February 5, 2007

"Are there drawbacks to being so smart?"

"It's easy to get bored with routine and hard to extract gratification from normal conversation, at least with most members of the bar crowd."

An interview with Christopher Langan, who's worked for years as a bar bouncer and has an IQ of 195. (PDF, via Metafilter.)

Are there lots of really intelligent people who are only marginally employed? Or do you think that if they are, they probably have mental problems? Perhaps they're only bored will all the things that everyone else finds interesting, and they are disabled from living in the world as all the ordinary people have arranged it.

70 comments:

reality check said...

It's a real pain.

Mike said...

"Are there drawbacks to being so smart?"

How would I know?

TMink said...

There is smart and then there is smart. I would think a person with a 195 IQ who is smart would find a way to get in interesting conversations. Cause they are smart like that.

Trey

HaloJonesFan said...

It would be interesting to see what Jerry Pournelle thinks of this guy. According to Pournelle IQ tests are infallible, IQ is a perfect descriptor of intellectual ability, and American students should be segregated into different scholastic tracks based on IQ (as in "smart people go to college, dumb people go to plumber school".)

Pournelle insists that this will not lead to a caste-based society.

Pournelle also insists that race correlates with IQ to a non-trivial degree--as in, black people really are not as smart as white people. He quotes Charles Murray extensively.

Pogo said...

Being smart doesn't much increase your chances of acquiring happiness, riches, power, or status. It's utility is more for society as a whole rather than individually, I would wager.

It's a bit like Flowers for Algernon.

Fritz said...

Our prisons are full of intelligent people. Smarts are developed by environment.

The Mechanical Eye said...

An interview with Christopher Langan, who's worked for years as a bar bouncer and has an IQ of 195.

That's a pretty high IQ. I wonder if he majored in philosophy in NYU.

Ann said...

Many years ago I had an assignment for a small newspaper I worked for to interview a group of Mensa members. I was surprised to find that each of them had what I considered a less than intellectually challenging jobs. I asked if they felt an obligation to society to contribute by having different types of jobs. To a person they believed they had no obligation due to their high IQ. They had a somewhat detached view of their role to society. It was interesting.

Christy said...

I'm with Stephen Jay Gould in that IQ is The Mismeasure of Man. However, if one takes it seriously, it seems to me that a 195 IQ means that that the average gifted person of, say 140, is to him as a mildly challenged person (50) is to the average person.

I don't know that I know anyone with an IQ that high, and I've hung out with some world class scientists. I suspect that if one is that smart, the first rule is to not let anyone know.

4:52 Ann, I'd suspect that the reason they joined the group was because they weren't in challenging jobs with other smart people around them.

Katie said...

It's a real drawback. I know a number of 190+ people, and pretty much all of us have had some serious psychiatric issue at some point.

It's also pretty nifty, of course, but it can be really frustrating.

Bissage said...

IIRC, there was an old New Yorker cartoon (by Weber or Saxon or somebody like that) of a father counseling his son (about 10 years old) and the caption read something like: "Son, it’s not enough to be a genius. You have to be a genius at something."

Mortimer Brezny said...

I would think a person with a 195 IQ who is smart would find a way to get in interesting conversations.

Uh, he IS a bouncer...

Mortimer Brezny said...

Apparently, he is too dumb to spell "financial analyst". Those people are really smart and talk about math all day and would love a 195 working for them. He could get a free doctorate in math and then teach when he decided to leave. What an idiot.

P. Froward said...

When somebody tries to tell me what his IQ is, I figure he's an idiot regardless of the number. Yet when I really get to know folks like that and see them in action, I always seem to end up changing my mind and thinking "wow, I was wrong -- this guy's even worse than I thought".

If a test score is the best thing you've got to brag about... make the most of it, I guess.


HaloJonesFan,

I'm sorry to hear Pournelle's an idiot. But not too surprised, having waded through stretches of his column and attempted a couple of his (solo) novels. Niven doesn't agree with him, I hope? Then again, Niven hasn't written anything decent in twenty years, so who cares anyway? Hmm: Now that I think of it, that last hurrah 20 years ago was a collaboration with Pournelle -- and, um... Steven Barnes. Make of that what you will; personally, I'm grinning.

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mortimer Brezny said...

So ... arrogant Brits?

bill said...

From Broadcast News:

Paul Moore: It must be nice to always believe you know better, to always think you're the smartest person in the room.

Jane Craig: No. It's awful.

Revenant said...

Inability to focus and deal with the petty necessities of everyday life is a problem that plagues people throughout the range of IQs. Smart people just have the advantage of being able to scrape by on their wits. A dumb person with those personality problems usually just becomes a bum or a criminal instead.

mcg said...

halojonesfan: Pournelle also insists that race correlates with IQ to a non-trivial degree--as in, black people really are not as smart as white people.

Well, is it true, or not?

I know you simply intended this comment to disparage Mr. Pournelle---perhaps taking advantage of people's confusion, or even your own, between correlation and causation. And he might very well merit being labeled as a nutball.

But the question of whether race is correlated with IQ is a yes or no question. And if the answer is yes, then it is hardly an insult to say that someone believes it.

HaloJonesFan said...

The problem with arguing statistics of that sort--that is, IQ averages categorized by race--is that there's an inherent conclusion implied from such an action--that IQ is determined by race. Why not measure the correlation of IQ to single-parent households, or family income, or diet? No, Pournelle and Murray tell us that race is the important thing.

The Emperor said...

According to Wikipedia, he is a fellow at "a think tank of the intelligent design movement." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Michael_Langan

I demand a recount.

mcg said...

The problem with arguing statistics of that sort--that is, IQ averages categorized by race--is that there's an inherent conclusion implied from such an action--that IQ is determined by race.

Only if you don't understand statistics. You said correlation before, not causation, which is what you're saying here.

Why not measure the correlation of IQ to single-parent households, or family income, or diet?

I think those would be interesting studies, and I'll bet some of them have been done. But I should point out that those are all characteristics that are somewhat changable, which means that the further push to determine causation is worthwhile. For example, if diet is correlated with IQ, then we should immediately press on to look for causation, because we can do something about diet. Not so with an immutable, heritable trait like race or gender.

But my difficulty with your tone, here, is that somehow you're suggesting that a certain line of inquiry shouldn't even be pursued because of the potential that its results might be overinterpreted and misused.

No, Pournelle and Murray tell us that race is the important thing.

Well, I'm just not seeing that---that it's somehow the "important" thing. Granted, I cannot claim to know Jerry Pournelle's full opinion on this matter, because his views are new to me. But in my brief Googling after your post, I'm not seeing any suggestion that a particular race ought not reproduce because it is correlated to a lower IQ.

What I do see is the view that, if IQ and race are correlated, then we should neither expect nor enforce numerically precise racial equality in arenas where IQ is a controlling factor.

Well, to be frank, that proposition sounds reasonable to me if the numbers back it up. The people who would require otherwise---that would set quotas along racial lines, capabilities be damned---are the ones making race "the important thing". People who are unwilling to ask difficult questions about race, depsite the potential for those answers to better inform our goals for equal opportunity, are the ones making race "the important thing."

DBrooks said...

One part of the success equation is the quality of industry. Individuals who have unusually high IQs might have found it easy to coast by on their smarts rather than being required to study, work hard, and apply their intellectual gift. In addition to a higher incidence of psychological struggles in people with really high IQs, early academic success that wasn't built on the fundamentals of hard work, time management, and organization isn't really a building block for adult accomplishments. In many occupational applications, those of "average" intelligence who work hard are preferable to someone of superior intellect who never really learned to meet minimal work requirements.

mcg said...

Oh, and as for Charles Murray, all I've read of his is his recent series in Opinion Journal. And nowhere there do I see any sort of suggestion that race is "the important thing." In that series he put forth an argument for a formal recognition of differences in innate intelligence between individuals (not races, at least here) in our education efforts: e.g., aggressive classical education for gifted children, an increase in emphasis on vocational schools, etc.

mcg said...

(BTW, I didn't realize until just now that Mr. Murray was the author of the infamous book The Bell Curve... ah, no wonder his name was tossed in so readily...)

Icepick said...

The problem with arguing statistics of that sort--that is, IQ averages categorized by race--is that there's an inherent conclusion implied from such an action--that IQ is determined by race.

Only to an ignorant fool who does not understand how statistical correlations, distributions, or deviations work. The fact that you don't understand that what you are saying is not at all what Pournelle or Murray have said is a testament to your lackings, not theirs.

Blog Commenter Type: Aggressive/Evil

Faeless said...

Honestly, he sounds like a con artist .

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Michael_Langan

Revenant said...

Why not measure the correlation of IQ to single-parent households, or family income, or diet? No, Pournelle and Murray tell us that race is the important thing.

IQ does correlate to single-parent households, and family income, and diet... and race, independently of marital status, income, or diet, or any other control.

It is hardly shocking for genetically isolated populations subjected to different selective forces to evolve different genetic traits from one another. It would be shocking if it hadn't happened, really. It isn't that skin color X causes IQ Y, its that different populations of people share different sets of genes.

Jeff said...

"Are there lots of really intelligent people who are only marginally employed?"

The key here is that not all people socialized for success. I've worked in my share of blue collar and service industry jobs as well as white collar office jobs. Many of my white collar colleagues were utter mediocraties, while many of my food service coworkers were wonderfully intelligent. And educated. The key word is underachiever.

A 30 year-old waiter with a BFA and no idea what to do with it is extremely common. The problem is that said waiter got caught in the easy money of food service while in college, had no ready job prospects upon graduation, and woke up to find he was too old for an internship or entry-level job and was used to the adult lifestyle that he's been enjoying for several years. Next thing, he's a 40 year-old waiter who is well read, well traveled, well socialized, and utterly unsuited for academia or coporate life.

"Or do you think that if they are, they probably have mental problems? "

It's called insecurity or low self-esteem. This comment reminds me of an incident when I was a bartender in college. The restaurant that I worked at often hosted family dinners for recent Ivy League college grads. A waitress who was a struggling artist came to me after serving just such a family. She was angry because of something the father at the table had said. His daughter was celbrating her graduation with a BA or soome such and was talking about grad school. The waitress chatted about grad school issues and mentioned how much she had loved getting her MFA. As she walked away she heard the dad say, "That is so sad!".

Atticus said...

When somebody tries to tell me what his IQ is, I figure he's an idiot regardless of the number. Yet when I really get to know folks like that and see them in action, I always seem to end up changing my mind and thinking "wow, I was wrong -- this guy's even worse than I thought".

This made me laugh! I gave a quiz to a co-worker one day and he warned me that he had an IQ of whatever--something that should have made me feel unworthy, I guess. Knowing that his interests lay outside the topic of the quiz and that my interests lay solidly inside that topic, I wasn't surprised to do better than he did. I think that most people are pretty darned smart at something--I don't meet very many truly stupid people. The thing is that not very many people are smart in multiple areas. The smartest people I know are the least likely to TELL me how smart they are. Probably because they got smart by recognizing what other people were smart at, and then listening to those people.

ASX said...

Ann asked, "Are there lots of really intelligent people who are only marginally employed?"

It is a well known fact that IQ is distributed equally across socio-economic classes. This is as well understood a concept as any in the field of education. I'm simply amazed anyone could think that most smart people have good jobs. It shows a fundamental failure to understand how our society works, how people move between social classes, the nature of opportunity. It's simply stunning that the question is even asked.

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mcg said...

Jeff: It's called insecurity or low self-esteem.

Now that would be an interesting discussion in and of itself.

This is not meant to contradict what you are saying! In fact I think it reinforces it, because one of the arguments of that article is that self-esteem blossoms from achievement, not the other way around.

Pat said...

This reminds me of one of the old running gags in the Dilbert comic strip in the mid-90s. Dilbert's garbage man was the smartest man in the world and no one understood why but him, but no one could argue with that logic.

Maxine Weiss said...

The Highly Intelligent

-vs-

Effective Communicators

---and bored people don't communicate well, do they?

" A connected world places an enormous premium on people who are fluent in communications: expressing ideas, positioning offers, inferring power relationships, decoding nuances, deflecting the manipulations of others."
http://geoffmoore.blogs.com/my_weblog/2007/01/dateline_davos_.html

AllenS said...

I'm really happy for the smart bouncer. At least he doesn't have to worry about ending up in Iraq.

Maxine Weiss said...

Matthew Crawford:

"Following graduate school in Chicago, I took a job in a Washington, D.C. think tank. I hated it, so I left and opened a motorcycle repair shop in Richmond. When I would come home from work, my wife would sniff at me and say “carbs” or “brakes,” corresponding to the various solvents used. Leaving a sensible trace, my day was at least imaginable to her. But while the filth and odors were apparent, the amount of head-scratching I’d done since breakfast was not. Mike Rose writes that in the practice of surgery, “dichotomies such as concrete versus abstract and technique versus reflection break down in practice. The surgeon’s judgment is simultaneously technical and deliberative, and that mix is the source of its power.” This could be said of any manual skill that is diagnostic, including motorcycle repair."
(...and bouncer)

http://www.thenewatlantis.com/archive/13/crawford.htm

----

Maxine Weiss said...

The New Atlantis: http://www.thenewatlantis.com/archive/13/crawford.htm

"the Wall Street Journal recently wondered whether “skilled [manual] labor is becoming one of the few sure paths to a good living.” This possibility was brought to light for many by the bestseller The Millionaire Next Door, which revealed that the typical millionaire is the guy driving a pickup, with his own business in the trades. My real concern here is not with the economics of skilled manual work, but rather with its intrinsic satisfactions. I mention these economic rumors only to raise a suspicion against the widespread prejudice that such work is somehow not viable as a livelihood."

(...and especially when you've got elitists calling these trades people "marginally employed")

Peace, Maxine

Annie said...

Really high intelligence goes with trouble, particularly in school. Someone like that needs to find something to be obsessed with or else might continue to be in trouble, rebelling against the codified stupidity that most of us are content to agree on or at least able to tolerate.

Sloanasaurus said...

Next thing, he's a 40 year-old waiter who is well read, well traveled, well socialized, and utterly unsuited for academia or coporate life.

Ahh, how true! I also wanted to get into "the business" at age 20. Fortunately I realized early on that I had no talent (we all need a Simon Cowell in our lives).

My problem with the under-achiever worldly waiter is that most of them now expect people like me (who took boring jobs as accountants) to pay for their lavish health care and retirement benefits. What a rip.

If you are an under-achiever, you should reap the returns that under-achievement brings, so that the next generation leans that being an under achiever is a stupid path to take.

Wade_Garrett said...

If I had to guess, I would say that part of the explanation is the fear of failure. When somebody that intelligent knows they're that intelligent, then how could you ever live up to your goals? You would probably feel like a failure if you did not immediately rise to the top of your profession. Incredibly talented athletes are often accused failing to live up to their potential. Some of the most talented players, such as for example Darryl Strawberry, never worked as hard as they needed to in order to excel in the long term. What a lot of sports psychologists say about these players is that, being aware of their natural gifts, they fear that if they work hard and fail to dominate their competition, they will not be able to live with the thoughts of what might have been. If they choose less ambitious goals, they can achieve them while justifying their relative lack of success by telling themselves that, if they had only applied themselves, they would have achieved more.

Let's say somebody with an IQ of 195 goes to medical school, or pursues a PhD in mathematics. Those are difficult career tracks, in which you need not only intelligence, but also discipline and patience, financial and family support, and perhaps a couple of breaks along the way. If 195 IQ fails to get into their first-choice school, or their first-choice residency, they migght feel like a failure for failing to make the most of their gifts.

Bruce Hayden said...

It is a well known fact that IQ is distributed equally across socio-economic classes. This is as well understood a concept as any in the field of education. I'm simply amazed anyone could think that most smart people have good jobs. It shows a fundamental failure to understand how our society works, how people move between social classes, the nature of opportunity. It's simply stunning that the question is even asked.

I would be quite interested in cites for the basis for these claims for universal knowledge. Pretty much all of them are directly contradicted by Murray in his infamous "Bell Curve" and most everything that he has written since then. Not that he has anything approaching the last word in anything, but he does cite a lot of sources for what he says, and that in itself contradicts your point of universal acceptance of your theory (i.e. the sources may be wrong, but that they are out there indicates that your theories are nowhere nearly as universally acceptedd as you suggest).

The big reason that his "Bell Curve" became radioactive was in his pointing out that mean IQ scores differ between races, with those for Blacks being almost a standard deviation below the population norm, and about that much above for Jews (not really a race, but...) (and these are by memory as I haven't reread the book in a couple of years).

But more interesting, and somewhat tied to his recent WSJ articles, is that while your "facts" may have been accurate before WWII, they are nowhere near accurate today, esp. since the Baby Boomers went to college. Up through the early part of the 20th Century, college education was primarily a class and money issue, with IQ having little to do with it. But the GI Bill gave a huge number of men college educations who would never have gotten them otherwise, and by the 1980s at least, if you were smart enough, you could find financing for your college education. And, as a result, there has been a significantly strengthening of the correlation between IQ and education level since at least the 1970s, with the mean IQ of adults with just a HS diploma a bit under the population mean, a bachelor's degree a little above, and the mean for those with doctorate degrees of almost any type except for education about a standard deviation above the population mean.

Compounding this is that the best paying and most interesting jobs overall are going to those with the best education, which reinforces this.

The reason that the best paying jobs require the most education is primarily, IMHO, the greater education implies greater IQ, and that in turn a greater ability to solve certain types of problems. The problem is that IQ correlates highly with ability to solve complex problems (or, maybe that is what IQ really is). And as society, our economy, and our technology get more and more complex, this ability becomes every more important, and, therefore, is rewarded more.

reader_iam said...

If the human brain were so simple that we could understand it, we would be so simple that we couldn't.
~Emerson M. Pugh

vh: wtpukhqe

Seven Machos said...

I guess I should come out right now and remind everyone that the whole concept of a number that says how smart you are is utterly and completely bogus. IQ is crap.

Are some people smarter than others? Sure. Is some art better than other art? Sure. Can either be quantified? Absolutely not.

Bruce Hayden said...

I have had experience with a lot of fairly bright people in my jobs first as a software designer, and then later as a patent attorney. In corporate patent practice, I typically dealt with the best and brightest in these high tech companies, most often having at least one PhD on each inventorship team.

One of the brightest though I have met was my bridge partner in college. College was, well, boring. Somewhat for me, and a lot I think for him, which is why we found ourselves playing tournament bridge twice a week throughout my senior year. Plus, of course, we played informally every day.

I was not surprised when he didn't graduate with the rest of us. Indeed, it took him another decade or so, and he ultimately got an advanced degree or so. He was clearly bored silly by his classes. And couldn't be bothered with all the busy work that passing them required.

One big problem with being quite a smarter than those you are going to school with is that the pace is invariably much too slow, and what they require to learn, such as homework, is mere busy work to the smarter ones. Going to school is not an intellectual challenge, but rather closer to working on an assembly line - mindless boredom.

Let me add though that everything is relative, and there are schools out there that can truly challenge the very brightest. But if you aren't challenged enough in HS to get the credentials to get into one of these schools, you are likely to end up in one that is less challenging, and, thus, more boring. Add to this that being a lot smarter than your peers in school lets you slide, which typically results in inferior study habits. The bigger the disparity, often the worse the problem.

So, if bartending and brain surgery are equally boring, then why not tend bar?

Bruce Hayden said...

Seven Machos

I think that it depends on whether you accept that IQ is a measure of intelligence, because whatever is being tested (Q?) is being quantified. And the tests have fairly good reproducability.

My guess is that you are using "intelligence" in a broader way than that used for IQ testing. Which is fine.

I think that we all have talents and weaknesses. I, for one, have little physical dexterity, nor am I even tolerable in the visual arts. My musical ability is only a bit higher (probably more a tactile and dexterity problem than anything). My "tactile intelligence" is quite low. But I do quite well on almost all standardized tests, including IQ tests. And I was an extremly good software engineer. But I would have been a horid poet, artist, or athelete, and barely tolerable as an author or musician. I would never have been able to make a living at any of those occupations.

And we are all a mixture of different skills and ability - good at some, worse at others. So, if you try to come up with a metric for our conglomerate skills and weaknesses, you can't.

But if you define intelligence as a certain type of problem solving, finding a metric is obviously possible, it has been done, and is, as I noted, quite reproducable.

Seven Machos said...

Bruce -- That's all fine and I respect it. Really, I do. But you put the problem succinctly in the last paragraph: you define intelligence as problem-solving.

That's not a good definition and our best and brightest problem-solvers are not very often our best and brightest.

skinny size me please :-) said...

I think that these 2 commentators are spot on:

One part of the success equation is the quality of industry. Individuals who have unusually high IQs might have found it easy to coast by on their smarts rather than being required to study, work hard, and apply their intellectual gift. In addition to a higher incidence of psychological struggles in people with really high IQs, early academic success that wasn't built on the fundamentals of hard work, time management, and organization isn't really a building block for adult accomplishments. In many occupational applications, those of "average" intelligence who work hard are preferable to someone of superior intellect who never really learned to meet minimal work requirements.

and
part of the explanation is the fear of failure. When somebody that intelligent knows they're that intelligent, then how could you ever live up to your goals? You would probably feel like a failure if you did not immediately rise to the top of your profession. Incredibly talented athletes are often accused failing to live up to their potential. Some of the most talented players, such as for example Darryl Strawberry, never worked as hard as they needed to in order to excel in the long term. What a lot of sports psychologists say about these players is that, being aware of their natural gifts, they fear that if they work hard and fail to dominate their competition, they will not be able to live with the thoughts of what might have been. If they choose less ambitious goals, they can achieve them while justifying their relative lack of success by telling themselves that, if they had only applied themselves, they would have achieved more.

So true. My experience has been that when you can do things twice as fast as others, you end up expecting nothing less than 100% as a minimum, all the time. This leads to unrealistic expectations of constant perfectionism, a fear of taking risks. The easiest way to have control is not to try.

Also - if you have too many options, you waste time deciding. Being very intelligent is like operating with different maps of an area. IQ of 100 gives you the road and basic directions - higher IQ maps every tree - and gives you too much info to process easily.

The pressure of "you can do anything you want" is huge - as the onus goes on to excel at everything.

And my IQ tests only around the 145-150 mark so I feel not very clever when compared to friends who excel in Maths (although I'm better across a range of things).

hdhouse said...

I am reminded of Prarie Home Companion where all the women are beautiful and all the men are above average.

An IQ of 195 has a huge potential margin of error. First of all since IQ has a divisor of chronological age there may not be enough data in that deviation from norm to even remotely come up with such a score.

Second, "what are the odds" and that is meant sincerely. In a country of 300 million a 195 sticks out like a sore thumb.

The obvious here is that he is just glib, takes an occasional online test under uncontrolled conditions, adds 50 just for fun and hits on girls as another will hunting.

Bissage said...

Even as I jab at the keyboard to type these words, some clever person out there is crafting an argument for the good faith extension of Kelo, and I’m here to help.

Christopher Langan possesses an extraordinary I.Q. and it is wrong, wrong, wrong that he should be so selfish as to keep it all to himself. The government should condemn that high revving portion of his brain and tranfer title to someone offically certified as sufficiently industrious. Of course, the government will pay fair compensation. And until the new brain is installed, Mr. Langan can walk around wearing one of these spiffy Spock hats.

And the world will be a better place.

Pogo said...

The problem I have with IQ tests is how they seem unable to measure common sense.

Some of the smartest people I know do the stupidest things, and believe the most ridiculous concepts despite overwhelming contradictory evidence.

For example, socialism has been an abject failure wherever it's been tried, under whatever guise. It has never ever succeeded. But time and again it is tried, experience be damned.

Or as George Orwell put it, "There are some ideas that are so preposterous that only an intellectual would believe them."

Oligonicella said...

It's interesting to note that no one's mentioned that some folk with a high IQ just might have different life goals that don't require corporate infiltration or academia.

Who in hell says that's the way to measure success?

miked0268 said...

I just noticed that this point is related to the previous comment - I wonder if some part of this phenomenon is that those with extremely high IQ's tend to be a little less financially ambitious than most? Super high IQ types tend to be a bit self-contained; they can entertain themselves reading library books, and don't typically have much interest in having a big house and a boat. They may feel it isn't worth the effort to make alot of money.

Pogo said...

"Who in hell says that's the way to measure success?"

Thomas Merton was pretty smart. He chucked the corpoarate and bohemian road and became a monk. But he contributed greatly to society.

If the 195 IQ bartender does nothing for the rest of society but tend bar, well, that's a waste of talent, I think. A waste for him and us. It's not the lack of ambition for monetary success that chafes, but the lack of ambition to be anything at all. It's like owning an expensive car and never driving it, or even washing the damn thing, just leaving it in the garage to rust.

People think, "what a shame".

CHUCKIE
" F*ck you. You owe it to me. Tomorrow I'm gonna wake up and I'll be fifty and I'll still be doin' this. And that's all right 'cause I'm gonna make a run at it.
But you, you're sittin' on a winning lottery ticket and you're too much of a pussy to cash it in. And that's bullshit 'cause I'd do anything to have what you got! And so would any of these guys. It'd be a f*ckin' insult to us if you're still here in twenty years.

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeff said...

"My experience has been that when you can do things twice as fast as others, you end up expecting nothing less than 100% as a minimum, all the time. This leads to unrealistic expectations of constant perfectionism, a fear of taking risks. The easiest way to have control is not to try.

Also - if you have too many options, you waste time deciding."

So true of many of the brilliant underachievers who I know.

HaloJonesFan said...

mcg:
"Only if you don't understand statistics. You said correlation before, not causation, which is what you're saying here."

If you think that correlation is never taken to imply causation, then I have to ask what planet you're posting from. Yes, it is incorrect to state that correlation implies causation. And yet it is done all the time, and there are in fact entire branches of statistics which start out with the assumption that correlation does imply causation!

"...I should point out that those are all characteristics that are somewhat changable..."

Yes, which was my point. What's the use of doing massive studies that purport to correlate race and intelligence? Why not spend the time and energy on something that can be changed? Especially when your conclusions are only going to be used to justify distasteful behavior.

"But my difficulty with your tone, here, is that somehow you're suggesting that a certain line of inquiry shouldn't even be pursued because of the potential that its results might be overinterpreted and misused."

Yes. That's exactly what I'm saying. Should we do research into the calorie content of human infants? Who knows, maybe we'll find that they're better for us than beef! BABY-THE OTHER RED MEAT.

"What I do see is the view that, if IQ and race are correlated, then we should neither expect nor enforce numerically precise racial equality in arenas where IQ is a controlling factor."

Aaaaand we get to just the sort of thing I was talking about. You're using race-IQ correlation to justify elimination of affirmative action. Is affirmative action meaningful, useful, or necessary? Perhaps not. But if we decide to eliminate it, I'd hope that we have a better reason for it than "blacks are congenitally inferor to whites", because haven't we gotten past that?

Freder Frederson said...

It's a real drawback. I know a number of 190+ people, and pretty much all of us have had some serious psychiatric issue at some point.

That's strange, because the linked article says such a high IQ is about a one in a billion phenomena.

A whole lot of you are piling on this guy without even bothering to read the linked (and very short) article. He is obviously very bright and does a whole lot more than chuck people out of bars. He has certainly taken a non-traditional career path, but seems fairly well-adjusted and happy and does not appear to be wasting his life, even if he does not meet all of your expectations.

I have a lot of problems with the concept of IQ. It measures a very limited part of human intelligence and trying to judge the complexity of human intellect on one test that measures a few spatial and logical parameters is foolish. It's like asking who is smarter, Einstein or Beethoven? The question is silly. Einstein couldn't have written the Moonlight Sonata and Beethoven couldn't have come up with special relativity.

Pogo said...

Re: "...even if he does not meet all of your expectations"

No, for in reading the article it's pretty clear he hasn't met his own expectations.

"So why am I still functioning at that level?
AND
...hopefully that won't be necessary in the future. But as of now I need the job."


aren't statements of satisfaction.

Christy said...

Some of the discussion reminds me of a bio of Enrico Fermi I read years ago. The biographer noted that Fermi was considered slow by many around him. The author decided that where the rest of us see but one or two paths for the solution of a problem, Fermi had a universe of options to consider. I could get to the same ordinary conclusion faster than Fermi, but if there was a revolutionary idea, I'd never get there, but Fermi could.

Freder, don't you figure that the average MIT professor knows more 190 IQs than the average bar owner? While I agree the whole IQ concept is flawed, if one moves in circles that demand smarts, one knows a lot of very smart people.

Freder Frederson said...

Freder, don't you figure that the average MIT professor knows more 190 IQs than the average bar owner? While I agree the whole IQ concept is flawed, if one moves in circles that demand smarts, one knows a lot of very smart people.

Umm no, I doubt it. If the article is correct and an IQ that high is a one in a billion phenomena (which makes sense statistically), then there should be about 6 or 7 total in the entire world. Odds are this one guy in New York is the only one in the entire country. So it is probably more likely that an average bar owner (especially one from NYC) knows someone with a 190+ IQ than a MIT professor.

Revenant said...

It's like asking who is smarter, Einstein or Beethoven?

Einstein. Musical talent is not a form of intelligence. You might as well say "who's smarter, Einstein or Babe Ruth".

Seven Machos said...

Revenant -- That's absurd. You are confining smartness to one little bitty area of the world -- science.

Who is smarter, Einstein or Pope John Paul? Einstein or Shakespeare? Einstein or Churchill?

By the way, in 1000 years, Einstein will look completely wrong. But Beethoven will still be beautiful; the pope supremely ethical; Shakespeare still the highest literature; and Churchill a brilliant politician.

I'd say Einstein is clearly the dumbass out of this group.

vbspurs said...

I'd say Einstein is clearly the dumbass out of this group.

Or you can just choose the ultimate Renaissance man, and choose Da Vinci.

Cheers,
Victoria

Revenant said...

Revenant -- That's absurd. You are confining smartness to one little bitty area of the world -- science.

A short list of things wrong with your post:

(1): Your use of the "historical popularity as measure of intelligence" technique. Quaint, original... and deeply weird.

(2): Your assumption that "Einstein was smarter than Beethoven" means "science is the only form of intelligence" -- arguably the single dumbest possible misreading of what I said.

(3): Your apparent belief that "intelligent" means "not being wrong", and that the fact that Einstein's theories will one day be supplanted means that his intelligence is suspect. Einstein came up with a theory that does an amazingly accurate job of describing reality. We know it isn't completely accurate.

(3b): Interestingly, while flaws in Einstein's theories supposedly diminish his genius, Churchill's many stupid political decisions (support of Italian fascism, opposition to Indian independence, poison-gassing of Iraqis, et al) apparently don't diminish his. Indeed, his "brilliance" (manifested largely in being lucky enough to have complete idiots as enemies -- he'd be the most brilliant man in the death camp if Germany and Japan hadn't been stupid enough to go to war with America) apparently exceeds that of the man whose work was responsible for the atomic bomb that ended the war.

(4): Your belief that a relatively run-of-the-mill Pope will be considered "supremely ethical" a thousands of years from now when (a) *Jesus* doesn't even have that distinction, (b) John Paul isn't even considered that way *now* and (c) his opposition to homosexuality, genetic engineering, and birth control is going to make him look like a moral imbecile within the next few generations.

(5): Your belief that a playwright few people voluntarily read and a composer whose work few people listen to anymore will be held up as paragons of literature and music a thousand years from now.

Freder Frederson said...

Einstein. Musical talent is not a form of intelligence.

You're still dead wrong on that, even if you may be right on Churchill (personally I think his talent was in self-promotion and shifting the blame for his mistakes onto others--the entire country of France in the case of his disastrous retreat to Dunkirk in 1940). Musical talent is a form of intelligence, tied very closely to mathematical ability btw.

IQ measures a very narrow range of intelligence. Not coincidentally the tests that measure IQ measure the cognitive abilities that are also required to succeed in our (and Western European) system of education. So it is not surprising at all that people with high IQs do well in school, since they both measure the same types of skills. And since our society also rewards people who do well in school, people with high IQs tend to earn more money.

mcg said...

Aaaaand we get to just the sort of thing I was talking about. You're using race-IQ correlation to justify elimination of affirmative action. Is affirmative action meaningful, useful, or necessary? Perhaps not. But if we decide to eliminate it, I'd hope that we have a better reason for it than "blacks are congenitally inferor to whites", because haven't we gotten past that?

Aaaaand we get just to the sort of logical overreach, the sort of fallacious game of "gotcha", I was talking about. Just because you and others can't keep this debate in the logical doesn't mean we can't have it.

Full disclosure here, I'm all for is elimination of affirmative action. And I am for it not because I believe in any way that blacks are "congenitally inferior". That a ludicrous attempt to put words into the mouths of those who might make arguments like these, and oh so typical of people flat-out afraid to face this argument with logic.

On the contrary, I believe in its elimination because it does more harm than good to those it purports to serve. And one reason for that is because people who think like you, who are in positions of wielding power in affirmative action programs, see every percentage discrepancy as something that must be stomped out locally instead of addressing it at its root cause. Being able to ask questions like this, and do studies like this without knee-jerk accusations of racism are part of the process of determining those causes.

mcg said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mcg said...

The fact that IQ is correlated with race is, of course, of no use when it comes to evaluating individuals for positions in academia, employment, etc. where IQ is a controlling factor. Nobody who studies these issues, like Murray or Pournelle, would claim otherwise.

My understanding of this fact is informed by somewhat unique experience. I attended a magnet school with sizable black attendance. Among my fellow alumni are a tremendous number of black Ph.D.s., professors, scientists, etc. Certainly no crude statistical analysis would predict that kind of performance from anyone of any race. But that's because race wasn't used as a direct factor in admitting people into the school---only intelligence, academic potential.

Halo, in my view, a more intelligent and principled response than yours from a pro-affirmative-action stance should go something like this: affirmative action is more necessary in light of studies like this to insure people's improper interpretations of statistics don't create situations of unwarranted discrimination. But to suggest that these statistical questions ought not be asked because some people are too stupid to treat the results properly is ridiculous.

TMink said...

Interesting little fact time. I just looked at my WAIS kit (Weschler Adult Intelligence Scale) and the IQ score only goes up to 150. This is the defacto standard in the industry. There is no 151, much less 195.

The further away from average you get, especially in the extremes, the less valid and reliable the test becomes. An IQ of 195 would be so rare, that you could not find enough people in the world to establish the norms.

So color me skeptical.

Trey