Showing posts with the label Intelligence

What is Genius? Part V - Environmental Circumstances and Conclusion

My previous posts explored internal contributors to genius, but one external factor cannot be overlooked.  Environmental circumstances are essential to genius.  Being at the right place at the right time, having the right family, teacher (or mentor) are keys to one's success.  Some say this is luck, but I say it is more.  The stars essentially have to align for a genius to become a genius. Take Terence Tao for instance, widely recognized as one of the best minds in mathematics today.  He was born in Australia to Chinese parents who emigrated from Hong Kong.  Winner of the Fields medal at 31, Tao was a child prodigy.  His father was a doctor; his mother a math and physics teacher.  Hence the brains.  Early on, Tao's parents encouraged their  son to learn at his own (fast) pace and his elementary school tailored a specialized gifted program for him.  Tao surely has intelligence, creativity (in order to win the Nobel equivalent in math), and a lot of grit as he often humbly empha

What is Genius? Part IV - Grit

Thomas Edison once said "Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration." He is best known for the invention of the electric lightbulb, and had more than a thousand patents under his belt.  Edison wanted to convey that hard work and perseverance, more than anything, are needed for greatness.  These days I think of "perspiration" as grit.  Angela Duckworth, a best selling author and speaker, defines grit as  passion and sustained persistence applied toward long-term achievement.  It is not just hard work, but   toiling relentlessly on a passion you stay loyal to despite ups and downs.  Especially the downs. It was generally believed that grit is somewhat genetic, but we now know it is mostly an acquired trait.  Just like IQ tests, Duckworth created a grit scale , which computes a subject's passion and perseverance ratings before yielding a final grit score.  It is often easy to overlook the role of passion in shaping grit. Passion is what

What is Genius? Part III - Creativity

Creativity is an elusive concept. Googling the word returns a dozen definitions that seem correct at first glance, but none effectively captures its full essence.  I tend to favor simplicity and subscribe to  this portrayal: creativity is the ability to create new ideas or things.  In some ways, creativity is more complex than intelligence.  First it is harder to identify because there are no standardized creativity tests today.  While intelligence quotient (IQ) is a household term, there is yet to be a creativity quotient (CQ). That said, answering aye to most of the following questions is a good tell that you may be creative:  Do you have a curious mind? Are you open to new experiences?  Do you like to take risks?  Do you like to daydream?  Do you have a rebellious spirit?  Are you highly sensitive to the world around you?  Do you catch yourself wondering "what if"?  Is your workplace messy?  Creativity is also less concrete than intelligence because its manifestation canno

What is Genius? Part II - Intelligence

Needless to say, intelligence has traditionally been a key component to the genius label.  But do we really know what it means? In simplest terms, intelligence is the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills. It is not exactly smarts however, because smarts can be earned through learning while intelligence is innate. How can we measure intelligence? Well, you must have heard of IQ tests. IQ stands for intelligence quotient, which is essentially a score for measuring how intelligent you are.  There are many so-called tests on the Internet, but only two are internationally recognized: WAIS-IV and SB5.  The one I took in 2021 was the WAIS-IV, placing me in the high end of the IQ spectrum.  Contrary to conventional wisdom, these tests are more than just gauges of logical reasoning.  The WAIS-IV has four components, which spans perceptual reasoning, verbal comprehension, working memory and processing speed.  See here  for an understanding of scores from commonly accepted tests.  No

What is Genius? Part I - Introduction

The word  genius  carries a uniquely satisfying connotation.  There are probably many definitions of the term, with most narrowly focusing on people with extremely high intelligence.  To me, a more encompassing definition is preferred:  A genius is someone who is exceptionally talented in his/her field(s) and creates meteoric contributions to the world.     Einstein fits the bill but so do Michelangelo, Mozart and Kasparov.  Debates have gone for centuries on what makes a genius a genius.  Recent studies have shown that it is not all about brains.  Nature vs nurture debates have ensued, but I will settle on these four essentials:  Intelligence - yes, brains Creativity - also brains  Grit - persevering through highs and lows  Environmental circumstances  - being at the right place at the right time with the right people Let's spend the next few weeks to deep dive on each characteristic that help to shape a genius. - PTS

139, a Very Sweet Number!

Many people may have taken IQ tests online and achieved flying colors.  I also did a few tests for fun in the past, scoring 150+.  The real deal in intelligence tests however, is  Stanford-Binet  or WAIS-IV.   After taking the  WAIS-IV  test last week with a qualified psychologist, my full scale IQ test score was revealed today.  I have an FSIQ of 139, ranking me in the top 0.5% of the population (1 in 200) and placing in the top category of Very Superior !   My IQ score confirms a long-held suspicion on my intellectual giftedness.  Many of my friends have suggested I take the test for some time.  It was long coming, but I finally took the plunge this year.  And now, it is official.  This result certainly gives my already high self-belief a boost.  I look to overcome more challenges when the going gets tough and open up a world of possibilities by thinking even bigger.  What's next?  Perhaps I should consider applying to Mensa and meet fellow intellectuals for more personal growth.

Watson Beats Human Champs on Jeopardy!

It is official: IBM's Watson, a supercomputer equipped with terabytes of RAM, was crowned champion of champions on Jeopardy this week. It smashed the show's two most accomplished human Jeopardy contestants ever by a mile. Prior to this challenge, Ken Jen and Brad Rutter both won over $3M USD on Jeopardy! It is amazing how far artificial intelligence has come over the years.  I was especially impressed with Watson's ability to interpret the play of words often found in Jeopardy-styled clues (or answers). Apart from the occasional mishaps when it completely missed the mark, Watson did extremely well even in categories like "Familiar Sayings" that require a certain level of intuition.  Enjoy this clip on the final 10 minutes of the competition: In 1997, IBM's Deep Blue defeated fellow human grand masters like Garry Kasporav. Fourteen years later, we have a Jeopardy champ that does not require food or sleep.  One cannot help but wonder what next to expect in

Behind an Extraordinary Memory

By now, most of you should know that I am a die-hard fan of Scientific American. Here is yet another interesting article about extraordinary minds . The interviewee, Daniel Tammet, is special in his own right. He is a mildy autistic linguist who can recite the first 22 514 decimal places of the mathematical constant Pi . Here are a few takeaways from the interview: Visualization improves memory. Instead of treating numbers as boring static strings, view them in dynamic, multi-dimensional shapes and forms. This technique also works beautifully with learning vocabularies. Clustering also improves memory. If you break a series of numbers into smaller chunks (of 3 or 4), your brain can better handle them. This is why telephone numbers are hyphenated. Creativity further improves memory! When you throw in creative imagery to the above formulas, your memory becomes super-charged. In fact, the more exaggerating the imagery, the better the results. In Daniel's words, he used to "dan