Sunday, 24 February 2013


Jason: Intelligence is relative, and only but a reflection of that which one chooses to immerse oneself in. The comparison of such with others is irrelevant. Stop competing, just be.

Sam: I think you're confusing intelligence with knowledge.

Jason: Don't make the mistake of trying to separate the two. Such a hard thing to define. My point was that the way the brain is pushed will ultimately sculpt its abilities. Of course some are able to push further, for differing reasons. But ultimately ones potential is filled or not by making choices to progress, or stagnate.

Sam: Fair point. But, I think one of the Gallagher brothers has a ridiculously high IQ (Liam?). I'm not convinced that's a reflection of what he immerses himself in (either of them)

Jason: Scoring high on an IQ test isn't everything. Deep thinking, or even deep thinkers hold much sway. Being able to do IQ tests for me is like sprinting. Others can be more inventive over longer time frames. What the Gallagers choose to immerse themselves in, in their free time, is a mystery to me. To score highly on an IQ test one has to have rudimentary knowledge. If one trains one's mind to be good at the attributes required to score highly then one can score highly or at least much more highly than one's base line might suggest; ok, a human could have a base line intelligence, and a highest attainable score. But what I am alluding to is say the differences between siblings and the way they choose different directions in life which can then go on to make them seem more or less intelligent than each other. I believe that IQ is quite a bit more malleable than most people believe. And it can be a drive in the individual which can drive intellect to increase. I believe general health and recovery from ailments to be a big contributing factor. I read recently that peoples'exposure to bacteria and other incursions into the body/mind can in actual fact cause the mind to develop in different ways physically, and therefore mentally in ability and health etc. etc. But one's personal drive for knowledge and understanding is also a huge factor in intelliigence as it is all sculpted not when you are born, but is constantly developing as one grows from zygote to adult and then into old age. My maths mind stinks unless I use it, as in brain training; then I find it gets more powerful like a muscle. I see high IQ acheivers as mind atheletes who have had the ability and drive to push themselves hard or harder. How useful these kinds of mental gymnastics are within life is debatable. I find one only truly learns when one's mind becomes receptive through ingestion and inspiration of interesting material (knowledge), and without that ingestion we would all be saying "ug ug" and drinking our own piss to see how it tastes. BUT what does the mind do with said input? How does a human mind jump to a 2+2=10 corrollary? On limited input one can come to the most amazing philosophical conclusions, just by ingesting basic knowledge and soaking up everyday TV for instance. Some would say, ahh, he has a massive IQ . . . but does he . . ?

Interesting article to do with what we discussed Sam:

Sam: I think we're actually arguing the same point re intelligence vs knowledge vs IQ

The point I was initially making is that I don't think intelligence is a reflection of what we immerse ourselves in, or necessarily the chances that are either given to us or we take ourselves. This guy is intelligent (in my view of the description) because he is. To me intelligence is more of an innate capability that manifests itself (though not always) in knowledge, "smarts", etc.

Jason: Ah . . .:) it's an argument? Well the intelligence you allude to is a base-line (genetic?) which when expressed into actual IQ/intelligence (the article backs up) is malleable; and he is a smart guy but says it is the fact he immerses himself in iq tests and learning how to score more highly that allows him to achieve such high scores. So his intelligence can be higher or lower depending. Without his obsession with iq tests and partaking in them maybe his score would be significantly less remarkable, and he would be rated as significantly less intelligent. All people who score very high on iq tests exhibit obsessive tendencies towards learning. Which correlates to my previous points which you haven't addressed and instead have chosen to skim over. A child. if obsessed enough by learning, will push him/herself to build a mind very capable in intellectual pursuit. How can one separate a base line from an actual when the brain is constantly able to produce more neurons and sculpt itself to be more able, therefore a baseline increasing, and/or an actual increasing? The mistake you are making here is to say that intelligence is a fixed ability that a person has. I say intelligence (as measured and the physical structure of the mind itself) can be increased/improved at any age (of course more slowly during adulthood); but especially through childhood, boosted by growth hormones, as the mind develops, and one pushes onself to learn and understand. I have already stated that obviously some have more potential than others due to the genes they inherit and how they are expressed outside of the control of the individual. I just think your stance is a little uncomplicated as it doesn't address the fact the mind is constantly changing and increasing or decreasing in ability/capability depending on the stress one exerts upon it. eg that which one immerse oneself in.

Sam: What are your thoughts on prodigies?

Jason: Knowledge can't be separated from intelligence-as I have previously, logically stated-as without knowledge one can't even talk, let alone do complex iq measuring puzzles. The two are inextricably linked and indivisible.

Sam: I believe you need intelligence to acquire knowledge. How much knowledge you can acquire and apply is largely but not totally dictated by your level of innate intelligence, which I believe can be reasonably measured.

Jason: "Largely but not totally"; so you leave a bit of room for me to manoeuvre in :). I wouldn't necessarily disagree with those statements as regards a snap-shot of time in an individuals life. A measuring exercise can be undertaken at any juncture. I am more referring to the formation of ability by persistence, and one's innate opportunity to sculpt one's mind from a young age. I believe measurable intelligence can be increased in quotient within certain unknowable parameters (as a lot of this is done during childhood). Going to your questing on prodigies (fair direction I might add) I have to now refer to some examples:
Lang Lang "His mother played classical music to him while he was still in her womb." ( )
Scott MacIntyre: Scott, 26, grew up listening to music all of his life. Scott’s mom played classical music while he was in the womb. She played Disney tunes, praise songs and music from Phantom of the Opera. She showed him how to play the piano when he was one. By the time he was eighteen months, Scott was playing “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and other one-fingered songs. When he was three, he was climbing up to the piano himself. “I would be lost in my own little world,” says Scott. His first paying gig was a wedding when he was six. (CNN reported the story of him as a child piano prodigy.) Over the years Scott learned to express his feelings whenever he would play.
Ariel Lanyi: The other night I saw this show on the science channel called SuperHuman. This episode focused on "geniuses". There were several people featured on the show from an art prodigy to a man with an amazing memory. Of the five people one of the was a little ten-year-old boy named Ariel Lanyi from Israel who is a pianist and composer. I have seen many piano prodigies, especially on the Internet, so seeing a child play the piano like this was amazing but nothing incredibly new. However it was what his parents said about how he developed his talent that stuck out to me the most. Right in the beginning of the show Ariel's mother says:
"There is a theory that very young children can be taught anything. They don't have to be born that way. But, the earlier you start the education, the more you'll be able to achieve."
Daniel Tammet: "As he talks, he studies my shirt and counts the stitches. Ever since the age of three, when he suffered an epileptic fit, Tammet has been obsessed with counting. Now he is 26, and a mathematical genius who can figure out cube roots quicker than a calculator and recall pi to 22,514 decimal places. He also happens to be autistic, which is why he can't drive a car, wire a plug, or tell right from left. He lives with extraordinary ability and disability. Tammet is calculating 377 multiplied by 795. Actually, he isn't "calculating": there is nothing conscious about what he is doing. He arrives at the answer instantly. Since his epileptic fit, he has been able to see numbers as shapes, colours and textures. The number two, for instance, is a motion, and five is a clap of thunder. "When I multiply numbers together, I see two shapes. The image starts to change and evolve, and a third shape emerges. That's the answer. It's mental imagery. It's like maths without having to think." "Savants have usually had some kind of brain damage. Whether it's an onset of dementia later in life, a blow to the head or, in the case of Daniel, an epileptic fit. And it's that brain damage which creates the savant. I think that it's possible for a perfectly normal person to have access to these abilities, so working with Daniel could be very instructive."
Genius sculpted by autistic obsession:
Would a musical genius become a musical genius if not exposed to music as much as they tend to be; immersed within the music by their parents? Would Tammet have achieved the same feats if he had never had an epileptic fit that damaged his brain?
There is genetic ability, but that’s not the be all and end all. The obsession of autistic children can drive savant abilities to emerge through obsessive tendencies. They aren’t born with theses abilities but develop them through determination. All these savants develop talents by IMMERSING themselves within a certain field. Pushing these abilities forward in potency.

Innate intelligence develops as we grow up and is not easy to measure accurately as it changes as we grow. Did a man who has an iq of 195 now at the age of 45 have the same iq when he was 1 years old, 2 years old, 9, 10, twenty? No. He developed it by pushing his mind to learn and understand. Yes he had a genetic ability which has the possibility to express phenotypically a high iq, but without immersing himself in learning to read and math and brain puzzles etc. etc. where would he get? If the neuron branches were never formed....

Sam: Yeah, I should have said this bit earlier. IQ tests only give reasonably accurate results if done "blind". Not practiced. Someone who practices increases their knowledge of the tests and what they typically contain. They don't necessarily increase their intelligence.

Also, someone's IQ, true IQ, at 45 should be the same as when they were 1. Not the actual score obviously, the equivalent level.

My thinking about prodigies is, it doesn't matter what you are immersed in, you have to have the innate intelligence to acquire and apply the knowledge. My guess (and it is a guess, like most of my thoughts so far!) Is that there are thousands if not millions of parents trying to create prodigies. Most kids just can't do it, or become it. They haven't got "it". They weren't born with "it". Whatever it may be. Some kids can do it, through genetics our whateve and become those prodigies, some become prodigies by accident without stimulus, because they have it. Innate.

A child who can be a prodigy can be a prodigy in many things depending on the stimulus. Your immersion point. But they have to have capacity first.

Jason: But capacity can be increased through immersion, that is my point. The human mind changes its physical structure as it grows. Brain scans of people who play music show physical differences in size of certain areas of the brain. That difference would never have happened if the child wasn't obsessively immersed in music. And saying a musical genius could say, become a mathematical genius instead in the absence of music would be impossible to test as you can't test the same individual in say parallel universes, well not yet. Testing a newborn baby that can't talk, to measure its iq again is impossible as the abilities measured in iq tests are learned. So ok, your going along the lines that a genius is genetically a genius (Tammet wasn't, his genius was formed by having an epileptic seizure). Which one day we will be able to measure more accurately. But any genetically gifted child still needs to learn to excel. If that child has no determination to learn where would it get? Mediocrity. Drive to succeed is as important as innate heritable characteristics. I think this concept would be a worthy addition to your canon :)

If the brain develops as we grow, in the directions we apply ourself, how can it be innate? Some people are possibly able to build neural pathways within the mind faster than others, but determination in specialising is what creates a genius. Allrounders tend to spread their faculties too thin to excel.

The genetics and the nurture both combine to form the phenotypically expressed high iq.

Sam: Sounds like a fair compromise..... ;-) 

Jason: I don't think it was...... 

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