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Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Mailvox: get over your cognitive capabilities

Some Guy is trying to learn how to stop thinking that being smart is somehow worthy of accolades:
I am and have been in the VHIQ spectrum for the majority of my life. About 2 years ago a situation in my marriage sent me reeling into therapy and I have spent a little over a year in a special form of therapy.

The reason that I bring this up is that although I have a relatively high IQ, I naturally attach too much personal worth to my intelligence and the imagined respect that it brings to me. After having dealt with a few, but by no means all of the underlying issues, I am now at a place where (even though I still react the way a VHIQ would reflexively) I can at least back up and see the situation for what it is when I review new information.

In our therapy, we refer to these as "programs" that are installed at an early age, and that run without any cognitive thought occurring. These are mostly self-defeating tendencies that plague people like me our entire lives. It has indeed made a qualitative difference in my ability to understand information, because I am not emotionally invested in the outcome (although I have to try very hard for this to occur most of the time). Do you think this could account for some of the difference you are noticing between the two groups?
Nearly everyone wants to be smarter, better-looking, wealthier, healthier, more athletic, more popular, and sexier. (Virtually no one is willing to actually do much about any of those things either, but that's neither here nor there.) And yet, for some reason, smart people seem to have an incredible amount of trouble understanding that the "respect" they are due for being more intelligent is about as significant as the amount of respect they harbor for someone else being more attractive, more athletic, or more popular.

My first piece of advice for anyone who is intelligent is this: get over it.

Intelligence will get you nothing but a free ride at a US university if you're sufficiently good at taking tests. That's it. It means that you've got a larger caliber intellectual gun than most, but if your ammunition (education) is deficient, you don't know how to aim it (discipline), where to aim it (wisdom), or you're unwilling to pull the trigger (laziness or fear of failure), your intelligence means precisely nothing.

Part of the problem, I think, is that high intelligence manifests itself during the formative years, and therefore tends to become an intrinsic aspect of one's self-identity in a way that pther characteristics that require more time to take shape do. I think of it in much the same context that the girls who are unusually pretty when they are little girls; they tend to still believe they are great beauties even when they are overweight or surpassed by later bloomers.

One of the most valuable things anyone ever told me wasn't actually addressed to me, but to a smart girl I knew, who told another girl that she felt like she had all these great thoughts circling through her head, but she just couldn't articulate them. The other girl told her that she didn't have any great thoughts, she just had a feeling. One's thoughts, such as they are, don't mean anything and cannot be judged until they are articulated, preferably in writing.

So, no one should be enamored of one's intelligence or proud of it. Be proud of what you have done with your intelligence, if you have actually accomplished anything, instead. That doesn't mean one should engage in false modesty or hesitate to wield one's intelligence as a weapon if the situation calls for it, only that one should be aware that it is nothing more than one of the many tools at one's disposal.

As for programs, Mike Cernovich discusses this in MAGA Mindset. The self-narration with which provide commentary on our own thoughts and actions tend to have a powerful effect on the results we produce. Mike makes use of particular mantra he explains in the book; I don't have a particular mantra, but I do have a set of phrases to which I turn from time to time when I need motivation. Mine probably would not work for most people, since I thrive on negative and competitive motivation, but they are a similar form of cognitive self-programming.

But no, these programs do not account, in any way, for the differences I have observed between the conventional high IQ mind and the unconventional high IQ mind. It's akin to asking if someone who is color-blind can motivate himself into seeing green properly.

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67 Comments:

Anonymous Napoleon 12pdr December 27, 2016 1:07 PM  

In the end, what you do eclipses what you started with.

Blogger bob kek mando ( NABTY ) December 27, 2016 1:12 PM  

Fred has a recent education column which GracieLou may find interesting.

http://fredoneverything.org/john-derbyshire-for-secretary-of-education-extreme-times-call-for-extreme-measures/

Blogger Orville December 27, 2016 1:20 PM  

Doing is more than being. Its also vastly more satisfying than constantly reminding everyone of how smart you are.

Blogger William Hudson December 27, 2016 1:21 PM  

I see myself as at least smart enough to recognize most of the things that I actually DON'T know. Gnome sane?

Blogger rumpole5 December 27, 2016 1:29 PM  

Frankly, I feel like I have been functioning above my intelligence level for most of my life. The real highs in that functioning occurred when I realized how inadequate I was to meet the challenges I faced, and spent time on my knees, and thereafter enjoyed the blessings of true undeserved providence. Never underestimate the serendipity of God's grace.

Blogger S1AL December 27, 2016 1:31 PM  

Something I've found to be most helpful is the replacement of arrogance and entitlement with a sense of obligation and responsibility, a la:

"Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more."

This is of the same essence as Vox's recommendation to orient towards accomplishment rather than ability. Or, more pointedly - if you're actually that smart, the bar is set that much higher to be respected.

Blogger frigger611 December 27, 2016 1:34 PM  

Careful, Vox. That was excessively cogent. You're going to put psychiatric "therapists" out of work.

Blogger weka December 27, 2016 1:49 PM  

@8. Anyone who can cut the work I have to do down, please do so. The special snowflakes are... better not say. Some of them will read this and work out that their doc is Ilk, and the medical council is an amenable authority.

Blogger Cynic In Chief December 27, 2016 1:52 PM  

The only people who can appreciate VHIQs are other VHIQs, and that's often marred by jealousy. Normies can't understand the way they think and UHIQs often find them annoying.

I'm probably a VHIQ (I can shift into a pseudo-UHIQ mindset, but it takes effort), but having a high IQ means diddly if you don't do much with it. Keep your eyes open for opportunities, weigh the costs and effort required, and jump on them if they're worth it.

Discipline and laziness are usually the downfalls of VHIQs (they are certainly things I struggle with), but wisdom is one that is often overlooked. It's easy to spread yourself out too thin going after multiple things when you need to just stick to a few high-quality ones and let the rest pass you by.

Blogger Timmy3 December 27, 2016 1:54 PM  

A high IQ person going into therapy shows that you can't rationalize away deficiencies. High intelligence is only one of many attributes a person might have that's useful and worth something. My hunch is he appears to not be living in reality. "Mr. DeMille, I'm Ready for My Close-Up"

Blogger Weouro December 27, 2016 2:01 PM  

Actually trying to do something also has the benefit of throwing a nice bucket of cold water on iq-based pretensions. Helps get you out of your head, too.

Blogger tublecane December 27, 2016 2:02 PM  

About not being able to articulate purportedly great thoughts, you're dead-on. I remember when I was in Junior High, High School, before I ever tried to write seriously and before I ever read a book for anything but pleasure or because I was ordered to, I thought I was profound. I thought my very profundity was getting in the way of my expressing myself. As though words were getting in the way of what I wanted to say. Which is of course ridiculous.

You articulate yourself first, either in your head or on paper, only then can you be profound. Up to then it's just feelz, as you say. Or bloody, cut-up chunks, rather than bodies of whole thought. I don't know why people think differently, except they're lazy, ignorant, and self-justifying. Like a basketball player who keeps clanging off the rim and swears he'd be Kareem if only the damn ball, the atmosphere, gravity, opposing players, and everything else didn't get in the way.

Once you're proficient at thinking and expressing, then maybe you'll be able to formulate profound thoughts as you speak or write. Not before, and maybe never.

Blogger Kristophr December 27, 2016 2:08 PM  

100% agree, VD.

The one thing that all MENSA members do agree on is that MENSA members are all good at taking IQ tests.

Everything else is up to the individual in question. You deserve nothing. You get what you set out to get.

Blogger Kristophr December 27, 2016 2:15 PM  

"You are what you do."

Not certain who said that first.

Blogger Erynne December 27, 2016 2:15 PM  

My IQ is unknown to me, it's probably midwit since I assume online IQ tests are a gimmick and give you a false score. My brother, though, comes across as a lot smarter than me, based on how easily he taught himself coding. That being said, he's Aspergers and his high functioning has done nothing for him. He may be a wizard around computers, but he has no job and he got bored with computers early on and now studies useless things. Others in my family, older cousins and second uncles, are said to be high IQ, but they live in poverty.

I now think what Vox says about the aiming part of intelligence, wisdom, is a lot more important than how quickly you learn. I'm sure we all know very intelligence people with great gifts consistently fail at life because they don't know what to aim at. Most kids graduating high school, no matter how smart they are, are aimless and easy suckers for college.

The people I envy most tend to be people who have chosen one thing to focus on and stick with it. I envy kids who knew all their life they wanted to be a doctor and now they are and love it. Or, kids who were obsessed with something like SF/F, mastered everything there is to know about it, and then write or work on storylines of their own.

Blogger Iron Spartan December 27, 2016 2:25 PM  

Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.

Calvin Coolidge

Blogger Kyle Searle December 27, 2016 2:31 PM  

Hrm, as an aside, how would one go about identifying late bloomer women? They tend to be the best picks amongst the modern womenfolk, since they have experienced some adversity in life and typically don't have the same entitlement complex of more naturally beautiful women. However, it's difficult to sort them from the chaff before the 'opportune moment' has already passed.

Blogger Dave December 27, 2016 2:31 PM  

It is fascinating to see people with traumatic brain injuries resulting in diminished physical and cognitive functional capabilities; who then proceed to discover prodigious capacities similar to mathematical or artistic savants.

Most would agree this condition that is seemingly the result of an accident, would not entitle an individual to become filled with arrogance and a sense of superiority.

Anonymous boilerplate December 27, 2016 2:44 PM  

My IQ was metered at 150 as a child taking batteries of tests. I've constantly been in the top 1% in all standardized tests I've taken through my school career. That in of itself has gotten me a whole handful of absolutely nothing. Everything in the real world which has brought me satisfaction and success has been the result of hard work and perseverance. One of the hardest parts of growing up for me was realizing that I'm not the super special snowflake that every authority figure told me I was in my childhood. It's a growth path that a large percentage of my contemporary millenials have not taken.

If anything, having a high IQ should be a mark AGAINST you for lack of exemplary success. If learning information is effortless, synthesis is automatic, and mastery of a subject only limited by how much effort you're willing to put into it, you should be ashamed if you're not a leader in your field. The 70 IQ warehouse worker is doing the best he can with his toolbox, what the fuck are you doing with your life?

Blogger Tim December 27, 2016 2:49 PM  

One more thing about being smart. Be grateful that you are smart. Be glad for your ability to understand in seconds, your ability to come up with creative solutions, your ability to read at 1000 plus words per minute, your ability to conceptualize. I realized this the hard way, after I went through heart surgery and "freezer brain" and spend over a year getting back to just close to where I once was. Still not the 99.7 plus I once was, but at least I can do my old job, if not quite as fast as I used to be. Hell, go read Jerry Pournelles blog chronologically, as he went through a brain tumor and recovery, paying attention to the clarity of his thoughts. Be glad for being smart, it beats the hell out of the alternative.

Blogger VFM #7634 December 27, 2016 2:56 PM  

@19 boilerplate

Very, very true. Men with high IQ have somewhat more temptation than most to get stuck in an Omega or Gamma rut since the consequences aren't quite as bad as they'd be for a low-IQ man. It's a part of original sin to want to shirk doing any hard work, including on oneself. But it's ultimately no way to live.

Blogger CynicalMan December 27, 2016 3:04 PM  

I have two mantras. The first applies to when others make comments or set policy which to me does not make sense. The mantra in this case is "I must just be stupid". The second mantra applies to me in general and goes like this, "I don't mind being wrong, but what I'd do mind is not being told when I am wrong".

Blogger CynicalMan December 27, 2016 3:06 PM  

I suppose I should add a third which would be, "It is not about me".

Blogger BoysMom December 27, 2016 3:07 PM  

An observation on high IQ in the formative years: since most kids with higher than average IQ's are tossed in with the herd of day care and public school kids their own age, most of them learn to use their intelligence early on to get what they want from adults and peers they can think circles around. High IQ kids raised around other high IQ kids and adults are less impressed with their own smarts, from my own experience raising them. What is there to brag about, aloud or to yourself, if those you are surrounded by run at the same mental speed as you do?

Blogger Lovekraft December 27, 2016 3:11 PM  

Therapy for men is gay.

Blogger RobertT December 27, 2016 3:23 PM  

I take a perverted pleasure in being the smartest person in the room. I wouldn't trade that for anything. But you may as well be proud of the North Wind. Nobody is smart enough to realize how smart you are unless they can also see the things you can see, in which case you're preaching to the choir. Everyone else could either care less or they think you're a little off because the conclusions you draw are apparently made up on the fly.

Blogger Joe Doakes December 27, 2016 3:38 PM  

Sounds like the guy who buys a Boxter capable of 250 mph, but lives where the speed limit is 55. Hell of a lot of power going unused.

Blogger Parallel December 27, 2016 3:41 PM  

A good mantra for working in government: "you can't make this up!'

Anonymous RedJack December 27, 2016 3:43 PM  

Trade offs. I am far from the smartest in here, but school was "easy" for me. I went into a field (chemical engineering) that was interesting, but difficult to me. I have done well. My biggest failing (if it right to call it so) is that I have limited interest in being a manager. I want to work the process, work the chemistry, and make the line sing. I do not enjoy pushing paper or dealing with people.

However, I have had a very interesting and fulfilling career. As I get a bit more grey around the muzzle, some have asked why I never made the jump to upper management. But at the end, it was more about my choice than anything.

Overall my above average IQ was something I knew I had, but growing up was never celebrated. My teachers and parents knew I smart, but never told me that. They all pushed me to a higher standard, and never told me I was "special", just that I had a gift I had better darn well use.

Blogger Joe Doakes December 27, 2016 3:58 PM  

"Smartest guy in the room" changes with the room. I stayed at a hotel for pilot training. The breakfast room was full of foreigners in white lab coats - veterinarians here to take the US license exam, in their second language. I did no bragging that day.

Blogger Student in Blue December 27, 2016 3:58 PM  

@VD
Part of the problem, I think, is that high intelligence manifests itself during the formative years, and therefore tends to become an intrinsic aspect of one's self-identity in a way that pther characteristics that require more time to take shape do.

If I may, I'd like to posit a slightly different theory.

Intelligence only becomes such an intrinsic part of self-identity because for most people only because that is the only thing that sets them apart.

Several men who are not only smart but also gifted in other areas don't focus hard on intelligence. Trump is a very smart guy, but it's pretty clear that his ego is not tied up in appearing to be the smartest guy in the room, because he's instead personally invested in his other talents, being a deal-maker, a negotiator, and a people person.

You can see that same effect happen with kids whose only stand-out feature is how tall they are, or how short they are, or if they're particularly chubby -- if that's all they got, they hold an intense emotional attachment to it even after they're grown up and ought to be wiser about it. The short kid starts going out with a chip on his shoulder and being very conscious about his height, the fat kid starts whaling--excuse me, wailing--about fat acceptance, and the tall kid... most of them quiet down and withdraw into themselves from my experience.

This theory should be completely in line with your following sentence, "I think of it in much the same context that the girls who are unusually pretty when they are little girls; they tend to still believe they are great beauties even when they are overweight or surpassed by later bloomers."

Girls who are remarkably pretty and that's the only thing they have going for them. General female solipsism is certainly a thing, but the most obnoxious of the "eternally young" are those women who had nothing else but their good looks, despite any efforts to the contrary.

Anonymous Michael December 27, 2016 4:03 PM  

Intelligence will get you nothing but a free ride at a US university if you're sufficiently good at taking tests. That's it. It means that you've got a larger caliber intellectual gun than most, but if your ammunition (education) is deficient, you don't know how to aim it (discipline), where to aim it (wisdom), or you're unwilling to pull the trigger (laziness or fear of failure), your intelligence means precisely nothing.

I love this paragraph. I'm saving it so I can read it again every so often.

By the way, do you have any suggestions or suggested reading on how to properly raise a son? My wife and I just had a baby and I'd like to give him a better start in life than I had.

Blogger Jeffrey Johnson December 27, 2016 4:07 PM  

For VHIQ people the most important thing is to focus on what you've accomplished with your life. There's lots of really smart people who used their high intelligence to get a university professorship job and they leech off the tax payers all day while trying to hit on their students. Lots of VHIQ people also struggle to relate to average people and it negatively affects their relationships.

A really important thing for VHIQ people to remember is being really smart isn't a universal good. Lots of really smart people hatch up all kinds of utopian schemes that make millions of people suffer. How many millions of people suffered because smart people believed that they could build the perfect world if they just purged enough people?

Being smart is a good gift but lots of smart people don't know how to use it. Look at how often VHIQ people complain about how they can't communicate with average people. They say it like it is this impossible thing to do. However look at Donald Trump. Despite what (((the media))) says, Donald Trump is an incredibly smart man. He's taught himself how to relate to average IQ people so well that average Americans voted for him to be the next president.

If you are VHIQ then you have a great gift but you have to use it. It isn't some magical power like many over educated intellectuals think it is. It allows you to learn lots of stuff rapidly but that's it. What really matters is how much you accomplish and what you accomplish.

Anonymous MIG December 27, 2016 4:11 PM  

I recommend Smarter by Dan Hurley. It's a book about the meaning of intelligence and the possibility of raising it. IQ, according to the research he presents, is a good substitute measure for the size of the so-called "working memory." It is the working memory that is responsible for intelligence, if by intelligence we mean the powerfulness of the thinking "engine." Until 15 or so years ago they believed that you cannot expand your working memory - it is one of the biological givens, like blue eyes or curly hair. You can improve your various cognitive skills through training but not actually increase your working memory. But this idea has since been challenged by unrelated groups of researchers. Hurley presents their research, and he also makes himself a guinea pig (the results are inconclusive: his IQ score is raised but not very much).

As far as I know, IQ does not measure you synthetic skills, only your analytical skills. It's verty hard to measure one's sysnthetic skills in a test of this kind. But I could be wrong.

As for myself, I do believe that there is some biological plasticity. How much? I don't know. But they have been able to reverse aging in mice, make people grow new teeth, etc...

Blogger RobertT December 27, 2016 4:13 PM  

Found the quote I was thinking of.
Rudyard Kipling IF
"If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;"

Being smart should not be your aim; that is a wasted life. Your aim should be (to glorify God &) to use your intelligence to accomplish the life you & your loved ones want.

Blogger tz December 27, 2016 4:18 PM  

I think the V/U comes down to one of those moments when the serpent offers you the fruit. The small compromise that is still the mortal sin. I think you and Molyneux discussed it recently.

Molyneux rejected the fruit. Few do. I think it was 20 years ago, maybe longer that he posted at LewRockwell about thinking he could defuse every conflict, that people could be persuaded not to steal. By the Men's conference in Detroit, I assumed it was a different Stefan Molyneux because he saw reality. Technically it was a different Molyneux, but the same body.

Ideals, ideology, even in-group preferences and rituals are hard to abandon, whether liberal, conservative, or libertarian. The reason I didn't think it was the same Molyneux is because every other libertarian - anarchist from that same time has doubled down on their utopian fantasies. Molyneux has tried to figure out how to bring the dream about even it it takes several more generations, and worries about current threats.

Children becoming adults involve giving up their dreams, and realizing they don't know all - that others might be right. The Us can hold opposite views in their minds to analyze them and see if their shade of gray is lighter or darker.

At least some can debate like on free trade. (e.g. you can't have open borders AND a welfare state, you can't have "free trade" under fiat currencies, fractional reserve banking, and other monetary frauds - a fixed medium of exchange would be necessary (and I won't bother arguing about "sufficient" until we get rid of the currency distortion fields)).

Blogger dc.sunsets December 27, 2016 4:33 PM  

If, no matter how smart you are, you still know you can't spare one bit of it, I think you're probably okay.

My sons are 1-in-500 to 1-in-5000 based on reasonable comparison to peers, but they were told they're not geniuses. They have to work for their meals just like the rest of us.

They learned early that the only person they had to benchmark themselves was in the mirror. How they compared to others, including their brothers, was immaterial.

They are all well-adjusted, successful and by all appearances happy.

Blogger Rabbi B December 27, 2016 5:32 PM  

Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment ... (Cf. Romans 12)

It's still very good advice.

Anonymous Saracen III December 27, 2016 5:35 PM  

A phrase that has served me well:

"Being smarter just means making more complex mistakes"

Blogger Scott6584 December 27, 2016 6:02 PM  

Great advice: Get over your IQ.

I have a low level genius IQ, but have always wondered why anyone thinks this makes them "better" than someone else. None of my best friends are as intelligent as me, but I highly value all of them. One of them dropped out of college, started a commercial refrigeration business, and sold it for $300 million at age 41. Technically, he's not as smart as me. Practically speaking, he's light years ahead of me.

But HE doesn't understand why people make so much out of having money. He drives a 12 year old Dodge pickup truck, and does service calls on the side to keep himself busy. He lives in a 1500 square foot house, and dresses like a service man.

Another friend from High School was a petty officer in the Navy, and I'm jealous of him because he just had his first grandchild, and I'm still waiting. He beat Cancer at age 44, owned his business for most of his life, and has raised 4 kids.

Another good friend graduated from seminary, has 7 children, and is a pastor of a church in Wisconsin on the Minnesota border. While building his church from scratch, he built and sold homes, and now owns a 53 acre Farm in the rolling hills of Holman.

I admire every one of my friends, and have NEVER considered my higher intelligence to be indicative of worth or value. Do I enjoy being intelligent? Absolutely - just like a great athelete would enjoy his skill set. But it is crazy to believe that your are intrinsically more valuable because of intelligence.

I work at a University with a plethora of highly intelligent people who are crazy stupid when it comes to practical matters. Intelligence is simply one trait - and not the most important one. I value kindness, and pleasantness more. Yes, sometimes it's difficult to show patience with those who just don't get it as quickly as you do. But that is MY problem, not the other person's problem.

Blogger wreckage December 27, 2016 6:05 PM  

One way of looking at this is:
"What is my value-add?"
Sure you're smart, but what are you doing that makes anything better for you or anyone else? Because frankly, nothing else is of any worth whatever.

Blogger Scott6584 December 27, 2016 6:06 PM  

Jeffrey Johnson wrote:For VHIQ people the most important thing is to focus on what you've accomplished with your life. There's lots of really smart people who used their high intelligence to get a university professorship job and they leech off the tax payers all day while trying to hit on their students. Lots of VHIQ people also struggle to relate to average people and it negatively affects their relationships.

A really important thing for VHIQ people to remember is being really smart isn't a universal good. Lots of really smart people hatch up all kinds of utopian schemes that make millions of people suffer. How many millions of people suffered because smart people believed that they could build the perfect world if they just purged enough people?

Being smart is a good gift but lots of smart people don't know how to use it. Look at how often VHIQ people complain about how they can't communicate with average people. They say it like it is this impossible thing to do. However look at Donald Trump. Despite what (((the media))) says, Donald Trump is an incredibly smart man. He's taught himself how to relate to average IQ people so well that average Americans voted for him to be the next president.

If you are VHIQ then you have a great gift but you have to use it. It isn't some magical power like many over educated intellectuals think it is. It allows you to learn lots of stuff rapidly but that's it. What really matters is how much you accomplish and what you accomplish.


Well said.

Blogger Scott6584 December 27, 2016 6:12 PM  

boilerplate wrote:My IQ was metered at 150 as a child taking batteries of tests. I've constantly been in the top 1% in all standardized tests I've taken through my school career. That in of itself has gotten me a whole handful of absolutely nothing. Everything in the real world which has brought me satisfaction and success has been the result of hard work and perseverance. One of the hardest parts of growing up for me was realizing that I'm not the super special snowflake that every authority figure told me I was in my childhood. It's a growth path that a large percentage of my contemporary millenials have not taken.

If anything, having a high IQ should be a mark AGAINST you for lack of exemplary success. If learning information is effortless, synthesis is automatic, and mastery of a subject only limited by how much effort you're willing to put into it, you should be ashamed if you're not a leader in your field. The 70 IQ warehouse worker is doing the best he can with his toolbox, what the fuck are you doing with your life?


One of the pitfalls of being incredibly smart is that you are good at nearly everything you do. It's sometimes difficult to choose what path to take when all paths are available. Also, the temptation to coast and not put in effort (i.e. be lazy) is strong. Taking tests is easy. But when the aptitude tests tell you that you are good at everything, they are actually worthless. They don't actually help you discriminate productively to choose a certain path.

Anonymous Trimegistus December 27, 2016 6:58 PM  

I think the numbers assigned to IQ fool us, too. We see someone with a 140 IQ and unconsciously think "wow, he's TWICE as smart as someone with a 70 IQ!" but that's not true at all. It's more that there's a person with a 10,140 IQ and one with a 10,070. The difference between even the brightest animals and the dumbest humans is profoundly greater than the entire spectrum of human intelligence.

And it's always struck me that people tend to have at best one or two subjects they can actually be intelligent about. How many genuinely smart scientists are nevertheless political nincompoops? How many successful entrepreneurs are ignorant of any culture?

Intelligence may mean you have a lot of potential, but life is only so long, and you can still master only one or two disciplines before you die.

Blogger technovelist December 27, 2016 7:11 PM  

Trimegistus wrote:I think the numbers assigned to IQ fool us, too. We see someone with a 140 IQ and unconsciously think "wow, he's TWICE as smart as someone with a 70 IQ!" but that's not true at all. It's more that there's a person with a 10,140 IQ and one with a 10,070. The difference between even the brightest animals and the dumbest humans is profoundly greater than the entire spectrum of human intelligence.

And it's always struck me that people tend to have at best one or two subjects they can actually be intelligent about. How many genuinely smart scientists are nevertheless political nincompoops? How many successful entrepreneurs are ignorant of any culture?

Intelligence may mean you have a lot of potential, but life is only so long, and you can still master only one or two disciplines before you die.


I think you have that backwards. Someone with an IQ of 140 is not twice as smart as one with an IQ of 70. The difference is far more profound than that, amounting to a qualitative difference, as VD has pointed out with the VH/UH dichotomy.

As for the rest of your comment, of course there is far too much to know for anyone to be expert on more than a very few topics. The last person who could possibly have "known everything" was probably Leonardo Da Vinci, and maybe a lot earlier than that.

Blogger Michael Grammer December 27, 2016 8:04 PM  

I've enjoyed reading your blog VD. My question is what triggered this blog entry concerning the irrelevance of IQ? Building a successful blog rules you out as being immune to ego. Jesus had a highly productive egocentric trance going so that's not a negative depending on the details. It seems you've discovered something new about yourself that changed your perception in a meaningful way.

Blogger VD December 27, 2016 8:19 PM  

It seems you've discovered something new about yourself that changed your perception in a meaningful way.

I already explained this. I've been asked about the different form of high intelligence many times before. After I started reading Fukuyama's End of History, I felt I finally had a response of sorts.

Anonymous boilerplate December 27, 2016 8:34 PM  

#39 Saracen III

"with two wheel drive you can go offroad and get stuck. With four wheel drive you can go way offroad and get really fucking stuck!"

Blogger Michael Grammer December 27, 2016 8:49 PM  

Fukuyama's declaration that liberal democracy is the final development of human government is obviously absurd on it's face. I'm not interested in trolling you, at least I don't think I am. Chances are I'm wrong about that. Chances are that you're wrong about whatever you think you're motivations are for this blog post. We can probably agree on that. I do however believe that I am curious in an honest and self improving sort of way as to what in particular you believe changed in your cognition after reading Fukuyama's text. The version you believe is obviously unreliable, but probably much more reliable than the average man's intuition on such a thing. Give us some philosophical introspection at a deep level brother. Not knowingly trying to upset you, just interested in what you perceive is going on beneath the surface. BTW, Merry Christmas to all you troublemakers. You're in good company :)

Anonymous buybuydandavis December 27, 2016 9:03 PM  

"Part of the problem, I think, is that high intelligence manifests itself during the formative years, and therefore tends to become an intrinsic aspect of one's self-identity in a way that other characteristics that require more time to take shape do."

Also, during a period of life where your "job" is to go to school, where "getting the right answer" is the metric of success of the adults who run the asylum, because they are themselves *not smart*. You have a magic power that they entirely lack.

If there were smart people around you, they'd realize that the no planning and no effort "success" offered to a smart child in school is crippling to what any child most needs to learn in school - how to operate himself to get things done.

Blogger Michael Grammer December 27, 2016 9:14 PM  

50. buybuydandavis,

That's true to a point. What if you were the smartest kid in your county? It's a continuum. Public education is geared toward the ever decreasing mean, perhaps lower than that. Home schooling works for very bright kids if they have very bright parents, there's no guarantee of that. What is an effective schooling method for children brighter than their peers, their teachers and their parents?

Anonymous Napoleon 12pdr December 27, 2016 9:43 PM  

@51: This is why I support tuition vouchers. Government schools are set up for average +1/-2 SD. Throwing a +3 SD kid into that is a 12-year prison sentence...and a lot of wasted potential.

Blogger Some Guy December 27, 2016 10:04 PM  

Ok, good to know.

Anonymous Desiderius December 27, 2016 11:14 PM  

Rare and wise is the hare who can take note of the tortoises who've passed him and learn from their example.

Blogger Doom December 28, 2016 12:19 AM  

Preaching to the choir, even if you hurt my feelings. Hahaha! Do it again, daddy! Don't hate me, I just have to grin at some of this. And, yeah, getting my toe stomped, at times, is... actually entertaining. More so if deserved, though either way, for various reasons. Just like enjoying strong onions, even while crying through the cutting of them. Tasty.

Still, must have a bee in your bonnet. Which... tickles too. A little noid, eh. Eh-noid. A? *grins* I'm in one of those moods. Enjoy or not.

Anonymous map December 28, 2016 12:34 AM  

I think the big problem with intelligent people is that they happen to look at it through the lens of the craft mentality. Like a craftsman enamored with his own skills, the intelligent person is enamored with his own abilities and does not understand why anyone is not interested.

Anonymous Anonymous December 28, 2016 1:30 AM  

I'm a smart motherfucker hasn't necessarily been helpful over the years. I am glad I am intelligent as it helps me write music and understand things more quickly and deeply than most, and learn quickly.

When I was a kid guidance counselors, teachers said I was a genius, 130+ IQ etc. I was pushed down the "genius" path. I was not interested in being a genius. I ended up wasting years graduating high school, dropping out of college, and then going to trade school, which I should have done instead of high school.

My personality is not suited to all that genius bullshit. I'm a roughneck, hard dude who likes to swing a hammer a few hours a day then go out and get wild rowdy drunk with the boys few nights a week, work on creative projects the other nights.

Blogger SQT December 28, 2016 1:39 AM  

I have been telling my kids for years that intelligence and beauty are not accomplishments. My kids *are* smart but I value their work ethic more than anything and that will take them much further in life than raw intelligence.

Blogger wreckage December 28, 2016 3:32 AM  

For the smart but unfocused, one simple strategy is to find someone with drive and focus, and act as his numbers man. Be the mentat, build the relationship.

A big problem for smart guys is recognizing that a less smart guy may be, in most respects, their superior.

Anonymous SciVo de Plorable December 28, 2016 3:37 AM  

The last person who could possibly have "known everything" was probably Leonardo Da Vinci, and maybe a lot earlier than that.

Well supposedly Thomas Young, but I think more likely David Hume. (And Leo's a safe bet.)

Anonymous Luke December 28, 2016 6:47 AM  

#32 Michael re your son: email me at lukescienceguy AT Yahoo.com and I'll send you my cellphone # for a chat, if you want.

Blogger Tom Kratman December 28, 2016 9:34 AM  

"Throwing a +3 SD kid into that is a 12-year prison sentence...and a lot of wasted potential."

Might not make any difference. My high school (actually junior high and high, combined) was Boston Latin, founded 1635. It was the charter school of charter schools, with very high entrance requirements and an attrition rate on the order of 82% or so (take in 1100 kids a year, graduate 198 - that's just one year's class strength that sticks in my mind - the rest washed out). At the time it was alleged to be the 12th or so best high school / prep school in the country, public or private, and in the top 2-3 for public, possibly even number 1. (Note, it's deteriorated badly since then.) And yet the thing that struck me most when I went to the one reunion I bothered with was how many of my classmates - a clear majority of them - had never done anything much with their lives.

Blogger heyjames4 December 28, 2016 9:38 AM  

can please repost this to alpha game?

Blogger Tom Kratman December 28, 2016 9:39 AM  

@57

Beauty in a woman or girl isn't an accomplishment when young. It can be an accomplishment to maintain into middle and late middle age. It is, however, a marketable attribute. Moreover, the girl is usually beautiful, so I suspect, anyway, more because of her female ancestry than her male ancestry, and that represents a whole slew of capable males ensnared by her beautiful ancestresses.

Blogger Tom Kratman December 28, 2016 9:42 AM  

"After I started reading Fukuyama's End of History, I felt I finally had a response of sorts."

It's a very good response. If it's lacking anything, it's a word you haven't used (that I saw, anyway): character. The failures you describe among the highly intelligent can be summed up - at least where a medical condition isn't a better explanation - as lack of character.

Blogger Tom Kratman December 28, 2016 9:47 AM  

One thing I haven't seen addressed here or in the previous related post; being VHIQ or UHIQ (even if one suspects the IQ tests are not especially accurate, g still shows on the face, in the posture, and in the words) is fine when dealing with each other or with average joes who need leadership anyway and don't resent that leadership being bright. Midwits, however, and especially high midwits, will tend to hate you on sight.

Blogger Tom Kratman December 28, 2016 9:50 AM  

"My wife and I just had a baby and I'd like to give him a better start in life than I had."

I can give you the hypocritical advice I can scarcely take myself, where grandchildren are concerned: Let the boy grow up to be a man. Don't coddle him. Understand that he has to take risks with his life and health and that, even if those don't injure or kill him, they'll eat your guts.

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