David K. Every
It seems I've come to this subject (in email) a few times. Even though it makes a rather curious article, I want to try the shotgun approach and just cover aspects of the subject once. The problem is that this subject has to wander on many levels to make a cohesive, but not completely coherent, whole. Read it all, and think of how it interrelates -- and hopefully I won't come across too arrogant or confused.
Genius is Insanity
What is sanity? Sanity basically means, "being reasonable" and "normal". Even though the "normal" is not stated in the definition, it will always be judged by the masses -- and so it really means "in accordance with how the majority think".
Do you notice any conflict between these two definitions? If you are twice as "smart" as the average person, then what are the chances that you will think and perceive things the same as the "average"? The answer is, "not bloody likely". The abnormality of your I.Q. also equates to an abnormality in the way you think, and often in the conclusions at which you will arrive. The masses are amazingly irrational and illogical, and to a genius THEY are insane (irrational). So when people say that genius is close to insanity, they are wrong -- by definition, genius almost IS insanity (an abnormality in the ways of thinking, and in conclusions and behaviors).
What is I.Q.?
I.Q. means "Intelligence Quotient", and is a measure of deductive reasoning, as defined by many intellectuals and how they perceive reasoning should be. Hmmm... what if you aren't an intellectual, or don't think the way they do? Chances are you won't be rated too highly. I.Q. is a test, with all the flaws inherent to testing. It is a test created by one group, often to test another group. It works OK if you are in the middle of the bell-curve, or slightly above normal (where most of the test creators are), but if you fall too close to either end of the curve, the test writers can't handle things and just don't understand the perspectives -- so the tests become far less valuable.
I took an I.Q. test as a kid that asked "which of these objects doesn't belong?", and it had pictures of objects on it, like; shirt, shoes, socks, belt and scarf. The correct answer was something like scarf, since that was supposed to be an accessory, though what makes a belt or shoes not an accessory is beyond me. I got it wrong because my answer was belt, since it didn't start with the letter 'S'. Now I'm sure that point didn't flash across the test creators minds -- which is my point. They didn't get it. The test had an error because their logic was likely worse (or at least different) than the test subject's logic. They were testing my understanding of fashion, and I was looking at English structure or letter ordering.
The point is that a test can only test for one small subsection of thinking (logic), and only to a point, so you can't take it too seriously. It has nothing to do with intelligence -- just logical problem solving, and measuring how much you think like the testers. Contrary to what many think, you can learn to test higher (or lower) on I.Q. depending on your goals in life, and where you are in life and what things you have taught yourself to value.
The brain is a trainable organ (wetware). You can alter the chemistry of your brain (long or short term), and you can alter the neural pathways -- which are the ways in which we think. People CAN make themselves insane, or bring themselves back to sanity, both through drugs and through training thought behaviors. People can change, most just won't spend the energy. Don't ever forget that... you are in control of your reality. You are what you do, and what you believe -- and you can change both. So if you don't value silly tests or adapting to ways that testers think, then you will probably score lower on I.Q.
So what is the point of I.Q.?
Almost nothing. It is a way for the narrow minded people to railroad others into little groups and categories. But as far as I've been able to tell, this grouping has little if any value in real life. Some of the most successful people that I've known are not even close to the most logical. I'd consider some people far smarter than me, even when those people have a lower I.Q. than I do. I can't find any real value to I.Q., other than to give parents and kids pressures as to where they fit in society -- and then to stress them out if they place too much value on that "grouping".
Now all that isn't because the test has no value -- it does. You can learn how you think, chuckle, have fun. But the problems are in the people that interpret the results of these tests. They take them way too seriously, as do the testee's, and everyone get concerned over something that has almost no value at all.
It is like "statistics don't lie" -- which if done perfectly is true -- but in reality, the statistics and interpretation seldom tell the truth easily, and are used to support lies. So the test isn't bad of itself, it is just the people that use them to make assumptions that are usually wrong.
This point of view annoys people with a vested interest in the tests -- especially if they belong to a group like Mensa (which requires an I.Q. of 132 or above). The irony is that since I outscore most of them (1), I just point out that if they do value the test results, then they have to value my superior intellect and realize that the tests are bogus. If they don't value the tests, or my scores (and "superior intellect"), then they prove my point. Usually, they just walk away in disgust.
(1) I've scored above 180, which puts me at genius, but I average about 168 and have scored as low as 145 (but I don't stress that). I.Q. can change as you age, and mine, like most, has been dropping -- not because I'm getting dumber, but because I'm learning more balance. Even so, I usually score in the top .1% (or one in one thousand). What is good for humility is to remember that (according to tests and statistics) there are at least six million people in the world that are smarter than I -- if I believed that I.Q. was actually a measurement of "smart'. Personally I just don't think I.Q. is the right measure of "smart" -- most of my "smarts" come from things other than I.Q. -- though logic helps. <smile>
So the point of I.Q. is nothing. Logic and success are not vaguely related. Logic and how good a human being you will be are also not related. Logic and social skills may be inversely related, or the results of the test may be tied to arrogance. Logic and art are not related, and may be somewhat conflicting. And worst of all, people (parents and kids) think that I.Q. has some practicality in life, and are harmed emotionally by the results of these tests. This is just a cute little tests that measure how you problem solve, and may have a minute value in figuring out if you are logical, and that's about it.
What I learned from I.Q.
I have an idea -- let's take someone who already solves problems so measurably differently (logically), that they are considered 1.8 times the norm (roughly what a 180 I.Q. means). They are probably rated as "smart" in school, or "braino / nerd". Now let's take that same person, give him a superiority complex, stuff them in special schools where they accentuate their differences, and see what the outcomes will be in their social skills. Chances are those poor bastards will come out completely asocial, shunned by society, arrogant, and they will measure their entire self-worth in their intellect. Sad? I think so.
The trick to being a "genius" is to "not be so smart." Stop thinking different, and start pretending that you think the same (ironic, isn't it) -- then at least you can dupe the masses into accepting you, and tolerating your differences. The alternative is what I call the "law of the hen house" (2).
(2) In a hen house (chicken coop), chickens will see any "difference" from the norm as a "bad" thing. So any weakness or uniqueness is often responded to by a gang attack. Normal chickens will not stop until the "deformed" are killed, and genetic normalcy is safeguarded. Humans are not so different. One only has to look at how we treat those who are different in race, culture, gender, political views, religion and so on, to see the law of the hen house in human culture. "Burn the Witches", "Find the Commies", "Punish the [favorite vice here]" or "Ick, you use the Crapintosh?". It is all the same thing.
So the difference between the Albert Einstein's, Seymour Cray's and possibly even Pablo Picassos of the world, and all the other more normal appearing people (at the same end of the bell curve), has strictly to do with their motives and desires. Some people have learned to fake (3) being normal well enough that they can fit into society and be accepted, and reap the rewards -- while others have a contempt for society (because of how it has treated them) or a complete disregard for it, and so they ignore the "stupid" rules of human social interactions, and are seen as eccentric or insane. Which do you want for your child? If my child tested abnormally high, I would do everything I could to keep him with his peers --which means the rest of society, not just the "gifted".
(3) By the way, those that "fake" being normal, will actually become more normal. Because we are what we do -- or as some say, "Fake it 'till you make it". By doing something, you become that something (to a point). If you behave like a good person, you ARE a good person. If you behave like a crook (steal or cheat), then you ARE a crook. So you are your actions. As such, if you act like a normal person, and can interact with them, then you become one too -- which is far better for yourself and society. Or the alternative is the chicken-coop.
I'm not saying that one should sellout what they are. They should just be what they are (act as the what they want to be). If they want to be an insufferable, arrogant, self-righteous, outcast -- then that is what they will be. If they want to be part of society, then they are going to have to "lower themselves" to come down into the mire with the rest of us, and not pretend that they are above it. This means to stop pretending that "high I.Q." means "better", because if we are unlucky, those that have it, may actually believe it means something, and really screw up their lives. Instead we need to make sure that people realize that while it can be a nice tool in life, like good looks or being born into money (or having a well connected family) -- but it is only one minute variable in the complex formula that makes up human beings.
E.Q., A.Q., and so on...
As if we haven't done enough harm with testing (and over valuing the results), now we are trying to add more. We have emotional quotients and others. Some seem to be as related to reality (4), as I.Q. is to intelligence.
(4) Of course societies view of success, and an individuals, may vary dramatically. I've known many people who were not very wealthy, yet amazingly rich -- but society is often too shallow to see it. There are many other people that seem amazingly wealthy, but are not happy, balanced, nor successful (by my measures) -- yet society can't see beyond the wealth. <sigh>
Even if E.Q. turns out to be a perfect indicator of how financially "successful" someone is going to be (and we know how unlikely that is), I'm not sure that has much value. It certainly won't mean they will be happy people, or that they will lead good lives. I suspect that financial wealth is partly a measurement of chance, wisely choosing your parents, connections, imbalance, or deep rooted insecurities (that cause a drive to the detriment of many other things in life) -- but that's just me.
So let's all keep in mind that these tests are cute, and have very narrow value. Let's not vest too much interest in their results, and not buy into the rat-race. We are not rats. Genius is over rated, as is I.Q., and most pigeon holes people are trying to stuff us in. Don't accept pigeonholes for you or your children -- even when they seem positive. Keep an open mind, and keep on learning. Certainly don't agree to rate yourself as other naively rate you -- you can become far more (or far less) than others think you can -- that has been proven by many individuals throughout history. The choice is yours.