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Old 12-18-2016, 09:02 PM
Derleth Derleth is online now
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Missoula, Montana, USA
Posts: 20,043
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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