Ask A Genius 340 – Intelligence as Refuge and Strength
December 1, 2017
[Beginning of recorded material]
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: To take a step back, who are personal heroes for you although you have qualms with those terms?
Rick Rosner: Alright. Heroes, people I am interested in finding more about or reading more of their stuff.
Jacobsen: Like who?
Rosner: Like George Saunders, I would say is a hero. He is a guy who is trained as an engineer. Then became a writer who addresses a lot of issues of modern life that other people don’t quite get. The world is discovered.
And so, he has rightfully elevated into one of our great current writers. He’s also personally kind and available. He seems like a good guy. He is a great writer. Other writers I like, though their interests don’t always overlap with mine – I mean entirely overlap with mine, so they don’t always write about what I wish they would write about. Stevenson, Charles Straus, Doctorow, Kelly Oxford.
People I like finding more about include like Elvis. I like reading about F. Scott Fitzgerald, although he was a huge mess. A provocative mess. There’s a whole little cluster of women at Harvard at the beginning of the 20th century who are responsible for much of our understanding of the structure of the universe.
They didn’t get the credit they deserved. Like Henrietta Swan Leavitt and her crew. What’s that lady, the one that discovered the elemental composition of stars? Cecilia Helena Payne-Gaposchkin.
She’s interesting, in that she came up with this huge discovery and is almost entirely absent from our collective scientific memory. Compared to people whose names are pretty much household names, like Hubble — who builds his work upon the work of these women.
I like reading about them, but there’s not too much more to read about him. Oh, you asked who is smarter than me, and…
Jacobsen: Who do you think is smarter than you? There is the Betts listing.
Rosner: Everything has to start with how goofy the idea is that you can write about that way. I benefited from the ranking, but you have similar problems as to when you ask, and worse problems is when you ask, “Who is the world’s strongest man?”
There are lots of different indices of strength. And, any measuring tool is arbitrary in whatever tasks one picks or emphasizes. I can tell you that I have the highest measured IQ of anybody who has ever written jokes for TV.
Jacobsen: In one interview, you said you had the highest IQ in the world.
Rosner: I have worked with plenty of people who are wildly smart, who are geniuses accordingly, not the loosest definition of genius but not the strictest definition of genius, too. You have to put things in context where I might be the funniest person currently alive within an IQ in the 190s.
I might be the smartest person alive writing jokes like specific contexts. It’s hard to judge. Anyway, you were saying that I am the smartest person. I have got a good argument that I have the highest IQ in the world.
Jacobsen: Second highest on the one listing. Dr. Katsioulis has the first. To your good argument for the highest, why? How?
Rosner: I’ve taken more than thirty tests to measure ultra-high IQ and have gotten the highest score ever earned on more than twenty of them. Nobody has that huge record of maxing out all of these high-end IQ tests.
The most that anybody else has done is two or three or five. Where they get the highest score ever, if anybody would even doubt it’s high, I would think that other people’s claim to their IQ’s generally rest on one or two good performances on an IQ test.
Mine rests on my performance across dozens of tests. And decades of messing around with these tests.
Jacobsen: And if you take the Betts listing, the one test that they do take into account to decide the score for number one was a nonverbal test by the Cerebrals Society. He scored 205 on an SD16.
It was a culture fair test. You scored 199 on SD16 on a verbal test.
Rosner: I would have to look at the whole deal. These high-end tests get re-normed a lot. So, as the people who make the test get more results and do more statistical work, it can change things. Most of these people aren’t psychometricians or statisticians.
Jacobsen: So, we can take this 199. Also, you scored four 198.1s all on tests by Betts from 2012. So, maybe, we can take a step back and that way you can speak more confidently.
Rosner: I mean the everything is arbitrary. I have practiced a lot because I have taken so many tests. What it takes to do those tests, I have to put in the work to do them. So, you could argue that there is a huge practice effect and a huge determination in the diligence.
I mean everything is arbitrary, again, in the same way, that if you have ever watched the world’s strongest man. You see a bunch of guys who weigh anyway from 280 to 400 pounds doing various things that take tremendous strength.
Lifting stone balls that are two feet in diameter, pushing 800-pound truck tires that are 10 feet in diameter end over end, racing while towing a semi that might go for 10,000 pounds, different people win different events.
There’s no world’s strongest man whose won that thing eight years in a row. I don’t think, maybe there is. His name is probably something Scandinavian-like. Guys from the Viking country seem to be into this and do well.
But, that you can claim that any one of those guys is absolutely the world’s strongest man, because the tasks are arbitrary. Then you have Olympic power holders who do things of strength and whole other sets of tightly judged measures of strength.
Then you have weird effects like the world’s strongest teenager. For a long time, there was a kid out of one of the Eastern Bloc countries. This kid turns out that he has like brutal scoliosis. So, that when he deadlifts, he grabs the bar and spine flexes.
His rib cage drops a couple of inches. So, his ribs are resting directly on his ileac crest of his pelvis. And so, he only has to get the bar like two inches off the ground, because his body flexes. So, I’ve heard that when he bench-presses, then you can put a basketball under his back because his spine is so curved.
So, that’s a weird way of not cheating but of leveraging one’s strength due to anatomical peculiarity. The measurement of IQ, of intelligence, has always been problematic. And also, this is similar to the world’s strongest man.
What the hell, it doesn’t matter. What matters, the world’s strongest man matters within the context of the show called The World’s Strongest Man. It matters within the context of like national pride, which you could already use as an important thing when it comes to powerlifting.
I’m saying that the idea that IQ doesn’t have a huge context of mattering, especially since IQ was designed in France by a guy as a tool to see what kids needed help with in school. He had IQ. He probably didn’t call it IQ, because that was probably a term coined in California.
But he came up with the idea of intelligence testing, on a five-point scale, where the ones and twos had learning difficulties, needed help, the fours and fives had advanced learning abilities and needed perhaps different educational resources too.
The threes are your average students who might be in a regular classroom. Then Terman gets ahold of the idea and probably comes up with an index of 100 being average, with differences measured on a scale of the standard deviation of 16.
He Americanized it; he tech-ed it up. Going from a one through five scale to a scale that gives you a two or three-digit score, which gives the illusion of much more precision.
Anyway, I can brag about my IQ and use it to try to get recognition and maybe eventually a book deal or employment, or somehow monetize it the way like Marilyn Vos Savant, who was known for having the highest IQ in the Guinness Book of World Records in the 80s.
She has monetized her IQ. She has probably six or seven million dollars over her lifetime.
Jacobsen: What’s the evidence for that claim?
Rosner: Because she has column in Parade Magazine for more than thirty years now. I am figuring if she gets 150 grand per year for the column, which, maybe she does, and she has published ten books.
If she is that active in giving speeches now, but she used to be part of the Speaker’s Bureau, the woman with the world’s highest IQ could come and talk to your group. Maybe, it will cost 15 or 20 grand.
So, I would say it’s not unreasonable to think that given all of her activity that she has made at least millions of dollars off a career that began with her being celebrated for her IQ.
[End of recorded material]
American Television Writer
Scott Douglas Jacobsen
Editor-in-Chief, In-Sight Publishing
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