Food Food Food Food

I want you to play a little imagination game with me. Try to picture the following in your mind:

You’re having a conversation about cooking, and at some point you start explaining to somebody how to cook something. You’re giving a recipe, basically. You say something like “Put two cups of flour in a large bowl. Add half a cup of sugar and a teaspoon of cinnamon. Mix that together. Then add two eggs and a quarter cup of water.” And so on.

The weird thing is that the person starts arguing with you and telling you your directions are complete nonsense. Nonsense? What did you say wrong? You’re pretty sure you’re being clear. So you ask questions back, but at this point they’re mad at you for being a jerk — and now you’re completely lost. What’s going on here??? The conversation wasn’t even contentious, and all of a sudden they’re fighting you — and you don’t even quite grasp what they think you’re disagreeing on.

So after some heated back and forth, you discover that somehow they aren’t hearing the words coming out of your mouth. What they hear is more like:

“Put two cups of food in a large bowl. Add half a cup of food and a teaspoon of food. Mix that together. Then add two foods and a quarter cup of food.”

Now you’re getting mad at them because they’re just not listening to you. They’re not even trying — so eager to argue that they’re making a fight out of nothing. You’re using plain language. The words make sense. They’re the right words, in the right order, but somehow the other person just isn’t connecting to the meaning. It’s as though they’re glossing over the details and hearing only the broadest sense of the words, or sometimes not even the proper meaning — broad or not. And they’re irritated at you for this!

I have these conversations a lot. Memorial Day weekend I spent time with my family and got into at least two of these arguments. Sometimes it’s an effort for me to convince myself that, No, they really don’t understand. They’re not being obtuse on purpose, and yes they really do think that I’m being unreasonable. But Heaven F—— Forbid it be suggested that there are different levels of intellect. Obviously I’m the one with a problem — it must be, because they outnumber me.

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Karaoke

Worth a watch:
http://www.ted.com/talks/malcolm_mclaren_authentic_creativity_vs_karaoke_culture.html

If you don’t recognize the name, this is the guy who created the Sex Pistols. He’s a bit older now, but still provocative.

Notable also that he passed away shortly after giving this talk, so this is the last he’ll ever say on the subject.

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Reading

Good book: <a href="http://www buy zovirax online.amazon.com/gp/product/0471295809/”>Gifted Grownups: The Mixed Blessings of Extraordinary Potential

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Ballistic

[Author’s Note: I discovered this post in the “drafts” bin. I’m pretty sure it was intended to be longer, and thus unpublished because it was unfinished. However, I have no recollection of what would have been in the “finished” piece. I present it here, incomplete, as I found it. It was written on January 7, 2011.]

In the last few months I’ve been feeling a good bit better about things, but something deeply buried has been gnawing at the seams, and I think I’m beginning to finally divine what that is. I haven’t been exactly happy, but some unusual strain of content. At peace. The problem with that is that in the long run it appears that that is something closer to numbness than stability. I’m still in pain, I’ve just stopped noticing it. It’s been going on for so long that it’s become background noise.

A big part of this realization comes from the fact that I still haven’t any idea of what I want to do in the future. I’m still completely adrift. I’m moving because I’ve got momentum, but nothing I do is part of determining my path. I worry what will happen when that momentum runs out, because I no longer feel I have enough resources to keep going once I’m stopped.

[Author’s addendum: I’m quite sure the title, “Ballistic” was a reference to my life having taken a ballistic course. Which is to say: after you fire a bullet, it just keeps going in one direction, barring barriers, air resistance, gravity, etc. Something on a ballistic course is unguided, and has no control of its own journey.]

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Conscious

Okay, this is just a random question thrown out to any high-IQ types who might be reading this zovirax cream.

Do you get self conscious when you’re on the phone?

I find that I really don’t like other people to overhear me when I’m on the phone. I don’t mind the talking to the person on the other end (though I do prefer video chat to voice only); what I dislike is for somebody physically near me to hear my one side of the conversation.

Comments?

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Duh

I ran across this article and found it interesting. Briefly stated: Putting too much of your self-worth into the idea of “being smart” can be not-so-good. Nothing too complex, but well stated.

Whatever You Do, Don’t Tell Your Kids They’re Smart!

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What a Bunch of HIQs

You had to be a big shot, din’cha?
Had to open up your mouth

Billy Joel, “Big Shot”

I am a person who puts a lot of weight on words. In order to communicate, words have to mean something specific. I tend to rankle at common mis-usage of grammar and vocabulary when that misuse blurs the lines of meaning. And in the course of discussion on this site I’ve come to the simple conclusion that one of the difficulties of discussing high intelligence is a breakdown of language, partially in the form of false assumptions and “baggage” placed upon existing terminology.

For example, if you tell someone you’re a “genius”, that is seen as arrogant. It’s a term with a specific technical meaning (a person with an IQ above a certain level), but it has also come to indicate colloquially a person who is at the very top of a particular endeavor, e.g. “a genius at basketball”. And thus the assumption of arrogance; it’s assumed to be a claim of clear superiority over others, when technically used it’s no more a judgement call than a statement about relative height or weight.

Similarly, I’ve always had a problem with the term “gifted” (a word applied to me often in my middle school years). This usage came about as a term for people with higher than average IQs, but the word clearly indicates an explicit judgement call. You’re “gifted”. You “have a gift”. This is no longer even a relative measure; linguistically it says you have something that others lack entirely.

What we’re looking at here in its essence is very rare: a common concept with no clear word that describes it. There are terms, but they all seems to carry extraneous connotations that are separate from the thing itself. The issue is further complicated by suggestions of Reification fallacy, as different people argue about the nature of “intelligence” itself.

Others have addressed this issue by introducing new terms: “Extra Intelligence“, a.k.a. “X.I.” comes to mind. It’s usable I suppose, but requires explanation in pretty much any situation where you’d want to use it, and even then there is a sort of presumption to it. Is my intelligence “more” or merely “different”? (A philosophical can of worms in itself.) But extra assumes the former, to the detriment of its usefulness.

Within my own thoughts, I’ve started using the slightly clunky phrase “high IQ people”. Yes, there’s sociological baggage surrounding the idea of IQ, but the term is nonetheless very specific about the particular thing you’re referring to, and lacks (most of) the additional subtext of terms such as “genius”. I suppose any remaining presumption of arrogance could be diffused somewhat with a well-applied bit of self deprecating humor, by shortening “high-IQ person” to HIQ (pronounced like “hick”) — a homonym for a term that is, ironically, commonly associated with lower intelligence.

Just a random bit of musing, but ultimately it would benefit HIQs everywhere if we were able to establish a conversationally acceptable term to identify that aspect of ourselves that is normally very difficult to broach.

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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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Catch 44

So I’ve been seeing a shrink (Emma), and as is always the case it’s a slow process. Four weeks in and barely getting started. Years ago, but soon after the Incident, I kept a written diary (roughly 1995 to 1999). I showed this to her.

Among other things, upon reading it she pointed out that I am a very different person in the diary than I am face-to-face. I suggested that it was from the passage of time, but she seemed less sure. In retrospect, and looking at what I’ve written on this site, I think she’s right. There are a few reasons for this, I think. I write when it strikes me to do so. I’m alone with my thoughts, and my mood can be just about anything. My sessions with Emma are scheduled, and again, my mood can be just about anything, but it isn’t necessarily when I’m in the mood to talk, or vent, or whatever. I also think that spending time with people tends to set me at ease, but at the same time close me off. (I’m a strange beast on that point— an introextravert.)

So a question has arisen in my mind. Do I show her this site? Does this site show my truest self? Clearly I am hiding in ways, in order to maintain anonymity. But in other regards I am laid bare here. I’ve spoken before (and recently) about the importance of this site because my anonymity allows me to say absolutely anything. So… if I show it to a person to whom I’m supposed to more or less reveal all, would I lose that freedom? Would I start censoring myself knowing that she is going to show up sooner or later and read what I’ve just set down? (Hello, Doc!)

Of course it’s sort of an infinite loop now— a bi-directional Catch 22. If I tell her about this site then I will write knowing that she’s going to see it; but now even having considered if I should or not begs the question that, even if I don’t show it to her now, will I ever in the future? Anything I write now is written with the back-of-the-brain knowledge that Someone Who Knows Me may see it, either very soon or down the road. Does that make any difference? Considering just who that someone is, I’m not sure it does. It’s not as though she’s going to blab about it at a party or something— in fact she has a professional responsibility not to do so.

But at the same time… some of these posts have gotten pretty dark, and she also has a professional responsibility to take action if she believes I may be in danger. Will that cause me to avoid posting my darker impulses? Maybe.

I’ve told her that there is “a place” where I write on the Internet, that I am considering showing her; and I’ve gotten a verbal agreement from her that, if I show it to her, and later ask her to stop looking at it, she will do so. In effect I can withdraw the invitation. Of course in a pinch I can just plain take the site down, but that then I lose any advantage of it whatsoever.

I don’t know what I’m going to do. Right now I think it’s likely that at some point I will show her this site, but that decision isn’t made. At the least I will probably print off certain posts and give them to her. (So if you see any weirdness such as the site name suddenly changing, it may be because I’m printing things off to give her on paper, or something like that, and am masking the site’s location.) At any rate, showing her any part of it involves trusting that she’ll do as she’s promised, as possessing even one printed-out post would be enough to find it via quick Google search. But if I can’t trust her then there’s no point going to her in the first place.

At the least, I guess I’ve given a “heads up” to people who comment here. Not that your identities are any more revealed than they are already. I don’t know who any of you are, and frankly there could be a team of crack psychologists reading this site right now and none of us would know it. (Hello, Doc!)

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Skittish

Apologies to those I pushed away. I write for myself, but I appreciate the contact. A computer is cold comfort without a human touch.

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