The qualitative difference

The Lubinski and Benbow gang have been tracking very bright kids for ages, and the results are clear: being brighter than 99.25 % of the general population, whilst all very well in itself and an almost guaranteed passport to a productive and happy life, doesn’t amount to all that much. Such people have a modest sufficiency of intellect, but no more. For a real impact, you have to be brighter than 99.75% of humanity. Those in the latter category have four times the impact of their less able colleagues. They publish more, have more doctorates, register more patents, and have more impact on their disciplines. How can such a small margin make such a difference? Well, once you are that far out on the right tail of the normal distribution you move quickly from being 1 in 1000 to being 1 in 10,000. Galton referred to those in the last category as having achieved “eminence”. These are “scary bright” minds.

Dr. James Thompson
Give me a very bright child until he is 38 and I will give you civilization

I generally assume people reading my blog are too busy to look this stuff up, so here’s your translation: the 99.25th percentile (1 person in a room of 130) corresponds to an IQ of ~137, whereas the distinct shift in accomplishments occurs around ~142 IQ, the 99.75th percentile (1 person in a room of 400).

…the Triple Nine Society averages 155.16 on the CMT-T, and the average score for Prometheus Society members is 169.95 [1, 2]. The implications are staggering, especially when it is realized that these percentages do not include women, who show more maladjustment at lower CMT-T scores than men do. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why super high IQ societies suffer so much from schisms and a tendency towards disintegration. In any event, one thing is certain. The currently accepted belief that verbal intelligence is unrelated to maladjustment is clearly a myth.

The genius (as regards intellectual ability) not only has an IQ of say 50 points more than the average person, but in virtue of this difference acquires seemingly new aspects (potentialities) or characteristics. These seemingly new aspects or characteristics, in their totality, are what go to make up the “qualitative” difference between them [9, p. 134].

Wechsler is saying quite plainly that those with IQs above 150 are different in kind from those below that level. He is saying that they are a different kind of mind, a different kind of human being.

This subjective impression of a difference in kind also appears to be fairly common among members of the super high IQ societies themselves. When Prometheus and Triple Nine members were asked if they perceived a categorical difference between those above this level and others, most said that they did, although they also said that they were reluctant to call the difference genius. When asked what it should be called, they produced a number of suggestions, sometimes esoteric, sometimes witty, and often remarkably vulgar. But one term was suggested independently again and again. Many thought that the most appropriate term for people like themselves was Outsider.

I wish I had something to contribute to all this except these brief allusions, but with my measly one-in-a-hundred IQ, it is apparently not my lot in life to contribute much :-).

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3 Responses to The qualitative difference

  1. zeke says:

    Nor mine. For instance, my contribution to your post is that the articles sound like the introduction to an X-Men movie. Or substitute “IQ Points” with “Midi-chlorian Count” for Star Wars.

  2. For some reason I can’t comment on your posts unless I’m signed in as Aeoli. Is that an administrative thing?

  3. Zeke says:

    I looked over the settings again and came up blank. It says it’s open for anyone to comment.

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