What Is Intelligence?


The Harvard-trained theorist who can write a dissertation but not boil an egg, we are told, is “intelligent”; similarly, we are told, a mass of people acting in self-interest to buy products or cast votes will achieve a type of “intelligence.”

I offer an alternate theory: intelligence occurs in degrees, and is as logical as a computer, which means that “Garbage In, Garbage Out” (GIGO) applies. If you feed a computer paradox and nonsense, you will get more of the same. If you feed it sensible principles, you get logical results. This is a parallel to Plato’s “good to the good, and bad to the bad.”

But what is intelligence, this gradient which cannot be seen but whose effects (or lack thereof) can be painfully felt? It seems to be both brain activity, and an ability to correlate that to activity in the real world. We call that “creativity” in some areas because actual creativity requires not making up fantastical stuff, but making up fantastical stuff that is plausible enough as a type of reality, or addresses real-world issues enough to be appealing. Creativity is not arbitrary; it is as logical as science, but uses another approach.

Thus intelligence has two aspects: thinking power, and application power.

Bruce Charlton writes about “creative genius” as the synthesis of the balance of creativity and genius through a personality type (also relevant):

Creativity is associated with a style of thinking that is relatively loose in its associations, inclusive in its linking of disparate elements – a style of thinking akin to that of dreaming sleep, psychotic illness, and intoxication.

Creativity is not positively associated with intelligence – or if so at a very modest level. Some societies with high average IQ have low creativity, and vice versa. European societies had (in the past) high average IQ and also reasonably high creativity.

However, creativity is moderately associated with mental illness, psychopathy and addiction – and also with impulsiveness and ‘fecklessness’ – with a lack of perseverance.

This leads us closer to the idea of a genius: someone possessed by genius is literally possessed, in that this power directs the person toward an entirely different view of life which re-organizes it to be far from the normal. In particular, the creative genius resembles the apex predator: lazy, erratic at times, resistant to discipline and aloof.

Scott Adams calls these people “wizards,” and reveals a list of traits they seem to share:

Look for these clues:

1. The wizard succeeds in a high-profile field without the benefit of as much talent as you would expect should be necessary. (This is the biggest tell.)

2. People seem to have an irrational hate for the wizard that is not entirely explained by the wizard’s actions. Regular readers already know these unusual reactions are signs of cognitive dissonance. Wizards induce cognitive dissonance often, without trying.

3. Look for an inflated ego combined with an unusually strong ability to withstand withering criticism. (Wizards get a lot of criticism.) The common view is that wizards are egomaniacs. In reality, the wizard works hard to remain ego-free, and hence can handle criticism well.

4. Wizards are often more ambitious, and often more aggressive, than you think is normal.

5. One or more major PR disasters define the wizard’s history.

6. The wizard has a gift for simplification.

7. Observers detect a reality distortion field.

8. Wizards have an ability to succeed where other fail by changing the entire game as opposed to winning at the existing one.

9. Wizards use words to create images and emotions in people’s minds.

10. Wizards seek public attention.

The wizard filter on the world isn’t necessarily true in some objective sense. The fun is seeing if the data and predictions fit the filter.

I submit that much as Adams writes, creative genius cannot be tested for; it appears and can be identified later because it fit the filter, but beyond that, it is something that emerges in the real world through results and not through human selection.

That shows us the basis of the aristocratic system: find those who have done great things, breed them with the noblest and smartest women, and create a permanent group of high-intelligence and high-creativity people. This was the reason for Europe’s success and is the method by which it can be restored.

Today, on April 20th, I think often of Hitler: a man who knew so much, yet did so much wrong. Perhaps the division between Hitler and what we need as a civilization is this aristocratic division. We do not need a better modern, or “predictive” system, but an absence of systems entirely and a reliance instead on proven wizardry/creative genius.

That alone demonstrates a working model of intelligence. You can separate the men from the boys with SATs and IQ tests, but to find the gold among the silver and copper, we must rely on nature and instead of trying to control her, channel her natural bounty of genius and creativity into a new elite.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Share on FacebookShare on RedditTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedIn