in the 1930's and the more recent work of D.K. Simonton."

"Leta Hollingworth studied profoundly gifted children.  She reported them as having IQs of 180+, which was a R16 score.  As such, on today's tests this equates to 159+.  Her conclusion was that when IQ differences are greater than 30 points, leader/follower relationships will break down or will not form.  It establishes an absolute limit to the intellectual gulf between leader and followers."
In other words, more than a few PhDs at elite universities are more than two standard deviations below me in IQ terms. And here I am supposed to be impressed by a Bachelor's degree in Philosophy of Language from a second-tier Midwestern university? In fact, given the ability of the Ilk and my Vile Faceless Minions to not only follow my lead in a disciplined manner but also correctly anticipate my intentions without having them explained, the evidence would tend to suggest that the mean intelligence of the regulars here is higher than the Cambridge faculty.

Based on my interactions with "intellectually elite professionals" this doesn't shock me, although I'm a little surprised that both the mean and the ceiling as as low as they are.

So it should be no surprise that I've been "systematically and, most likely inappropriately, excluded" from the science fiction community, as its mean is probably around 1.5 standard deviations below the university professors. (Although in my estimation there are a few SF people with whom I have interacted who clearly have IQs over 139.) But in most instances, the intellectual gulf is simply too great.

Garth Zietsman has said, referring to people with D15IQs over 152, 'A common experience with people in this category or higher is that they are not wanted - the masses (including the professional classes) find them an affront of some sort.'  While true, it is more likely a symptom than a cause of the exclusion.  We need to understand why they are an affront.

I can tell him that. People who work very hard and spend years in order to climb to what they regard as the pinnacle of achievement actively resent those who can simply leap up to the peak. And because their knowledge is hard won, they tend to cling to it much more tenaciously than the more intelligent individual who is no more tied to one piece of information than the next. What makes it worse is that they cannot fathom that the more intelligent individuals do not think like they do.

Members of high IQ societies, especially those that require D15IQs above 145, often comment that around this IQ, qualitatively different thinking emerges.  By this they mean that the 145+ D15IQ person doesn't just do the same things, intellectually, as a lower IQ person, just faster and more accurately, but actually engages in fundamentally different intellectual processes.  

I've been pointing this out for years, if you recall. But because I don't think like the less intelligent, I am regularly labeled everything from stupid to racist. In my experience, the 150 IQ individual does not resent the individual with the 160 or the 175 IQ, and this may be because being above 145, we all tend to engage in similar thought processes, albeit with different capabilities. The 135 IQ individual dislikes and fears the 150+ individuals, while the 115 IQ individual either doesn't believe the 150+ individuals exist or blithely insists that they are crazy.

That's why I despise midwits. You simply can't talk to them. They don't even try to understand you, but instead move to disqualify you as fast as they can. I have much more sensible conversations with people in the 75 to 100 range than I do with most in the 105 to 120 range. The 125 to 140 crowd is okay as long as they don't have an inferiority complex, but when they do, they're the biggest annoyances of all.

People with D15IQs over 150 are effectively 'The Excluded', routinely finding their thoughts to be unconvincing in the public discourse and in productive environments.  If placed in a leadership position, they will not succeed.

Now you know why I have such an allergy to being asked to lead in any way, shape, or form. In any event, this may be one of the more interesting aspects of Brainstorm (a reminder, there are 20 places left for the Wednesday session at 7:30 PM Eastern), as even those who aren't +3SD or higher are, at least, open in principle to the wild and crazy thoughts being expressed by the higher intelligences. If we can figure out how to best harness a community of High IQ Excluded, we should be able to come up with more than a few interesting projects.

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431 Comments:

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Anonymous Stingray May 18, 2015 12:13 PM  

but actually engages in fundamentally different intellectual processes.

Can anyone give me an example of this, please?

Blogger collisioncat67 May 18, 2015 12:15 PM  

They are like the scarecrow in the Wizard of OZ.

Just because they are bestowed with a piece of paper that essentially says to them; "you are way smarter then ordinary people", they believe it.

The true midwits think every smart person(in the sense that they see themselves) should hold that same lefty/SJW opinion that they do.

Blogger skiballa May 18, 2015 12:21 PM  

@Stingray

I'm not sure what could be used as an example that would be easily understood. I was tested at 136 IQ around 7 years old, because my teachers thought I had a learning disability. They were right, but not in the way they thought. I know I'm not super-intelligent, but I have a certain abstraction of thought that is hard to explain, and I can only imagine how much more developed that is as you move further up the standard deviation scale.

Anonymous Tom May 18, 2015 12:24 PM  

Vox, I'm curious if you could try to describe what it seems is different about the cognition of the higher IQ people?

I'm an IQ of 142 or some such that works explaining things to average to low intelligence students. It took awhile interacting and watching them work to understand where their common mistakes were coming in the problems. However, now I've got a fairly good understanding of their typical issues. So, I feel as though I've got a decent understanding of average range intelligence thinking, at least among a population that has been public schooled.

I know that I see problems more holistically than others, I'm a more visual/spacial thinker, and I'm prone to making intuitive leaps (that used to be right more often than they are nowadays, I think having 7 kids has made me stupider). However, my wife who has the same IQ as me, thinks differently again. She's talented with certain topics and not others.

Anonymous Leonidas May 18, 2015 12:26 PM  

Members of high IQ societies, especially those that require D15IQs above 145, often comment that around this IQ, qualitatively different thinking emerges.

So very true. I'm on the lower end of this high-IQ range (high 140s IQ). Definitely enough to cross the barrier and find that other people just plain don't think like me. Also enough to realize that there are still people out there quite a bit smarter than I am.

Can anyone give me an example of this, please?

Imagine that you're dealing with a child. A child does something and you look at it and think, "why did you even think that was a good idea?"

Imagine that you're trying to solve a problem or a puzzle with that same child, and you quickly come to a solution. But you watch the child work with it, and no matter how much time you give them they can't actually find the solution. It's not a matter of time, they just can't make the logical leap required to do it.

Imagine trying to explain concepts such as death to a three year old. It's a difficult concept for the three year old, but it's not fundamentally "complicated." You can't break it down into simpler things to explain it, although you can try metaphor. But the three year old just doesn't quite get it. It's not a matter of lacking the base concepts - death is the base concept. They just don't get it.

When you cross the 145 mark - and that really does seem to be about where it is - this is pretty much what dealing with "normal people" is like.

Blogger Bluntobj Winz May 18, 2015 12:29 PM  

Notice that the profession indicated are highly regimented, rule bound, and are restricted in their creativity. The bright normal group is extremely good at working within their ruleset, but deviations from the set of rules they operate under (even if it is an extremely weak ruleset) must be punished. I think that this is becoming exacerbated by the growth of less than rigorous thought and logic processes within the spheres of these professions. I wonder if it is a return to a dogmatic extreme not seen since the dark ages after the collapse of the Roman empire; people are seeking to grasp at any solidity when the world they live in is changing in either physical, governmental, or informational ways. Those with IQ's less than 145 may simply be wired to need relief from uncertainty.

It may also tie in very well with the resilience and adaptability traits in humans; those who rely on highly rulebound structures are inherently non-adaptable and non-resilient. It would be fund to postulate if this was a similar state in the collapse of the Angkor empire, Mayan empire, Easter Island, and even the Roman empire.

Anonymous Eric Ashley May 18, 2015 12:30 PM  

Arthur and Merlin seems a good example of how to to do this. I occasionally see supposedly super smarts wishing they were in charge. Not such a great idea.

I would think truly advanced thought would be more like facial recognition in the brain. You just do it....SF thought. Whereas as Stephen Den Beste talked about being able to see problems the way ordinary people did, or to see them as a three dimensional colored graph which would yield unexpected connections. And this talk of more abstract seems to assume more abstract is better.

He knows where the robins fall and the ever declining number of hairs on your head. At some point, abstraction should unify back again with specificity. But that might require a Vingean IA.

Blogger Danby May 18, 2015 12:31 PM  

This exactly mirrors my experience. In high school, due to an extended series of bad interactions with math teachers, I stopped taking math classes after advanced Algebra. When it was SAT time, one of the Math geeks freaked out that I out-scored him on the math portion. I mean literally freaked out. "You bastard! You cheating bastard! You fucking cheated and I'm gonna find out how and I'm gonna destroy you!" He damn near threw down right there in the cafeteria.

He designs lasers these days.

Blogger maniacprovost May 18, 2015 12:33 PM  

"we should be able to come up with more than a few interesting projects."

I have 5+ projects that could change the world, but... Who is going to work on them? Put 15 geniuses in one room, and aside from the neuroses, the problem is that you don't end up with a brilliant team... You end up with 75 projects.

Blogger slarrow May 18, 2015 12:34 PM  

'A common experience with people in this category or higher is that they are not wanted - the masses (including the professional classes) find them an affront of some sort.' While true, it is more likely a symptom than a cause of the exclusion. We need to understand why they are an affront.

When I first read that, I thought, "Well, the answer is that envy is a sin." But the article does go on to explore that issue with greater nuance.

Ultimately, I think, it's the fact that beyond a certain IQ gap (the article suggests around 20 points), one cannot reliably grasp the difference between a position well founded and a con job well articulated. For people who pride themselves on their intellectual ability, becoming suddenly blind in this respect is hard to take. They are suspicious, hence their reliance on tribal markers rather than the arguments themselves in determining who to trust.

The article's focus on the "inappropriate productive environment" also reminds me of a long ago Dilbert cartoon. When Dilbert asks, "if we're so smart, why do we work here?", the reply is, "Intelligence has much less practical application than you'd think." I've seen that borne out time and time again.

Anonymous Anonymous May 18, 2015 12:34 PM  

I have found, as a business owner and lawyer, that I have to tone down my thoughts in order to lead and deal with clients. This even when leading engineers, though less so. As a 3d presumably that means that whenever I need to tone it down the person with whom I'm interacting must not be within 30 points? But that doesn't seem possible for an engineer. Or perhaps it is a social skill flaw instead?

Apologies for the anon,
Betamax

Anonymous physphilmusic May 18, 2015 12:37 PM  

I'm not surprised that university professors don't have that high of an IQ. After all, most professors have to lecture and interact with students as part of their job. Very few people have the privilege doing pure research; and even if you do, you still have to be able to explain your ideas to the majority of the community, which is about -1SD in IQ away.

The 125 to 140 crowd is okay as long as they don't have an inferiority complex, but when they do, they're the biggest annoyances of all.

One of the most valuable life skills I learned from my physics professor in training to be a physicist is getting rid of that inferiority complex when talking to someone who is clearly smarter and more knowledgeable than you. Instead of trying to one-up or intellectually compete with that person, you try to understand the best as you can (perhaps by attempting to simplify what he's talking about into analogies that you understand) and stick to speaking about what you know. That way both of you can contribute and everybody wins.

Blogger Josh May 18, 2015 12:37 PM  

Can anyone give me an example of this, please?

Instead of going from point a to point b to point z, point a doesn't lead to point b, but to track a, track b, track c. And each track has its own sub tracks. And you can go from point a to point z on each track simultaneously.

Anonymous Mike M. May 18, 2015 12:39 PM  

"Members of high IQ societies, especially those that require D15IQs above 145, often comment that around this IQ, qualitatively different thinking emerges. By this they mean that the 145+ D15IQ person doesn't just do the same things, intellectually, as a lower IQ person, just faster and more accurately, but actually engages in fundamentally different intellectual processes."

I'm running an IQ in that 145 bracket, and have experienced this myself. I don't so much think outside the box as fail to notice that there was a box. Details and consequences that other people see only after thought are blindingly obvious. I see relationships in a range of seemingly disparate fields that other people don't pick up on. Heinlein was NOT joking about the potential of an encyclopedic synthesist.

And Vox isn't joking about how very frustrating it can be to deal with people at times.

Anonymous Eric Ashley May 18, 2015 12:40 PM  

Would doctors as a profession be better if the average IQ was 170?

No.

I see a conceit that must be greatly tempting to the really smart, the notion that they can do anything better than anyone.

Blogger maniacprovost May 18, 2015 12:40 PM  

Betamax... Most engineers are midwits with talents skewed toward math and logic. Hence the low starting salaries. Above -average engineers are typically very detail oriented, which can make it difficult to communicate vague goals or concepts to them.

Blogger skiballa May 18, 2015 12:41 PM  

Bluntobj Winz, I don't think that there's a set line for that thinking (like 145), there has to be a bit of overlap there. I find for myself that a bit of uncertainty stimulates like few other things, but I do regiment and control what I'm able. Granted, what resilience I have was adopted over the course of a military career where adaptability is a desired trait.

Blogger Student in Blue May 18, 2015 12:42 PM  

I'm reminded of Merlin and King Arthur.

Merlin's the genius, but King Arthur is the leader. And I don't think Merlin wants to be King.

Anonymous physphilmusic May 18, 2015 12:44 PM  

Members of high IQ societies, especially those that require D15IQs above 145, often comment that around this IQ, qualitatively different thinking emerges. By this they mean that the 145+ D15IQ person doesn't just do the same things, intellectually, as a lower IQ person, just faster and more accurately, but actually engages in fundamentally different intellectual processes.

This is the only part of the article I don't buy (i.e., the existence of some quantum leap of intelligence at IQ=145), given that nobody has been able to explain what these "fundamentally different intellectual processes" are. It smells like being written by someone with an IQ of 150, which is probably the IQ of the majority of members in high-IQ societies.

Blogger James Dixon May 18, 2015 12:44 PM  

> ... the evidence would tend to suggest that the mean intelligence of the regulars here is higher than the Cambridge faculty.

Sigh. Isaac Newton need not apply. At one time the universities celebrated intelligence, now it's excluded. :(

Anonymous Porky May 18, 2015 12:46 PM  

Shorter version:

Nerds are weird.

Blogger S1AL May 18, 2015 12:47 PM  

Interesting that engineers didn't make that list. My experience indicates that they're probably an exception to this, specifically in some of the fringe areas.

Blogger James Dixon May 18, 2015 12:48 PM  

> This is the only part of the article I don't buy (i.e., the existence of some quantum leap of intelligence at IQ=145), given that nobody has been able to explain what these "fundamentally different intellectual processes" are.

That does not follow. How would you explain color to a blind man?

Anonymous Maximo Macaroni May 18, 2015 12:50 PM  

Love also works better when the intelligence gap between lovers is great, in my experience

Blogger DaveofSpades May 18, 2015 12:50 PM  

I'm only in the 135 range. I've never really had problems with people smarter than myself. I have a lot of problems with people in the 115-120 range...the folks who are above average but not really that smart but devoutly believe they are the smartest people in the room.

I do have problems believing in the existence of someone 160+ that also has social skills. I've never met one.

Blogger skiballa May 18, 2015 12:51 PM  

S1AL, engineers are an odd breed, as a toolmaker I find myself constantly explaining why we can't actually build a prototype of their latest computer modeled project. I'm still waiting on one of them to build a replicator, then we'll be good to go.

Anonymous WhiteKnightLeo May 18, 2015 12:51 PM  

I read a novel recently that seemed to incorporate this phenomenon: 'Don't Tell My Parents I'm a Supervillain'.

It's a story of a young girl, both of whose parents have intellectual superpowers (it's a superhero world). Her superpower allows her to invent things for which the functional principles seem to be just beyond her supergenius father's ability to analyze, but in this state she describes her brain performing feats of science that she doesn't quite have the words for, so she can't really describe in words how she did what she did after the fact (in fact, if she tries too hard to put words to what she's doing during one of her inventive states, she loses it).

Basically her superpower has an IQ that is at least 2 standard deviations more intelligent than she is (and possibly more). It allows her to not merely think faster or more precisely, but rather to make leaps of understanding that she is otherwise completely unable to make. In one scene she is trying to figure out what she could make that help her study for her German language test, acknowledging the difficulty of trying to build a translator for a language she doesn't speak and trying to go into a "deeper" level of understanding. My guess is that she's talking about a device that comprehends how the human brain's language centers work. I can't quite make the connection either, but I can *almost* see it.

Her superpower does what she wants it to do, after a fashion, but she's never quite sure exactly what it's going to make when she tries to use it to build something.

OpenID mattse001 May 18, 2015 12:51 PM  

As far as Cambridge goes, there's the old adage "those who can't do, teach."
Maybe the excluded have decided to make a difference in the REAL world, instead of in academia.

Blogger Quadko May 18, 2015 12:52 PM  

routinely finding their thoughts to be unconvincing in the public discourse and in productive environments. If placed in a leadership position, they will not succeed.
I've found that first item to be true, and stopped warning about problems because I wasn't believed... and the warning not remembered when the problems came calling months later.

The second is discouraging, because lots of my hope for the future was to wend my way one way or other to leadership and hopefully lead to organizational success based on avoiding such problems.

Interesting points.

Anonymous Holmwood May 18, 2015 12:53 PM  

But that doesn't seem possible for an engineer. Or perhaps it is a social skill flaw instead?
Are they actually engineers? Or engineering technologists. And what was the university/college they graduated from like?

That said, even at a well-regarded university with a good faculty of engineering, I'd say only the top third of graduates at best would be capable of keeping up at 3sd+, and the bottom two thirds would be quite hopeless.

Engineering tends to select for "smart enough" (which is often only 118-125) and capable of absorbing a good deal of information at least adequately. Willpower and stamina yes, intellect not necessarily.

In my own experience marking undergrad engineering students, back in the late 1990's, there was a great deal of pressure even there to grade inflate people who shouldn't have been getting by. This was at a relatively good university (I also had occasion to observe a mediocre one) and I suspect it's gotten worse in the last 15+ years.

Anonymous ZT May 18, 2015 12:54 PM  

It makes since. You need a certain level of intelligence to be successful in those fields but then you start protecting your field from others because of the scarcity.

My theory is engineers are better at accepting higher intelligent people because their position is not threatened, where as a professors for the for an Ivy league school has 10's, maybe hundreds, of wood-be applicants wanting their spot.

Once scarcity comes into effect protection comes into play and the lower level IQ (Lower IQ does not stupid) will use Mass of numbers to override those who have higher IQ.

In short the lower IQ cannot compete on bases of logic but they can try to compete on basis of numbers. This plays into your Dialectic vs Rhetoric issue.

Blogger Chiva May 18, 2015 12:54 PM  

"Interesting that engineers didn't make that list"

The writer did not consider engineering an "intellectually elite profession".

Of course it could also be that engineers are not considered an "elite profession" since most engineers need to produce something to stay relevant.

Anonymous Orville May 18, 2015 12:55 PM  

"a certain abstraction of thought that is hard to explain" and "intuitive visual/spatial thinking" comes close for me. I'm a 130 (high mid-wit) so I'm not sure if I fall into that category that thinks on a fundamentally different level, but given the interest and time I have no problem breaking down complex things into components and then building an abstraction in my mind of the whole.

" Put 15 geniuses in one room, and aside from the neuroses, the problem is that you don't end up with a brilliant team... You end up with 75 projects." This is my biggest curse. I have too many interests.

Anonymous Mike M. May 18, 2015 12:58 PM  

Much also depends on the branch of engineering. When I went to Virginia Tech in the early '80s, the pecking order generally was Chemical > Aerospace > Mechanical/Electrical > Civil.

Blogger Josh May 18, 2015 12:58 PM  

Faye from Grimnoir is an excellent fictional depiction of this phenomenon.

Blogger VD May 18, 2015 12:59 PM  

Instead of trying to one-up or intellectually compete with that person, you try to understand the best as you can (perhaps by attempting to simplify what he's talking about into analogies that you understand) and stick to speaking about what you know. That way both of you can contribute and everybody wins.

This is a good principle to follow. I love meeting people who are smarter than I am. I follow them around and ask questions until they finally tell me to go away. I once even learned a language just so I could read a superior intellect in the original.

I do have problems believing in the existence of someone 160+ that also has social skills. I've never met one.

The most charismatic man I have ever known has an IQ of 175. It takes an hour outside of his presence for the spell he casts over you to wear off. It's freaking uncanny.

Anonymous Porky May 18, 2015 12:59 PM  

From what I can gather, this Ferguson guy fancies himself a sort of X-Men-Charles Xavier-type who is leading the way in the next stage of human evolution. He even names the next species: H. megacephalous.

And he wonders why normal people don't want him to lead us.

Anonymous NorthernHamlet May 18, 2015 1:00 PM  

Disclaimer: I tested at 125 at 6 years old. No idea where I am now, higher or even lower.

For the difference in thinking: I know for myself, I think in a very non-linear way, which opens up a set of solutions to any given problem that most people can't even comprehend because it starts at the very foundations of whatever is the obstacle, keeping in mind many different hypothetical tracts in the future to avoid.

It's like... No, actually... It's finding a solution to a problem while avoiding any other problems.

Best metaphor for how i feel when thinking: looking at a landscape vista unfolding.

Anonymous ODG May 18, 2015 1:02 PM  

According to the SAT, I should have an IQ in the 130+ range, but I don't think that I've lived up to my potential. One of the issues with midwits such as myself is that we're all such precious snowflakes up through high school, getting full rides to public universities and being National Merit scholars - the accolades come easy. Many want that gravy train to continue after college and expect the degree to bring all kinds of bennies, and when actual hard work is required, we're unwilling, unable, or just uncomfortable doing it, and our pride bubbles to the surface.
"Don't you all understand just how special I am?!?"

Anonymous ZT May 18, 2015 1:03 PM  

@Mike M. I'm running an IQ in that 145 bracket, and have experienced this myself. I don't so much think outside the box as fail to notice that there was a box. Details and consequences that other people see only after thought are blindingly obvious. I see relationships in a range of seemingly disparate fields that other people don't pick up on. Heinlein was NOT joking about the potential of an encyclopedic synthesist.

And Vox isn't joking about how very frustrating it can be to deal with people at times.


You also have to consider there are just differences in knowledge and willingness to learn. I am willing to sit and learn about most technical things as they relate to computers, programs, and systems but I have little desire to learn about fluid dynamics, or some of the topics in nuclear engineering. However that doesn't mean I cannot follow them, only that I am not inclined.

Its the "That is fascinating but I don't really give a frack." Just look at this blog for example. High number of intelligent people but there is maybe 5 to 10% that actually care about the analysis of Military history (though this may have grown since whipping the dead horse.)

Anonymous Stingray May 18, 2015 1:04 PM  

It's not a matter of time, they just can't make the logical leap required to do it.

This part I get. It's what Josh explained that I am trying to grasp. That a highly intelligent person will reach Z just as the mid wit will (which I think I am probably right in the middle of or just below) but reach Z from not only a different path, but several different paths.

I find that fascinating and am just trying to find an example of this to solidify it for me.

Anonymous Billy May 18, 2015 1:05 PM  

I scored 126 at 19 years old. Although I feel that number would be quite a bit lower now. Considering all the hardship and trauma my gray matter has encountered through out my life. I think that I have always recognized and appreciated superior intellect, maybe thier is more truth than not in Vox's conjecture.

Anonymous NorthernHamlet May 18, 2015 1:07 PM  

Short version:

slightly intelligent people are defense as hell about their intelligence.

Anonymous Whitey McWhite May 18, 2015 1:09 PM  

I was surprised by the lack of discussion of fear and group interests, particularly as it was acknowledged early that "IQ is primarily of value in understanding the characteristics and interactions of large populations".

Blogger Danby May 18, 2015 1:09 PM  

I've worked with a lot of stupid engineers. EEs that go into software are my particular favorites.

As for a different way of thinking, put it this way.
Smart people see procedures, rules and how they build into systems.
Very smart people see how the systems are linked together to create domains.
Hypersmart people see the underlying principles and how they are expressed as systems, and the commonality of principles between domains.

Blogger Quadko May 18, 2015 1:10 PM  

Don't Tell My Parents I'm a Supervillain
Ha! Thanks for the review, I skipped it but will have to go read it for now. I had too much fun with A.J. Menden's Phenomenal Girl 5 series, for all they were romances in Superhero guise and didn't pretend to be much more.

Anonymous dh May 18, 2015 1:10 PM  

And he wonders why normal people don't want him to lead us.

Porky, I agree totally. The gist of all of this seems to be the same as MRW, which is, this group thinks they are entitled to something because the rules they want society to follow are not the rules that society actually follows. Sure, I remember that one episode of Sliders where intellectual pursuits made people the equivalent of super models and elite athletes, but that's not how things work here. Sorry. Maybe next time.

Blogger VD May 18, 2015 1:14 PM  

Can anyone give me an example of this, please?

Look at my Time to Civilization concept. To me, it is immediately - and I mean immediately - obvious that a group of people cannot go from eating each other and not being able to figure out either the wheel or not shitting in the water supply to launching spacecraft in a single generation. Perhaps this is beyond some people, perhaps not. But it strikes me as inarguable.

So, what is the OBVIOUS next question. I mean, the only possible next question? How many generations does it take on average? One? Five? One hundred? There absolutely MUST be an answer, there can't not be.

There aren't a ton of examples, but there are a few. The Germans of Caesar's era, who ran around naked. The English, painting their butts blue. How long did it take for them to go from encountering Rome to having their own civilizations of similar complexity and advancement to Rome?

Now, keep in mind that all of this takes about 5 seconds to think through. Then, the next thought is, hey, it hasn't been that long since Americans started importing slaves from Africa. No wonder the behavioral issues have proven more or less intractable, not enough time has passed.

I mention this simple thought process. The immediate response from the midwit set? RACISS! Which, of course, is something that didn't even begin to enter into the thought process at any point along the way.

Anonymous Viidad May 18, 2015 1:15 PM  

I'm unsure of my IQ since I've never taken a legitimate test; yet I know it's up there somewhere. That said, finding this site was like finding my people. There's a great weariness in having to constantly dumb down my conversations. Here I'm by no means the smartest man in the room so I prefer to read the higher-end debates rather than participate. I'll still wager I'm smarter than the Cambridge crew.

Blogger Mr.MantraMan May 18, 2015 1:15 PM  

Daily Kos home of the midwit English major

Blogger skiballa May 18, 2015 1:16 PM  

Vox, it seems like you're well on your way to creating a BadThinkTank (TM). I look forward to future developments.

Blogger Cail Corishev May 18, 2015 1:16 PM  

I have much more sensible conversations with people in the 75 to 100 range than I do with most in the 105 to 120 range.

Same here. My cousin is probably about 100 tops, and he's never read a book cover-to-cover in his life. But he doesn't try to talk to me about "Aristotele"; he talks about hunting and fishing, which is cool, because we're both interested in those things. The 115 guy is more likely to say, "Ooo, a fellow smart person; I should bring up a smart-person topic so we can be smart people together." I'd rather go fishing.

By this they mean that the 145+ D15IQ person doesn't just do the same things, intellectually, as a lower IQ person, just faster and more accurately, but actually engages in fundamentally different intellectual processes.

That wouldn't surprise me. Most people have no idea what "really smart" means, because it's considered gauche to talk about it (as I'll prove in the next paragraph), so smart people don't talk about it, not wanting to be accused of bragging and excluded more than they already feel they are.

So most people think being "really smart" in school means you don't have to study much. No, it means you don't have to study at all (at least not until the higher end of college). You also never have homework because you finish the lessons during class while the teacher is still explaining the new material to the other students, then spend the last half of the class drawing X-wings and TIE-fighters on your desk.

So in this context, here's what that means: if the average "elite intellectual" has an IQ of 125, and you're at 150+, you can probably spend a couple weeks immersing yourself in a topic and get up to speed comparable to the mass of intellectuals who studied the topic for a few semesters at college. That infuriates the credentialed intellectual, who A) doesn't think that's possible, and B) doesn't think it should be possible.

Blogger Ken May 18, 2015 1:16 PM  

Is there a way for a person to work around their own midwit or inferior IQs? I never got mine tested, because I know myself: if I tested high, I would be insufferable, and if I tested low, I would be despondent.

That said, I'm fairly certain I'm a high midwit that has striven to BE smarter, but I have no clear metric for if I am succeeding, or if I even can.

Have you advice, an article I can peruse, or is it simply a matter of, "God has created you in X manner; be content and serve the best you can within the framework He has provided you?"

Anonymous Ridip May 18, 2015 1:17 PM  

Stingray, I am routinely frustrated when my mind is already at point D in the sequence and others are still stuck discussing B and I'm like oh hell, not this again having gone directly from A to D without progressing through B and C. Then once I figure out where the hell they are having to play connect the dots, pausing long enough at each point to allow the others to discuss and catch up.

This is the old show your work, or geometrical proof BS. Where I'm sitting there going I did. It just is. What do you mean I left out 4 steps?

I was very blessed that my first wife was ~145 and served as an interface to "normal" people. In some ways I learned to slow down and think in her linear patterns and from there to be able to communicate with midwits. But my God is it nice to work where I'm running with the thoroughbreds rather than trail horses now.

Blogger Danby May 18, 2015 1:17 PM  

"I do have problems believing in the existence of someone 160+ that also has social skills. I've never met one."

I was going to cite Bill Clinton, but I looked it up, and most estimates are 135-145.

Blogger Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus May 18, 2015 1:19 PM  

Could have told you this. In the sciences (esp. biology and the "soft" sciences, somewhat less so in chemistry and physics) there are a lot of (not quite literally, but close) retards with Ph.D.s

Anonymous physphilmusic May 18, 2015 1:19 PM  

That does not follow. How would you explain color to a blind man?

Color is objectively defined as the wavelength of visible light. You can ask the blind man to track the response of a wavemeter fed with light as you change the wavelength of the light, for example. This will not enable the blind man to have the sensory experience of color, but it will enable him to verify that we are not just making things up.

Most of the examples I've seen from high-IQ people about their special thinking processes are really variations on how they're able to grasp connections much quicker than someone with lower IQ. I've never come across a logical argument (in philosophy, math, physics, or otherwise) that all high-IQ people claim to understand but I myself can not understand at all. Even though it might take me more time, it has been possible in principle for me to always break things down into more relatable concepts in order to understand the original argument.

Anonymous Leonidas May 18, 2015 1:19 PM  

That a highly intelligent person will reach Z just as the mid wit will (which I think I am probably right in the middle of or just below) but reach Z from not only a different path, but several different paths.

Pick any position that you could defend via three or four separate arguments. There are a lot of them out there, so have your pick. Then imagine that when you're analyzing and trying to come to a decision on something your mind thinks through all of these angles at the same time.

Blogger Marc DuQuesne May 18, 2015 1:20 PM  

Software design and coding seems like a natural refuge for the excluded to contribute. The kind of code produced by the upper IQ level is so vastly different than what midwits manage. The compiler is indifferent to social skills and immune to jealousy.

Her superpower does what she wants it to do, after a fashion, but she's never quite sure exactly what it's going to make when she tries to use it to build something.
Reminds me of the old Gallegher stories without the booze.

Blogger James Dixon May 18, 2015 1:20 PM  

> Disclaimer: I tested at 125 at 6 years old. No idea where I am now, higher or even lower.

I believe (I'd have to check to be certain) that IQ tends to rise up through early adulthood and taper off afterwards. So if you're over 30; almost definitely lower.

Blogger Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus May 18, 2015 1:21 PM  

So in this context, here's what that means: if the average "elite intellectual" has an IQ of 125, and you're at 150+, you can probably spend a couple weeks immersing yourself in a topic and get up to speed comparable to the mass of intellectuals who studied the topic for a few semesters at college. That infuriates the credentialed intellectual, who A) doesn't think that's possible, and B) doesn't think it should be possible.

I am really, truly not meaning to brag here, but I have found this to be true.

And it is also true that the 1.5-2 SD "experts" hate it when you do that.

OpenID mattse001 May 18, 2015 1:22 PM  

Tested multiple times over my life, 138-147 with most clustered around 140:
@Stingray: examples from physics:
I think it was Dirac who postulated thinking of electrons as holes in an infinite positive field of charge. This is analogous to thinking of vibrations in solids as virtual particles called phonons. Thinking of problems using these different paradigms makes calculations much easier sometimes, in the same way that a change of coordinate system in calculus can make impossibly hard integrals simple.

I've noticed, like the author, that quantity does not equal quality.
4 120 IQ people will never come up with the same ideas as one 150 IQ person, no matter how long they work. They simply never see the connections.

Blogger Bodichi (0031) May 18, 2015 1:22 PM  

@VD

C.S. Lewis - The Screwtape Letters

"that when a learned man is presented with any statement in an ancient author, the one question he never asks is whether it is true. He asks who influenced the ancient writer, and how far the statement is consistent with what he said in other books, and what phase in the writer’s development, or in the general history of thought, it illustrates, and how it affected later writers, and how often it has been misunderstood… and what the general course of criticism on it has been for the last ten years, and what is the “present state of the question”.

They don't care whether it is true, only what the "present state of the question is" and the present state is RAYCISS!

Blogger maniacprovost May 18, 2015 1:22 PM  

"It's like... No, actually... It's finding a solution to a problem while avoiding any other problems"

Does it sometimes take you several hours to figure out what everyone else was stumped on?

I think of this aspect of intelligence as being linked to perception. My hypothesis is people who see details rather than seeing what they want to see will tend to have this kind of ability.

Blogger Chiva May 18, 2015 1:23 PM  

"Is there a way for a person to work around their own midwit or inferior IQs?"

For me it is being humble. I never got tested myself. I know I am smarter than average, but not too smart.

Blogger skiballa May 18, 2015 1:24 PM  

Cail, that paragraph could almost describe me, though I managed to pass without doing most of the work while skipping school and smoking weed. It caught up with me senior year when they made passing dependent on attendance. It always amazed me that people were so surprised that such a thing was possible.

Blogger Shimshon May 18, 2015 1:24 PM  

I had an IQ test when I moved to a new district at seven. When I took the SAT in 1984 at sixteen, it was a near perfect match, based on Mensa's published scale. 126 -> 1240. That seems to indicate to me that intelligence is real and measurable, based on common assumptions of what it entails. Just like Vox has been saying. How else can you come up with nearly equal measures at two such radically different ages?

Anonymous Stingray May 18, 2015 1:24 PM  

The immediate response from the midwit set? RACISS! Which, of course, is something that didn't even begin to enter into the thought process at any point along the way.

Ok. I see this.

My next question, for this particular example: Is this a product of intelligence or fear? Or is the fear a product of lack of intelligence?

Your example is not a difficult one to follow really and I wonder if it is lack of intelligence that is really the problem in cases like the one you described.

Anonymous physphilmusic May 18, 2015 1:26 PM  

Look at my Time to Civilization concept. To me, it is immediately - and I mean immediately - obvious that a group of people cannot go from eating each other and not being able to figure out either the wheel or not shitting in the water supply to launching spacecraft in a single generation. Perhaps this is beyond some people, perhaps not. But it strikes me as inarguable...

I mention this simple thought process. The immediate response from the midwit set? RACISS! Which, of course, is something that didn't even begin to enter into the thought process at any point along the way.


Your argument is interesting, but I don't think it's an intellectual quantum leap that only high IQ people would be able to discover. My impression is that the resistance to your argument by midwits is not because they can't intellectually comprehend it, but because they willingly choose to do so due to conditioning that such thoughts are "racist".

Anonymous VV May 18, 2015 1:27 PM  

Hello Vox, thank you for writing this. I believe what you say is true. I have noticed all throughout my schooling that the people who do the best are usually not the very high IQ people, who seem more likely to slack on the work out of disinterest if it is not challenging enough, or to be the type of student that barely studies and still gets good grades (not great grades, just good).

The students who got the best grades were overall the ones in the 110-130 range, or the midwits as you say, who often had just the right mix of being smart enough to do the work well without being very bored by it. I went to a highly academic school and we all did IQ testing, around 130 seems to be the magic IQ number for high success in societal systems. I think this could translate into certain professions as well.

I have also noted that I am age 25 and have never been flirted with by a boy. I always assumed I was simply ugly and left it at that but I posted a picture (fully clothed I don't do nude pictures) online once and received compliments. I asked some people I know about why I don't receive similar compliments in person (which I have been told every girl does unless they are very ugly) and I usually get an answer like "you are closed off/you don't look open/you seem cold/your body language is wrong". I don't know but I think that could be part of it too. I have seen many posts about how stupid it is that high IQ women are neglecting to have children (and sometimes it really is ignorance of a small fertility window) but I think for some people too it is that it's hard to find someone you connect with when you are high IQ, especially if you are already introverted.

Blogger Shimshon May 18, 2015 1:27 PM  

That was seventeen, not sixteen.

Blogger Ken May 18, 2015 1:27 PM  

Sorry, Chiva, I did not properly phrase that question. I should have asked, "Can a person improve their IQ so that they are more than a low-midwit?"

I figured it could be sussed out from the context, but I should have been more precise.

Anonymous physics geek May 18, 2015 1:29 PM  

I do have problems believing in the existence of someone 160+ that also has social skills. I've never met one.

I met one in grad school. It wasn't the first time I'd met someone smarter than me. However, it was the first time I'd ever met someone whose IQ was several standard deviations above my own. He was very sociable and congenial. And then the conversation would take a tangent and you'd realize just how insignificant you were, intellectually speaking. He wasn't playing by different rules. Instead, he was playing an entirely different game, one whose rules I lacked the capacity to grasp. My IQ is around the 140-145 range and the gap between him and me was greater than that between me and the guy with a 95 IQ.

Blogger Danby May 18, 2015 1:29 PM  

This is the old show your work, or geometrical proof BS. Where I'm sitting there going I did. It just is. What do you mean I left out 4 steps?

That's how I started getting in trouble in math. The assignment would be to prove in x steps theorem A. I would take particular pride in proving A in x-N steps. And most teachers would get bent out of shape by that. I thought it was funny so I would do it again, and again, and again. Only one teacher (Julius Caesar Bonney, no I'm not joking) would call on me every day to see what I had cooked up. The rest were just offended that I wasn't following the lesson plan.

Anonymous Orville May 18, 2015 1:31 PM  

Well I would suggest that societal "conditioning" is less effective on the high end because it is so obviously false to them that they wouldn't accept it, unless they had some underlying emotional weaknesses.

Blogger James Dixon May 18, 2015 1:31 PM  

> I was very blessed that my first wife was ~145 and served as an interface to "normal" people.

Uh oh. That means I'm my wife's interface to "normal" people. We're doomed. :)

> I've never come across a logical argument (in philosophy, math, physics, or otherwise) that all high-IQ people claim to understand but I myself can not understand at all.

At the point it's broken down to a logical argument, you're already out of the higher IQ thinking process. That's sort of the point.

Blogger Noah B #120 May 18, 2015 1:32 PM  

RE: Brainstorm

For those of us with recurring schedule conflicts on Wednesday evenings, will the time slots shift around and/or is it possible to view playbacks of the sessions if we subscribe?

Anonymous Leonidas May 18, 2015 1:34 PM  

I've never come across a logical argument (in philosophy, math, physics, or otherwise) that all high-IQ people claim to understand but I myself can not understand at all.

That's not really the difference, though, although one of my analogies above might have implied it.

How many logical arguments have you encountered that you would never, ever have reached on your own? Even if locked in the room with 10x more information than the person who made it for potentially infinite time? Now, everybody experiences these on some level. There's a lot of stuff that looks obvious but really only becomes clear to the one person who happens to see it from the right perspective.

Difference 2: that 20 step argument that you read and understood was three steps in the head of the +3SD author who dreamt it up. But he had to add the other 17 in order to be sure that you would understand it.

Another difference: have you ever had a conversation with somebody where every single sentence, by the time they were about halfway done you knew what they were going to say? Or perhaps you knew what they were going to say about 90% of the time, and the other 10% of the time you had about 3-4 probably things that they'd say, with a probability of about 99% that one of them would be correct. Again, this was all by no later than the halfway point in a given sentence. Often it was after one sentence was completed and you're predicting the next one without having heard any of it.

Now imagine that this is how almost every conversation in your life proceeds. Except for those rare occasions where you meet someone who is on your level or higher. Or the slightly less rare occasions where you meet somebody with knowledge in an area you know nothing about, or a genuine subject matter expert who simply has far more knowledge on a topic than you do.

You learn to treasure those moments, just as Vox described, and milking those people for every moment of intellectual stimuli they can give you.

Blogger skiballa May 18, 2015 1:35 PM  

I work with a PhD Chemist, she's probably up in the 160 range, some of the concepts she comes up with are very abstract. The point of this little anecdote is that I get a kick out of the engineers in the company scrambling to avoid her, it can be quite funny if you recognize what's going on.

Anonymous Stingray May 18, 2015 1:35 PM  

or is it simply a matter of, "God has created you in X manner; be content and serve the best you can within the framework He has provided you?"

I think this is the key. One can also learn a lot more when one accepts the gifts and limitations that have been given because you're not so afraid of being made to look less that what other people are. You already know you're less so it's really not a big deal.

Blogger Shimshon May 18, 2015 1:35 PM  

"The most charismatic man I have ever known has an IQ of 175. It takes an hour outside of his presence for the spell he casts over you to wear off. It's freaking uncanny."

At that IQ, your either aspie, psycho, narcissistic, or powerfully charismatic. Perhaps it correlates with some ability to empathize and emote and process others emotions and understand the emotional triggers. At one end, it's all so confusing and they totally withdraw. At the other end, we're just like playthings, in a way. Hopefully they're just charismatic and not psycho. Aren't they typically very intelligent?

Blogger maniacprovost May 18, 2015 1:36 PM  

"Your example is not a difficult one to follow really and I wonder if it is lack of intelligence that is really the problem in cases like the one you described."

Imo, there are methods of thinking correctly and efficiently that an average person can use, but the average person can't invent the method by himself. Nor is it taught in schools.

Blogger Double E May 18, 2015 1:37 PM  

Members of high IQ societies, especially those that require D15IQs above 145, often comment that around this IQ, qualitatively different thinking emerges. By this they mean that the 145+ D15IQ person doesn't just do the same things, intellectually, as a lower IQ person, just faster and more accurately, but actually engages in fundamentally different intellectual processes.

This is the interesting part to me, as I have definitely noticed this in the past. I am hardly genius level, but I am definitely well above average intelligence. Somewhere in the 130 to 140 range.

What's funny is that I never really felt 'smarter' per se than a lot of other people or 'midwits' in terms of raw brain power, but I have always felt like I had more of a consciousness than them, or was simply thinking on a different plane. Its weird, they think like they are an empty meat suit with a brain but no soul or something, its hard to describe, but their brains aren't thinking in the same way, even if they are thinking really well, and you can even see it in their eyes sometimes. This seems pronounced in Asians, who have great raw robotic-like brain power on average but seem to often lack that spark actual 'thinking' .

I have actually come up with a whole theory about how consciousness is on a spectrum and isn't as simple as a living being either having a soul or not. So a certain dog for example may have more consciousness than a certain person, even though the human has a much more advanced brain.

Blogger RobertT May 18, 2015 1:38 PM  

This post & comments have been very interesting.Thinking differently, different mental processes, giant intuitive leaps. It's not uncommon for me to arrive at the right solution long before anyone else does because it just seems obvious to me. Plus for the first time I understand how mediocre classmates with no special charismatic qualities could get PhDs etc, etc.. Something that surprises me is that several commenters said they know there are people smarter than them. That may be false modesty, and I understand that being intelligent is not always popular. But in my case, since I was a little kid, I always seemed to think I was smarter than everyone else. I just didn't make it obvious, to the point at times of not even mentioning my solution.

Anonymous physphilmusic May 18, 2015 1:39 PM  

At the point it's broken down to a logical argument, you're already out of the higher IQ thinking process. That's sort of the point.

I can understand if certain people have intuitions about a theory that they are able to see its truth before actually breaking it down to a step-by-step argument. But I, too, have some degree of intuition that enables me to understand simpler theories without breaking it down. So in my reckoning the higher-IQ people have just much more of this ability than I do - there's nothing "fundamentally different" about their thinking processes.

Anonymous Whitey McWhite May 18, 2015 1:40 PM  

Ken: "Is there a way for a person to work around their own midwit or inferior IQs?"

The clever will have more to say on this, but I will merely quote the article:

In the popular culture, IQ has become a point of contention. Many people credulously accept that the eminent have very high IQs and that people of ordinary accomplishment have ordinary IQs. For example, it was widely reported that Garry Kasparov has an IQ of 190. In truth, his IQ is verified to be 135.

I read a lot here about how the truly intelligent think not just better than midwits (such as Gary K) but in a way that's profoundly other, that mediocre minds like Gary's cannot match or comprehend at all.

OK. They'd know, and I will trust them on it.

But would you settle for merely achieving (in whatever field is of interest to you) a degree of supremacy like that which Gary demonstrated?

Blogger James Dixon May 18, 2015 1:41 PM  

> I should have asked, "Can a person improve their IQ so that they are more than a low-midwit?"

You can improve your performance on IQ tests. Whether that affects actual IQ is debatable.

But what you actually probably want is to learn to use the IQ you have most effectively.

Blogger Double E May 18, 2015 1:42 PM  

In other words, I feel like I have crossed the threshold of the different way of thinking that emerges at 145 plus IQs even though I am not actually at that IQ level. It's frustrating because I can't have meaningful discussions with the midwits, but it's hard to keep up with the really smart people. I can do it, but it feels like keeping my engine at 6000 rpms for a 4 hour road trip.

It seems mostly to do with my memory. My raw understanding seems fine for keeping up, but my memory isn't great and I just can't recall enough of information on the topics to keep up.

Anyone else experience this?

Blogger maniacprovost May 18, 2015 1:42 PM  

"Often it was after one sentence was completed and you're predicting the next one without having heard any of it."

Or you can tell by their body language what they're about to say. You respond, they say it anyway, and you repeat yourself.

I worked with a guy with about a. 90 IQ. I just had to put something in his line of sight and he would immediately start working on it. It was good practice for corporate life.

Blogger Markku May 18, 2015 1:43 PM  

The time to civilization concept IS obvious, and trivial. I don't think it is REALLY above any midwit's ability to grasp, but rather they recognise a superior opportunity when it is said; call it racist and thereby endear themselves to the people they wish to be with. I have to say myself that I've occasionally willingly ignored the fact that what someone says is at least logically coherent, because the quip I had against it was just too good not to make.

Anonymous Bz May 18, 2015 1:44 PM  

Such an interesting topic. Here is an interesting article about William Sidis, IQ 250+.

http://www.worlddreambank.org/O/OUTSIDRS.HTM

And a table of IQ estimated by major:

http://www.statisticbrain.com/iq-estimates-by-intended-college-major/

The values seem vaguely familiar from other reading. Physicists are at the top.

I'm a bit surprised about hearing about Cambridge -- traditionally, Oxbridge is quite good at taking care of the very gifted students. Here's one of many examples: http://www.spectator.co.uk/features/9506002/an-education-to-know-remembering-raymond-carr/

Academically, I would say that sometime at or after a Master's, there is an element of grinding rather than achievement. Of course, academic life these days is about grinding out papers so that's perhaps fitting.

PS. I just found that the horrible image captcha can be managed by hitting tab, which scrolls down to the buttons. Though, really, it would be better to have a functioning solution instead.

Blogger Josh May 18, 2015 1:47 PM  

I should have asked, "Can a person improve their IQ so that they are more than a low-midwit?"

Nootropics and bulletproof coffee, brah!

Like others said, making better use of the IQ you already have would be much more practical and effective.

Blogger Double E May 18, 2015 1:47 PM  

Such an interesting topic. Here is an interesting article about William Sidis, IQ 250+.

that IQ must be estimated, right? SInce IQ measures deviation from the mean, there aren't enough people to be smarter than, to verify an IQ that high.

In other words an IQ of 250 means you would be the smartest out of a sample of like 100 billion people or something, right?

Blogger Ken May 18, 2015 1:48 PM  

Stingray: Thank you. I thought that was the case, but will now struggle to rest in contentment while still striving for excellence.

Whitey: I had not considered the end goal (beyond, "Who WOULDN'T want to be more intelligent?"), but I shall do so and get back to you on that.

Anonymous NorthernHamlet May 18, 2015 1:48 PM  

maniacprovost

Does it sometimes take you several hours to figure out what everyone else was stumped on?

Sometimes. I always assume the other people simply aren't thinking.

Anonymous physphilmusic May 18, 2015 1:49 PM  

How many logical arguments have you encountered that you would never, ever have reached on your own? Even if locked in the room with 10x more information than the person who made it for potentially infinite time?

There's a lot of those. But it's really hard to definitely say whether given infinite time, I would never have thought about them on their own. Through the experience of doing research and being forced to solve problems in take-home math tests with a lot of time (days instead of hours), I've discovered that my mind can eventually think up of a lot of things I previously thought impossible.

that 20 step argument that you read and understood was three steps in the head of the +3SD author who dreamt it up. But he had to add the other 17 in order to be sure that you would understand it.

I absolutely can relate to this. Often though, the need to break down things into simple steps can be overcome by more study and experience in the field. The ability to understand the argument in 3 steps instead of 20 seems to be a difference in degree, not in kind. There doesn't seem to be something fundamentally different about their intellectual processes.

Anonymous Stingray May 18, 2015 1:49 PM  

It seems mostly to do with my memory. My raw understanding seems fine for keeping up, but my memory isn't great and I just can't recall enough of information on the topics to keep up.

This describes me very well. I've seen this referred to as a global learner. A person who is good at seeing the big picture but has difficulty remembering and sometimes even understanding the details. Though, at least in my experience, when the details are pointed out, they make sense.

Anonymous Difster VFM #109 May 18, 2015 1:51 PM  

I have a friend who's IQ is about as low as it can be without someone actually being retarded. He is, quite literally, the dumbest person I know.

The thing is, though, he seems to understand his own limitations and he works pretty well within them. Sometimes he calls me and asks me some really dumb questions; things which I would rip anyone else for asking me. But I don't give him a hard time for being dumb because he simply lacks capacity.

I'd much rather deal with him than mid-wits that don't understand their limitations.

Blogger Ken May 18, 2015 1:51 PM  

Ah, make better use of what I have! That's a far better goal than just having a higher number, and hearkens back to the ol' parable of the talents, some are given 10, some 5, some 1. Invest it as best you can so that you can present the ROI to the Master.

Thanks, guys!

Blogger Aeoli Pera May 18, 2015 1:52 PM  

>In fact, given the ability of the Ilk and my Vile Faceless Minions to not only follow my lead in a disciplined manner but also correctly anticipate my intentions without having them explained, the evidence would tend to suggest that the mean intelligence of the regulars here is higher than the Cambridge faculty.

This really ought to go without saying. I feel the ilk have been insulted.

Blogger skiballa May 18, 2015 1:52 PM  

In other news, GRRM is now drawing the ire of the perpetually offended, how surprising.

Anonymous physphilmusic May 18, 2015 1:52 PM  

What's funny is that I never really felt 'smarter' per se than a lot of other people or 'midwits' in terms of raw brain power, but I have always felt like I had more of a consciousness than them, or was simply thinking on a different plane. Its weird, they think like they are an empty meat suit with a brain but no soul or something, its hard to describe, but their brains aren't thinking in the same way, even if they are thinking really well, and you can even see it in their eyes sometimes. This seems pronounced in Asians, who have great raw robotic-like brain power on average but seem to often lack that spark actual 'thinking' .

So you're really thinking of something different than IQ, some sort of "consciousness quotient" that may or may not correlate with IQ (but probably doesn't, given that Asians seem to not have it).

Blogger James Dixon May 18, 2015 1:53 PM  

> Instead, he was playing an entirely different game, one whose rules I lacked the capacity to grasp. My IQ is around the 140-145 range and the gap between him and me was greater than that between me and the guy with a 95 IQ.

I've only met one person in that range in the flesh. And yeah, he was playing a different game. I could almost follow him, but not quite. My wife can do that to me on occasion too, but not as often (probably simply because we know each other so well after 25 years).

> So in my reckoning the higher-IQ people have just much more of this ability than I do - there's nothing "fundamentally different" about their thinking processes.

In that case, you may be correct. Most people (even in the 115-130 IQ range) have no idea what you're talking about. Now imagine thinking that way all the time, without ever needing to break anything down. Then imagine trying to explain that to those who had no idea such a process even exists.

And no, I'm can't do that, at least not anymore. There were periods of time when I was younger when I could, at least for a couple of hours at a time.

Blogger VD May 18, 2015 1:53 PM  

I've never come across a logical argument (in philosophy, math, physics, or otherwise) that all high-IQ people claim to understand but I myself can not understand at all. Even though it might take me more time, it has been possible in principle for me to always break things down into more relatable concepts in order to understand the original argument.

Sure, but anyone can do that. Where the higher order intelligence is required is to have the flash of insight, or in its lesser form, to recognize the flash of insight. I'm actually not all that great at the former, but I am very, very good at the latter. That's why I am best as a synthesizer, not a creator.

I'm not great at concocting something ex nihilo, which is what geniuses do, but I'm very good at seeing how seemingly unrelated abstract concepts can be fit together. Which is ironic, since my actual spatial relations are retarded.

Blogger Danby May 18, 2015 1:54 PM  

But would you settle for merely achieving (in whatever field is of interest to you) a degree of supremacy like that which Gary demonstrated?

I have never, ever, in my life desired to achieve supremacy. I like to win. I love to win. I don't need supremacy. The game is interesting for the game, not for the prospect of crushing the opposition.

Blogger Dystopic May 18, 2015 1:55 PM  

Heartiste's SMV test counts an IQ greater than 135 as a negative. You lose points. Vox just pointed out why. The exclusion of high IQ individuals can actually damage your social standing among the midwits.

I suppose it's like being a millionaire in a room full of cubicle slaves. They worship you, in some ways, but they also despise and envy you. More than anything, they want to be you. But they can't, and so excluding you is the best they can do to assuage their fragile notions of self esteem.

The older I get, the less I give a shit.

Anonymous Menelaus May 18, 2015 1:57 PM  

Is. 55

8 For not My thoughts [are] your thoughts, Nor your ways My ways, — an affirmation of Jehovah,

9 For high have the heavens been above the earth, So high have been My ways above your ways, And My thoughts above your thoughts.

Prov. 9

10 The commencement of wisdom [is] the fear of Jehovah, And a knowledge of the Holy Ones [is] understanding.

Anonymous Alexander, Minion #0010 May 18, 2015 1:59 PM  

The time to civilization concept IS obvious, and trivial. I don't think it is REALLY above any midwit's ability to grasp, but rather they recognise a superior opportunity when it is said; call it racist and thereby endear themselves to the people they wish to be with.

It's more than that. If this single point is accepted, it destroys - completely and utterly destroys - the multicultural paradigm that's been shoveled down our throats the past century. It destroys feminism. It destroys the leftist state.

Better then, to fruitlessly double down on perversions, illusions, and the downfall of the culture that produced enough wealth that you could spend your days doing nothing but peddling nonsense, than to admit reality and go forward from there.

Feelgoods uber alles.

Blogger Double E May 18, 2015 1:59 PM  

I'm not great at concocting something ex nihilo, which is what geniuses do, but I'm very good at seeing how seemingly unrelated abstract concepts can be fit together. Which is ironic, since my actual spatial relations are retarded.

I've noticed the same tendecies in myself. I am usually not the first to come up with an idea, but i can sometimes improve or use the idea, or even explain it, better than the person who originally had that flash of insight.

Anonymous Leonidas May 18, 2015 2:01 PM  

Here's another metaphor from the world of computer hardware (simplified terms so that the non-CS people can follow the analogy):

Back in the day, computer processors were only intrinsically able to do math with integral numbers (ie, whole numbers, ie no decimal point). They could do math with decimal points - but only because a long and complicated program "taught" them how to do it, emulating the process with integer math. But at a physical level, the chips couldn't do it. They only operated on integers.

Then companies started designing "math coprocessors" that would handle these operations natively on the hardware. As an intrinsic, built-in operation. So if your computer had one of these chips, your code no longer had to "teach" the computer how to do it. Eventually they started just building this straight into the chip, and today it's standard.

But today we have GPUs - graphical processors. And these chips don't just handle the decimal math - the also have a ton of extra built-in operations: sine, cosine, tangent. Vector math. Random noise. Etc.

Every program that can be written on a modern CPU+GPU combination could be written to run with an older CPU without a GPU or even a math coprocessor. But besides being intrinsically slower, the program would have to change substantially.

The above is just one of many examples. There are so many ways in which modern CPUs are different than old ones (caching, pipelining, memory addressing, register access, multiple cores...) that even though they're running very similar looking code, what they're actually doing under the hood really is - to a large extent - fundamentally different from older CPUs.

Above certain thresholds, the highly intelligent do similar things. Even when they come up with something that the less intelligent can come up with on their own, they way they get there is just fundamentally different.

Anonymous Alexander May 18, 2015 2:02 PM  

Suddenly it all makes sense. A man with retarded spatial relations should feel right at home on the Italian roadways.

Though clearly, even you have your limits. I note you're not living in Naples or of the horrors, Sicily.

Blogger Josh May 18, 2015 2:04 PM  

Those saying that the Time to Civilization hypothesis is obvious: just stop. It's obvious in hindsight. If it was obvious, why didn't you think of it first?

Blogger Double E May 18, 2015 2:05 PM  

So you're really thinking of something different than IQ, some sort of "consciousness quotient" that may or may not correlate with IQ (but probably doesn't, given that Asians seem to not have it).

It seems to correlate, but not be directly connected. Just probably correlates differently among various population groups.

I have a friend who's IQ is about as low as it can be without someone actually being retarded. He is, quite literally, the dumbest person I know.

This gave me a chuckle, but then I started thinking, I wonder who is the dumbest person I know?

Anonymous RatDog May 18, 2015 2:06 PM  

The "just above midwit but not quite genius" is an interesting place to be. I was tested for IQ when very young and it came out to about 130. From personal experience, I grasp concepts much quicker than an average white collar professional in non-technical fields and a bit quicker than most in engineering where I am. My upper limit is that I have to really wrestle with the concepts when studying pure math (the type for math majors) or the pure physics for physics majors.

I've met a very few high-IQ people and although they're quicker to the jump than I am intellectually, I love having discussions with them. I can't keep up well enough to compete but have great fun following them.

I've found that if I don't have something very intellectually stimulating every day, I start withdrawing until I get that fix. I find myself sometimes visiting my blogroll saying, "dear God, please, please let somebody have written something interesting today."

It's an interesting experience at work when you're at a meeting, you've figured out how to solve the problem in five minutes, let everyone know the answer, and it takes them another hour or two to circle back around to what you said.

Anonymous physphilmusic May 18, 2015 2:08 PM  

Every program that can be written on a modern CPU+GPU combination could be written to run with an older CPU without a GPU or even a math coprocessor. But besides being intrinsically slower, the program would have to change substantially.

In my opinion your example only further demonstrates the point that with a lot of study and training, someone who initially doesn't understand the sine function at all can eventually acquire a level of comfort and facility with it such that they are able to use it in their daily thinking like natively smart people do. These people would always be slower, but their thinking isn't on a "different plane" - it's on the same plane but with a much slower car.

Blogger Aeoli Pera May 18, 2015 2:08 PM  

William Sidis' IQ was extrapolated, yes:

“There was no lessening of William Sidis’ mental acuity. Helena
Sidis told me that a few years before his death, her brother Bill
took an intelligence test with a psychologist. His score was the very
highest that had ever been obtained. In terms of I. Q., the psycholo-
gist related that the figure would be between 250 and 300. Late in
life William Sidis took general intelligence tests for Civil Service
positions in New York and Boston. His phenomenal ratings are a
matter of record. ”

That said, his extraordinary abilities still render the bell curve moot in the upper ranges.

Anonymous Leonidas May 18, 2015 2:09 PM  

The thing is, though, he seems to understand his own limitations and he works pretty well within them. Sometimes he calls me and asks me some really dumb questions; things which I would rip anyone else for asking me. But I don't give him a hard time for being dumb because he simply lacks capacity.

The biggest reason that the midwits flip out so much over the truly intelligent is because, as a society, we've come to place (at least superficially) far more emphasis on intelligence than is justified. This is largely due, IMO, to the Mandarin system of credentialling that has been cooked up - mostly by the midwits, in order to protect their station in life. They have their station and "earned" it, so they say, because of their "higher intelligence." So when somebody comes along to challenge that - or starkly prove that they have no such higher intelligence - they fall into defensive mode to protect their station.

Of course, these days it's all exasperated even more by the cultural Marxists and SJWs preaching that we're all "equal" and that there are no superintelligences.

The thing is, we Christians are well aware that any higher intelligence we have doesn't make us intrinsically superior people. It just makes us better at certain things in life. And people like your friend have worth as well, and have a valuable place in any healthy society.

This was a hard lesson for me, because I was raised by Mandarins. But it was a valuable one, and it bears repeating.

Anonymous Stingray May 18, 2015 2:10 PM  

Those saying that the Time to Civilization hypothesis is obvious: just stop. It's obvious in hindsight. If it was obvious, why didn't you think of it first?

I'm not saying it's obvious. I'm saying that once explained, I understood it.

What I'm saying is that I'm not sure it's always a matter of intelligence that other people don't get it. Rather it might be fear or what Markku stated (or more likely in that particular case, both). Vox stated that people yell racists after he has stated his stance. Not that they couldn't come up with it on their own.

Anonymous Mike M. May 18, 2015 2:10 PM  

"Heartiste's SMV test counts an IQ greater than 135 as a negative. You lose points. Vox just pointed out why. The exclusion of high IQ individuals can actually damage your social standing among the midwits."

I think the SMV issue is partly one of finding someone who doesn't bore you to tears.

Blogger Markku May 18, 2015 2:11 PM  

I did, though I didn't call it that. But I thought up the same concept in high school, as an explanation for why it should be ok from their perspective for me to be racist. Because the time is either A or B; too long or too short. And if there is no one championing B, then how would we ever find that it's A? I thought this line of reasoning blatantly obvious. Sadly, my success in communicating this concept was less than satisfactory.

But that is beside the point. Vox's hypothesis was that it cannot be processed by midwits even when explained.

Anonymous physphilmusic May 18, 2015 2:11 PM  

Those saying that the Time to Civilization hypothesis is obvious: just stop. It's obvious in hindsight. If it was obvious, why didn't you think of it first?

Josh, it's pretty common among people from underdeveloped countries who have spent time abroad to observe and comment that their fellow countrymen are several generations away from first-world civilization. For example, in my home country much frustration has been spewed on how to educate the population to not litter in public places. A lot of people have commented that it will take at least a whole generation to change this bad habit. Vox's Time to Civilization is just a fleshing out of what a lot of people have implicitly believed for a long time.

Blogger Double E May 18, 2015 2:12 PM  

William Sidis' IQ was extrapolated, yes:

“There was no lessening of William Sidis’ mental acuity. Helena
Sidis told me that a few years before his death, her brother Bill
took an intelligence test with a psychologist. His score was the very
highest that had ever been obtained. In terms of I. Q., the psycholo-
gist related that the figure would be between 250 and 300. Late in
life William Sidis took general intelligence tests for Civil Service
positions in New York and Boston. His phenomenal ratings are a
matter of record. ”

That said, his extraordinary abilities still render the bell curve moot in the upper ranges.


Wasn't this the guy who's father was some kind of behavioral psychologist who supposedly developed training methods for that could produce a genius, and announced, before the child was even born, that he would be the smartest who ever lived?

Anonymous Leonidas May 18, 2015 2:13 PM  

In my opinion your example only further demonstrates the point that with a lot of study and training, someone who initially doesn't understand the sine function at all can eventually acquire a level of comfort and facility with it such that they are able to use it in their daily thinking like natively smart people do.

Then you don't fully understand the example.

No matter how much code you put in it, an older CPU can never do floating point math natively the same way that a modern CPU does. In fact, back in those days a very large amount of code optimization revolved around redesigning your algorithm precisely to avoid doing decimal math.

You can write good code - sometimes even fast code - that does the same thing on older CPUs as you might do on newer CPUs. But the way that code works will be different, by necessity. The steps that get you from A to Z won't be the same steps.

Blogger Double E May 18, 2015 2:15 PM  

Then you don't fully understand the example.

No matter how much code you put in it, an older CPU can never do floating point math natively the same way that a modern CPU does. In fact, back in those days a very large amount of code optimization revolved around redesigning your algorithm precisely to avoid doing decimal math.

You can write good code - sometimes even fast code - that does the same thing on older CPUs as you might do on newer CPUs. But the way that code works will be different, by necessity. The steps that get you from A to Z won't be the same steps.


Right. Arriving at the same conclusion, or even calculating the same answer, in no way automatically means the same thought processes were used.

Blogger RobertT May 18, 2015 2:20 PM  

Something else that struck me was Garth Zietsman's comment about being an affront to the masses. One day in the Post Office I was in the post office opening my mail box when a woman I had never met sneered at me, "you are so arrogant." That was one of those wth moments. What I like best about the internet was it gave me the ability to build a national practice and quit worrying about local connections. I in fact love the internet.

Blogger Markku May 18, 2015 2:21 PM  

"Too short" was supposed to be "short enough".

Anonymous jack May 18, 2015 2:24 PM  

@Vox:
The most charismatic man I have ever known has an IQ of 175. It takes an hour outside of his presence for the spell he casts over you to wear off. It's freaking uncanny.

This was most evocative. As devil's advocate for a moment: The often mentioned idea of the universe being a computer simulation; the transhumanist ideas of that singularity, that leads to the ultimate intellect; could it be postulated that God is a being with 350/400 IQ thought, or higher? If the charisma scales up from IQ 175 on into the stratosphere, would you have something or someone that could not be thought of as human but God?
What if God has to slow down his/her/It's thinking to interface with us mere mortals?

Then, there's the idea that mind produces matter/world. What kind of a world/universe would a 1000 IQ mind produce? Maybe, what we experience around us? What if this produced matter we call world and universe are the attempts of 'GOD' to slow down enough to be partially understood and perceived by lower level thinkers?
I wonder if there is a book here? Or, one already done.

OK. I'm ready to be torn apart over this; just remember, I was devil's advocate, not advocate.

Blogger Double E May 18, 2015 2:26 PM  

Something else that struck me was Garth Zietsman's comment about being an affront to the masses. One day in the Post Office I was in the post office opening my mail box when a woman I had never met sneered at me, "you are so arrogant."

Out of the blue, just because of your face or something? Or had you said something to her?

Blogger Caedryn - VFM #54 May 18, 2015 2:27 PM  

The easiest way i have found to explain what increased IQ does to thought process is that it is similar to the compound interest formula. The reason for my patents and my projects is because everything I take interest in accrues information at close to double their rate when i'm looking at it fresh. When it is in an area of expertise, I can't ever expect them to keep up, but I will try and teach them at their own rate. And I'm somehow still smart enough to know that I'm ignorant and mentally untested; weak and flabby in the field of mental combat. The biggest muscles don't always throw the best punches.

Blogger Tallawampus May 18, 2015 2:32 PM  

I'm a doctor - medical type - and I'm firmly in the low 130s for IQ so I'm the proof of the pudding.

My dad's IQ is north of 150 and my younger brother isn't much behind him so I grew up with no misconceptions about how smart I actually am.

I don't know how many times I've worked on something for hours, finally figured it out and my dad would come by, glance at it for a few seconds and explain to me a way better more efficient solution. My intellectual ego is minimal after all the times he's had to patiently explain his reasoning to me over the years.

And now trying to explain complicated medical issues to people just barely intellectually functional gives me insight into how patient he's been with me.

I can see how becoming a recluse is a viable option for the super smart.

Anonymous the bandit May 18, 2015 2:33 PM  

Several comments have buttressed my personal experience that there's also a group of people around that dividing line that can think a bit in both manners and serve as able translators between the groups.

- - -

@physphilmusic -- It's not a claim that higher SDs reach points nobody else has or can reach, but rather that they reach it by an entirely different route (and often go further). Vox's example with Time to Civilization wasn't that he came up with the idea that it would take a generation or so to go from savagery to civilization, but that he started at that "conclusion" and immediately started leaping to how it might be measurable -- and longer --than someone might otherwise consider.

Stingray was asking for a concrete example. Let's consider an idea / concept the Summit of a mountain. Anyone, with enough perseverance and fortitude can make it up the mountain via the switchbacks over a couple of days. Nobody is saying that the less able never reach the top. But your stronger individuals look at that mountain and realize that they can just scale straight up the front-facing cliff to the top, making it up over the course of one day. Well, to the sherpas leading people up and down the mountain, who don't have carabiners or pins, the idea of going up the cliff face would have never occurred to them. (Of course, they can understand it after having seen it.)

Meanwhile, your geniuses wonder why nobody is taking the chopper.

See, that is a fundamentally different path altogether. And flyboy has a heck of a time explaining to the sherpas how he got to the summit. Did he turn right or left at the Great Stone Cairn? How did he navigate the tumbled-down valley? The genius never considered these issues, because obviously climbing was an inefficient method, so he skipped over them, and finds it impossible to explain what ground-path route is best up the mountain: Why don't they just take the chopper?

And why are they all concerned about whether or not a person has reached the summit? He was just stopping there for lunch and the view. His real destination is three countries over....

Blogger VD May 18, 2015 2:35 PM  

Vox's hypothesis was that it cannot be processed by midwits even when explained.

No, it's not. My hypothesis is that midwits can't come up with it. You can break almost anything down and walk them through it, as I did.

Anonymous Beau May 18, 2015 2:36 PM  

What if God has to slow down his/her/It's thinking to interface with us mere mortals?

It is akin to regularly sitting with a group of IQ 65-90 adults making sandwiches for the homeless. The homeless don't care the IQ of those making the sandwiches, and the sandwiches don't notice.

Blogger VD May 18, 2015 2:37 PM  


Meanwhile, your geniuses wonder why nobody is taking the chopper.


There is good rhetoric there. "Dude, take the chopper!

Blogger ScuzzaMan May 18, 2015 2:37 PM  

Part of the exclusion is voluntary. The high IQers tend (more than others) not to be joiners. The existence of MENSA nothwithstanding, which tends to be filled with people who crave recognition of their intellectual potential by the less endowed, rather than merely enjoying its exercise.

The reluctance to join is partly a natural distaste for the mindless passions of the less endowed, partly it is the existence of high functioning autistics who lack social ambitions, partly it may be other things.

Anonymous joe doakes May 18, 2015 2:38 PM  

I predict the results of that study will worsen as older members of those professions are replaced with politically correct affirmative action hires. Time was, the judge was the guy in My Cousin Vinnie, knowledgable, Yalie and respected pillar of the community. Now, it's Judge Judy.

Blogger Corvinus May 18, 2015 2:39 PM  

My guess is that midwits dominate the PhD set because they're mostly:

1) women -- no explanation needed, especially for those in liberal arts and SJW causes;

2) specialists, i.e., credentialed idiot savants. An amazing number of professors don't really know diddly about their own field, except in their narrow specialty of research.

Blogger the bandit May 18, 2015 2:40 PM  

Nice code/CPU analogy, Leonidas. More accurate than mine.

Anonymous Porky May 18, 2015 2:40 PM  

If Richard M. Stallman is such a genius why does he eat his own toe cheese in public?

Blogger Aeoli Pera May 18, 2015 2:41 PM  

This is probably going to be one of those threads for me. So be it.

>Can anyone give me an example of this, please?

I have a working theory on general intelligence insofar as it relates to formal reasoning, with respect to white matter production. White matter follows a very simple if-then sort of logic: if one synapse fires and this causes another synapse to fire, then this translates to A -> B. If you're familiar with symbolic logic, then you understand that white matter is Turing-complete.

Midwits in the 120s and 130s are able to form a lot more of these if-then connections than other folks. These days, I refer to this general ability to generate white matter connections as "impressionability". That is, an "impressionable" person is able to form strong mental associations quickly, which basically translates to the ability to read a set of instructions, remember them, and follow them. So you can give a midwit the following instructions:

1. Square a number
2. Square another number
3. Add the results of steps one and two
4. Take the square root of step three

And they will be able to read this, practice it correctly, and eventually remember it.

However, there is another general tendency which supports high general IQ, which is suggested by experiments. That is, the tendency to "trim" and "prune" connections. I believe this tendency explains the different "style" of thinking practiced by people in the very high ranges of intelligence (but not the incredible intuitive and visuospatial skills seen in Feynman- more on that another time). This pruning is experienced subjectively as the ability to reason by analogy and form generalizations.

For example, say I have the white matter associations A -> B -> C -> D. That's a pretty expensive chain of synapses. So if my genes came out okay, or maybe I wish for it really hard, and I have the general pruning characteristic, then after a couple of iterations my brain is gonna form the association A -> D and trim the connections A -> B, B -> C, and C -> D. This is an example of generalization. For example, if it's your job to aim a cannon to reach a certain distance, and you have to memorize the angles to get each distance, it is simply easier and less time-consuming (and requires less white matter) to memorize a formula instead and work out the answers as you need them.

Blogger Aeoli Pera May 18, 2015 2:42 PM  

(Comment split in two due to word count limit.)

Reasoning by analogy is formally different, but requires the same tendencies to form and trim white matter associations. As these tendencies increase, a person is generally better at these tasks. For instance, I might notice that "all's fair in love" and also notice "all's fair in war". If I have the tendency to make mental shortcuts (as above), I might think to myself "all's fair in both love and war". If they are similar in this way, then perhaps they are similar in other ways, and then I might wonder how I can use my knowledge of warfare to enhance my understanding of PUA. Is it also true that "all love/war is deception"?

I call this tendency to prune connections "discernment".

This is another example of a way that high-IQ people think in a way that midwits can't understand. Because midwits tend to be merely "impressionable" but not "discerning", they are unable to draw generalizations and think in abstract terms, and unable to extend knowledge from one area of life into another. Thus, their knowledge is forever compartmentalized. (This is different from the Feyman type of midwit- we see these more among the smart redneck contingent.)

They cannot conceive, for instance, that macroeconomics ought to affect their microeconomic decisions, because these are compartmentalized into different fields of study. And so in one breath they will say "the housing market is declining" and then in the next "I'm gonna start flipping houses on the side". Point out the contradiction, and they'll think you're over-intellectualizing a simple thing. They'll retort that they know somebody who made a ton of money flipping a house back in 2005, and consider the point made.

Blogger Josh May 18, 2015 2:42 PM  

OP predicts that midwits are bitter about IQ.

Midwits proceed to be bitter about IQ in the comments.

Blogger Russell (106) May 18, 2015 2:44 PM  

"The most charismatic man I have ever known has an IQ of 175. It takes an hour outside of his presence for the spell he casts over you to wear off."

Paging Koanic.

there's nothing "fundamentally different" about their thinking processes.

Don't be daft. Any human brain is going to grapple with the universe in systematically similar processes through neurons and brain chemistry in fundamentally similar manner.

The quantitative difference happens when the high-IQ person can look at something that has already been examined multiple times by lesser minds, and understand something deeper that they sussed out for themselves, without having been told.

Once the higher-IQ makes his discovery known, it's not hard to reverse engineer the problem and see the logic behind it.

Vox's time to civilization is an apt example; I've never heard it before, yet it's obvious after he's described it.

How he arrived to that conclusion has to be a quantitatively different process since those of lesser IQs, such as myself, failed to connect those dots. Moar time wouldn't make a lick of difference. We would continue to fail to connect those dots.

This bears out at work. I'm noticeably smarter than nearly everyone else there. It's not that I know everything, or am the best at everything, but if there's a problem that no one else can gain traction on, they give it to me. I solve it, and we move forward. For example, there was a problem that stumped our chief architect and his small team. They spent two weeks trying to resolve the issue. Finally the boss handed it over to me. I solved in under an hour. (And no, I didn't make any friends with the architect, who prided himself on being smarter than everyone else.)

This isn't just to pat myself on the back, but to highlight the difference is observable; the article matches my own observations.

Blogger Daniel May 18, 2015 2:44 PM  

"It is possible to give excellent treatment even to those who can never enjoy sound health." - Aristotle

Blogger Aeoli Pera May 18, 2015 2:45 PM  

>Wasn't this the guy who's father was some kind of behavioral psychologist who supposedly developed training methods for that could produce a genius, and announced, before the child was even born, that he would be the smartest who ever lived?

Yeah, Boris Sidis was a disciple of William James, and named William Sidis after him. Prima facie evidence that daddy was a loony toon.

Anonymous Tom B May 18, 2015 2:46 PM  

As a mid-wit myself, I see this all the time. I will read something brilliantly obvious. Obvious once it is pointed out, that is. I write well, but then I read something written brilliantly, and realize that I might attain that level once in a lucky moon, for a line or two.
It seems to me to be a matter of seeing/making connections that are not obvious.

Anonymous adamalan May 18, 2015 2:51 PM  

Sorry if this is OT but you mentioned the brainstorm.

I bought the Voxiversity book and signed up for the Brainstorm Friday, but haven't received an email on either one yet. Got the receipt though.

Blogger Dystopic May 18, 2015 2:52 PM  

When studying Byzantine history, it quickly became clear to me that most of the "experts" did not know what they were talking about despite a bevy of academic credentials and claims of high intelligence. History professors who supposedly specialized in matter seemingly did not even take the time to read the most basic material on the subject. They could not even get the most basic of dates right.

On the other side of that coin, you have men like John Julius Norwich, who claim themselves to be amateurs, but in fact are far better educated and more insightful than the credential professionals. Maybe these credentials once had a utility. Today I see them as not only irrelevant but possibly indicative of intellectual laziness, a condition worse than outright stupidity for at least the moron has an excuse.

It's no wonder they'd want to keep men like Vox out. Deep down, they have to know that the real deal will quickly catch on to their laziness and dishonesty.

Anonymous Whitey McWhite May 18, 2015 2:56 PM  

Danby: "The game is interesting for the game, not for the prospect of crushing the opposition."

Sure.

That's rather beside my point though.

Gary spent a lifetime out-thinking all comers, and for at least ten years of that time Anatoly Karpov was a (strange, unfriendly) companion for him, because nobody in the world really understood what the two champions were getting at when they played but each other. Both of them would be in the midwit bracket.

Where were the truly clever fellows, whom IQ-dullards like Gary could not even have comprehended? They could not have been (illegitimately) excluded: chess doesn't work that way. They could not, on what we are hearing, have failed to out-think the theoretically mediocre actual champions. It could not have been the case either that the super-intelligences were held back by compensating disadvantages: the seed article for this thread points out that there is no evidence of compensating disadvantages.

Midwits can outwit all the clever fellows in the world that dare to come at them -- and not occasionally and by luck, but for decades, for lifetimes, and severely, in one-sided thrashings.

I don't care why it's not a problem for the mediocre to intellectually thrash the brilliant. In answering the question "Is there a way for a person to work around their own midwit or inferior IQs?" it suffices to say that it can be done, and in fact it normally is done.

To assist in perspective for readers, one in 261 people have IQs over 140 and one in 2,331 have IQs over 150. While the high IQ exclusion does not directly affect a large percentage of the population, the people it does affect, it affects profoundly. Because of the large population of western civiliztion, the absolute number in this group is not small. There are approximately 6.5 million people with an IQ over 140 and 729,000 people with an IQ over 150.

Any of these millions of people ought to have been able to thrash Gary and Anatoly, or Vijay and Magnus.

Maybe the explanation is that no intelligent person has ever wanted to be a top chess player. Perhaps they are all too sophisticated for such competition. As with the princess and the pea, maybe the dull ideas of the mediocre bruise them.

Again: from the point of view of a midwit concerned with overwhelming competition from high-IQ people, it doesn't matter why the dull can consistently out-smart the clever in fair individual competition.

Don't be that guy who's too clever to do the work. (Besides, as a sub-145, you know you aren't.) Apply yourself steadily and to the full, year after year, and if you have talent, it might emerge.

If it doesn't, tough. Not all are blessed.

If it does, many people with much higher IQs than you (likely many of them Asian HBD fans) will deny the existence of this "talent," preferring the theory that performance in standardized tests is the truth. If, without talent, they try to prove this theory at your expense, you will wipe the floor with them.

Michelangelo is destined to surpass the achievements of Captain Paint-by-numbers, even if Captain Paint-by-numbers has a very high IQ.

Recommended viewing: Gattaca.

-

None of this should be taken to imply that superior-IQ people are not entertaining and very useful to have around; as long as you know that they are friendly, or more specifically as long as you know that their interests (including their group interests) as they understand them (and as you will probably not be able to understand them) are reasonably concordant with yours.

Blogger Res Ipsa May 18, 2015 2:57 PM  

Stingray
Can anyone give me an example of this, please?

The movie "Good Will Hunting" has a scene in it where the math professor is having a conversation with Matt Damon's character. In the scene he vents his frustration by telling Will that there are only a few people in the world that can tell the difference between his level of intelligence and Will's, which is much higher. The reason he angry/frustrated with Will is that he knows how much more capable Will is and how much more Will could accomplish.

A person who is boarder line MENSA will be by definition in the top 3% of intelligence. They can look over into what the top 2% are doing, and can probably follow along with a little help. On the other hand they can look over into what the lower 75% are doing and see what they are doing and predict with astonishing (to the lower IQ person) precision what will happen as a result.

A person who is in the top 1% of IQ able to process information similar to a super computer. A 2%er would be more like a good desk top. A 3%er would be like a lap top etc. Anyway, apply the analogy to the difference between the top 1/4 of 1% to say the bottom 1/2 of the top 2%.

Vox is the super computer.
John Scalzi is the retarded kid playing with an abacus.

Blogger Aeoli Pera May 18, 2015 3:00 PM  

I'm glad Leonidas brought up the CPU/GPU divide. This is the other kind of intelligence- the Feynman kind. The kind where gray matter comes in.

Now, Feynman clearly had a midwit's intelligence. He could, after all, learn a set of instructions and follow them correctly. That's all there is to integration, after all, and integrals were his obsession for a long time.

What differentiated Feynman from other midwits was his exceptional visuospatial intelligence, combined with the ability to follow basic instructions. Visualization is a full-brain operation. When you look at an EEG of somebody doing an imaginative task, or a spatial rotation on an IQ test, or parallel parking, you can see the entire brain is working at the same time. For this sort of task, you need a neural network (see the wiki for examples of tasks requiring neural networks). That's where gray matter comes into play, for visual perception tasks.

If you don't have enough white matter to read and follow basic instructions, then it really doesn't make much difference how much gray matter you have. You're still an idiot who can barely communicate or learn new ideas. At best, you're something of an autistic savant. But if you're in at least the midwit range, plus gray matter, some interesting stuff happens. Most folks of this sort have visions of ideas that they find too difficult to communicate with their low intelligence, and end up sounding like crazy people. Imagine trying to explain color to a society of blind people.

As you might have guessed, we mostly end up on the internet these days.

Anonymous Orville May 18, 2015 3:01 PM  

"Nootropics and bulletproof coffee, brah!" I just recently became aware of brain hacking. Anyone here have experience in this area?

Blogger JartStar May 18, 2015 3:04 PM  

Midwits can make excellent teachers as someone with a 115-130 IQ is anything but brilliant, but generally can understand something written by someone with a much, much IQ if they take the time. Then they can teach the information for people with average IQs efficiently.

The problem is so many times the midwits think they are at the top since they can understand the brilliance of others when an average person struggles, but don't realize for whatever reason just because one can understand something complex it doesn't make one as intelligent as the originator.

I would have to think that very high IQ individuals are excluded because the entirety of pop-culture from nearly every TV show, to movies, to popular books would have to be about as interesting as a toddler's toilet training book for them and so they struggle to engage in casual conversation with the vast majority of populace.

Blogger Danby May 18, 2015 3:04 PM  

@Whitey McWhite
Maybe skill at chess is only indirectly aligned with intelligence. I know any number of blacksmiths and machinists who can readily outperform me at metalwork. I know any number of people who can drive better than I can. A great many people are better writers than I. All of these are semi-intellectual pursuits, but they are also, like chess, skills, not intelligence tests.

Anonymous BoysMom May 18, 2015 3:07 PM  

Gifted--to use teacher-jargon-- dominate the PhD set because they aren't so smart as to not follow step-by-step instructions. A lot of obtaining a PhD is slogging through the steps to get the degree.
Meanwhile, the profoundly gifted has gotten bored with what he already understood and wandered off to do something else rather than following the steps to get the certificate.

Anonymous Porky May 18, 2015 3:08 PM  

Michael Ferguson: "Why won't society accept us? Don't they realize that their species are our evolutionary progenitors?"

Richard Stallman: "I don't know, Michael. It just doesn't make sense."

**eats own foot cheese**

Blogger Cail Corishev May 18, 2015 3:12 PM  

Can anyone give me an example of this, please?

I can't explain the mechanism, but here's an example. I'm currently tutoring some kids in Algebra I. Now, I took algebra, of course, but it was 30+ years ago, and I haven't used most of it since. Some things came right back to me, while there are other things I could swear we didn't touch on back then at all (though we surely did).

For instance, I open the book one day to the lesson on negative exponents, and think, "Huh, how do negative exponents work? I have no idea." So I glance down the page to where it says you flip them top-for-bottom in a fraction, and think, "Oh, okay. Done." I still don't remember ever seeing it before, but I got it -- 5-10 seconds, one example, and I've got it. Then I spend 15 minutes explaining it to my students, with numerous examples, followed by practice with it over the next several lessons, before they get it; and while they learn to do it correctly, they never "get it" the way I did. They're not slow, they're normal.

Now granted, I'd seen it before, and maybe the info was lurking there to be rediscovered, but that's the way I learned the first time too. When you just "get it," it happens so quickly that it has to be some sort of shortcut. It's not a matter of working through the examples and explanations faster than other people; it's a matter of not needing most of the explanations at all. So I'm not surprised by the idea that a completely different process is taking place. I can't explain the process because it happens quickly enough that no "process" seems to take place.

And yet I'm terrible at those lateral thinking puzzles. Just awful. Whatever leaps my mind makes, they aren't "lateral." Like Vox is talking about, I don't come up with many new ideas, but I recognize instantly when things fit or make sense. So I suspect there are still differences in the process even between people at the same high level, between the innovators and the "understanders."

And no, my intelligence doesn't qualify me for leadership. I don't see the two as dependent at all. I don't even get the impression that most smart people want to be leaders; too much dealing with other people, right?

Anonymous NateM May 18, 2015 3:13 PM  

So i'd be within the Range of IQs for Cambridge faculty, and to me that is actually quite sad.

Anonymous Whitey McWhite May 18, 2015 3:16 PM  

Dystopic: "Maybe these credentials once had a utility. Today I see them as not only irrelevant but possibly indicative of intellectual laziness, a condition worse than outright stupidity for at least the moron has an excuse."

Yes. I really don't like historians who itch for the opportunity to call out the equivalent of "no guild membership" / "no Ph.D." so the can shut down a discussion where they were becoming confused.

Dystopic: "It's no wonder they'd want to keep men like Vox out. Deep down, they have to know that the real deal will quickly catch on to their laziness and dishonesty."

Sure.

But I think there's a much better case than people are conceding for people of only moderate intelligence to simply fear highly intelligent strangers whose motives and interests they do not and perhaps cannot understand.

How did opening American and Anglospheric universities and other institutions to "all talents" work out for too-trusting WASPs? If certainly did not work out the way it was supposed to, if you think that ushering the very smart into positions of power and influence is a sure and simple formula for improved social outcomes of all sorts. It didn't even lead to genuine if malign elitism, since the new counter-majoritarian elite had a greater interest in illegitimate exclusion than the old elite ever had.

Blogger Josh May 18, 2015 3:18 PM  

The movie "Good Will Hunting" has a scene in it where the math professor is having a conversation with Matt Damon's character. In the scene he vents his frustration by telling Will that there are only a few people in the world that can tell the difference between his level of intelligence and Will's, which is much higher. The reason he angry/frustrated with Will is that he knows how much more capable Will is and how much more Will could accomplish.

That's perfect. Also look at the how do you like then apples scene.

Contrast that with the scene where Matt Damon and Ben Affleck drink beer on the construction site:

Chuckie: Look, you're my best friend, so don't take this the wrong way. In twenty years, if you're still livin' here, comin' over to my house to watch the Patriots games, still workin' construction, I'll fuckin' kill you. That's not a threat. Now, that's a fact. I'll fuckin' kill you.
Will: What the fuck are you talkin' about?
Chuckie: Look, you got somethin' that none of us--
Will: Oh, come on! Why is it always this, I mean, I fuckin' owe it to myself to do this? Why if I don't want to?
Chuckie: Alright. No. No no. Fuck you. You don't owe it to yourself. You owe it to me. 'Cause tomorrow I'm gonna wake up and I'll be fifty and I'll still be doing this shit. And that's all right, that's fine. I mean, you're sittin' on a winning lottery ticket and you're too much of a pussy to cash it in. And that's bullshit `cause I'd do anything to fuckin' have what you got! So would any of these fuckin' guys. It'd be an insult to us if you're still here in twenty years. Hanging around here is a fuckin' waste of your time.

Anonymous Athor Pel May 18, 2015 3:18 PM  

" VV May 18, 2015 1:27 PM
...
I have also noted that I am age 25 and have never been flirted with by a boy. I always assumed I was simply ugly and left it at that but I posted a picture (fully clothed I don't do nude pictures) online once and received compliments. I asked some people I know about why I don't receive similar compliments in person (which I have been told every girl does unless they are very ugly) and I usually get an answer like "you are closed off/you don't look open/you seem cold/your body language is wrong".
..."



This mystery must be solved.
Send me a photo of yourself and I'll tell you whether you're pretty.
athor dot pel at gmail dot com

Blogger Cail Corishev May 18, 2015 3:19 PM  

One note on the topic of high IQ leadership: I attended three different schools, and each time I went to a new school, the kids elected me class president my first year there. That was because they thought smart=leader. I was a shy kid who never ran for office or wanted anything to do with it (and did my best not to serve).

So maybe some people think leaders should be smart, but I'm not sure how many of the smart agree. Maybe the midwits do?

Blogger dc.sunsets May 18, 2015 3:21 PM  

"I'd never join a club that would have me as a member."

Anonymous Stingray May 18, 2015 3:21 PM  

No, it's not. My hypothesis is that midwits can't come up with it. You can break almost anything down and walk them through it, as I did.

Ok. I took your last sentence in your first comment to be part of your explanation while it was simply an aside.

So, to take bandits mountain explanation (which I thought great) and combine with with some of the others: the highest IQ see the top of the mountain while the mid wits don't even know it is there until someone else points it out to them (because they are busy learning about each level of the mountain and not seeing that each thing taken together will add up to the top of it).

Then, after the top has been pointed out to them, the mid wits can make it to the top of the mountain with determination and hard work while other just scale it. Yet the highest IQ just simply fly to the top.

Is that basically the idea?

Blogger Darth Toolpodicus (#144) May 18, 2015 3:21 PM  

"Most engineers are midwits with talents skewed toward math and logic. Hence the low starting salaries."

Low Starting salaries? What country are you in? They may not be superlative, but IIRC in terms of professional-class jobs the average salaries are only reliably eclipsed by Physicians and some Lawyers, while having a larger number of positions. In a given year there are 4x as many graduating Engineers than Physicians in the US, and versus Lawyers, the amount of in-field employed Engineers is much higher.

Engineers have an average IQ in the 120-125 range, slightly less (2-3 pts) than Physicians, though they do skew hard toward math and logic, they skew much more heavily toward spatial reasoning ability, which probably explains a certain demographic gap between Physicians and Engineers. If you include the average real starting salary for a Physician during their apprenticeship (intern/residency) its better. Of course Physician salaries skyrocket after their apprenticeship ends. Currently the “market” over-comps Physicians on average and under-comps Engineers, in my opinion. Up to the early-mid 20th, Engineers out-earned Physicians, at least in the US.

While my own IQ is a couple SD above the average Engineer’s, and I am admittedly biased because I am an Engineer; my experience has been that while the Engineer is in the midwit IQ range, they are less likely to act like a midwit in the negative sense because the profession has to deal in cold hard reality. Your product will either stand the test, or it will not, sophistry notwithstanding.

Blogger Tommy Hass May 18, 2015 3:24 PM  

I haven't done a scientific IQ test. Based on my comments, what would my score be? I have an inkling what it is, but I am interested in other's opinions.

Anonymous Whitey McWhite May 18, 2015 3:28 PM  

Danby: "@Whitey McWhite
Maybe skill at chess is only indirectly aligned with intelligence. I know any number of blacksmiths and machinists who can readily outperform me at metalwork. I know any number of people who can drive better than I can. A great many people are better writers than I. All of these are semi-intellectual pursuits, but they are also, like chess, skills, not intelligence tests."

Sure.

I'm not saying that midwits can outmatch the highly intelligent in intelligence tests. I only say they can do it for the set of challenges that, like chess, are not strictly intelligence tests.

That's quite a large and useful set.

Anonymous Abubis May 18, 2015 3:28 PM  

"to explain..."fundamentally different intellectual processes" are.""That does not follow. How would you explain color to a blind man?"

Its like failing to explain something over 10 min to a black co worker with only a HS diploma, which an 8yo relative can understand the first time you explain it.

The Germans of Caesar's era, who ran around naked.

It has been a couple years since I was last in Germany but the turks where not so intolerable that they closed the clothing optional beaches

Time to Civilization hypothesis is obvious: just stop. It's obvious in hindsight. If it was obvious, why didn't you think of it first?

There are echoes of this in the cargo cult, & Kipling's "Behold the White Mans Burden". Darwin couldn't believe the resources of Africa remained unutilized by the natives. Back in high school I recognized that science and genesis both had the same general steps but only differed by the amount of time which could be a translation error or the amount of time may not matter

Blogger Cail Corishev May 18, 2015 3:28 PM  

Can a person improve their IQ so that they are more than a low-midwit?

You can improve your IQ about as much as you can increase your height. You might be able to increase your score from one test to the next if you didn't do your best on the first one, but once you've gotten a score that reflects your true ability, that's your limit. (If you come up with a way to reliably raise IQ, contact the US Dept. of Education, because they'd like to pay you billions of dollars to apply your techniques to black students to reduce the Race Gap.)

But just as the 6-foot guy can train hard and work on his vertical leap and develop the ability to dunk a basketball -- which most 6-footers cannot do by default -- the guy with an IQ of X can develop his mental toolbox through education and practice such that he's able to do mental tasks that are beyond most of his IQ-X fellows. You can improve your ability to think critically and wisely.

Blogger Tommy Hass May 18, 2015 3:32 PM  

"It has been a couple years since I was last in Germany but the turks where not so intolerable that they closed the clothing optional beaches"

Is that a reference to the FKK trend in Germany or that Turks have attained civilization quicker than Vox suggested?

Blogger Cail Corishev May 18, 2015 3:33 PM  

Leonidas, your CPU analogy is excellent. As you say, modern CPUs aren't just faster; they're a completely different beast. If a modern CPU is 1000 times faster in terms of cycles/second than the one in my first computer, it doesn't just do things 1000 times faster; it may do them a million times faster.

Which means that it may be able to do things in a matter of hours that my 8502 couldn't have done in years -- maybe couldn't have done before it burned out from old age. So while it may be technically correct to say that anyone can learn to understand anything given enough time, we only have so much time on this earth, so there's a practical limit on how much we can invest in learning a thing.

Blogger Chiva May 18, 2015 3:33 PM  

@Tommy
I think your an AI on the order of Skynet. You made the Tommy Hass construct to poke and prod the readers of this blog for the AIs amusement and learning.

Blogger Danby May 18, 2015 3:34 PM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger Iowahine May 18, 2015 3:35 PM  

Stingray -

re: Josh's example. Is this a bit like chess? A set of specific outcomes based on a variety of possible moves/choices limited by rules/behavioral limitations? Some people see all these various outcomes in a flash; others, over time, if they could write them down or graph them out; others, maybe never because they cannot remember that much info or even fathom the concept of a set of outcomes based on a variety of actions. One of my friend's sons has genius IQ. When he was just 6 or so, he said something that seemed well-beyond his age and when asked how he knew that - had he heard it in school - he said, no, he just knew it. I think that's how those brains work: an intuitive grasp of reality that gets processed so instantaneously one just knows, but may not be able to know how they know.

I think the reason people cry raciss at time/civilization theory isn't even fear, it's disqualify. If the same theory was stated by someone of whom they approve and said in just the right feelgood - or better yet, feelbad - way, they'd be all behind it.

My son at 17 or so expressed his incredulity that other people did not understand things the way he did. Could not believe it. Told him the sooner he accepts that peoples' minds work differently and to not assume all work as his, nor that his works as others do, the better off he'll be at experiencing, learning, and enjoying life. His response: disbelief.

Many a thought-leader are not leaders of men, but may lead a revolution.

Blogger Danby May 18, 2015 3:35 PM  

Midwits say "You should choose me as a leader, because I'm smart!" Other midwits value intelligence, so they agree, cause they're special too. It's their natural reward for working hard and getting good grades

Along comes the kid who smokes dope with the anti-socials out behind the gym, who never studies for anything, who knocks out term papers in a couple of hours so he can get back to something interesting, and laughs at them. He doesn't want to be a leader because, first of all, student government is a joke, right? Secondly, he's not part of any functional social clique, except the anti-socials who smoke dope out behind the gym. He's used to being alone,a nd in many ways prefers it. He doesn't value the things that they think are important even though he has more of it than they do. That's what infuriates them. he should value grades, leadership positions, attaboys, gold stars on the assignment, social standing, all the rewards they themselves so diligently seek. And he doesn't. He's just bored and looking for an interesting project to work on.

That's what they label arrogance.

Anonymous Question May 18, 2015 3:36 PM  

I don't know what my IQ is, but a few years ago I found a report from my childhood that I was given an IQ test, but I was unscoreable because although I answered all the questions correctly, I did not do so in the allotted time. I then went to the mensa website and took the quiz which told me I would probably be admitted if I took the actual test. I never did take the test, but my question is, does speed matter? Do you just go with your gut? I have the tendency to overanalyze things to make sure I get it right, but maybe this is a bad thing? I also read that there are wide ranges in tested IQ. For example there was a guy who tested as low as 125 and as high as 175, so at the time I didn't think IQ was a very good measure of intelligence. Any thoughts?

Blogger VD May 18, 2015 3:36 PM  

I bought the Voxiversity book and signed up for the Brainstorm Friday, but haven't received an email on either one yet. Got the receipt though.

The book receipt has a download link for the book. Email me if you can't find it. The Brainstorm registrations will go out tomorrow. 17 slots left.

Blogger Danby May 18, 2015 3:37 PM  

@Whitey,
I would agree, and say that actually, it's a more much important set than straight intelligence.

Anonymous Leonidas May 18, 2015 3:37 PM  

Another reason the CPU/FPU/GPU analogy is apt:

The general model that most people have had of "intelligence" for the last 50 years has been that there's some general kind of intelligence that, if you make it smart enough, becomes good at everything. Hence the "holy grail" of AI for the entire existence of the field has been to create some general purpose "thinking machine" that's good at everything.

But the last two or three decades of research into neurophysiology and AI has given us very strong reason to believe that this is all BS, and that the "holy grail of AI" is unattainable. Current evidence very strongly suggests that instead of general intelligence, different regions of the brain are responsible for different kinds of thinking processes.

This is borne out on the neurophysiology side by case studies involving people who have suffered brain damage. To some degree, one area of the brain can step in to "help" another damaged area. But this facility is limited, tends to revolve around brain areas that do related activities, and tends to lead toward the regained faculty simply being done differently than before, even if the results are the same.

On the AI side, we've come to find out that it's doable, if difficult, to build "intelligent" software that does specific tasks in a way that very strongly resembles intelligence. But once we've built that, it tends to have almost zero utility when applied to other tasks. For decades we thought that was because we were doing it wrong, and someday we'd create "general intelligence" software. But the evidence from neurophysiology strongly suggests that in reality, such general intelligence software is impossible and that we've been doing it correctly all along.

None of this quite rises to the level of "proven," but the evidence for it is considerably stronger than, say, the evidence in favor of Anthropogenic Global Warming.

Ironically, given that he was the topic of another recent post, a lot of the ideas that underlie this particular theory of brain development stem back to the original research of Noam Chomsky back in the 50s and 60s. The guy may be a liberal hack, but in his own field he did some truly groundbreaking research once upon a time.

Blogger Tommy Hass May 18, 2015 3:42 PM  

"I think your an AI on the order of Skynet. You made the Tommy Hass construct to poke and prod the readers of this blog for the AIs amusement and learning."

What can I say...obviously it's not IQ test, but I wonder what number people would attribute to me.

Blogger Danby May 18, 2015 3:45 PM  

Chomsky's "work" in linguistics is a hodge-podge of unwarranted assumption and dedicated exclusion of evidence. Really, it's crap.

Anonymous Stingray May 18, 2015 3:45 PM  

Iowahine,

I think your chess example is darn near perfect for what I was trying to put an example to. Thanks.

And thank you to everyone else as well. Seeing everyone's examples and thoughts about it made it far more concrete.

Blogger automatthew 0062 May 18, 2015 3:49 PM  

I tested at 160+ in middle school. One of the two modes in which I think does seem qualitatively different from that of even the 140 IQ bunch. Thought is an instantaneous explosion of branching worldlines, and the non-viable ones are immediately apparent. It takes almost no effort to understand why a worldline fails, but it takes immense effort rigorously to explain that, even to myself.

Writing about anything that comes from that direction is difficult for me. Partly because those thoughts aren't represented in words. Those thoughts use densely interconnected graphs of ideas, which may themselves be graphs. No idea what the primitive graph nodes are.

Writing is also hard because there are just so many possible ways to approach expressing complex ideas that I get choice paralysis at every word, abandoning sentences half-written.

High intelligence for me involves on the one hand an extremely broad and rich solution space -- choppers as well as Sherpas -- and on the other an inexplicable and instantaneous sense of what won't work. It feels like I construct microcosms for a fraction of a second and can tell how they die.


Blogger ScuzzaMan May 18, 2015 3:50 PM  

"...so smart people don't talk about it, not wanting to be accused of bragging and excluded more than they already feel they are."

Cail Corishev:

Smart people ARE excluded, simply by dint of being smart. Not excluded as in rejected by less smart people, just excluded because they cannot, by definition, simply be one of the less smart people.

They MAY also be rejected by the less smart, but even if they're not, they still feel the exclusionary effects of the inherent difference.

Blogger Douglas Wardell May 18, 2015 3:51 PM  

Can anyone give me an example of this, please?

During my CS undergrad, we were discussing some example programming contest problems and our solutions. I don't recall the problem exactly but only one of the professors solved it and he proceeded to explain how he started drawing circles (the problem had nothing to do with trig, unit circles, etc.) and continued with what made as much sense to me as if I were a fish hearing about breathing air. Now I've got a good head for math, I was tied for the top student in the class (way ahead of everyone else) and I have a 140ish IQ, but my professor was just thinking on a completely different level. I wish I could recall the details a little better, but it was the first time I'd felt intellectually humbled and I was more than a little shocked.

Blogger automatthew 0062 May 18, 2015 3:51 PM  

The other mode is the comparatively boring, plodding, and occasionally painful "figure it out the hard way" mode. I'm good at it, but I hate it. I suspect this is what normal intelligence is like.

It is always a surprise when I don't understand something within seconds, but I've learned not to give up, but instead to "fight through the stupid".

Anonymous patrick kelly May 18, 2015 3:52 PM  

"Look at my Time to Civilization concept. "

I didn't come up with it myself, but just the phrase "Time to Civilization" gave me enough information to explain it to others without having to read more detail about it. I did go ahead and read more, but just to make sure I was understanding it correctly, and I was.

Sometimes this mid-wit gets a light bulb or two powered up....other times I blame on whiskey...

Blogger VD May 18, 2015 3:55 PM  

On the AI side, we've come to find out that it's doable, if difficult, to build "intelligent" software that does specific tasks in a way that very strongly resembles intelligence. But once we've built that, it tends to have almost zero utility when applied to other tasks. For decades we thought that was because we were doing it wrong, and someday we'd create "general intelligence" software. But the evidence from neurophysiology strongly suggests that in reality, such general intelligence software is impossible and that we've been doing it correctly all along.

That's why I think most game AI is stupid and we should be taking the ASL design-for-effect approach. (See, there is that synthesis thing.) Do you have any documentation regarding that evidence from neuropsych I can read? I could use it for a presentation.

Blogger automatthew 0062 May 18, 2015 3:59 PM  

Examples of the kinds of ideas that you come up with independently, then are thrilled to discover others have had before you:

* Leibniz's solution to free will
* Endel Tulving: memory is actually time travel
* The Watchers from the Book of Enoch would be great in an epic fantasy novel

Blogger Markku May 18, 2015 4:00 PM  

This mystery must be solved.

It's pretty clear that she's the kind of girl that, in Game circles of past times, was called "the librarian". It requires a specific skillset to hit on the librarian. It's also often an untapped market for that reason, so done right, you can punch above your weight in it.

Blogger IM2L844 May 18, 2015 4:02 PM  

Is that a reference to the FKK trend in Germany or that Turks have attained civilization quicker than Vox suggested?

Have they attained civilization or have they approximated civilization? It's an important distinction. Even a psychopath knows how to approximate remorse and empathy even though they never attained it.

Blogger Tommy Hass May 18, 2015 4:04 PM  

I think Turks aren't savage enough to be called uncivilized. They are comparable to Russians I'd say, with inferior skills at literature.

Our first contact with civilization is either Persia or China. Somewhere in the late first millennium. Then ther are the Greeks...

Blogger automatthew 0062 May 18, 2015 4:04 PM  

Viidad: "There's a great weariness in having to constantly dumb down my conversations."

That's what whiskey is for.

Blogger Tommy Hass May 18, 2015 4:05 PM  

Actually, if the Xiong Nu are considered to be Turks, it's way earlier than that. But that really is a stretch.

Blogger Kirk Parker May 18, 2015 4:09 PM  


"I don't think Merlin wants to be King."

F*ck no!!!

I've spent my whole life getting into roles that, regardless of the actual job title, basically resolve to Consultant. Er, I mean Magician.

Anonymous EH May 18, 2015 4:11 PM  

Fascinating comments. I'd like to point out, though, that while the conclusions of the linked article may be more or less correct, his understanding of IQ seems limited. There is no legitimate use of ratio IQ scores, nor is their any mathematical way to translate between ratio scores and deviation scores. What he calls ratio scores seem to be Stanford-Binet form L-M scores, which are inflated due to the test being quite old (Flynn effect has raised scores on some subtests over the years) and also to having a s.d. of 16 rather than 15. The SB LM was actually a deviation-scored test, though for young subjects who scored near the hard ceiling, there was an extended range table (by Pinneau, IIRC) which emulated a ratio scale. The compression of high deviation scores compared to the subject's differences in ability is due to "leptokurtosis", which basically means the tails are fatter than the normal distribution predicts. In the high range, a log-normal distribution is closer to the reality.

Since he quoted Grady Towers, he should have known about Rasch scores being the only true measure of intelligence. These are on a ratio scale (true zero, equal interval) which means that you can divide one score by another and get a meaningful ratio out, but they are not ratio IQs in the sense of metal age over chronological age. The extent of the exclusion of high IQ people from high positions is likely not quite so bad as he says, certainly his calculations are based in incorrect assumptions.

Those who are interested in high intelligence will find (former Mega Society officer) Bob Seitz's notes interesting: "The Termites Grown Tall" and "The Adult Termites' IQ Distribution vs. a Gaussian IQ Distribution" and the index of his intelligence-related articles.

Blogger Kirk Parker May 18, 2015 4:12 PM  

Danby,

Your Excellent Adventure with the "math geek" sounds sad.

I was one of four NM finalists at my high school (all guys, go figure!) But we had great comraderie between us, and no one would have been mad at one of the others for besting us in a particular test; the unhappiness would have been directed at ourselves for not doing better.

Blogger luagha May 18, 2015 4:19 PM  

Question:

Most of the current popular 'intelligence' tests are based on speed. They are measuring your quickness at a particular not-too-difficult task and measuring that against everyone else's quickness on the bell curve. They average your scores in multiple different kinds of better-defined specific intelligences (verbal, mathematical, spatial manipulation) and call that a 'general intelligence quotient.'

As a similar example, the SAT is a timed test. But if you have a doctor's note saying you have dyslexia, you get unlimited time to complete it. Without time pressure, the scores are radically different and it's supposed to be easy to get near-perfect scores when you have all the time you need to read and reread the questions and untangle the tricks in their wording.

Here, we're discussing (in part) that level of question where you simply will never get it underneath a certain level of intelligence. And what the level of intelligence is where you can do it if led to it, but can't get there on your own.

As for my point of view, I teach martial arts in my spare time. And as a school that's open to all comers, (although teaching Phillipine martial arts has a certain weeding out in that it must be sought) we see people of all intellects and physical capabilities walk through the door.

To echo many statements above, it is amazing what a person can be taught to do, if they allow themselves both to learn and be taught. We have students who walk in on the first day who make us wonder how they haven't given themselves brain damage from walking into doorjambs; yet in a few years they get damn smooth and dangerous.

Teaching martial arts is a good way to learn how to break down a process into easier-to-digest chunks for transmission.

Anonymous VFM.0157 aka Forrest Bishop May 18, 2015 4:23 PM  

Aeoli Pera, Good call, Yes Feynman was a midwit; Schwinger would be the first to confirm that. So was Einstein, who could not even do basic algebra or logic.

Josh May 18, 2015 3:18 PM The movie "Good Will Hunting" has a scene...

Chuckie: Alright. ... You don't owe it to yourself. You owe it to me.... I mean, you're sittin' on a winning lottery ticket and you're too much of a pussy to cash it in. And that's bullshit `cause I'd do anything to fuckin' have what you got! ... It'd be an insult to us if you're still here in twenty years.

The gift comes with a sense of duty.


Corvinus May 18, 2015 2:39 PM An amazing number of professors don't really know diddly about their own field, except in their narrow specialty of research.

Even more amazing, they often don't understand very simple, Page One things about their own field, a phenomenon I have witnessed over and over in many different fields, from economics to astrophysics. Pointing the simple things out to them, no matter how diplomatic the approach, always seems to cause the "move to discredit".

And Nate? There is no such thing as electric current. It is a mathematical fantasy, an invisible fluid just like phlogiston and caloric. http://www.worldsci.org/pdf//abstracts/abstracts_6554.pdf
It dates from the Middle Ages when various similar “humors” were thought to account for things like heat, fire, and medical conditions.

Blogger Student in Blue May 18, 2015 4:23 PM  

@Markku
It requires a specific skillset to hit on the librarian.

What can I say, my dear, to catch your ear?
I love you madly, madly, madam librarian, Marian!

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