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Thread: IQ testing and the rise of the self-proclaimed Super Genius

  1. #1 IQ testing and the rise of the self-proclaimed Super Genius 
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    I've been watching videos on youtube that have disturbed me lately. Farmer, Bouncer and part-time Physicist Christopher Langan supposedly scored a 200 on an IQ test. He claims that "I've never met someone smarter than myself". He claims that he can prove the existence of God mathematically and is a "fellow" of the Institute for Creation Research (aka he's associated with a creationist organization...despite the fact the he's been quoted before saying that he believes God works through evolution).

    Also, John Villarreal calls himself a "Super Genius" simply because he scored a 174. He he over 500,000 supscribers on youtube who take his advice on politics and science. He has a J.D. He's a lawyer, NOT a scientist. Both of these guys are Republicans (unsurprisingly). I honestly feel that IQ tests should be banned or replaced. Socially awkward people who excel in one or two areas score well on these tests and suddenly feel that they are experts on the universe. I'm sick and tired of the conflated egos and charlatan behavior associated with these self-proclaimed Einsteins. They are not the Renaissance men they think they are.

    This puts us in a very dangerous predicament. If these fools ever garner a large political following they will be blindly followed by the masses because other people's arguments will be "null and void" due to the fact that the politician in question has a "superior intellect". Some youtube subscribers typed that they wanted to put Christopher Langan in charge of the country, despite his totalitarian leanings (he agrees with eugenics and yearns for a nation of philosopher-kings).

    What can we do to fight this ignorance?


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    Ignore them.


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    Post your own youtube video. Paint these fools as ivory tower elites who are out of touch with real, salt of the earth folk's like us.
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  5. #4 Re: IQ testing and the rise of the self-proclaimed Super Gen 
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    Quote Originally Posted by gottspieler
    This puts us in a very dangerous predicament. If these fools ever garner a large political following they will be blindly followed by the masses because other people's arguments will be "null and void" due to the fact that the politician in question has a "superior intellect".
    They'll be up against a culture of anti-intellectualism that runs pretty deep among conservatives. Should be interesting to see how that conflict would resolve itself.
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  6. #5 Re: IQ testing and the rise of the self-proclaimed Super Gen 
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheBiologista
    Quote Originally Posted by gottspieler
    This puts us in a very dangerous predicament. If these fools ever garner a large political following they will be blindly followed by the masses because other people's arguments will be "null and void" due to the fact that the politician in question has a "superior intellect".
    They'll be up against a culture of anti-intellectualism that runs pretty deep among conservatives. Should be interesting to see how that conflict would resolve itself.
    Well, some are willing to bow down to him because he has Creationist leanings and is a small town farmer like some of them. I have the feeling it will make a lot of those conservative idiots feel smarter themselves as he agrees with their politics.
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    I am completely on Langan's side, though I am not nearly as partial to Villarreal or his ideas. I'll now respond to the original post.

    "I've been watching videos on youtube that have disturbed me lately. Farmer, Bouncer and part-time Physicist Christopher Langan supposedly scored a 200 on an IQ test."

    This is a little simplistic. Langan got the highest score ever on the Mega Test, which is where he got the 195 figure in the range he gave as "195 [to] 210". The 210 figure was obtained by taking his results on a variety of psychometric tests and taking into account the correlations of the tests with each other. Thus, were someone to get extremely high scores on several tests that, while valid in their own rights, do not correlate especially well with each other, one would get an enormously high score with this method. In this case, it appears that the latter score was rather accurate, given that Langan already broke the ceiling on the Mega Test, which is designed for people who break the ceilings of conventional tests.

    "He claims that "I've never met someone smarter than myself""

    Those measurements support his view.

    "He claims that he can prove the existence of God mathematically and is a "fellow" of the Institute for Creation Research (aka he's associated with a creationist organization...despite the fact the he's been quoted before saying that he believes God works through evolution)."

    He was actually a fellow of an Intelligent Design organization, the International Society for Complexity, Information, and Design (ISCID). However, he explicitly stated elsewhere that he is not a typical ID advocate and that he embraces evolution in general, though he has some qualms with the idea of "random mutations" supported by some supporters of the Modern Synthesis. (I understand that many biologists do not embrace the idea that mutations are *truly* random, and insofar as this is the case Langan supports those biologists.)

    "Also, John Villarreal calls himself a "Super Genius" simply because he scored a 174. He he over 500,000 supscribers on youtube who take his advice on politics and science. He has a J.D. He's a lawyer, NOT a scientist."

    As I stated earlier, I cannot speak for John Villarreal. However, I think that it is extremely difficult to give credence to your claim that Langan is a Republican. He seems like a person who (a) recognizes that voting in the USA often means picking the lesser of two evils and (b) is not nearly dogmatic enough to vote for a party solely on the basis of its stereotypical position with regards to certain matters.

    By the way, as much as you may choose to disregard this, it is the case that many people who really are exceptionally gifted can be the autodidacts they need to be to understand other fields more than many of the people working in those fields understand those fields themselves.

    "I honestly feel that IQ tests should be banned or replaced."

    Most modern IQ tests are updated regularly.

    "Socially awkward people who excel in one or two areas score well on these tests and suddenly feel that they are experts on the universe."

    ...or so one would think. First of all, were that the case the fault would not lie in the tests but in the test-takers. Second of all, people who score exceptionally (and I mean *exceptionally*) well on IQ tests are typically not socially awkward, though they may be socially distanced because of their difficulty relating to those who are less gifted. I realize this may sound like a bunch of apologetics, but there is a constant battle in these people beyond their typically unusually strong sense of empathy and their difficulty relating to many others. However, these same people often immediately open up socially when exposed to others who are on their level, and they tend to show themselves to be *more* socially adept than most people, if anything.

    " I'm sick and tired of the conflated egos and charlatan behavior associated with these self-proclaimed Einsteins. They are not the Renaissance men they think they are."

    You'll need more evidence to support this view when it comes to Langan.

    "This puts us in a very dangerous predicament. If these fools ever garner a large political following they will be blindly followed by the masses because other people's arguments will be "null and void" due to the fact that the politician in question has a "superior intellect"."

    Langan has actually made sure to explicate all his arguments for his CTMU, instead of simply appealing to his results on psychometric tests, which he has never done by the way.

    "Some youtube subscribers typed that they wanted to put Christopher Langanin charge of the country, despite his totalitarian leanings (he agrees with eugenics and yearns for a nation of philosopher-kings)."

    Again, you'll have to give specific reasons you disagree with his ideas.

    "What can we do to fight this ignorance?"

    Perhaps you should take a closer look at it.

    As to the rest of the commentators, Langan dislikes ivory tower academics far more than almost anyone you'll meet. Check this out. Mega Foundation - Chris Langan - High IQ Societies - Ultranet High IQ Society - Mega Foundation
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    Personally, I think the biggest problem is the narrow range of abilities measured by an IQ test. I think that what it measures is essentially the ability to manipulate data in the head. However, that is not a lot of use if the data is crap.

    I would like to see another measure, called the rationality quotient, or RQ. This would measure the ability of a person to recognise what is real and what is not. It is no good being superb at data manipulation, if you just prove the GIGO principle!
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    "Personally, I think the biggest problem is the narrow range of abilities measured by an IQ test. I think that what it measures is essentially the ability to manipulate data in the head. However, that is not a lot of use if the data is crap."

    I agree that there are a lot of things wrong with the state of modern IQ tests. While I agree that IQ tests tend to measure "the ability to manipulate data in [one's] head", I disagree with the idea that IQ tests do not correlate well with the ability to differentiate the real and the unreal. That is to say, the ability to manipulate data logically tends to extend to the ability to separate the logical and the illogical.

    "I would like to see another measure, called the rationality quotient, or RQ. This would measure the ability of a person to recognise what is real and what is not. It is no good being superb at data manipulation, if you just prove the GIGO principle."

    There is a deep connection between the set of predicates (true, false) and the set of predicates (real, unreal). Modern IQ testing deals with the former, and you're advocating for the latter, but at a sufficiently high level of generality they are one and the same.
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    Ergo

    A couple years back, there was a survey run among members of Canadian Mensa Clubs. Minimum IQ of 135. They found that over 40% were believers in astrology, and between 30 and 40% believed that UFO's were extra terrestrials in flying saucers. A high level of belief in other matter of 'woo' also.

    I think this shows fairly clearly that high IQ does NOT mean rationality.
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    First of all, Mensa is a biased sample. Keep in mind that the average IQ of top university professors in highly technical fields is within that same range or higher. However, it is challenging to find a top (e.g.) mathematician or physicist who believes in (e.g.) astrology.

    Second of all, Mensa Canada is too small an organization from which to draw such conclusions about the correlation of IQ and rationality. According to mensa.org, it has about 1943 members. (See Canada | Mensa International.) According to overcomingbias.com, which seems to be your source, the survey was done in the 1980s. (See Overcoming Bias : What Status RQ?.) Mensa Canada likely had even fewer members at the time. Using a chart of IQ scores and the corresponding percentiles, one may observe that a score of 135 corresponds to approximately the 99th percentile, and there are far more than 2000 people in the world who, statistically speaking, fall into such a category.

    Third of all, the sample you have provided does not extend to those who exceed the IQs of even its members.
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    Rationality is something you learn--not a natural byproduct of having the ability to learn. Not sure why we'd expect anymore than a moderate correlation between IQ and rationality--that might be too much.
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    Seems reasonable that being a lot smarter than the people you grow up with can result in a certain mental arrogance, or maybe excessive self-reliance, that would interfere with beneficial correction by a world consensus or status quo that - after all - was probably informed in the first place by somebody just as smart.

    IIRC Langan was profiled in Malcolm Gladwell's book "Outliers", and the comparison with Oppenheimer was really interesting. I don't think we have to worry about people like Langan leading mass movements of Tea Party Creationists into some kind of power. It's the Sarah Palins of this world who do that.
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    Lynx_Fox, logic is not necessarily a posteriori knowledge.

    iceaura, a group of dunces with a block of stone and a chisel cannot necessarily replicate David. It simply takes a Michelangelo to do that. When it comes to Langan, there is a sense in which it is extremely unlikely that the status quo was informed by someone "just as smart". Like you, I doubt that Langan will end up leading a mass movement in the traditional sense, but I do not doubt that he will sooner or later publicize his work.
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    But isn't it true that you can get better on IQ tests by practice? In my experience they tent to have at least similar type questions and problems. I always blamed my fairly good results on the fact that I've done similar tests quite often since I do not seem to be any smarter then anyone else. Isnt it possible that this langan person or anyone like him simply have redone a bunch of tests a 100 times and then did the mensa test? Scoring a lot higher then they otherwise would? Or is this just naive thinking?
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    As far as I know, Langan never actually attempted the test that Mensa usually uses. However, he broke the ceiling of the Wecshler Adult Intelligence Scale by far, scored 47 out of 48 on Ron Hoeflin's Mega Test, which was explicitly for individuals who break the ceilings of conventional tests, and got a perfect score on his SAT, which was taken in the 1960s or 1970s, when perfect SAT scores were much rarer. (Note that this third "almost" counts as an IQ test given that there was then a large section of the SAT devoted to analogies of the sort found on (e.g.) the Miller Analogies Test, and especially given that Langan grew up in extreme poverty.)

    Now, while it is possible to augment one's IQ slightly with practice, there is a threshold for each individual past which practice makes no difference. With the WAIS, practice can considerably improve performance on the Working Memory Index and perhaps also the Processing Speed Index. However, the Verbal Comprehension Index has increasingly obscure analogies and the like of such a variety so as to make it difficult to improve one's performance on this Index with practice. The Perceptual Organization Index is similarly hardly amenable to practice, especially on the Matrix Reasoning subtest. All this applies more or less to the SAT as well.

    On the other hand, practice has virtually nothing on the Mega Test. If you want to take a look at a similar test, see Ron Hoeflin's Titan Test at Ronald Hoeflin's Titan Test. (The Mega Test was retired because the solutions to many of its problems were leaked online.) The verbal analogies are picked so as to be of the sort a well read person would know, but not of the sort that is easily checked with a dictionary. The spatial problems and number sequences are similarly designed.

    On any account, the best confirmation of Langan's intelligence - and I suspect that he would agree with me on this one - is his masterpiece, the CTMU.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ergonotimor View Post
    Lynx_Fox, logic is not necessarily a posteriori knowledge.
    For the most part I disagree. The Greeks started it, it was only really nailed down in the past couple centuries and most people still don't have even a rudimentary knowledge of logic--even many with a college education. For the most part it is learned.
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    Gladwell, in his book "Outliers" separates intelligence associated with creativity from what is measured with "I.Q".

    An article in Scientific American suggested that most people lose their creativity in the first grade from "social conformity". Thus, if there is an aspect of intelligence that is different from what IQ measures, it is probably not related to what most people would call "rationality". Rather, an intelligence related to creativity would involve imagining what could be possible, that the "rational" (conforming) types cannot see. Of course, how you distinguish the highly creative from the one who just ignores known data without a reason is not always easy.
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    Lynx_Fox, the Greeks may have formalized logic, but this doesn't mean that they invented or were the first discover how to reason rationally. Similarly, while many people are subject to logical errors, this doesn't mean that they are incapable of logical reasoning whatsoever. Moreover, this certainly doesn't show that there is no correlation between logical ability - let's say regardless of socio-economic status so as to disregard learning that is not autodidactic - and intelligence.

    dedo, my point was merely that measures of RQ are subsets of measures of IQ. I agree with you that they are in fact *proper* subsets, meaning that RQ is not all there is to IQ.
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    Without education, most people don't have anything beyond the most rudimentary reasoning skills. It's why superstition still pervades the majority of human lives across the globe.
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    I agree that that's true of most people. However, most people are not exceptionally intelligent.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ergonotimor View Post
    I agree that that's true of most people. However, most people are not exceptionally intelligent.
    Is that why the television was secretly invented in the bronze age?

    Knowledge is built upon knowledge.
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    It would've taken an absurdly intelligent person to invent the television in the Bronze Age. I agree that virtually every human invention is based on previous knowledge. However, that does not mean that the major innovators aren't often exceptionally intelligent. It still takes a Michelangelo to create a David.

    Incidentally, I'm interested in your opinions regarding Langan's CTMU.
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    Are you Langan?
    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

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    I am not Langan nor am I affiliated with him in any way. I understand that you can't be completely sure of this without knowing who I am and confirming it with my real life identity, but the empirical evidence shows that every time Langan acted pseudonymously - and he has not done that often - he did not deny that he is Langan but merely stated that his identity was irrelevant, which it was.
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    I wonder if there is an element to intelligence that is contingent on environment. It seems that although education helps develop intelligence and basic skills, people who do incredible things like starting some of these big tech companies, usually leave the educational environment before they succeed.

    Maybe the main difference between Einstein, and other physicists was that Einstein started in a patent office (creative environment). Maybe the "patent office" is something we can create electronically.

    Then we put Dr. Rocket in there, and we have Einstein.
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    I suppose that working in such an environment leaves one much time to come up with ideas. Moreover, many of the successful people who left the educational environment early on may have done so because it was restrictive to their intellects.
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    That is right. The "educational environment" may restrict intellects.

    If a "patent office" type environment could be constructed, it might do more than just unlock the potential of people with really high IQ. You might be able to achieve an "additive effect" where the IQ of people becomes synergistic.
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    "That is right. The 'educational environment' may restrict intellects."

    Indeed.

    "If a 'patent office' type environment could be constructed, it might do more than just unlock the potential of people with really high IQ. You might be able to achieve an 'additive effect' where the IQ of people becomes synergistic."

    While such an arrangement could somewhat minimize interpersonal noise, it could not efficiently solve very hard problems. The hardest problems need to be treated holistically and they therefore do not easily break down into simple sub-problems. This means that it would still take one very intelligent person, as opposed to several mildly intelligent ones, to solve such a problem, regardless of the environment's encouraging creativity.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ergonotimor View Post
    I am not Langan nor am I affiliated with him in any way. I understand that you can't be completely sure of this without knowing who I am and confirming it with my real life identity, but the empirical evidence shows that every time Langan acted pseudonymously - and he has not done that often - he did not deny that he is Langan but merely stated that his identity was irrelevant, which it was.
    Wouldn't have mattered if you were. Just interested. Are you a big follower and proponent of his work though? Seems like you are.
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    Yes, I suppose that I am a relatively big follower and proponent of his work.
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    Cool. Would you be willing to discuss some of it? Maybe in a different thread? I have merely skimmed over CTMU. I don't agree with some of what I saw and to be honest and I am somewhat dismayed that Langan has chosen to associate himself with ID proponents. But, I am willing to discuss it's merits as objectively as I can. Are you game?
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    I will be happy to participate.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dedo View Post
    That is right. The "educational environment" may restrict intellects. .
    You'd probably like Ken Robinsons views, who argues we should replace our obsolete industrial model. http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j...noJ4Sg&cad=rja

    As a prospective high school teacher, who once was a bored school drop out, he's given me much to think about. Also consider the US government doesn't recognize gifted kids as exceptional nor provide any framework or resources for their education. Many make it on their own from natural talent, far more than we probably care to admit, are living under bridges. The smartest person I think I've ever know was a Saab dealer (painter, town selectman, machinist, boat builder) who probably had the ability to change the lives of millions under different circumstance. The most tragic was Jack, a physicist who got busted for something to do with a few ounces of pot and when I met him lived in his car (he taught me spelunking)--working pick up carpentry jobs. We waste so much human potential.
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    KALSTER, where do you suggest that we should converse?

    Lynx_Fox, I agree that we are wasting enormous amounts of human potential.
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    I loved that lecture Lynx. Your background is interesting. My Dad did the same thing, by dropping out of school and joining the Merchant Marine. He soon ended up in the Army, went to OCS and made that his career.

    How to reform the education system is a little over my head, although it sounds like a good idea. What I am interested in is how to create an environment that overcomes social conditioning of collaborating investigators to improve individual or collective creativity, at least on a small scale.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ergonotimor View Post
    KALSTER, where do you suggest that we should converse?

    Lynx_Fox, I agree that we are wasting enormous amounts of human potential.
    I guess we can do it in the Scientific Study of Religion section. If you are up to it, you can start the thread with a short outline of the idea and then we can take it away.

    You ok with that?
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    Chris Langan's CTMU

    Here it is.
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