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Is high IQ a curse?
15 points by amichail 2951 days ago | hide | past | web | 25 comments | favorite
Potential problems:

* unrealistic expectations of what you can accomplish

* difficulty in dealing with average people

* more likely to question things and annoy people in the process

* less likely to accept traditions

* less likely to enjoy the simple pleasures of life

* less likely to find a job as an employee rewarding

What are others?




I pretty much disagree with everything you list. There are only unrealistic expectations if you foster them by going around and spouting off about how smart you are.

It is only difficult to deal with average people if you believe yourself to be above them and look down on them.

You only annoy people by asking questions at inappropriate times, if you were really that much smarter then you would know when to ask and when to shut it.

I don't know how you would measure the acceptance of traditions but off the cuff Stanford, MIT and other places where high IQ people tend to congregate seem to enjoy their traditions as much or more than more middling schools.

Sounds like a personal problem.

Nope regular joes find work boring too, just look at all the pulp fantasy stuff made to distract the common man.

The main problem with a high IQ seems to be it is easier to fall in to a narcissist trap of thinking you are somehow different from the common man just because you can add a little faster.


It is only difficult to deal with average people if you believe yourself to be above them and look down on them.

Nonsense. Unless you are going to insist on two things: that everyone has the same cognitive capacity, within some delta; assuming the first, that anyone in a conversation who leaves anyone else behind in understanding is at least a narcissist, and possibly otherwise degenerate.

People don't get difficult just because you are intentionally condescending to them. People learn at different rates, people reason at different rates, and some people take the mere acknowledgment of this fact as condescending and narcissistic. They also take the fact that a conversation amongst friends went down a particular thread faster than they could keep up as a sign they are being patronized and degraded. Social etiquette would dictate that the conversation always slow down to the point that everyone keeps up, but that has its own drawbacks, not the least of which that it turns being able to think and reason fast into a psychosis -- so this looking down upon can go both ways, and usually does if even behind the veil of social propriety. Neither party is guilt-free here.

You only annoy people by asking questions at inappropriate times, if you were really that much smarter then you would know when to ask and when to shut it.

As I pointed out in a different thread here, what happens in the case when the inappropriate time is unreasonably restrictive -- for instance, there is no appropriate time. Are you really going to assert that a smart person show unwavering obedience? Do you realize the consequences of such a philosophy?

I'm not defending the OP; I think his list of correlations is presumptuous. However, the responses here (so far) are likewise very presumptuous about the poster -- perhaps it is to dose the poster with his own medicine, but that it is done under the auspices of discussion social skills is quite ironic. I really wish this were not the standard knee-jerk reaction of the community to these sorts of posts.


People don't get difficult just because you are intentionally condescending to them. People learn at different rates, people reason at different rates, and some people take the mere acknowledgment of this fact as condescending and narcissistic. Not really, it is important to understand cognitive differences between people and for both parties to make allowances. The smart should slow down and the slow should bow out. As a non-offensive example my wife seems to have a blind spot when it comes to navigation. She uses GPS if she is going more than three blocks even if there are only a few turns involved. I still include her anytime I talk about how to get somewhere, and she bows out of the conversation when she gets to lost. Let's face it most social interactions aren't discussing astrophysics and if they are most regular people are going to get bored and leave, leaving the few who are able and willing to keep up. When I was in college I hung out with a couple of classmates who were Mensa members, and you know what, they liked beer, video games, and bowling as much as the next guy. I also had classmates who were on the other end of the scale who thought they were hot and exhibited everyone of the signs the OP brought up. From where I am sitting it seems that being a prick is more a personality trait than a side effect of being 'smarter than the average bear'.

Are you really going to assert that a smart person show unwavering obedience?

Who said anything about obedience? Not being an offensive jerk is something we should all aspire to achieve(Not quite there yet but I try). If a question has no appropriate time then I suggest that the question is more than likely naive and with little more thought\research to couch it in more scientific terms could be an acceptable question at some more private moment. Anyway asking questions at inappropriate times is usually unlikely to get you an answer so all the asking has done is make you look like a jerk and not satisfied your curiosity in any way.

Blaming your high IQ for your lack of social graces A) Is an easy cop out, to you know, actually developing them. B) Makes you look bad because the other high IQ people have gotten over it and learned how to make friends with us lowly common folk.

Sorry if it comes off as callow but I have dealt with more average people with the I am so smart chip on their shoulder than actual smart people with it, so much so that as soon as the I am so smart dance starts your IQ drops a few points in my eyes.


Totally agreed. A high IQ (whether real or imagined) is never an excuse to not develop any social grace. And all the problems originally listed are all about lack of social skills and have nothing to do with being 'smart'.


I think you are mixing up a couple of things that have absolutely nothing to do with IQ (or intelligence).

Unrealistic expectations of what you can accomplish points to a lack of self-knowledge.

Difficulty in dealing with average people is a social skills issue, but 'average' and 'below average' people might have that same problem.

More likely to question things and annoy people in the process is again a social skills issue, really clever people can work out lots of stuff without having to ask for it, and when they do it's a matter of timing, tact and packaging.

Less likely to accept traditions again has nothing to do with IQ, but if you are smart you may be better able to argue for yourself why you do not wish to follow traditions. To be in other peoples face for not accepting traditions would be another social skills issue.

Less likely to enjoy the simple pleasures in life is not at all limited to people with high IQ.

Less likely to find a job as an employee rewarding depends on what you define as an employee. If you think a full professor at a university is an 'unrewarding' position because you are an employee then you probably have other issues.

Seriously, I can't see any of those problems related to having a high IQ per se.


More likely to question things and annoy people in the process is again a social skills issue, really clever people can work out lots of stuff without having to ask for it, and when they do it's a matter of timing, tact and packaging.

The way the original posted phrased this, I don't believe he meant so much asking questions to clarify something obscure, but more accurately to stress something inconsistent or inaccurate. There are two aspects to this: noticing the inconsistency, and then notifying others. As I understand it, pattern recognition is something at least moderately related to intelligence. Revealing that pattern to others, and choosing when and how, is much more a matter of following social protocol, which may go even as far as to dictate that such patterns never be revealed.

Difficulty in dealing with average people is a social skills issue, but 'average' and 'below average' people might have that same problem.

This leads to a what I think difficult question that in general seems to have a suspiciously certain answer: when is it appropriate to disregard social etiquette and protocol? The obvious answer is: never, because no good ever comes from people being annoyed and offended.

This seems suspiciously clear-cut, and historically inaccurate. I can think of a number of very detrimental philosophies that would still be adhered to today if everyone's foremost goal was to never cause offense, far more detrimental than the offense fighting against them may have been.

Provided that there is some correlation between intelligence and noticing abnormalities in patterns, this point ties back to the first, in that the person deemed difficult may just be seeing a pattern that few others are able to see, and as a result of continually bringing up aspects of that pattern are considered difficult and a lackluster teammate.

I don't think just saying "stop being such an anti-social dickhead" is an all-inclusive solution. Further more, I don't think we want it to be when thinking about long-term concerns.


As John Stuart Mill famously wrote, "it is better to be a human dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied".

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/11224/11224-h/11224-h.htm


searched google for: "it's better to be" + quotes

e.g.

Matt Damon: It's better to be a fake somebody than a real nobody.

Marilyn Monroe: 'It's better to be unhappy alone than unhappy with someone.'

Mae West: It's better to be looked over than overlooked.

Steve Jobs: It's better to be a pirate than to join the Navy.


"Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon. Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer."

- em forster


Actually I would say it's the other way around.


You should check out the following longitudinal studies:

* Terman's Gifted Kids: http://www.amazon.com/Termans-Kids-Groundbreaking-Study-Gift...

* Harvard : http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200906/happiness


actually, I think one of the only real difficulties associated with high IQ is that generally speaking, its fairly generally the case that people have extreme difficulty easily communicating with people whose IQ differ from their own by about 2+ standard deviations (1 sd is about 15 iq points).

For example, if your IQ is say 145, the way you communicate when talking will in some sense be fundamentally different from someone whose IQ is less than 115 or greater than 175. This is not to say that its impossible, only that it actually takes cognitive effort to translate what you're saying into a suitable cognitive frame of reference for the other person's consumption. This is similar to the difficulties in communicating with someone from a completely different cultural background, albeit different details.


The big trick is then to bridge the gap.

I think that if you really understand stuff you can explain it to just about anybody, no matter how big the gap. This may take a lot of time and hard work but both parties willing it should be possible.


Really understanding stuff is not enough: a higher IQ individual may be bored by the explanation and misunderstand it due to lack of attention while a lower IQ individual may have trouble understanding, require a shallower explanation and more time.


That's true, you can't discount for that but true understanding is a prerequisite.

Look at Dawkins, Feynman and other great teachers, they can take the most complicated material and make it accessible to just about everybody (in the case of Dawkins even really young children, have a look at the Christmas lectures for and example of that).


As with any privilege, with high IQ comes high responsibility. Leading a purposeful life is quite a challenge for regular people with all the noise in the world; even more so for a high IQ individual. I see many people running away from this responsibility by taking less than what they are capable of.

To feel that you are improving, you must continuously challenge yourself and decide to take the helm of your life. A high IQ gives you more opportunities, and thus a bigger challenge of creating the feeling that you are succeeding.

* labeling your expectations "unrealistic" may be a sign of fear of failure. Stretch yourself ever further.

* it's difficult for average people to deal with intelligent people too. Put some effort into your side of the situation.

* there's more to everything than meets the eye or any logical analysis. If you think questioning something could annoy someone, analyze instead why is that so and formulate a different question.

* it's hard enough to communicate simple ideas clearly among a large group. Traditions are a simple and effective way of keeping social cohesiveness, and realize this is important. Realize too that most progress comes from single, highly motivated individuals and not from "traditional" people. Live your social life, and life your intellectual life; don't mix when inappropriate.

* enjoying the simple pleasures of life takes understanding the value in simple things. Higher IQ gives the capability of seeing this value in the most surprising ways. Again, a high IQ individual is not easily satisfied. Put some effort in seeking pleasurable, deep ideas.

* nobody finds a job as an employee rewarding.


I try to remember the quote, "...for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so" from Shakespeare's Hamlet.

I had a terrible sports injury, damage to the cartilage in my left knee a few years back. Left me not able to do a great many things I used to, and I have to be cautious on all the rest. I've got to stretch 10 minutes a day or my leg starts hurting. For a while, I could barely walk - I was taking industrial-strength doses of anti-inflammatories and doing physical therapy, icing my leg nightly.

For a while, I called the few minutes I hurt my leg "the worst 10 minutes of my life", because it seemed to be massively inconvenient and painful on a long term basis, with absolutely no gain whatsoever.

And yet, somehow, I took a great many lessons from it with time. I do everything slower and more deliberately now, I pay close attention to my health, I floss, I take care of my back. A bit embarassing to say so, but it severely limited what I could do in the bedroom - but the irony is, it made me a better lover. I lost all variety, because any position that came from weight on my knees I couldn't do for more than a minute of a time. All the strength and power had to come from my arms, shoulders, and maybe a touch from my hips. But losing all variety, and being limited to just a couple ways of making love - it gave me an immense amount of practice and forced me to think really critically. I'd say I'm probably a better lover now, injured, than I ever was before fully healthy.

Ironic huh? IQ clearly has a lot of benefits, but sure, a lot of downsides too. In the end, it's what you make of it and how you think of it. Here's the scene from Hamlet:

http://www.enotes.com/shakespeare-quotes/nothing-either-good...

Hamlet: What have you, my good friends, deserv'd at the hands of Fortune, that she sends you to prison hither?

Guildenstern: Prison, my lord?

Hamlet: Denmark's a prison.

Rosencrantz: Then is the world one.

Hamlet: A goodly one, in which there are many confines, wards, and dungeons, Denmark being one o' th' worst.

Rosencrantz: We think not so, my lord.

Hamlet: Why then 'tis none to you; for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. To me it is a prison.


It's funny how angry average IQ people get when you talk about these issues. If you don't have it then how could you possible know what it is like? Why are you so offended. If we ran fast or slammed basket balls better then you wouldn't mind me saying that. We don't walk around telling everyone that we are smarter but it comes out. We have two choices talk down or talk normal either way it will be seen as an insult. When we talk normal, we are not trying to sound smart we are naturally. That's what it means to have a high IQ. When we talk down people get offended. If you have an average IQ say 100 and everyone else had a 50 IQ (retarded) how happy do you think you would be if they were offended by the way you talk or didn't understand you ideas or were mad at you because you understood that you were not retarded. I'm not saying that average is retarded or making fun it's just the way to explain. If you don't have a high IQ how would you know...


It's how you apply your high IQ that determines whether it's a curse or a blessing. For me it has been a blessing.

I've always wanted to be an engineer, and that's the career I've chosen and am still working in. Along the way, I learnt five foreign languages, studied psychology, philosophy, sociology, political science. Acquired the equivalent of an MBA with better than professional knowledge of accounting, marketing and sales. Read about 30-40 books on history, architecture, geography, geology, astronomy, etc per year.

AND ... from all of this I've learned to listen actively when in conversation with others and ask leading, insightful questions based upon my broad knowledge and listen more. I've learnt more from such conversations than from all the courses and reading.

A high IQ is like a high performance computer, you can use it to play some computer game or decode DNA, synthesise treatments for diseases, explore the mysteries of quantum physics and lots more. You have been given the power, now choose wisely...


If it is a curse to you, then you probably have other specific difficulties. I am a high-functioning autistic with an IQ of 156; I have trouble with all but the last 2. In fact, working as an employee helps offset my problems with "unrealistic expectations" since my biggest problem with that is lack of focus, and when employed my employer provides the focus. Unfortunately, since my last good employer died in 2001, I have been bouncing around between low level jobs ever since. I cannot work closely with others more than briefly, so I either have to work alone, which is what I mostly did in the 1990s, or switch jobs every few years, and with the economy and the torture looking for work is for me, I have been mostly out of work since last October.


I came back to the site after taking a nap, thinking that maybe I came across as too whiny. After rereading what I wrote, I wanted to edit it and add more useful content, but it was too late to edit or delete it, so I decided to add to it on my blog. I responded more specifically to each point there. http://williambswift.blogspot.com/2009/08/from-question-post...


Maybe you don't need a job, perhaps you need to work on your passion. Find your passion and in so doing find someone else who shares the same passion. If they are prepared to provide the structure that you require, then you could accomplish great things. Good Luck.


That's my biggest problem, I don't have any particular passion. I NEED an external source of focus; when I'm not working I read and study more or less at random when something catches my attention. I have tried all sorts of things to try to maintain a single focus, but so far nothing has worked at all. And I need income even more, I'm already in debt, I just have to take whatever I can get for work.


No. If you were smart, you'd figure out how to solve those problems.


Endless second guessing of social interactions.




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