Supersmart Individuals Control the Future

“Whether we like it or not, these people really do control our society,” says Jonathan Wai, a psychologist at the Duke University Talent Identification Program in Durham, North Carolina… “The kids who test in the top 1% tend to become our eminent scientists and academics, our Fortune 500 CEOs and federal judges, senators and billionaires,” …

__ SciAm

Genes and IQ

Candidates for the Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth in 1983

The US adolescents who signed up for the Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth (SMPY) in the 1970s were the smartest of the smart, with mathematical and verbal-reasoning skills within the top 1% of the population. __

Societies Neglect Their High Intelligence Children at Their Own Risk

In Europe, support for research and educational programmes for gifted children has ebbed, as the focus has moved more towards inclusion. England decided in 2010 to scrap the National Academy for Gifted and Talented Youth, and redirected funds towards an effort to get more poor students into leading universities. __ Raising a Genius

For the past 45 years, a US research study has been tracking the life and career trajectories of “supersmart” children — those who tested in the top 0.5% on the spatial ability portion of the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) in the US. The researchers have discovered that these small cohorts of youth have — over time — achieved career results far out of proportion to their numbers.

In 1976, [Julian] Stanley started to test … a sample of 563 13-year-olds who scored in the top 0.5% on the SAT … on spatial ability—the capacity to understand and remember spatial relationships between objects. Tests for spatial ability might include matching objects that are seen from different perspectives, determining which cross-section will result when an object is cut in certain ways, or estimating water levels on tilted bottles of various shapes.

… Follow-up surveys—at ages 18, 23, 33 and 48—backed up his hunch. A 2013 analysis found a correlation between the number of patents and peer-refereed publications that people had produced and their earlier scores on SATs and spatial-ability tests. The SAT tests jointly accounted for about 11% of the variance; spatial ability accounted for an additional 7.6%.

The findings, which dovetail with those of other recent studies, suggest that spatial ability plays a major part in creativity and technical innovation. “I think it may be the largest known untapped source of human potential,” says Lubinski, who adds that students who are only marginally impressive in mathematics or verbal ability but high in spatial ability often make exceptional engineers, architects and surgeons. “And yet, no admissions directors I know of are looking at this, and it’s generally overlooked in school-based assessments.” __ Mathematically Precocious Youth Control Future

Intelligence and spatial abilities are crucial factors in high level success, but there is much more involved, including many of the pre-frontal executive functions:

“We don’t know why, even at the high end, some people will do well and others won’t,” says Douglas Detterman, a psychologist who studies cognitive ability at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. “Intelligence won’t account for all the differences between people; motivation, personality factors, how hard you work and other things are important.”

… The Munich Longitudinal Study of Giftedness, which started tracking 26,000 gifted students in the mid-1980s, found that cognitive factors were the most predictive, but that some personal traits—such as motivation, curiosity and ability to cope with stress—had a limited influence on performance. Environmental factors, such as family, school and peers, also had an impact. __ 45 Years of Mathematically Premature Youth

Most of these factors are either controlled or highly influenced by the child’s genes. Family environment is of course closely related to genetic factors, but choice of school and close peers is also closely controlled by the child’s genes and the genes of the child’s family.

Even in the US, the Establishment Favours Spending Most Resources on Low Achievers

“The education community is still resistant to this message,” says David Geary, a cognitive developmental psychologist at the University of Missouri in Columbia, who specializes in mathematical learning. “There’s a general belief that kids who have advantages, cognitive or otherwise, shouldn’t be given extra encouragement; that we should focus more on lower-performing kids.” __

The modern tendency to devote most of society’s resources to persons of low potential — rather than spending small but important quantities of resources to help persons develop their innate high potential — is self-defeating, if not suicidal. This misallocation of resources is a leftist conceit of powerful elitists, who wish to spend “other people’s money” on ideological crusades, rather than to allow “other people” to learn to spend their own money to build better futures for themselves and their own families.

A forward thinking society of vision would allow more resources to be devoted to developing the innate abilities of children who have the potential to build a more expansive and abundant future:

… these gifted students, the ‘mathletes’ of the world, can shape the future. “When you look at the issues facing society now—whether it’s health care, climate change, terrorism, energy—these are the kids who have the most potential to solve these problems,” says Lubinski. “These are the kids we’d do well to bet on.” __

Innately gifted children tend to become mentally stunted over time, if their learning options are forcefully limited to “the lowest common denominator,” or to the levels of less gifted and ambitious children.

Project to identify links between genes and intelligence uses DNA samples from SMPY participants

Boys are substantially over-represented among the mathematically and spatially precocious, compared to girls. At the very highest levels of aptitude, there are no girls at all.

Special note:

The title of this post is meant to be provocative and hyperbolic. In reality, supersmart people do not “control” the future, they tend to help provide a general “shape” within which the future evolves. If supersmart people are enmeshed within a dysfunctional system, their output is likely to perpetuate the dysfunction of the system.

The future is subject to large numbers of unpredictable events and “under the radar trends.” A new and unforeseen ice age of widespread glaciation, for example, could render most of the world’s temperate breadbaskets non-arable in just a decade or two. In such an event, most humans would die, because the world’s elites had been focusing on crusades of social justice rather than working out ways of making human societies more resilient and resistant to the inevitable cataclysms that have always come along.

Everything you think you know, just ain’t so. That tends to be the case for most supersmart people as well as all others. Avoid ideology. Avoid crusades. Avoid grand conspiracies and steamrolling bandwagons. Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. Dangerous Children are always in short supply.

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7 Responses to Supersmart Individuals Control the Future

  1. yoananda says:

    “these are the kids who have the most potential to solve these problems”
    But they seems unable to solve the problem of “This misallocation of resources is a leftist conceit of powerful elitists” …
    Even geniuses fails at some tasks it seems …

  2. yoananda says:

    I was looking a video about future of nuclear installations in France’s parliament. Some experts exposes their conclusions to politicians.

    What’s strikes me is that even though their are super-smart (not geniuses but really smart) guy’s, they present a solution on so simplified hypothesis that it’s ridiculous.
    When (on the second part of the video) they discuss the not so simplified scenarios, we can see it’s far to complex for them to say anything relevant (that’s when genius would be necessary I think).

    So, it occurs to me that I didn’t quite understand what do you mean by “island of competence” because, complexity can overwhelm the best minds (the very complexity that theses minds have created !).
    What kind of competence and technology do you refer too ?
    What I understand is that theses island should be built to last in an more and more changing and unstable environment, right ?
    It means that theses island should be resilient. Complexity is not always resilient (I can see it in France at least – we are entering an age of huge problems to solve).

    • alfin2101 says:

      First of all, the smartest people tend to be the ones you never see. The elites who publically control western governments, universities, media, activist groups etc. are not terribly good, smart, or competent — except for a political savvy and an intuitive grasp of manipulating institutional and public power structures.

      The concept of “islands of competence” is another issue only loosely related to the topic of the post above. (The post above is somewhat exploratory, since the many facets of human intelligence are still very poorly understood)

      “Islands of Competence” are more transparent but operate at a higher level of logic than that for which most persons have been prepared by modern culture. As we have noted many times, resilience is an innate component of islands of competence.

      These islands are meant to “survive” through most of the catastrophic events and phase changes which are apt to overturn conventional societies. They are not meant to last indefinitely in any particular form, but are rather likely to transform into something else as situations change.

      France may fall, but islands of competence inside of France can survive to carry much of France beyond the cataclysm. Afterward, the islands are likely to send out connecting links to other islands, and to seed colony islands of “New France” in favourable territory.

      They are designed to function well with average population IQs above 100, but are organised so that with a large enough “smart fraction” they can survive with population average IQs well below, at least for a time.

      • yoananda says:

        France may fall… France will probably fall (socialism, debt, nuclear fiasco, brain drain, immigration, islam, and so on …).

        I think we are not so far from an venezuellan like collapse. It’s bad here, everybody is speaking about civil war.

        We still have very competitive industrial niches (spatial, luxury, weapons, some pharmaceuticals, …) but the country as a whole is infected by lefist ideology, we have plethoric and kafkaian admnistration, “two-speed” justice (not sure how to translate), anti-free-speech laws, huges taxes and bad services in return, and many aggressive immigrant/islamist that we are forced to live with by the government who disseminate them everywhere.

        I may have a high neuroticism personnality, I don’t think I’m exagerating that much.
        We are on the wrong track for many reasons.

        So that’s why I’m asking more practical details on “Island of competences”. I’m building one my-self, but it’s hard to find other’s to do so IRL !

        Is there some guidelines, set of tools / skills you recommend ?
        How to start ? how to grow ? what are the big mistakes to avoid ?

        • alfin2101 says:

          The process must begin at the individual level, but each individual is different. To begin, one must make a list of attributes which participants of “islands of competence” should exhibit. The group as a whole will display a very wide range of competencies, with varying degrees of overlap between the individuals within the group. But one should be able to narrow the list to between 20 and 30 attributes of greatest importance to a survivable community or island for a particular geographical area.

          Each individual should master between 5 and 10 of these “crucial” competencies, including skills already in use. Focus on vital infrastructure skills which a community needs to survive, then add skills and competencies that elaborate on the critical infrastructures.

          You may be lucky enough to find others who are working along similar lines locally. Otherwise, recruiting should be done through groups with overlapping interests — particularly in parallel infrastructure (microgrid power, alt. fuel supplies, food production, water purification, local defence and peacekeeping, etc), survival / prepper groups, .and so on. Keep in mind that very few people will see the larger picture in the beginning, so recruit in the microcosm among persons capable of seeing the macrocosm in time.

          Recruiting can also be done online through your own website or via comments and email to the websites of others.

          Islands of Competence must have members who are actually competent in necessary skills and competencies for keeping communities running in the face of internal and external conflict and opposition. Idealists without competencies tend to bog the process down and prevent anything from getting done.

          The Dangerous Child blog has a lot of ideas that apply to this area tangentially. If you could recruit any one “type” of person, you would probably want to recruit several Dangerous Children to join your island.

          John Robb’s Resilient Community concept shares some of the same goals as the islands of competence.

          The concept of an “open source insurgency” is an example of how a parallel or underground group might build a resilient community or network of individuals:

          Develop a steering group to get it started (a foco). Five people is recommended. Plan to disband this group when things get started.
          Raise awareness (basic education on the effects of black swans).
          Network with existing groups (go open source).
          An event to launch the initiative (the great unleashing).
          Form working groups.
          Leverage activity with technology (social tech).
          Develop visible examples of progress.
          Reskilling and teaching (sharing skills/knowledge).
          Connect to the government (financial risks).
          Connect to elders (narratives and skills).
          Let it run itself.
          Complete the effort by formalizing a plan through the contributions of the sub-groups.
          __ Source

          Out of the list above, “developing visible examples of progress” is perhaps the most important goal in terms of spurring recruitment.

          As you can imagine, this is not a casual hobby or amusement. Each robustly resilient island of competence will be unique according to its location, members, and driving forces. Capital resources, cash flow, and trade networks are almost always underestimated or neglected.

          Remember, if islands of competence are called to fill their most important role, most sources of food, water, medicine, law & order, fuel, electric power, commerce, industry, and public services will have broken down.

  3. Bob Wallace says:

    I scored at 126 at 12 and the schools completely ignored me since I was considered an “underachiever.” Not the top 1% but the top 5%.

    • alfin2101 says:

      The people in the study of mathematically precocious youth are looking particularly at maths skills, but also at spatial abilities. Someone with an IQ between 120 and 130 may not have a “genius IQ,” but may actually score very highly in spatial abilities — potentially placing him among elite surgeons, engineers, architects, pilots, and innovative persons in all fields. His life output may well prove superior to many or most with genius level IQs above 150.

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