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Conversation with Glia Society Member #479: Member, Glia Society (1)

September 22, 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 22, 2020

Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2021

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 3,148

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract

This is an interview with Glia Society Member 479. They discuss: growing up; an extended self; the family background; the experience with peers and schoolmates; the purpose of intelligence tests; high intelligence; the geniuses of the past; the greatest geniuses in history; a genius from a profoundly intelligent person; some work experiences; important aspects of the idea of the gifted and geniuses; some social and political views; the God concept or gods idea; science; some of the tests taken and scores earned (with standard deviations); the range of the scores; and ethical philosophy.

Keywords: 479, Paul Cooijmans, Glia Society, intelligence, IQ.

Conversation with Glia Society Member #479: Member, Glia Society (1)

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

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: When you were growing up, what were some of the prominent family stories being told over time?

Glia Society Member #479[1],[2]*: Given the nature of the interview, I cannot say too much about that. I do recall some interesting episodes involving adultery or extrasensory perception.

Jacobsen: Have these stores helped provide a sense of an extended self or a sense of the family legacy?

#479: No, not really. I think of myself as an individual person and feel little need to submerge my identity into a kin-group.

Jacobsen: What was the family background, e.g., geography, culture, language, and religion or lack thereof?

#479: Middle-class WASP-y.

Jacobsen: How was the experience with peers and schoolmates as a child and an adolescent?

#479: My only response to this is that I never had a girlfriend in high school and I am still pissed off about that.

Jacobsen: What is the purpose of intelligence tests to you?

#479: If you’re referring specifically to my hobby taking high-range tests, then the purpose is that they’re fun to solve and give me insight into my own mental ability profile. More generally, intelligence tests can be useful clinical instruments for assessing one’s cognitive functioning, and provide insight into intelligence itself, which is the most important thing that can be studied. One might call it meta-science, for it is the brain research itself.

Also, high-range tests will be very useful for quantitative directional selection once I finally get around to starting that Pacific island eugenics program with a bunch of kidnapped National Merit Scholars.

Jacobsen: When was high intelligence discovered for you?

#479: I hit most of my developmental milestones early, so I guess you could say that it was discovered in toddlerhood, if you define high intelligence by age-peer norms. I think that’s disingenuous, though, so I’d have to say when I qualified for Mensa, significantly surpassing the entry requirement on the supervised test battery that they gave me. I later gained deeper insight into my mental ability profile with high-range tests, particularly those of Paul Cooijmans.

Jacobsen: When you think of the ways in which the geniuses of the past have either been mocked, vilified, and condemned if not killed, or praised, flattered, platformed, and revered, what seems like the reason for the extreme reactions to and treatment of geniuses? Many alive today seem camera shy – many, not all.

#479: I don’t have a comprehensive answer to this question, but what I do know is that geniuses inherently tend to promulgate views which contradict some societal or institutional dogma, e.g., Galileo. That probably explains most of it.

Also, I can’t confidently confirm or deny your assertion that many geniuses alive today seem camera shy without knowing whom you consider geniuses. That is the sort of observation which I am unwilling to accept based entirely on a secondhand opinion. In any case, I think there are extremely few true geniuses alive today, possibly because the sciences, each straining in its own direction, have advanced so far that the barrier for a single person to make a revolutionary contribution is exceedingly high. Besides myself, of course, we probably only know the names of a few.

Jacobsen: Who seem like the greatest geniuses in history to you?

#479: I suspect that there have been people throughout history who would now be considered amongst the greatest geniuses in history, if only they had been recognized as brilliant or otherwise experienced different life circumstances. This would include myself, of course.

Restricting our universe of discourse to well-known geniuses, and ranking them by their intellectual productivity rather than hypothetical potential, Isaac Newton is almost certainly at the top. Second place would probably go to Albert Einstein, and then third to Carl Gauss. Other people near the top include Leonhard Euler, John von Neumann, Nikola Tesla, and Dmitri Mendeleev.

As for tremendous intellects who have received relatively little public notice, but whom I have been lucky enough to discover, I would like to draw attention to Paul Erdős (a borderline case in terms of fame), Stanisław Lem (author of the most eloquent and profound fiction I have ever read), and Chris Langan (a disagreeable person, but a misunderstood intellectual).

Jacobsen: What differentiates a genius from a profoundly intelligent person?

#479: That’s nearly an apples-to-oranges comparison, and somewhat like asking what differentiates an extremely tall person from a top basketball player. To succeed in the NBA, one is practically required to be uncommonly tall, but beyond that, yet greater height brings diminishing returns, while other factors like work ethic, physical strength, and aiming ability become increasingly relevant.

I concur with Arthur Jensen and Paul Cooijmans that exceedingly intelligent people are actually less likely to become geniuses than are people of somewhat lower, but still very high, intelligence. I have observed that people whose intelligence I judge as extremely high, both inside and outside of the high-I.Q. world, tend to be almost depressingly normal, and therefore lack the mixture of non-cognitive personality traits required for genius. This is vaguely analogous to how the tallest people in the world, like well over 7 foot (2.13m) usually don’t excel in sports, since they suffer from chronic mobility problems. The tallest man alive, Sultan Kösen, relies on crutches to ambulate.

Jacobsen: What have been some work experiences and educational certifications for you?

#479: I am currently attending a well-regarded university, majoring in a STEM field. For reasons of privacy, I would rather not say more.

Jacobsen: What are some of the more important aspects of the idea of the gifted and geniuses? Those myths that pervade the cultures of the world. What are those myths? What truths dispel them?

#479: I don’t have much to say about this that hasn’t already been said elsewhere, so I won’t. I refer the reader who is interested in these topics to the articles on Paul Cooijmans’ website.

What I would like to point out is that, for a highly intelligent person, perhaps the greatest thing about living in a society which emphasizes personal responsibility and economic independence is that they can make half of an effort and still succeed. If they actually apply themselves as much as regular people, or more so, then life will certainly roll out the red carpet for them.

Jacobsen: What are some social and political views for you? Why hold them?

#479: My interest is almost totally detached from contemporary politics. Ephesians 6:12 somewhat applies here, although we fight against flesh and blood simultaneously with principalities and powers. Different political ideologies purport that they can solve our problems by organizing humans in certain ways, but the quality of a structure is bounded above by its constituent material. “Oh ye seekers of perpetual motion, how many chimeras have you pursued in vain? Go and take your place with the alchemists.” That line from Leonardo da Vinci would hold true after “perpetual motion” is replaced by something like “social justice” or “collective happiness.”

The only way to induce permanent, significant, positive change in society is by altering the invisible hand of psychology, which underpins human behavior. One might call it psychohistory or one might call it cliodynamics, but the point is the same: human societies are subject to long-term behavioral trends, which are opaque to everyone or almost everyone, and which may be impossible to observe at smaller scales. For instance, old people like to complain about how “kids these days have no work ethic,” which is a common source of intergenerational conflict (“ok boomer”), and they’re largely right. That’s mainly because relatively recent increases in labor productivity, made possible by modern technology, have made people’s lives easier. When you make it so that people are wealthier, can have more fun in their free time, and don’t need to input as many hours of labor to generate the same output, then don’t be surprised when they don’t want to work as much as people used to!

Some kind of genetic improvement of humanity is necessitated, to improve average intelligence and other traits. The details of how such an initiative is to be implemented are, unfortunately, left to the reader. But do consider how many people died under Communist regimes. If a bunch of dirty reds can shift the demographics so hugely, we can do it too! Also, better nutrition will improve intelligence in malnourished populations, with iodine supplementation probably being the best route for that. The egalitarian taboo of discussing group differences in intelligence has actually harmed those populations by making it politically incorrect to address the root cause of their problems, which is low I.Q. Yes, indeed, imagine how good UNICEF could do with just a few dropships full of iodized salt.

Jacobsen: Any thoughts on the God concept or gods idea and philosophy, theology, and religion?

#479: I am an avowed atheist, insofar as theism concerns belief in the deities supposed by popular contemporary religions. However, I do have idiosyncratic beliefs about what I associate with “God,” if only because my atheism leaves a void in my personal share of the collective unconscious where religion would normally go. I believe in absolute truth, the fundamental interconnected monism of all things physical and aphysical, and the potential for humanity to transcend itself through technological singularity. I presume that many people would associate each of these things with “God,” or at least ascribe quasi-divine attributes to them, but I reject that as mere poetic metaphor. Nonetheless, “God” is a convenient referent for them, and therefore what I shall adopt in the forthcoming summary of my metaphysical para-religion.

The below explanation is rather long and difficult, so here’s the TL;DR version: Math exists because it can’t not exist. Groups of mathematical truths, through some unknown mechanism, give rise to an objective reality. Groups of physical objects, through some unknown mechanism, give rise to consciousness.

Now, for the longer version:

[begin dissertation]

Everything, everything under everything and everything over everything, is an absolute monad, whose universe of discourse may for the purpose of explanation be separated into three teleogically disjoint essences. At the root of this structure is mathematics, the domain of propositions which are independently and indisputably true, and therefore monopolize the aseity required for an uncaused cause, serving as axioms for the cosmos and thereby sidestepping arguments from universal causation. Note that “mathematics,” as used in this context, refers to logical structures which occupy some imperceptible realm which I have termed “infospace,” and therefore does not necessarily describe a collection of structures which is bijective to those mathematical structures which are known to humans. We only know them, and perhaps can only know them, by abstract descriptions of their properties, not specific designations or descriptions of the structures within this complex. The collection of propositions which underlie the nomos, and thereby permit the instantiation of the cosmos and nous, may be finite, or it may be infinite; it may include mathematical structures with which we are familiar, or it may be not; it may be possible to identify them as discrete propositions in order to study their emergent phenomena and determine what demarcates truths which exert influence from infospace from truths which exist only as symbolic constructs, or it may not.

Physics is the second level of the existential hierarchy, emanating from the propositions which reside in infospace. It provides a medium through which the atomic propositions can interact with each other and thereby coalesce into novel entities, like a primordial soup catalyzing the acquisition of form beyond what infospace can provide. As Wittgenstein said, the world is all that is case. Note that “physics,” in this context, is not equivalent to the usual understanding of physics in the scientific sense, nor is it necessarily limited to our perceptions of the physical universe. I use “physics” to denote any objective reality which possess properties beyond those of infospace but does not experience qualia.

Consciousness is the third level, and probably the highest. Like propositions somehow engender an objective external reality, physical objects can somehow combine to create qualia. We must accept this without asking how. Although we may eventually discover which collections of physical states give rise to conscious agents, I am nearly certain that the underlying mechanism cannot be empirically determined, even in principle. If it can be determined at all, then it will have to be done through analysis of the absolute truths in infospace themselves, wherein all the secrets of the universe reside. In a poetic sense, that is perhaps the fundamental teleology of the pleroma: to create conscious minds capable of reasoning about metaphysics and thereby let itself be known.

If that hypothetical teleology turns out to be more than a poetic metaphor, then perhaps it gives us hope for an afterlife, whereupon we shall be freed from the boundary layer imposed on us by the Demiurge of physics, and therewith sublime into infospace ourselves, entering into a Gnostic paradise of eternal life and unlimited knowledge. “O, let not the pains of death that come upon thee enter into my body. I am the god Tem, and I am in the foremost part of the sky, and the power which protecteth me is that which is with all the gods forever.” But I wouldn’t count on it.

A counterintuitive remark which I must make for the sake of logical completeness is that physics may not exist at all, in which case the three-layer hierarchy could be reduced to mind-body dualism, wherein mathematics give rise to qualia without an intermediary layer of objective reality. Descartes’ evil demon is applicable, in that case.

Attempting to map this belief structure onto contemporary theology, I see profound parallels with the Christian doctrine of Trinitarianism, which combines a monotheistic God with multiple consubstantial “persons,” namely the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. My own mathematical “God” likewise manifests in three superficially different hypostases which reduce to the same ultimate Ein Sof. However, because the three aspects of my God are apparently hierarchical and interdependent, perhaps it is my nearly isomorphic to heresies such as Modalistic Monarchianism, with the pure apeiron emanating first from the pleroma (mathematical), and from there to the Demiurge (physical), and finally to noesis (qualiac).

[end dissertation]

That may have been difficult to read, but it’s actually full of oversimplifications and imprecise language, which I hope to remedy in a future treatment of these subjects. I am not certain of it all yet myself, and my views have continuously morphed over the past few years, even though I was nearly certain of their correctness at every point in that process.

Jacobsen: How much does science play into the worldview for you?

#479: Science is fundamentally an epistemologically untenable construct, but once you ignore Descartes’ evil demon, it’s given us Internet pornography and electric scooters, so clearly it plays an important role in the lives of most specimens of Homo sapiens, despite the widespread failure of that species’ members to live up to their taxonomy.

Oh, yes, and you all should do yourselves and favor and read about the Technological Singularity and other transhumanist topics. Eliezer Yudkowsky is worth looking into, although I don’t agree with everything he says.

Jacobsen: What have been some of the tests taken and scores earned (with standard deviations) for you?

#479: My scores on good heterogeneous tests tend to cluster around I.Q. 150. I prefer not to specify further. One thing I will say, though, is that my results tend to cluster shockingly closely together, even on tests which seem to be of less than high quality. Whatever the tests are measuring, my portion of it seems to be nearly static and subject to objective analysis.

Jacobsen: What is the range of the scores for you? The scores earned on alternative intelligence tests tend to produce a wide smattering of data points rather than clusters, typically.

#479: The full range is extremely wide, spanning from about 90 to 180. However, much like the bell curve itself, they are mainly clustered around the center, with a few outliers in either direction. Again, for reasons of privacy, I would rather not say too much.

Pertaining to this discussion, I would like to mention that a characteristic shortcoming observable in discussions in the high-I.Q. world is an apparently deficient number-sense with regards to score rarity. For example, suppose you take a high-range test and score the equivalent of I.Q. 160, with a standard deviation of 15, a standard error of 1 raw score point, and (your raw score – 2) and (your raw score + 2) normed at I.Q. 158 and 161 respectively. Then your 95% confidence interval, spanning plus or minus 2 standard errors from your actual score, ranges from a rarity of 1/18,120 to 1/41,916. Three I.Q. points have more than doubled your score’s rarity! Considering that most tests have far wider confidence intervals, and that norms are unreliable at such altitudes regardless of measurement error, we can conclude that pinpointing someone’s level in mental ability relative to the general population is infeasible. Even someone who conscientiously takes many tests in order to better estimate their I.Q. with assistance from the law of large numbers will still have their results tainted by the myriad other sources of systemic bias: less conscientious or fraudulent scores disrupting norms, norms based on self-selected candidates which may not be representative of the general population, bad problems, and more. Results from psychometric tests, especially but not exclusively high-range tests, are bound by inexactitude, and whoever propounds otherwise has lost their perspective amongst the orders of magnitude. Perhaps only in astrophysics would such an imprecise measurement otherwise be taken seriously.

Ultimately, I think that exact I.Q.’s from high-range tests are meaningless. High-range testing is, at best, sufficient to place you in a relative range of intelligence. Note the two words there: relative, meaning that your exact score is almost certainly inaccurate; and range, meaning that it’s almost certainly imprecise. For instance, if your average score over many high-quality heterogeneous tests is 170, and someone else’s average score is 150, then you’re probably the more intelligent of the two. That’s all that can meaningfully be said, other than that you’re both in the hic sunt dracones region of psychometrics.

Jacobsen: What ethical philosophy makes some sense, even the most workable sense to you?

#479: Utilitarianism, by virtue of harnessing the boreal truth of mathematics, is ultimately the only workable ethical philosophy. We must maximize the integral of total positive qualia, summed over all conscious agents in reality, from now as time goes to infinity. However, since we are limited by our agent-relative perceptions, we lack the omniscience required to apply utilitarianism. Therefore, I rather recommend a more intuitively applicable conception of ethics, combining deontology with morality and virtue ethics: Be wonderful to each other. If I have anything to say about it, which I probably don’t, that opus magnum may someday be realized.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Co-Editor, “Phenomenon” (World Intelligence Network).

[2] Individual Publication Date: September 22, 2020: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/479-1; Full Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2021: https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

*High range testing (HRT) should be taken with honest skepticism grounded in the limited empirical development of the field at present, even in spite of honest and sincere efforts. If a higher general intelligence score, then the greater the variability in, and margin of error in, the general intelligence scores because of the greater rarity in the population.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. Conversation with Glia Society Member #479: Member, Glia Society (1) [Online].September 2020; 24(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/479-1.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2020, September 22). Conversation with Glia Society Member #479: Member, Glia Society (1). Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/479-1.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. Conversation with Glia Society Member #479: Member, Glia Society (1). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 24.A, September. 2020. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/479-1>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2020. “Conversation with Glia Society Member #479: Member, Glia Society (1).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 24.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/479-1.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “Conversation with Glia Society Member #479: Member, Glia Society (1).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 24.A (September 2020). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/479-1.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2020, ‘Conversation with Glia Society Member #479: Member, Glia Society (1)’In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 24.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/479-1>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2020, ‘Conversation with Glia Society Member #479: Member, Glia Society (1)’In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 24.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/479-1.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “Conversation with Glia Society Member #479: Member, Glia Society (1).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 24.A (2020):September. 2020. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/479-1>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. Conversation with Glia Society Member #479: Member, Glia Society (1) [Internet]. (2020, September 24(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/479-1.

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