Statements on intelligence

© October 2016 Paul Cooijmans


This is a list of brief, sometimes ever so slightly contrary statements on intelligence (mental ability, g, however one calls it). The statements are provided without proof or discussion, and reflect insights acquired over decades of observation and study.

List of statements

  1. When psychologists or other such experts communicate publicly about intelligence, almost everything they say is wrong.
  2. Intelligence disposes for mental health and psychosocial normality. More is better, up to the highest level.
  3. The concept of "giftedness" (defined as intelligence) as a problem or condition that requires special help is mainly a money-making device for (mostly quack) therapists.
  4. The only danger or disadvantage of intelligence is that it makes one incline toward egalitarianism and other forms of Marxist ideology, those ideologies being detrimental to civilization and to the people who brought forth it.
  5. Although good at learning from their errors, the one mistake intelligent people always keep making is to underestimate the limitations of others' intelligence.
  6. Intelligence is recessive in groups and cooperation; the output level of a group is determined by its least intelligent member. For that reason, requiring intelligent people to cooperate, function in groups and so on is unwise.
  7. High intelligence is not recognized in a low-I.Q. environment but rather taken for stupidity, and the potential of an individual thus positioned is at risk of being missed, delayed, or lost forever, not to speak of the personal fate of the individual oneself. Said problems are not caused by the intelligence of the individual but by the lack of it in the individual's surroundings.
  8. Given the heredity of intelligence, a likely majority of the intelligent will be born into above-averagely intelligent families, while a significant minority of them grow up in circles of below-average I.Q.
  9. The popular tendency to associate intelligence with more or less negative human characteristics is often a way in which sufferers of those conditions comfort themselves: "I may be lazy / disorderly / unable to get out of bed in the morning / having no attention span / uncoordinated / incoherent / dyslectic / innumerate / left-handed, but that is typical of the highly intelligent".
  10. Intelligence is the most important causal factor behind human behaviour, both on the level of individual personality, where it decides one's potential to contribute positively to society and likelihood to engage in crime, aggression, and violence, and on the level of societies, where, averaged over a society's population, it determines that society's civilizational level.
  11. The individual and group differences in intelligence observed in children before puberty are not representative of those among adults. This is so because of the different developmental curves of individuals, sexes, ethnic groups, and races. As a result, one of the problems in the mental testing of children is the confusion of precocity with "giftedness", this confusion necessarily always being to the disadvantage of the (as adults) brighter individuals and groups, who are thus at risk of being incorrectly not identified as intelligent or gifted in childhood.
  12. When a precocious child is incorrectly identified as "gifted" and subsequently grows up to be a merely average adult, one often makes the mistake of concluding that something has gone terribly wrong in the social-environmental plane during puberty and adolescence, rather than recognizing that precociousness is not "giftedness" or intelligence to begin with.
  13. It is harmful and exceedingly cruel to force children of sharply different ability levels through the same curriculum at the same pace in the same classroom.
  14. Intelligence is an all-pervasive unhideable inimitable trait, expressing itself in virtually anything a person does or says. While objective observation of communication and further behaviour should therefore suffice to assess someone's I.Q., the remarkable conspicuous inability of most people to correctly make such assessment compels us to formalize the procedure with tests.
  15. The way in which obvious intelligence differences between people are ignored in social interaction is similar to the way in which we avoid to openly acknowledge marked differences in pulchritude, body odour and the like.
  16. There rests a taboo on the relation between intelligence and real-life functioning, such that many societal effects of differences in intelligence are, in public and political debate, invariably but falsely attributed to social-environmental factors like poverty/wealth, discrimination, or being (un)privileged.
  17. The statistical relation between below-average intelligence and crime, aggression, and violence is caused by the fact that persons in that I.Q. range are less able to control their impulses or delay gratification, less or not able to understand moral principles like the Golden Rule, and overstrained by the cognitive demands of society.
  18. The taboo on the societal relevance of intelligence is also expressed in the fact that people will more easily accept certain neurological or psychiatric diagnoses than admit that they are deficient in particular forms of mental ability; in fact, listing examples of such labels would offend many in this context, who prefer to believe they have a disorder over accepting they are not as intelligent as they would like to be.
  19. When measures are taken to make a particular task, activity, or procedure easier, the average I.Q. of those engaging in it will drop as a result of the lower threshold thus created. This phenomenon occurs as an ironic byproduct of technological progress, as well as in any form of "positive discrimination" or minimum quota for certain groups.
  20. When dealing with adults who are properly and objectively selected for high intelligence, an inescapable and worrying observation is the apparent under-representation of women in that group.
  21. While it is uncertain whether one can improve one's intelligence, it is certain that one can reduce it through various abuses. Avoidance of those abuses may in the long run be the best strategy to increase one's intelligence-time (intelligence × time of life) and therewith one's total creative output and amount of happiness.
  22. There exists an almost irresistible tendency for people to avoid activities that are too difficult for them in the cognitive sense.
  23. A temporary lowering of intelligence is experienced as pleasant and often mistaken for raised (widened, enhanced) awareness or enlightenment. The attraction of many recreational drugs and methods of meditation rests largely on this misleadingly positive perception.
  24. The faculties of logic and of rational communication are available to roughly 1 in 200 of the Western population.
  25. In Western societies, intelligence reached a pinnacle somewhere in the twentieth century and is now in decline on the genetic level. This decline results from lowered selection pressures, dysgenic differential fertility, and mass immigration from parts of the world where average I.Q. is lower, all of these phenomena being inherent to high civilization.