Bubba Speaks

Got an insightful (and significantly long) comment on a recent post, and as it was not particularly related to the specific post, but to this blog as a whole, I thought I would elevate it to a post in and of itself, with some commentary along the way. So here goes:

On October 23, “Bubba” wrote:

I read your entire site post by post tonight. That alone suggests some insight into me, however I’ve had only one suicidal moment in my life and it was brief (coming closely after a divorce and on the heels of the depression that accompanies it) but the plight of the “gifted mind” or “genius” is right up my alley as well as the loneliness that comes along with it. The irony is that historically speaking to groups of so called “intelligent” people has only left me feeling FAR WORSE after coming into contact with them because I don’t have the same hang-ups they do (which is not to say more/less, only different!!!) I felt the same way reading the posts here!

My general response to a “Hello” comment is “Welcome”. Small point of confusion though: reading this blog made you feel worse about… what? Yourself? Or just kind of puts you in a crummy mood?

There were so many places where I was VERY CLOSE to you and to the two other major contributors in experiencing the described (and therefore perceived second hand and open to projection which dilutes the accuracy, but alas what else do we have at hand?) experiences. I HATE categories and the restrictions they impose but, to join in I’ll offer this personal information:

There isn’t exactly a qualification test to post here. No need to prove yourself to me; your words will speak for themselves. It is however nice to have a bit of perspective about a person, so by all means I like hearing a bit about people who stop by.

1. Very High IQ
2. Victim of a violent crime (a young man stabbed me with the intent to kill as an initiation into a gang which ads a second level of callousness as it wasn’t personal and therefore didn’t allow my mind the smallest amount of “cause/effect” rationality that one might have if they knew their attacker)

Um… Holy Shit! Wow. Sliding off topic for a moment — one of the things that became a bit of a “guilt trip” for me in the wake of what happened in college is that there are so many worse things that could have happened to me, was I overreacting? “Oh no, somebody had sex with you— the horror!” And of course it was a horror for me, emotionally. I was raped, and that is simultaneously a violent crime and… not all that violent. In the end it is what it is. We live with the lives we’ve had, and go on from there.

Still. Holy Shit.

3. An OVERWHELMING feeling of peerlessness (here I would define peer as “like-minded” not “equal”)

An excellent distinction. Oftentimes I think the core of high IQ is the ability to make fine, yet accurate (and thus useful) distinctions. As you may have noticed, your particular idea has been batted around a bit around here. Nonetheless you phrase it very well, and succinctly.

I’ll stop here though I might be able to stretch a few more similarities but I would hope that this allows me to be a “part of the group” without further need to validate my “right” to respond here and be taken seriously.

That being said I offer a few suggestions right off the bat:

1. Stop using the term “intelligent” or “smart” in correlation to IQ scores. One (the IQ Score) is a specific measurement of something (of a particular moment in a person’s life – the day/hour/minutes they took the test AND the bias of the test itself – but I digress) and the other is a value judgment that is FAR TOO WIDE a statement to be used in conjunction with the IQ score. The difference between these two factors might be the underlying problem you are having when using these terms in the company of others who are not into the whole “IQ culture.” Now before you break out the dictionary and define “intelligent” or “smart” remember (and this is the part you are forgetting) that the objective of communication is the accurate transfer of data from one mind to another, and therefore their biases about the words or the stigmas attached are VALID POINTS and worth considering. One can argue all day about whether “Nigger” is just a derivation of “niger” which means “black” in Latin, but when you say it to someone who might be offended by it it brings along with it the power of the emotional response along with the purely cerebral intention.

I agree with this and I don’t. The problem is that you can’t dump all the responsibility on one party or the other. There are far too many people out there who are primed to be offended by every goddamned things that crosses their paths— whether it’s legitimate or not. I remember the story about the guy (a reporter or commentator I think) who lost his entire career because he— accurately mind you— used the word “niggardly”. No connection to “nigger”, but some black group or another raised a stink over the “offensive” word.

So… yes, people DO this kind of thing, and it is important to acknowledge that it exists in the real world; but I draw the line well before the argument that it’s up to me to constantly walk on eggshells so as not to offend idiots.

That being said, I have talked about the use of “smart” and “intelligent”; you are correct that it’s a mistake to use those terms carelessly. Even if you are talking purely in terms of IQ, the average human being is pretty smart, even if a genius is smarter.

Ironically, it is this disconnect between “seeing things through the eyes of others” that so many so called “normal people” find annoying when dealing with the so called “gifted.” Because it’s obvious to them, and they can’t understand why you don’t see it as obviously as they do (sound familiar?)

You remind me of a book that came out years ago called The Bell Curve. It was basically about the nature of human intelligence, but included some statistics about various groups, and created a political uproar because of some of the statistics relating to people of different races. In the wake of that a number of people were arguing that “IQ isn’t really that important”, and tried to push the idea of “EQ”— a mis-acronym for “Emotional Intelligence”.

It’s a legitimate point to make, in a way, however…

This alone should destroy any idea of so called “intellectual superiority” and bring you to my second point:

2. There is no such thing as intellectual superiority.

False statement. I do not accept this premise. The fact that there are differences in intelligence does not indicate that no legitimate measure of intelligence can be had.

There are Olympic marathon runners and Olympic sprinters. They have different strengths, but either one of them would kick my butt if I tried running against them.

Every human brain has compartments and strengths and weaknesses created by genetic predisposition and environmental stimulus/response. Those who spend a lot of time on the “fringe of groups leaning on the wall” are probably NOT stimulating the same parts of the brain that the party participant is. In short, while you are standing on the wall contemplating a physics problem they are stimulating parts of the brain that allowed them the empathy enough to not call themselves “smart” or “intelligent” in mixed company (Yes I know you don’t do that in real life and you allow yourself this space to do it in anonymity, but PLEASE follow along as it’s not said as an attack I promise!!!!) You see the time spent in the company of other “normals” made them more adapt at empathizing with other “normals” and your time spent away from them weakened your mind’s ability to do the same… One could argue that you have a weaker mind than they have based on this alone…

Well… most everyone has a decent capability to relate to people who are like themselves. The genius’s inability to relate to the “normal” person is no more or less a failing than the “normal” person’s inability to relate to the genius. I may have trouble empathizing with “normals”, but I’m probably much better empathizing with other people more like myself than they are. It’s just that there are more of them than there are of us. (And yes, for this topic I am consciously overlooking the falseness of the hard us/them dichotomy for the sake of simplicity.)

And the spiral would continue out of control… Which brings me to:

3. In-group/out-group dynamics. This is a very simple psychological/sociological concept but it’s a powerful one and makes sense from a survival mechanism point of view. It’s one of the FIRST parts of threat recognition in the brain, and therefore plays a LARGE part in how someone initially reacts to you. Out-group (someone outside of your identified group) is a high possible threat while In-group is lower. I apologize for the simplistic description but I feel compelled to make certain that I’m communicating as accurately as possible. The problem (as I see it) is that all the things mentioned by you folks (the faster “problem solving” capabilities, the more cerebral needs for entertainment [e.g. – solving “who-dunnits” rather than watching them unfold, etc.] and on and on when it comes to the outwardly obvious behaviors that so called “normals” recognize as different and therefore out-group behaviors) have with them the standard human response of “potentially dangerous” and it takes a self-aware person to then disregard the danger and look closer when it’s far easier to just move onto someone else at the party who it is more comfortable to be around…

And again, we’ve touched on this elsewhere on this site, but I must say you have a real knack for getting to the heart of issues. This is a solid distinction, and a very, very good way of looking at many of the issues discussed on this site. Good stuff here.

4. The solution to this is however unjust and therefore distasteful. YOU must work at being perceived as less of an “out-group” if you wish this reaction to lessen. IF as you acknowledge you are in the 1% of human brains and feel lonely it would seem an obvious solution to find a way to “get along” with the 99% as a remedy, would it not? I found humor to be the best way around this as do many people in this situation, how you solve it is up to you, BUT isolating yourself from so called “normals” is going to be a perpetually lonely business

Most people I know think I have a pretty good sense of humor… sometimes. Most people find me to be a very friendly person, in fact. I generally like people. The problem is that the connection I have to most people is extremely superficial. Lots and lots of acquaintances, and very few friends.

What you describe seems essentially superficial. I can “dumb myself down” to get along with people, but that does nothing to salve the real isolation that exists underneath the veneer.

AND it forgets one HUGE factor:

YOU AND THE “NORMALS” ACTUALLY SHARE 99% INTERESTS, LIKES, AND FEELINGS!!

I don’t drink or do drugs myself

Seems to be common among visitors to this site. Is it common among high IQs? I’ve actually never been intoxicated.

but:

“An intelligent man is sometimes forced to be drunk to spend time with his fools. “
– Ernest Hemingway

Certainly implies that Ernest found some solace among the so called “fools.”

I offer this to you as an attempt to reach out to you using my personal experience, NOT as a lecture!!!!!!!!!! I hope it hits you in that way. Also, feel free to disagree anywhere you see flaws I love to learn from others!

Bubba — it was a great bit of writing, and it carries some real insight. At first blush though I think it illustrates things I’m already aware of rather than offering real solutions. I’ll give it a good re-read and see if there’s more to draw from it. Thanks for this, either way, and please stick around.

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20 Responses to Bubba Speaks

  1. Loup says:

    Feelng alone, like the world no longer interests you. Nothing to do, because there is really nothing should be done. People are born and people die. I wish life is simply a dream.
    When I was young, I read animals books and know, every minute out there, there are preys and predators. Their time line are parallel to my timeline.
    Now i know, I can no longer refuse the fact, that every minute there is many people dying and suffering. Those in hospitals, those in Africa, somewhere.
    Hold your brain still, you will see the past and the future of the things. It was once a animal, and then the petrol, and than the lipstick you use, and then a rubbish to be shiped, and then decompose, and than the air you breathe in.
    Think. Everything in front of your eyes you can analyze.
    Analyze its past, current state and future.
    And yourself to be analyzed. And the past never comes back again.
    What’s the point of living? If to die finally? The cycle of the Earth, or the universise. You self one, so as the point, what’s the point of other people’s living?
    Memories, suffer, love, smiles, they are accumulating. Therefore the question is, is it important to accumulate those things?

  2. Bubba says:

    My general response to a “Hello” comment is “Welcome”. Small point of confusion though: reading this blog made you feel worse about… what? Yourself? Or just kind of puts you in a crummy mood?

    I have a disparate background which has given me a world view that’s hard to find in others and because of this I compartmentalize my friendships. For instance I played some sports as a young man, chess in tournaments, have read a lot of eastern philosophical works, owned and operated 3 businesses, and have written and directed films (as well as written a novel and a bunch of poetry) and this partial list gives you an idea about how different my background experiences have been (of course this is a partial list that doesn’t include “love, sex, and two divorces, and, and, and…”) And add to that being stabbed and the whole “high IQ” thing I find that usually I can only reach another person on one or two small levels. And here, the stabbed and High IQ thing seems to be the two “touch points.” I have “chess friends”, “film friends”, “philosophy friends”, “business friends”, “girlfriends”, etc., but not even one that could come close to filling all of those areas of interest or experience. And, honestly, I wouldn’t expect to find anyone who did have that exact and strange mix, so I live with my compartmental friends. However, when my compartmental friends say things inaccurately that they might have learned easily in one of my other compartments I have a hard time expressing the ideas without the experience so I usually just stay quiet because it’s just too damn much work to explain it AND fill in the gaps of knowledge it would take to get them where they need to be to understand the concept. It’s NOT that they are incapable, just that I’m too lazy to do all the work needed. So I do a lot of nodding and smiling, which is a lonely business, and the general explanation for my “crummy mood” :) (smiley offered to show my tongue planted firmly in my cheek) Now as a counter point, there are a TON of areas where I’d be the one who needed my experience gaps filled and I’m sure that it’s just as much of a pain in the ass to fill my gaps of knowledge for my friends who are say “hard science” guys (I love science as well, but give myself amateur status because of friends who “really know their stuff”) and might be on the cutting edge of a concept and wouldn’t want to spend the time it took to bring me up to speed… Overall I’d say my “problem” is somewhat universal, BUT (and this is what I hear you saying as well) I’d settle for someone close enough where the “gap filling” didn’t take up the majority of our time together… Alas my friend, I think you and I might be on the short end of the stick on this one. The aspects of IQ points that I take to heart are the statistical aspects. If an IQ of 160 is say (and I’m not really into the IQ culture so my numbers are pulled out of the air here) one in a million then that does suggest that it’s going to be hard to find someone else with similar brain mapping and consequently similar experiences (see my caveat about “projection” in my first post.) But brain mapping doesn’t even scratch the surface when it comes to someone being “like minded” and for me the life experiences are even more important when looking for “peers” which brings me double the frustration in my search… (and many crummy moods…)

    Um… Holy Shit! Wow. Sliding off topic for a moment — one of the things that became a bit of a “guilt trip” for me in the wake of what happened in college is that there are so many worse things that could have happened to me, was I overreacting? “Oh no, somebody had sex with you— the horror!” And of course it was a horror for me, emotionally. I was raped, and that is simultaneously a violent crime and… not all that violent. In the end it is what it is. We live with the lives we’ve had, and go on from there.
    Still. Holy Shit.

    No you were NOT over reacting. ANY unwanted physical (or emotional) penetration of your personal space is a violation. If you were clear about not wanting the sexual contact and she pressed on regardless then she was being callous and self-centered and quite frankly preying on your kind nature. She was wrong. This “predatory” behavior stuff (which was touched upon by “She The Anomaly”) is a very serious business and one that future generations will have to solve, because it’s usually (but not always) noticeable from a very young age… Something tells me your attacker had her sexual boundaries altered in the past as well, but I digress…

    I agree with this and I don’t. The problem is that you can’t dump all the responsibility on one party or the other.

    I find that blaming is useless here. If the objective is clear communication (as a writer I’ve wrestled this beast for many years) then the onus is on the speaker. IF, however, it is unimportant for the speaker to be understood, then any response is acceptable, including “baby talk.” A simple example of this would be if your target of communication didn’t speak the same language as you (and in reality this is true of EVERYONE you meet as no one has the exact same vocabulary or even uses the same words identically and thus everyone speaks their own individual dialects, as a writer I’ve found this barrier impossible to cross, but I digress…) but you plowed on in your native tongue nonetheless… Who would be right or wrong here!? No one, but you probably would have a low rate of data transfer… (And if touching another person [intellectually or emotionally] is the objective, then whoa the pain!!)

    False statement. I do not accept this premise. The fact that there are differences in intelligence does not indicate that no legitimate measure of intelligence can be had.
    There are Olympic marathon runners and Olympic sprinters. They have different strengths, but either one of them would kick my butt if I tried running against them.

    Ok, this one seems like our greatest gap, but I will try to partially fill it. Your Olympic marathon runners and Olympic sprinters might look horrible say in high heels on the catwalk of a fashion show (also somewhere where legs are used) or in a leg based martial arts maneuver, or have learned ways to stay on their feet for an entire shift of nursing, or know how to cross them in such a way that gathers attention in a crowded bar or… Now when you jump from leg function to the far more complex and subtle world of brain function you have to include SO many factors that “superior” and “inferior” just seem to be to be absurd unless you compartmentalize those distinctions to the smallest (and therefore really meaningless) possible factors. I’m not saying that this isn’t possible nor profitable in the study of the human brain from a purely scientific view, BUT from a functionality view it’s virtually meaningless. For instance a cockroach is a Darwinian marvel of environmental sturdiness but I doubt it would scale too highly on an IQ test. I remember once someone talking about animal intelligence (some “expert”) and being frustrated by the anthropomorphic obsessions humans have about say “dog vs cat intelligence” and said: “A cat might not be as intelligent as a dog in mimicking human behavior, but a cat is EXTREMELY intelligent at being a cat…” One of the things I’ve found in studying, say, Zen Buddhism (many other sources as well, but…) is that man’s fatal flaw just might be his overactive forebrain. The ability to project future events and then “solve the problem before it exists” is definitely a useful evolutionary tool BUT it is also where man “solves problems that don’t exist anywhere but in his imagination…” and leads to over-thinking as well as over-consumption of imagined “needed resources” when the need doesn’t truly exist (here they hypothalamus is a dangerous ally, but that’s another topic…) So, (trust me I know I’m wordy, but I take the onus of communication seriously) no doubt the high IQ brain has some superior function in some specific areas of human existence, but it would seem that it has many weaknesses in other areas, so who or what is superior!?

    What you describe seems essentially superficial. I can “dumb myself down” to get along with people, but that does nothing to salve the real isolation that exists underneath the veneer.

    Very true my friend, but one of the many things I’ve learned is that all problems don’t need “active” solutions. Sometimes the solution is best served by NOT trying to “solve” it and spending time embracing it instead. However the High IQ tendency is to try to “solve” every problem through calculation and you’re essentially telling your brain to solve Pi to the last digit… Let the inequality of it go and find places you CAN touch others, you’d be amazed at how profitable this technique is.

    You shared some Billy Joel lyrics so I’m going to share some with you: There is another “High IQ” guy writing lyrics out there and he is in the band “Rush” his name is Neil Peart. I’ve found some solace listening to his words. He and I don’t agree on everything, but it’s nice to listen to another “over-thinker.” Here are his thoughts on suicide written as song lyrics:

    “The Pass”

    Proud swagger out of the school yard
    Waiting for the world’s applause
    Rebel without a conscience
    Martyr without a cause

    Static on your frequency
    Electrical storm in your veins
    Raging at unreachable glory
    Straining at invisible chains

    And now you’re trembling on a rocky ledge
    Staring down into a heartless sea
    Can’t face life on a razor’s edge
    Nothing’s what you thought it would be

    All of us get lost in the darkness
    Dreamers learn to steer by the stars
    All of us do time in the gutter
    Dreamers turn to look at the cars
    Turn around and turn around and turn around
    Turn around and walk the razor’s edge
    Don’t turn your back
    And slam the door on me

    It’s not as if this barricade
    Blocks the only road
    It’s not as if you’re all alone
    In wanting to explode

    Someone set a bad example
    Made surrender seem all right
    The act of a noble warrior
    Who lost the will to fight

    And now you’re trembling on a rocky ledge
    Staring down into a heartless sea
    Done with life on a razor’s edge
    Nothing’s what you thought it would be

    No hero in your tragedy
    No daring in your escape
    No salutes for your surrender
    Nothing noble in your fate
    Christ, what have you done?

    Stay with us my friend, if only to make me feel less lonely in a few “touch points!”

    – Bubba

    • Fred says:

      Bubba — I would imagine that pretty much everyone (anyone interesting anyways) has broad enough interests that they end up compartmentalizing their friendships. I’ve said I don’t have a lot of friends, and that’s pretty much true, but I do know a lot of people, and they inevitably fall into different areas of my life and interests.

      That being said, as people with higher IQs seem to get a lot deeper into the details and intricacies of their chosen interests, I can see how the effect may be a bit amplified for us.

      (Okay… so I shouldn’t say “smart people”, and “people with higher IQs” is too cumbersome, where are we left? “Gifted”? Never liked the “judgement call” nature of that term. “XIs“? Too obscure. Yeah, I think I’m just going to keep falling back on “geniuses”, even if not always technically accurate.)

      Alas my friend, I think you and I might be on the short end of the stick on this one. …If an IQ of 160 is say … one in a million then that does suggest that it’s going to be hard to find someone else … “like minded” and for me the life experiences are even more important when looking for “peers” which brings me double the frustration in my search

      A-yup. That pretty much sums up a significant portion of this entire blog. Doubt I’m 160, but even if 140-150 or whatever… slim pickings.

      No you were NOT over reacting.

      I know that intellectually. Emotionally that’s an aspect of the wound that won’t heal. I know it. I know it. I know it; but I don’t know it.

      [S]he was being callous and self-centered and quite frankly preying on your kind nature. She was wrong. …Something tells me your attacker had her sexual boundaries altered in the past as well, but I digress…

      …but a very astute digression. In some perverse, vile way, I think the process of tearing me down was part of the process of her own healing. She didn’t merely prey on my empathy, she devoured it. I suddenly have this image of an animal with rabies biting the person trying to help it.

      Um.. Okay. I don’t particularly care what her motive may have been. She saw. She took. In the few interactions I’ve had with her in the years since, she has continued to be unambiguously egocentric. Changing topics now.

      Regarding superiority of intelligence, I think the primary difference between us is a difference of semantics. As you mentioned, we’re using the same words to mean different things. For example, I do think a smart dog is smarter than a smart cat. A cat being good at being a cat isn’t really using intelligence so much as instinct. Intelligence is the ability to figure out *new* things, and as animals go, dogs are frequently pretty good at that. Of course that probably has a lot to do with the fact that for 10,000 years we humans have been breeding them for, among other traits, intelligence. Compare a dog to a chimp, and the chimp will have it beat. Compare a chimp to a human, the human wins out. Or would you argue that a cat is just as “smart” as a human? ;-)

      And so again, this applies even between different types of people — though clearly to a lesser extreme. People are very good at connecting with other people who are like themselves. Average people connect very well with other average people. Geniuses connect pretty well with other geniuses. Average people are just as good at connecting with geniuses as geniuses are at connecting with average people — which is “not very”. It’s just that for the average person, the pool is so much larger, which gives the appearance that geniuses just don’t know how to connect.

      There is, as you suggested, another balance between logic and emotional “thinking”. To my mind, however, emotion is distinct from thought, and a lot closer to instinct. A survival trait, to be sure, but not thought. Not really. The gap between emotion and thought is similar to the gap between faith and science. One comes from the brain and the other comes from the gut.

      In the end, though, you’re right. It’s up to the genius to learn to overcome all of this and connect with “normals”. Setting aside a “moral” argument that they should meet halfway, it’s simple practicality — an average person can have a pretty full life without ever connecting to anyone with a 160 IQ, but the person with the 160 IQ is going to be pretty isolated and alone unless they find a way to connect to others who are not like them.

      Overall, I like your discussion of “touch points”. It’s a useful way to think of things — “This person isn’t very much like me, but there are points of commonality that I can use to connect regardless of the differences.”

      Regarding the song lyrics — my tendencies in that direction have never really been about what others might think of me. It has been, as with virtually every suicide ever committed, about escaping from pain that just won’t go away. Still, it had its sting in the end. The last line was the difference that kept me alive ten years ago. It wasn’t about me; it was about what I would do to others — my family. Christ, what have you done? As was once pointed out to me: I have a reason not to die. What I need is a reason to live. Still true today.

  3. Bubba says:

    A cat being good at being a cat isn’t really using intelligence so much as instinct. Intelligence is the ability to figure out *new* things, and as animals go, dogs are frequently pretty good at that. Of course that probably has a lot to do with the fact that for 10,000 years we humans have been breeding them for, among other traits, intelligence. Compare a dog to a chimp, and the chimp will have it beat. Compare a chimp to a human, the human wins out. Or would you argue that a cat is just as “smart” as a human? ;-)

    The answer to that question might derail us, but in my interpretation of “smart” a cat is in MANY aspects/situations MUCH “smarter” than a human. It would seem that you have narrowed down intelligence into just forebrain activity (“The ability to figure out *new* things” through projection and visualization which is where evolutionarily speaking humans DEFINITELY excel over pretty much all other species…) and disregard the rest as “instinct.” I don’t think this is a fair (or even accurate) look at intelligence. The ability of man to visualize and concoct schemes to respond to the imagined situation is also an instinctual process. To me who or what is a “smarter” person/animal/thing is better measured in terms of “accuracy.” “Accuracy” in these terms can be defined as:

    The ability of the brain and body function of a creature/machine to respond in a way that is best suited to the situation at hand.

    The reason I include body function here is that the link between body and mind and the speed at which they can in tandem make clear-cut responses is also important in terms of “accuracy” in response to environmental stimuli. And when dealing with a subject of “superiority” one must examine the entire system and how it functions as a whole and not just one compartment of it “in a vacuum.”

    When we examine species by this definition we find that some behaviors are quite “smart” for one species but not as needed in others. For example the ability to attract a mate in a prey animal is (evolutionarily/situationally speaking) a pretty “smart” thing to do as some species stay “afloat” through being prolific reproducers (as well as other traits.) But in the case of say Blue Whales, which give birth every two to three years and remain pregnant for about a year before doing so, they had so few predators historically that they had no need to do so. However, it might be quite “smart” of them in response to a new and prolific predator (in this case “man”) to speed up the process (e.g. – “find out how to cross their legs more provocatively in a crowded bar…”) Doing so would be a “smart” thing to do. Now you could argue that if they had the human forebrain they could “project the need” and adjust accordingly, and here you and I agree that a solution to this problem might be ushered nearer to solution by forebrain activity, however, as with most things that are hard-wired (and this is VERY true in humans as well) it’s hard to “think” oneself into being “in the mood” for love when the mate involved isn’t stimulating (because you’re not biologically programmed to be stimulated – like the need to be “in heat” – or just in some way unattracted to that potential mate.) And so, an “instinctual” desire to mate more often might be “smarter” here… (I use the quotes because I think that the distinction of “instinct vs intelligence” is virtually meaningless.) Either the species/person/machine has the ability OR it doesn’t and that ability is useful in a given situation or it is harmful (including heavy forebrain activity!) And that’s the rub!! Heavy forebrain activity is NOT always a “smart” (i.e. situationally useful) thing to do! As an example of this let’s head to the world of baseball: (I could use chess more accurately from experience but I did play baseball too as a child and it has a wider following so greater chance of communication on a wider level…)

    Batting against a pitched ball can hardly be considered an “instinctual behavior” in the terms you’ve used in the past. It’s a learned behavior, and a “situational problem” that has been approached by many people who have tried to surmise the best methods of doing so (some using full forebrain function to visualize and “solve” the problem, others through repetition and conditioning, and/or both.) Some methods have been successful, some have failed.

    Babe Ruth is arguably one of the most prolific batters in the history of baseball. In terms of the activity of batting against a pitched ball one could reasonably argue that he was very “accurate” in his approach to the “situation at hand.” To an outside observer he might well have been so “in spite of” his behavior. There are many stories of him drinking all night and showing up to games “barely sober” and “half asleep.” He was constantly being reprimanded by coaches and colleagues for his behavior and yet, year after year, the “numbers didn’t lie…” He was once quoted as saying (paraphrase here, sorry) that he used his lack of sleep to “stop thinking so much at the plate…” Clearly this tactic can be overdone and one could end up standing at the plate as a half-asleep zombie (and I’m sure as his career continued the drinking and lack of sleep took their toll), but WHAT if anything can be taken from his point? What can be taken is that he was using sleep deprivation and alcohol to dull his forebrain so that it didn’t “get in the way” of his need for quick response time at the plate. In essence, he was suggesting that his forebrain was a hindrance to the task at hand. As it turns out sleep deprivation and alcohol aren’t very useful long term solutions to this problem, but that’s a different story…

    When one examines behavior from this point of view it’s not really that hard to pull out thousands upon thousands of examples where hyper active forebrain activity is a situational hindrance and not a help. And there we can come full circle to the “man vs cat” discussion. For example:

    I exited a restaurant one fine evening in the early 90’s and came across a strange situation. A group of young men were (what could easily be seen as aggressively) encircling the three young men that I had accompanied to the restaurant that night. They encircling group were predominantly African American youths and the three young men (as well as myself) were Caucasian. I came upon the situation late because I had left my sweater in the restaurant and so didn’t have as much time to “size up” the situation. I immediately dismissed the “black/white” thing through a noble understanding of its universal insignificance BUT failed to realize that I was in the “out group” of the encircling group of young men AND that THEY might not have the same noble understanding. I projected MY world view onto them with my forebrain and did so inaccurately and so walked casually into the situation and got stabbed in the process. A cat on the other hand would have hunched its back and hissed and responded immediately to the situation as a potential threat because it didn’t have the ADVERSE EFFECT of a hyperactive forebrain getting in the way. And thus would have shown superior intelligence in dealing with that VERY SPECIFIC situation. Alas it IS the ability to deal with VERY SPECIFIC situations that is my definition of intelligence, and in that case “plus one” for the cat “minus one” for the human…

    If you expand this concept (using your forebrain) it won’t take long to fill pages with situations where the hyper active forebrain is NOT a useful tool in dealing with situational stimuli. And the universe is essentially filled with situational stimuli, and ONLY situational stimuli. Some of the situations do indeed form into patterns that can be “predicted” with some degree of accuracy, but ALL of them impact the universe on a case by case basis and our ability to accurately distinguish and then accurately respond to the cases is what to me defines “intelligent vs unintelligent” behavior.

    I think you might find if you objectively examined your own life that some of the problems you’ve encountered can be linked to your leaning on this part of the brain too heavily when the situation didn’t warrant it (like analyzing tv shows instead of enjoying your wife’s company.) It’s similar to what Hemingway was suggesting in his quote. The objective of the evening was to bond with his so called “fools” and his hyper-active forebrain was getting in the way. A few sips of alcohol and “bingo” problem solved. Of course alcohol is a depressant and it’s habit forming so this solution creates more problems than it solves (and in Hemingway’s case led ultimately to his downfall.) Zen Buddhists use a different method. They meditate. This has a similar result in “quieting the mind” as they say, and has far less ancillary drawbacks. But as with most addictive behaviors (and yes “forebrain addiction” is a real problem, but psychology/science has not “caught up” to the Zen Buddhists here yet) acknowledging the problem is the first step. If you can’t do that, then the problem owns you.

    Another VERY large area where forebrain activity is a hindrance is when the situation that is visualized by the forebrain is inaccurate or distorted and the response to it is therefore also inaccurate and distorted. Phobias and Denial and Bigotry and Hatred and Addiction and many many “negative human behaviors” can be linked to a distorted world view often based on a traumatic experience that hard wires the trauma to the response centers in the brain and then feeds this distortion to the wonderful human forebrain which then (because it has no distinction between accuracy and inaccuracy, it’s just a “hypothetical situation projection” machine) continues to spew forth fearful scenario after fearful scenario causing all kinds of unpleasant mental states. Here it’s pretty easy to see that our wonderful so called “smart section” of the brain can be a VERY HARMFUL mechanism.

    Fred, you might be in one of these situations with various aspects of your life experience tossing forward a painful projection of the future where that pain has not as of yet (nor may ever) come again into a situational need to respond. Not being inside your head, I can’t say definitively, BUT suicide is an awfully bleak view of the future and as that future has not played itself out one can then assume that you’re projecting that pain forward.

    Under normal circumstances I wouldn’t pursue this discussion past two clear “swing and miss” (to use further baseball analogies) attempts at communication (out of fear of seeming overly pushy), but I believe that this might be the heart of much of your pain and so I’m trying again to make this one of our “touch points.”

    – Bubba

    p.s. – As a secondary (and only peripherally related) point let me say that optimism is overrated. This site cracks me up check it out http://despair.com/viewall.html

    • Fred says:

      A more involved reply is pending (when I have some time), but for now…

      Under normal circumstances I wouldn’t pursue this discussion past two clear “swing and miss” (to use further baseball analogies) attempts at communication (out of fear of seeming overly pushy)….

      By all means don’t worry about seeming pushy simply for responding. We have different ways of looking at things, but some back and forth is inevitable when discussing complex issues. And again, one thing I’ve learned in my time is that such distinctions are often less than they seem. Different people using the same words in subtly different ways often conceals agreement— at least partial agreement— and further discussion is the only way to discover the common points, or as the case may be, change someone’s mind.

    • Fred says:

      The biggest thing that strikes me is that you are pushing for a holistic definition of “intelligence” — logical/forebrain plus emotional plus many other things. I fully acknowledge that this viewpoint exists. So called “emotional intelligence” exists, if sometimes fuzzily defined, and I think much of this site relates to the reality that people with high IQs seem to frequently lack a comparably high ability in this area.

      I know a guy who is not particularly “book smart”, but is a master at selling things. He sells cars, and I do occasional computer work for the dealership so I’m sometimes over there while he’s working, and it’s amazing for me to watch this guy talking to a reticent customer. He very specifically does not give them a hard sell; but he has an incredible ability to instantly befriend new people. They like him and trust him— almost immediately, and he genuinely treats them well— as evidenced by the number of repeat customers he has.

      So clearly there are different forms of intelligence. I think our disagreement on this point is mostly semantic — you’re essentially lumping it under a single umbrella term and I’m separating out the form of intelligence that I myself have.

      To me who or what is a “smarter” person/animal/thing is better measured in terms of … the ability of the brain and body function of a creature/machine to respond in a way that is best suited to the situation at hand.

      Great definition. However, in your further discussion, I think you go a little too broad. For example, I don’t think of a rabbit’s frequent reproduction, or a whale’s slow reproduction, as “intelligence”— it’s an evolutionary trait, for sure, but that’s not the same thing. The simplest description of “why” is adaptability. If the whale suddenly had a significant predator (ahem, man), it would not be able to *decide* to reproduce quickly. It’s not a decision it makes, it’s simply the way they’re built. Human beings on the other hand, are incredibly adaptable. Climate too cold? No problem; we’ll figure out furs and fire. Low food supplies? We invent cultivation. For our entire existence humans have been constantly adapting to new situations. Reproduction? We can create children from sterile parents. Pretty soon we’ll have “impossible” coupling such as two women having children. Animals evolve, but we invent. That’s intelligence.

      And the emotional/social intelligence such as my friend the salesman is part of that as well. It is our human social tendencies that allow us to pass along intelligence across generations. Without it we never would have gotten past fur and fire.

      Humans can certainly over think situations, as you describe in your stabbing incident. This is the big problem I have with political correctness — it’s an insistence that we suppress sometimes legitimate prejudices.

      Babe Ruth drank to avoid thinking too much? I believe it. But it’s something he figured out. Something he chose to do for a specific purpose. (And I’m sure if he weren’t a baseball player he wouldn’t touch a drop of the stuff. Nosirree…. ;-) ) Personally my hands shake a bit, and if I ever need to have a really steady hand for something, a good ol’ slug of alcohol does wonders. It’s a rational decision to affect our own bodies in a non-rational way. In my case it’s no different really than taking a pill to get rid of a headache. Here’s a problem, and here’s is a solution that I know works for me.

      (Incidentally, I never played baseball. Can’t catch to save my life.)

      This applies to your Hemmingway example perfectly. He’s deliberately suppressing the “forebrain intelligence” in order to better relate to average people with lesser capacities at such. I’ve actually considered just such an approach, but in the long run I believe that getting drunk would be disastrous for me— if nothing else I think I would end up revealing things about myself best not revealed. Perhaps a viable experiment if I’d never been raped, or gone through the years of anguish that I did, but not now.

      Which brings up another issue I suppose, for me personally. I think I spend so much time barricading away a significant part of my life experience, that it ends up a barrier between me and other people. I am constantly on guard, and constantly closed off because of it. I think I have a natural separation from people around me (well… everyone does to an extent…) but that event made it a thousand times worse. I have a very hard time trusting people, and that reticence has been confirmed time and time again.

      It recently came up to me that I’ve never written a love letter to my wife. Why? Because I once or twice wrote emotional letters to Evil College Bitch, and her response was to directly and unambiguously use it as a weapon against me. Even with everything that has happened since, I know that she may to this day have a letter written by me declaring love. Fuck that shit. If I had a way to destroy it I would. But it exists — a permanent lie. Hell, I didn’t even believe it when I wrote it; I just didn’t think I had another choice than to try to believe it.

      So yeah, am I “forebrain addicted”? Maybe. I don’t think I would be alive today if I hadn’t been. In the darkest part of my life around twelve years ago, it was pure rationality that kept me from succumbing to a purely emotional pain. Am I projecting past pain into the future? I dunno— are there still rat bastards in the world waiting to take every advantage of us?

      And yes, there are good people in the world as well, but my life has proven (and discussion on this very site has confirmed) that even the well intended have to understand you before they can do any good, and misunderstandings can turn good intent into direct harm. So tread carefully when dealing with people who don’t understand you— even (especially???) those who mean you the most good.

      So in the end… I agree with you on an intellectual level that “intelligence” is a very broad category, even if I think your definition is a bit too broad; but there is a real need to examine the mental/emotional/intellectual distinctions that separate me from most of the people around me. We could spend a lifetime arguing theory, but ultimately I hope something useful comes of all of this, and waving my hands and saying “the distinction doesn’t really exist” is wishful thinking.

      “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.” — Philip K. Dick

  4. Bubba says:

    The biggest thing that strikes me is that you are pushing for a holistic definition of “intelligence” — logical/forebrain plus emotional plus many other things. I fully acknowledge that this viewpoint exists. So called “emotional intelligence” exists, if sometimes fuzzily defined…

    I don’t see these categories as rigidly as this. I don’t see a distinction (and the brain certainly doesn’t) between emotion and intelligence. For instance, if you use your forebrain to calculate something when you’re angry and you use it to calculate something when you’re happy or sad or afraid or… and the thing that you’re calculating is somewhat constant (say some kind of daily situational chore like “doing the laundry” I shy away from things like Math Problems because it’s important to have more than one possible solution for this to be a clear example, though my years of playing chess has taught me things that apply here too, but I digress…) you will find that the resulting “solution” to the problem is slightly different every time and is always shaped (I DON’T use the term “distorted” here for a very specific reason, but again I digress…) by the melding of your visualization AND your emotional state at that time. Now, when you apply that same process to something as subtle and changing as another person, then you’ve just magnified the potential outcomes by an almost exponential factor. The process of “Falling in Love” might simply be (though I admit this is oversimplified here) hitting the “lottery” and meeting another person at a time when you are both in an emotional state that will allow the feeling AND meet each other’s expectations of familiarity (the “family” link in that word is pretty significant) and… and… and… That this person “is the one” might really be that they were “the one” at that specific time and place and maybe, just maybe, at other times and places they’re “not the one…” (hence why you hear so many couples that have had long marriages emphasize “compromise”) I personally believe that we place too much pressure on our poor life-mates and expect them to be “the one” at all times when that’s just not possible because we’re not “the one” for them at all times either… Each individual moment is subtly different from the last but our brains want to lump them all into digestible and oversimplified categories. For instance if you had sex with your wife the night before and you did so again tonight you DIDN’T do the same thing two nights in a row… The physical act also has within it the emotional states of the two parties, their specific arousal levels, physical states, mental preoccupations, etc. etc. etc… But we love to lump them together into “Yeah we have sex two times a week” or other simple categories when that’s far from accurate. This need to categorize reality (something that over-thinkers do to a fault you must admit!!) is a GREAT hindrance to the intelligence definition I put forth before (i.e. situational response accuracy) because no two situations are exactly alike.

    …and I think much of this site relates to the reality that people with high IQs seem to frequently lack a comparably high ability in this area.

    I’m assuming the “area” you’re referring to is “emotional intelligence” and so I’m going to lump my response to this and to your “salesman” together. Your “salesman” has learned (by not leaning up against the wall at parties doing “physics” problems) through years of trial and error how best to put forth a “good face” and therefore by controlling one half of the equation (e.g. – stabilizing his outward emotional appearance) he increases his chances of successful interaction with other people by quite a large amount. This “good face” is NOT a static face (like a mask with a big smile on it) but a subtle and constantly changing reaction that best mirrors what the other person needs to see at that time. I’ve worked with many performers (in the film industry) who have gotten this down to a science. They’ve made “charisma” a science (I say that NOT metaphorically but actually.) They’ve (over years and years) studied the responses of people to various stimuli and have mastered subtle changes in their own behavior to steer the interaction toward a more positive result. I assure you they weren’t born with this talent. They nurtured it and worked at it very hard. The salesman you’re describing decided that in response to the universe’s constantly changing environment that the ability to shape other people’s reactions would be a useful tool and so quite “intelligently” decided to master it. So who’s more intelligent!? If the situation arises that someone with a very practiced “problem solving” mind is needed then the guy who leaned up against the wall doing physics problems is going to be more effective, but if it’s a “people problem” then you’d better go grab the salesman… In the end the person/animal/thing that reacted (or had the ability to react) in a more “intelligent” manner to the problem at hand will be the one that has the best practiced ability to adjust to the individual situation.

    For example, I don’t think of a rabbit’s frequent reproduction, or a whale’s slow reproduction, as “intelligence”— it’s an evolutionary trait, for sure, but that’s not the same thing. The simplest description of “why” is adaptability. If the whale suddenly had a significant predator (ahem, man), it would not be able to *decide* to reproduce quickly. It’s not a decision it makes, it’s simply the way they’re built. Human beings on the other hand, are incredibly adaptable. Climate too cold? No problem; we’ll figure out furs and fire. Low food supplies? We invent cultivation. For our entire existence humans have been constantly adapting to new situations. Reproduction? We can create children from sterile parents. Pretty soon we’ll have “impossible” coupling such as two women having children. Animals evolve, but we invent. That’s intelligence.

    Whew, we certainly have a large hurdle to overcome here, and I’m not certain I can make it, but I will briefly try.

    Human beings are incredibly adaptable…

    No, they are not. This is a great fallacy. Human beings are incredibly “manipulative.” They do not have the “ability to adapt” they have a “predilection for manipulation.” They do NOT in fact “adapt their behavior to suit their environment” they attempt to “adapt the environment to suit their behavior” and this distinction is VERY important. All the things you mentioned that man either did or can do are manipulations of an already existing environment to suit “needs” and some of these needs are completely imaginary (created by an over active forebrain or biological behaviors that don’t suit the specific environment.) Man has a prey animal’s predilection for procreation, so over produces humans, thus a large factor in creating your “low food supply.” Man is about to find out how his manipulation can (full circle funny enough) bring about the climate changes that he “invented fire” to overcome. I can go on and on but I think you get the picture here. And the reason why I included instinctual behaviors in my explanation of intelligence is (and I state this again for emphasis) that man’s over use of his forebrain to “solve all his problems” is also an instinctual behavior.

    Unfortunately this instinctual behavior seems to be stronger in some people than in others creating a mind that leans so heavily on this part of the brain that it does so often to its own destruction – and in the case of suicidal thoughts this is not a metaphor. And also why I think it’s so important to see this truth in connection to the problem introduced in this discussion. In my opinion you are quite possibly literally “thinking yourself to death.” This is ironically impactful in your statement that you never played baseball and that you “can’t catch to save your life.” Baseball (specifically) has no great “healing power” BUT it’s a very social activity (both in playing and in spectating.) Ironically, maybe had you “been able to catch” you’d have spent more time learning social intelligences (like your salesman) and have less pain with “normal people.” I honestly can’t say intelligently (not knowing you), but I put forth that as an example of a mind that has gravitated toward solitary pursuits (sounds like you’re a computer guy and I know lots of “chess guys” with this problem in spades) and away from social activities you might have benefited from “being able to catch a ball” and in the case of an isolated feeling so extreme as to cause suicidal tendencies your example might be literal!?

    Now back to your traumatic event. The “nail in the coffin” so to speak (and I don’t shy away from death analogies here because that’s what we’re here to discuss.) If you need a way to categorize her then see her as a “predator.” I think that “She the Anomaly” was quite right to bring this up. We as a species fall strangely into the “half prey/ half predator” class. Which means that both behaviors can be practiced (by this I mean through repetition) to the point that one “dominates” behavior more than the other. Empathy is a very useful tool to a prey animal. If you can read fear on the face of another monkey in the forest who has that reaction to seeing a stalking panther, then you can get up a tree just as fast as the monkey who actually saw the panther. This is very useful, and a Darwinian treasure to a prey animal (this behavior alone coupled with prolific breeding keeps some varieties of small fish alive e.g. – following the fish in front and responding EXACTLY the same way they do while the “lead fishes” look for predators…) However, empathy can be a hindrance to a predator, especially if the empathy is so strong that it applies to potential prey. I think in the future psychologists will find that “child abuse” is coupled with some kind of sick desire to “show the child that it’s a harsh world out there” and strengthen some base predator instincts to “toughen them up.” Also in time, I think they’ll find some “IQ test” equivalent (if they haven’t already) to measure where people place on the “predator/prey” scale. Your “Evil College Bitch” seems to place very highly on the predator side of that scale. The world is full of people who do and the problem with being a victim of a violent crime (either physical or emotional violence, and the violence is measured by the callousness with which the crime is committed) is that once your brain has experienced this predatory behavior at such a high degree it’s impossible to just “forget it” and go about your life like people like that don’t exist. The best way of fighting that feeling is to find large groups of people, empathetic/non predatory people, who will allow your brain to “redefine” its definition of human behavior (that definition currently leaning heavily toward “people are predators.”) How do we do this!? Well, that might be something that needs to be a case by case study but in general in my opinion this comes from two sources:

    1. Using that calculation machine to calculate the statistical probability of meeting another person so predatory as to be a threat to you on a daily basis. And when you do this objectively you’ll find that most people don’t fall into this category. This frees you from needing to be “on guard” at all times (though your brain is still hard wired from the trauma to see people as potential threats and will need repetition to re-wire it but this logical assertion is the first step.)

    2. Immersing yourself into an environment that will allow your mind to “re-map” itself away from this predilection to categorize people as “predators.” (Group therapy is helpful here, or some kind of other “social” activity.)

    I think that in your case step 1 might be fairly easy if you were to be truly objective in your analysis (and I own a .357 Magnum for the high end predators that I might come into contact with in the future, you’ll never forget these people, nor should you…) But step 2 is much harder for “High IQ” folks and creates a significant barrier between you and the re-wiring you need. So… You’re going to need to force yourself to do so. Your next question is … “fine, but where?” I think that the creation of this blog is enough to show you that you already know that this is true and are (quite healthfully I might add) attempting to reach other people. So, in a combination of the two, maybe a martial arts class (though a class that has as its foundation self-preservation might not be the best place to practice empathy!?) I teach chess to children, and teaching children is a GREAT way to get some of your humanity/empathy back (very few dangerous predators in a kindergarten class, at least, dangerous to you…) Maybe finding a way to teach computer skills to K-5th graders!? I’m taking shots in the dark here not knowing you, but I hope you get the idea… I would hope that your psychologist might “know their shit” (pardon the vulgarity if you find it offensive) enough to help you out here and if not, GET ANOTHER ONE WHO DOES.

    And lastly damn it add me to the list of people who will be very disappointed if you just “give up…”

    “Don’t turn your back and slam the door on me…”

    – Bubba

    p.s. – great P.K. Dick quote!!!!!

  5. Bubba says:

    oh p.p.s. – Babe Ruth didn’t “drink to stop drinking” he “drank to stop thinking” at the plate which (thinking) slowed down his reaction time.

    and p.p.p.s. – some Errata – it should read “Pardon the vulgarity if you find IT offensive…”

  6. Fred says:

    While I understand what you’re saying about the actors…

    The salesman you’re describing decided that in response to the universe’s constantly changing environment that the ability to shape other people’s reactions would be a useful tool and so quite “intelligently” decided to master it.

    Nah. When he was six he could sell ice to eskimos. At no point did he stop and think and decide to learn how to work people. It comes naturally to him.

  7. Fred says:

    Okay, regarding the first two (long) paragraphs of your comment, I’m going to repeat what I said before — much of our disagreement isn’t actually disagreement, except in the sense of terminology, or semantics. We agree that there are distinctions in forms of intelligence– me vs. the salesman— you just disapprove of my linguistically separating them into “intelligence” and something else. To you linguistically, it should all be called intelligence. However, the distinction does exist— the salesman is never going to do calculus, and I’m never going to make a living selling cars. (okay… I never actually learned calculus either, but I could have if I’d wanted to!) Both of those qualities may qualify as “intelligence”, but they are different. Blonde hair and red hair are both hair, but one is blond and one is red — they’re different enough to make a distinction, and I am making the distinction simply for the ability to discuss the differences; and I do not see the usefulness of arguing that there is no such distinction.

    Putting it another way: in that first part of your response, you didn’t say anything I didn’t already recognize. I know all of that. I’m not saying that to put you down, I’m simply saying that we are in agreement already. The difference is purely a word problem— two people using the same words in slightly different ways. And I’m using those words the way I am for a reason— the distinction between myself and the salesman is exactly what I’m examining here. I have a strong natural ability to connect disparate and complex concepts within the realm of hard logic; he has a strong natural ability to do the same within the realm of social interaction. (<– massive oversimplification of course.) He is a “genius” within that realm, which is not what I normally use the word “genius” for, because I use it under its technical definition of a person with an IQ over X amount.

    More to come regarding the rest of your comment. Stay tuned….

  8. Fred says:

    Actually not a lot to say about the rest of your comment, except: I have a lot to think about here. Basically events in college implanted a dangerous and destructive impression in my mind and I have to “reprogram” myself by interacting with non-predators.

    Years ago I told my dad that I was depressed (not the time last year — this was much less information, just the depression itself.) Part of his response was to suggest that I go do something such as becoming a Big Brother to some kid, or visit sick people in a hospital or somesuch. An astute suggestion, it seems.

  9. Fred says:

    A further anecdote on that aspect (empathy?) that separates my mind from most other people:

    One day my family (with assorted spouses, children/nieces/nephews, etc.) was having dinner— probably a holiday. My then-three-year-old nephew Jerry was sitting next to my brother Tom, his uncle. He was doing something that was annoying Tom, and finally Tom turned, looked him dead in the eye and, flexing his arm and making a fist, said “Jerry, if you do that again I’m going to break your arm!

    Jerry never looked away. He considered this for a moment, and then started giggling and said “NNNNnnnnoooooooooooo!” Tom started laughing too.

    Now, from a cold hard logic perspective, Tom just threatened a young child with violence. Yet there was no doubt in the minds of anyone at that table (including me) that Tom would not actually follow through. For young Jerry, there was a brief moment where he figured out how to respond to this — I suppose to decide if he was in danger or not. (Relating it to what you’ve talked about, this was I suppose a predator/prey “teaching moment” about reading people’s intentions.) But most importantly to me… there was some sort of clear communication between them that was completely nonverbal, yet pretty unambiguous.

    If I tried this, the kid would probably have started crying. So the big question is, Why? What do Tom and Jerry (Heh. Okay, I just registered what I did with changing their names. Totally unconscious! Where was I?) What do Tom and Jerry know that I don’t?

  10. Bubba says:

    Nah. When he was six he could sell ice to eskimos. At no point did he stop and think and decide to learn how to work people. It comes naturally to him.

    You’re right to say he didn’t “stop and think” he was born into a position (possibly a middle child!?) where charisma was a survival mechanism (used here in terms of “family survival.”) Every child instinctively knows that they are not able to take care of themselves and also has an instinctual desire to “please their parents” to assure that survival. Something in your salesman’s childhood (by the way the age of 6 is just about the end of the most dramatic hard-wiring of the brain. The first 0-7 years of age are where the foundation of your world-view and behaviors get created so your analogy about his “people skills” at age 6 is probably somewhat accurate if not romanticized out of proportion a bit) pushed charisma forward as a “family survival mechanism” and that was the beginnings of his “social skills master thesis” which he then perfected through the years (by continuing, similar to the actors, to “ply his trade” in the real world and check the responses.) You had an environment from 0-7 that fostered aspects of your personality and mental habits as well. Now, I can tell you from personal experience our “IQ problem” adds to this immensely. The fact that you used the term “stop and think” is somewhat of a “tell” (poker term) about how you see thought. I remember when my friends (chess players mostly) and I would chat about we “over-thinkers” and we’d joke about how we’re all addicted to the “ah-ha!” moment (that moment when you’ve found the solution to a problem and you get the endorphin rush.) And that’s why we are drawn to things like chess, computers, math etc.. because there are always little “ah-ha!” moments to be had in those endeavors. HOWEVER chess and computers and math etc… create a WARPED view of the universe and the universe DOES NOT work under the limitations of the very controlled “rules” set forth in these activities. I remember when I was running a business with hundreds of employees thinking that if I could only get them to move to the “squares” that I wanted them to go, business would be simple… (of course when you add humans to the equation… the “ah-ha!” moments shrink substantially…)

    …you just disapprove of my linguistically separating them into “intelligence” and something else. To you linguistically, it should all be called intelligence. However, the distinction does exist— the salesman is never going to do calculus, and I’m never going to make a living selling cars. (okay… I never actually learned calculus either, but I could have if I’d wanted to!) Both of those qualities may qualify as “intelligence”, but they are different.

    Yes they are different skills and those skills have different uses as we’ve pointed out. The key is to attempt (genuinely for your own sanity) to (going full circle back to my very first blog entry) STOP seeing one as “superior” (in a general sense) to another. It creates a warped world-view that I think gets in the way of healing the pain. For instance Hemingway called the folks he was going to drink so he could “hang out” with “fools.” A lot can be seen from this distinction. It’s a natural response to see things mathematically as “you and I are different and therefore unequal” it’s this behavior that allows bullies to pick on “nerds” at school. BUT it’s very important to see the equation as “you and I are different AND equal.” If you embrace this and you project this outwardly toward others you’ll find less barriers between you and them (this is why the most popular photo of Einstein is the one with his tongue out, being “silly and playful” e.g. human…) AND using categories like “genius” – “just because it’s an IQ category” – is being actively insensitive to the use of that term by society (e.g. – my comment about the word “nigger”) as a term used to imply “superior.” It separates you from others and (it would seem) is done so on purpose. It really doesn’t take much in the way of those salesman’s skills to see that using a term that’s analogous to the idea of “superior” without qualifying that it’s superior only in “some very specific human behaviors” can leave the impression that you don’t believe the latter… And if you care about the beliefs of others in terms of your communications with them, then you need to clear that up. If not, and you’re just enjoying the fact that you’ve found a neat little “word/logic trick” to use that term and “get away with it” that might serve as an ego boost for a moment but it does have negative effects with your relationships with others… (in other words, stop “self-defining” your words and chose them [with empathy] for how they’ll be received!) But MOST importantly is to STOP putting excessive importance on problem-solving ability and ACTUALLY see the universe as a much larger place that allows for other strengths and weaknesses. If you actually see this, then projecting it outward is MUCH easier and you won’t have to “dumb yourself down” to genuinely appreciate the company of others.

    Actually not a lot to say about the rest of your comment, except: I have a lot to think about here. Basically events in college implanted a dangerous and destructive impression in my mind and I have to “reprogram” myself by interacting with non-predators.

    Yes. It helps. I can tell you from personal experience. What I did, and it was drastic, was the old “afraid of heights so go jump out of a plane” technique. I decided that after being the victim of a violent crime I’d drive a cab for awhile (one of the most dangerous jobs in America – Fatalities per 100k: 21.3 – Fatalities in 2007: 50 – Most common cause of death: Assaults and violent acts) To force myself into “harm’s way” and test the idea that it’s a “rare occurrence.” Well, it’s rare even for cabbies (.02% chance), but it’s not bright from a purely statistical standpoint to “up the odds” on purpose… Working with the kids has been MUCH more of a healing endeavor. However, chat with your psychologist here, and let him/her in on all of the details so they can give you the best possible advice (this is if you trust them as competent, if not GET ANOTHER ONE!) The re-programming/re-wiring is VERY important to the healing process. The “self preservation” parts of your brain have usurped control over other areas and have done so with negative effect.

    If I tried this, the kid would probably have started crying. So the big question is, Why? What do Tom and Jerry (Heh. Okay, I just registered what I did with changing their names. Totally unconscious! Where was I?) What do Tom and Jerry know that I don’t?

    Firstly Freud might find some significance in the fact that you chose iconic cartoon characters that represent the eternal struggle between predator and prey (e.g. cat and mouse) but I think that might be coincidental. The fact that you chose the larger of the two to be Tom might imply on some subconscious level something, but I’ll avoid taking wild guesses and address the rest of the statement… Tom and Jerry (your Tom and Jerry not the cartoon characters) have some kind of bond that must go beyond that incident. Jerry trusts Tom enough to not “break his arm” and Tom, when he registered that Jerry might have had a “fright” response probably changed is facial expression subtly to be less intense, thus communicating to Jerry that he’s safe. This last technique comes from experience, and it would seem that (from what you said Jerry’s reaction to you might have been) you are lacking in that area of experience (e.g. “child social intelligence” deficiency.) Your salesman is probably “good with kids” too. It’s all part and parcel to the social intelligences we’ve chatted about before. And, kids are a great way to learn them because you get raw and genuine reactions to your social faux pas.

    I like where we’re heading here and I think it’s on the right track. Re-wiring of ANY behavior is one of the hardest things for humans to do. But, in the case of very destructive behaviors it’s really the “only game in town” (anti-depressants might help to get through the dark times but re-wiring is really the only “solution” to the problem.)

    Years ago I told my dad that I was depressed (not the time last year — this was much less information, just the depression itself.) Part of his response was to suggest that I go do something such as becoming a Big Brother to some kid, or visit sick people in a hospital or somesuch. An astute suggestion, it seems.

    Yeah, maybe he was!

    – Bubba

  11. Fred says:

    Yes they are different skills and those skills have different uses as we’ve pointed out. The key is to attempt [to] STOP seeing one as “superior” (in a general sense) to another.

    I’m not. Never have. But they are different things, and in ONE OF THEM, I am more talented/skilled. In the other, he is.

    See what I mean about us dancing around agreeing with each other to death? Simply stated, you read my words in a way that was subtly, but significantly, different than the was I used them when I set them down.

    Having said that, the middle child stuff is interesting.

  12. Fred says:

    [U]sing categories like “genius” – “just because it’s an IQ category” – is being actively insensitive to the use of that term by society (e.g. – my comment about the word “nigger”) as a term used to imply “superior.”

    The problem with that analogy is that there is no “non-nigger” term for “person with a high IQ”. The “N Word” is explicitly a pejorative, but “genius” is not— it’s the actual word for that thing. There is apparently no way to express the concept without being offensive, and as I’ve discussed in a previous post dedicated to precisely that argument — I refuse to accept that the concept can’t even be voiced without others seeing you as a jerk. It happens, but that’s THEIR problem goddamnit. It’s THEIR failing if they are offended by a technical definition! You can’t rightfully call someone a jerk (or “insensitive”) for simply trying to describe their own state of existence. I’ve not going to spend my life apologizing for drawing breath, and whatever insecure jackasses out there who take offense at the mere EXISTENCE of geniuses can kiss my ass.

  13. Bubba says:

    “I’m not. Never have. But they are different things, and in ONE OF THEM, I am more talented/skilled. In the other, he is.”

    “The problem with that analogy is that there is no “non-nigger” term for “person with a high IQ”. The “N Word” is explicitly a pejorative, but “genius” is not— it’s the actual word for that thing.”

    In the first statement you use a term “talent/skilled” to describe you and the salesman. In the other you take the IQ Test as an authoritative doctrine and then, using the IQ Test as the authority, announce that there is no other way for you to describe yourself and the rest of the world can go fuck themselves…

    And you DON’T see a difference in the attitudes/descriptions? Why is your placement on the IQ test SO important to your description of yourself to other people? Why MUST you use where you placed on an IQ test as the basis for a description about yourself and if others don’t like it then they can “Kiss your ass?” I get that you’re upset about this, and I get that you feel in a small group that is oppressed by a larger group, my point to you is that SOME (there is no doubt that the world is full of insensitive people [who quite frankly would be of no interest to you anyway] who feed off of their own insecurities and erect barriers between themselves and others they perceive as different…) of this MIGHT stem from a barrier that you ERECT YOURSELF. And my point is that one of the ways you do so MIGHT be the need to cling to this “IQ category” as terminology when the rest of society uses the term much more broadly…

    “There is apparently no way to express the concept without being offensive,”

    How about?

    “But they are different things, and in ONE OF THEM, I am more talented/skilled. In the other, he is.”

    Not ONE use of the term “genius” in this statement. Now if you had said to someone that you had a particular “skill set” (a commonly used phrase that has little chance of being misunderstood) and they were offended by that I’d agree that they were over reacting and that the person can indeed kiss your (and my for that matter) ass. BUT, if they decide to self define the term “genius” AND side with the majority of the users then you’re being overly stubborn about your desire to use the term in another (more narrowly defined) way JUST like my description of the pejorative term we discussed (which in and of itself is just a bastardization of another word but it’s grown – through very negative usage – to have a commonly accepted meaning.)

    So I guess my question is, why the need to keep the title “genius?”

    How about if I suggest using the term “thinking addicted” would that be more or less appealing? Does the fact that “genius” has a superior connotation to it ANY part of the appeal? Was Michael Jordan a “genius” on the basketball court (a phrase I’ve heard used before)? Is there ANY other way to use the term “genius” that DOESN’T describe an IQ Score? And why are IQ Scores such a defining aspect of how you see yourself in relation to others? IF (as I understand you to say) we agree that “skill/intelligence” is a very broad subject, then isn’t an IQ test just an ATTEMPT to calculate a person’s brain function in a FEW SMALL AREAS. Why is it so damn important?? Help me understand here because I’m GENUINELY missing the point and want to understand.

    – Bubba

    p.s. – They dropped the terms “Idiot”, “Imbecile”, “Moron”, etc. from usage in IQ Tests for similar reasons to what we’re discussing, but left “Genius” when it’s also been warped through common usage to mean something other than a placement on a test. I think in time they’ll drop that title too, but again I digress…

    • Fred says:

      Here’s an experiment for you Bubba: Try to get through the next month referring to the appropriate group of people as ONLY one of two things: “niggers” or “persons who are descended from dark-skinned indigenous Africans”. I have a feeling that such a restriction just might get in the way if you are in a situation where you need to specify people by race. See, you aren’t drawing a comparison between two words, you are dismissing a word in favor of a paragraph’s worth of explanation. And, mind you, my phrase-replacing-a-word is much shorter, and more accurate, than your suggestion for replacing “genius”.

      Or replace the word “athletic” with “talented”. Except of course “talented” is not nearly as specific as “athletic”, and would end up requiring reams of explanation as you duck spin and dodge around using a perfectly good word that succinctly represents exactly what you’re trying to say. And all of this crap to get around the fact that the rank and file of people carry a bigotry against anyone identified as a “genius”. It’s nonsense, and it’s an unacceptable situation.

      Actually that example works better than I thought. I can’t imagine athletic people getting a lot of negativity if they describe themselves as “athletic”.

      How about if I suggest using the term “thinking addicted” would that be more or less appealing? Does the fact that “genius” has a superior connotation to it ANY part of the appeal?

      Genius has a much stronger appeal for being accurate. This entire discussion of verbiage is so far beyond the point I can’t even see the point from here. I don’t “cling” to the word except that, when discussing that specific distinction, it’s lunacy to spend 10,000 words arguing about what word to use when the word we need already exists. I’m not using it with “other people who don’t understand”, and therefore whether or not THEY understand is completely moot. You know exactly what I mean when I discuss high IQ, and yet you go around in circles arguing I shouldn’t use the term because some theoretical person who ISN’T HERE might hypothetically not “get it”.

      Putting it another way:

      I understand the distinction between different forms of intelligence and the broader connotations of such. You are the one getting caught up in the “inherent superiority” of the word “genius”, not I. One of the first things I ever wrote on this site was:

      [I’m] a genius— for what it’s worth.

      For that statement, a commenter accused me of “megalomania“. Excuse me? Hello? This guy’s attitude towards the word was so overpowering that he blocked out the entire rest of what surrounded it. Wow, this guy thinks he’s a genius; he’s clearly megalomaniacal. I’m sorry, but that bizarre overreaction is something wrong with him, not me. And the more you push this insistence that the word itself is wrong, the more I wonder what the hell baggage you’re carrying that has so poisoned you against a word that, in fact, strongly describes yourself.

      IF (as I understand you to say) we agree that “skill/intelligence” is a very broad subject, then isn’t an IQ test just an ATTEMPT to calculate a person’s brain function in a FEW SMALL AREAS. Why is it so damn important??

      Because when I am specifically discussing people with higher brain function in those “few small areas”, that is the word for it. So I use it.

      As for IQ tests, there is a reason I’ve never bothered to specify my own. The specific number is relatively unimportant. But the ramifications of that area of brain function are, apparently significant in my own life, so I talk about that.

      So… If you want to argue that that aspect of who I am is not as important as I think it is, then do that. But don’t spend so much time trying to convince me that the word itself is wrong or insignificant. It is what it is, and you are only muddying the water.

  14. Bubba says:

    Here’s an experiment for you Bubba: Try to get through the next month referring to the appropriate group of people as ONLY one of two things: “niggers” or “persons who are descended from dark-skinned indigenous Africans”.

    Given the VERY narrow choice I’d chose “persons who are descended from dark-skinned indigenous Africans” every time, with no exceptions.

    I have a feeling that such a restriction just might get in the way if you are in a situation where you need to specify people by race. See, you aren’t drawing a comparison between two words, you are dismissing a word in favor of a paragraph’s worth of explanation. And, mind you, my phrase-replacing-a-word is much shorter, and more accurate, than your suggestion for replacing “genius”.

    IF the only way to get the point across to another person would be a paragraph’s worth of explanation and I had some need (which personally I never do because of the lack of impact IQ tests have on my daily conversation or on how I define myself, but this blog isn’t about me…) to discuss the term “Genius” as it pertains to an IQ Test then a paragraph it would be. It would depend on how much effort it took to communicate clearly with the listener.

    Or replace the word “athletic” with “talented”. Except of course “talented” is not nearly as specific as “athletic”, and would end up requiring reams of explanation as you duck spin and dodge around using a perfectly good word that succinctly represents exactly what you’re trying to say.

    There are no general hang ups about the word “athletic” there are, however (and the over reaction to it by the blogger you mentioned is an example of it) to the term “genius.” So this example is not equivalent. For example, create a blog called “athletic such and such” and see if it sparks the reaction you got from yours… Using “Genius” in this blog was willfully provocative, and that’s your choice (as a response to the general “anti-intelligence” bias in the United States I imagine, but that’s another point entirely, though you and I might agree to its existence…) I’m NOT discussing whether the term is “right” or “wrong” nor have I EVER. There is NOTHING inherently “right” or “wrong” about ANY word. Words are ONLY a means of attempting to communicate and are only one part of the tools used to do so (tone, body language, situational relevance, etc.) However, as I said before, I believe it is the responsibility of the speaker to try to use words that best give him/her the chance of being understood accurately and that includes social biases against or for certain words/phrases. If I knew that someone might get caught up on a word and be unable to continue the conversation because of an emotional reaction to it, then I’d avoid the word. And given the need, certainly, I’d use a NOVEL’S worth of explanation if that person were important to me. And if NOT, I’d not bring it up at all.

    I’m not using it with “other people who don’t understand”, and therefore whether or not THEY understand is completely moot. You know exactly what I mean when I discuss high IQ, and yet you go around in circles arguing I shouldn’t use the term because some theoretical person who ISN’T HERE might hypothetically not “get it”.

    You didn’t create this blog as a direct communication to me. The negative response (of that other blogger) PROVES my point that there are multiple ways of interpreting your word choice and therefore IF you care about the response of your listener… etc. etc. etc.

    As I write this however it seems we’ve been here before and therefore I seem to have failed at breeching the gap and I (by reading my back posts) don’t see a way of improving (in terms of clarification) upon my points so I seem to have failed. And, as the communicator I take full responsibility for this, and apologize for our wasted time and effort.

    Fred, I sense your pain and frustration through your words, and I wish I could help. Having been a victim of a violent crime myself AND having scored highly on an IQ test and having had to decide the significance of that in my own life, I thought I might be of some small help here, apparently I’m only provoking you and that’s unacceptable to me.

    I wish you all the best and hope you find a way to climb out of the darkness.

    – Bubba

  15. She_The_Anomaly says:

    My solution to the social awkwardness puzzle surrounding differing intelligence levels:

    A lot of people seem to view all of life as some grand competition in which they must best everyone else at as many things as possible or be left behind to suffer some horror (I, being on the outside of that paradigm, can only observe their apparent reactions and guess at what this imagined horror is – homelessness? Social ostracism? Failure to reproduce? Maybe all of the above.)

    I, on the other hand, and many of the other geniuses I have met, run on a completely different paradigm.

    NEITHER SIDE REALIZES THIS AND THAT IS THE REASON FOR THE CONFUSION. IF THIS IS ACKNOWLEDGED, COMMUNICATION AND ACCEPTANCE CAN BEGIN TO HAPPEN.

    My paradigm looks something like this:
    If we all cooperate, this is the most efficient way of doing things, and would lead to having a surplus that makes competing for resources unnecessary. In a nutshell, WORK SMART, NOT HARD.

    I don’t want to compete for resources with you. I’d rather spend the extra brainpower figuring out how we can manage the resources in such a way that we can all be happy.

    I am not a communist. I’m a problem-solver. Here are a few examples of what I mean:

    Many people labor away, living in poverty, while the people who run the company make millions. I see the problem here as the fact that the workers have no idea how important they are. If they were to realize that the ONLY way that the guy at the top can make millions is to take some of the earnings from each of them, they would strike or just outright overthrow the fool and make FAIR wages. Note, I did not say equal wages. I meant they would get paid for doing most of the work, instead of getting paid as little as possible while the guy at the top gets $300,000 a year to take months-long vacations.

    Now, you’d probably argue “We’re having a recession, that won’t work” or “The jobs will go to China.” – there are simple solutions to these. To the recession, I say “That never had to happen. It should have been prevented.” If there were enough people listening and enough smart people explaining this, The People never would have let those idiots give out all those bad mortgages. If the recession hadn’t happened, the working poor would have much more leverage. As for jobs going to China, if we Americans bought enough American made products (note I did NOT say “If we cut China out of the picture.” I have nothing against us trading with China.) we would support enough good jobs here that we would not have to worry about them being outsourced. Obviously poor people cannot afford to just go 100% made in America overnight. But if they bought a little bit more American made (Say 1% this month, and 2% next month, and worked up to 10% of what they’re buying.) then there might be something like 10% more jobs here, which could potentially take care of the vast majority of the unemployed. (The proper percentage would require a mathematical analysis done by an economics expert, of course.)

    So as people argue about whether to do this or whether to do that, who is better at such and such, all trying to compete in this mess, I am solving these problems and thinking to myself “All this arguing is unnecessary. The solutions are right here…”

    That is my perspective on survival: If we co-operate, we’ll all survive.

    The workers can organize with each other and demand fair wages.
    The bright people can advise the uninformed on how to prevent economic failure.
    The US and China can both be in the picture.

    There is no reason for us to try and dominate each other, nor is there a reason for us to squabble.

    ————————————————————

    Now for what will feel like a sub-point, but was actually my main point:

    Many of the highly intelligent people I know have NO CLUE that everyone else is completely absorbed in this “Compete to survive” paradigm. (That is not to say all of them. I have met a few Narcissists. MOST of the geniuses I’ve met are more similar to the way I’m about to describe.)

    When they say “I am very gifted” it is not meant to mean “I am smarter than you, better than you, and therefore will defeat you in our competition.” — though that is how it seems to be interpreted.

    First of all most of the geniuses I know aren’t looking to compete in the first place. Secondly, even though they may make comparisons, they make them for different REASONS. I know this is hard for some to believe. (And you should be wary – wary and looking out for the pathological Narcissist, who might be difficult to distinguish from the innocent gifted person that hasn’t caught on yet to the fact that people are operating on a competitive paradigm). However, when I am comparing my intelligence level to someone else’s it is often because I am doing one of the following harmless things:

    – Giving them a blanket term to categorize the large number of differences they’re noticing such as emotional intensity, hearing sensitivity, etc. (There comes a point where they’re just like “Wow you are weird all over.” And I have to be like “Yeah I am gifted” to avoid speculation as to which mental disorder I might have.)

    – Calculating a way to communicate with them. (I regularly communicate with a wide variety of IQ groups ranging from 80 somethings to 200+. This is like bouncing around between communicating with a child and communicating with someone over 100 years old. If you don’t know where the person is on the IQ scale, you’ll have just as much trouble explaining things to them as you would explaining an adult concept to a child or using teenager slang with an elderly lady.)

    – Trying to explain (to myself) some behavior that seems foreign to me — much of their behavior does seem very foreign to me no matter what you want to believe about how much we have in common.

    – Using the IQ numbers as a measure of how misunderstood I am, how lonely I am or how alien I feel. (Trying to express “Different” not “Superior”).

    I have worked out a way of expressing these things that does not seem to bother people. I am aware that most people are pretty touchy about the intelligence differences, so I do try and put everything in context before I say anything about them.

    Also, it helps to make fun of myself. If they know I’m not pretentious, they like me a million times better.

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