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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Before You Judge a Person's Intelligence by an IQ Score - Read This!

Albert Einstein is the epitome of the high IQ
sort of genius, but something else enabled him to
transcend physicists with higher IQ scores.

IQ is a highly over-rated measure of intelligence.

I can say this possessing a Mensa level IQ of my own. I know this is from my own experience and from considerable training in psychology at the graduate level; training which included the administration of IQ tests. IQ tests measure only two specific types of intelligence - verbal and mathematical/logical. Those who study human intelligence do not believe that verbal and mathematical intelligence is all there is to it. IQ is good for rating writers and physicists perhaps, but intelligence quotients only capture a part of the picture.

Michael Jordan's kinesthetic genius enabled him
to almost appear to fly without wings.
IQ scores do not measure kinesthetic intelligence, for instance. It's often overlooked as a form of intelligence, except possibly by ESPN commentators. Kinesthetic intelligence is the brain's capacity to manipulate objects and execute physical skills. Coaches call a person with high levels of kinesthetic intelligence a "natural". Kinesthetic intelligence is marked by a strong sense of timing and the ability to perfect complex skills through the union of mind and body. We just witnessed a gathering of kinesthetic geniuses at the Rio Olympic Games. Kinesthetically intelligent people include not only athletes, but also dancers, surgeons, and skilled craftsmen. Michael Jordan, for instance, is probably a kinesthetic genius in his understanding of the movement of basketballs and his own body through space. If you've ever watched him drive home a dunk shot in slow motion, you'll see it. I for one could never do what Michael does. I'm not a natural. Kinesthetically, I'm a bit retarded, except possibly in a canoe. Kinesthetic intelligence can be strengthened, and may even be selective, favoring one skill over another, but there is a limit to what you can do if you don't have it.

John Williams' masterful movie scores turn movies into
something more than just images on a screen.

IQ scores do not measure musical–rhythmic and harmonic intelligence. We've all known folk with perfect pitch and people who can't carry a tune in a bucket. Musically, I'm average because I worked hard at it as a child.  Some people on the other hand are naturals at making music, even from a very young age. I knew one little girl who performed her first solo in church at the age of two. The voice that came out of her was dead on pitch and at a volume that would have done an adult proud. She has grown up to be and accomplished singer and musician by diligent practice, but I know that she had a head start over someone like me. Some examples of musical geniuses include Mozart, Beethoven, John Williams, Paul Simon, and others whose work seems to transcend the ordinary almost effortlessly.
Walter Elias Disney captured the imaginations
of generations of children and adults.
IQ scores do not effectively measure visual–spatial intelligence. Spatial intelligence is the ability to visualize the world accurately, to modify one's surroundings based upon one's perceptions, and to recreate the aspects of visual experiences in other formats. Artists and architects, designers and urban planners possess higher levels of visual–spatial intelligence. People like famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright, artists like Leonardo da Vinci and Rembrandt, and designers and planners like Pierre Charles L'Enfant who designed Washington DC and Walt Disney who not only designed some of the most beautiful films of his day, but also laid out both Disneyland's and Walt Disney World's brilliantly conceived theme parks.

Ronald Reagan's ability to connect with friends and
enemies alike fundamentally changed the world.
IQ scores do not effectively measure interpersonal intelligence.  Interpersonal intelligence is basically social intelligence or what we like to call people skills. People with higher levels of interpersonal intelligence are good at getting along with others.  Skilled diplomats like Henry Kissinger, great public speakers like Ronald Reagan and Winston Churchill, as well as great actors and actresses like Meryl Streep, Jimmy Stewart and others all have that ability to read people and deliver just the right words, body language and inflection to engage other people effectively.

20th Century Writer/Theologian
C.S. Lewis revived a sagging Christianity.
IQ scores do not measure intrapersonal intelligence.
Intrapersonal intelligence is self-awareness and accurate and effective forms of introspection. Great philosophers and theologians, writers and poets have this sort of intelligence.  Folk like Ghandi, John Locke, T.H. White, John Donne, Martin Luther and CS Lewis possess high levels of intrapersonal intelligence. These people have the ability to observe the world and then look within themselves to find meaning and purpose and to put all of that into a form that inspires and guides people towards creating their own sense of self and of purpose.

I would say, however, that John Muir did
have something special going for him
where an understanding of nature was
concerned, though his gift might have been
in the way he was able to transmit that
understanding to others as much as anything.
IQ scores do not measure naturalistic intelligence.  Whether this is an actual form of intelligence or a politically correct add-on to appease modern progressives is debatable. I personally think this last one is a made-up kind of intelligence. It was inserted into the list quite recently, I would suspect to make the guys at Greenpeace and the Sierra Club feel good about themselves. I’ll grant you that perhaps folk who work with nature might have a kind of intelligence the rest of us lack. Someone has suggested that really talented landscapers have an abundance of naturalistic intelligence. I suspect landscapers have more of a visual-spatial intelligence, though knowing what sort of plants will thrive where could be part of it. That seems more about skill and training than anything else. Now, I would say, however, that "naturalistic intelligence" might be what we think of as having a "green thumb" or a way with animals. In that case I’d have to give intelligence props to gifted farmers, ranchers, botanists and even zoologists before I’d go labeling environmentalists and Greenpeace activists as possessing a particularly unique kind of intelligence. Environmental activism is more a political skill than a particular form of intelligence to my way of thinking. I would make an exception for naturalists like John Muir, however as noted under the picture to the right of Muir. Have to respect a guy who could maintain a beard that formidable in the wild.

The sudden taped on addition of "naturalistic" intelligence to the list of intelligences seems indicative that even intelligence is politicized these days. Psychology as a field is sadly vulnerable to politicization. They've already set a precedent back in the 80s with the sudden elimination of a whole category of what were once considered mental disorders from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (the DSM III-R), and the suppression of research into the causes and potential treatments for said condition. The American Psychological Association caved big time to political pressure then and probably will again. The inclusion of "naturalistic" intelligence as a type of intelligence is just the latest political correction. I suspect there will be more and more disorders dropped or added to the DSM and new forms of intelligence added to the list in order to make people feel good about themselves - or at the very least, less guilt-ridden. It's unlikely to matter what the science tells us in the face of the lumbering threat of political incorrectness.

I fully expect President Obama to suggest to the APA that they recognize Quranal Intelligence - the ability to interpret the Quran correctly - as a specific form of intelligence.
The the National Institute of Mental Health can take on a new goal for itself to make Muslims feel good about themselves. NASA has already taken that as one of their primary goals.

It wouldn't surprise me anyway.

Just sayin'.

Tom King © 2016
If you'd like to see a video version of this blog, check it out below. It's my first vlog, so be patient with me. I'm still learning how this stuff works.

1 comment:

Tom King said...

And before someone jumps on me for not including a woman in the list, let me just say that I fully recognize that there are many women of genius out there and many are unrecognized which is a shame. In fact, if I were to add another form of intelligence, I'd include whatever women have that enables them to create win/win based cooperatives teams and networks of people. I suspect that would go under "interpersonal" intelligence, though. That particular skill is not as often exercised publicly by women, though I'd have to say that Oprah Winfrey excels at this type of thing. I'd call her a genius in the realm of both verbal and interpersonal intelligence. Most of us have a couple or more types of intelligence that we come equipped with from birth - an extra measure from God if you will that makes us the unique beings we are.