Monday 21 June 2021

How to find and identify a genius: IQ, Psychoticism, Endogenous Personality

(Note. In order to keep the following concise and focused - I need to assume familiarity with the meanings/ definitions of my basic terminology; and also to draw inferences from a great deal of evidence that I have surveyed. This may require the reader to look at my book The Genius Famine - or at least to browse relevant sections of the Intelligence, Personality and Genius blog.)

Major geniuses are rare, and may even be almost extinct - but some degree of creative genius is much commoner. Creative genius is susceptible of degrees - from a world historical genius to geniuses across smaller domains and with more localized scope. How could such individuals be found?  

1. IQ - General Intelligence

Genius requires a very high intelligence. However, a large majority of those with very high intelligence are not geniuses - they are un-creative. 

So although a measure of intelligence is a useful first step in finding a genius - it is only the first step.  

To be a creative genius requires a high intelligence, and this can be measured relatively and comparatively by IQ tests. The objective level of intelligence thus depends on a proper sample from the comparison population being studied - which varies among races, classes, sexes; and through history.  

In the Anglosphere in the middle 20th century it seems that an IQ in the top 5% (125) or so was about where noticeable genius began - since intelligence has declined since then, it may be that a higher IQ is needed nowadays? However, the validity of IQ testing has also declined (i.e. the test does not measure 'g' so precisely as if did) so perhaps the 'threshold' is not necessary different now - but the proportion of geniuses within all categories of IQ will surely have declined considerably. 

What about those with 'ultra high' intelligence? At this level, it is not possible to use comparative measures such as IQ - except among young children and using the 'ratio' method of calculating IQ. Thus an 8 year old child scoring in an IQ test at the average level of 16 year old children, can be regarded as having an IQ of 200 (16/8 X 100). 

However, childhood IQ is highly but imperfectly correlated with adult IQ, due to differences in development rate (especially between races, classes and sexes). So, a sample of children with high IQ defined in early childhood, will always have lower average IQ as adults. 

Adult IQ tests rank test performance and project it onto a normal distribution curve derived from a (supposedly) random sample of the index population - but sufficiently-large and random samples are in practice impossible; so there are never enough ultra high IQ people in a random sample to provide precise IQ measures. 

The ultra high IQ societies have developed tests that can differentially rank those who are within the top one or two percent of the population for 'g'; however these values cannot with both precision and validity be expressed in terms of more average IQs (because people with around-average IQs cannot do ultra high IQ tests at all!). 

Furthermore, it is found that the concept of 'g' breaks-down among the most highly intelligent - and intelligence becomes much more specific and less general. For instance; the most mathematically/ geometrically intelligent are not also the most verbally intelligent - and the correlation between sub-types of intelligence gets less as intelligence increases. Therefore the precise IQ score at high scores becomes very dependent on the balance of (for example) quantitative and verbal questions in the specific test being used. 

In sum: 'high intelligence' is necessary but not sufficient for genius; but it is not possible to provide any precise threshold where 'sufficiently high intelligence' starts. 

2. High Psychoticism

Most very highly intelligent people are not creative. 

But those who are may be indicated by the Eysenck personality trait of Psychoticism; which is correlated with a wide range of measures of creativity - although trait Psychoticism is mostly negatively defined in terms of psychotic (insane), psychopathic, impulsive and selfish behaviours. 

Self-rating measures of Psychoticism depend on honesty, and can be faked. Therefore behavioural correlates of high Psychoticism are more reliable measures - esepcailly as high Psychoticism tends to be 'punished' by social mechanisms. 

Most of the most-genius individuals have demonstrated clear evidence of moderate-high Psychoticism in their biography. These can be seen as the opposite to conscientiousness - because high psychoticism tends to sabotage attempts to be conscientious - to follow instructions, to conform to social norms, to work hard and long as externally-imposed tasks etc. 

Therefore among the most intelligent people; the most creative are very likely to be less 'successful' then the uncreative conscientious conformists. For example, a person of known high IQ who performed relatively badly in exams - an under-achiever; with results below the level predicted by his IQ; is much more likely to be creative than an over-achiever who performed above the level predicted by IQ.

(Because exam results are predicted by a combination of IQ and conscientiousness.) 

(An example is Christopher Michael Langan, who has been claimed to be the highest IQ person alive, and is certainly among the small minority with ultra-high IQ. Langan's biography demonstrates a high Psychoticism personality type (non-conformist, unwilling to accepts instruction or authority, unsuccessful in social terms) - and in a negative sense this is compatible with creativity. So far, with very high IQ and high Psychoticism; Langan would be potentially a creative genius...) 

3. Endogenous personality

If high Psychoticism negatively defines a high -IQ group whose non-conformism makes them potentially geniuses; Endogeneity is the positive trait within Psychoticism that leads to actual genius. 

Endogenous means internally-generated, and it refers to a personality type that is dominated by inner qualities (and is relatively immune to outer qualities.  

At this point it is necessary to go beyond science into metaphysics; because the positive inner qualities that lead to genius need to be dominated by the Real Self, which is also the divine within Man. 

It is this being driven by the Real and Divine Self, that is what enables the genius to be genuinely creative. Because to be creative is to be generative of new truth, novelty that is true - and not merely to combine and extrapolate from memorized known truths.

Also; because the genius is in-touch with his Real and Divine Self; it is unlikely that the genius will be an atheist - he may be a deist (acknowledging an abstract deity or spiritual tendency), a theist (believing in a personal God), or may be an adherent of a religion (albeit likely to be unorthodox or heretical, due to the nature of his personality). 

The total package

But to be a genius means that this internal drive is also focused and sustained. So an Endogenous personality with show biographical evidence of having been intensely interested for sustained periods (some years, typically), by some internally-driven (not socially normal) subject. 

The not-normal, not-socially-imposed nature of the subject is evidence of internal drive; that the drive is intense and sustained is what is required for genius level achievement. 

(To return to Chris Langan; his intellectual interests are unfashionable, have been pursued over extended periods, and he is explicitly a theist. I would conclude that by this schema, Langan is therefore likely to be a creative genius.)   

There may, or may not, be accessible evidence of achievement by the genius. If the genius has expressed his contribution in writing, making, depicting - these are more likely to have survived; but may have been ignored or rejected - and they may be difficult to evaluate by those of sufficient ability who are not in the same field, or who will not devote sufficient effort and attention. 

After all, the expression of genius concepts is a secondary matter from the ability to originate them. And it is possible that the output of genius may be ephemeral - such as conversation. 



So, it is apparently possible to find and identify a probable-genius by going-through these stages of evaluating IQ, Psychoticism and Endogenous personality. 

What to 'do with' a genius when you find him is another matter! 

Perhaps the most valuable thing would be to support them in what they are trying to do - assuming they are not an evil genius! But you could only know someone was evil in motivation if you yourself were already on the side of God, creation and The Good.  


Gnecht said...

Over the weekend I came across a Popular Science magazine from 2001 that had an interview of Christopher Langan. Then this morning I came across posts like this one about him. Synchronicity, perhaps.

I have been wondering how Christopher Langan's "Cognitive-Theoretic Model of the Universe" ideas compare and contrast with those of William Arkle. I don't feel I'm well-equipped to properly engage all their material. But when Christopher Langan writes things like...

Perhaps the most profound change in our worldview will come from learning that living, breathing human beings are essential and logically necessary ingredients of reality, not just "emergent phenomena" which "supervene" on brute physical processes.

...I somehow get reminded of things I read here about William Arkle's writings.

Otto said...

I've been following Chris Langan's work on and off for more than a decade. He is quite a character! I don't claim to understand most of it, but some of it is definitely interesting and thought provoking. What do you think about his paper "Metareligion and the Human Singularity"? I think it would be related to your interests.

Bruce Charlton said...

@G - Langan's metaphysics is more abstract than Arkle's (although he does believe in a personal God); and Arkle's is more abstract than mine (which is pluralistic while both Langan and Arkle are monists - I strive to make my metaphysics as 'personal' as possible).

Bruce Charlton said...

Comment from Jake: "This is unbelievable synchronicity. The item on the Internet that I had read before reading your post today was a post by Christopher Langan.
How likely is that?


Regarding the actual subject of your post: I think you are on the right track on genius. The average man on the street now thinks of geniuses as being morons like Bill Gates, or good marketers like Steve Jobs. I still think of people like William Blake, Melville, Thoreau, Lavoisier, Tesla.

Response from BGC - Well, it wasn't really synchronicity - because Langan was brought to my mind as an example, from reading about him earlier at Vox Day. It was just topicality.

Hrothgar said...

Within the formal educational environment I suspect that your second point as it relates to educational achievement works something like this in practice:

The high intelligence + high-Conscientiousness students will tend to devote themselves, above all else, to trying to identify what exactly it is that the tester is seeking by asking the question, and to supplying that to the best of their ability. Greater intelligence in this case translates to greater capacity to absorb and utilize knowledge, and to apply the learned skill of sucessfully divining the questioner's intent, hence intelligence strongly correlates with performance. It would not really occur to a student of this type that any other approach existed, or could be taken by an intelligent person. The opportunity cost of potentially failing to please others would be too great to seriously consider.

High intelligence + high Psychotism students, on the other hand, will be inclined to see the question in isolation from social expectations,(which are relatively unimportant to them to begin with and which they may even wish to subvert in some cases), including those of the tester, and to address it on their own preferred terms. How this works out will vary between individual students (far more so than between high-Conscientiousness sudents at a similar level of intelligence), but can be expected to include a large proportion of the following: Challenging the parameters of the question itself; answering according to what the student believes to be true with relative disregard for whether the tester or System are likely to concur; making an argument contrary to the one obviously expected because it seems closer to the truth, or else to exercise the student's reasoning powers, etc.

Higher intelligence in this case will be much more weakly correlated with performative success, and may even correlate negatively, especially in subjects they dislike or where they disagree with certain fundamental principles of the educational programme. More intelligent students (especially those who are also naturally creative), will simply find it easier and more natural to think of ways to do something "other" than what is expected of them, and may not even realize they are doing so in the heat of the moment.

Such behaviour is likely to get the student branded "difficult" at best, particularly within an environment dedicated to highly standardized formal testing. The high-Conscientiousness educators and system functionaries that the modern educational environment tends to attract, in particular, are going to have a great deal of difficulty understanding what drives the student to act as they do, let alone in seeing it as something that may have positive benefits in future.

Anonymous said...

My gloss on Mangan is that he believes pretty much the same thing that David Bohm came to understand: the explicit reality ("explicate order") we swim in is underpinned, generated, if you will, by a hidden "implicate order" that is constantly folding and unfolding. The Standard Model shows that there is a single unifying "field of fields" that is the template for reality, the universe.

The frustrating thing with Bohm (deceased) and Mangan is that they won't fully embrace the reality that this construct they are trying to adumbrate is merely the Divine Will.


Karl said...

A physics teacher gave an exam including a question that was meant to test the students’ recall of the relationship between elevation and atmospheric pressure that had recently been taught them.

Question: how might you use a barometer to determine the height of a tall building?

One of the students, let’s call him John, had the combination of high intelligence and high psychoticism that Hrothgar describes here as likely to get the student branded “difficult”. John’s answer: I would drop the barometer off the top of the building and note the time it takes to fall to the ground. Then the height of the building in feet will be sixteen times the square of the observed time in seconds.

The teacher could not in fairness mark this answer wrong. He called John in for a chat.

“For the method you propose, you could have used a brick just as well as a barometer. Can you give me an answer that employs the barometer as a measuring device?”

Certainly, said John. The side of the barometer is marked with a scale showing some thirty inches. Go into the stairs and mark the wall off in barometer lengths from one landing up to the next to get the height of one story in barometer lengths. Multiply by thirty inches and by the number of stories in the building.

“Well, yes, but a simple yardstick would have served just as well as a barometer. Can you give me an answer that uses the special properties of a barometer, which after all is an expensive piece of equipment?”

Certainly, said John. I would knock on the door of the building manager and I would say “Here I have a precisely crafted scientific instrument. I will give you this instrument for you to admire or to sell, if only you will tell me the height of this building!”

Michael Scharrer said...

I'm very much enjoying your Book "The Genius Famine".
Since I don't own a Kindle, I generated an epub and mobi for my e-readers (based on the html of ) using Calibre.

What is the copyright status? Can I share it with friends, post it online?
If you want I can also send you the file.
Apologies if I'm posting this at the wrong place.

Bruce Charlton said...

Edward and I retained the copyright and made the book freely available as a text copy. I'm afraid I don't understand the legalities of you sharing a few epub versions, but its provably fine if nobody makes any money. Of course, the kindle version is so cheap it's hardly worth spending time on fiddling with files!

Alexeyprofi said...

It is funny how you write about christianity, evil and sex. You even mention Chris Langan. The problem is that he is not a looser like media often trying to show it. He created CTMU, you should watch last(and any other of you want) interview with him. Without it I consider your beliefs laughable, especially believe in hell which I do hot support. We all live in god's consciousness, we are part of him, we will return in his mind after death. You can compare it to book characters. They exist while we using our processing powers to imagine them. After we stop read book, we back them into us, meaning this characters live now our lives. Also reality is a language. When you see someone's brain, you can't see what his thoughts are. This like when you look at text, but you don't know the language. So matter is a text and our consciousness is content or meaning of text. To understand thoughts of other by looking at his brain you have to know the language of reality(and, perhals, see it down to the basic structures of reality). thanks

Alexeyprofi said...

Ok sorry for being rude. I don't find your beliefs laughable however CTMU is modern theological conception so I don't take all non-CTMU seriuz.