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Conversation with Benjamin Li on High-IQ, the Sciences, Vancouver, and The University of British Columbia: Member, International Society for Philosophical Enquiry (ISPE) (2)

September 15, 2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 24.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Twenty)

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, 2020

Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2021

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 2,237

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract

Benjamin Li is a student of mathematics and statistics at the University of British Columbia in Canada. He is a member of multiple high I.Q. societies requiring I.Q. scores above three or four standard deviations above the mean such as the International Society for Philosophical Enquiry (ISPE), Torr, Profundus High I.Q. Society and Global Genius Generation Group. He is interested in mathematics, statistics, theology, evolutionary biology, theoretical physics, and high-range mental testing. A dogged devotee of Darwin and Galileo with a fascination for theories of scientific eminence, he is dedicated to promoting scientific truth and a real understanding of how the world works. Benjamin has been a participant in tennis, chess, piano, gaming, science, and mathematics competitions – winning various awards since childhood. He is currently a top-level eSports athlete, occasionally competing in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate events, while being ranked among the very best players in Canada. Since joining the high I.Q. community, Benjamin has become one of the top scorers on tests attempting to measure exceptional intelligence accurately. He discusses: the mathematics and statistics education at The University of British Columbia; some of the benefits of the higher IQ in personal life; some of the benefits of the higher IQ in professional life; statistics and mathematics; local Vancouver culture; the campus culture at The University of British Columbia; the degree in mathematics and statistics; the family background in high-level academics; career in the sciences; and research question.

Keywords: Benjamin Li, campus culture, high-IQ, IQ, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver.

Conversation with Benjamin Li on High-IQ, the Sciences, Vancouver, and The University of British Columbia: Member, International Society for Philosophical Enquiry (ISPE) (2)

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

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: So, you’re studying at The University of British Columbia. You’re scoring high on alternative tests. You’re new to the community. What are some of the insights garnered through some of the mathematics and statistics education at The University of British Columbia for you?

Benjamin Li[1],[2]*: I learn most things on my own time, rather than relying on my education. Through my general education, I was quite pleased with my philosophy professor, and I even had a 3-hour conversation with him through office hours one time. He was knowledgeable on many subjects and had even let me borrow a few scholarly books and articles. I usually find it challenging to approach professors, which was the first time, but I found it quite a fantastic experience. I think some insights gained through my education thus far are how to encourage in-depth conversations about thought-provoking topics, listen carefully, consider other viewpoints, and learn voraciously. Even to hear all types of voices, such as those from peer-reviewed journal articles (holds most weight), professors, books, blogs, the internet, the general public, etc. Thanks to my current insights garnered, I think academia is a viable option for me to pursue in the future.

Jacobsen: What do you feel has been some of the benefits of the higher IQ in personal life?

Li: One benefit is self-confidence. Of course, one should not go around bragging about one’s intelligence, as that will not yield any benefits socially. Even if you knew your I.Q. was much higher than someone else’s, it is not polite to show any signs of a superiority complex. Confidence and arrogance, while similar, are not the same. I think when being confident, you don’t view others as a threat, and instead, you can focus on using one’s higher I.Q. to try to benefit others. Arrogance points to low self-esteem because you feel threatened by other people and believe you must defend yourself. Confident people don’t have to repeatedly rub their achievements in people’s faces because they know their value. For me, knowing I have a high I.Q. made me recognize that I can probably succeed in a lot of things, but I should also be making positive contributions to other people’s lives at the same time.

I.Q. as a concept may not make many people happy, and I understand that. However, I feel the need to give an honest answer reflecting both science and my anecdotes/experiences. Note that I am only talking about the benefits of a higher I.Q. from my experience, rather than negatives. I think my comments below have relevance to your question.

Higher I.Q. is correlated with longevity as smart people will tend to make decisions that influence long term health, such as eating healthier and exercising. Higher I.Q. also influences one’s interests, so with a higher I.Q., one will tend to self-select environments that suit their genetic propensities for higher cognitive demand. In childhood, the heritability of I.Q. is much lower, but when we become adults, I.Q. differences between individuals is around .85 heritable. The point is, in children, we are more influenced by our parents and can not select our environments that suit our inclination. Hence, the heritability of traits among children is a lot lower than among adults, though sometimes people want to believe that the environment plays more of a role as we age, science proves this wrong. Higher I.Q. individuals will be more likely to surround themselves with intellectually enriching things such as books and have an insatiable appetite for learning and curiosity as we grow up. You rarely see those with below-average cognitive ability in activities that require high mental power or have deep intellectual interests. Most people avoid activities that are too difficult or complex for them. It is natural to be more likely to be interested in things you excel in. It just so happens that those with higher general ability will be more likely to be competitive in more advanced settings and have complex interests that reflect one’s high intelligence. These can be called “benefits” only for some people, and there are many disadvantages of a higher I.Q. I could have listed if I wanted to. I’m sure most people are perfectly happy in accepting that they aren’t interested in cognitively demanding/competitive activities or have interests that require high thinking ability – it is perfectly normal and healthy to be average.

Jacobsen: What do you feel has been some of the benefits of the higher IQ in professional life?

Li: Having a higher IQ will allow you to perform more complex actions and learn difficult skills necessary for demanding tasks. Having an IQ within the normal range is perfectly fine as most individuals working as engineers, doctors, or lawyers do not have IQs above the 98th percentile. However, exceptional IQs or exceptionally high specific cognitive abilities such as working memory capacity are likely to provide a considerable boost in helping individuals reach the absolute highest levels in cognitively demanding professions. Cognitively demanding activities include STEM jobs, chess grandmasters, professional eSports, music composing, and the like. The correlation between IQ and occupational success is lower in occupations that are less demanding and more repetitive. Though, sometimes many high IQ individuals will do exceptionally poorly in tasks that correlate poorly with general intelligence.

Jacobsen: Why did you decide to pursue statistics and mathematics?

Li: Going into university, I wasn’t sure what to pursue, but I believe aptitudes, interests, and career prospects played critical roles. My mathematics talent is somewhat higher than my language abilities, and STEM fields are more lucrative and more comfortable to find secure jobs than non-STEM subjects, which made me lean towards these subjects more. Statistics are interesting enough because I do enjoy visualizing statistical distribution curves, along with their data. Mathematics is excellent as well because my ability to reason with numbers and visualize objects in 3D seem like my most notable abilities – which are necessary abilities for solving complex mathematical problems.

Jacobsen: Do you find the local Vancouver culture conducive to the flourishing of high-IQ types?

Li: Vancouver is a cosmopolitan and ethnically-diverse city full not only of West Coast Canadian culture and history, including that of the local First Nations but also the culture of its many ethnically diverse populations. I think multiculturalism gives an excellent opportunity to explore other aspects of life rather than to conform to only one style. The outliers and outsiders may have ample opportunities to fit in and expand their intelligence and perhaps even creativity.

Jacobsen: How is the campus culture at The University of British Columbia?

Li: I do believe Chinese culture undoubtedly influences UBC’s campus. UBC is primarily a Canadian school with strong international linkages/representations, where Chinese influences are the strongest. Demographics, style, food, and language from the Chinese influence may positively affect the campus culture, but the language barrier and the separation of student bodies cause some discrepancies. To paint the most precise picture possible, I would say that UBC’s student population can be classified into three principal groups; 1) Domestic students; 2) Non-Chinese International students; 3) International Chinese students. I only fit in slightly with the first two groups. I do not fit in with the international Chinese students as I don’t speak perfect mandarin, nor do I socialize with them anywhere. I don’t participate in any Chinese clubs, but I do eat Chinese food quite often and always see multiple groups of international Chinese students around. Perhaps the other domestic students feel the same way as I do.

Jacobsen: When you graduate with the degree in mathematics and statistics, what do you hope to pursue – more education or work relevant to the qualifications of mathematics and statistics?

Li:  More education because I’m not too excited about getting into the workforce. I am reasonably proficient with R, Python, and other programming languages to potentially work as a statistician, data scientist or the like. Still, in reality, I only find academic research interesting and cognitively stimulating for me, but I probably could force myself to work a regular job. It is still a little bit early into my degree, so perhaps my aspirations will change in a few years. For now, I just hope to reach the highest levels in anything I decide to pursue professionally.

Jacobsen: Do you find the family background in high-level academics an inspiration to pursue formal education more?

Li: No. Having a background in high-level academics and culture where education is the most essential thing makes me nervous and gives me tremendous pressure to perform well. However, there is little motivation to succeed in my family background in high-level academics, only fear of failure. My inspiration to pursue formal education always comes from my desire to acquire more knowledge and wisdom about the world and fulfill my need for intellectual stimulation. I can do that without a university degree, but achieving highly can also help me build a stable career and help me gain certain, necessary skills.

Jacobsen: If you pursue this career in the sciences, what sciences will most interest you? Why those?

Li: I enjoy learning about so many subjects, so this is hard to answer. I often think about specific topics for a while and talk with anyone I can, but I eventually move on when there is nothing more to learn. Subjects in which I can specialize in, rather than learn the general information, are sciences that I should probably pursue. Topics that utilize statistical and mathematical models would also be relevant to my current education, and issues related to intelligence-testing are what I currently have plenty of knowledge in. By definition, statistics is the method of collecting, analyzing, interpreting, presenting, and organizing data. At the same time, intelligence plays a unifying role in all sciences.

Artificial intelligence is a highly exciting idea that would utilize an understanding of machine learning and cognition. Let me list two other fields that I have interests in but more in-depth.

Statistical genetics is all about developing statistical methods for drawing inferences from genetic data. Statistical geneticists develop statistical methods for understanding the genetic basis of human diseases and traits. These methods involve large-scale data sets from candidate-gene, genome-wide, and resequencing studies using unrelated and related individuals. I am interested in this field because of my interest in behavioral genetics, the heritability of traits, and the environmental, social, and genetic influences that shape individual differences. I am interested in finding direct evidence of intelligence differences between people through DNA, but this is a longshot. Robert Plomin – a behavioral geneticist, has been trying to do so, but it’s been a difficult task to accomplish since we don’t know how many genes we are looking for and because people don’t want this project to succeed. Someday, everything will be known, but I doubt I am living at the right time.

Psychometrics and I.Q. related research is interesting to me because it has shaped my life meaningfully. It could be interesting to study the nature of those who have the motivation and capability to solve challenging puzzles or I.Q. test questions. I would like to know if the g-factor (general intelligence) is still operative above four standard deviations above the mean (160), using standard deviation 15. High-range mental testing requires the use of statistical and probabilistic models, so perhaps there are serious research prospects in this area. In part one of our interview, I discussed quite a bit about high-range mental testing. Still, I forgot to mention that I have learned virtually everything from Paul Cooijmans – a pioneer in high-range mental testing and the Giga Society’s creator. Paul Cooijmans states in his blog under (https://paulcooijmans.com/intelligence/iq_ranges.html) that after the 130-139 range of I.Q., “Regular psychology’s I.Q. tests should not be trusted beyond this range as their validity breaks down here, if such scores are given at all.” If this is true, then everyone in psychometrics should care about measuring intelligence as accurately as possible throughout the full range of variation, instead of just attending about those in the middle of the bell curve. I can’t rely on mainstream scientific journals for information here because mainstream psychometrics hasn’t taken high range untimed and unsupervised tests very seriously yet. If you want to learn more about this field, please read Paul Cooijman’s blog at “https://paulcooijmans.com/” and try his extremely difficult untimed I.Q. tests. Thanks to Paul Cooijmans, Dr. Ronald Hoeflin, Dr. Ivan Ivec, and other test authors, there is a chance this area can go into mainstream psychometrics and change the way we understand extremely high problem-solving abilities.

As an aside, I have gained a lot of interest in physics, philosophy, theology, and astronomy because of the complex nature of some problems in these fields.

Jacobsen: What research question would most interest you?

Li: I am interested in almost any question from any field because I have this tremendous curiosity to understand everything about the world, unlike any other. Too many questions, but I’ll narrow it down to just one. Something I like to think about a lot is the question of what possibilities are there for super-intelligent AI. I am aware of a machine beating the human world chess champion, driving vehicles, and winning in Jeopardy. Robots playing video games would have inhuman reaction times, working memory, processing speed, and adapt to any situation very quickly. Seeing robots cognitively tower over the most extraordinary human beings in various fields is undoubtedly fascinating.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Member, International Society for Philosophical Enquiry (ISPE); Member, Torr; Member, Profundus High I.Q. Society; Member, Global Genius Generation Group.

[2] Individual Publication Date: September 15, 2020: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/li-2; Full Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2021: https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. Conversation with Benjamin Li on High-IQ, the Sciences, and The University of British Columbia: Member, International Society for Philosophical Enquiry (ISPE) (2) [Online].September 2020; 24(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/li-2.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2020, September 15). Conversation with Benjamin Li on High-IQ, the Sciences, and The University of British Columbia: Member, International Society for Philosophical Enquiry (ISPE) (2). Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/li-2.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. Conversation with Benjamin Li on High-IQ, the Sciences, and The University of British Columbia: Member, International Society for Philosophical Enquiry (ISPE) (2). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 24.A, September. 2020. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/li-2>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2020. “Conversation with Benjamin Li on High-IQ, the Sciences, and The University of British Columbia: Member, International Society for Philosophical Enquiry (ISPE) (2).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 24.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/li-2.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “Conversation with Benjamin Li on High-IQ, the Sciences, and The University of British Columbia: Member, International Society for Philosophical Enquiry (ISPE) (2).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 24.A (September 2020). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/li-2.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2020, ‘Conversation with Benjamin Li on High-IQ, the Sciences, and The University of British Columbia: Member, International Society for Philosophical Enquiry (ISPE) (2)‘In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 24.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/li-2>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2020, ‘Conversation with Benjamin Li on High-IQ, the Sciences, and The University of British Columbia: Member, International Society for Philosophical Enquiry (ISPE) (2)‘In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 24.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/li-2.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “Conversation with Benjamin Li on High-IQ, the Sciences, and The University of British Columbia: Member, International Society for Philosophical Enquiry (ISPE) (2).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 24.A (2020):September. 2020. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/li-2>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. Conversation with Benjamin Li on High-IQ, the Sciences, and The University of British Columbia: Member, International Society for Philosophical Enquiry (ISPE) (2) [Internet]. (2020, September 24(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/li-2.

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