my theory on intelligence

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my theory on intelligence

Postby tantalum » Mon Feb 11, 2008 9:16 pm UTC

Let's face it: our IQ tests today suck. We really don't know what they're even testing (besides the ability to take an iq test). So I've thought of this new idea regarding intelligence that takes both raw potential and environment into account. I don't know how one might quantitatively measure these things, but I think it might be a step up from what we actually have so far.

So without further ado:

The basis of my theory comes from the observation that people get mentally tired after doing something that's mentally strenuous. (Obvious, right?) So anyway, I've come to realize, through personal experience, that it's not just reading textbooks or studying that makes you mentally tired. I've gotten mentally tired by playing ssbm for a few hours (I know this because I started reverting to finger memory and making incredibly obvious mistakes, and falling to a simple counter time after time). I've gotten mentally tired by sightreading piano music (At first, I can sightread pieces of moderate complexity pretty easily, taking both left hand and right hand smoothly. Then it simply degenerates from there, where I'm making mistakes all over, even on pieces that look easier than the piece I started my sightreading session with). I've gotten mentally tired by having discussions with people. (At first, my arguments come out eloquently, and I can think of counterexamples very quickly.. .but then later on, I'm at a lack for words, stuttering everywhere.)

So with these observations, I propose that everyone has a "stamina bar", so to speak, of mental ability. This is not just your average everyday decision-making, but anytime that your brain is seeing and analyzing new patterns for the first time. Everyone's stamina level recharges at different rates. A person's intelligence can then be said to be how much new material he has analyzed over the course of his lifetime, plus his future potential learning based on his mental stamina.

This seems to be a pretty nice ab initio theory, without any obvious counterexamples. Comments?

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Re: my theory on intelligence

Postby Gunfingers » Mon Feb 11, 2008 9:42 pm UTC

Do they still give IQ tests? I've never taken one.

Anywho, i can kind of see the "mental stamina" thing. I've definitely experienced things that made my brain tired. But it doesn't equate to intelligence any more than marathon runners equate to sprinters.

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Re: my theory on intelligence

Postby Indon » Mon Feb 11, 2008 9:57 pm UTC

I don't think the phenomenon you describe is as simple as you think it is, Tantalum.

Contemplate this: What if there is a significant, long-term downside to focusing one's mind on the same task persistently? Wouldn't it make sense for the mind to develop a defensive mechanism against this, to help to stimulate the mind and prevent that negative effect? In this case, your 'mental stamina' would be less stamina and your mind telling you that if your brain keeps making faces, it might get stuck that way.

That said, I suspect this 'mental stamina' is just one of many universal or near-universal cognitive parameters, and that there are benefits and problems to having it either very high or very low.
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Re: my theory on intelligence

Postby Freakish » Mon Feb 11, 2008 10:00 pm UTC

Repetitive tasks become boring, boredom makes you tired, being tired makes it harder to focus, being unable to focus reduces your ability to do things.
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Re: my theory on intelligence

Postby tantalum » Mon Feb 11, 2008 10:03 pm UTC

I think mental stamina has everything to do with intelligence. What I'm trying to do with my theory is to combine nurture with nature to make a composite IQ score, in a sense. IQ tests are claimed to measure how quickly your mind can do certain problems that we consider to be indicative of mental ability, The problem with those is that people who have seen a certain trick before won't need to rederive that trick when it comes to the IQ tests. So basically, IQ tests measure how many of those tricks you've seen before. And in that sense, I think that how smart a person is at a certain point in time is dependent on how many of these tricks he knows, and more generally, how much information he's learned and retained over his life. Another thing I like about my theory is that it doesn't assume "multiple intelligences" - IMO, that's just some theory that tries to make everyone happy and be Basically Decent, not necessarily right.
When we look at new patterns, new ideas, things we haven't experienced before, the brain needs to assimilate that information, and that's where some people do better than others - I guess you could compare it to how many items people can store in their short-term memory. (maybe that has something to do with the learning process)

(Edit conflict) To reply to the second posting, I don't really see why someone would need to focus on the same task persistently. The mind will have learned how to do it, put it into "muscle memory", so to speak, and no longer needs to use valuable mental stamina to do this task again, only a minimal amount of attention.
Also, I don't think there are problems/benefits to having it too high or too low. That's (similar to the multiple intelligences mentioned above) an argument that tries to satisfy everyone and doesn't really have merit.

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Re: my theory on intelligence

Postby Infornographer » Mon Feb 11, 2008 10:07 pm UTC

Well, while your model accounts for an individual's ability to learn, it completely ignores the ability to construct knowledge, which one could arguably consider more important than intake of knowledge. I don't buy the whole stamina-bar argument as it pertains to intelligence. Thinking, like any other biological process, has (at the very least, if not in totality) a physiological part. The brain burns approximately twenty percent of a human's caloric intake, and, like any other organ, likely cannot function as efficiently when you feel tired. I don't think your assessment provides a comprehensive description of intelligence. You've provided an interpretation of mental fatigue without actually saying much of the process or mechanism which that fatigue supposedly hinders. Without that description, any attempt to explain mental fatigue comes down to just an interpretation, like your "stamina bar" notion.

As far as getting to a more philosophical definition of intelligence, I feel that people generally have very vague notions of what constitutes "intelligent." I've tried to assemble my own viewpoint which incorporates elements of computability as well as colloquial understanding of intelligence. It seems clear to me that intelligence has two primary components: pattern recognition and pattern projection, each of which has both physiological and environmental contributions. The thing which most of call "intelligence" refers to this ability to identify and construct patterns and then again to the ability to apply those patterns in ways that provide utility.

This seems to incorporate various phenomena quite well, though it seems oddly recursive in that it takes an intelligent agency to identify utility, as well. People have the ability to identify utility (using pattern recognition and projection), and then construct or analyze the necessary knowledge (again using those two tools), the process of which itself requires a utility function, etc...

This definition has some peculiar consequences. Namely, it seems as if in this system, we could also call intelligence "creativity." I happen to agree with Sir Ken Robinson and Professor in that I feel that there exist many different kinds of intelligence, and that underneath all of them lie different modes of creativity. Yes, we can naively recognize great intelligence in the physicists (Feynman) and the mathematician (Euler), but beyond that, we also seem to recognize great intelligence in creating music (Beethoven). But people seem more reluctant to recognize the intelligence in regards to empathy required for, say, acting.

I think intelligence stems from those two abilities, fundamentally surrounding patterns, and that we recognize it through creativity.
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Re: my theory on intelligence

Postby tantalum » Mon Feb 11, 2008 10:21 pm UTC

You've gotten to the heart of the argument, I see - there's no denying that my argument doesn't provide a biological mechanism (and neither does anything else, really). Maybe we just have to wait for more research to be done on the brain.. although that doesn't really please me as an answer.

Speaking of research... why is it that you think education stifles creativity? So to take an extreme case, let's say we try not to educate a child so completely. Imagine, then, that he goes and reinvents the wheel. This child would be hailed as a pure genius... indeed, he probably is, to have invented the wheel. He would then go on to discover fire, the lever, and other simple things. He might even go as far as inventing the abstract notion of algebra and the coordinate system. Just think! A child so smart that he independently rederived millenia of human achievement in just 10 years!! But the problem here is redundancy!! If groundbreaking research needs to be done, a scientist must learn what has already been done, what approaches have been tried already. If someone is trapped into the approaches that have already been tried, my opinion is that the person would not have been able to be creative in finding a new approach even if he didn't know about all the things that had been done already.

Edit: I also believe that learning from a wide variety of fields is a very valuable tool. An idea/problem-solving technique may be extremely common in one field, but unheard of in a different field. It's entirely likely (actually, it's probably happened, but I can't think of an example off the top of my head) an unsolved problem pops up in one field that can be solved with the technique from a second field. So, by learning and assimilating as many new patterns as you can, you increase your chances that you already have some sort of problem solving technique in your "database" of knowledge that you can use in your endeavors.

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Re: my theory on intelligence

Postby Indon » Mon Feb 11, 2008 10:26 pm UTC

Let me describe my take on the phenomenon of 'mental stamina'.

At any given time, individuals have a certain level of alertness. The more alert an individual is, the more strongly they percieve new events and store them in their short-term memory. (Mind that we don't know if alertness is an attribute, or an emergent quality - I suspect it's a degree of both)

Now, whenever someone percieves something, they store it in their short-term memory immediately. The thing is, perception competes with short-term memory - say you're in a room painted yellow, then walk out and see a banana. Now, you percieve not only 'banana', but also your mind is telling you, "hey, that's yellow. You're percieving yellow." as well, meaning that you percieve the fact that the yellow fruit in front of you is an actual banana, less clearly.

So if you percieve very similar information for a protracted length of time - reading, math problems, super smash brothers, it's all going to start competing for attention in your short-term memory with what you're looking at at any given moment. This has the effect of lowering your ability to percieve new events and store them in your short-term memory, which for all intents and purposes, renders you less alert.

So doing the same thing over and over will, essentially, eventually put you to sleep. You overcome this by changing what you are percieving, allowing time for your short-term memory to start recieving data that isn't competing for 'space', as it were, with what you've recently experienced. This is the reason why white-collar workers increase productivity if they take occasional breaks, or occasionally switch between things they're working on.

This would mean that variations in your 'mental stamina' are in fact variations between individuals' ability to absorb and retain data in their short-term memories. An increase in mental stamina is not neccessarily correlated with 'more space' in one's brain to fit information - in fact, it could easily be correlated with a lower rate of absorption. This interpretation in fact seems more likely to me when taking into account the example of young children, who are known to have very high rates of learning but seem to have less of your mental stamina than adults.
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Re: my theory on intelligence

Postby Infornographer » Mon Feb 11, 2008 10:33 pm UTC

tantalum wrote:You've gotten to the heart of the argument, I see - there's no denying that my argument doesn't provide a biological mechanism (and neither does anything else, really). Maybe we just have to wait for more research to be done on the brain.. although that doesn't really please me as an answer.

Well, beyond that, you can assess things without a biological mechanism. Your description simply did not account for construction of knowledge. I agree that if you define intelligence as the ability to analyze and the potential to learn, then you do indeed have such a "stamina bar," but I don't think this definition suffices to encompass all of the qualities we mean when we speak of intelligence.

tantalum wrote:Speaking of research... why is it that you think education stifles creativity?

Not at all. Education, arguably, matters more to me than anything else. I have problems with the educational system most countries employ. Let me elaborate.

tantalum wrote:But the problem here is redundancy!! If groundbreaking research needs to be done, a scientist must learn what has already been done, what approaches have been tried already. If someone is trapped into the approaches that have already been tried, my opinion is that the person would not have been able to be creative in finding a new approach even if he didn't know about all the things that had been done already.

Rather, my point of contention deals with the presumptuous nature of the current public education. Let me begin my explanation by highlighting the presumption you yourself made: knowledge of the sciences. Yes, I agree that if a child wants to pursue science and has a gift for science, then he should undergo the standard procedure which public schools currently employ. He should receive an education grounded in scientific fact and history and one which encourages problem solving. I don't disagree with you on this at all.

However, we have a fundamental problem in that every child must go through that, regardless of his desire to pursue scientific arts. We have this idea that academic intelligence constitutes the whole of intelligence exclusively, that things like math and science and philosophy matter more than dance and art and construction. For some reason, we don't feel like children receive a proper education unless they've pursued these "core curricula," often at the expense of study or training in a field at which their own particular mode of intelligence and creativity excels.

So yes, I love the public education system, because I fell into the group of kids who had a knack for and thoroughly enjoyed science. I had to sit through my peers suffering through that same system, though, because they either couldn't do it or didn't want to do it, and felt neglected by a system which stifled their actual intellectual interests because their society did not perceive much utility in those pursuits.
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Re: my theory on intelligence

Postby Indon » Mon Feb 11, 2008 11:04 pm UTC

Infornographer wrote:However, we have a fundamental problem in that every child must go through that, regardless of his desire to pursue scientific arts. We have this idea that academic intelligence constitutes the whole of intelligence exclusively, that things like math and science and philosophy matter more than dance and art and construction.


In the defense of public education, math and science are what our civilization is essentially built upon, and without years of general education in those fields, it could be very difficult to function in it.
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Re: my theory on intelligence

Postby Infornographer » Mon Feb 11, 2008 11:55 pm UTC

Indon wrote:In the defense of public education, math and science are what our civilization is essentially built upon, and without years of general education in those fields, it could be very difficult to function in it.


I agree that math and science have contributed to the construction of our current society, likely moreso than any other field of society, but you really can't neglect all the other contributions. The contributions of the philosopher, the politician, the writer, the poet, the painter, the dancer, the actor, the designer, the athlete. In fact, I would go so far as to argue that in society's current incarnation, actors have far, far, more power and influence than scientists and mathematicians. Most people function perfectly well in society without ever learning math beyond basic arithmetic. If you can do arithmetic. Could you elaborate on what you mean by general education? I agree you should know basic math and know enough scientific principles in order to form an opinion on scientific policy, but I don't see how one needs to know geometry and Newton's laws to function, as most people don't.
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Re: my theory on intelligence

Postby superglucose » Tue Feb 12, 2008 12:14 am UTC

Infornographer wrote:
Indon wrote:In the defense of public education, math and science are what our civilization is essentially built upon, and without years of general education in those fields, it could be very difficult to function in it.


I agree that math and science have contributed to the construction of our current society, likely moreso than any other field of society, but you really can't neglect all the other contributions. The contributions of the philosopher, the politician, the writer, the poet, the painter, the dancer, the actor, the designer, the athlete.


Continuing this, I would say that math and science have had very little to do with the construction of our society merely the buildings our society resides in. Take, for instance, the ideals our government is built on. Is that science? Is that math? No, that's sociology and an idea brought forth by philosophers and tested by philosophers. And I think it is more important for the layman to know what the law is, or at least be able to surmise what the law would be, than to know that if you bisect two parallel lines with a third line, alternate interior angles are congruent.
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Re: my theory on intelligence

Postby Infornographer » Tue Feb 12, 2008 12:35 am UTC

I think mean to say that, yes, our society could not exist in its current form without the math and science behind all our technology. I simply wanted to highlight that it similarly could not exist without any number of other factors.
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Re: my theory on intelligence

Postby tantalum » Tue Feb 12, 2008 3:36 am UTC

I think the argument that one doesn't need to know math/science to function is a very, very dangerous statement.

Yes, in order to do a classic 9-5 job, have a wife and kids, and be a typical middle-class American, one doesn't really need to know science and math. But that's reducing a person's life to a 9-5 job. I hope that these people do something outside of their jobs. I guess one could argue that they just watch sports or go shopping or something. But that seems like such an Huxley-like society, where consumerism for the sake of keeping the economy up is the norm. Maybe Huxley's novel has more truth to it than we realize. But at the same time, an education is vital for raising someone who is more than just the shell of a person. To become a complete person, one needs to be able to think critically and know basic science.

To support those who say that actors and poets are also an important part of society, I think that the concept of a meme definitely supports that statement. Just as we are building up on previous knowledge in science, we are building up on previous artistic ideas in the humanities.

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Re: my theory on intelligence

Postby Maurog » Tue Feb 12, 2008 4:07 am UTC

Indon wrote:So if you percieve very similar information for a protracted length of time - reading, math problems, super smash brothers, it's all going to start competing for attention in your short-term memory with what you're looking at at any given moment. This has the effect of lowering your ability to percieve new events and store them in your short-term memory, which for all intents and purposes, renders you less alert.
By the way, if you perceive this information systematically for a long period of time, even with breaks, the brain eventually builds some "programs" to make the process more effective, thus making it take much less short-term memory. For example, playing lots of Tetris will result in Tetris dreams and Tetris brain. What used to take valuable seconds of evaluation of available free space and thinking how all the pieces rotate is hard-wired into the brain and becomes automatic. I read a lot of books, so in especially boring parts I can skim over paragraphs and my brain automatically "highlights" only the key sentences and words, so I get meaning without reading 80% of the text. A person who reads less doesn't have this tool at all. The brain is rather amazing.
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Re: my theory on intelligence

Postby Infornographer » Tue Feb 12, 2008 4:09 am UTC

tantalum wrote:I think the argument that one doesn't need to know math/science to function is a very, very dangerous statement.

Yes, in order to do a classic 9-5 job, have a wife and kids, and be a typical middle-class American, one doesn't really need to know science and math. But that's reducing a person's life to a 9-5 job. I hope that these people do something outside of their jobs. I guess one could argue that they just watch sports or go shopping or something. But that seems like such an Huxley-like society, where consumerism for the sake of keeping the economy up is the norm. Maybe Huxley's novel has more truth to it than we realize. But at the same time, an education is vital for raising someone who is more than just the shell of a person. To become a complete person, one needs to be able to think critically and know basic science.


You keep saying some variant of "education is vital," and I'd like to point out you've already conflated "education" with "education of math and science." I agree that all people need education, and I agree that all people should inform themselves to the greatest capacity which their lives allow. I think the public education system should provide the opportunity for someone to study extensive sciences and maths, and should provide the opportunity to study in other fields, but recognize that life does not require a thorough analysis of these ideas, and should also encourage people to go into other fields. Look at the dichotomy you drew: either (MATH AND SCIENCE) or (typical 9-5 job). Why not (ART AND PHILOSOPHY) or (typical 9-5 job)?

No one will argue that education enriches lives. You seem to accuse me of making such an argument, when rather, I want to debate the subject of the education. Yes, I love science and math, but I don't feel they represent the end-all high-point of all self-actualized human beings.

tantalum wrote:To support those who say that actors and poets are also an important part of society, I think that the concept of a meme definitely supports that statement. Just as we are building up on previous knowledge in science, we are building up on previous artistic ideas in the humanities.

I don't think anyone can deny that our actors and athletes and politicians (regrettably?) sculpt our culture far more than our mathematicians and scientists. Other countries with near identical technological progress have remarkably different cultures. We live in a country where our worst professional athletes get more respect and praise from the general public than our best professional scientists.

Also, we've veered off the original subject of the thread (defining intelligence) and onto educational philosophy. I'd love to discuss this further, but perhaps in its own thread?
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Re: my theory on intelligence

Postby tantalum » Tue Feb 12, 2008 4:37 am UTC

So back on topic: I wonder if the frequent use of naps would improve one's potential learning maximum? Another question: what is the range of potential stamina that one can have? How much of the wide spectrum of human achievement (or lack thereof) due to the intrinsic potential of a person?

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Re: my theory on intelligence

Postby Infornographer » Tue Feb 12, 2008 5:01 am UTC

Well, studies have demonstrated that yes, lack of sleep impairs reflexes as well as the ability to commit information to long term memory. Studies on pilots demonstrated they proved far more successful in landing after having taken a twenty minute nap while while still in flight. Fatigue impairs memory and reflex, no surprise.

You asked a far more interesting question regarding a human concept horizon. How much of potential to learn comes from genetic components? Obviously, a very great deal (try as hard as you may, you will not teach a chimpanzee calculus). Having said that, the variance between individuals humans probably comes down to next to nothing. I believe our physiology encodes hard limits on what we can know, as well as providing a rigid structure by which we may know it. I think, like apes and calculus, some things may lie beyond our physiological limit to comprehend.

Hopefully we'll shed our physiology soon. ;)
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Re: my theory on intelligence

Postby superglucose » Tue Feb 12, 2008 9:25 am UTC

tantalum wrote:So back on topic: I wonder if the frequent use of naps would improve one's potential learning maximum? Another question: what is the range of potential stamina that one can have? How much of the wide spectrum of human achievement (or lack thereof) due to the intrinsic potential of a person?


One of the great things that's constantly being discovered about the human body is that when something is good for one section of your body, it tends to have cascading positive benefits all around. Exercise used to be to keep weight down, now it turns out it strengthens the heart, causes pleasure (granted this is debated), helps prevent certain cancers, helps prevent dementia, helps prevent certain mental illnesses, etc. etc.

Naps have already been proven to have a benefit on the human body. Don't be surprised if some major benefits are discovered soon.
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Re: my theory on intelligence

Postby Indon » Tue Feb 12, 2008 3:35 pm UTC

Maurog wrote:By the way, if you perceive this information systematically for a long period of time, even with breaks, the brain eventually builds some "programs" to make the process more effective, thus making it take much less short-term memory. For example, playing lots of Tetris will result in Tetris dreams and Tetris brain. What used to take valuable seconds of evaluation of available free space and thinking how all the pieces rotate is hard-wired into the brain and becomes automatic. I read a lot of books, so in especially boring parts I can skim over paragraphs and my brain automatically "highlights" only the key sentences and words, so I get meaning without reading 80% of the text. A person who reads less doesn't have this tool at all. The brain is rather amazing.


I think that's a simple function of long-term memory. Memory is like soil erosion (kinda): Short-term memory is like pouring water into soil, at which point it forms little rivulets as it flows out. Pour too much water at once and stuff doesn't get formed as well. The rivulets are long-term memory - when water flows through them later, it flows much faster and more effectively.
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Re: my theory on intelligence

Postby daydalus » Tue Feb 12, 2008 8:00 pm UTC

Infornographer wrote:I don't think anyone can deny that our actors and athletes and politicians (regrettably?) sculpt our culture far more than our mathematicians and scientists. Other countries with near identical technological progress have remarkably different cultures. We live in a country where our worst professional athletes get more respect and praise from the general public than our best professional scientists.



That's debatable. Almost every industry or profession has been shaped by technology within the last generation. Technology is a direct result of applied math and science. If anything, the contributions of math and science are orders of magnitude larger to modern society than "actors and athletes and politicians" so you don't notice them.

I will give you that your average scientist, engineer, mathmetician is far less interested in the public spotlight.

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Re: my theory on intelligence

Postby cypherspace » Tue Feb 12, 2008 8:07 pm UTC

I love this idea that a person running faster than someone else before him shapes society more than the research into dietary supplements, air resistance, new materials, or indeed the technology that allows people around the world to see this person running faster than someone else. I guess Al Gore did invent the Internet though, so politicians win on that front.
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Re: my theory on intelligence

Postby Infornographer » Tue Feb 12, 2008 9:25 pm UTC

I didn't make the claim that this athlete shapes society more. I made the claim that he has more influence over society and more power shaping culture. And two can play the game of "who-came-before." What businessmen and politicians funded those dietary supplements and sought their development? What government agency enabled the production of those new materials and technology? If you'd really like to play chicken-and-egg, we can go all day.

Society needs all of us, and it would behoove us not to place an undue importance on science and technology over the other elements of society, at the risk of neglecting those other elements.
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Re: my theory on intelligence

Postby cypherspace » Wed Feb 13, 2008 1:58 am UTC

I don't think anyone can deny that our actors and athletes and politicians (regrettably?) sculpt our culture far more than our mathematicians and scientists.

I didn't make the claim that this athlete shapes society more. I made the claim that he has more influence over society and more power shaping culture.

So how is that different, exactly? I agree that politicians shape society/culture - that is their job - but athlete and actors more than scientists? Perhaps individually, but do you really think that sport or theatre as a discipline has more influence on the development of culture than science?
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Re: my theory on intelligence

Postby Infornographer » Wed Feb 13, 2008 2:19 am UTC

cypherspace wrote:So how is that different, exactly? I agree that politicians shape society/culture - that is their job - but athlete and actors more than scientists? Perhaps individually, but do you really think that sport or theatre as a discipline has more influence on the development of culture than science?


I don't equate society with culture. I apologize, but I actually didn't know anyone did. As far as I've ever known, the two terms mean very distinct things. When I said they influence culture more, I meant precise that: they have more power to influence the tastes and priorities predominant in the populous. I grant you that technology changes society far more easily than theater and sport, but the vast majority of the population pays far more attention to the latter two than the first two. Scientific revolutions get a column in the paper, sports make headlines.

Technology provides the infrastructure on which one can set up a society. In turn, the humanities and the arts and social sciences actually construct that society, as well as the culture of that society, which in turn dictates the whims and priorities of the people, one of which often comes down to empowering technology, and the cycle continues. I don't mean to imply by this that it starts with technology, but rather, that we have a chicken-and-egg situation.

I get the feeling though that our argument may stem more from the misaligned definitions we have.
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Re: my theory on intelligence

Postby OmenPigeon » Wed Feb 13, 2008 2:25 am UTC

cypherspace wrote:So how is that different, exactly? I agree that politicians shape society/culture - that is their job - but athlete and actors more than scientists? Perhaps individually, but do you really think that sport or theatre as a discipline has more influence on the development of culture than science?

Umm, kind of, yes? At least in modern-day America, our society and culture is heavily shaped by mass media. And the people getting most represented in mass media are athletes and actors and the daughters of brazillionaires.

To wax poorly metaphorical, society is like the little molded plastic lion in Wonderfalls. SCIENCE! determines what kind of polymer the lion is made out. The people who really shape society, though, are the politicians and and celebrities who, in this analogy, get to decide what shape to cast the lion in. When the whole country spends all it's time caring about coked-out blondes, thats when the lion gets half it's face smushed in and we need to fix the vending machine.

Edit: please ignore, Infornographer above made more sense, and less plastic lions.
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Re: my theory on intelligence

Postby superglucose » Wed Feb 13, 2008 3:26 am UTC

cypherspace wrote:So how is that different, exactly? I agree that politicians shape society/culture - that is their job - but athlete and actors more than scientists? Perhaps individually, but do you really think that sport or theatre as a discipline has more influence on the development of culture than science?


There is no discipline called 'science.' There is no one who has a degree in 'science.' There are no doctorates in 'science.' There's physics, biology, and chemistry. There's astronomy. There's geology, neurology, gynecology, oceanography, and archeology. But there's no 'science.'

Thus your comparison is very unfair. Let's broaden it so it is fair.

Does science have more impact on culture or society than artists AND athletes AND philosphers? In my opinion, absolutely not.
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Re: my theory on intelligence

Postby Infornographer » Wed Feb 13, 2008 3:32 am UTC

I will cheesily take this thread as an opportunity to pimp the book Consilience: the Unity of Knowledge by E.O. Wilson (arguably the father of sociobiology).
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Re: my theory on intelligence

Postby cypherspace » Wed Feb 13, 2008 9:13 am UTC

Infornographer wrote:I get the feeling though that our argument may stem more from the misaligned definitions we have.
Agreed. Your definition is probably the correct one, but it's hard to know what people are speaking of when referring to society and culture. I guess it is indeed a chicken and egg situation. There's no way politicians/actors/athletes could have the global influence they have without the technology that underpins it, but the technology would be useless without the reasons to use it.
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Re: my theory on intelligence

Postby Fledermen64 » Thu Feb 14, 2008 10:22 pm UTC

Intelligence is highly variable. There's mathematical intelligence, verbal intelligence, visio-spatial intelligence... etc.

So I aggree with you that IQ tests are ineffective. They are mostly geared to spatial thinkers and mathematical thinkers. But ive know some pretty seemingly dumb people with some extraordinary talents to create music and such. There are just so many ways we define what smart is that testing it in any intangible way is near impossible. To me the best way to measure how smart someone is, is to see what they make of it. How they use it. Until the theory of relativity Enstine was just some guy with a good imagination, until Romeo and Juliet Shakespeare was just a 2nd rate writer. I guess than what is looked to be measured is potential. What can someone do. How to test that is beyond unknown to me.
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Re: my theory on intelligence

Postby Knucklecallus093 » Tue Feb 26, 2008 5:09 am UTC

Infornographer wrote:As far as getting to a more philosophical definition of intelligence, I feel that people generally have very vague notions of what constitutes "intelligent." I've tried to assemble my own viewpoint which incorporates elements of computability as well as colloquial understanding of intelligence. It seems clear to me that intelligence has two primary components: pattern recognition and pattern projection, each of which has both physiological and environmental contributions. The thing which most of call "intelligence" refers to this ability to identify and construct patterns and then again to the ability to apply those patterns in ways that provide utility.


Very true. To me, the most significant aspect of intelligence is the ability to take those recognitions and apply them not just to the outside world, but realize how those factors affect the self and how the self can prevent or encourage those patterns in the future. Thus enters the evolution of Consciousness... which is essentially self-awareness, thought of the self and the ability to place the self in positions that do not exist in the world that is being experienced, also the ability to form ideas that derive from Impressions. There is no currently recognizable possible way for reflections, or Ideas to be formed without the influence of a previous sensation, or Impression. With no Consciousness, a human could never take an apple from a tree, and place it in a metaphysical station, interpret that apple in a way that doesn't necessarily correlate to the actual definition of that apple that is being sensed.

I wonder if Intelligence will ever evolve to the point at which the conscious can form primary ideas completely unrelated to experiences that stimulate secondary ideas. For example: If I currently am imagining the color Xenon, I can say that I have a false impression of what Xenon looks like based on the experience of knowing what the color CANT look like, but I can't actually rationally state that I can form an Idea of what that color looks like in the true sense. One could argue that inventors invent objects that have never been thought of before, Writers invent stories and myths and false beings with their own imaginations. But the difference between the impression of the idea of Xenon and the actual idea of a new invention or a Minotaur is that the latter two have been derived from previous impressions and experiences. They are secondary concepts, they are reflections of the purely singular original, primary thought that must be the father of all the secondary ideas we experience in our own minds, and we know that exist, because we experience them, therefor they exist. But to stay on topic, I believe that the next level of Intelligence that I can only perceive is the ability to create primary concepts completely unrelated and underived from previous experience.
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Re: my theory on intelligence

Postby Knucklecallus093 » Tue Feb 26, 2008 5:17 am UTC

superglucose wrote:
cypherspace wrote:Does science have more impact on culture or society than artists AND athletes AND philosphers? In my opinion, absolutely not.

I believe that especially here in the western world, Philosophy out of all of those possible topics is the most suppressed and dismantled, purely because the progress of a mind occupied with philosophy can come up with an opinion that can never be truly disputed. For our current society to "work", I believe that we must retain to the popular belief that there is always a right, and there always is a wrong. A right and a wrong gives us meaning, and the introduction of a spectrum of possibility that extends past that simple concept can conceive a certain type of mental complexity that, in my opinion, usually forces minds to rethink the definition of right and wrong. Because if there is no true right, and if a mind realizes that, then that mind must think for itself. And individualistic self thought is not one of the truest qualities of the western society that is paraded around... more like a false conception of what individuality used to mean. Before industrialization, the birth of the modern world.
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Re: my theory on intelligence

Postby dash » Sat Mar 08, 2008 5:11 am UTC

Knucklecallus093 wrote: I believe that the next level of Intelligence that I can only perceive is the ability to create primary concepts completely unrelated and underived from previous experience.


This is an interesting concept, similiar to something that occured to me recently.

In geometry, we find points, lines, volume. Using these we can build up all sorts of mathematics and theories. Points, lines, volume are all things we experience in our day to day lives. Is it possible to create completely imaginary concepts that are not based on points, lines, volume? Some new sort of hypothetical mathematics? A sort of reality that doesn't resemble our physical universe?

Anyway I want to make a point about the color "Xenon". Let's switch to the color "red". I assert that the color red is simply that undefinable essence that all red things share in common. You can't imagine "red". You imagine "red things" when you think of red -- instances of red.

Philosophers have agonized over how we perceive our senses -- how we can experience itself. It's really not a mystery. Every aspect of perception is really just the connections between the senses themselves.

From the brain's point of view all the nerve fibers coming in from the eyes, the ears, the skin, the muscles, etc. are all identical. They're just wires carrying spikes. The brain can't differentiate between a touch sensor and a skin sensor because the spikes coming in are identical. The brain has to wire itself up such that related sensory input fibers get associated. In the case of neurons coming from the retina to the brain, neighboring "pixels" on the eye have a lot more associations with each other than "pixels" that are far apart. And all retinal sensors are more associated with each other than they are with smell sensors.

Regarding higher levels of intelligence, I don't think there is any such thing, actually. It's more of a "more of same" type deal. If you had higher ability to focus, greater attention span, better memory, better ability to hold more concepts in your working memory, you'd have higher intelligence. But even if you have such higher intelligence, you're still dependent on how much information you can acquire.

For example to most people why the gas prices rise and fall is a complete mystery. It's as unpredictable as the weather. But if you could gather the relevant information together in one place, the causes of the gas price changes are not mysterious at all. In fact they would be completely predictable.

We're smarter than rats, but that isn't because our brains are a higher order. We've just got bigger brains -- allowing us to have more unique states. More unique memories. More experiences that don't get glommed together. Brains have rules -- under condition X1, do response Y1. All brains have a limited number of such rules. Rats have fewer than humans, that's all. But the rules get built up exactly the same way, I believe. We call it learning but it's just a natural outcome of the function of the nervous system itself.

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