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The Problem of Geniuses

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ctrl y, my apologies; It seems I have gone off on a tangent and hi-jacked your topic.

What can I say, once I get the bit between my teeth... ?!!

Thanks.

I'm glad you spoke up about that, even if it wasn't immediately relevant. It's a neat idea.

He is not justified in that conclusion, he merely has hopes. The anxiety and uncertainty resulting from this lifestyle is another factor leading to primitive theology, all of which had the function of appeasing and pleasing the gods of the harvest, gods of the hunt and what have you. All along it was really the farmers and hunters worries that were being soothed.

That's an interesting theory, but the relevant point here is: what intellectual considerations make his conclusion unwarranted in the case in question?

Referring to the primitive example. The primitive can have a theory that dancing causes rain and another that planting seeds causes plants. The difference is one will be disproven by reality definitively quite soon. That dancing and rain were correlated is surprising enough. With correct conditions each time seeds will always produce plants.

Exactly. When we expand the context, the conclusion will be disproven. But within the context, the conclusion is valid.

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Dr. Peikoff explained in one his lectures that a primitive doesn't even know with certainty that the sun will rise the next morning if he doesn't know the earth is spherical, and rotating, and has gravity to keep things in place, and has angular momentum so it can't just stop.

Why not? Why can't he say "well, I don't know very much about that big bright thing, but it has risen 9999 times, and I don't know why today should be any different"?

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I don't know why today should be any different"?

Even that is reasoning. The problem is why should it be the same? Stuff changes unexpectedly in the world too, so why his statis something to expect?

e.g. I had 30 crops in a row that were successful, but last year they were eaten by locusts. Stuff happens. Why shoudl I expect the crop to be good this year? Without an understanding of causality, neither statis nor chance are explainable. Everything is arbitrary.

Edited by KendallJ
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Without an understanding of causality, neither statis nor chance are explainable. Everything is arbitrary.

Exactly. If you don't understand why, the fact that the sun rose in the morning is arbitrary in the sense of being disconnected and unintegrated with the rest your knowledge. Unlike other examples of arbitrary postulates (God, unicorns, etc.) you have evidence that this fact is true. But an isolated fact says nothing about the future and cannot defend itself against the usual examples of arbitrary postulates. Just as ten thousand frenchmen don't prove anything, ten thousand sunrises are not an argument either.

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  • 4 weeks later...
Why not? Why can't he say "well, I don't know very much about that big bright thing, but it has risen 9999 times, and I don't know why today should be any different"?

He can say that. But there's a difference between saying "I don't know why it shouldn't happen" or "I don't know why today should be any different" and saying "I know why it will happen" or "I know why today won't be any different."

The man who says the former doesn't know that things won't change tomorrow, as he has no proof for why they won't. The man who says the latter, however, knows for a fact that things won't change tomorrow because he has proof.

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I.Q. is not the main thing. One's habits of thought, intellectual "activeness" and intellectual honesty, account for most of the intellectual achievements of the world. It is a great mistake to take a fatalist view of one's potential such as I read in this thread.

Neither Abelard, nor anyone else could win a false position against a right-thinking person who was well-appraised of the issues. That is some sort of Ivy-Tower legend. Being wrong is being wrong, and the flaws are there to be exposed. Fallacies are not beyond the ken of most people, if they become versed in them.

Mindy

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I.Q. is not the main thing. One's habits of thought, intellectual "activeness" and intellectual honesty, account for most of the intellectual achievements of the world. It is a great mistake to take a fatalist view of one's potential such as I read in this thread.

Neither Abelard, nor anyone else could win a false position against a right-thinking person who was well-appraised of the issues. That is some sort of Ivy-Tower legend. Being wrong is being wrong, and the flaws are there to be exposed. Fallacies are not beyond the ken of most people, if they become versed in them.

Mindy

This.

No amount of high-octane intellect can successfully refute reality when it comes down to it. They may have a stratospheric IQ, but when they're wrong, reality will prove it. All you have to do is arm yourself with the knowledge and arguments necessary to demonstrate your point, and you've got nothing to fear from anybody.

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I've never really believed that some people are "naturally" smarter than others. I think some people score better on IQ tests because they were taught things through conceptual methods. The degree to which they achieve a high IQ is directly proportional to the amount of conceptualization that has taken place in their learning process. This can happen by accident, by custom, or by direct intention. I don't think many people are lucky enough to enjoy that third option in today's world (when they are children, I mean.)

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I've never really believed that some people are "naturally" smarter than others. I think some people score better on IQ tests because they were taught things through conceptual methods. The degree to which they achieve a high IQ is directly proportional to the amount of conceptualization that has taken place in their learning process. This can happen by accident, by custom, or by direct intention. I don't think many people are lucky enough to enjoy that third option in today's world (when they are children, I mean.)

I have the opposite view. I think intelligence is biologial, basically genetic, and only mimimally amendable. What makes the human brain superior to the brains of other animals... genetics. Likewise, the differences between individuals within a species are attributable to genetics.

Edited by cliveandrews
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That would be true if we only differed in genetics from animals causing discrete constant differences. But our reasoning ability and high memory that allows us free will changes the amount of intelligence we may have by how much we exert our brains and how productive we are. To animals there are limited capacities for their abilities and in most cases they do not push their abilities further than how they originally developed. Humans, however, can learn and develop any skill by choice. You could focus on abstract philosophy, mathematics, literature, your physique, etc. They all require time and investment past an individual's slight genetic predispositions.

Edited by fountainhead777
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I have the opposite view. I think intelligence is biologial, basically genetic, and only mimimally amendable. What makes the human brain superior to the brains of other animals... genetics. Likewise, the differences between individuals within a species are attributable to genetics.

That's a good view to have. It makes you responsible for nothing.

But, in reality, Genetics is just an arm of Biology. There is no evidence, provided by the aforementioned science, that the makeup of the human genome determines one's intelligence. There's plenty of evidence to the contrary, both in Genetics and Biology in general, as well as in Psychology.

You would have to be blind as a bat to all that human knowledge to state that intelligence, in healthy individuals, varies solely or mainly due to their genetic makeup. Which you clearly are, and that's fine, as long as you study it from now on, rather than dismiss it and make up your mind based on popular culture.

By the way, the one argument you present does not count, because it is a "weak analogy". (or a "false analogy": an analogy that does not prove anything, because the two things you are comparing are in fact not "analogous": the relationship between two species is not essentially the same as the one between two humans, as far as the field of Genetics goes)

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I have the opposite view. I think intelligence is biologial, basically genetic, and only mimimally amendable. What makes the human brain superior to the brains of other animals... genetics. Likewise, the differences between individuals within a species are attributable to genetics.

IQ is real. Exactly what it is and isn't responsible for is not settled. But in terms of being able to hold multiple items in memory, and to relate and manipulate them, people have clear differences from early on. It mainly affects how powerful a person is at making single abstractions, like recognizing patterns well. Ever played an old logic game called WFF 'N PROOF? That sort of thing.

It doesn't matter a lot in living, because a less brilliant person will get the same place, just in two or more steps. The main variable among people is <i>overwhelmingly</i> what intellectual scruples a person observes.

Mindy

Edited by Mindy
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I'm sure there are biological differences in brain power, though it is up to the person with the brain to use it in an intelligent and rational manner. Just because you have a high IQ doesn't mean you are determined to be rational, since each man has free will. It is said that Einstein had a larger area of the brain that handles mathematics, but he still had to think himself in order to come up with Relativity -- and it can easily be shown that for most everything else, he was quite conventional. I don't have the slightest idea if he would have embraced Objectivism, though his writings on history and philosophy and social organizations shows that he was definitely not an Objectivist in the making, since he was a socialist, from what I've read. I don't even know if I would consider him to be fully rational, since seemed to think God doesn't play dice with the universe instead of appealing to the law of identity. I think he had a lot of Kantian influence in his thinking.

And regarding Abelard mentioned earlier. Winning an argument is not the proof of intelligence -- he was a rationalist for much of his writing, and he did believe in God, which takes a bit away from him.

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