Saturday, October 22, 2011

Don't Trust High IQ

[the genius in his prime]

I recently read a fascinating book about the famous chess champion, Bobby Fischer.

One point that struck me is that although Fischer's IQ was incredibly high, about 180, meaning he was one of a handful of the most intelligent people in the United States, many of his personal beliefs were very bizarre. As a teenager, he became devoted to the somewhat unusual  Radio Church of God (renouncing it finally in his late 20's). In addition to that, he was a fanatic neo-Nazi although he was Jewish.

It's important to realize that a person may be extremely intelligent, yet never the less believe in a lot of silly nonsense. One must always look at facts and not be impressed by this or that authority, however brilliant or talented.


Anonymous said...

Begging the question?

Jeff said...

Sometimes we hear of this or that Nobel prize winner spouting off about something outside of his field. But a chemistry Nobel Laureate has no more insight into politics or international relations then you or I, with all due respect.

The only subject that I would use an argument by authority with Bobby Fischer would be chess.

Authority is not gauged by intelligence, but by expertise on a subject. So you're kind of making a straw man argument here, JP, because nobody claims that intelligence makes somebody an authority about anything

jewish philosopher said...

And Richard Dawkins, whose professional training is in the field of animal behavior, is an authority about God, based on what?

People often argue "scientists are so brilliant yet so many are atheists, atheism must be valid".

jewish philosopher said...

Fischer by the way was self educated in many topics, including religion, just as he was self educated in chess.

Jeff said...

I absolutely agree with you that Dawkins is not an authority about God or religion.

I do not know of too many people who base their religious beliefs on Dawkin's religious beliefs.

The argument from authority relying on scientists is not about atheism but about evolution and cosmology. (Belief in god and evolution are not mutually exclusive)

The ideas about religion or god would be philosophy I suppose. Or history.

"Fischer by the way was self educated in many topics,"

You can educate yourself in lots of things but presumably nobody would consider you an expert. I assume you are self educated about CP but I doubt that professionals in the field consult you, and people don't come and pay for your expert opinion on the matter.

But given that Fischer played chess most of his life against the masters, I would consider him an expert.

jewish philosopher said...

Atheists do seem to use the (slightly) higher iq of atheists to validate their beliefs.

I wouldn't get too carried away.

natschuster said...

Fishcer may have been suffering forom Asperger's syndrome. Ther does appear to be a connection between atheism and Asperger's syndrome.

jewish philosopher said...

If I had to make an armchair diagnosis of Fischer, I would probably label him a narcissist

Rather than an aspie

But who knows? He never agreed to any psychiatric examination.

Joseph said...

Didn't Richard Lynn (one of the researchers mentioned in the Wikipedia article) claim that the average IQ in Israel is 94? I'm not sure he's trustworthy.

jewish philosopher said...

The mean IQ was 100 at the time the tests were standardized.

So 94 is not so low.

Jeff said...

I think that the take home message is that anybody, no matter how smart or how dumb, can be an asshole.

jewish philosopher said...

IQ says nothing about a person's honesty, sanity, self discipline, etc.

Besides neo-Nazis, many real Nazis were highly educated and intelligent.

Jeff said...

The only caveat I would add (and I don't have numbers to back me up on this), is that since people with higher IQ are more likely to have higher levels of education and professional achievement, they are also more likely to have better coping skills that allow them to attain those things-- ie ability to delay gratification, long term planning skills, problem solving, etc. Presumably this makes them less likely to sink into a life of degeneracy.

But yes, I agree that IQ does not shield a person from mental illness or extreme views.

What do you think of a person like Noam Chomsky? The man is highly intelligent, perfectly sane-- yet spouts paranoid conspiratorial anti-American garbage.

jewish philosopher said...

I think that in regards to religion and politics, honest logical anaylsis rarely has much to do with it. People believe whatever they are most comfortable believing. That's why thousands of religions exist today, and thousands more have existed but became extinct in the past. One person's or generation's unquestionable fact is another's lunacy.

Ironmistress said...

To err is human, but to really screw things up requires an elf.

Where talent is greatest, there also the downfall is deepest.

Mr. Cohen said...

Most people are ruled by their emotions, not by logic, regardless of how intelligent they are.