Posts Tagged ‘dr. james thompson’

The Necessity Of Genius

Thursday, September 15th, 2016


The cornerstone of the Alt Right is that genetics determines culture, and culture determines everything else. Genetics also determines hierarchy. The question then arises, how do we find the best? Dr. James Thompson advances a good entry-level argument that centers the debate on the actual topic, instead of the tangents that most people will pursue:

In summary, you can spot exceptional minds early, if you bother to test for them. Verbal and mathematical tests provide powerful predictors. Adding spatial tests (done for some of them in later testing) assists in getting even better predictions. There is no upper limit after which additional smarts make no contribution. On the contrary, every increase in ability, like additional height in a basketball player, adds to achievement in life. Very bright people contribute a lot to society.

My digression is to note that although a simple explanation for the different directions these very bright people take in their occupations is that they play to their strengths, the observed differentiation is similar to the patterns of international trade as noted by Ricardo in his theory of comparative advantage. Ricardo sought to explain why a country like England which in 1817 could produce many things more efficiently than most other countries (such as Portugal) still bothered to trade with them. Similarly, why do very bright people, very much better at virtually all intellectual tasks than most people, still bother to specialise in only one of their manifold talents? Applying Ricardo’s theory to these very bright people, if any two eminent minds capable of producing two products, say Words and Sums, engage in a free market then each eminent mind can increase their overall consumption by selling the good for which they have comparative advantage while buying the other good, provided there are differences in productivity between both eminent minds. Bright people who are better at words will do wordy work, even though they are very much better than 9,999 other people at Maths. It is comparative advantage rather than absolute advantage that is responsible for intellectual specialisation and the trading of intellectual products.

While the basics are sound, it misses a couple of other key points:

  • Economic system is a proxy. Smart people are useful when they are rewarded for their work, because not rewarding them creates a de facto disadvantage because rewards for performance and non-performance are the same, making performance inefficient.

  • There are grades of highly intelligent. The above makes an initial cut for the talented people who are genetically gifted enough to offer thinking that no one else can do, and sensibly divides them between words people and maths people. But there are divisions within that structure as well.

In addition, we should identify that rarest of rara avis, the creative genius as identified by Bruce Charlton:

But why is genius so rare, even in places where there are a high concentration of geniuses – as there were here in England in the past few hundred years?

1. Genius requires very high intelligence – in a country with a high average IQ like England, this means in the top ten percent (above 120) and considerably higher for some subjects (e.g. mathematical subjects). But often geniuses are at intelligence levels of about the top one in ten thousand. Some societies have much lower average IQ than England.

2. Perseverance, self-motivation to pick-out and work in one area without need for external encouragement, autonomous indifference to the evaluations of others, ability to go it alone.

3. Creativity. This is Eysenck’s big contribution.

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.

This would be the upper echelon of genius: the artists, philosophers, writers, composers and rare public figures like Arminius and Charlemagne.

On top of that, it must be said that lack of verbal ability excludes people from some fields. The greatest intelligences of my acquaintance, in the course of venturing through the top echelon of our educational and social layers, have been of the verbal variety as paired with a high ability to organize thoughts in a non-linear fashion, which seems to equate to the spatial or something like it.

STEM people, while intelligent, came nowhere close. This has been consistent for many years. STEM requires linear analysis of finite tasks; this is a bit easier than non-linear analysis of multiple factors, any of which may be weak or fallacious. That kind of balancing — a sort of architectonic thinking — belongs to the artists, writers and philosophers, and those are the upper crust of intelligence.

It is worth noting two points from Schopenhauer; first, the rest of us are Dunning-Krugered when it comes to genius, because we will not recognize it and it will sound like raving drivel to us:

Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.

If we use the merely-talented/talented-plus-genius dichotomy, the merely-talented are generally confined to STEM fields, where the talented-by-genius can venture toward less concrete forms of thinking.

These modes of thought in the humanities are maligned by the Leftist takeover of these departments which occurred because most conservatives focus on the practical, allowing the Leftists to occupy this “lesser” territory. This parallels the difference between mainstream conservatism and actual conservatism: humanities as taught in US/EU 2016 are far different from humanities as they are understood on their own terms.

Schopenhauer also suggests that genius is not of practical value, but is useful in understanding the true nature of things and the transcendentals:

Although the intellect exists only to serve the will, in certain humans the intellect accorded by nature is so disproportionately large, it far exceeds the amount needed to serve the will. In such individuals, the intellect can break free of the will and act independently. A person with such an intellect is a genius (only men can have such a capability according to Schopenhauer), and this will-free activity is aesthetic contemplation or creation. The genius is thus distinguished by his ability to engage in will-less contemplation of the Ideas for a sustained period of time, which allows him to repeat what he has apprehended by creating a work of art. In producing a work of art, the genius makes the beautiful accessible for the non-genius as well. Whereas non-geniuses cannot intuit the Ideas in nature, they can intuit them in a work of art, for the artist replicates nature in the artwork in such a manner that the viewer is capable of viewing it disinterestedly, that is, freed from her own willing, as an Idea.

A genius can dig more deeply into structure — the patterns of existent, not their material substrates — and in so doing undertake the mentally-demanding task of ascertaining their true nature. Here Schopenhauer agrees with Charlton on the dream-like state of genius; the person bearing genius has transcended his human state, and as a result his thinking is not constrained by self-interest.

If anything has promoted the West, it has been its abundance of genius — especially in leadership. Most of the geniuses of the West are unknown to us because their work formed the groundwork for popularizers to express to the world, and history remembers those instead. But for every great discovery, the path ahead was found by lone geniuses working independently toward understanding the root of the problem.

Currently, our society is opposed to genius, because nothing makes a crowd feel less equal than the presence of genius. In fact, that it exists seems to refute our idea of equality entirely. At the far-right of the IQ curve, people are targets for the herd, which in its loss of confidence seeks to eliminate the symbols of its inequality.

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