Interview with Paul Cooijmans

Conducted by Steve Thorbes, 2004


I cannot remember when I visited Paul's website for the first time but I know that I have been fascinated by his internet portal from the very beginning, Paul being such an exceptional person. During the time, I got more and more in touch with Paul's fields of interest by reading his articles and essays (research on intelligence, in the first place) and doing some further research. Finally, I couldn't resist asking him all the questions that I wanted to ask, regarding his person and also his opinions on very different subjects. I was really glad he was willing to answer them for me and I would like to thank him for that. The thing went over to be an interview, so - here we go.

Questions and Answers

When you went to school, where there any special capabilities, doings or certain views of you that discriminated you from children of your age around you?

Yes. I had a very good memory and often remembered things literally that had been said by the teacher very long ago. I was very good at basically all subjects (except drawing, music, gymnastics and so), but also hated school very much. And I spoke very little and was alone a lot. When I was about nine I was sent to a speech therapist.

Why do you believe you have an absolute sense of justice? How does it show?

I don't believe it, I know it. It does not show, you just know. This started very early. For instance, in kindergarten I used to be appalled when the teacher would say, "when two are fighting, two are guilty". Because when an evil person beats up an innocent, the second is not guilty at all. To realize that by yourself is sense of justice.

Do you know whether your mother is exceptionally intelligent, too? Was your father?

Yes. She is not exceptionally intelligent, and neither was my father.

To what extent does your physical fitness affect your mental fitness if you see it in long terms (i.e. not considering sickness)?

Physical fitness enables me to concentrate on mental work well and long. I do not tire quickly. It is also likely that physical fitness will enable me to keep working and improving up to a very high age. So that in total my creative output will be large and of ever higher quality. In this respect I mention that successful creative figures usually die either very young (before their late thirties) or very old (late eighties or older), but not in between (according to Hans Eysenck in his book "Genius"). I am going for the latter.

How many times a week do you do sports? What kind of sports do you do?

Two to three times a week usually. Running, riding on a recumbent and riding on an exercise bike.

Do you sometimes drink a beer or any other alcoholic drink? If not, is it for reasons of mental fitness? Do you drink much water?

Yes, I drink a glass of white wine a few times a week. And I drink much water.

Did you ever deal with special techniques regarding mental development on any sectors, such like speed reading or training the memory? Why/why not?

No. I have never been aware of the existence of such techniques. I also think that slow reading is much better than fast reading. And my memory is quite good already.

Why aren't you interested in present politics? Don't you think that especially exceptionally bright people should deal with modern politics and intervene in such matters? Why/why not?

Politics in itself is not interesting. It is mostly short-sighted and evolves around the careers of the politicians. I do think exceptionally bright people should deal with the problems in the world, but politics as it is now is not suitable for intelligent people who look further ahead. Perhaps it should be taken away from the politicians. A scientifization of how nations and the world are run would be in order.

Another reason why intelligent people don't intervene in politics much is that the problems at play are largely of ethnic and religious nature, and those are sensitive topics surrounded by taboos. Almost no one who has insight in the scientific facts can afford to speak openly about those matters.

I read that you today wished you had gone to university right after school. Have you ever thought about going to university now? Why/why not?

I have thought about going to university in some form, but at this stage in my life I cannot afford or motivate myself to undertake such a long study without any concrete prospect regarding the future thereafter, e.g. a job or something. I have already done one very long and demanding study (music) that turned out to not result in a stable societal position. I do not want to repeat that. So currently I am trying to find work via shorter courses, and keep the scientific things as a kind of hobby. A longer study I would only undertake if someone, or some firm, would guarantee me a position and income.

What are your ambitions regarding classical arts and humanities? Do you read any writings of classical philosophers, economists etc.? Do you read any classical literature? Why/why not?

I don't understand that first sentence. But if you mean what my ambitions are regarding my composing and writing: I hope my compositions will be played a lot in the future, perhaps best by people who get interested in me via my other work. And I will keep writing as I am doing now and publishing it on the Internet. Maybe I'll self-publish some things in paper form too now and then, or maybe a bigger publisher will ever offer to publish a book with my articles or stories.

I don't currently read things by classical philosophers. I don't remember ever doing that. I don't read classical literature. Why not? I need a reason to do something, not to not do it, so I can't answer that. But in general I do not or hardly read fiction anymore.

What do you think will the future of communication between highly intelligent people look like?

I have no answer to this question.

What role do you think do exceptionally bright people play considering the cultural and scientific evolution of the humans? Isn't it significantly underestimated in the public? What tendencies do you see for the future?

They are responsible for cultural and scientific progress in general; without them we would still be primitive ape-men. The public underestimates this indeed, but even worse is that intelligent individuals THEMSELVES underestimate the role of intelligence in human progress. This is because they underestimate the difference between them and the average person; they cannot imagine how it is to be average. They do not realize how exceptional they are, and how limited average persons are. They tend to assume that what they can do, basically everyone who is not really stupid can do. And they are wrong in that.

The general under-valuation of intelligence in modern society may be more due to the intellectuals' failure to recognize the value of intelligence than to the attitude of the greater public. It's like with money; it's always the rich who say "money doesn't bring happiness". Never the poor. With intelligence, it's the intelligent who often say "intelligence isn't everything, we are really all equal". But the dumb know better.

In your 2002 interview with an anonymous person, you told us what a normal day in your life looks like. It is remarkable what an important role 'daily routine' seems to play in your life. Do you think this is mainly a consequence of the fact that you were diagnosed Asperger?

Yes, that is characteristic of Asperger. It is not a problem in itself of course. Being so orderly is good for certain types of work.

Do you believe that there exist people in the world who have extremely high IQs (say in the 190s) and who have not yet been 'discovered'? Or do you think that any person of such high intelligence will one day show?

Yes, I think there are a few who have not been discovered and probably will not be discovered. There are two reasons why I think this: first, there is a tendency for very intelligent people to underestimate their rareness, their distance to the mean. This has been noted by Arthur Jensen, I quote him on that on the F.A.Q. page of GliaWeb. It could be that such a person does not realize how smart he is and sees no reason to take a high-range test.

Second, based on the results of my personality questionnaires I have recently come to the conclusion that in the high IQ range there is a clear negative correlation between IQ and what I call "deviance". This means that those few with extremely high IQs you mean will be very low on deviance, and may not feel attracted at all to the, rather deviant, world of high-range tests and high IQ societies.

Do you believe in the existence of some being like "God"? If yes, do you think it can be described in the way the Torah, the Bible or the Koran do?

No, I am sure "God" is a form of mass delusion. I do believe though (and have proven) that it is possible for statements (or propositions, things, whatever you call it) to be absolutely true (as opposed to all things being relative as the nihilists say). And in its deepest essence, that is what some people really mean by "God". But I wouldn't call it that, personally.

How would you describe the kind of communication and interaction between exceptionally intelligent individuals within high-iq-societies to a person that is not a member?

I can only speak about my own experiences, that may not be representative for those of other members. The kind of communication I have with other members is in written form, mostly e-mail, and concentrates on content rather than courtesies. It is substantial rather than conversational. It has a reason and often results in concrete progress. I have no idea how this is for other members. My case is special because I publish my work on the Internet, and thus get in contact with useful people.

Ideally the high-IQ world should work as an efficient way to get in mutually beneficial communication with others for all members, but at the moment we are not monitoring it to find out how well it functions in that respect. Note that with progress I mean true progress in the personal and work fields, which are often indistinguishable in highly intelligent people. I do not mean "networking" for commercial purposes and the like.