More Aeolitalk. One of these days I ought to update that page.
I’ve decided to redefine abstract intuition as “knowing something without knowing how or why you know it, at a level of intellectual abstraction where this knowing can’t be plausibly explained by pure instinct”.
I believe the following example from the old VP thread The Excluded may be described as abstract intuition.
One of the stranger experiences of this IQ range is that I often know with certainty that a novel mathematical fact is true, but then I have to spend 2 to 4 weeks developing a rigorous proof that tells me how I knew it was true. (To be precise, I did know how I knew, but not in anything remotely resembling human math-paper communication.) Intuition is a strange beast.
Berkeley Math Professor, IQ 150
As it says in the definition, it’s not plausible that a person of IQ 150 would have developed this ability if he were raised by wolves (contra Ramanujan, who might as well have been raised by wolves but likely had an IQ in the 170-180 range). So there’s a component of nurture, indicating the development of complex instincts (i.e. intuitions) must be developed.
Abstract insightfulness is the tendency to immediate generation of new mental models (generally nonverbal) from less abstract ones to explain the immediate situation, as enabled by overpowered capabilities in conceptual formation, pattern recognition, factor analysis, and sensory processing. In contrast with my sort of insights, which I’d describe as the low end of temporal lobe epilepsy, I suspect abstract insights have a subjective experience comparable to rapid-fire gestalt shifts. Think of walking in a room, noticing everyone is wearing sandals, noticing that in your experience nothing ever got done in rooms of people wearing sandals, noticing that this is inherent to the design of sandals and the decision to wear sandals…etc etc etc.
This description is inspired by a couple of the examples (which I’ve bolded) of seemingly magic powers in this link that Trebizond dropped:
Furthermore, where the moderately gifted person has a “skill collection”, the profoundly gifted individual has what might as well be magic powers…Profoundly gifted individuals have been known to do things like reinventing the steam engine at age six. Some of them can walk into a room and in an instant infer what kind of presentation is going to be given, and what kind of organization is going to give it. They have been known to make penetrating observations of connections between vastly different disciplines. Some have written a book in a week. Others remember everything they have read. Verbatim. Another still has invented a crude physics and using it to solve problems before she was old enough to talk. It’s entirely plausible for a profoundly gifted individual to think for a few hours about a philosophical school he’s just read about, and have a better grasp of the assumptions and implications surrounding that school than scholars who have studied the discipline for years. Many accomplishments are less extreme than that. Some are more extreme. I said that they might as well be magic powers because they are no more believable to many people than levitation or fairies granting wishes. Moderately gifted achievements are envied. Profoundly gifted achievements are disbelieved, and one social lesson the profoundly gifted learn is that there are certain accomplishments that you don’t talk about… which feels the way most people would feel if people were shocked and offended when they tried to say, “I can read,” or for that matter, “I can breathe.”
These people do not think of themselves as having magic powers. Their impressive abilities are no more breathtaking or astonishing to them than our impressive abilities of walking through an unfamiliar room or understanding a children’s book are to us—and if you don’t believe that walking through an unfamiliar room or understanding a children’s book is an astonishing mental feat, just spend a year in artificial intelligence.
The primary difference between abstract insightfulness and abstract intuition is that I think profoundly gifted people are stacking new conceptual models on each other so quickly and continually that they’d never be able to verbalize them quickly enough for their conscious minds to keep up. I expect you’d find unusually high adult neurogenesis in these individuals. This would produce a sort of autistic personality entirely different from autism spectrum disorder, where a person’s difficulty in communication is caused by the logistical impossibility of explicitly deconstructing the network of nonverbal conceptual models that produced a conclusion.
“How did you build that steam engine, Suzie?”
(Confused) “…Because that’s how you make it go.”
If my thoughts are correct or nearly so (nevermind how well they’re expressed), then I think I can explain the Alumnus’ dissatisfaction with IMSA.
It’s a commonplace that the gifted can have a rough time of school. What IMSA does is place the profoundly gifted in the position of fixed pace classes designed for people significantly less intelligent than them.
It’s easier to criticize than it is to give a positive alternative; let me give a positive alternative.
First of all, profoundly gifted students can pick things up much more rapidly even than most IMSA students. Something like a factor of four speedup can happen again and again. Many of these students would tear through textbooks if you let them…
They will discover things for themselves. But if you look at learning styles, the profoundly gifted are some of the most able to understand a crystallized abstraction, and the most likely to work ahead in their textbooks.
IMSA may have a dozen or so profoundly gifted individuals at any one time…
Furthermore, as well as standing in need of conceptual education, profoundly gifted students could benefit from personal development to help them meet the rest of the world. I don’t know whether it would be correct to say that average education should be about knowledge, gifted education should be about how to think, and profoundly gifted education should be about personal development. I think the idea is worth considering. And I would try to develop some things that aren’t needed in average education and less needed in moderately gifted education, such as how to bridge the gap and meet the rest of the world.
What I’m getting here is that gifted education is about fostering an addiction to noticing (the first half of genius), where profoundly gifted kids are already noticing at such a high level that it can produce pathological social development. For example, Trebizond’s pullquote suggests they need to be given resources to train them out of the gnostic fallacy which tends to develop when your unconscious mental processes are so powerful that they can get you whatever you want and out of any jam…as if you had magic powers.
(And as always, there’s the looming possibility that I’m wrong and this is all made up in my head.)