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An Interview with Dr. Iona Italia on Universal Basic Income, Strongmanism, Human Rights, and Fearlessness (Part Five)

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 21.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Seventeen)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: September 15, 2019

Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2020

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 1,940

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract 

Dr. Iona Italia is an Author and Translator, and a Sub-Editor for Areo Magazine, and Host of Two for Tea. She discusses: incentivization of the arts and humanities; responding to those who do not see the value in the arts and the humanities; varieties of strongmanism; the whys of the current situation and how to get out of it; and final feelings or thoughts in conclusion.

Keywords: Areo Magazine, human rights, Iona Italia, Two for Tea, UBI, strongmen.

An Interview with Dr. Iona Italia on Universal Basic Income, Strongmanism, Human Rights, and Fearlessness: Host, Two for Tea & Sub-Editor, Areo Magazine (Part Five)[1],[2]

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: If we’re looking to incentivize, in some manner, civic culture, arts and humanities culture, how do we do it? There is the obvious answer of it is coming out of the intrinsic need to express oneself, explore the world of ideas, of the history of the world. However, what else?

Dr. Iona Italia: I suggest UBI. I think that is currently the best, most practical suggestion. Of course, like any system, some people will “abuse” it. I do not think it is abuse. Some people will choose to live on the low income that UBI provides. I think it is $1,000 a month they are suggesting for the US, which is a small income for the US. That is about what I currently live off, but I live in Argentina.

I think most people will either go and get a job that earns much more than that or they will take the UBI and they will use it as that safety net to be able to put energy into things like Areo Magazine, into podcasts, into writing, into art. Those are all things that we cannot seem to monetize easily but which do enrich our lives. It will also enable people to do things like care for their elderly parents, disabled partners, et cetera, and it will cut down on bureaucracy, enormously.

It will not punish people for going back to work, for example, because if you go to work and earn your salary, you will still receive your $1,000 in UBI, so you will not be tempted to stay on welfare because otherwise you will be penalized financially for going to work. So, I am a big fan. I think that would be one good start.

2. Jacobsen: What would be a proper response to individuals who completely see no value, or little value in the arts and humanities and productions for or coming out of civic culture?

Italia: If people see no value in something, it is rather hard to persuade them. All you can say is, “You live in civil society and other people value this.” You can, I think, though, see a good example of what happens when education is entirely technical with the kinds of things that are coming out of India and the movement on the Indian far-right, which is very much driven by young men from technical colleges, who have degrees, who have PhDs but they have absolutely zero humanities education at all.

They know how to do programming or to build a bridge, but they have no background in literature or history. They’ve become absolute fodder for this worrying, troubling strong rise of a violent terrorist, ethnonationalist, far-right movement in India. That’s one cautionary tale, there.

3. Jacobsen: Also, we’re seeing this in many forms when we’re seeing it a form of strongmanism, and then men who identify with the form of strongmanism. 

We can see this in a secular garb with Xi Jinping in mainland China with the elimination of terms limits. We can see the imposition of that through re-education camps, or at least, a million.

We can see this with Orbán in Hungary, saying the state stance is there are only male and female, which is a traditional fundamentalist Abrahamic religious stance. We can see this with, I think, Theresa May, in a bit. I think she’s one that comes up. We can also see this with Bolsonaro.

Italia: Bolsonaro.

Jacobsen: Who was at the top of the polls? Lula. Who is in prison? Lula. What happens when Bolsonaro gets into office? Immediately within a week, LGBTI+ rights and indigenous land rights are the first things to be targeted, in certain ways.

Italia: And of course, throughout the Muslim world you, you have strongmen in most of those countries. We’re already talking about the movement in India and “Modi the strongman”. You have Putin.

Jacobsen: Duterte.

Italia: Yes. You have people from the left, as well, who are doing this, left-wing authoritarians like Maduro. You already mentioned China.

Jacobsen: The typical story is men in most positions of power and influence and most of the men making those important decisions. We’re seeing a rise in the aggressive form of that, where it is you were noting it as “ethnonationalism,” sometimes connected to religious fundamentalist revivalism, or something like this.

Italia: Yes, in some African countries also.

4. Jacobsen: Two questions, whys and hows there, we have got a few minutes left. One, why? Two, how do we get out of it?

Italia: [Laughing] What an easy couple of questions! Why? I do not know. I officially studied English literature, but I did, of course, study lots of history because of my specialist period interest. One thing I can tell you is that history is highly contingent. You have one accidental event happening.

I am often asked to decide, for example, on Twitter, people often ask me, which is the greater threat, the far right or ultra-woke Social Justice excesses. I find the far right a bit scarier, but which is the greater threat? I have no idea because I do not have a crystal ball. It is impossible to predict the future. It is hard to know, even, how historical things happened. We can trace how but we cannot trace the why.

Perfect storms happen all the time. This thing happened. It led to this. That led to that. There are many, many feedback loops and snowball effects. I do not have a good answer to the “why”. “How”. I do not have a good answer to the “how” except that I think that we must keep returning—and it sounds so corny, I know—but we must keep returning to universal little humanism.

I used to think the liberal part of that was the most important part, but now I tend to think that the universal part may be the most important. I am currently reading Nick Christakis’s book, Blueprint, which is very much about this. We must abandon identity politics of all stripes, and we must return to a strong focus on the things that unite us.

5. Jacobsen: Does a return to human rights, or maybe a re-emphasis on human rights, provide such a framework? We see this in specific documents, for instance, on women’s rights with the Beijing Declaration from 1995. We can also see this 71 years ago with the foundation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, December 10, 1948. Would these suffice as bases?

Italia: No. Legislation never suffices on its own without cultural change, as well, but, as I said before, both cultural changes can drive legislation, also, legislation can drive cultural change. On its own, no, but it is a start.

Jacobsen: Any final feelings or thoughts, in conclusion, based on the conversation today?

Italia: I guess my final thought is that I think that one big problem is that there is too much fear around speech. Even when people’s free speech rights are guaranteed, people are, of course, and always will be, in certain situations, careful about what they say, and this can be a good thing.

But when you are discussing bigger philosophical or political or social issues, it is important to be fearless, to explore ideas by talking through them, i.e. to work out what you think about the issue over the course of discussion rather than coming with a fixed agenda, with your conclusions already in place, and then presenting that as if you were…This is the difference between real political discussion and high school debating, the type that Ben Shapiro does. You stand up and you’re going to win your point.

Not for reasons of ego, but also that means that you must even contemplate some ideas that are either politically incorrect, or that are evil-adjacent, let’s say, but are not actually evil. Sometimes the right answer is close to a wrong answer. That is the way that things are.

We need more fearlessness in what we’re willing to talk about and how we’re willing to talk about it. Only then will we come to the good solutions and will we be able to debunk the bad ones.

6. Jacobsen: Thank you much, and best of wishes with your chocolate chai and your keto diet.

Italia: Thanks. Bye-bye.

Jacobsen: Bye.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Host, Two for Tea; Sub-Editor, Areo Magazine.

[2] Individual Publication Date: September 15, 2019: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/italia-five; Full Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2020: https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Dr. Iona Italia on Universal Basic Income, Strongmanism, Human Rights, and Fearlessness (Part Five) [Online].September 2019; 21(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/italia-five.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2019, September 15). An Interview with Dr. Iona Italia on Universal Basic Income, Strongmanism, Human Rights, and Fearlessness (Part Five)Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/italia-five.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Dr. Iona Italia on Universal Basic Income, Strongmanism, Human Rights, and Fearlessness (Part Five). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 21.A, September. 2019. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/italia-five>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2019. “An Interview with Dr. Iona Italia on Universal Basic Income, Strongmanism, Human Rights, and Fearlessness (Part Five).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 21.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/italia-five.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Dr. Iona Italia on Universal Basic Income, Strongmanism, Human Rights, and Fearlessness (Part Five).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 21.A (September 2019). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/italia-five.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2019, ‘An Interview with Dr. Iona Italia on Universal Basic Income, Strongmanism, Human Rights, and Fearlessness (Part Five)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 21.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/italia-five>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2019, ‘An Interview with Dr. Iona Italia on Universal Basic Income, Strongmanism, Human Rights, and Fearlessness (Part Five)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 21.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/italia-five.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Dr. Iona Italia on Universal Basic Income, Strongmanism, Human Rights, and Fearlessness (Part Five).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 21.A (2019):September. 2019. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/italia-five>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Dr. Iona Italia on Universal Basic Income, Strongmanism, Human Rights, and Fearlessness (Part Five) [Internet]. (2019, September 21(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/italia-five.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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An Interview with Distinguished University Professor Gordon Guyatt, OC, FRSC on GOBSAT, Guidelines, Living Documents, and Network Meta-Analysis (Part One)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 21.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Seventeen)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: September 8, 2019

Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2020

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 3,181

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract 

Dr. Gordon Guyatt, OC, FRSC is a Distinguished University Professor is the Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence, and Impact at McMaster University. He discusses: professional research in the fall of 2018; hopes of a reduction in the timelines of publication of guidelines; reducing communication time and update time; message to skeptics of medicine in the mainstream; other professional areas to explore; early hypothesized applications of network meta-analysis or NMA; limits to pairings of NMAs; 2010s as the decade of NMAs; and the integration of NMAs into guideline methodologies.

Keywords: Canada, evidence-based medicine, Gordon Guyatt, medicine, network meta-analysis, NMA.

An Interview with Distinguished University Professor Gordon Guyatt, OC, FRSC on GOBSAT, Guidelines, Living Documents, and Network Meta-Analysis: Distinguished Professor, Health Research Methods, Evidence, and Impact, McMaster University; Co-Founder, Evidence-Based Medicine (Part One)[1],[2],[3],[4]

*Footnotes in & after the interview, & citation style listing after the interview.*

*This interview has been edited for clarity and readability.*

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: With regards to professional research for the fall of 2018, what are some of the new projects arising? What are the new questions being asked?

Gordon Guyatt: I will tell you some, what I would consider highlights. So, clinicians nowadays are relying heavily on guidelines. So, there is a medical electronic textbook called up to date that provides recommendations.

That is probably the number one resource in the world, certainly in North America, and provides recommendations. There are specialty societies in heart and lung and kidney and everything else. Young and older clinicians are paying great attention to these guidelines.

Over the last 20 years, there have been standards developed for trustworthy guidelines. There was an older model of guidelines, which was affectionately referred to as “GOBSAT”.

Jacobsen: [Laughing]

Guyatt: GOBSAT means good old boys sitting around a table.

Jacobsen: [Laughing] That is right.

Guyatt: That is how guidelines used to be developed but now we have a science of producing guidelines. I have been fortunate to be involved in the development of some of those standards. So, you have these up to date standards. It produces recommendations quickly. I do consult for them, trying to make them more evidence-based.

So, they do a pretty good job, but the nature of what they do, they do not adhere fully to the standards of trustworthy guidelines. Pretty good. Then some, not far from all, but some of the specialty societies adhere to the standards of trustworthy guidelines.

But they put together a team and it is a big production and it takes them a year to get there to get their guideline together, and then they’re so exhausted that they have to wait another two years before they start the process again.

So, the guidelines, many of them become quickly out of date. So, the question is, “Can one have trustworthy guidelines that are also updated when there is new evidence that is quickly updated?” So, there is also a science of pulling together the literature.

We call it systematic reviews. Again, I have been privileged too, as that science has developed over, starting a little farther ago, maybe 30 years ago. We know how to do that. I have been involved.

So, it was a systematic review out there. A new piece of evidence, we can update it quickly. So, it is good to know. Then a colleague who trained with me from Norway, who was interested in the whole guideline endeavour. He said, “Somebody’s got to do it, so that we follow the trustworthy guidelines standards. We update quickly, you and your team show we can update our systematic reviews quickly.”

We do have a process for producing this the trustworthy guidelines quickly. I said, “Pierre, you are right, but who’s gonna listen to us? We are not up to date. We are not the American Thoracic Society or the American Heart Association, who is going to listen to us?”

So Pierre said, “What if one of the top journals put out our new recommendations and published it as their endorsed recommendations?” He persuaded the BMJ to buy into the idea. So, for the last couple of years, we have been producing what we call BMJ rapid recommendations. So, a new study is published, we think it’s practicing changing information. We get our systematic review done in a matter of several weeks.

We put our guideline panel together and target within 90 days of the publication then we have our updated recommendation. Ideally, it would come in that time frame, as we think we have done our part. BMJ [Laughing] has been a little slow.

But producing these BMJ rapid recommendations, it is exciting. We have provided the ability once before to say that success will be when and with a particular activity, we become redundant. It felt good at the time, 20 years later, when we start to become redundant; it does not feel quite so good.

So, I shouldn’t be worn. But hopefully, these BMJ rapid recommendations someday will be redundant, when they went out of date then they can bump up their standards of maybe making theirs more trustworthy, and or the sub-specialty societies realize that they shouldn’t be putting out these guidelines every two years.

They should be making them living guidelines and updating. But until they do that, and we become redundant, it is fun leading the field and providing a model that this can be done, and how it should be done.

2. Jacobsen: With some software, people do open source. So, you have these, as you phrase it “living documents,” but software. So, people have continually updated and improved, basically, algorithms to perform a specific task, which is an idea built into that.

By analogy is interesting, if you were to smooth out some of the rough edges of process, and, into 2020 say, what will be your hope in terms of not only reduction of the 90 days, but also in terms of big journals, like BMJ, in terms of their process of publication?

Guyatt: They could. It is tough for them. But I could tell them ways that they could do it. It requires resources. Even the top journals have limited resources and require a level of commitment and devoted staff, which is resource-intensive, it couldn’t be done.

It would be better if it didn’t need to be the journals. So, the specialty societies have their ‘why we gave up on them’ is they have their bureaucracy. As they pass through their board before it gets out, they need a way of streamline.

Because they should all have teams our BMJ rapid recommendation team ready to update continuously. It started, the journal publication process slows things down. They have their bureaucracy. They need to streamline that to get their living guidelines out quickly.

So, that is what we would hope would happen in the future. That is still the model we want to provide that will help them do that.

3. Jacobsen: Can there be a way in which to use something like an open-source platform to reduce, for instance, communication time and update time?

Guyatt: We have something called the system of developing these recommendations. It has been around for 15 years or so. We call it GRADE. So, it is a way of looking at the quality of the evidence and the strength of recommendations. It is this graded approach that is a crucial part of trustworthy guidelines. Pierre and his colleagues in Norway have come up with a nonprofit company that they call MAGIC, for “making great the irresistible choice.”

Jacobsen: [Laughing].

Guyatt: It includes the MAGIC app, which is an electronic platform.

And we think this platform is there. As soon as we finished, we have it on the platform. It can be disseminated. It is out there. As a link anybody can go to, but before we can put it out, we would likely have to get the pass to go through the BMJ peer review process.

Jacobsen: Yes.

Guyatt: We could do it for specialty societies and put it out in the same way. But it has to go through their process. So, we have got to the electronic communication part of it. We have got that. It is that the bureaucracy is saying, “Yes, you can disseminate it now.”

4. Jacobsen: This brings to mind something like a mild peripheral question. When people are excessively skeptical about the scientific process, especially in medicine, often, I get the sense that they do not understand how difficult getting good-quality evidence and robust guidelines of research out are in the end analysis. What will be your short message to them?

Guyatt: These are people who are skeptical about the whole medical scientific endeavour?

Jacobsen: Yes.

Guyatt: The fraud is extremely unusual – unusual, but it happens. Overwhelmingly, scientists are interested in making the world a better place. Where they need to be cautious is financial conflicts of interest, researchers being attached to their own research; everybody thinks that their study is the greatest.

That is the problem. So, there are dangers. But there is such a thing as high-quality science, which, as you say, is challenging to produce, challenging to summarize. But there are trustworthy sources of evidence. They have to get some help in recognizing them.

5. Jacobsen: Is there anything else that in the professional areas we want to explore?

Guyatt: Trouble is, I am not sure what; I am what’s called a methodologist. So what turns me on is not the latest discovery of this, that, and the other thing, which might be the general audience thing, but advancing the methods.

So, at the expense of not necessarily being the most interesting finding, we came up with systematic reviews, which take all the best evidence and have a scientific standard for putting together all the best evidence.

Now, we know how to do that and with a set of rigorously. But then we summarize it, we can get each outcome for death, heart attack, stroke. We have a summary that says, “Here is our best estimate of the effect of the treatment on mortality, sorry it does not affect mortality, on stroke it reduces stroke by a small amount. Sorry, it affected myocardial infarction. Oh, there is a big effect in reducing myocardial infarction,” so hard at times.

So, we have got the system and it is called meta-analysis. Meta-analysis is the statistical approach, where you put all the evidence together, and you come up with the best estimate of effect.

But you could compare two treatments. But now often we have six treatments, or sometimes 12 alternatives. So, for instance, there are probably 20 drugs out there. When you are depressed, there are 20 drugs out there.

You’ve got rheumatoid arthritis, we have these new biologic agents, there are 10 of these biologic agents. Which one is the best? Or what are the best?

What are the collections of ones that do better than others?

We didn’t have a way of doing this. In the last decade, the statisticians have come up with something called network meta-analysis, where you can simultaneously compare all these treatments.

This is new science. We are figuring out how to do it well, how to interpret the results. The results are coming out in these huge tables that are completely uninterpretable to anybody. How do we take that? How do we take that and summarize it in a way that is true to the data and is still useful to the condition?

This is all an adventure to get these networks. This network meta-analysis optimized, and to find ways of having an output that is true to the data and still makes sense so the conditions in our health are helpful to the conditions and to the patients. Our group was involved in that process. That is exciting for us.

6. Jacobsen: What are some of the early applications hypothesized with regards to network meta-analysis?

Guyatt: So here’s one of the things. It is an initially misguided approach. We thought that this will tell you the best treatment; seldom is there a best treatment, so it needs to be reframed as, “Here are the three that you might want to consider for these reasons. You probably do not want to even think about these other three.” So, your patient may fit best with one of these three, which have their merits.

So, we are able to say, “Here, of these dozen things out here, here’s the two or three that you might want to take that you are that are thought to be best for your patients.” So, there is an explosion of these network meta-analysis, providing that advice.

So, without this approach, it was much, much more difficult when you have a dozen things out there. You have this paired comparison with A versus B, and then another C versus D. But the drug companies all compared to placebo, they do not have too many comparisons of these things. When they do you have A to B, B to C, but he hasn’t been compared to D, and so on.

Jacobsen: Right.

Guyatt: So, how do you make sense of this? The network meta-analysis allows one to make sense of it.

7. Jacobsen: Is there a limit to the pairings in the network meta-analysis?

Guyatt: No. There is no limit to network meta-analysis.

Jacobsen: That is exciting.

Guyatt: The limits are when you have a net we have meta-analysis with a dozen treatments or 15 treatments, the output is this…

Jacobsen: …[Laughing]…

Guyatt: …gigantic, take A versus B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, and CB vs. blah, blah, blah. Anyways, these giant tables reach outcomes that are extremely difficult to make any sense out of. Also the limitation, the arithmetic, the statistic goal, work and handling of any numbers comparisons.

It is more difficult to make sense with the more comparisons there are; the more difficult it is to make sense of the network that emerges. Our work is in making some things about the statistics and how to do that best, but also interpreting and making sense of the whole thing, and interpreting in a way that makes sense to clinicians.

8. Jacobsen: With regards to evidence-based medicine, could the 2010s be considered the network meta-analysis decade?

Guyatt: Yes, yes, yes, yes. There are other things. There are other things that I hope will be part of the next decade. But yes, definitely, meta-analysis itself, the first was a huge advance. This network meta-analysis definitely takes things forward.

Jacobsen: So if these updates to these rapid-fire guidelines happen, and if we do them in 90 days, we send them off to the journal; and they have their own margin of error.

Guyatt: 90 days is supposed to take into account the journal processing.

Jacobsen: [Laughing].

Guyatt: We had one or two that have made the 90 days, but not quite. We are supposed to do ours in 60 days. They give them 30.

Jacobsen: So then 60-120 days. The 60-120 days’ rapid-fire updates. So, basically getting, somewhere between six and three of these per year, given that timeline.

Guyatt: But we are working on some of them simultaneously.

Jacobsen: [Laughing] So, even more.

Guyatt: But, our capacities are limited, 6 to 9 per year.

9. Jacobsen: That is cool. So, you are doing this in the 2010s, with a network meta-analysis, and you are having these guidelines updated nine to 12 per year. How integrated is network meta-analysis into this guideline methodology in terms of producing them?

Guyatt: Good question, makes it more challenging. We have had two. We have done definitely closer to the 6 per year. So, we have done a dozen or so of them, which have involved network meta-analysis.

So, but again, we are getting better at doing the NMAs quickly. I must admit, the NMAs, the Network Meta-Analysis, that we have done has already involved a few treatments. We can try to do one quickly with a dozen treatments.

We’ll get there. But we need more experience before we can take that on. But we have done them with relatively small networks, and we have done NMAs in the updating process.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Distinguished Professor, Health Research Methods, Evidence, and Impact, McMaster University; Co-Founder, Evidence-Based Medicine

[2] Individual Publication Date: September 8, 2019, at http://www.in-sightjournal.com/guyatt-one; Full Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2020, at https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

[3] B.Sc., University of Toronto; M.D., General Internist, McMaster University Medical School; M.Sc., Design, Management, and Evaluation, McMaster University.

[4] Credit: McMaster University.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Distinguished University Professor Gordon Guyatt, OC, FRSC on GOBSAT, Guidelines, Living Documents, and Network Meta-Analysis (Part One) [Online].September 2019; 21(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/guyatt-one.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2019, September 8). An Interview with Distinguished University Professor Gordon Guyatt, OC, FRSC on GOBSAT, Guidelines, Living Documents, and Network Meta-Analysis (Part One)Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/guyatt-one.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Distinguished University Professor Gordon Guyatt, OC, FRSC on GOBSAT, Guidelines, Living Documents, and Network Meta-Analysis (Part One). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 21.A, September. 2019. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/guyatt-one>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2019. “An Interview with Distinguished University Professor Gordon Guyatt, OC, FRSC on GOBSAT, Guidelines, Living Documents, and Network Meta-Analysis (Part One).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 21.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/guyatt-one.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Distinguished University Professor Gordon Guyatt, OC, FRSC on GOBSAT, Guidelines, Living Documents, and Network Meta-Analysis (Part One).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 21.A (September 2019). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/guyatt-one.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2019, ‘An Interview with Distinguished University Professor Gordon Guyatt, OC, FRSC on GOBSAT, Guidelines, Living Documents, and Network Meta-Analysis (Part One)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 21.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/guyatt-one>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2019, ‘An Interview with Distinguished University Professor Gordon Guyatt, OC, FRSC on GOBSAT, Guidelines, Living Documents, and Network Meta-Analysis (Part One)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 21.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/guyatt-one.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Distinguished University Professor Gordon Guyatt, OC, FRSC on GOBSAT, Guidelines, Living Documents, and Network Meta-Analysis (Part One).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 21.A (2019):September. 2019. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/guyatt-one>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Distinguished University Professor Gordon Guyatt, OC, FRSC on GOBSAT, Guidelines, Living Documents, and Network Meta-Analysis (Part One) [Internet]. (2019, September 21(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/guyatt-one.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

The Cynical Smile Of A Solitary Head

Author(s): Ismail Hamaamin Hamalaw

Numbering: Issue 1.B, Idea: The Kurds (Part One)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: Indigenous Middle East

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: September 8, 2019

Issue Publication Date: TBD

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 3,926

Keywords: Baldin, Ahmed, head, Ismail Hamaamin Hamalaw.

The Cynical Smile Of A Solitary Head[1],[2],[3]

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

*Originally published in Culture Project.*

On the artwork of Baldin Ahmed,

“The spirit moves the matter…”

Peter Sloterdijk*

An essay by Ismail Hamalaw

A solitary head sits atop a chair, face smiling, eyes observing the space ahead of it, dividing it into two spheres–historical and artistic. I found the sculpture difficult to decipher initially, its right cheek resting against the metal of the chair, face fixed in a gentle smile that seemed to communicate tranquility at the crowded main street, as if nothing had happened, no one had been harmed, no tragedy had occurred. It even seemed romantic, the quietly smiling head of the Ahmadi Dalak monument, a creation by renowned Kurdish artist Baldin Ahmed.

The sculpture was erected on (29.10.2019) and is located in Sulaymaniyah, on the west side of the sizable hill not far from the city’s main street. Above it, on top of the hill, sits the hotel Share Jwan, or “beautiful city”.

Ismail Hamaamin Hamalaw

Sulaymaniyah: birthplace of Ahmad Dalak

Ahmadi Dalak (Ahmad Mahmoud Ahmad) is the eldest son of Mahmoud Dalak, the first barber of the city. Ahmad was born in the neighbourhood of Kani Askan, in the city of Sulaymaniyah, in 1928.

The city, which served as inspiration for the sculpture, was founded in the late eighteenth century. It was caught politically between the Ottoman Empire and Safavid Dynasty. The Ottoman Empire controlled the city until the end of World War I, at which point the British took over. Most of the soldiers in the British forces were poor men from India, who arrived accompanied by “civilised” officers, whose presence would only establish political chaos. The bombardment of Sulaymaniyah in 1924 by the British RAF was the introductory gift to the Kurdish city that would set the stage for things to come.

The bloodbath of 1930 in Sulaymaniyah was another, similarly gentle answer to the peaceful demonstration of the city’s inhabitants, who had called for an end to the colonial domination and occupation of the city. (Andrew Green, 2014([i])

The tragedy began with the bombardment of the city simply because the Kurdish people disagreed with the new geopolitical map suggested by British officer (Gertrude Bell) and war generals, which forced Arabs and Kurds, Assyrians, Yazidis, Shiites, Sunnis, Christian, Jews, and other ethnic groups to live forcibly together under the umbrella of King Faisal, whom the British had brought from Saudi Arabia. The British army squashed the resistance of the 1920s, which arose in protest of the British colony in southern Iraq. They also killed and bombed the Kurdish people in their own homes. Even Winston Churchill suggested the use of chemical weapons to put an end to the Kurdish struggle in the North, which would force them to abide by the new British map and abandon any hopes of an independent Kurdistan.

From that time, within the newly created state of Iraq, there raged a battle between the central government and the inhabitants. (Raed Asad Ahmed, 2014)[ii]

The military coup in Baghdad, on 14 July 1958, resulted in overthrowing the Hashemite monarchy, which had been established by King Faisal I in 1921 under the auspices of the British. Afterwards, there was the coup of 1963, followed by the 1967 coup in which the Baath party took power.

It is against this historical backdrop that the story behind the sculpture “Ahmadi Dalak” took place. (Moments in U.S. Diplomatic History)[iii]

In this bloody period of Iraqi history, during the struggle for liberation and independence, especially post-World War II, Ahmadi Dalak appeared on the political stage as a leftist, active in the Iraqi communist party.

His family name, Dalak, means “barber” in Kurdish. His father was the first one in Sulaymaniyah to establish a shop especially for the purpose. Prior to that, barbers carried their equipment in a small bag, and they brought their work with them to customers’ homes, to street corners, to door fronts, working wherever they could. Ahmad Dalak’s father brought a special chair and large mirror from Baghdad. He rented a shop in the 1930s, which became the first barbershop in Sulaymaniyah. In honour of this, the family received the name of Dalak.

Ahmadi Dalak would help his father in the shop. Throughout his childhood, he came into contact with many special customers, including politicians, writers, and poets such as Abdulla Goran and Fayaq Bekas. The conversations he overheard, on politics, poetry, dreams of an independent Kurdistan, of modern life, democracy, and the need to resist against British colonial rule, would all have a significant influence on the young Ahmadi Dalak.

The political body and the invisibility of the real body

Ahmadi Dalak in prison in 1950’s.

Dalak became a member of the Iraqi communist party, actively participating in demonstrations against the colonial power of the central government in the 1950s. In 1952, a demonstration took place in Baghdad, during which police shot a young Kurdish demonstrator from Sulaymaniyah. On the day of the funeral parade in Sulaymaniyah, Ahmadi Dalak gave a speech that would make him a target of the Iraqi intelligent service. This forced him to go underground, moving from city to city in Iraq and changing his name and identity many times.

During the era of military coups, he was the most wanted man on the list of the brutal intelligence service. He led a secret life, resorting to clandestine action. The secret police managed, nevertheless, to capture him many times. They placed him in prison and tortured him repeatedly. He was in prison during the monarchy and even during the coup of 1963. His last imprisonment was in 1969, when the Baath Party was in power.

That year, his execution was ordered. Nazim Guzar, his executioner, ordered that his body be slowly emerged in a bath of acid. It was this defining moment that served as inspiration for Baldin Ahmad’s sculpture of the disembodied head.

The artistic moment of Baldin Ahmad

Baldin Ahamad & the statue of Ahamadi Dalak.

The passage from historical to artistic moment occurred at this point, with the disembodied head, as artist Baldin Ahmad recalled forty years later.
Baldin Ahamad & the statue of Ahamadi Dalak.

The pleasant, handsome face of the revolutionary man whose smile perished through brutal, Soviet-style torture and who fought for liberation, not only for a Kurdish nation but for the working classes of the world, is immortalised through this sculpture.

To understand the historical encounter between executioner Nazim Guzar and revolutionarily prisoner Ahmadi Dalak, it is necessary to examine the macabre moment that the artist would capture, the moment in which Ahmadi Dalak’s body separated from his head, the last part to remain above the acid bath.

Ahmadi Dalak’s execution was the result of millions of dollars spent by Saddam Hussein to finance apprenticeship programmes in the “Soviet Union” to train the secret police in torture.

Guzar was one of the officers whom Saddam Husain had authorised to kill, torture, mutilate, melt, and crush anyone who dared to whisper against him and his Ba’ath party (Shawkat xaznadar,2005 )[iv].

If we look back at the history of Ba’ath Party, from when it first came to power in 1967, Saddam Hussein’s first urgent decision as vice president was to bestow the rank of general on Nazim Guzar, despite the latter not receiving formal training at any military or police academy.

Nazim Guzar became the director general of the secret police in Iraq. According to former Baath member Hadi Alawai who was also journalist at the time, in 1969, Saddam was convinced that Nazim Guzar could achieve the best results in bringing political prisoners, especially members of the Communist Party, to confess and give up the names of their comrades who were clandestinely active against Baath regime. (Hadi Alawai,1990)[v]

Guzar’s brutality, ruthlessness, and bloodthirsty character was enough for him to attain this position as general director of the Iraqi Secret Police. His brutality was exactly what Saddam Hussein needed at the time, but it was also the nature of Saddam Hussain to kill anyone who tried to achieve more than what he had ordered them to do.

According to the Baath government official story, Nazim Guzar had tried to assassinate Iraqi’s president general Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr on 30 Jun 1973, when he returned from an official visit to Bulgaria. He was captured after trying to escape to Iran. In an ironic twist, Saddam employed the same method to execute Nazim Guzar which the latter had used against prisoners in his time of glory. There is a rumor that Nazim Guzar was raped repeatedly before his execution. In only this brief history, the cruelty of the Baath party is abundantly evident.

The historical moment

In order to understand the sculpture, it is necessary to examine the historical context that led to the fatal encounter between Nazim Guzar and Ahmadi Dalak.

In 1967, there was a split within the Iraqi Communist Party. The group that left called themselves the “Central Command”. They tried to established connections with partisan cells in the south of Iraq, especially in the Marsh areas of Nasiriyah.

Ahmadi Dalak was one of these leaders who engaged in partisan actions against the Iraqi secret police in the Marsh areas. In a short time, however, the Ba’ath regime managed to capture all the leaders of Central Command and put them in Baghdad’s secret police prison. The members of the Central Command were tortured, and many of them gave up the names of their comrades, or were killed under torture. Nazim Guzar spearheaded the confession processes.

It was essential for the Ba’ath party that the leaders of the Central Command give up the names of their comrades and confess publicly that they had made a mistake in opposing the government. Saddam Hussain promised the leaders that he would spare their lives, offering to secure their financial futures too, in addition to giving them positions within the government. Aziz Al Hajh, Secretary General of the Central Command, confessed publicly, and Saddam rewarded him and sent him to Paris as Iraqi ambassador in (UNESCO) until his retirement. (Aziz Al Hajh, Interview)[vi]

It is clear that Ahmadi Dalak had the chance not only to keep his life, but to exploit that generous opportunity that Saddam had offered. He ultimately refused, insisting that the Ba’ath party and its government–especially Saddam Hussein–were leading the country to war and destruction. He posed a challenge to the bloodthirsty Nazim Guzar, refusing to name any of his comrades. Nazim Guzar ordered that he have one of his eyes removed, leaving him to bleed in his dirty cell for many days. After that, they put him on a chair to be displayed to his comrades in the prison. This act of terrorizing other prisoners was method for which Nazim Guzar became famous. It led many to confess, not just to save their own lives but at the very least to ensure a quick death, free of brutal torture.

Aziz Al Hajh was one of the prisoners who saw Ahmadi Dalak. After witnessing this, he confessed publicly on an Iraqi TV channel. Which eye was removed remained a mystery; not even Dalak’s family was given any information. They did not receive his corpse for the simple reason that there was nothing left to hand over, except the acid water in Baghdad’s secret police headquarters’ torture chamber, which was used to melt many a prisoner before Dalak.

The solitary head and the “anatomic” chair

At the intersection of history and art, artist Baldin Ahmed captured the last moments of Ahmedi Dalak, the moment of the prisoner’s last sentences, of his cynical smile on the confession chair in the torture room.

It was the fact that Ahmadi Dalak was smiling all the time, never displaying any weakness or regret, that made Nazim Guzar lose his mind and torture him even further.

At last Ahmadi Dalak agreed to confess, but on one condition: that all the higher officers should be present in the room. According to many accounts, Saddam was convinced that Ahmadi Dalak was not the sort of man to back down easily. It was for this reason he didn’t appear in the acid room, which was the last stage of the tragic theatre.

The day came. In addition to Nazim Guzar, there were many officers present at the scene, who would later go on to recount this story after witnessing it. They put Ahmadi Dalak on the small, dirty, bloodstained chair. He was in a profoundly lamentable condition. There was a cold silence in the acid bath room at the time of confession. The officers for waited the moment of victory, when at last Dalak would confess. A cynical smile appeared on his face and he spoke his last words: “As a communist, I fought all my life for equity and liberation. Even if I were to be born again, I would relish being born as a communist to continue the fight for liberation. Gentleman, this is my first and last confession”.

According to the many witnesses, Dalak did not lose his temper, his cynical smile, his confidence, even when he was on the horrible, small chair, his eye, his face, his nose, his entire body covered with blood from continual torture.

At that moment, the chair and the body fused together, melted together, historically and biologically, for two reasons. Firstly, the small chair offered him the last historical stage, the last battlefield against dictatorship, the last chance to valiantly defy the chauvinism of the Baath party in their proud terror castle, personified in Nazim Guzar and his master Saddam Husain. Secondly, the chair was the last object, to touch his body, his biological roots. More precisely, the small chair is proof that the body was here with the entirety of its flesh and blood. The chair was the last place to hold Dalak after his torture and confession.

The chair was a witness–everyone who related his story mentioned how Nazim Guzar avenged his defeat, ordering his men to take Ahmadi Dalak and dive him in the acid bath, gradually, from his feet to his head.

Two things remained from Ahmadi Dalak. One was the chair, which was covered with his blood. The other, was the solitary head without a body. These two objects engendered the moment of the sculpture called “Ahmadi Dalak”.

Talking to death

Anatomic chair sketch by Baldin Ahamd.

Our artist Baldin Ahmad described the chair. It was no mundane chair; it was covered with Dalak’s blood, with his DNA. Baldin Ahmad recalls that the family did not receive the body simply because nothing from his body remained after the acid bath.

Baldin remembered his early years and how his brother “Ahmadi Dalak”  had gifted him a pen; he recalled the smile that would come to his face when they spoke about different matters in life. After his execution, the entire family lived under horrible shock because there was no grave to go to; there were only shadows, sounds, whispers, stories about him and Nazim Guzar in which Ahmadi Dalak turned into a dead shadow who would visit and speak with Baldin.

This artwork is based on one such a conversation from beyond death, the conversation that Ahmadi Dalak was not able to finish with his brother, the sort of conversation the living sustain with their loved ones who have travelled to the world of the dead. Baldin was greatly impressed with Pier Paolo Pasolini, Italian film director, novelist, writer, and intellectual (1922 – 1975) who worked on this subject. Pasolini’s death itself was an unsolved mystery, a conversation left unfinished.

In one of our many conversations, Baldin Ahmed said: “When I lived in Italy, I was–and still am– impressed with Pier Paolo Pasolini. I followed most of his works. His ideas on death had a profound influence on me: He believed that everyone, at some point in their lives, has the power to hear the dead who have left them. For this reason, I endeavored in my sculpture not to personify any kind of heroism, though Ahmadi Dalak is a universal, revolutionary hero who fought against chauvinism and fascism. I wished, instead to convey this vital energy of life, which emanated from his death. I didn’t want to push any kind of heroism on the surface, no, I wanted to represent his optimistic energy, his warm conversations about the best future for a human being, his exuberant dedication to equality. I wanted to bring to life his conversation from death, which gave me hope and helped me through my darkest moments.”

The hero in empty space

Reliving the historical moment means recalling the hero after his journey in the ocean of the unwritten history. Peter Sloterdijk in his book Weltfremdheit – Unworldlinessrefers to this kind of hero “who is the man who goes ashore from the ocean of despair. In him begins the adventure of civilization as the colonization of the Ego – mainland” (Sloterdjik, 2003)[vii]

Our hero vanished in the chaos of accumulated historical events–wars, mass murders, revolutions, social conflicts–after his death in 1969. After forty years, however, the hero returned to the mainland, not with his entire body, but with his last, remaining part after the acid bath, his head, which rests on what Baldin refers to as the “anatomic” chair–the part that Dalak’s body melted into and which preserved his DNA, the print of his life and existence.

Peter Sloterdijk refers to “the birth of hero”  in the momentum of self-discovery, “Selbstfindung” through   Suddenness “Plötzlichkeit”.  This momentum is “being” or “being’s reflection”–“Sein – Being”–which is the birth’s momentum of the hero in their “I – being / Ichsein”.

Anatomic chair sketch by Baldin Ahamd.

Precisely, to understand this in relation to the two moments, historical and artistic, we imagine two sorts of births in two different times. One is the birth of the hero in their authentic historical ground. The second is the birth of the cynical smile on the face of our sculpture.

Of course, the first Suddenness “ Plötzlichkeit” by Ahmadi Dalak was the tragic moment one of his eyes was removed and shown to other prisoners. This was the birth of a hero who “discovered himself” and stood tough against all the tortures and humiliation. He decided, nonetheless, to stay in his chosen path, which would ultimately lead to his death but also to his birth as a hero.

The second symbolic birth was that of his cynical smile, which our artist Baldin Ahmad immortalised some forty years after. The hero interacts with the empty space of his torture and turns it into a stage. “The hero picks up the trail that leads him to the site of the pristine malefaction. He thus returns to the scene his exposure, his bellicose alienation.” (Sloterdjik, 2003)[viii]

Dalak himself created the stage; he was the “stage maker” in the empty space in which he led his killers to sit opposite him and to turn the myth of Nazim Guzar into a historical jock. Through the creation of the cynical smile on Dalak’s face, we perceive the historical moment in which the hero interacts with the empty space of fascism and turns the dead element, the empty space, into a living element.

In order to explain the empty space and dead elements, we may consult Peter Brook’s book ‘The Empty Space” in which he refers to the stage as not only something physical within a theatre, but something that exists everywhere in life. He said: “I can take any empty space and call it a bare stage. A man walks across this empty space whilst someone else is watching him, and this is all that is needed for an act of theatre to be engaged” (Peter Brook, 1968)[ix]

He also imagined that “There is a deadly element everywhere; in the cultural set-up, in our inherited artistic values, in the economic framework, in the actor’s life, in the critic’s function. As we examine these we will see that, deceptively, the opposite seems also true, for within the Deadly Theatre there are often tantalizing, abortive or even momentarily satisfying flickers of real life” (Peter Brook, 1968)[x]

Our hero walked through the empty space and lived with the deadly element that was embodied in Nazim Guzar– the killer, the torturer, the executor, the most frightening man in the history of Iraq. But our hero Ahmadi Dalak did not let the deadly element of fascism fade his vitality, his true optimism, his ironic smile. He turned the empty space of torture chambers, He turned the empty space of the torture room, the empty space of deadly theatre to the living theatre, to the historical moment of self-discovery of his being a hero who sits on the anatomic chair and smiles so cynically at his executors.

References

*Sloterdijk Peter, 2009:p.195 Du mußt dein Leben ändern, Shurkamp. German

[i] Green, Andrew, 2014, Bombs over Iraq, then and now, accessed website 20.12.18.

http://gwallter.com/history/bombs-over-iraq-then-and-now.html

[ii]Asad, Raed Ahmed 2/11/2014, Churchill, the Kurds and poison gas, accessed website 23.12.18.

http://www.rudaw.net/english/opinion/02112014

[iii]The Iraqi Revolution — of 1958, Moments in U.S. Diplomatic History, access website 23.12.18.

https://adst.org/2014/07/the-iraqi-revolution-of-1958/

[iv]. Alhiwar al Mutamden, Shawkat xaznadar, Sadaam Hussian and Name Guzar and the painful memory – Online magazine -22.11.2018 http://www.m.ahewar.org/s.asp?aid=72137&r=0.

[v]. Hadi Alawai, ,1990 page 47 -48., Iraq as a state of secret organization, Arabic, London

[vi]. Al Iraqia IMN TV – Pr ‘step’ program – Interview with Aziz Al Hajh – part 1- 3

قناةالعراقيةالدوليةIMN– Published on 27 Jun 2018 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VX7L89SQ5iE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1iUnE6xywUQ

[vii]. Sloterdijk Peter 2003 Page 24. Weltfremdheit, Shurkamp Verlg German,

[viii]. Sloterdijk Peter, 2003 Page 21, Weltfremdheit, Shurkamp Verlg German,

[ix]. Peter Brook, 1968, page7.The empty space, Touchstone

[x]. Peter Brook, 1968, page10.The empty space, Touchstone

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Manager, Culture Project.

[2] Individual Publication Date: September 8, 2019: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/head

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. The Cynical Smile Of A Solitary Head [Online].September 2019; 1(B). Available from: www.in-sightjournal.com/head.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2019, September 8). The Cynical Smile Of A Solitary HeadRetrieved from www.in-sightjournal.com/head.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. The Cynical Smile Of A Solitary Head. 1.B, September. 2019. <www.in-sightjournal.com/head>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2019. “The Cynical Smile Of A Solitary Head.” Indigenous Middle East. 1.B. www.in-sightjournal.com/head.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “The Cynical Smile Of A Solitary Head.” Indigenous Middle East. 1.B (September 2019). www.in-sightjournal.com/head.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2019, ‘The Cynical Smile Of A Solitary HeadIndigenous Middle East, vol. 1.B. Available from: <www.in-sightjournal.com/head>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2019, ‘The Cynical Smile Of A Solitary HeadIndigenous Middle East, vol. 1.B., www.in-sightjournal.com/head.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “The Cynical Smile Of A Solitary Head.” Indigenous Middle East 1.A (2019):September. 2019. Web. <www.in-sightjournal.com/head>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. The Cynical Smile Of A Solitary Head [Internet]. (2019, September; 1(B). Available from: www.in-sightjournal.com/head.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing and Indigenous Middle East by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, In-Sight Publishing, and Indigenous Middle East 2012-2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

An Interview with Dr. Iona Italia on Dr. Norman Finkelstein and Professor Alan Dershowitz, American and British Academe, and Trends in Tenure (Part Four)

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 21.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Seventeen)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: September 8, 2019

Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2020

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 2,498

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract 

Dr. Iona Italia is an Author and Translator, and a Sub-Editor for Areo Magazine, and Host of Two for Tea. She discusses: Dr. Norman Finkelstein and Professor Alan Dershowitz; academe and probabilities of tenure; a trend in academe; and the how and why of the devaluing of the arts and the humanities.

Keywords: academe, Alan Dershowitz, American, Areo Magazine, British, Iona Italia, Norman Finkelstein, Two for Tea.

An Interview with Dr. Iona Italia on Dr. Norman Finkelstein and Professor Alan Dershowitz, American and British Academe, and Trends in Tenure: Host, Two for Tea & Sub-Editor, Areo Magazine (Part Four)[1],[2]

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: One, I am thinking of individuals who, either due to life circumstance or a change of purpose in life, made a deliberate choice to leave academe. A second category, I am thinking of individuals who were either blacklisted, kicked out, or defamed in some way such that they could not recover from it.

Italia: Of course, there are also people who did not get tenure, did not get enough publications et cetera, the usual things. In academe, that is common.

Jacobsen: That third category can relate to the second category. I think of the case of Norman Finkelstein at DePaul University. Here was a case of someone several books in, well-published, going for tenure at DePaul, not going for tenure at Yale or something, but a decent university.

Harvard’s youngest full law professor ever, Professor Alan Dershowitz, starts spreading rumours and lies, and defaming him, saying, “Do not let him get tenure.” Why does he say this? Because he was critical of some aspects of not necessarily Holocaust memorializing, but abusing the use of it for financial or political gain, and said The Case for Israel (2003) contained plagiarisms.

One example was a book called From Time Immemorial (Ed. Joan Peters). He went through the citations and references in the book. He found out the whole thing was one big, fat fraud. Professor Chomsky tells him, ‘You can do it, but if you do, you are going to show a certain category of intellectuals as frauds, and they are not going to like it, and they are going to come after you.’ He went ahead and did it anyway. He’s been maybe 10, 15 years, in his words: not unemployed, alone, but unemployable.

That third category can relate to the second category. There are not distinct cases of it.

Dr. Iona Italia: In the early 2000s, I taught at a liberal arts college in the US. I probably will not say the name, I think, even though I have nothing particularly bad to say about it, but it was one of the top-ten ranked colleges in the States. My CV is online, so if anybody wants to know, they can go and look. It is not secret. Then I taught at UEA.

In the UK, the atmosphere is much more relaxed in academe than it is in the US. In the US, at teaching colleges, you must pretend that you are ready to give a kidney for the students, as necessary. If you are not yet tenured, you are much on your best behaviour in all kinds of ways.

This was before Social Justice began taking off. The Social Justice movement with a capital S and a capital J. Nevertheless, toeing the line, being seen to agree with everybody, being decorous, it is a hierarchical system. Whether or not you get tenured, things like whether people like you are important to that. I can see that being a factor.

In the UK, academics are much more cynical. They tend to bitch about students and about each other. We had big fights at faculty meetings. People are relaxed. Your tenures depend on one thing, and one thing alone, and that is the number of publications that you have within that RAE cycle—Research Assessment Exercise cycle—because the department’s funding is dependent on the results of the RAE, so your job is also dependent on the results of the RAE.

That is a difference in emphasis which might well affect the atmosphere in the UK versus the US. Now, Social Justice has entered the mix as one of the ways in which you have to be on your best behaviour, I imagine, at many schools. It must depend on the department, the individuals there, et cetera.

I think that back when I was teaching, I do not recall it being an issue at all. I do remember that when I was teaching there, The Bell Curve came out, Charles Murray’s book. I read it. I thought it was boring. I read it because I had seen in the New York Times that it was some scandalous book, so I decided to read it.

I remember having this sudden shock when I got to the part where he surveys the IQ of the different groups. I thought, “I do not like this idea at all.” Then I turned the page and he was talking about how nobody knows if this is genetics, or environment, or some mixture, or whatever, and I disregarded it. A couple of other people in my department read it. They were like, “Nah.” Then it was never mentioned again, for example.

I do remember that somebody in the department used the word “fist-fuckers” in the title of one of their courses.

Anyway, the title of the course was “Dykes, Something, and Fist-Fuckers.” I cannot remember what the third thing is. The board of directors objected to this. Some parental committee objected. The Dean stood up for the person’s academic freedom. The course continued to have the word “fist-fuckers” in the title.

I think it was in sociology, or maybe it was in English. [Laughing] I cannot remember even which department, whether it was in our department or not. I do remember that being the one time that something blew up that was freedom of speech-related, at the college, whilst I was there.

We did have sexual harassment training, which was fun. We had to do roleplaying. I enjoyed that because I used to be a keen thespian. I used to do a lot of theatres when I was an undergraduate. I remember how enjoyable that was. Afterwards, though, I heard that—although there had been a couple of cases in which students had brought suits against other students—no student in the history of the college had brought a sexual harassment suit against a professor, so I relaxed again.

We did also have the instruction that you must never close the door when you are with a student, which was awkward because I was a student advisor. Sometimes students came to talk about personal things and the whole corridor was open plan, so it was easy to be overheard. Those students would immediately close the door. I would spring up and open the door again. Then they would spring up and close the door. I would spring up and open the door.

Those are the only work-related things I remember happening on campus. We also did have affirmative action. A few people whispered in a quiet voice that because of affirmative action, all the few African American students we had in the college were also always among the worst-performing students because they had all come from affirmative action.

I think there was one professor in our department who rarely came to social events with us, although he played on the faculty baseball team, for whom I scored a home run in our match against the students. We beat the students because the students were so drunk [Laughing] that we beat them. I scored the winning run.

Sorry, I am rambling a little bit. He was on that team but otherwise did not join us socially. It was whispered that this was because he was a Republican. Those are the anecdotes that I have about Social Justicey things.

I think the other thing that was vaguely related is that there was a compulsory literary theory course on the syllabus. Nobody wanted to teach literary theory, so always people who weren’t tenured had to teach literary theory. It was a poisoned chalice because most of us did not enjoy teaching it, but more importantly, the students mostly hated it, and then they would give us poor student evaluations, and that could put you at risk of not getting tenure.

Everybody was always trying to avoid having to teach that course. I had to teach it and it is tough. When you have to teach material you yourself hate or do not feel is worth learning but you have to convey that it is worth learning because the students have no choice but to take the course, that is a tough situation to be in pedagogically.

2. Jacobsen: How many would-be professors get tenure?

Italia: I do not know what the proportion is. Whilst I was there, three or four people came up for tenure. I think two were granted and two were refused, including one in my department. I think this wasn’t the case where I was, but at some of the Ivy League and other similar universities, they operate a shark embryo system, where there is one tenure position and four people are up for it. I think a lot of people do not get tenure.

I do not know what proportion of academics who fail to get tenure one place never manage to get tenure elsewhere. I knew a lot of people who never managed to get a tenure track position and who simply had one short-term position after another.

3. Jacobsen: Has this been a worsening trend? If so, what does this portend for the next five years?

Italia: I haven’t followed it closely, so I do not know. I haven’t been following the stats. I suspect so. My belief, my feeling, and what I gathered from a couple of articles I read is that colleges are hiring more and more admin in order to comply with diversity requirements and legal requirements that are Social Justice related.

Admin salaries are much, much higher than academic staff salaries. A lower and lower percentage of student fees are going towards academic salaries, so I am sure more people are being laid off. I think that, in general, there has been a strong devaluing of the arts and humanities.

4. Jacobsen: How? Why?

Italia: How? “How” is simply a question of money. Why? On the one hand, I think in general, there is a devaluation of writing. There is a sense that you can read everything you need to read online, and people will write for free.

I think that also there is a lack of understanding of what education is about, which to me, is not about sitting on your own, reading things and then writing your thoughts. What is crucial is having your thoughts challenged. The important thing is the feedback from the professor and from other people in your supervision group, or whatever you call it in your country, from professors and from other students, and that is something that you cannot get as an autodidact.

I think that is why so many people who are autodidacts have crazy opinions. Those opinions have never had to sustain the rigor of being strongly questioned. I think that is part of it. In the US it is such a harshly plutocratic, capitalist culture. I believe in capitalism. Communism is a failed system which doesn’t work. It goes against human nature. You need capitalism for wealth generation.

But I would like to see capitalism in which things are not only valued on their monetary value. So, “You have cancer, but your monetary value is low, so you can die.” “You cannot monetize the Shakespeare sonnets. There is no point in studying it.” That attitude, I feel, has been destructive.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Host, Two for Tea; Sub-Editor, Areo Magazine.

[2] Individual Publication Date: September 8, 2019: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/italia-four; Full Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2020: https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Dr. Iona Italia on Dr. Norman Finkelstein and Professor Alan Dershowitz, American and British Academe, and Trends in Tenure (Part Four) [Online].September 2019; 21(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/italia-four.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2019, September 8). An Interview with Dr. Iona Italia on Dr. Norman Finkelstein and Professor Alan Dershowitz, American and British Academe, and Trends in Tenure (Part Four)Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/italia-four.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Dr. Iona Italia on Dr. Norman Finkelstein and Professor Alan Dershowitz, American and British Academe, and Trends in Tenure (Part Four). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 21.A, September. 2019. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/italia-four>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2019. “An Interview with Dr. Iona Italia on Dr. Norman Finkelstein and Professor Alan Dershowitz, American and British Academe, and Trends in Tenure (Part Four).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 21.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/italia-four.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Dr. Iona Italia on Dr. Norman Finkelstein and Professor Alan Dershowitz, American and British Academe, and Trends in Tenure (Part Four).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 21.A (September 2019). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/italia-four.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2019, ‘An Interview with Dr. Iona Italia on Dr. Norman Finkelstein and Professor Alan Dershowitz, American and British Academe, and Trends in Tenure (Part Four)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 21.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/italia-four>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2019, ‘An Interview with Dr. Iona Italia on Dr. Norman Finkelstein and Professor Alan Dershowitz, American and British Academe, and Trends in Tenure (Part Four)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 21.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/italia-four.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Dr. Iona Italia on Dr. Norman Finkelstein and Professor Alan Dershowitz, American and British Academe, and Trends in Tenure (Part Four).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 21.A (2019):September. 2019. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/italia-four>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Dr. Iona Italia on Dr. Norman Finkelstein and Professor Alan Dershowitz, American and British Academe, and Trends in Tenure (Part Four) [Internet]. (2019, September 21(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/italia-four.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

An Interview with Dr. Ronald K. Hoeflin on Theories of Intelligence, Sex Differences, and Issues of IQ Test Takers and Test Creators (Part Three)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 21.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Seventeen)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: September 1, 2019

Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2020

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 2,936

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract 

Dr. Ronald K. Hoeflin founded the Prometheus Society and the Mega Society, and created the Mega Test and the Titan Test. He discusses: faux and real genius; validity to Professor Robert Sternberg’s Triarchic Theory of intelligence with practical intelligence, creative intelligence, and analytical intelligence; validity to Multiple Intelligences Theory of Professor Howard Gardner with musical-rhythmic, visual-spatial, verbal-linguistic, logical-mathematical, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, naturalistic, existential, and teaching-pedagogical intelligences; validity to general intelligence, or g, of the late Charles Spearman; the general opinion on the three main theories of intelligence; self-identification as a genius; personal opinions on the state of mainstream intelligence testing and alternative high-range intelligence testing; statistical rarity for apparent and, potentially, actual IQ scores of females who score at the extreme sigmas of 3, 4, and 5, or higher; reducing or eliminating social conflicts of interest in test creation; multiple test attempts; data on the Mega Test and the Titan Test; pseudonyms and test scores; and possible concerns of the test creators at the highest sigmas.

Keywords: Charles Spearman, Francis Galton, Hereditary Genius, Howard Gardner, intelligence, IQ, Mega Society, Mega Test, Robert Sternberg, Ronald K. Hoeflin, The Encyclopedia of Categories, Titan Test.

An Interview with Dr. Ronald K. Hoeflin on Theories of Intelligence, Sex Differences, and Issues of IQ Test Takers and Test Creators: Founder, Prometheus Society; Founder, Mega Society (Part Three)[1],[2],[3]

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

*Caption provided to the photo from Dr. Hoeflin in the third footnote.*

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Before delving into the theories, so a surface analysis, what defines a faux genius? What defines a real genius to you? Or, perhaps, what different definitions sufficiently describe a fake and a true genius for non-experts or a lay member of the general public – to set the groundwork for Part Three? 

Dr. Ronald K. Hoeflin: I would say that genius requires high general intelligence combined with high creativity. How high? In his book Hereditary Genius, Francis Galton put the lowest grade of genius at a rarity of one in 4,000 and the highest grade at a rarity of one in a million. Scientists love to quantify in order to give their subject at least the appearance of precision. One in 4,000 would ensure one’s being noticed in a small city, while one in a million would ensure one’s being noticed in an entire nation of moderate size.

2. Jacobsen: By your estimation or analysis, any validity to Professor Robert Sternberg’s Triarchic Theory of intelligence with practical intelligence, creative intelligence, and analytical intelligence?

Hoeflin: I like Sternberg’s attempt at analyzing intelligence, but clearly just three factors seems a bit skimpy for a really robust theory.

3.Jacobsen: Any validity to Multiple Intelligences Theory of Professor Howard Gardner with musical-rhythmic, visual-spatial, verbal-linguistic, logical-mathematical, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, naturalistic, existential, and teaching-pedagogical intelligences?

Hoeflin: Here we have a more robust set of factors, but Gardner fails to show how his factors cohere within a single theory.

4. Jacobsen: Any validity to general intelligence, or g, of the late Charles Spearman?

Hoeflin: General intelligence was based on the fact that apparently quite diverse forms of intelligence such as verbal, spatial, and numerical have positive correlations between each pair of factors, presumably based on some underlying general intelligence.

5. Jacobsen: Amongst the community of experts, what is the general opinion on the three main theories of intelligence listed before? What one holds the most weight? Why that one?

Hoeflin: These are three theories in search of an overarching theory of intelligence. My guess is that the so-called “experts” lack the intelligence so far to create a really satisfactory theory of intelligence, perhaps analogous to the problem with finding a coherent theory of superstrings.

6. Jacobsen: Do you identify as a genius? If so, why, and in what ways? If not, why not?

Hoeflin: I think my theory of categories shows genuine genius. It even amazes me, as if I were just a spectator as the theory does its work almost independently of my efforts.

7. Jacobsen: Any personal opinions on the state of mainstream intelligence testing and alternative high-range intelligence testing now? 

Hoeflin: I’m not up on the current state of intelligence testing. I do feel that it has focused way too much on the average range of intelligence, say from 50 to 150 IQ, i.e., from the bottom one-tenth of one percent to the top one-tenth of one percent. Testing students in this range is where the money is in academia. It’s like music: all the money to be made is in creating pop music, which is typically of mediocre quality. Background music for movies is probably as close as music comes these days to being of high quality, presumably because there is money to be made from the movie studios in such music. I saw a movie recently called “Hangover Square,” which came out in 1945. The title is unappealing and the movie itself is a totally unsuspenseful melodrama about a homicidal maniac whose identity is revealed right from the start. The one amazing thing about the movie was that the composer, Bernard Herman, composed an entire piano concerto for the maniac to purportedly compose and perform, with appropriate homicidal traits in the music to reflect the deranged soul of the leading character, the maniac. One rarely sees such brilliant musical talent thrown at such a horrible film. So I guess genius can throw itself into things even when the audience it is aimed at is of extremely mediocre quality. Maybe intelligence tests, even when they are aimed at mediocre students, can show glints of genius. The fact that I could attain the 99th percentile on tests aimed at average high-school students despite my slow reading due to visual impairment suggests that some psychometrician (or group of psychometricians) must have been throwing their creativity and intelligence into their work in an inspired way that smacks of true genius!

8. Jacobsen: Do the statistical rarities at the extreme sigmas have higher variance between males and females? If so, why? If not, why not? Also, if so, how is this reflected in subtests rather than simple composite scores?

Hoeflin: By “variance between males and females,” I presume you are alluding to the fact that there tend to be more men at very high scores than women. This is especially obvious in spatial problems, as well as kindred math problems, presumably due to men running around hunting wild game in spatially complex situations while women sat by the fireside cooking whatever meat the men managed to procure. But it is also true that men outperform women on verbal tests. On the second Concept Mastery Test, a totally verbal test, of the 20 members of Terman’s gifted group who scored from 180 to 190, the ceiling to the test, 16 were men but only 4 were women. This is a puzzling phenomenon, given women’s propensity for verbalizing. Perhaps chasing game involves verbal communication, too, so that nature rewards the better verbalizers among men in life-or-death situations. Warfare as well as hunting for game probably has a significant role in weeding out the unfit verbalizers among men.

9. Jacobsen: Following from the last question, if so, what does this imply for the statistical rarity for apparent and, potentially, actual IQ scores of females who score at the extreme sigmas of 3, 4, and 5, or higher?

Hoeflin: It obviously would be possible to breed women eugenically to increase the percentage of them with very high IQ scores. Even now, there are more women graduating from law school than men in the United States, which suggests no deficit in verbal intelligence at the high end of the scale. Although, there may be other reasons why men of high verbal intelligence avoid law as a career compared to women. Maybe, they are drawn away by other lucrative careers, such as business or medicine.

10. Jacobsen: In the administration of alternative tests for the higher ranges of general intelligence, individuals may know the test creator, even on intimate terms as a close colleague and friend. They may take the test a second time, a third time, a fourth time, or more. The sample size of the test may be very small. There may be financial conflicts of interest for the test creator or test taker. There may be various manipulations to cheat on the test. There may be pseudonyms used for the test to appear as if a first attempt at the alternative test. There are other concerns. How do you reduce or eliminate social conflicts of interest?

Hoeflin: Some people have used pseudonyms to take my tests when they were afraid I would not give them a chance to try the test a second or third time. There is not much incentive to score very high on these tests, except perhaps the prestige of joining a very high-IQ society. People cheat on standardized college admission tests, as we know from news reports, by getting other people to take the tests for them, for example. Considering how expensive colleges have become these days, my guess is that they will go the way of the dodo bird eventually, and people will get their education through computers rather than spending a fortune in a college. One guy cheated on my Mega Test by getting members of a think tank in the Cambridge, Massachusetts area to help him. He was pleased that I gave him a perfect score of 48 out of 48. He admitted cheating to Marilyn vos Savant, who informed me, so I disqualified his score. This was before my Mega Test appeared in Omni. Why he wanted credit for a perfect score that he did not deserve is beyond my understanding. I’d be more proud of a slightly lower score that I had actually earned. Another person has kept trying my tests, despite a fairly high scoring fee of $50 per attempt. I finally told him to stop taking the tests. His scores were not improving, so his persistence seemed bizarre.

11. Jacobsen: The highest score on the Mega Test on the first attempt by a single individual with a single name rather than a single individual with multiple names was Marilyn vos Savant at 46 out of 48. Similarly, with other test creators, and other tests, there were several attempts at the same test by others. Do the multiple test attempts and then the highest of those attempts asserted as the score for the test taker present an issue across the higher sigma ranges and societies?

Hoeflin: Some European guy did achieve a perfect score on the Mega Test eventually, about 20 years after the test first came out in 1985. The test is no longer used by any high-IQ societies that I know of due to the posting of mostly correct answers online by a malicious psychiatrist. He probably needed to see a psychiatrist to figure out what snapped in his poor head to do such a thing. I guess it’s a profession that attracts people with psychological problems that they are trying to understand and perhaps solve.

12. Jacobsen: What were the final sample sizes of the Mega Test and the Titan Test at the height of their prominence? How do these compare to other tests? What would be a reasonable sample size to tap into 4-sigma and higher ranges of intelligence with low margins of error and decent accuracy?

Hoeflin: A bit over 4,000 people tried the Mega Test within a couple of years of its appearance and about 500 people tried the Titan Test within a similar time period. Langdon’s LAIT test is said to have had 25,000 participants. His test was multiple choice, whereas mine were not. A multiple-choice test is easier to guess on than a non-multiple-choice test. My tests were normed by looking at the previous test scores that participants reported and then trying to create a distribution curve for my tests what would jibe with the distribution on previously-taken tests. So I did not need to test a million or more people to norm my tests up to fairly high levels of ability.

13. Jacobsen: What are the ways in which test-takers try to cheat on tests? I mean the full gamut. I intend this as a means by which prospective test takers and society creators can arm themselves and protect themselves from cheaters, charlatans, and frauds, or worse. Same for the general public in guarding against them, whenever someone might read this.

Hoeflin: If people’s wrong answers are too often identical with one another and out of sync with typical wrong answers, that is a clue that they are copying from one another or from some common source.

14. Jacobsen: Why do test takers use pseudonyms? How common is this practice among these types of test-takers? It seems as if a brazen and blatant attempt to take a test twice, or more, and then claim oneself as smart as the higher score rather than the composite of two, or more, scores, or even simply the lower score of the two, or more, if the scores are not identical.

Hoeflin: I know of a group of 5 M.I.T. students who collaborated and gave themselves the collective name of Tetazoo. There was also a professor at Caltech who tried the test but did not want his score publicized so he used the pseudonym Ron Lee. In both cases, the score just barely hit the one-in-a-million mark of 43 right out of 48. One person scored 42 right and wanted to try again so he used a pseudonym and managed to reach 47 right out of 48 on his second attempt.

15. Jacobsen: What have been and continue to be concerns for test creators at the highest sigmas such as yourself or others, whether active or retired? This is more of a timeline into the present question of the other suite of concerns.

Hoeflin: I do not know what are the main concerns of test designers, past or present, other than myself. I was fortunate to have Triple Nine members as guinea pigs to try out my trial tests, so I could weed out the less satisfactory problems. One could usually tell just by looking at a problem whether it would be a good one or not, but the inspiration to come up with good problems would involve steady effort over the course of a year or so, yielding for me on average about one good problem per week, plus about four not too good problems per week.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Founder, Mega Society (1982); Founder, Prometheus Society (1982); Founder, Top One Percent Society (1989); Founder, One-in-a-Thousand Society (1992); Founder, Epimetheus Society (2006); Founder, Omega Society (2006); Creator, Mega Test (April, 1985); Creator, Titan Test (April, 1990); Creator, Hoeflin Power Test; Author, The Encyclopedia of Categories; Ph.D., Philosophy, The New School for Social Research.

[2] Individual Publication Date: September 1, 2019: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/hoeflin-three; Full Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2020: https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

[3] Image Credit: Ronald K. Hoeflin. Caption: “Kitty porn? No, just the author and his pals.”

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Dr. Ronald K. Hoeflin on Theories of Intelligence, Sex Differences, and Issues of IQ Test Takers and Test Creators (Part Three) [Online].September 2019; 21(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/hoeflin-three.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2019, September 1). An Interview with Dr. Ronald K. Hoeflin on Theories of Intelligence, Sex Differences, and Issues of IQ Test Takers and Test Creators (Part Three)Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/hoeflin-three.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Dr. Ronald K. Hoeflin on Theories of Intelligence, Sex Differences, and Issues of IQ Test Takers and Test Creators (Part Three). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 21.A, September. 2019. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/hoeflin-three>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2019. “An Interview with Dr. Ronald K. Hoeflin on Theories of Intelligence, Sex Differences, and Issues of IQ Test Takers and Test Creators (Part Three).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 21.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/hoeflin-three.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Dr. Ronald K. Hoeflin on Theories of Intelligence, Sex Differences, and Issues of IQ Test Takers and Test Creators (Part Three).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 21.A (September 2019). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/hoeflin-three.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2019, ‘An Interview with Dr. Ronald K. Hoeflin on Theories of Intelligence, Sex Differences, and Issues of IQ Test Takers and Test Creators (Part Three)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 21.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/hoeflin-three>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2019, ‘An Interview with Dr. Ronald K. Hoeflin on Theories of Intelligence, Sex Differences, and Issues of IQ Test Takers and Test Creators (Part Three)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 21.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/hoeflin-three.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Dr. Ronald K. Hoeflin on Theories of Intelligence, Sex Differences, and Issues of IQ Test Takers and Test Creators (Part Three).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 21.A (2019):September. 2019. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/hoeflin-three>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Dr. Ronald K. Hoeflin on Theories of Intelligence, Sex Differences, and Issues of IQ Test Takers and Test Creators (Part Three) [Internet]. (2019, September 21(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/hoeflin-three.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

An Interview with Pascal Landa on Real Successes and Honest Failures, Bad Things in History, and Book Recommendations (Part Four)

Numbering: Issue 21.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Seventeen)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: September 1, 2019

Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2020

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 3,299

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract 

Pascal Landa is the Founder and President AAVIVRE (Association qui Accompagne la Volonté des Individus a Vivre selon leur Ethique – Association that Accompanies the Will of those wishing to Live according to their personal Ethics). He discusses: real successes in the international community, honest failures in the international community, and the ways in which people can build on the successes and learn from the failures; bad things that have happened in history; and books recommended for people interested in the right to die, dying with dignity, euthanasia, and medical assistance in dying.

Keywords: AAVIVRE, dying with dignity, early life, euthanasia, France, medical assistance in dying, religion, right to die, Pascal Landa.

An Interview with Pascal Landa on Real Successes and Honest Failures, Bad Things in History, and Book Recommendations: Founder and President AAVIVRE (Association qui Accompagne la Volonté des Individus a Vivre selon leur Ethique – Association that Accompanies the Will of those wishing to Live according to their personal Ethics) (Part Four)[1],[2]

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Let me think. In an international context, given that we have the history, given that we have the organizations, given that we have the progress in France. What have been real successes in the international community? What have been honest failures in the international community? How can people build on those successes and learn from those failures?

Pascal Landa: You are asking that question in the relationship of the right to die or in general?

Jacobsen: Yes. Right to die policies being implemented or furthered in some way.

Landa: The Oregon law, for example, and the Swiss practice and Holland practice that has now been there for the last what, 20 years, practically, those are major advances that have influenced the world. Every country, I think, today, is considering this question and understanding that this is an important issue.

We are no longer, at all, in the same situation as I remember it being in 1980. 1980, we were looking at death and dying and we were all studying Elisabeth Kübler-Ross books and fabulous reflections on death and dying.

Today, there are still some battles being fought. Look at our president of the World Federation who is being attacked in South Africa for having presumably murdered three persons while in fact, he just helped people die. Look at how hard it is in France to get legislation voted even though people have been asking for this for the last 30 years.

I am not sure how to answer your question clearly. I am just saying that there are some momentous decisions. There are some situations that have made us backtrack a lot. I am thinking of Doctor Death in America.

I believe, personally, that Philip Nitschke, for example, is not doing any good to the movement. That is a very personal feeling. He is interested in his own personal interest and his own personal glory but it is not helping the society evolve. I cannot abide by what he is doing even if his last “invention,” the death capsule, is a marketing beauty. I do not know everything he is doing, but the few exchanges I have had with him have not made me confident in his approach.

I think the Canadian government recently enacted an important law. I have cousins who are in the medical profession over there and who are saying that it is working out quite well, that people are getting to it. But again, we see that for the medical doctors trained in a “scientific way”, it is going to be a slow process for them. They were not educated for caretaking, only scientific knowledge. You must understand that medical doctors were never educated to help people die. It was never considered as part of their profession even if every doctor learned during his practice to accompany people all the way to their death.

It is like a mother raising her daughter and saying nothing about sex. Obviously, the girl must discover it by herself and it may take some time. She may have some bad experiences. The real fault is her mother not having a frank discussion with her about it. That can be dramatic. She can get pregnant without knowing that she is going to get pregnant and have consequences for the rest of her life.

The same thing with a man, a father that doesn’t tell his son that ejaculation is not a bad thing, and that becoming a person who’s copulating all over the place, you’d better well protect yourself otherwise you might get AIDS. Those are important things to tell people.

That is the case with dying with dignity. We do not teach doctors to face death, which poses big problems. We must remember doctors are human beings, first. They may be good and professional people, but if they cannot face their own death, then facing a patient who’s dying is a traumatic experience. In medical education in France, we are fighting to get doctors to have more than just a 2-hour course in 5 years on death and dying. To protect them we must limit their realm of the decision to medical decisions and not allow them to substitute themselves to their patients in deciding about treatment or care.

You might consider 3 periods for your life. One-third you are being born and growing up, one-third, you are being an adult in the achievement processes, and one-third you are declining physically heading towards death. [Laughing] That is basically what life is all about.

We can discuss and segment life much more, but really life is a series of phases in which we can live fully and each is important. I spend a lot of time working with people, helping them to understand that. This is the reason I am writing that book on the end of life. When you are 30, 40, you are in full expansion. You buy a house, you have a big house because you have got kids, you have got lots of friends coming over. When you get to be 60, 65, the kids are gone. You have this house with five bedrooms and three bathrooms, or whatever. You do not need all that. All it is is keeping you down. All those things, those things that you have around you that are just encumbering your life, you do not need them anymore. You better adapt your environment to your needs and live now if you want to live, daily, your own life. Too many live in an imagined life and not an experiential daily life of discoveries, pain, pleasure, emotions.

Younger generations know that much better. For example, they do not like old furniture. You know why? Because they can go to Ikea, buy the brand-new stuff for real cheap, and they can throw it away in 3 years and not worry about it. The new generations have learned, and are learning every day, I think, still, to get rid of stuff, to unburden their lives.

The old generations do not know that. The old generations just accumulate, accumulate, accumulate. One of my favourite statements is, “Why in the hell when I die, should I leave a bunch of shit behind me for my kids to deal with?”

Jacobsen: The Egyptians were the biggest example of this, in history, the pharaohs. They brought their slaves with them, sometimes their cats.

Landa: The Chinese, as well. Look at their armies.

Jacobsen: Right [Laughing].

Landa: To answer your question about what the biggest advance is. What is interesting in France is that you have had terrible cases, obvious cases of people suffering, and people eventually helping somebody die in a terrible situation, et cetera. Each time that those cases have come up, somehow or another, we have had legislators make a law, a good or a bad law, it doesn’t matter, but make a law to try to deal with it.

I think that is not the way to make laws. Laws should be long-term reflections and should envision all the systemic repercussions. That is why we have a lot of laws that are manipulated by rich people. When you are rich, you can have a good lawyer. If you have a good lawyer, he can have thousands of people working for him. You can always take all the texts of law and transform them because they are contradictory, and present to a judge a reading of the law that suits you. If you are poor, you cannot do that.

I think one of the biggest problems facing society today is that as we have computerized, we have become more and more complex. As we become more and more complex, we become more and more contradictory or we open loopholes for people to pass through beyond the will of the majority. Therefore, some people are getting rich on the backs of others without doing anything.

What is your next question, doctor?

2. Jacobsen: If an academic, or researcher, works on these specific topics and even potentially works with people at the end of life, what are some bad things that have, in the history, happened to their academic careers? Have they been torpedoed?

Landa: That is an interesting question. I am not sure I am competent to answer that. You are hitting the limits of my knowledge, there. I think I could answer that by taking the ball in another way. I have, in the last 30 years of working on this movement, been torpedoed by big bosses of the medical profession who have tried to ridicule me because I was a young punk, a 30-year-old, talking about something that was important. With their stature and their maturity, they simply dismissed me and I did not have the guts or assurance to tell them they were abusive.

I have had ministers basically tell me that I was a shit. Even though I am a courageous guy, and so forth, it is true that when you are 30 and you have got a 65-year-old guy who is a minister saying, “What does he know about this?” “Yes, it is true. I have only 30 years’ worth of knowledge about life. You have 65. You should know better, but you shouldn’t be such an asshole, either.” [Laughing] That is basically my encounters.

I think one of the things, to answer your question about intellectuals looking into subjects and being torpedoed initially and then veneered later.  It is true of any subject that you open and then you achieve progress in. I made my career out of doing things that IT professionals were too scared of doing. I had the intuition things could be done because I had the right human contact with the knowledgeable people, I knew sufficiently the subjects through my readings, to know that what I proposed was possible and I had perseverance and essential quality for success. I had a successful career due to that.

When Windows 95 came out, which was a brand-new operating system, I was asked if it should be deployed. Apple, up to then, was considered the most user-friendly but in 1995 had been taken over by financiers with no vision. Windows 3.11 was just a piece of shit in terms of end-user interaction, but it worked well. It was just no longer viable. I had to put people who were using Macs into a Windows environment.

I went to Windows 95 and migrated 1700 people into that environment in 6 months, even though Windows 95 only had three or four months of age and was unproven. I became a hero because of that. I did it because I knew the guys who developed 95 and I knew the tests that had been made and I had confidence, but people around me were scared as hell.

In any profession, when you go into uncharted grounds, when you go into situations where you say things that are not the common way of saying things, you get to sometimes have broken careers and sometimes be put into the cupboard.

Look at the way the people who have revealed the Panama Papers, how they’ve been destroyed, or their lives have been impaired, it was the same thing in our movement, I think. When you are honest and you say things, clearly, you are putting souls who are dishonest into bad situations and they’ll use all their power to try to get to you.

Jacobsen: Why?

Landa: Because you are undermining their power. Simple. Their stature. What does a person have? He has money, or he has recognition. If you attack one of those two elements, you are attacking the individual. You cannot help but attack the individual on those bases if he is being an asshole saying stupid things, or if he is making money off the back of people that he is exploiting. There’s just no way you can avoid it.

The biggest war tomorrow is between the rich and the poor. The rich tomorrow are going to consider that the poor are using too many natural resources, so the survival of their well-being is going to dictate to eliminate the poor. It’s a natural selection process.

Jacobsen: We see this in many contexts, just in terms of clean water, drinking water.

Landa: Absolutely.

Jacobsen: There are places like Gaza. About one million kids, 70% identified as refugees since the 1948 situation. 97% of the water is unfit for human consumption. It is contaminated. In other words, of the approximate two million people there, one million who are children, one million children are being slowly poisoned by contaminated water. That is a microcosm of probably a larger context and concern around clean drinking water.

Landa: Sure. The Jewish extremists are happy to kill off as much as they can and contain the Gaza Arabs so that they can continue their expansion. It is a war between two populations. That war is being supported by the authorities that are in power all over the world, which is completely ludicrous but that is the way it is.

Which doesn’t mean that I am against the Jews! I am Jewish myself. My name is Landau originally, but during The Inquisition in the 1470’s, and they changed it to Landa to try to avoid being killed by the extremist Catholics.

3. Jacobsen: Just being mindful of time. With respect to becoming more informed in the international lingua franca, in terms of reading, what are some articles or books you would recommend for people interested in the right to die, dying with dignity, euthanasia, medical assistance in dying, and so on?

Landa: I would refer you to Derek Humphry for all his writings. I think he covers a large spectrum. I would recommend going to Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and to quite a few of the philosophers who have written on the subject, the social workers or the philosophers. Specific ones, I would not remember off hand. It depends on your culture, depends on your ability to read in different languages. I think there are thousands and thousands of books on the subject today.

I think also I would recommend films. There are some, good films at the end of life decision and why people have done it and taken it, Million Dollar Baby. Some are more big, public and big show kind of stuff, and others… but they’re all putting together this question about, “What is the meaning of life?”

I have put together in the past, and it can be found on most internet sites from associations on this subject, a bibliography for the French people. I would go to the World Federation web site WFRtD.

With the Internet today, it is so easy to get good reading material, and there’s so much of it. The problem is there’s too much of it. [Laughing] That is probably my answer to there’s too much of it, so anywhere you pick, you probably will fall, 80% of the time, on the good stuff.

Obviously, those who are more recognized philosophers, more recognized social workers, more social scientists, those who are more affiliated to a movement, probably have written most of the most accessible, easy material. The film “Jean’s way”, or Derek’s own autobiography is interesting. Finally, there is a landmark book that I would recommend. The Tibetan Book of the Dead, that is a fabulous book.

Jacobsen: How?

Landa: That is an immemorial book that one should have read as it dwells into the dimensions of life. But again, you can also read some of the religious philosophers of the 17th century, or 18th century – 18th century more likely, who have good questions about this stuff. [Laughing] It is a vast subject. What is life about?

Boudewijn Chabot wrote an interesting book on dying painlessly from hunger, another method I recommend for those who have time.

4. Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Pascal.​

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Founder and President AAVIVRE (Association qui Accompagne la Volonté des Individus a Vivre selon leur Ethique – Association that Accompanies the Will of those wishing to Live according to their personal Ethics).

[2] Individual Publication Date: September 1, 2019: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/landa-four; Full Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2020: https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Pascal Landa on Real Successes and Honest Failures, Bad Things in History, and Book Recommendations (Part Four) [Online].September 2019; 21(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/landa-four.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2019, September 1). An Interview with Pascal Landa on Real Successes and Honest Failures, Bad Things in History, and Book Recommendations (Part Four)Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/landa-four.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Pascal Landa on Real Successes and Honest Failures, Bad Things in History, and Book Recommendations (Part Four). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 21.A, September. 2019. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/landa-four>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2019. “An Interview with Pascal Landa on Real Successes and Honest Failures, Bad Things in History, and Book Recommendations (Part Four).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 21.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/landa-four.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Pascal Landa on Real Successes and Honest Failures, Bad Things in History, and Book Recommendations (Part Four).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 21.A (September 2019). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/landa-four.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2019, ‘An Interview with Pascal Landa on Real Successes and Honest Failures, Bad Things in History, and Book Recommendations (Part Four)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 21.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/landa-four>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2019, ‘An Interview with Pascal Landa on Real Successes and Honest Failures, Bad Things in History, and Book Recommendations (Part Four)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 21.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/landa-four.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Pascal Landa on Real Successes and Honest Failures, Bad Things in History, and Book Recommendations (Part Four).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 21.A (2019):September. 2019. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/landa-four>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Pascal Landa on Real Successes and Honest Failures, Bad Things in History, and Book Recommendations (Part Four) [Internet]. (2019, September 21(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/landa-four.

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An Interview with Dr. Ronald K. Hoeflin on High-IQ Societies’ Titles, Rarities, and Purposes, and Personal Judgment and Evaluations of Them (Part Two)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 20.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Sixteen)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: August 22, 2019

Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2019

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 4,638

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract 

Dr. Ronald K. Hoeflin founded the Prometheus Society and the Mega Society, and created the Mega Test and the Titan Test. He discusses: inspiration for the Mega Society – its title, rarity, and purpose; inspiration for the Prometheus Society – its title, rarity, and purpose; inspiration for the Top One Percent Society – its title, rarity, and purpose; inspiration for the One-in-a-Thousand Society – its title, rarity, and purpose; inspiration for the Epimetheus Society – its title, rarity, and purpose; inspiration for the Omega Society – its title, rarity, and purpose; the developments of each society over time; communications of high-IQ societies, and harshest critiques of high-IQ societies; overall results of the intellectual community facilitated for the gifted; Prometheus Society and the Mega Society kept separate from the Lewis Terman Society, and Top One Percent Society, One-in-a-Thousand Society, Epimetheus Society, and Omega Society placed under the aegis of the “The Terman Society” or “The Hoeflin Society”; disillusionment with high-IQ societies; notable failures of the high-IQ societies; changing norms of the Mega Test and the Titan Test; the hypothetical Holy Grail of psychometric measurements; other test creators seem reliable in their production of high-IQ tests and societies with serious and legitimate intent respected by Dr. Hoeflin: Kevin Langdon and Christopher Harding; societies societies helpful as sounding boards for the Encyclopedia of Categories; librarian work helpful in the development of a skill set necessary for independent psychometric work and general intelligence test creation; demerits of the societies in personal opinion and others’ opinions; virtues and personalities as mostly innate or inborn, and dating and mating; and publications from the societies attempted to be published at a periodic rate.

Keywords: Christopher Harding, Giftedness, intelligence, IQ, Kevin Langdon, Mega Society, Mega Test, Prometheus Society, Ronald K. Hoeflin, The Encyclopedia of Categories, Titan Test.

An Interview with Dr. Ronald K. Hoeflin on High-IQ Societies’ Titles, Rarities, and Purposes, and Personal Judgment and Evaluations of Them: Founder, Prometheus Society; Founder, Mega Society (Part Two)[1],[2],[3]

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

*Caption provided to the photo from Dr. Hoeflin in the third footnote.*

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Perhaps, we can run down the timeline of the six societies in this part with some subsequent questions: Prometheus Society (1982), Mega Society (1982), Top One Percent Society (1989), One-in-a-Thousand Society (1992), Epimetheus Society (2006), and Omega Society (2006). What was the inspiration for the Mega Society – its title, rarity, and purpose?

Dr. Ronald K. Hoeflin: Kevin Langdon had a list of 600 or so people who had qualified for his Four Sigma Society from the 25,000 Omni readers who tried his LAIT (Langdon Adult Intelligence Test) that appeared in Omni in 1979. Four Sigma was given a cut-off of four standard deviations above the mean, which on a normal curve would be about one-in-30,000 in rarity or the 99.997 percentile. So approximately one-thirtieth of them should have been qualified for a one-in-a-million society. I suggested to him that he might ask the top 20 scorers if they’d like to form the nucleus of a one-in-a-million society, but he evidently thought this cut-off was too high to be practical. So when he let his Four Sigma Society languish, I decided to start Prometheus as a replacement for it, with the Mega Society as a follow-through on my suggestion to him about starting a one-in-a-million society, where “mega” means, of course, “million,” indicating how many people each member would be expected to exceed in intelligence. With slightly over 7 billion people, there would be a pool of about 7,000 potential Mega Society members, or slightly less if we exclude young children. I knew of a statistical method by which several very high scores from several tests could be combined to equal a one-in-a-million standard, as if the several tests constituted a single gigantic test. So I accepted members using this statistical method until my Mega Test appeared in Omni in April 1985. I put the cut-off at a raw score of 42 out of 48 initially, but then increased this to 43 after getting a larger sample. The test was eventually withdrawn from official use for admission to the Mega Society because some psychiatrist maliciously published a lot of answers online that others could search out and copy. At this time my other test, the Titan Test, is the only one that the Mega Society will accept, again at a raw score of 43 out of 48.

2. Jacobsen: What was the inspiration for the Prometheus Society – its title, rarity, and purpose?

Hoeflin: The Prometheus Society, as mentioned above, was intended as a replacement for the Four Sigma Society, which Langdon had allowed to languish. Prometheus was a figure in Greek mythology who was punished by the gods for giving fire to humans. I told Kevin, half in jest, that I was stealing his idea for the Four Sigma Society from him like Prometheus stealing fire from the gods! On my Mega and Titan Test, the qualifying score for Prometheus is a raw score of 36 out of 48, roughly equivalent to a rarity of one-in-30,000 or the 99.997 percentile, the same as Four Sigma’s cut-off, i.e., a minimum qualifying score.

3. Jacobsen: What was the inspiration for the Top One Percent Society – its title, rarity, and purpose?

Hoeflin: I wanted to make a living publishing journals for high-IQ societies. I initially was able to do so as the editor for the Triple Nine Society, for which I was paid just $1 per month per member for each monthly journal I put out. When I started as editor in late 1979, there were only about 50 members, but once Kevin’s test appeared in Omni the number of members swelled to about 750. With $750 per month, I could put out a journal and still have enough left over to live on, since my monthly rent was just $75 thanks to New York City’s rent laws. When Kevin heard that I was able to do this, he was not amused, since he thought the editorship should be an unpaid position. So I started the Top One Percent Society from people who had taken my Mega Test in Omni in April 1985 and my Titan Test in April 1990, thus removing myself from any disputes with Kevin or other members of the Triple Nine Society. I liked being self-employed rather than work as a librarian, which had been my profession from 1969 to 1985, because difficulties with higher-ups in the library field could crop up if there were personality conflicts.

4. Jacobsen: What was the inspiration for the One-in-a-Thousand Society – its title, rarity, and purpose?

Hoeflin: I started the One-in-a-Thousand Society when income from my Top One Percent Society started to seem insufficient, even when I put out two journals per month rather than one for the Top One Percent Society. The third journal per month was a bit more hectic, but within my capacity.

5. Jacobsen: What was the inspiration for the Epimetheus Society – its title, rarity, and purpose?

Hoeflin: In Greek mythology, Epimetheus was a brother to Prometheus. I’d let the Prometheus and Mega societies fall into the control of other people, so I decided to create new societies at their same cut-offs but with different names and under my control. I don’t recall the motivation for founding Epimetheus, since starting in 1997 I qualified for Social Security Disability payments due to my poor vision and low income, and that completely solved all my financial worries, even when my rent gradually crept up from $75 to $150 from 1997 to around 2003. It is now permanently frozen at $150 a month due to an agreement with an earlier landlord, who wanted the City to give him permission to install luxury apartments where I live, for which he could charge $2,000 to $4,000 a month due to the proximity to Times Square, which is just ten minutes’ walk away. I think that the Prometheus Society was restricting the tests it accepted to just a very small number of traditional supervised IQ tests, excluding unsupervised amateur-designed tests like mine. I wanted my tests to still serve a practical purpose at the Prometheus and Mega cut-offs.

6. Jacobsen: What was the inspiration for the Omega Society – its title, rarity, and purpose?

Hoeflin: Chris Harding of Australia was forever founding new high-IQ societies with new names but whose existence was largely known only to him and the people he awarded memberships to. He founded an Omega Society at the one-in-3,000,000 cut-off, but I assumed after several years of hearing nothing about it that it must be defunct, so I decided to call my new one-in-a-million society the Omega Society, since “Omega” seemed a nice twin word for “Mega” just as “Epimetheus” served as a twin word for “Prometheus.” Chris wrote to me about this appropriation of his society’s name and I explained my reason for adopting it. He offered no further complaint about it.

7. Jacobsen: What were the developments of each society over time?

Hoeflin: I decided to devote my full-time attention to a massive multi-volume opus titled “The Encyclopedia of Categories,” of which I’d published a couple of one-volume versions in 2004 and 2005. When I noticed that Samuel Johnson’s great unabridged dictionary of 1755 could now be bought for just $9.99 from Kindle, the computer-readable format that avoids paper printing, I decided I could make an affordable multi-volume treatment of my “Encyclopedia of Categories.” I’d also discovered that quotations from collections of quotations could be analyzed in terms of my theory of categories, giving me a virtually inexhaustible source of examples considering how many quotation books there are out there. So I sold the four societies that were still under my control to Hernan Chang, an M.D. physician living in Jacksonville, Florida, as well as all of my IQ tests. Although, he lets me score the latter for him and collect the fee, since he is too busy to handle that. I began my multi-volume opus in late 2013 and believe I can complete a 10-volume version by the end of this year, 2019. I was initially aiming at a 13-volume version, in harmony with the number of basic categial niches I employ, but it would take until early 2021 to complete the extra 3 volumes, so I’ll publish a 10-volume version in January of 2020. The year 2020 as a publication date appealed to me because of its irony, given that my visual acuity falls far short of 20/20, and the year 2020 rolls around only once in eternity, if we stick to the same calendar. I could still put out more volumes in later editions if I felt so inclined, but I let readers voice an opinion on the optimum number of volumes.

8. Jacobsen: What was the intellectual productivity and community of the societies based on self-reports of members? What have been the harshest critiques of high IQ societies from non-members, whether qualifying or not?

Hoeflin: I think the focus of the higher-IQ societies has been on communication with other members through the societies’ journals. I never tried to keep track of the members’ “intellectual productivity.” As for harsh critiques of the high-IQ societies, the only thing that comes to mind is Esquire magazine’s November 1999 so-called “Genius” issue. It focused on four high-IQ-society members, including myself. I never read the issue except for the page about myself, and it took me two weeks to get up enough nerve to read even that page. I was told by others that the entire issue was basically a put-down of high-IQ societies and their members, although people said the treatment of me was the mildest of the four. I did notice that they wanted a photo of me that looked unattractive, me using a magnifying glass to read. I suggested a more heroic picture, such as me with one of my cats, but they kept taking pictures of me peering through that magnifying glass in a rather unflattering pose, with zero interest in alternative poses. Kevin Langdon was sarcastic about our willingness to expose ourselves to such unflattering treatment. (He was not among the four that they covered in that issue.)

9. Jacobsen: What have been the overall results of the intended goals of the provision of an intellectual community of like-gifted people who, in theory, may associate more easily with one another? I remain aware of skepticism around this idea, which may exist in the realm of the naive.

Hoeflin: I had found that I could not interact with members of Mensa, who generally treated me as a nonentity. I was also very shy and unable to put myself forward socially in Mensa groups. At the higher-IQ levels, however, I had the prominent role of editor and even founder, which made it possible for others to approach me and break through that shyness of mine. So I did manage to meet and interact with quite a few people by virtue of my participation in the high-IQ societies, although the ultimate outcome seems to be that I will probably end my life in total isolation from personal friends except a few people who reach out to me by phone or email, as in the present question-and-answer email format. As for other people, they will have to tell you their own stories, since people are quite diverse, even at very high IQ levels.

10. Jacobsen: Why were the Prometheus Society and the Mega Society kept separate from the Lewis Terman Society? Why were the Top One Percent Society, One-in-a-Thousand Society, Epimetheus Society, and Omega Society placed under the aegis of the Lewis Terman Society? Also, what is the Lewis Terman Society?

Hoeflin: I think Hernan Chang adopted the name “The Hoeflin Society” in preference to “The Terman Society” as an umbrella term for the four societies he purchased from me.

11. Jacobsen: What have been the merits of the societies in personal opinion and others’ opinions?

Hoeflin: Speaking personally, I have lost almost all interest in the high-IQ societies these days, although I am still a nominal, non-participatory member of several of them. One group I joined recently as a passive member named the “Hall of Sophia” unexpectedly offered to publish my multi-volume book in any format I like for free. The founder had taken my Mega or Titan test earlier this year (February 2019) and did quite well on it, and was sufficiently impressed to classify me as one of the 3 most distinguished members of his (so far) 28-member society. I was going to send out my book for free as email attachments fo people listed in the Directory of American Philosophers as well as to any high-IQ-society members who might be interested. So for me, the one remaining merit of the high-IQ societies would be to have a potential audience for my philosophical opus.

12. Jacobsen: When did you begin to lose interest or become disillusioned, in part, in high-IQ societies? My assumption: not simply an instantaneous decision in 2019.

Hoeflin: Editing high-IQ-society journals from 1979 onwards for many years, at first as a hobby and then as a livelihood, kept me interested in the high-IQ societies. I gave up the editing completely around 2009. Thirty years is plenty of time to become jaded. Getting Social Security Disability payments in 1997 removed any financial incentive for publishing journals. Over the years I’d travelled to such destinations as California and Texas and Illinois for high-IQ-society meetings, not to mention meetings here in New York City, when I had sufficient surplus income, but all things peter out eventually.

13. Jacobsen: What have been the notable failures of the high-IQ societies?

Hoeflin: There was actually talk of a commune-like community for high-IQ people, but after I saw how imperious some high-IQ leaders like Kevin Langdon were, this would be like joining Jim Jones for a trip to Guyana–insane! That’s hyperbole, of course. Langdon actually ridiculed the followers of Jim Jones for their stupidity in following such a homicidal and suicidal leader, not to mention his idiotic ideas. Langdon advocates a libertarian philosophy, but in person he is very controlling. I guess we just have to muddle through on our own, especially if we have some unique gift that we have to cultivate privately, not communally. Langdon often ridiculed my early attempts to develop a theory of categories, but I’m very confident in the theory now that I have worked at it for so long. Human beings tend to organize their thoughts along the same systematic lines, just like birds instinctively know how to build nests, spiders to build webs, and bees to build honeycombs. My analyses are so new and startling that I’m sure they will eventually attract attention. If I’d been an epigone of Langdon, I’d never have managed to develop my theory to its present marvellous stage.

14. Jacobsen: With the Flynn Effect, does this change the norms of the Mega Test and the Titan Test used for admissions purposes in some societies at the highest ranges? 

Hoeflin: A lot of people suddenly started qualifying for the Mega Society, perhaps from copying online sources or perhaps from the test suddenly coming to the attention of a lot of very smart people. So initially higher scores on that test were required and then the test was abandoned entirely as an admission test for the Mega Society. Terman found that his subjects achieved gradually higher IQ scores on his verbal tests the older they got. One theory is that as people gradually accumulate a larger vocabulary and general knowledge (crystallized intelligence) their fluid intelligence, especially on math-type tests, gradually declines, so that if one relies on both types of intelligence, then your intelligence would remain relatively stable until extreme old age. There has been no spurt in extremely high scores on the Titan Test, however.

15. Jacobsen: What would be the Holy Grail of psychometric measurements, e.g., a non-verbal/culture fair 5-sigma or 6-sigma test?

Hoeflin: The main problem with extremely difficult tests is that few people would be willing to attempt them, so norming them would be impossible. I was astonished that the people who manage the SAT have actually made the math portion of that test so easy that even a perfect score is something like the 91st percentile. Why they would do such an idiotic thing I have no idea. Terman did the same thing with his second Concept Mastery Test, so that a Mensa-level performance on that test would be a raw score of 125 out of 190, whereas a Mensa-level performance on the first CMT was 78 out of 190. Twenty members of his gifted group had raw scores of 180 to 190 on the second CMT whereas no member of his group had a raw score higher than 172 out of 190 on the first CMT. His reason was to be able to compare his gifted group with more average groups such as Air Force captains, who scored only 60 out of 190 on the second test, less than half as high as Mensa members. A lot of amateur-designed intelligence tests have such obscure and difficult problems that I am totally unable to say if those tests have any sense to them or not. Perhaps games like Go and Chess are the only ways to actually compare the brightest people at world-record levels. But such tests yield to ever-more-careful analysis by the competitors, so that one is competing in the realm of crystallized intelligence (such as knowledge of chess openings) rather than just fluid intelligence. Even the brightest people have specialized mental talents that help them with some tests but not with others, like people who compete in the Olympic Decathlon, where some competitors will do better in some events and others in other events, the winner being the one with the best aggregate score. General intelligence means that even diverse tests like verbal, spatial, and numerical ones do have some positive intercorrelation with each other–they are not entirely independent of each other. The best tests select problems that correlate best with overall scores. But few if any of the amateur-designed tests have been subjected to careful statistical analysis. Some people did subject my Titan Test to such statistical analysis and found that it had surprisingly good correlations with standard intelligence tests, despite its lack of supervision or time limit.

16. Jacobsen: Other than some of the work mentioned. What other test creators seem reliable in their production of high-IQ tests and societies with serious and legitimate intent? Those who you respect. You have the historical view here – in-depth in information and in time. I don’t.

Hoeflin: I think Kevin Langdon’s tests are very well made and intelligent, but he tends to focus on math-type problems. Christopher Harding, by contrast, focuses on verbal problems and does poorly in math-type problems. For international comparisons across languages, I guess one would have to use only math-type problems, as I did in my Hoeflin Power Test, which collected the best math-type problems from the three previous tests (Mega, Titan, and Ultra). But English is virtually a universal language these days, so perhaps verbal tests that focus on English or perhaps on Indo-European roots could be used for international tests, except that Indo-European languages constitute only 46% of all languages, by population. I think Chinese will have difficulty becoming culturally dominant internationally because the Chinese language is too difficult and obscure for non-Chinese to mess with.

17. Jacobsen: Were the societies helpful as sounding boards for the Encyclopedia of Categories?

Hoeflin: I used high-IQ-society members as guinea pigs to develop my intelligence tests, but my work on categories I have pursued entirely independently, except for the precursors I rely on, notably the philosopher Stephen C. Pepper (1891-1972), who taught at the University of California at Berkeley from 1919 to 1958. Oddly enough, in his final book titled Concept and Quality (1967) he used as a central organizing principle for his metaphysics what he called “the purposive act,” of which he said on page 17: “It is the act associated with intelligence”!!! I simply elaborated this concept from 1982 when I first read Concept and Quality onward, elaborating it into a set of thirteen categories by means of which virtually any complete human thought or action, as in a quotation, can be organized. In my introductory chapter, which currently traces the development of my theory from William James last book, A Pluralistic Universe, to the present, I now plan to trace the thirteen categories not just to the Greeks and Hebrews but back to animal life and ultimately back to the Big Bang, breaking the stages of its development into 25 discrete ones including my own contributions toward the end. I may begin with Steven Weinberg’s book The First Three Minutes and end with Paul Davies kindred book, The Last Three Minutes, if I can manage to extract convincing 13-category examples from each of these books.

18. Jacobsen: How was librarian work helpful in the development of a skill set necessary for independent psychometric work and general intelligence test creation?

Hoeflin: It was mostly helpful to me because I could work part-time during the last ten years of my 15 or 16 years as a librarian, which gave me the leisure for independent hobbies, thought, and research.

19. Jacobsen: What have been the demerits of the societies in personal opinion and others’ opinions?

Hoeflin: There tends to be a lot of arrogance to be found among members of the high-IQ societies, so charm is typically not one of their leading virtues. They generally assume that virtually everyone they speak to is stupider than they are.

20. Jacobsen: How can members be more humble, show more humility? Also, what are their leading virtues?

Hoeflin: I think personalities are largely inborn and can’t be changed much. Perhaps there should be sister societies, analogous to college sororities, for women who have an interest in socializing with high-IQ guys for purposes of dating and mating. In the ultra-high-IQ societies, women constitute only about 6% of the total membership. (Parenthetically, if you look at the Wikipedia list of 100 oldest living people, one usually finds about 6 men and 94 women.) In Mensa, the percentage of women typically ranges from 31% to 38%.

21. Jacobsen: How many publications come from these societies? What are the names of the publications and the editors in their history? What ones have been the most voluminous in their output – the specific journal? Why that journal?

Hoeflin: Each society generally has a journal that it tries to publish on a regular basis. Kevin Langdon puts out Noesis, the journal for the Mega Society, about twice per year. I also get journals from Prometheus and Triple Nine and Mensa. The four societies Hernan Chang operates all function entirely online, and I have never seen any of their communications. Even the journals I get I only glance at, never read all the way through. Due to my very slow reading speed, I tend to focus my reading on books that seem worthwhile from which to collect examples for my “Encyclopedia of Categories.”

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Founder, Mega Society (1982); Founder, Prometheus Society (1982); Founder, Top One Percent Society (1989); Founder, One-in-a-Thousand Society (1992); Founder, Epimetheus Society (2006); Founder, Omega Society (2006); Creator, Mega Test (April, 1985); Creator, Titan Test (April, 1990); Creator, Hoeflin Power Test; Author, The Encyclopedia of Categories; Ph.D., Philosophy, The New School for Social Research.

[2] Individual Publication Date: August 22, 2019: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/hoeflin-two; Full Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2019: https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

[3] Image Credit: Ronald K. Hoeflin. Caption: “Kitty porn? No, just the author and his pals.”

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Dr. Ronald K. Hoeflin on High-IQ Societies’ Titles, Rarities, and Purposes, and Personal Judgment and Evaluations of Them (Part Two) [Online].August 2019; 20(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/hoeflin-two.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2019, August 22). An Interview with Dr. Ronald K. Hoeflin on High-IQ Societies’ Titles, Rarities, and Purposes, and Personal Judgment and Evaluations of Them (Part Two)Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/hoeflin-two.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Dr. Ronald K. Hoeflin on High-IQ Societies’ Titles, Rarities, and Purposes, and Personal Judgment and Evaluations of Them (Part Two). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 20.A, August. 2019. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/hoeflin-two>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2019. “An Interview with Dr. Ronald K. Hoeflin on High-IQ Societies’ Titles, Rarities, and Purposes, and Personal Judgment and Evaluations of Them (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 20.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/hoeflin-two.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Dr. Ronald K. Hoeflin on High-IQ Societies’ Titles, Rarities, and Purposes, and Personal Judgment and Evaluations of Them (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 20.A (August 2019). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/hoeflin-two.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2019, ‘An Interview with Dr. Ronald K. Hoeflin on High-IQ Societies’ Titles, Rarities, and Purposes, and Personal Judgment and Evaluations of Them (Part Two)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 20.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/hoeflin-two>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2019, ‘An Interview with Dr. Ronald K. Hoeflin on High-IQ Societies’ Titles, Rarities, and Purposes, and Personal Judgment and Evaluations of Them (Part Two)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 20.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/hoeflin-two.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Dr. Ronald K. Hoeflin on High-IQ Societies’ Titles, Rarities, and Purposes, and Personal Judgment and Evaluations of Them (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 20.A (2019):August. 2019. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/hoeflin-two>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Dr. Ronald K. Hoeflin on High-IQ Societies’ Titles, Rarities, and Purposes, and Personal Judgment and Evaluations of Them (Part Two) [Internet]. (2019, August 20(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/hoeflin-two.

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