Guest effortpost: Savant-like abilities in non-savants

Hi Aeoli,

I am a sometimes reader. I had an idea which I thought you might be interested in.

I suspect that Vox’s “spatial retardation” in fact, means that his spatial intuition is co-opted by his brain to be used for pattern recognition and verbal skills.

For example, he writes in this post about being able to read while at the same time listen in class.

This is very unusual, yet in the book “Here’s Looking at Euclid,” there is a chapter which describes two Japanese students who make mental abacus computations (a spatial activity) while playing shiritori, a verbal game, at the same time.

I would guess that when Vox reads a book, his brain is doing some sort of “parallel processing” and his spatial intuition is being turned towards meaning and memory.

The whole tone of this post seems to be about reading and processing meaning while thinking at the same time, an intuitive style of reading.

Similarly, Von Neumann, another rapid reader with an excellent memory had difficulty driving cars, which I suspect was due to his spatial impairment.

C.S. Lewis, who did not have quite the exact memory of Von Neumann, was numerically impaired (as well as physically clumsy); he couldn’t add properly and said the sums “always came out wrong.” In his case, I would guess that his numerical ability was co-opted to help with reading.

My guess is that natural speed reading is a very different process from regular reading. When I read, I am simply reading the text out loud to myself, hearing it, and then translating it into a picture.

It appears natural speed readers are doing something completely different. It takes too much time to read every word aloud to be a speed reader, so it seems almost as if they can somehow instantly comprehend a certain block of text (like spatial intuition, which is usually, “all at once”).

Rather than a more efficient version of regular reading, it is a completely different thing.

I doubt Harold Bloom could read 1,000 pages per hour before thirty, since Kim Peek could only read 720, but I bet Harold Bloom would have some similar spatial impairment or extreme clumsiness.

If this is right, that would imply that Bruce Charlton is correct, i.e. IQ (or g) mostly measures efficiency and for someone to state that they have an IQ of 151 or 170 or whatever is not saying (as they wish to) that they are doing what a normal person does, but better, more efficiently, but rather, that they have a unique and unusual ability.

About Aeoli Pera

Maybe do this later?
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16 Responses to Guest effortpost: Savant-like abilities in non-savants

  1. glosoli says:

    Was a good one, made me laugh, which is the main criteria for my jokes.
    I’ll repost it tomorrow.
    Have a good day brother.

  2. Punished Boneflour says:

    Guest Effortpost Man, your name might not be in the actual post but my sources tell me your handle is Pseudorandom Bypasser.

    Great post, nice job. Reminds me of an Aeoli post talking about the limits of general ability. Past a certain point of physical fitness, you start having to make tradeoffs between speed/strength/endurance.

    When you eat, your stomach pulls blood from your skeletal muscles to help digestion. Makes sense that when you’re pushing the limits of one part of your brain, other parts slow down. Or that brain architecture specialized for one purpose might require tradeoffs in other general functions.

    I’m not sure how long this comment will stay up. The Alert hasn’t died down yet, and the Deleters are closing in on my position. Keep fighting, Guest Effortpost Man!

  3. Totally Not Boneflour says:

    Oh hey guys. Long time lurker, first time commenter. Totally Not Boneflour!
    Anyways, I liked this post.

    Reading in pictures (and reading dialogue in voices) is what I do for fiction. It’s definitely slower. I remember this episode of the Writing Excuses podcast like a year ago where I think Brandon Sanderson talked about how speed reading actually broke his “fiction sense”, cut off his imagination, kinda.

    That link about iq was interesting as well.

  4. Heaviside says:

    >It appears natural speed readers are doing something completely different. It takes too much time to read every word aloud to be a speed reader, so it seems almost as if they can somehow instantly comprehend a certain block of text (like spatial intuition, which is usually, “all at once”).

    Yes, speed reading is difficult because often after only a short time you find yourself reverting to habitual ways of reading which are based on listening to an internal monologue. I find that doing exercises which shift your attention back to your body and away from your internal monologue help. Also, it’s worth trying chanting or listening to mantras while reading.

  5. Akuma says:

    Or they got bumped in the head:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2155919/Derek-Amato-Concussion-turns-Colorado-man-musical-genius-aged-40.html

    I briefly experienced this after I contracted some disease overseas. I was told it was food poisoning, but it felt like meningetis. Incompotent Drs.

  6. Aeoli Pera says:

    Previous intuition from years ago agrees with this (in a forum thread about Derek Paravicini).

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