Science, Art, Litt, Science based Art & Science Communication
A science student recently asked me an interesting question. He said, "Ma'am", I want to do research in Molecular Biology. But I have an average IQ. Will I be able to succeed in getting my Ph.D. and proceed further to become a scientist and shine as one?"
My immediate reaction was 'what has high IQ got to do with research in science?' And I told the student, " Forget about your IQ. The fact that you have already developed a capacity for appreciating science to such an extent that pursuing science has become a motivating force in your life is proof enough that your intelligence is sufficient. My advice is that you stop worrying about your intelligence, and instead focus on determining whether or not you are doing all that you can to make use of your intelligence. Achieving your goals will ultimately take hard work, careful planning and a consistent commitment to expanding and refining your knowledge and skills. If you are passionate about science and research, creative enough to connect things and have a will to succeed, go ahead and chase your dreams".
The student was so convinced with my advice that he actually decided to follow it!
And I am happy to say very early in my life I was able to not only de-link IQ with a career in science but also link it with passion, creativity and a will to succeed.
Because several times I felt although I cannot work or do things in a given time frame - like doing the IQ tests in the given time because of the cognitive load on my brain as I work in several fields and will be thinking about one problem/issue or the other all the while - I am in no way inferior to the 'prodigies'.
Now I found support to my argument in the form of this book and research of several other scientists:
The truth about Talent, Practice, Creativity, and The Many Paths of Greatness
Briefly, it says: Child prodigies. Gifted and Talented Programs. Perfect 2400s on the SAT. Sometimes it feels like the world is conspiring to make the rest of us feel inadequate. Those children tapped as possessing special abilities will go on to achieve great things, while the rest of us have little chance of realizing our dreams. Right?
In Ungifted, cognitive psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman—who was relegated to special education as a child—sets out to show that the way we interpret traditional metrics of intelligence is misguided. Kaufman explores the latest research in genetics and neuroscience, as well as evolutionary, developmental, social, positive, and cognitive psychology, to challenge the conventional wisdom about the childhood predictors of adult success. He reveals that there are many paths to greatness, and argues for a more holistic approach to achievement that takes into account each young person’s personal goals, individual psychology, and developmental trajectory. In so doing, he increases our appreciation for the intelligence and diverse strengths of prodigies, savants, and late bloomers, as well as those with dyslexia, autism, schizophrenia, and ADHD.
Combining original research, anecdotes, and a singular compassion, Ungifted proves that anyone—even those without readily observable gifts at any single moment in time—can become great.
The IQ test is just a brief assessment of one trait. It doesn't say anything about a person's past or future potential! It is only used to match a person to an intervention. Each person has numerous opportunities to demonstrate their intellectual prowess. A single test score certainly has no impact on a person's chances of success in life.
So true! I cannot perform these IQ tests well in a given time frame. But does that mean I am intellectually challenged? Definitely not. I was just an average student while I was at school! Does that mean I will be an average person all through my life? Definitely not! ( I got all top ranks in the university in my post-graduation exams !) If people ask me a question, I cannot give a 'good' answer immediately without taking time to think. Some questions even fail to get registered properly on my mind sometimes! This is because of the reasons I gave above. I even make mistakes while performing simple tasks. Does that mean I am stupid? Definitely not! If I am not intellectually talented how could I excel in several fields that need lots of grey matter working non-stop for years and years?
Intelligence is defined by different people differently. One person's intelligence may not be intelligence to others. We use the word intelligent to describe people who are able to acquire useful knowledge, and who can solve consequential problems using some combination of logic, intuition, creativity, experience, and wisdom. These terms that are used to describe an intelligent person are themselves are vague. Moreover, learning opportunities, cultural differences, familial differences, and personality differences in conscientiousness and openness to learning do have effect on all these aspects.Therefore, a correct definition is not always possible.
The problem of intellectual diagnosis can in no way be successfully dealt with until we have exact knowledge of the general nature of intelligence itself. The value of IQ tests is determined more by what they correlate with than what they measure.
Not all fields require the same talent. A scientist requires a different talent ( like numerical reasoning based on information gathered systematically) from that of an artist or a writer ( reasoning based only on his/her day to day personal experiences). A business person might require a different talent altogether ( reasoning based on psychology of the people around him) from the ones possessed by scientists, artists and writers! Again a sports person's talent is completely different! The way one uses his or her brain power or muscle or body power defines the talent of that person.
The IQ tests should not be used as the only measure that defines people's fate or future. Language and other cultural barriers cause intelligence tests to produce underestimates of intelligence. No psychological or academic test measures anything to the same degree in all children. It is true that well-designed tests of abstract reasoning reduce the need to have specific content knowledge. However, the process of engaging in abstract reasoning is itself learned and very much influenced by culture. Ancient Greek culture was very strange in its appreciation for abstraction (though not unique—India is the cradle of many an abstraction and Arabic scholars, with their placeholding Arabic numerals, gave us the ultimate tool for managing abstractions: algebra.). Peoples capacity for abstract reasoning is a recent innovation on the evolutionary time scale.
Many people who do these IQ tests very well fall on the way side during the life's journey without reaching the heights their IQs would have taken them to. And several others with low IQs reach unimaginable heights.
Some examples : Richard Feynman , the brain behind Manhattan Project. A Nobel Laureate and distinguish physicist. Guess his IQ? Its 125. That's pretty low for a person who is like to be a Nobel Winner. They are generally 140+! Richard Feynman had great interest in the field of maths and physics since tender age. If it wasn't for passion, we would have never known a person like him.
Heard of William James Sidis? He lived from 1898 to 1944 and is reputed to have had a “ratio IQ” between 250 and 300. No doubt that he had an extremely fast aptitude for learning anything. By his 20s, he was able to speak in over 40 languages, and claimed to be able to learn one in a day. He invented his own language, called Vendergood, which was a mishmash of Ancient Greek, Latin, and about 8 other European languages. J. R. R. Tolkien did the very same thing with Elvish, and spoke at least 30 languages. But we don’t think of Tolkien as having an IQ above 250, and yet he wrote a lot more than Sidis, and Tolkien’s literature is popular. Sidis invented a rotary calendar that would always be accurate even to the leap year. But why is that important? We already have working calendars. With a 300 IQ, it’s a shame he didn’t invent the time machine or a real lightsaber. He squandered his natural talents on the trivial. Einstein reached the heights of his greatness with “only” a 186. What could Sir Isaac Newton have done with a 300? Perhaps the phrase should be, “Cogito, ergo sum. Facio, ergo recordaremur.” “I think, therefore I am. I do, therefore I will be remembered.” (3)
( I must mention here that although several quotes are attributed to Einstein, there is no evidence that he actually said those things. And the opposite, i.e., that he didn't say these things too is controversial. However, according to some people, the quote can be traced to a well-established allegory involving animals doing impossible things, used to illustrate the fallacy of judging someone by a skill or ability that person (or animal) does not possess. There is no way of knowing whether Einstein mentioned it or not in his life time now. We don't even know why it was attributed to him. So I leave it to readers discretion. You can decide whether the attribution can be accepted or not. The quote 's used just to make my write up attractive like journalists and artists do, and there is no other motive to it.)
Pic source: Google images
So it doesn't matter whoever said these words, You still can't judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree or a bird by its ability to swim underwater.
For more than a century our intelligence quotient (IQ) has been used to measure how clever people are and Mensa, the society for the intellectual elite, has even used the test to weed out sub-par applicants.
But now the scale has been dismissed as a "myth" by scientists who found that our intelligence can only be predicted by combining results from at least three tests of our mental agility.
Different circuits within the brain are used for different thought processes, the researchers showed, meaning separate tests of short-term memory, reasoning and verbal skills are needed to measure someone's overall intelligence.
Their landmark study was based on the results of an online intelligence test which was launched by the New Scientist sometime back, and attracted more than 110,000 responses.
According to the scientists who conducted this research, when you come to the most complex known object, the human brain, the idea that there is only one measure of intelligence had to be wrong. We can all think of people that have poor reasoning and brilliant memories, or fantastic language skills but aren't so good at reasoning, and so on. Now once and for all we can say there is not a single measure such as IQ which captures all the intelligence that you see in people.
Following up their findings, the scientists scanned the brains of 16 volunteers while they completed the same tests and found that the three key types of intelligence relied on different circuits within the brain.
Writing in the Neuron journal, the researchers also observed that regularly playing "brain training" games appeared to have no effect on people's overall performance.
But people who regularly played computer games scored significantly higher in reasoning and short-term memory tests, while smokers and anxiety sufferers had weaker short-term memory scores (4).
Some even try to link IQs of people with genes, races and what not to degrade people. But these arguments have no genuine evidence at all (5, 6).
Some IQ facts: It was found that children with IQ more than 140 have no better careers than their siblings
Current consensus: diminishing returns above IQ 115 - 130.
Some hard work facts: Both top scientists and average scientists work for more than 40 hours a week. Top scientists did not spend more hours on work. Main difference was in how they spent their time. Having some relaxation time with interesting hobbies and interests works wonders.
The four odd habits of successful scientists:
1) Not trying to be a lonely genius. Collaboration brings more success. 2) Ideas follow knowledge, not intelligence. 3) Focusing on ideas. 4) Following one's fascination with passion.
Intellectualism, the higher form of mind matters, is what allows us to learn from our experience, analyse people and situations, overcoming preconceived notions that influence our judgement, critical thinking, making inferences, the ability to learn and communicate and understand complexities, to gain insight into life, to juggle multiple demands. Apart from our daily experiences, with the internet these days, information is everywhere. But intelligence is how we make sense of all that information. Several factors play a key role in this. This vast field of cognition cannot be fit into a few tests and a time frame.
Even if your genes don't make you score very high in IQ tests, your hard work with grit and determination can make you a great person! Your life's experiences, unique talents developed along the way, your reasoning through life's ups and downs, your education, your passion, and environment can play major roles too!
It is time we redefined intelligence and intellectual capabilities! And the scientific community has taken note of this, and is trying to erase the false definitions coined earlier and giving it a new interpretation.
Like one article on SA (1) says:
Imposing extreme time pressures on an IQ test forces people to draw almost exclusively on their limited capacity/ working memory capacity, whereas giving people more time to think and reason gives them more of a chance to bring to the table other cognitive functions that contribute to their intellectual brilliance.
This is true in my case!
Not only me, I have seen several intellectuals who look and say dumb things normally in the public are really quite intelligent in doing complex things in their private lives! I created an art work based on this theme too:
( The mind of a Scientist/genius/polymath - from http://www.kkartfromscience.com
Whenever I do my research or any other complex work, I make a few silly mistakes sometimes while doing ordinary things outside my lab/studio & later on after realizing my mistakes I feel bad about them. My cousins consoled me several times by telling a story about a famous scientist. It seems the scientist had two cats-one kitten & its mother. The scientist built a house for his two cats. He left two openings to the house – one small (for the small cat) & one big (for the big cat). It didn’t occur to the scientist at that time – who 's considered as a genius – that one big opening was enough for both the cats!
Another story: Norbert Wiener, an American mathematician, was known for his absent-mindedness. He used to drive to work at Harvard in the morning and come back home in the evening. One day there was to be a change in the routine. The Wieners had sold their house and were moving to the new residence that day. His wife had spared him all the details of the transaction and simply told him that they had sold the house and were moving to another that day, so he must remember to come back in the evening to the new address, which she gave him along with instructions on how to get there. Of course, Wiener forgot and, like on every working day, came back to the old house which he found locked. He could not figure why. Then he saw a young girl standing near the gate and asked her if she knew where the Wieners had gone. The girl replied: “Yes, daddy! I will take you there. Mummy had told me to bring you when you returned here from work.” :)
A scientist’s/genius's/polymath's mind will be completely drowned in his/her thoughts & work most of the time. It doesn’t take notice of other things that happen around it & doesn’t think about normal things! So scientists/intellectuals/polymaths behave in weird & stupid ways sometimes! They make lots of mistakes while doing ordinary things. It doesn’t mean that they are stupid or weird. They just don’t care about mundane things & don’t want to waste time by thinking about them & do them very casually as their priorities lie else where. Unless & until they cut off the world around them and completely immerse their minds in their work, they cannot find solutions to the complex & difficult problems they deal with. They have to decrease the cognitive load on their minds by removing small and unimportant things from their minds.
Several of my scientist friends too support me by saying, " If you are not making mistakes, that means your mind is not working at its full capacity!" That might lead to a burn out for some, but a polymath mind relishes it.
So I painted a scientist’s/genius's/polymath's mind fully drowned in waves of thoughts about his/her work. )
Another important article that says - The Thinking that IQ Tests Miss are the difference between rational and irrational thoughts ( 2)
Why smart people sometimes do dumb things
“What I write is smarter than I am. Because I can rewrite it” says Susan Sontag
But I think I am smart too! Because I can re-invent myself! - Krishna
I am giving this answer based on recent scientific research. A recent study found that critical thinking skills are a better predictor of one’s ability to make wise, effective life decisions than intelligence or IQ score. IQ tests don’t take critical thinking abilities into consideration!
People measure IQ to say whether a person is intelligent or not. It measures intelligence for handling abstract content. But researchers say that “critical thinking” – the ability to make judgments dispassionately without jumping to false conclusions – is a separate ability. According to them, critical thinking ability might be important for real-life outcomes, perhaps even more than IQ.
A highly qualified person can be intelligent, solve the problems using the knowledge he earned or things he learned but can still behave stupidly!
Neutral reasoning and rationality - taking only facts into consideration - not emotions and beliefs - makes a person an intellectual. An intellectual makes very few mistakes and therefore is the smartest of all!
PS: And I found another book recently which again agrees with my view points.
"Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration." - Thomas Alva Edison
IQ has undergone a much needed makeover recently with the recognition that there are many different types of intelligence. This also opens the door to intelligences that may as yet be unrecognized. In addition there are idiot savants that have all their intelligence squeezed into one niche. Then too there are synesthets whose intelligences are combined in unusual ways.
contrary to conventional thought at the time, intelligence had only a modest role in creative thinking. IQ alone could not explain the creative spark.
The creative genius is “occasionally crazier and yet adamantly saner than the average person.” Instead, the study showed that creativity is informed by a whole host of intellectual, emotional, motivational and moral characteristics. The common traits that people across all creative fields seemed to have in common were an openness to one’s inner life; a preference for complexity and ambiguity; an unusually high tolerance for disorder and disarray; the ability to extract order from chaos, independence; unconventionality; and a willingness to take risks.
the creative genius was “both more primitive and more cultured, more destructive and more constructive, occasionally crazier and yet adamantly saner, than the average person.”
creative people were more introspective. This led to increased self-awareness, including a greater familiarity with the darker and more uncomfortable parts of themselves. It may be because they engage with the full spectrum of life—both the dark and the light—that writers score high on some of the characteristics that our society tends to associate with mental illness. Conversely, this same propensity can lead them to become more grounded and self-aware. In openly and boldly confronting themselves and the world, creative-minded people seemed to find an unusual synthesis between healthy and “pathological” behaviors.
Such contradictions may be precisely what gives some people an intense inner drive to create. As psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi said after more than 30 years of observing creative people: “If I had to express in one word what makes their personalities different from others, it’s complexity. They show tendencies of thought and action that in most people are segregated. They contain contradictory extremes; instead of being an ‘individual,’ each of them is a ‘multitude.’”
10 online citizen science projects you can do in 15 minutes or less
Beyond IQ: Scientific Tools for Training Problem Solving, Intuition, Emotional Intelligence, Creativity, and More
Q is only one method of quantifying intelligence... one that didn't exist until 1882. It's also pretty arbitrary as it really only gives a general insight into how well a person performs abstract reasoning. IQ does have a strong correlation to how well a person will be able to pick up new skills or how well they will perform in an academic setting, but it's important not to read too much into it, especially once you get more than 2 standard deviations away from the norm (> 130 IQ).
Another, less arbitrary, way of rating intelligence is to look at the sum total of the person's lifetime accomplishments. Isaac Newton, Gottfreid Leibnitz, Nikola Tesla, Archimedes, Aristotle, Imhotep, Albert Einstein, and Leonardo di Vinci are all leading candidates: revolutionary thinkers whose contributions had wide-ranging impact across multiple domains. It's basically impossible to say who among them was the "smartest" in anything other than subjective and arbitrary terms.
who is the most intelligent person?
Isaac Asimov famously said "IQ isn't everything, but it isn't nothing either."Just compare the genius to the average person. Geniuses have a larger working memory, which means they can bring more ideas to bear at once, giving them a better chance to get the right combination of things to gain a new insight (the "Eureka" moment).
Contrary to popular belief...
Intelligence is not synonymous with success, accomplishment, impact, or originality.
Intelligence is not common sense or good judgement.
Intelligence does not determine how valuable a human being is, so there really is no reason for all this politically correct bullshit and denial of the plain truth that some people are simply more intelligent than other people.
Intelligence is not synonymous with knowledge, skills, or talent.
Not all kinds of skills and talents are equal as evidence of intelligence. Sorry, but the average drug dealer is simply not as intelligent as the average math professor. I don't care how good he is at drug dealing, how much money he pulls in, or how many supermodels he sleeps with.
One person can be more intelligent than another person even if the latter has many skills, talents, and accomplishments over the former.
Intelligence is not purely what is measured by IQ tests although IQ tests measure intelligence better than any other kinds of tests.
Intelligence is not purely "book smarts". Human intelligence increased over millions of years of evolution. Intelligence helped our ancestors deal with the challenges of the hunter-gatherer lifestyle. It also gave them creative and artistic ability, which helped them attract mates. Intelligence is still useful today for dealing with the challenges of day-to-day life (and also for attracting mates).
What is intelligence? Intelligence is the innate ability to perform cognitive tasks, both simple and complex; to devise solutions to problems; to learn and assimilate information; to acquire new skills and improve existing skills; intelligence is common and general knowledge; intelligence is also the ability to reason, and thus apply the knowledge one has acquired. Intelligence is what remains of the variation in intellectual ability between individuals, after correcting for differences in specific expertise, life experience, socioeconomic factors, and so on. Intelligence is how powerful your brain is.
Anybody that uses IQ numbers as anything other than a very rough proxy for intelligence, and/or attempts to estimate past figures IQs is either naive, disingenuous or both, and often times is trying to sell you a discount IQ test. FWIW, Serious IQ tests don't go to 230. There's only so fast you can solve puzzle patterns.
My vote, in terms of personal hero of extreme intelligence would be Richard Feynman. His physics lectures are amazing, and his personal story seems insane, and shows how far afield intelligence can take somebody from their presumed path. That said, according to the book Genius, by James Gleick, Feynman's IQ was only tested at 125. Which tells you how silly those numbers are.
In Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers, he presents Christopher Langan, as an example of the Smartest Guy in the World type. He sounds well-adjusted, all things considered.
First of all there are various measures of intelligence, so before you're too proud / miserable about your score, we highly recommend getting in a second opinion by doing a different IQ test, because of a) test specific measuring error and b) IQ-tests as the WAIS-IV only measure a subset of all IQ testable abilities. There are three abilities (verbal, numerical, visual) in four categories (creativity, speed, memory and processing capacity) = 12 IQ-Test abilities.
Broadly speaking IQ measures the MHz-Speed of your brain processor. It doesn't tell you anything about the quality of your processing, and this exactly where the sub-abilities come in. Further, some forms of intelligence are currently not testable with a paper&pencil test, e.g. emotional intelligence, which you need to test using the Assessment center method. That said, a high score in pure processing capacity speed (the MHz) as best measured by Raven's Progressive Matrices is the best predictor for a high(er) score in all other areas as well.