Less Wrong is a community blog devoted to refining the art of human rationality. Please visit our About page for more information.

TitaniumDragon comments on That Alien Message - Less Wrong

111 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 22 May 2008 05:55AM

You are viewing a comment permalink. View the original post to see all comments and the full post content.

Comments (164)

Sort By: Old

You are viewing a single comment's thread. Show more comments above.

Comment author: TitaniumDragon 16 April 2013 05:11:00PM 8 points [-]

I know I am several years late to this party, but I felt it appropriate to hop in.

Einstein, with an IQ of 160+, really has an unmeasurably high IQ - at that IQ level, you are outside of the bounds of statistical probability used to construct the test. 160 correlates to such a rare IQ that you cannot use IQ tests to measure differences between them in a very predictive fashion because there aren't enough people with IQs that high.

Now, what about the case of Feynman?

Well, there are tons of possibilities here:

1) It was a bad IQ test.

2) He got extraordinarily unlucky (Remember, your variability on a modern test is +-5 points; if the older tests had higher margins of error, it could be he was significantly more intelligent than this)

3) IQ is not a perfect indicator of g. This is actually known. It strongly correlates with g, but it is not identical to g - it is entirely possible that he was smarter than the IQ test indicates because of this discrepency.

4) He did badly on the test for some external reason (he was tired, the test didn't get graded properly, he got the wrong person's score back... any number of possibilities that could theoretically lower his IQ).

5) He really DID have an IQ of 125 in high school, but via concerted effort increased his intelligence greatly over time. In other words, he may have had significant untapped potential. Did he take the IQ test before or after he went on his crazy math-learning spree? This is especially true given he was still in adolescence.

6) He may really have only had an IQ of about 125, maybe as high as the mid 130s, and simply made better use of it than most people.

Comment author: gwern 16 April 2013 05:36:06PM 2 points [-]

Now, what about the case of Feynman? Well, there are tons of possibilities here:

Some of which can be verified if you trace this widely repeated anecdote back to the source; see my old comment on the topic: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1251164