Why Smart People Feel Frustrated and Displaced

Ok, get ready to fuss at me for being a jerk....

The average IQ score is 100, with a standard deviation of 15 points. This makes the normal range from 85 to 115. One more standard deviation on either end, from 70 to 130, encompasses dull normal and bright normal. Anything below two standard deviations, or <69, is considered mentally retarded. Anything above two standard deviations, or >130, is considered gifted. 95% of the general population has IQs that fall between 70 and 130. 2.5% fall within the mental retardation range and 2.5% fall within the gifted range.

"Normals" don't typically hang out and socialize with mentally retarded folks. "Normals" find mentally retarded folks frustrating and boring. Historically, normal folks have treated people with mental retardation pretty horribly (institutions, torture, extermination, ridicule, etc.). Imagine how angry and frustrated the normal population would feel if the world's politics, religious institutions, laws, social norms and commerce were all primarily maintained by the mentally retarded!

Now consider this, gifted individuals are intellectually as far from normal people, as normal people are from the mentally retarded! Being gifted and living in a world run by normals is exactly like being normal in a world run by people with mental retardation!

Can you imagine being of normal IQ and trying to argue politics or religion with a mentally retarded person who is incapable of comprehending your standards for logic and rational thought? It is the same for gifted people who debate normal people. Except, that the normals represent such a HUGE majority that their opinions are considered valid! The majority of the populous operates from same crude belief system... "Because we all agree, we must be right."

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Comment by Dr. Cowboy on November 17, 2010 at 10:30pm
Great post. I've never really thought about it that way before, but it certainly explains a lot. :)
Comment by Edward Teach on April 12, 2010 at 7:45pm

I don't know if I buy that you don't have some of that brilliant side. I come to A/N to sharpen my mind against/with this bunch of egg heads ;-)

But, I actually love to socialize in real time with folks who aren't all caught up in intellectual masturbation. I like people who aren't like me, who don't obsess over points of logic... How fuckin boring is that!?
Comment by Edward Teach on December 10, 2009 at 4:29pm
Yea, there are a million valid arguments against IQ tests. The tests measure a narrow range of human cognitive abilities and tend to be less accurate across cultures. Even if "intelligence" could be accurately measured, it is just one of many traits that make up a person. The use of "IQ" for the argument requires painting with an extremely broad generalizing brush. I might have chosen any number of other traits as an alienating mechanism. Those with highly attuned empathy skills likely feel frustrated and even bewildered by those who have under developed empathy skills. Those who have high thresholds for fear and anxiety may judge anxious people as childish or unstable. And, in no way am I implying that intelligence is a trait that equates to success or even that it is the most important human trait... Only that it can be alienating.

In loose terms, those who meaure low on IQ tests don't relate well to those who rate high on the tests. Aside from a few friends and loved ones, the concepts I've explored on A/N require remediation. I consider my greatest strength the ability to communicate difficult concepts in a meaningful manner to an extremely wide range of people. So, I'm very good at remediating information.

I love teaching... but it is aweful nice to come on A/N and NOT have to remediate at all. It is wonderful to come here and be the student of sharper minds and sometimes be on the receiving end of remediation... ;-)
Comment by goodthink on December 10, 2009 at 3:15pm
IQ is mainly a social-economic indicator and relies heavily upon factors that are weighted as important in one culture over another. A great example of how fundamentally flawed the system is can been seen with how the Piraha, an indigenous people with an extremely difficult language, view the world. To them the things that are important are, say, the ability to identify plants and their uses, how to track animals, how well one sees in the dark, how well one can predict the rise and fall of the river and spatial orientation in regard to fixed objects (the river).

If someone from the Piraha were to take even a rudimentary IQ test, with say, spatial problems they would fail. Largely because their minds are attuned to the 3d world and they have an extremely difficult time processing 2d objects and assembling them in their minds as 3d ones. The task is so difficult, that Piraha can rarely identify people in photographs as the people standing next to them. In addition, their numbering system is confined to 1, 2 and many.

There does seem to be some evidence that culture impacts language and language impacts thought patterns, a kind of enmeshed chicken-egg problem.

I do think IQ measures something, and it's important that its limitations be recognized, and the fact that we aren't completely sure what it measures is also important. IQ has been correlated with higher academic success rates, but when you look at how well people do in life, people with higher IQs tend to fair better than most, but 'normal people' often experience the extremes more (poverty or extreme wealth). What does seem more important are the cultural supports one has while growing up. Even someone with an average IQ, given the necessary supports, can do very, very well. So it would seem that other variables, as yet largely undefined, play as much or more of a role than IQ.

That said, I think your argument has merit, but it is a double-edged sword. I know with certainty there are people who think in a clearer manner than I do. I know with certainty that things difficult for me, others grasp with ease. In fact, I cannot act with any sense of surety on a number of things precisely because I am aware of all the things I don't know. And often, I am overwhelmed with the indelible and unavoidable assault on my intellect of just how ignorant I am. There is always another book, another lecture, another paper, always something just out of my grasp.

I tend not to worry about the minutiae of daily events. I have problems remembering appointments, dates, meetings, daily to-do lists. I don't stay up at night worrying about buying gas, or taking the kids to after schools programs. I do however spend an massive amount of time thinking about things with no practical application, like the Problem of Evil, the Euthyphro Dilemma, quantum entanglement, the Problem of Induction, the Problem of Identity, existentialism, economics and evolutionary stable strategies; or even more abstractly, how to apply colours to approximate rust, whether or not civilizations nearest a singularity have had more time to evolve than the age of the universe and more.

If the world depended on me to function, it wouldn't. So while it is hard to comprehend what can amount to significant differences in functionality and abstraction with those who are 'normal', I wholly admire and give credit to those who can function with the banality of daily living and prosper where I would flounder.

There is also a sense of loneliness that pervades my own existence, and I am not sure it is universally shared, precisely because I cannot connect to people over everyday things. That said, I would have to disagree that normal people are to gifted people as retarded people are to normal people. I would have to look at the spectrum of IQ as it relates to function and empathy and not so much to how abstract you can think or are capable of thinking.

A retarded person is minimally functional and has little or no empathy, where as, normal people tend to be highly functional and prodigious across every element of society and are capable of taking many intentional stances and empathizing with others regardless of IQ or status. And while gifted people do have a hard time expressing thoughts with normal people, they share in the functional obligations of normal people and rarely exceed the capability of a normal person in day-to-day tasks even though they may fully exceed contributions made to society as a whole. Additionally, gifted people can, I believe be just as empathic, sometimes more so that normal people and so the comparison would break down until you get into the top 1 or .5% of the population whose intelligence comes at a high price of mental instability and comprise.

Anyone within the normal deviation of intelligence can perform exceedingly well. An IQ of only 120 can get you a professional degree, and there is not a marked difference within a single deviation. What is significantly different is the myth of genius, and the artificial separation between one deviation and another as if each deviation is an impenetrable black box. So when the rubber meets the road, it doesn't matter if your lawyer has an IQ of 110 or 120 or 150. What does matter is her track record of winning and losing and the practical application of knowledge they have in manipulating the legal system.
Comment by Edward Teach on December 5, 2009 at 3:12pm
LMAO... I'm fine with the argument that IQ doesn't really measure intelligence. I'm sure that is true. But, it does measure a statistically significant "something"... and that "something" is used to classify the levels of mental retardation and levels of genious. Regardless of cultural bias and the like, you would be hard put to find an individual with an IQ of 40 who is working as a doctor.
Comment by Edward Teach on December 5, 2009 at 1:40pm
"walked a mile in your shoes"

I know, right?
Comment by Edward Teach on November 13, 2009 at 11:05am

My kids all went to an art magnet. It was so wonderful! The teachers and students shared a common goal. EVERYBODY wanted to be there! And, they proved to be uber successful academically. In your face "three Rs!"

I wonder how the math/science vs humanities tracks compared as far as the IQ/EQ overall assessment?
Comment by Glenn Sogge on November 13, 2009 at 10:55am
-> Dana re gifted
MostMany large school districts have some kind of "gifted program" for their students. In our district, which is the 2nd largest in the state and has many of the problems of the largest (Chicago), there is a gifted program for late elementary years. There is a "math/science" only track and a "humanities track". It involves busing to magnet schools. If in the math/science track, only those classes are special. With the other track, it is a bit more encompassing. There is sometimes a problem because a given home school might have 4 students who would be eligible for both and they end up divvying up the allocation (my son's years, the 2 boys got math/science, the girls got humanities). At the high school level, each of the 4 high schools has an "academy". There's math/science, humanities, arts, and something else. You don't have to be in the academies to take AP classes, though you can if that's what you need.

And within the category of gifted, there is the same kind of bell curve distribution Rusty described. Sometimes kids "don't make it" for social reasons, not intellectual ones. But one thing this is very common about them all is that they are incredibly bored by the normal schooling. Kids and boredom is never a good thing.
Comment by Johnny on October 30, 2009 at 7:07am
amen to that, Rusty.

Christians are open season right now. Get em before Christmas comes!
Comment by Edward Teach on October 29, 2009 at 11:08pm
Johnny, that sums it up for me too. If I all I wanted was to screw with people for passive aggressive kicks... I'd pick on Christians ;-)



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