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Old 12-18-2016, 10:57 AM
aldiboronti aldiboronti is offline
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Why are some people smarter than others?

And I mean people in general not nonsensical stuff about races. Is it something physical, something to do with differences in the brain itself? It surely can't be environmental, too many dumb rich people and smart poor ones for that to be true. On the other hand it can't be genetic, geniuses rarely spawn geniuses and many a moron has sired a really intelligent kid.

So if it is some difference in the brain what exactly is it? Is it size, the bigger the brain the smarter you are? Or is it like the penis, it's not the size that matters it's what you do with it?

My own grey matter, such as it be, needs a little help with this one!
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Old 12-18-2016, 11:02 AM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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If it's not at least partly genetic, then why aren't chimps as smart as humans?

How could humans have evolved to be as intelligent as we are if there was no genetic component?

It's clearly both, since environmental factors such as nutrition have been shown to play a role. And don't think that the two (nature and nurture) never interact in certain circumstances, either. It needn't be a clean dichotomy.

Last edited by John Mace; 12-18-2016 at 11:04 AM.
  #3  
Old 12-18-2016, 11:22 AM
panache45 panache45 is offline
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Before you can answer the question of why some people are smarter than others, you need to define what you mean by "smarter". People have been trying to define intelligence forever, and still cannot come up with a consensus. Plus, there are many types of intelligence, not all or which are measurable. Why do you think IQ test are so controversial?
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Old 12-18-2016, 11:24 AM
aldiboronti aldiboronti is offline
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Originally Posted by panache45 View Post
Before you can answer the question of why some people are smarter than others, you need to define what you mean by "smarter". People have been trying to define intelligence forever, and still cannot come up with a consensus. Plus, there are many types of intelligence, not all or which are measurable. Why do you think IQ test are so controversial?
Yes, smart is one of those words that it's almost impossible to define. But on the other hand we all know a smart person when we meet one. Go figure.
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Old 12-18-2016, 11:33 AM
The Other Waldo Pepper The Other Waldo Pepper is offline
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Originally Posted by John Mace View Post
If it's not at least partly genetic, then why aren't chimps as smart as humans?

How could humans have evolved to be as intelligent as we are if there was no genetic component?

It's clearly both, since environmental factors such as nutrition have been shown to play a role. And don't think that the two (nature and nurture) never interact in certain circumstances, either. It needn't be a clean dichotomy.
Well, yeah. I mean, imagine you take two babies -- identical twins -- and you (a) place one of them with a family who'll make sure he receives the best private education that money can buy, and you (b) shoot the other one in the head.
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Old 12-18-2016, 11:55 AM
Leaffan Leaffan is offline
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I think genetics does indeed play a big part, at least as a starting point. After that it's just like athletics; the more you exercise the brain, the better it gets.

Knowledge doesn't just appear in ones brain. Knowledge is acquired through education and experience. I'm pretty sure that if I had the drive and determination I could have been a lot more successful in life. Hey, I'm not complaining. I earn a very good living, but if it wasn't for my like of slacking off and partying I could have really excelled.

Wayne Gretzky used to get up in the morning and spend an hour skating in the back yard rink before school each day in the winter. When he got home from school he spent time on the rink till supper. He ate, and then went back to the rink until bed time. He did this every day and all day on weekends for what, maybe 4 or 5 months a year. He no doubt had a predisposition genetically for athletics, but he practiced as much as he could as often as he could.

Now, imagine reading for knowledge an hour in the morning, five hours in the evening, and all day every weekend, especially in your formative years. How damned smart would you be by the time you were 16?

Last edited by Leaffan; 12-18-2016 at 11:55 AM.
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Old 12-18-2016, 12:01 PM
Okrahoma Okrahoma is offline
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Now, imagine reading for knowledge an hour in the morning, five hours in the evening, and all day every weekend, especially in your formative years. How damned smart would you be by the time you were 16?
You'd be pretty knowledgeable. But I don't know if you'd be smart.
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Old 12-18-2016, 12:01 PM
LSLGuy LSLGuy is offline
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You could as easily ask why some people are tall and others are short.

Every feature of humans is subject to
A) genetic variation
B) epigenetic variation
C) environmental variation
D) Social variation

The old "nature versus nurture" debates are 17th century science. We now know it's all of the above in an endlessly varying mix.

As to smart people having average kids, or tall people having short kids, understand that by and large you don't carry only the genes to make clones of you. If you have brown eyes that doesn't mean every descendant of yours forever will have brown eyes.

Simplifying mightily, each of us carry the genes to make pretty much every kind of possible human. We as individuals only use a small subset of the genes we carry. So we're able to create kids that aren't clones of us, even after you consider the fact your kid is a mix of you and your partner's genes.

A better analogy than "you are your genes" is there's a gigantic deck of many millions of cards. At conception you draw a "hand" of a couple thousand of those cards.

Some of which are discarded and some of which are doubled or trebled during gestation. Depending on luck, food supply, weather, pollutants, etc. This process creates the fetal you.

Then you're born and luck, food supply, weather, pollutants, etc. continue to work on you. As does your parents' childrearing skills and social habits for good or ill.

With the end effect that you learn how to play some subset of your cards in the game called "society at your time and place." You may be skilful or not. Or ref panache45, skilful at some things and sucky at others.

All in all "genes are destiny" is pretty much bullshit from end to end. With the exception of serious defects that foreclose a lot of what we ordinarily think of as being human.

Last edited by LSLGuy; 12-18-2016 at 12:04 PM.
  #9  
Old 12-18-2016, 12:06 PM
albino_manatee albino_manatee is offline
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the person who knows how to apply learns how to develop themself.

someone is plagued with adhd … first and second grade that child gets d's and f's in the classes. third year comes along … same student … same school … different teacher. within six months that kid who was failing everything has now risen to the top 2% of all in the nation.

while genetics and society may/mayn't play a role … i would never discount any person worthy of the title.
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Old 12-18-2016, 12:16 PM
Leaffan Leaffan is offline
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You'd be pretty knowledgeable. But I don't know if you'd be smart.
I can't disagree with that. I work with PhDs and a lot of them, although scholastically brilliant, are not known for social or interpersonal skills, and would have a hard time with conversational speech at a cocktail party.
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Old 12-18-2016, 12:26 PM
Wesley Clark Wesley Clark is online now
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Humans share 99.9% of our DNA with each other, and that remaining 0.1% makes up about 50-80% of our IQ differences. IQ is mostly genetic, a genius chimp is dumber than an average human. Various factors can lower it like environmental toxins, isolation, abuse, stress, etc. but I don't think you can raise it much via environment alone (except for the Flynn effect, but I'm not sure if that is due to nutrition, environment or something else).

China has engaged in and I think now completed a program to find the genetic traits that lead to high IQ (which I think they got from taking DNA from thousands of people with an IQ of 160+ and looking for what genes kept coming up). I believe they found it wasn't one gene, it was thousands of minor variants each of which has a minor role in IQ. So they are hoping using this they can create smarter babies.

As to the physiology of the brain as it relates to IQ, I've heard it can be the fact that certain brain areas are wired together better in smarter people. Another is the neural efficiency hypothesis.

https://www.wired.com/2015/10/scient...rain-activity/

Also are you talking about IQ differences between Homo sapiens, or are you talking about IQ differences between homo sapiens and other species? Human brains have tripled in size in the last 2 million years, going from about 500cc to about 1400cc now. So brain size plays a role, however elephants and dolphins have larger brains with bigger neocortex areas.

Last edited by Wesley Clark; 12-18-2016 at 12:30 PM.
  #12  
Old 12-18-2016, 12:28 PM
Okrahoma Okrahoma is offline
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I can't disagree with that. I work with PhDs and a lot of them, although scholastically brilliant, are not known for social or interpersonal skills, and would have a hard time with conversational speech at a cocktail party.
Knowledgeable doesn't even equate to "scholastically brilliant", much less "smart". Being scholastically brilliant involves a lot of knowledge, its full integration, and ability to have insights that others may not have. Although don't knock "knowledgeable" - it's better than nothing.
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Old 12-18-2016, 12:43 PM
Wendell Wagner Wendell Wagner is offline
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aldiboronti writes:

> But on the other hand we all know a smart person when we meet one.

Really? I don't see any evidence that we can know how smart a person is within a few minutes after we meet them. Often it takes months to realize how smart they are. For that matter, it's not clear that some people are smart until fairly late in life. I think that showing how smart you are might be just as much about fairly random things in your life as the things that cause you to be smart. In other words, often it takes decades before a person gets put in a situation where they can show how smart they are.
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Old 12-18-2016, 01:55 PM
md2000 md2000 is offline
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The general rule of thumb that I've read is you are 50% genetic and 50% environment (because deep down, nobody has a serious answer). The Wayne Gretzky analogy is apt too. One theory says that your brian is still developing for years after you are born. How much you use your brain during that time especially, determines how good it is at being used for the rest of your life.

(I often wonder - the third world child is carried everywhere until they walk and see much of social life, then they are sat in the same room as a collection of adults having adult conversation, and allowed to run around the village. Modern North American children, by contrast, are stuck in a separate room staring at a ceiling a lot of the time. If they're lucky, the same playtime mobile for a year. What little social input they get, a lot comes from television, a non-responsive medium. Then, in early adolescence when third-world children must deal with the puzzle and challenges of simple survival let alone succeeding, our adolescents are left to sit in a separate rec room and vegetate if they so desire - think Wayne's World, but without the Mandarin fluency. So, third world children should be competitive despite their nutrition handicap.)

In Freakonomics, the authors argue that a person's parents' education as much as anything else determines their success in life. (Of course, statistics mean "in general" and there are always exceptions nd outliers) Your parents' education generally determines (again, on average) how much money they have, how much effort they can put into your early education, etc.

If we accept that generally, minus a few outliers, 50% of your smarts is determined by genetics but most people fall in a fairly common band of "IQ" (whatever that means) because we all have approximately the same genes, better than chimps, then environment and educational effort makes all the difference. You could be 30% to 50% smart due to genes, but 0% to 100% due to education and early childhood environment. So education can make a big difference in some cases.

Last edited by md2000; 12-18-2016 at 01:57 PM.
  #15  
Old 12-18-2016, 02:16 PM
dropzone dropzone is offline
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My own grey matter, such as it be, needs a little help with this one!
Yeah, well, we've known that for 14 years.
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Old 12-18-2016, 02:47 PM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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The general rule of thumb that I've read is you are 50% genetic and 50% environment (because deep down, nobody has a serious answer).
I've never hear that "rule of thumb" before. Where does it come from?

At any rate, it doesn't make any sense since a severely malnourished infant could have permanent brain damage and severe reduction in cognitive ability. Same with deprivation of oxygen or exposure to some pathogens.
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Old 12-18-2016, 08:02 PM
Derleth Derleth is online now
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We always get ourselves tied into knots over this because we don't approach it systematically. Here, at least, is one possible way to look at things:

There's two axes here, genetic and environmental, where the environmental axis extends to the womb environment and therefore includes some congenital factors. On each axis, you have two broad fields, which you may call "Deficit" and "Bonus", with obvious interpretations.

Or, I should say, the deficits are obvious, but it is not clear what should go in the bonus regions of either axis. That is what gets people tied up in knots, from what I see, especially since people tend to conflate knowing specific things with being able to use the knowledge you have, which comes closer to being a true measure of intelligence. Just memorizing a dictionary is not intelligence. Savants can do that, and one of the defining features of savantism is a sub-normal intelligence. Having a larger-than-average vocabulary you use competently is closer to being a sign of normal intelligence. Genius comes from using words—any words at all—in a novel and especially memorable fashion.

Add a few centuries of lionization and demonization cycles for various media (tell me: are novels considered to rot the mind or improve it this century?) and the permanent miasma of racism which settles on any discussion of the role of genetics (or its proxy, "culture", especially "Those People's culture") in intelligence, and you have a field where being an expert makes you a target and there seems to be no assumption of good faith.
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Old 12-18-2016, 09:29 PM
Chief Pedant Chief Pedant is offline
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Originally Posted by aldiboronti View Post
And I mean people in general not nonsensical stuff about races. Is it something physical, something to do with differences in the brain itself? It surely can't be environmental, too many dumb rich people and smart poor ones for that to be true. On the other hand it can't be genetic, geniuses rarely spawn geniuses and many a moron has sired a really intelligent kid.

So if it is some difference in the brain what exactly is it? Is it size, the bigger the brain the smarter you are? Or is it like the penis, it's not the size that matters it's what you do with it?

My own grey matter, such as it be, needs a little help with this one!
I am not sure why you dismiss "stuff about races" as "nonsensical." As a general rule, "races" reflect continent of recent origin for source pool genes, and of course the history of human migration means that the average frequency for all gene variants--including those related to neurologic function--vary among "races." For example, you would find a marked difference in the average frequency for MCPH1 Haplogroup D variant between (self assigned) whites and asians, and (self-assigned) blacks. This is because those self-assigned races tend to correlate with their continents of recent origin, and MCPH1 Haplogroup D only arose about 40,000 years ago. It has since achieved very high penetration in post-africa groups, but very little back diffusion into sub-saharan africa (perhaps with the exception of the horn) because of human migration patterns.

Anyway, the way to look at genes and brain function is to think of genes as providing a substrate upon which the environment acts. That substrate (nature) provides a ceiling beyond which the environment (nurture) cannot excel. You can't get a chimp to read and write worth a damn, and you can't get the Pedant to understand advanced math no matter how good the nurturing is. You can make either of us "smarter" with good nurturing. But only smarter than we would be with lousier nurturing; not smarter than our genetically-programmed ceiling.

We don't know nearly enough about genes and their interplay to identify which genetic combination is great. We do have some teasers. Here is an example that looks at processing speed. And every gene has a wide variety of variants each of which may affect intelligence, alone or in combination. For example, one study showed if you substitute a single instance of thymine for cytosine in the HMGA2 gene, you increase intelligence about 1%.
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Old 12-19-2016, 02:28 PM
md2000 md2000 is offline
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I've never hear that "rule of thumb" before. Where does it come from?

At any rate, it doesn't make any sense since a severely malnourished infant could have permanent brain damage and severe reduction in cognitive ability. Same with deprivation of oxygen or exposure to some pathogens.
Then maybe we could consider three factors are relevant - genetics, environmental (i.e. nutrition, diseases, etc.) and stimulation (exposure to language, experiences, puzzles, things which give the brain a workout and develop novel connections between the brain cells).

But yes, if you start with the same 50% brain power as anyone else but completely fail to develop it due to oxygen starvation or severe malnutrition or blunt force trauma - then the person will be in the category of 50% of normal intelligence. IQ of 50 is pretty close to being a rutabaga. If the genes in that case developed brain function enough to keep breathing and heart going, then the genes have done their part. Ability to swallow food and drink would be a bonus - 51%.
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Old 12-19-2016, 03:15 PM
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The OP might be interested in the Flynn effect. In fact, you can see James Flynn himself speak about it in this TED talk.

The Wikipedia page lists a bunch of hypothesized factors explaining why IQ scores have gradually increased over the course of many decades; the same explanations might also explain why any given person alive today might be smarter/dumber than another person also alive today. One of the more interesting explanatory theories, IMHO, is the idea of a generally more stimulating environment than what one might have experienced 20/50/100 years ago. We who are alive today have been exposed to far more intense and varied sensory stimuli and far more varied ideas than a person our age in 1916, and according to this idea, it's made our intellects into more capable pattern-matching engines than our ancestors.
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Old 12-19-2016, 07:56 PM
Atamasama Atamasama is offline
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Originally Posted by Wendell Wagner View Post
aldiboronti writes:

> But on the other hand we all know a smart person when we meet one.

Really? I don't see any evidence that we can know how smart a person is within a few minutes after we meet them. Often it takes months to realize how smart they are. For that matter, it's not clear that some people are smart until fairly late in life. I think that showing how smart you are might be just as much about fairly random things in your life as the things that cause you to be smart. In other words, often it takes decades before a person gets put in a situation where they can show how smart they are.
Self-confidence and a well-memorized vocabulary can make a mediocre person seem superficially brilliant. I've known a few of those people, and had the misfortune of working with a couple of them too. It's like a really fancy box full of rocks.
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Old 12-19-2016, 09:47 PM
Urbanredneck Urbanredneck is offline
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Sometimes there are these super brain kids who are VERY smart, like finishing college at age 14 smart. But people should realize intelligence isnt a continual growth curve. It seems to level off after awhile.

So yes, that 12 year old kid might have brains on par with a 20 year old but by the time they are say 21, their peers will probably be caught up with them.
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Old 12-19-2016, 11:09 PM
md2000 md2000 is offline
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I will also guess that a lot of the Flynn effect is, as part of the link suggests, the variety of media available. Compared to a farm boy from 1900 the modern adolescent has experienced so much more. One example I like is horse races. They were everywhere when I was a kid, but I've never been to one. I hazard a guess that 99% of Americans under 50 never have either. Yet, I've seen hundreds of them. The local news used to report them as sport in the 1960s on tv. Quincy went to one in every other episode. National Velvet, The Black stallion, Three Stooges, ... you could not miss them. The world? I've seen places from almost everywhere in the world, in stunning HD.

It's not just visual. The plot line of Law and Order alone, besides giving plenty of fodder for discussions here, has show how many weird twists and turns. The same is true with every drama. We don't watch Romeo or MacBeth over nad over again, we go from the ancient times to a galaxy far far away, we see ever torturous twist of any Greek legend morphed to another day. Checkers is replaced by a variety of board games requiring developing minds to think, grasp concepts and plan - then replaced with video games that demand the same and a break-neck pace instead of all day to play Monopoly or Risk.

Anything that challenges us to learn burns those synapse connections that much faster and wider. Wer'e lab rats running ever more complex mazes. The challenge makes our minds strong.

Last edited by md2000; 12-19-2016 at 11:12 PM.
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Old 12-20-2016, 06:22 AM
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I'm gonna say it is because natural selection tolerates a ball curve of inherited abilities. Rather than demanding an exact performance level.
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Old 12-20-2016, 06:44 AM
Derleth Derleth is online now
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I will also guess that a lot of the Flynn effect is, as part of the link suggests, the variety of media available. Compared to a farm boy from 1900 the modern adolescent has experienced so much more. One example I like is horse races. They were everywhere when I was a kid, but I've never been to one. I hazard a guess that 99% of Americans under 50 never have either. Yet, I've seen hundreds of them. The local news used to report them as sport in the 1960s on tv. Quincy went to one in every other episode. National Velvet, The Black stallion, Three Stooges, ... you could not miss them. The world? I've seen places from almost everywhere in the world, in stunning HD.

It's not just visual. The plot line of Law and Order alone, besides giving plenty of fodder for discussions here, has show how many weird twists and turns. The same is true with every drama. We don't watch Romeo or MacBeth over nad over again, we go from the ancient times to a galaxy far far away, we see ever torturous twist of any Greek legend morphed to another day. Checkers is replaced by a variety of board games requiring developing minds to think, grasp concepts and plan - then replaced with video games that demand the same and a break-neck pace instead of all day to play Monopoly or Risk.

Anything that challenges us to learn burns those synapse connections that much faster and wider. Wer'e lab rats running ever more complex mazes. The challenge makes our minds strong.
This was part of the the thesis of a pop-science book Everything Bad is Good For You: Our entertainment media is getting more complex, with denser narratives with more plot threads going at once and less hand-holding to keep the audience from losing track of everything. The author even made the case that reality TV, with its emphasis on personal relationships, was increasing our emotional intelligence because we had to keep track of more personal relationships compared to the scripted shows of yore.

The problem with that specific work was that it was a piece of pop science, as opposed to a reviewed paper, so the reviews it got were from book reviewers, who naturally focused on things like readability more than footnotes and engagement with previous academic literature. A review on Slashdot has this:
Quote:
By using pseudo-case studies, there isn't really a basis by which the data presented by Johnson is stronger than "because I said so." Work that would help his argument has been done in communication studies, developmental psychology and cognitive psychology, but those fields are largely ignored here. Instead, cranky old guys like Marshall McLuhan and Neil Postman are set up as straw men. This disconnect reminds of how well Howard Rheingold incorporates current research into popular press efforts like this book. Johnson does use some decent resources like James Paul Gee, and seems to be widely read in several cogent fields, but it doesn't seem reflected as well as might be expected in the actual text.
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Old 12-20-2016, 08:04 AM
LSLGuy LSLGuy is offline
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...
The author even made the case that reality TV, with its emphasis on personal relationships, was increasing our emotional intelligence because we had to keep track of more personal relationships compared to the scripted shows of yore.
...
I have long held that a lot of the problem with modern society is caused by children learning how to socialize by watching sitcoms.

Life and relationships is not a collection of snarky one-liners delivered over a laugh track. As well, a healthy life has little controversy and bickering. Which is far too boring to show on TV.

As a result our kids learn to be snarky drama queens. Who then raise their kids the way TV taught them to.

Not good overall.


Bottom line: "enrichment" can also be derichment. The world is teaching everyone something every second of every day. Whatever you pay attention to is what's your personal teacher.

If most of someone's world is TV or Call of Duty, or whatever, then those are the lessons absorbed.
  #27  
Old 12-20-2016, 03:02 PM
Dr_Paprika Dr_Paprika is offline
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Trump is really smart because he went to a school tougher than any military academy.
  #28  
Old 12-20-2016, 04:02 PM
Atamasama Atamasama is offline
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As a result our kids learn to be snarky drama queens. Who then raise their kids the way TV taught them to.
I'm fairly confident that teens have been snarky drama queens since before the invention of the sitcom.

http://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-a...aging-hormones

All sitcoms do is provide them with particular lines to use. This is more than learned behavior.
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Old 12-20-2016, 04:37 PM
Ornery Bob Ornery Bob is offline
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The reason, in general, is because all biological systems exhibit variation. It's the basic building block of evolution. Mutations happen.

The fact that dumb people have smart kids doesn't rule out genetics. In fact it exposes exactly how genetics works! Every giraffe ever born had a short neck until one came along whose neck was longer and it helped and he passed it along... it all starts with a gene mutation that causes variation. Some work, some don't, some are meh.
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Old 12-20-2016, 10:25 PM
NetTrekker NetTrekker is offline
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Genetics. Siblings usually grow up in similar environments but have varying levels of cerebral talent.
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Old 12-21-2016, 01:10 AM
TheSundial TheSundial is offline
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My sister went to Northwestern and Harvard Law School, my stepsister went to Princeton, my stepbrother went to Yale, my mother is an Optometrist, my stepdad went to MIT.

Still none of them even remotely have a vivid imagination like mine. They never could even begin to match my story ideas. I've also been working on a massive Youtube video with 40 different locations I've designed with a map editor, perfectly timed with music and several ideal subjects to use for digital paintings that I'm including.

To me (I don't think it's an opinion actually) a fantastic imagination is the best possible skill on this planet. What other skill can you go such a distance with, beyond Earth and incorporating so many aspects and detail of existence at once?

Many people seem to think that traveling is the most epic use of time on this planet, planning out elaborate trips to exotic locations. And then they live their whole life with little to no imagination, not realizing that it's even more rewarding, for example the rest of my family.
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Old 12-21-2016, 01:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Atamasama View Post
I'm fairly confident that teens have been snarky drama queens since before the invention of the sitcom.

http://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-a...aging-hormones

All sitcoms do is provide them with particular lines to use. This is more than learned behavior.
And some people are born drama queens, no need to grow that tall. I wouldn't know if my niece was born a snarky drama queen because at first she didn't talk much, but if theater hadn't existed she would have invented it.


TheSundial, imagination isn't a skill, it's something you can work on a little but more like say height than mathematics. And if you can't imagine other people enjoying different things than you do, maybe you don't have as much imagination as you think. Now excuse me while I take my finger out of your eye...

Last edited by Nava; 12-21-2016 at 01:13 AM.
  #33  
Old 12-21-2016, 02:04 AM
TheSundial TheSundial is offline
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It's most definitely a skill, because I have it and that's why I'm able to visualize such a complex Youtube video that's a world record and also execute it while no one else can.
  #34  
Old 12-21-2016, 02:14 AM
Nava Nava is offline
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"Being something people can have" isn't what defines a skill: I have brown hair, but that doesn't make brown hair a skill. A skill can be developed. I wasn't born with the skill to read and write chemical formulas: I learned it, developed it. Now I have it. Skills require certain aptitudes; aptitudes aren't developed (you have it or you don't), skills can.
  #35  
Old 12-21-2016, 12:32 PM
photodiver photodiver is offline
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In addition to the potential to be smart on the genetic level, you also need to have the potential to use those IQ points, both on the genetic level and environmental level. We all appreciate that a child born in Mogadishu, with poor parents, may never even learn to read, much less live up to his/her full potential. On the flip side of the coin, we can appreciate the movie "A Beautiful Mind" but for the most part a schizophrenic with an IQ of 160 is never going to be allowed to be a professor at MIT. On a less extreme level, I'm sure we all know someone who was sailing through school at the top of the class until they hit puberty and discovered (a) their penis and/or (b) drugs. What's your IQ when you sell your slide rule for a tab of oxycodone?
  #36  
Old 12-21-2016, 01:00 PM
md2000 md2000 is offline
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Originally Posted by photodiver View Post
In addition to the potential to be smart on the genetic level, you also need to have the potential to use those IQ points, both on the genetic level and environmental level. We all appreciate that a child born in Mogadishu, with poor parents, may never even learn to read, much less live up to his/her full potential. On the flip side of the coin, we can appreciate the movie "A Beautiful Mind" but for the most part a schizophrenic with an IQ of 160 is never going to be allowed to be a professor at MIT. On a less extreme level, I'm sure we all know someone who was sailing through school at the top of the class until they hit puberty and discovered (a) their penis and/or (b) drugs. What's your IQ when you sell your slide rule for a tab of oxycodone?
Did oxycodone even exist when people typically used slide rules?

I remember going to a job fair in Toronto where one student asked one of the HR execs (Esso Canada, IIRC) how important were marks for success? The guy said they did an informal survey of most of the top executives and none were outstanding at the top of their class. There are plenty of stories of "brilliant" people who were hopeless at other mundane tasks. being a successful executive probably calls on skills that are not typical parts of the college curriculum - office politics, organizing, managing personnel, project management. More general smarts can't hurt, but the top people at Fortune 500 aren't up there because of their engineering or math skills.

The same might be said of imagination or math skills or any other challenge. Many of my classmates were far better than me at remembering and regurgitating data on tests, but given a practical application problem, were lost.

But on the physical level - your brain is an organized jumble of interconnected neurons. The connections (synapses?) are more efficient connectors when trained, and various activities and pastimes train our brains to do certain tasks. So how good our brain cells are is a matter of genetics and random and environmental development. repetitive training can make people better at certain tasks, but if the layout of neurons due to genes or development makes a person predisposed to be able to do those tasks - then they are "smarter" at them.

Some personality traits - curiosity, determination, fascination with certain topics, taste - all contribute to the motivation to practice. However, what builds those traits is open to debate too.
  #37  
Old 12-21-2016, 01:24 PM
Machine Elf Machine Elf is offline
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The reason, in general, is because all biological systems exhibit variation. It's the basic building block of evolution. Mutations happen.

The fact that dumb people have smart kids doesn't rule out genetics. In fact it exposes exactly how genetics works! Every giraffe ever born had a short neck until one came along whose neck was longer and it helped and he passed it along... it all starts with a gene mutation that causes variation. Some work, some don't, some are meh.
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Originally Posted by NetTrekker
Genetics. Siblings usually grow up in similar environments but have varying levels of cerebral talent.
No doubt genetics plays a role, but the existence of the Flynn effect proves that genetics can't possibly be the only factor. The genetic makeup of humanity can't change nearly fast enough in 100 years to explain the Flynn effect - but our environment can.
  #38  
Old 12-21-2016, 02:28 PM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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My sister went to Northwestern and Harvard Law School, my stepsister went to Princeton, my stepbrother went to Yale, my mother is an Optometrist, my stepdad went to MIT.
That (assuming it's true) is a list of facts.

Quote:
Still none of them even remotely have a vivid imagination like mine. They never could even begin to match my story ideas. I've also been working on a massive Youtube video with 40 different locations I've designed with a map editor, perfectly timed with music and several ideal subjects to use for digital paintings that I'm including.

To me (I don't think it's an opinion actually) a fantastic imagination is the best possible skill on this planet. What other skill can you go such a distance with, beyond Earth and incorporating so many aspects and detail of existence at once?

Many people seem to think that traveling is the most epic use of time on this planet, planning out elaborate trips to exotic locations. And then they live their whole life with little to no imagination, not realizing that it's even more rewarding, for example the rest of my family.
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It's most definitely a skill, because I have it and that's why I'm able to visualize such a complex Youtube video that's a world record and also execute it while no one else can.
All of that is "just your opinion". Please, let's not get into a debate about that in this form that is dedicated to factual answer to questions. Your opinions are not facts.

Last edited by John Mace; 12-21-2016 at 02:28 PM.
  #39  
Old 12-21-2016, 02:33 PM
md2000 md2000 is offline
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Originally Posted by Machine Elf View Post
No doubt genetics plays a role, but the existence of the Flynn effect proves that genetics can't possibly be the only factor. The genetic makeup of humanity can't change nearly fast enough in 100 years to explain the Flynn effect - but our environment can.
But for example, I helped my wife study for an IQ test. Some jobs ask for an aptitude and skills test - thing like a sequence of circles inside triangles of black or white... which one is next in the sequence? By trying a few examples, the concept was far easier to show. I imagine other applicants for the promotion who hadn't seen this sort of stuff since maybe high school - how likely are they to grasp the idea and figure out "aha - this is black triangle, white, black, white, next has to be black. Meanwhile circle, square, circle, square - next has to be inside a circle. A bit of training always helps.

Similarly, some people are better at guessing math sequences - aha, this is double the Fibonacci numbers, this is squares minus one, this sequence is adding 1, then 2, then 3... Simple puzzles; once you know what sort of things to look for, you can solve much faster. The range of exposure to these is what I imagine the Flynn effect to be all about.

(Of course, there's the classic - O,T,T,F,F,S,S,... What's next. This requires you to notice "One, Two, Three, Four, etc." A much more complex "aha!".)

Last edited by md2000; 12-21-2016 at 02:34 PM.
  #40  
Old 12-21-2016, 08:06 PM
nightshadea nightshadea is offline
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when I was in school occasionally id take history and literature classes in the normal school when they realized the only 2 subjects I actually had problems were technical English and math ( I was in sp.ed due to attention problems and physical problems and it was general policy to put kids in foster homes and such in those classes )

And back then it would be what's called gate/ap today (sort of like the classroom in the old sitcom head of the class) and it was ok since the teachers were well aware I can barley physically write and I couldn't go down the hallway with out getting lost

Well I showed up in my usual manner back then ....at lest something was backwards shoes untied because I cant tie my shoes ...

i was embarrassed because it looked like I couldn't dress my self (to this day that's still open for debate)the teacher told be not to worry because I was mild and pointed out the kids that couldn't put a pair of shoes on .... wore one piece outfits because mom had to dress them there was a girl that couldn't count more than 10 numbers in a row ..... it sounded like I was in the mentally disabled classes

The catch ?

These were the smartest kids in 50 miles! some of them could recite the fall of the roman empire from memory.... do high school math in the 4th grade but couldn't feed themselves anything but a sandwich mostly with out making a mess ....

she said "just because your intelligent doesn't mean your smart and can do everything everyone else can"
  #41  
Old 12-22-2016, 02:25 AM
Nava Nava is offline
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Similarly, some people are better at guessing math sequences - aha, this is double the Fibonacci numbers, this is squares minus one, this sequence is adding 1, then 2, then 3... Simple puzzles; once you know what sort of things to look for, you can solve much faster. The range of exposure to these is what I imagine the Flynn effect to be all about.
Well, that requires one to know wth are the Fibonacci numbers or be able to figure out they follow whatever sequence they do, which is much more likely if someone has been explained the Fibonacci numbers, or at least done math beyond "one, two, many". That's environmental without even needing to be "training to beat the test".
  #42  
Old 12-22-2016, 08:42 AM
Jennshark Jennshark is offline
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I know anecdote isn't the plural of data, but...

My mom's siblings all have, at minimum, master's degrees. Two of us in my sibling group have doctorates and virtually all of my cousins have advanced degrees (and three are professional opera singers).

On my dad's side, virtually no one went to college. I'm not arguing no one is smart on that side of the family, but in comparison they live rather limited lives in terms of new experiences/willingness to try new things.

Both sides of the family come from dirt poor/working class roots (none of my grandparents went past eighth grade).

So..maybe some genetic inheritability, family cultures, and so on. A central difference in environment is we are all voracious readers on matrilineal side; dad's family takes TV Guide and that's about it (plus that glorious literary work, The Book of Mormon).

Last edited by Jennshark; 12-22-2016 at 08:44 AM.
  #43  
Old 12-22-2016, 11:15 AM
simple homer simple homer is offline
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It's most definitely a skill, because I have it and that's why I'm able to visualize such a complex Youtube video that's a world record and also execute it while no one else can.

Thanks for the laugh.
Some people just don't get sarcasm
  #44  
Old 12-22-2016, 12:18 PM
aldiboronti aldiboronti is offline
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These were the smartest kids in 50 miles! some of them could recite the fall of the roman empire from memory....
Do you mean Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire? If so I'd need some convincing, that work consists of 79 huge and complex chapters, the whole consisting of some 1.5 million words. Possible? Perhaps. Unlikely? In the extreme.
  #45  
Old 12-28-2016, 06:21 PM
david_42 david_42 is offline
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https://www.sciencedaily.com/release...0718110938.htm

It turns out that the more variable a brain is, and the more its different parts frequently connect with each other, the higher a person's IQ and creativity are.
  #46  
Old 12-29-2016, 10:23 AM
StarvingButStrong StarvingButStrong is offline
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But we haven't even agreed on what type of 'smart' we are talking about. No, I'm not talking about physical coordination vs. social interactions vs. musical creativity and so forth.

What about speed of thinking vs. breadth of knowledge vs. depth/power of thinking?

I'd guess experience and training might affect the speed part the most. A chess master takes much less time to decide how best to proceed in a game situation than a novice does: he can eliminate whole swathes of possible lines as unpromising right away, because he's worked through them in the past.

Breadth of knowledge is probably the most easily affected and where nurture and environment come in. A player who has had access to books about chess play and the time/inclination to study them will know how to use strategies someone without those resources has no idea exist.

But depth/power of thinkig, the sheer ability to work out something new, to figure things out beyond what has been shown/taught you, to come up with a new solution to a problem.... I think that must be purely genetic. Being able to hold the positions of the board in your mind, 'look' at what they will be if you do X, and then what if the other guy does Y, and then you do Z.... That seems like it might depend on the pure 'hardware' of the brain.

Actually, that seems sort of like a computer analogy would fit. How good is the programming vs. how much data is stored vs. how fast can you flip them 0s and 1s.
  #47  
Old 12-29-2016, 10:38 AM
md2000 md2000 is offline
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Almost like the question - "Who's stronger? A man who can lift 400lb or a 90-lb woman who can run a marathon in competitive time?" Presumably IQ is just a rough attempt to summarize the mental version of a decathlon tryout...

I read a description one of a fellow in Stalinist Russia who had a "photographic" memory. When someone challenged him on the minutes of a meeting he had typed up, for example, he could recite the conversation from the meeting verbatim. however, he was described as boring and unimaginative.

Similarly, Aspergers or other autistics may have good or even better abilities in some brain function areas but lack in others. A single adjective or a single number can't truly summarize a complex collection of capabilities. Like Jennshark, I am the least educated of my siblings or parents (only a BSc), yet I haven't see the same imaginative spark in them.
  #48  
Old 12-29-2016, 11:35 AM
Machine Elf Machine Elf is offline
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I read a description one of a fellow in Stalinist Russia who had a "photographic" memory. When someone challenged him on the minutes of a meeting he had typed up, for example, he could recite the conversation from the meeting verbatim. however, he was described as boring and unimaginative.

Similarly, Aspergers or other autistics may have good or even better abilities in some brain function areas but lack in others. A single adjective or a single number can't truly summarize a complex collection of capabilities. Like Jennshark, I am the least educated of my siblings or parents (only a BSc), yet I haven't see the same imaginative spark in them.
Eric Raymond had an interesting essay on this topic. His claim is that autistics can exhibit brilliance in narrow areas because they are using brainpower that most people allocate in other areas, like social awareness:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric Raymond
Yes, there is an enabling superpower that autists have through damage and accident, but non-autists like me have to cultivate: not giving a shit about monkey social rituals.

Neurotypicals spend most of their cognitive bandwidth on mutual grooming and status-maintainance activity. They have great difficulty sustaining interest in anything that won’t yield a near-immediate social reward. By an autist’s standards (or mine) they’re almost always running in a hamster wheel as fast as they can, not getting anywhere.

The neurotypical human mind is designed to compete at this monkey status grind and has zero or only a vanishingly small amount of bandwidth to spare for anything else. Autists escape this trap by lacking the circuitry required to fully solve the other-minds problem; thus, even if their total processing capacity is average or subnormal, they have a lot more of it to spend on what neurotypicals interpret as weird savant talents.
  #49  
Old 12-31-2016, 06:07 AM
Major Matt Mason Major Matt Mason is offline
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I can't disagree with that. I work with PhDs and a lot of them, although scholastically brilliant, are not known for social or interpersonal skills, and would have a hard time with conversational speech at a cocktail party.
Back when I was working at Drexel U. in Philly, I had a carburetor on my desk. A Penn professor walked in to see my boss. "Hi, Mitch! What's that?"

"Hi, Alan. Mercedes carburetor. I just overhauled it!"

"Oh, nifty! Never could do that, myself."

With that, Dr. Alan MacDiarmid, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, gave me a cheerful wave and went in to see my boss.

-MMM-
  #50  
Old 12-31-2016, 12:40 PM
md2000 md2000 is offline
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Back when I was working at Drexel U. in Philly, I had a carburetor on my desk. A Penn professor walked in to see my boss. "Hi, Mitch! What's that?"

"Hi, Alan. Mercedes carburetor. I just overhauled it!"

"Oh, nifty! Never could do that, myself."

With that, Dr. Alan MacDiarmid, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, gave me a cheerful wave and went in to see my boss.

-MMM-
My dad, besides being brilliant in his field, also used to maintain his own British motorcycle in university. He would rebuild throwaway parts like a mechanical voltage regulator. He an incredibly practical. I once watched him make a new blade for his coffee grinder from an old piece of metal bedspring slat, including sharpening and tempering. He was in demand as both a theorist and designed of experiments and went all over the world. He once made a timer device with pulley out of a cheap meccano set gears and clock drive when the equivalent from a scientific supply house was close to a thousand dollars. (He was a serious cheapskate too) Yet others in his department were not so good - one prof almost cut his thumb completely off using the bandsaw...

Partly talent, partly deep interest, partly practice. I rebuilt a carburetor once - for a VW Beetle - by following a book. It worked. (Did you know if you reverse the spark plug cables on a Beetle, it will actually run OK until you approach 25mph? )
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