The value of the low-intelligence perspective

It’s interesting to read the comments of the reactionary blogs I frequent when IQ-related topics come up.  I’ve noticed that, whenever anecdotes are shared, commenters always have high IQs (they can often give an official number), and they find the mental limitations of their day-to-day companions excruciatingly obvious.  Of course, this is an impression rather than a carefully established correlation, and it may well be that people have a tendency to overestimate their intellectual superiority somewhat, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a large subset of reactionaries who are smart compared to their social environment.  After all, something must give them the confidence to go against the consensus of the intellectual elite.  I suspect I am one of the few people active on the reactionary blogosphere with low relative intelligence (meaning I suspect I am less intelligent than many of my work colleagues of similar or higher rank, and my mind is often inadequate to the problems I take up).  This gives me a different perspective, and I’d like to share it with you.  “Why should I care what stupid people think?” I imagine you’re asking.  After all, aren’t stupid people’s opinions worthless almost by definition?  The reason you should care is that cognitive limitation makes one aware of certain issues that the more cerebrally endowed don’t consider.

Above all, having low relative intelligence makes one conscious of intellect itself as a limited resource.  People who are used to being able to out-think their companions forget this.  How many articles have we read in Christian or conservative publications telling us that, instead of wasting time on politics, we should go out and win over the culture?  Just make brilliant movies, novels, and paintings that express our world-view.  Become eminent scientists and take over academia.  That’ll fix things.  No doubt the people who write these things are intelligent and think themselves awfully clever (or at least cleverer than the “religious right” they despise), but this is like thinking oneself a brilliant strategist for giving advice like “First, raise an army ten times the size of your enemy’s…”  You’ve got to fight a culture war with the army you’ve got.  Sure, we should certainly express ourselves with the best art and scholarship of which we are capable, but given that the Left has successfully indoctrinated the cognitive elite, we’re not likely to win any kind of brains or talent competition against them.

Intellect limitation raises all sorts of interesting practical questions that no one but me seems to be interested in.  For example, when is it rational to just accept the consensus of experts rather than making up one’s own mind on an issue?  Is it ever rational to accept what appears to be flawed reasoning from the expert consensus because “there must be something here that I’m missing”?  Officially, we are encouraged to study the arguments and make up our own minds on everything, but in practice each of us has limited brainpower (some of us more limited than others), and we must choose carefully how to spend it.  There are two solutions.  One is trust, which means you must still do the work of finding a trustworthy authority.  The other is bracketing, meaning mentally separating issues and seeing if you can solve the ones that really interest you while remaining agnostic on the others.  I’m something of a specialist, and I bracket a lot in both my day work and my blogging.  Lots of unflattering things are said about specialization, many of them just, but some of us probably couldn’t do intellectual work at all without it.

The cognitive elite berate the rest of us both for failing to think scientifically and failing to docilely accept the pronouncements of our betters.  Not only are the accusations contradictory, one of them is unjust.  As I’ve just said, those with low intelligence tend to give more weight to expert opinion due to our lack of confidence in our own.  What is true is that we tend to be less convinced by the types of arguments the cognitive elite make.  These often come down to arguments of the form “Here is an observation.  Our theory explains it.  All the other theories we could think of are less plausible (either conflict with other observations or involve “unnatural” assumptions).  Therefore our theory is true.”  Cosmological inflation and the documentary hypothesis for the origin of the Pentateuch are a couple of examples where I don’t find this type of argument convincing.  Yes, the alternative explanations I can come up with for these theories’ post-dictions might not be as compelling, but that just means I’m not as smart as Alan Guth or Julius Wellhausen.  Just because I don’t have better explanations doesn’t mean I know they don’t exist.  And yet, ultimately, all of science comes down to arguments of this type.  Even my “theory” that I’m sitting at home as I write this I ultimately accept because it’s so much more plausible than alternatives involving hallucinations or elaborate ruses.  So even the most intellectually humble of us will ultimately concede the truth of a theory when the known alternatives are reduced to silliness.  But our threshold is much higher than that of very intelligent people, who so easily convince themselves that their list of possible explanations is exhaustive and the intuitions they use to exclude some must be respected by Nature herself.

P. S. Before anybody says I just don’t believe the above listed theories because I’m an ignorant redneck fundamentalist, let me make a few points.  First of all, I don’t disbelieve in an inflationary epoch or in the J, E, D, and P segments of the Bible being meaningfully distinct and written by different authors.  I just regard these as unproved speculations.  I am convinced that the Big Bang happened, and I even teach a course in cosmology.  And no, the recent BICEP results, even if they hold up, don’t “prove inflation”.  They prove that if inflation is true, it happened at a particular energy scale.  My challenge to anyone who claims to know how the Bible was written is to show me how your disentanglement algorithm has been tested.  Have we ever had four authors write different versions of the same story, then have a separate author splice them together, then had Bible scholars separate and reconstruct the originals, and finally tested their accuracy?  What’s more, it seems unlikely that segments of the Bible are stylistically so different as to make this separation possible thousands of years later without it being obvious to the redactor’s original audience.

49 Responses

  1. @Bonald

    Good column – opens up a new area.

    I think we have two guides here – and the most important is honesty/ truth seeking. If people are NOT honest/ truth seeking then we can never be sure of anything they say.

    This rules out almost everybody, especially in politics, the media and professional science – but there it is…

    Second is competence – if people are not competent to have an opinion, then we don’t need to take it seriously. But competence is much harder to evaluate than honesty – so in practice it isn’t terribly useful outside of one’s immediate circle.

    You main point is vital – and I think very smart people have a special kind of gullibility which is they think that they, personally and swiftly, are capable of sorting-out truth from errors and lies; when, often – usually, this is impossible and they therefore are terribly wrong about almost everything.

    Then pride makes it impossible for them to learn from experience, common sense or even another person – they just get stuck in a world of delusion – armoured by their sense of superiority.

  2. “I suspect I am one of the few people active on the reactionary blogosphere with low relative intelligence”

    No, there’s two of us.

    I make up for my (relative) stupidity with a voracious intellectual appetite, aggression, and an uncanny ability to dig up pertinent references on the fly. But as soon as things get really abstract, I’m getting out the popcorn.

    One of the things I love about being Catholic is that I’m free to have my own opinion about controversial topics, but I’m not expected to reinvent the wheel.

    I read all of the Orthosphere articles, for instance, but I rarely comment on any that aren’t concrete because I can’t really follow the conversation. Sort of like when the men in my family start discussing physics or mathematics. I’ve always been surrounded by men (no women) who are much smarter than me, so I usually feel like a little girl annoying her big brother and his friends when they’re having a Serious Big People discussion. I don’t usually debate women; we just chat.

    I think the benefit of being the dumbest smart person is that you notice all of the really obvious stuff. Also, higher fertility. LOL

    The thing I see most is that it’s just easier for me to admit when I’m wrong because I’m more used to being wrong. Really smart people tend to be poor sports. They can’t just laugh at their mistake.

  3. “Why should I care what stupid people think?”

    I think this is related to the tenacity of the idea that “smart people will rule the earth”, and that if we just get increasingly smarter every generation, we’ll eventually live in utopia. This is the sort of stupid stuff only a smart person would think up. Like Keynesian economics.

  4. I was given a very good piece of advice by my Oxford tutor, the Catholic philosopher, Miss Anscombe. “Even if you’re not particularly cleaver,” she said, “you can still be learned. A lot of people here have cut a very respectable figure that way.”

    I have also found that people like me, who are rather slow on the uptake have to read and ponder an argument much more closely to thoroughly grasp it and, in that way, often detect fallacies that the more quick-witted overlook. To take a rather trivial analogy, one finds people are much more likely to spot a typo in a foreign language that they know reasonably well than in their own. The native speaker sees what he expects to see.

    On the question of the Biblical criticism, I cannot refrain from quoting the delightful Mgr Ronald Knox (in the style of Dryden):
    Twelve Prophets our unlearn’d forefathers knew,
    We are scarce satisfy’d with twenty-two :
    A single Psalmtst was enough for them,
    Our Lift of Authors rivals A. & M.
    They were content MARK, MATTHEW, LUKE & JOHN
    Should bless th’old-fashion’d Beds they lay upon :
    But we, for ev’ry one of theirs, have two,
    And trust the Watchfulness of blessed Q.

    Knox showed how the same methods, applied to the Sherlock Holmes stories, could produce equally plausible arguments for multiple sources.

  5. Bonald,
    I have trouble with Big Bang and cosmic expansion itself. This sentence I found in A Brief History of Time:
    “We have no scientific evidence for or against this assumption (“the homogenity of the universe”). We believe it only on the
    grounds of modesty: it would be most remarkable if the universe looked the same in every direction around us,
    but not around other points in the universe!

    So, there is no empirical or logical reason to believe in the homogeneity of the universe and in that case red shift as seen from Earth can not be genealized to all other points in the universe and hence cosmic expansion is not obtained and thus no Big Bang.

  6. A man who is very often the smartest man in the room runs the risk of imagining that he is always the smartest man in the room, and that on all subjects. I’ve met men of extraordinary intelligence who were not arrogant, but that may have been because they found me too boring to bother switching on the lights.

    The great liability of high intelligence is that it weakens one’s capacity for faith and hope. A man of high intelligence has difficulty believing a proposition that is not perfectly clear and comprehensible to his own intellect because most of the propositions with which he is presented are perfectly clear and comprehensible to his own intellect. Mystery is not a scandal to a man for whom most of the world is mysterious. (I’m speaking as a man who is not scandalized by mystery.) A man of high intelligence will also tend to confuse hope and probability, and finds it hard to hope for outcomes that are not probable. I think he is defeated by his own rationalism when he does this, not because probabilities are not real and important, but because they are not the same thing as the theological virtue of hope.

  7. vishmehr24

    Hume observes, “We suppose, but are never able to prove, that there must be a resemblance betwixt those objects, of which we have had experience, and those which lie beyond the reach of our discovery.” He also notes that “probability is founded on the presumption of a resemblance betwixt those objects, of which we have had experience, and those, of which we have had none; and therefore it is impossible this presumption can arise from probability. The same principle cannot be both the, cause and effect of another; and this is, perhaps, the only proposition concerning that relation, which is either intuitively or demonstratively certain…”

    There is no “logical or empirical reason” to believe that the same experiment, conducted under the same conditions will yield the same result. No logical reason, for we can certainly imagine it not doing so (we know what it would be like for it to be true); no empirical reason, for we have no experience of the future and why should it necessarily resemble the past? We cannot even judge it to be probable, for, as Hume shows, that it will is the assumption on which all probability depends.

    Bl John Henry Newman once remarked that every chain of reasoning is fastened to a ring painted on the wall – all our premises are assumed and all our conclusions are abstract.

  8. Hello vishmehr24,

    It’s funny that Hawking wrote that, given the current popularity of chaotic inflation/the multiverse, in which the universe is not homogeneous on very, very large scales beyond our ability to see. Being the intellectually humble person I am, I never speculate on what goes on outside the cosmological horizon. Inside that distance, there is some evidence (although I’ve seen pieces of it questioned) that inhomogeneities drop off at scales larger than ~100 Mpc.

  9. I once read a book called “Who wrote the Bible?” which explains and defends the documentary hypothesis. I remember coming away being impressed by how clever these Bible scholars are and not believing a word of their conclusions.

  10. Whenever IQ comes up in discussions, liberals always tell me, “IQ is an utterly meaningless social construct invented by rich white men to oppress women, the poor, and minorities. Oh, and mine’s higher than yours.”

  11. There is definitely an excessive preoccupation with intelligence among some people in the alt-right. I think there’s a fairly simple explanation for that. In order for someone to explore meaningful alternatives to mainstream western belief systems, he must first become somewhat disillusioned with the latter. This usually begins with some major revelation about a big lie that the people in power are telling us. The problem with using something like the Iraq war or Obamacare for this purpose is that it only makes you feel disillusioned with one ‘side’ of the mainstream. The guy who sees through the Iraq war just ends up watching Comedy Central and laughing at Bush jokes. The disparity between whites and blacks in innate intelligence, on the other hand, is really the most convenient entry point for complete disillusionment with mainstream thought. The lies being told here are being told by everyone from the far left to the ‘far right’ (Glenn Beck etc.). Furthermore, most people have ample anecdotal experience on which to draw that contradicts the party line rather dramatically. Finally, you have a guy like Steve Sailer who, either through natural disposition or immense willpower, is able to remain very calm and reasonable no matter how egregiously he is being mistreated by his mainstream opponents. Put it all together and you have a really convenient way for many people to begin a radical departure from mainstream thinking.

    The downside of this is that many of these people seem to conclude that the ideal worldview will be based around nothing but race, IQ, and some sort of genetic determinism. I’m not saying that Sailer himself takes this position, but it seems to be common among his fans and budding ‘neo-reactionaries.’ I was browsing an old comment thread on Moldbug’s site recently and I came across people claiming that the height of reactionary thought is to want the folks at Goldman Sachs to run everything (they are high IQ) and to have low IQ girls starring in porn so that their lives will serve some sort of social purpose. I kid you not. Of course, if this is what neo-reactionaries want, then a neo-reactionary must be rather like a mainstream American. Exactly why they need all the weird blogging and whatnot I don’t know.

    I do like Sailer and I think that he raises some important points. The world is a better place with him blogging in it. But there is definitely an overreaction in the direction of genetic determinism and IQ obsession among the fanboys.

  12. “A man who is very often the smartest man in the room runs the risk of imagining that he is always the smartest man in the room, and that on all subjects.”

    Yeah, but the opposite (often being the dumbest) is even more debilitating because imposter syndrome. It’s crippled by entire life to know that I’m too stupid to accomplish the things I’ve done. I’d have been better off being a bit dumber.

    Especially being female, with the intellectually volatility involved (I swear that there are 30-point swings to my IQ, depending upon my cycle). Most women aren’t smart enough to notice when they’re being dumb, which sounds like Nirvana to me.

    Anything over 120 is a waste, anyway. Maybe even over 110.

  13. “I do like Sailer and I think that he raises some important points.”

    Same here, which is why I follow his blog. I value that he publishes data which contradicts his pet theories, and makes a point of blandly noting said contradiction.

  14. Sir Peter Medawar did some interesting work on IQ testing back in the 1960s.

    One of his findings was that, above a certain level, it was a poor indicator of success. Basically, a certain (very high) minimum IQ is necessary to obtain a chair of mathematics at a leading university , but it will not enable one to pick out from these a future Fields Medallist. Similarly in Physics and Chemistry, the minimum necessary to become a FRS is very high, but Nobel laureates do not necessarily have higher scores than the rest.

    In other words, there comes a point where application and creativity are more important than a marginal increase in intelligence.

  15. I know this isn’t really the focus of your post Bonald but the BICEP2 results are rather suspect, if you haven’t kept up: + replies is a decent start on the issues though it isn’t that up to date.

    Also I find it hilarious that you would consider yourself low-intelligence by any measure. Perhaps in a group of physicists and mathematicians that is (very relatively) true. Everyone has trouble with problems, that’s why they are called problems. Keeping your writings and profession in account, you are a part of the cognitive elite. The Duning-Kruger effect makes it so that the truly intelligent and capable underestimate their capability and intelligence and tend to inflate that of their peers. I would imagine that plus a degree of natural humility results in your claim regarding your intelligence, because it is otherwise nonsensical.

  16. That’s a great website. I’ve just spent half an hour reading about “multiverse mania”. Unfortunately, I’d better get back to proposal writing.

  17. From the Wikipedia on Duning-Kruger:

    “Meanwhile, people with true ability tended to underestimate their relative competence. Roughly, participants who found tasks to be relatively easy erroneously assumed, to some extent, that the tasks must also be easy for others.”

    This describes my husband perfectly.

  18. What got me started thinking about these things was this post:
    whose claim that we more easily recognize when someone is less intelligent than when they are more intelligent convinced me that if I feel a little less bright than my cohort I must actually be a lot dumber. As you’d expect, there are comments about the experience of being smarter than everybody else.

    Actually, it’s been a while since I read that comment thread, and I see that Luqman posted a reply to my comment there that I never saw! Well, I’m glad he’s joined this discussion too, so we’re back on the same page.

  19. Wow, that thread was absolutely fascinating to me, as I have the precise opposite experience. People with IQ’s 20 points below me still seem smarter to me than I am because they come across so cool and cerebral. I’m like that for about two days a month, and the rest of the time I’m bouncy and chatty. Everything they say sounds all genius-y and everything I say sounds all airhead-y.

    I look stupid; like an exotic model. I think that feeds my Impostor Syndrome because I just seem sort of impossible, even to myself. The only confirmation I have of my intellect — other than three IQ tests — is the fact that I can excell at such a broad range of tasks, the sheer flood of mental energy and rapid processing times, and, frankly, the caliber of men interested in me. If he thinks I’m fascinating and adorable, he’s probably got an IQ over 120, at the least. You have to look down on a woman to think she’s “cute”.

    My husband said once that I seem to expend most of my intellectual energy on being charming and pious, so there’s no time to bother with calculus. LOL I just don’t see the point, since there are already so many guys working on that stuff. I feel more useful making them sandwiches, praying for them, and listening in rapt attention while they tell me about their newest theorem.

    I also tend to win boardgames and cardgames, even if the person sitting across from me is a genius. I figured out that I lose a respectal number of rounds if I focus more on keeping the beer and chips coming, and occasionally getting up and checking on the laundry. Otherwise, nobody wants to play with me because it’s so frustrating to lose a strategy game to a young woman you just keep around for your own amusement.

  20. “if I feel a little less bright than my cohort I must actually be a lot dumber.”

    No, the studied effect tends in the opposite direction. The dumber you are, the less aware you are of being dumb, and the more you will tend to underestimate other people’s intelligence. I suspect the people who make you feel stupid, Bonald, aren’t as smart as you think. They just think they are and take pains to put on the appropriate airs.

    The few women I know of similar IQ to mine (anything higher is a true statistical rarity in females) all feel like idiots much of the time because they’re keenly aware of their own errors and mental limitations.

    TL; DR
    Humans are terrible at rating their own relative intelligence and judging their own talents and abilities, but most are too stupid to know better. And if you really were That Smart, you would find it easy to formulate your more complex ideas in a simple (often visual or allegorical) manner that allows even those significantly less intelligent to understand it. Think of Einstein’s train ride or Schrödinger’s cat.

    That’s why I mentioned communication ability before.

  21. It would probably be more accurate to rename this thread:

    “The value of perceived low-intelligence”

  22. “Keeping your writings and profession in account, you are a part of the cognitive elite.”

    But that means he’s surrounded by the cognitive elite. He’s probably less of an academic one-trick-pony — er… I mean, topical expert — than they are, so they can probably discuss their pet topic at a higher niveau than he can, and he’s left feeling dumber, despite probably being of similar intelligence.

    Both Bonald and my husband (and, I suppose, myself) are spread a bit thin, intellectually, what with all our private interests, philosophical/political nature, active family and church life, and so on. Recognizing the rarity of my intellectual flexibilty and variety is what finally helped me get over Imposter Syndrome.

  23. Oh dear. I just finished reading the other comment thread and realized that they’ve already said everything I’m saying, but that they Mansplained it, so it doesn’t sound as dumb as what I wrote.

    Le sigh.

    At any rate, Bonald, I don’t know if you’ve ever had a formal IQ test, but you’re definitely significantly smarter than I am (my internal nerd-dar is inerrant) and I’m over 140 now.

  24. This comment is to declare that leaving six comments in a row is so less creepy than leaving five.

  25. Hi Alte,

    I suspect you and I are similar in that we both reject our cultures’ implicit IQ-olotry in theory, but we can’t seem to help comparing ourselves (and our children) cognitively to those around us. When we argue about intelligence, we’re really arguing with ourselves.

    You’re right that what I’m really talking about in this post is perceived intelligence. An even better way of describing it would be “recognition of cognitive limits”, which I think someone is more likely to have if they’re not the smartest one of their set.

    Beware trying to guess my IQ. One of the ideas that’s been thrown around here is that a person can punch above his weight on a few topics where he’s knowledgeable and interested. On my blog, I get to control the topics of discussion and keep them in my comfort zone. (I’ve never taken an IQ test, by the way, so I can’t tell you whether you’re right or not. Did you have to take the test for work or something, or did you just do it for fun?)

  26. Michael Paterson-Seymour,
    We have sound Theological reasons to “believe that the same experiment, conducted under the same conditions will yield the same result. ” . See writings of Fr Jaki,.

    But there exist no theological reason to believe that Earth is NOT the centre of the universe.

  27. Bonald,
    Hawking is NOT talking about very, very large scales. He is simply saying that there is no scientific reason to believe in the non-specialness of Earth’s position in the universe.

    It is not about cosmological horizon but the question whether the cosmic red shift is perhaps peculiar to Earth only.

    Where is the reason to believe that we would see cosmic red shift and microwave background radiation from Alpha Centuri?

  28. “Did you have to take the test for work or something, or did you just do it for fun?”

    I had to take it twice at school, for entry into the TAG program (the entire grade took it), and once for my kids’ psychological diagnosis. My PSAT and etc. scores matched my IQ score.

    My children and I have been tested and tested and tested, but my husband has never been tested and presumes that the scores must be meaningless and that his own is probably average. He has a master’s degree in electrical engineering, and is very talented in the arts and sports, so I’m not sure why he thinks that, other than the prejudice that people with high IQs are all elite freaks of nature. A 130 is only the 98th percentile, after all. Such people are relatively common and spread throughout the social classes. But he spends all of his time around people driving Porsches, with multiple doctor titles in maths, so he feels like a poor idiot most of the time. His perception, like yours, is heavily skewed.

    The children and I aren’t recognizably intelligent. If anything, we come off rather dense because of an auditory disorder that occasionally results in us looking blank and confused when given verbal instructions. That’s why I dropped out of college; I can’t follow lectures. I’m the chick the guy in the other thread talks down to at the customer service desk.

    I’m a notorious “ditz” and when they started pulling kids out of class for TAG, some of the other kids were like, “Ha ha! Is this some sort of a joke?” It’s the same with my children’s scores. The schools keep trying to shove them out into special ed, but they aren’t allowed to do that to recognized geniuses, so the teachers just whine and simmer. This is why I love IQ tests, but this is also why I’m wary of other people’s impression of intelligence.

    My own husband intitially assumed I wasn’t very bright, but instinct took over. It’s rare for someone to marry a person more than 20 points away on the scale. Similar intelligence levels are a major part of where that “romantic connection” comes from.

    As for you… I think you’d be surprised. There’s something so mystic and creative about your writing.

  29. That’s the difference, you know. People think that a phycisist with a 140 IQ is the same as a physicist with 120 IQ, except that he’s even better at maths and physics. The difference, as you go up the scale past 130, is more a qualitative one. The passion, the visualizations, the intuition and creativity… that sort of thing. You don’t end up with a computer that’s just slightly faster, you end up with a whole new sort of machine.

    As for me, I find people generally easy to instruct or explain things to. On the rare occasion that it’s difficult, I see it as a challenge for me own abilities. I use a lot of analogies, visuals, and parables, like Jesus did. Everyone understood Him, as well, and nothing is more complex and mind-boggling than theology.

    But I also just generally like talking to people. Humans are so fascinating. I’m usually underwhelmed by people who think they’re smarter than everyone else.

  30. Because they are boring, in the most tiresome way.

  31. Alte wrote, “A 130 is only the 98th percentile, after all.”

    That cannot be right. I was assessed as part of a volunteer programme at Oxford in the 1960s for those with Firsts. My score of 140 was just above the median.

    What led me to doubt the whole process is that mathematicians and physicists scored much higher than other schools, the winner of the Craven and the Ireland classical scholarships only scored 135 and a Browne Medallist (Greek and Latin verse composition) scored the same as me!.

    This suggests the tests are tests of a particular type of problem-solving and certainly not the kind of intelligence required to master Greek grammar, syntax, accidence and vocabulary, traditionally regarded as the the very acme of scholarship

  32. “One of the ideas that’s been thrown around here is that a person can punch above his weight on a few topics where he’s knowledgeable and interested.”

    Yes, but I’m not easily fooled by that. You write too much from the heart and your opinions are too nuanced. Too many novel ideas and unusual viewpoints.

    Also, that rule would then apply to your day job. You’d be struggling so much at work that you wouldn’t have the intellectual energy to have such a hobby in the evening, especially as the main topics here are not limited to astrophysics. I initially assumed you must be a historian or perhaps a biologist.

  33. MPS,

    I’m not going to debate the statistical facts with you. They are what they are.

    The IQ tests have a ceiling in each section because the tests can’t capture intelligence above that level. You can only get a high score by hitting the ceiling in multiple areas. STEM guys tend to dominate the top scores because they are often gifted in the verbal and the spatial, whereas the humanities majors tend to be more language-heavy. My own background is in computer science, but my top scores are in the verbal sections, and the combination nudges me over 140.

  34. “When we argue about intelligence, we’re really arguing with ourselves.”

    My intelligence hasn’t been the unqualified benefit for me, that it obviously has been for other people. My overactive mind, the visions and nightmares, the depressions and fatigue… and no Porsche to show for my troubles. LOL

    I’m too obsessed with the metaphysical to get really excited about intelligence. It’s an interesting subject, but I’m no fan-girl. Also, nobody treats me like a Smart Girl. A lot of the pleasure of being smart is being thought smart. I’m more like, “God made me smart and all I got was this crummy t-shirt.”

  35. vishmehr24 wrote, “We have sound Theological reasons to “believe that the same experiment, conducted under the same conditions will yield the same result.”

    When theologians discuss such questions as the priority of Mark or the authorship of the Pastorals, then they are speaking as experts in their own field and I respect their opinions accordingly. When they discuss philosophical questions, their reasoning is equally accessible to all and they can claim no special expertise.

    Now, as Bl John Henry Newman observes, “All things in the exterior world are unit and individual, and are nothing else; but the mind not only contemplates those unit realities, as they exist, but has the
    gift, by an act of creation, of bringing before it abstractions and generalizations, which have no existence, no counterpart, out of it.” And again, “Each thing has its own nature and its own history. When the nature and the history of many things are similar, we say that they have the same nature; but there is no such thing as one and the same nature; they are each of them itself, not identical, but like. A law is not a fact, but a notion.” (Grammar of Assent) That “similarity” and “difference” are notions or ideas, no one, I suppose, would deny.

  36. Michael Paterson-Seymour,
    Philosophy is subordinate to theology. See Maritain-introduction to metaphysics. Questions such as “priority of Mark or the authorship of the Pastorals” are not what I called theological.

    Father Jaki remarks that the Bible is very emphatic on the firmness with which God has set the earth forever. There are many meditations on the Eternal Wisdom of God such as Prov 8:26-30
    “When he fixed the heavens firm, I was there,
    when he dre a ring on the durface of the deep,
    when he thickened the clouds above,
    when he fixed fast the springs of the deep,
    when he assigned the sea its boundaries,
    -and the waters will not invade the shore-
    when he laid down the foundations of the earth,
    I was by his side, a master craftsman …

  37. This is for Alte:

    Intelligence is not an unqualified benefit for anyone. For starters (and you might suspect or intuit this already), high IQ comes with its own set of problems and neuroses. In fact, the higher you go on the IQ scale, the more dysfunctional, the more disconnected from normal people many start to be. In the stratospheric reaches most individuals are stunted mutants psychologically, though obviously still “gifted” in a certain sense. In those of a psychopathic bent, higher IQ correlates with “worse” psychopathy.

    The best treatment anyone has given this topic was by a man called Grady M. Towers who wrote an essay called “The Outsiders” (imo beautifully titled) for the magazine of the Prometheus Society. Towers was himself a member of this extremely restrictive group. Here’s the article:

  38. Hi vishmehr24,

    The question of how we can know that the universe is really homogeneous given that we can only see it from one place is a subtle one. Given the observed Hubble flow, one would expect that, even if the Milky Way’s position were somehow special, a distant galaxy would still see galaxies far from it receding with a velocity proportional to distance. One would also expect them to see the CMB. A more interesting question is whether they would see the CMB as being isotropic, like we do. (Actually, we don’t see the CMB as being exactly isotropic. There’s a dipole imprint due to a doppler effect from the Earth’s peculiar velocity. The question then is whether distant galaxies have huge speeds relative to the CMB, or if there is a non-doppler anisotropy.) The Sunyaev-Zel’dovich effect arguably provides indirect evidence that they see an isotropic CMB. There have also been more direct attempts to establish the large-scale homogeneity of the universe. People have tried to do it with galaxy surveys, although I’ve seen a claim that the statistical analysis used was biased toward the expected result. One can get profiles of the universe along single lines using the Lyman alpha forest. The isotropy of the CMB is itself usually taken as evidence of the universe’s homogeneity, although it wouldn’t be if our position is somehow special.

    I once amused myself by trying to see how far I could get assuming that the universe is static but non-homogeneous. One can explain some of cosmology this way, but there’s a lot one doesn’t explain, and it’s hard to get such a universe to stay static.

  39. bonald,
    Thanks for your detailed and considerate reply to what must seem as a persistent questioning.

    Suppose, that Earth or Sun is at the center of the universe. Then, by looking at the observations that have been made, do we get cosmic Hubble flow?

    That is, merely by observing galaxies receding from us, can we immediately conclude that they are receding from each other in the same way, so that a cosmic Hubble flow may be defined with a single parameter?

  40. Thank you for posting that, Luqman.

    I’m not all that smart, but it makes more sense when you see that women show maladjustment at lower scores. That jives with what I’ve seen IRL, with myself and other women. The female mind seems to suffer disproportionally, as you move rightward on the scale.

    The majority of the men with my IQ score are intellectual powerhouses, and I just sort of flit around aimlessly. Clearly thirsting for intellectual stimulation, but too chaotic and easily-distracted to acquire it. I’ve also repeatedly had the absolutely demoralizing experience of working with women substantially less intelligent than I am, but also substantially more productive. Although, thankfully, the men still preferred working with me because I’m more fun and occasionally think up something brilliant. Even a broken clock strikes correctly twice per day, after all, and my mind isn’t restrained by convention (a dubious advantage, if there ever was one LOL).

    I have seen my IQ climb steadily since childhood, and my life is so much more orderly now, but I’m so tarred from my past failures (which were actually successes that I ran away from in a panic) that I’m still too terrified to give it another go. I was burned out at 17. 20 points lower and I would have had a real chance to finish college, at least. I’m quite sure of that.

    I can’t imagine having a score over 150. That must be so terribly lonely. Although, I suppose it would be easier to make social contact as a woman, since we’re in such short supply at the higher end, and men like having wives of similar intelligence. I sometimes think this might be an essential reason why marriage is holding up so well in the UMC: the women are simply more valuable. Most men speak about women as if they were interchangeable, but highly intelligent men seem to be unusually smitten with their wives.

  41. I suppose that’s been the main tangible advantage for me: I was always a big fish in a small romantic pond. I get hit on much less than most women, but the men I’ve dated tended to hang onto me for dear life, once they realize that I get all of their jokes. I never got trapped into that vicious love-em-n-leave-em cycle that plagues the modern dating scene.

    Even if you go thirty points down (which is really, really stretching the limit), men still outnumber women and they’re stuck playing a game of sexual musical chairs. That must be why so many high-IQ men are married to foreigners: that enlarges the pond they’re fishing in.

  42. I also liked how the article mentioned manual labor. I also managed to find some measure of peace as a homemaker, and now as a baker. Academic labor constrains my mind and then I can’t think about what I really want to think about, which always results in periodic meltdowns. When I’m cooking dinner, or folding laundry, or rolling pretzels, then my mental wheels can just turn unhindered. It’s so relaxing that I come home from a nine-hour shift feeling energized.

  43. Although, I don’t know what I would have done differently if I’d had a college degree. People hired me, regardless. I suppose I’d have just postponed marriage another decade, which wouldn’t be so great. But then I would have a college degree and everyone would be impressed because education. Or something like that.

    Back to the original topic:

    I don’t have problems communicating with people, but I do feel alienated from nearly everyone. There’s just this waning gulf between our minds that makes me keenly aware of the fact that they simply don’t think like me. Not that they don’t agree with me, but that their minds just don’t work in the same manner.

    It’s these little odd moments where someone asks me what I’m thinking, and I tell them, and there’s *silence* in reply because they are wondering why I’d ever think such a thing. Or how I see patterns where most people see randomness. Or when I see an entire group of people doing something very inefficiently, without anyone seeming to notice or be bothered by it. Or when I manage to entertain entire groups of people for hours, keeping them in stitches the whole time, and with little effort on my part. Or the intense passion I feel for those essential things most people don’t care about. Or even my ability to turn a steady profit in a poor investing climate. Or the way I sort of wander and stumble to the top of the social heap wherever I go. Or the way I can’t just “relax and be in the moment” unless I’m inebriated; I’m always observing, examining, and cataloging everything.

    Most of the time these things don’t bother me, but sometimes I get struck by a wave of loneliness and I just sink into my husband’s arms and have a good cry.

  44. I suppose I’ve turned this into a monologue again. Sorry, but it’s so rare to have the chance to say that to anyone who would even begin to understand. Extremely therapeutic. The desire to fit in and be normal is hard, and it’s even worse for a woman.

    Just a few weeks ago, I was hanging out at a birthday party and the guys next to us were having a discussion about the booming real estate market. One leaned over and asked why we decided to rent instead if buy and I said that the interest rates were so low that I expect deflation, and that we’d get something nice later on, after the prices have crashed. There was silence all around, and then one of them said, “You think you’re so smart, eh?”

    And that pretty much sums up my life.

  45. I worry all the time about stupid people and the lack of Christian love for them among, well, Christians. It drives the sorts of practical suggestions I make. Most people are average or so and effective change really has to consider that reality.

    I can translate extremely complex concepts into one or two sentences that someone of 85 IQ can understand, but that certainly never made anyone think I was smart.

    A lot of my life has been spent with people telling me I’m mentally retarded or stupid who were demonstrably less bright than I was. So I tend to assume that if I can do calculus easily, it must be convertible into an 85 IQ form since I’m supposedly an 80.

    But apparently if you are bright enough, it looks to average people about the same as 70-80 borderline mild retardation and they will act accordingly.

    Also, midwits (115 or so) can be quite vicious to people a solid 2 SDs beyond them. Because I am super neurotic due to having off the charts IQ as a dame, I had to get married and start popping out kids to really understand how threatening and frightening truly bright women and children can be to some people. Before that point I just assumed I was stupid since people were so certain I was for (holding a view opposite theirs/using large words/being a Christian/summarizing their arguments correctly but tersely/etc/etc/). Which is an immensely feminine error to make.

  46. I am incredibly stupid. I just discovered from old school records of the IQ tests that I am in the low range. I recently took an online IQ test my score was 123, but online tests are often unreliable. I am highly imaginative and I love to read and to study ideas and concepts. I love history and learning from events from the past. I am an artist and I write poetry and I am gifted in the arts, but I am retarded in math and in spelling. I have read that IQ tests are limited on the types of intelligence it covers and eugenics plays a part in the creation of IQ tests; but what do I know? I’m the stupid one. If I could have anything in the world, it would be a higher intelligence. Our society has a structure of elitism, or those who are smart, wealthy and those who are not. It is a heart wrenchingly devastating to be on the bottom of the social order and the only thing keeping me down in my low intelligence, which I have no control over. This makes me want to dig 6 foot hole in the ground and die.

  47. Half of people have below-average intelligence; a sensibly organized society should offer them some dignity.

  48. I’ve been using Lumosity for about two years because it supposedly raises IQ. My last IQ score was 112 when a psychologist tested me. Let’s see whether Lumosity upped it.

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