RE: Mensa, was Re: IQ tests

From: Lee Corbin (
Date: Thu Aug 09 2001 - 18:52:32 MDT

Natasha wrote

> Why does society consider a person who can memorize words and
> formulas, or discern problems presented in a written test be more
> able to "think" than someone whose cognizance is highly skilled
> in dealing with life's varied problems and applying knowledge to
> clear-headed analysis? I don't.

Society considers such a person to be more intelligent, because
the I.Q. is easy to measure, and is extremely useful when applied
to large groups of people. (We all know how useless it sometimes
is when assessing a single individual's capabilities.)

Barbara wrote

> I think most people would agree with you, Natasha, that common sense is as
> important as IQ. The two kinds of intelligence aren't mutually exclusive,
> though. I haven't followed the discussion about Mensa on Cryonet, but the
> people I met at the Mensa dinner meetings seemed quite ordinary; some seemed
> to be well endowed with common sense and others didn't, as with any other
> gathering of people.

Yes, but it is not just a question of common sense versus I.Q. I have known
a number of people with extremely high I.Q.s who also were extraordinarily
gifted in common sense, yet their opinions on or judgments about any complex,
interesting question were utterly worthless, about what you'd get from some
junior high-school nerd.


> If we dig deeper into each person, regardless of IQ, we will find
> something of interest.

That is very true!

> I am very interested in understanding why *any* highly
> thinking-skilled person is able to understand the formula
> for being healthy but not practice it.

I have known people who smoked yet who were well-acquainted with
the health risks, as just one example. Partly emotionally, these
people are making unconscious calculations that they will gain
more from the immediate rewards of smoking, or of not exercising,
or of eating junk foods, than they will from life-extension techniques.

It is by no means clear that they are being irrational. Our lives
are full of value choices, conscious and unconscious, and it is
most frequently the case that when someone tells someone else what
is or is not good for them, the first person doesn't really know
what life is like---or life is about---for the second person.

> I wonder at my own ability to understand complex ideas,
> but not be able to augment them into my life. It may
> be laziness or preoccupation with something else.

It's neither. Other agents of yours have other agendas (in
the sense of Minsky's Society of Mind). On occasion, those
other agents know what they are doing. After you are
uploaded, you may be able to reconcile.


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