Characterizing highest IQ writeprints

This is what I’ve observed from superstar posters on the internet (>160 IQ, or +4SD), particularly on Vox Popoli. Their communications tend almost always to be:

1. Clear
2. Concise
3. Correct
4. Sharp (or maybe “striking”, “to the point”)

I believe all these optimizations are due to their overcharged capability for abstract discernment, which allows them to see many possible forms of expression at once and pick the best one. This is a model I’ll attempt to illustrate soon.

I tested at 160+ in middle school. One of the two modes in which I think does seem qualitatively different from that of even the 140 IQ bunch. Thought is an instantaneous explosion of branching worldlines, and the non-viable ones are immediately apparent. It takes almost no effort to understand why a worldline fails, but it takes immense effort rigorously to explain that, even to myself.

Writing about anything that comes from that direction is difficult for me. Partly because those thoughts aren’t represented in words. Those thoughts use densely interconnected graphs of ideas, which may themselves be graphs. No idea what the primitive graph nodes are.

Writing is also hard because there are just so many possible ways to approach expressing complex ideas that I get choice paralysis at every word, abandoning sentences half-written.

High intelligence for me involves on the one hand an extremely broad and rich solution space — choppers as well as Sherpas [Ed: contextual joke, read the thread] — and on the other an inexplicable and instantaneous sense of what won’t work. It feels like I construct microcosms for a fraction of a second and can tell how they die.

automatthew
Comment thread: The Excluded

It is not the same as creative expression, which is the capability for communicating immediate sense impressions rather than ideas.

1. Clarity – IQ superstars tend not only to understand complex and abstract ideas, but they are also capable of expressing these ideas in ways that are easy for the reader to understand. C.S. Lewis, a prototypical superstar, is famous for his ability to explain difficult ideas in simple terms. Even Lewis’ creative works have this characteristic. Immanuel Kant is an example of a sub-superstar; regardless of his virtues, he lacks clarity of expression and therefore only communicates well with a small number of folks.

2. Conciseness – Low average wordcount. This is a good one-way test for superstars, because it rules out a lot of folks who are terse sometimes, but not always. A superstar never wastes words. But this only rules people out because it doesn’t work the other way. A lot of people are consistently terse without being IQ superstars (particularly Alpha males per Alpha Game). These people have to be ruled out via other characteristics (clarity generally being the easiest).

3. Correctness – This is easiest to observe if you also know the correct answer. Generally, our greatest admiration is reserved for those who display properly justified true belief (patent pending). Therefore, we expect superstars to know the correct answer and why it is correct, the possible alternative answers and why they might be correct, and some common incorrect answers and why they are incorrect.

4. Sharpness – Aside from being concise, IQ superstars see right to the crux of the matter, and they prefer to communicate the key points up front. They may accomplish this in a way that is harsh, clever or striking in order to drive the point home for the reader and also head off non-constructive criticism. When they write at any length on a subject, it will tend to be in treatise format, emphasizing key ideas early and avoiding any fluff.

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18 Responses to Characterizing highest IQ writeprints

  1. Heaviside says:

    Just because you don’t appreciate a certain tradition of German prose style in translation doesn’t mean Kant is dumb.

    • Heaviside says:

      Why are so many great philosophers obscure? Because the “clarity” of ordinary language obscures. Our very familiarity with terms like “to be” “to do” and “time” conceals from us the fact that we know nothing about them. We simply use them, and ask how and where it is appropriate to use them, but we don’t ask them what they are.

      • Aeoli Pera says:

        This is true, but consider how Lewis managed to communicate difficult ideas so well through simile and metaphor. His explanations may not hold up under strict analytical scrutiny, but they allow a person to really grok the idea. That is the main thing. A person who groks an idea can rephrase it in their own words to make it more analytically correct, or more fantastical, or what have you.

        Lewis doesn’t require clarity of language to communicate an idea, but he shows great facility for precision when he decides to use it.

    • Aeoli Pera says:

      You are obviously correct. Kant was far from dumb (“not superstar” doesn’t imply “dumb”), and furthermore he was wrestling single-handedly with some very slippery ideas. But it remains that his ideas were not communicated well, which means he didn’t have perfect mastery of them. This is perhaps unfair because he was a genius and it’s hard to master something you just came up with such that you can communicate it to a lay audience.

      His task was therefore likely more difficult than Lewis’, and maybe more than I can imagine. Even so, he is an excellent example of someone who fell short of the criteria above.

      • automatthew says:

        Kant and Hegel were difficult for very different reasons than Kierkegaard.

        Charlatans and cruelty-artists are easily confused.

      • automatthew says:

        Hegel was obscure because he was a fraud.

        Plato was not obscure, but some insist he was to avoid understanding.

        Aristotle is obscure because we are the rubbish of a rubbish.

        Kierkegaard was obscure so he can stab you in the back for Jesus.

        Popper was anything but obscure.

  2. automatthew says:

    That little comment took me half an hour to write. Writing only comes easily when I have an active and intelligent interlocutor. Most of my writing happens on IRC in response to questions from colleagues.

    Conciseness: I’d mostly rather not communicate, it being so fruitless most of the time. Gnomic utterances often suffice.

    Sharpness: Half the point is to encourage useless people to self-incriminate.

    • automatthew says:

      Gnomic utterances often suffice to relieve the pressure to communicate. Not to actually make others understand. I’ve said it, and it’s out there, and I’m relieved.

      • Aeoli Pera says:

        That’s exactly why I blog in the first place. The recent steps I’ve taken to make my writing more accessible and readable (it used to be much worse) were due to my pursuit of excellence.

      • automatthew says:

        Excellence is boring. Understanding a problem is everything.

    • Aeoli Pera says:

      I think your tendency to withhold your thoughts is due to a symptom of neuroticism (choice paralysis) and specific pessimism toward communication, due to previous outcomes (if this were generalized it would be depression).

      • automatthew says:

        1. Not sure. I have no such problem with vocal communications. I write far more easily when I’ve had more than a bit o’ the cratur.

        2. Yes. Pessimism and tendency to depression at not being understood. This one’s easily handled, though, by appropriate reframing. My children don’t understand a quarter of the things I say to them, but they enjoy me, and I enjoy them. I find it easy to direct colleagues in software design tasks.

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  4. outsider says:

    I guess corporate employees are not intelligent then. I plugged a device under my steering wheel that lets my insurance company know how I’m driving to get better rates, but no one there can tell me how this info somehow gets to them.

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  7. kensuimo says:

    Given that Lewis is TM (https://apologus.files.wordpress.com/2007/01/jack-and-joy.jpg) and the evidence for his conscientiousness involved people interaction on very likely conceptual topics (“Lewis was highly conscientious: he could make himself work hard and regular hours even on matters which bored him but which he felt he ought to do – for example correspondence – at which he laboured for about 2 hours per day in later life.”), this example is suspect. Certainly doesn’t completely undermine the utlity of the example, but you’d want a nonsocial TM behavior for a better comparison.

    Further:

    “Lewis had a tendency to lapse into pastiche, of pseudo-creativity, manufactured from existing materials; which is evidence of his lower mode of creation (Tolkien by contrast would lapse into bathos – which is more the mark of a first rank creative genius when having an off-day – think of some of Wordsworth’s lamest poems, or Longfellow…).”

    This xM function seems analogous to par multithreading to me…except that instead of taking par navigatoprobabilisitic calculations, it’s cohering occ impressions/precedents. So it’s a lot faster than deepsock for articulation, because the underlying criterion for the thought is “what is the pervading theme” (sort of another “downgraded” or “miniaturized” form of parietal symbolism, in the same vein as the aforementioned multithreading downsizing). Contradictions aren’t that important. Deepsock is slow and will categorically reject things. Shallowsock doesn’t, and this is why TMs have poor BS filters.

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