Interview with Paul Cooijmans

Conducted by Charles Peden, September 2011

Questions and answers

Question: Why is one of your interviews on your website now listed as with "anonymous person"?

Answer: Because that person requested me to remove one's name without giving a reason. It is probably better not to speculate in public what the reason was. Incidentally, there is another anonymous interview which is in Netherlandic, hyper-referred from the Netherlandic index page of the web site. And yet another interview, not anonymous, is included in a different category because that person did not want it in the Interviews section, there being an interview with a nazi there.

Question: Why are there missing Barney Vincelette videos on your Youtube channel?

Answer: Well, they are not on said channel of course, which is why you call them "missing"! They are missing because they contain music to which I or Vincelette do not hold the copyright and for which there is no permission to publish.

Question: How important do you feel emotions are to the decision making process and I.Q. in particular?

Answer: Quite important, in the sense that in order to make good and wise decisions they should be left out of that process, and this is something that has to be learnt with difficulty. It is the "counting to ten". I think the broad tendency is that persons of higher I.Q. are better at that, and that rational, cerebral persons tend to have higher I.Q.s than emotion-driven ones. This correlation is less than unity though - temperament and emotionality being partly independent of mental ability - but is positive nevertheless. An example of temperament differing independently of I.Q. is seen between northern and southern Europeans, and reflected in the current Euro crisis, and in the past in the differential inflation rates of the original currencies, the south having weak currencies with high inflation and high denominations, and the north having strong currencies and low inflation. This difference in temperament - which consists of non-cognitive aspects of personality - is not accounted for by a corresponding difference in I.Q.

Question: I told my son that his intelligence is not as important as trying hard and being able to sacrifice or suffer for gratification. If you would change that to be advice for most people, what would you tell them?

Answer: I would never say that intelligence is not as important as those other things, but that in order to live up to one's potential, one has to try hard. The brain is plastic, and through the hard work and study, it adapts itself to be up to the task one sets oneself. "Plastic" does not mean that the brain's quality or level of g can be improved, but that adaptation is instrumental in reaching one's individual ceiling. One is not born at one's peak. Without trying, one does not know what one is capable of.

Question: The protonorm for the raw score on a test I took has changed. Should I believe my I.Q. score is now the one corresponding to the new protonorm or should I stick with the original I.Q. determined by the psychometitor?

Answer: The new norm should be better.

Question: What are some of your favorite games and especially videogames that you have played?

Answer: I have never played video games, and those were also not available when I was young. Neither have I played non-video games much, as they mostly require the presence of one or more other persons. I have no favourite games. I can only say that games involving tactics, strategy, and trying to beat one another, are not suitable for me because I lack those inclinations; I am biologically not able to be tactical, secretive, to fool the other, to want to beat the other. I am always fully open and honest, which makes it impossible to play games wherein one has to "pretend". I can not "play", I can only be real. If I did play games, and if they existed, my favourite would probably be games of a psychological or psycho-analytical nature, and games wherein you talk in turns without being interrupted, and without the terrors of "discussion" or "debate", but with comparison instead; comparing, putting next to each other, the things participants say, rather than trying to "convince" the other. Such opportunities are extremely rare to nonexistent, most people suffering from a terrible impulsiveness and assertiveness which compels them to at once interrupt, shout down, contradict, and try to "convince" with sophistry anyone who says something they do not agree with. Someone should tell them that only liars need to convince.

Question: Does profanity or do certain words bother you?

Answer: Profanity does not bother me much, I would even say it is informative about the person excreting it. There certainly exist words that bother me, but those are mostly Netherlandic so it is not useful to mention them here. Some are contained in the text of my choir composition Collection of words and sentences, never to be uttered in my presence on pain of having one's tongue ripped out without anaesthetic, which, strange enough, has never been executed yet. In English there are also words that bother me, in particular perverted euphemisms like "abuse" for battering, rape, or torture, and "challenge" for problem or handicap. A very sick example would be a mother speaking in a manner like, "I have two children, one of which has a double challenge", meaning that the child has two serious diseases. I can not stand that false, forced, cramped-positive attitude. It strikes me as extremely sadistic. So it is not the words themselves that bother me, but the way in which they are used, which in turn is inspired by a sickening fear to say things as they are, and by misguided self-contempt and self-blame of the utterer, that apparently have to be disguised by a mask of positivism.

Question: What is your advice for people who want to offer a correction to something you wrote on your website?

Answer: I would recommend to first make certain it is indeed an error. People often think they see an error where there is none. They should also be aware that by pointing out the error, they rob me of the possibility and satisfaction of finding and correcting it myself. This is even more so when I have already discovered the error, but not got to correcting it; if someone alerts me to it at that time, it seems as if that person instead of I found the error, and thus robs me of the credit of correcting my own error! Then, it should be clear that when a trivial error is reported, and I recognize it as such and correct it, that article is still my work in its entirety. It is not so that one acquires part of the copyright of someone else's work by finding trivial errors in it. And if one thinks one has something substantial to contribute to the work, one should first take up the matter of one's copyright or recognition of credit with the author, rather than sending the contribution itself unaskedly. Not because the author might "steal" it, but because one is thus robbing the author of the possibility of arriving at that idea by oneself; if the latter occurred, one could say "You stole that idea from me, I sent it to you on this or that date!". For example, some years ago someone sent me a stream of messages containing ideas which he suggested I should work out and publish. Then suddenly, he turned evil and said, "Don't you dare use any of my ideas! I will sue you for plagiarism and copyright violation!" Of course, that is not how it works; one can not deny someone the right to publish about certain topics, just by unaskedly sending the latter those topics in advance! If that were so, anyone could silence any author for ever! If one has ideas one thinks are useful, one should best try to work them out oneself and publish them or have them published under one's own name.

Question: What countries outside of the Netherlands have you been to?

Answer: Belgium, Germany, England, and France. I do not travel much. Few things narrow the mind more than does travelling. As Confucius said, it is better to read one book than to travel a thousand miles. Actually he is claimed to have said it the other way around, but I can not imagine that to be anything but a shameful translation error. People who travel or have travelled much tend to be narrow-minded, especially those who have been in close contact with faraway exotic cultures. It may be that in such circumstances one feels vulnerable and dependent on the local people to survive and get back home again, so one is as it were a hostage. That may be intimidating, and induce a kind of "Stockholm syndrome" in one, resulting in exaggerated sympathy and admiration, leading to the cultural relativism for which cosmopolitans are so notorious.

Question: What is an example of foods and drinks you consume during a typical day?

Answer: Nothing special. I buy and cook normal food. I do eat the various foods of a meal one by one though, not together on a plate.

Question: Do you tend to eat the same things every day or do you prefer to vary your daily foods?

Answer: It varies according to a schedule over several weeks.

Question: How many of the current Giga Society members have you met in person?

Answer: One. Plus one of the future members, of course (Thoth).

Question: Why aren't there questions from you for the future Giga Society members on the website with the other t-mail messages?

Answer: You would have to ask them. They put those questions and answers on that web page, not I. They send information meant for me directly to me, not to that web site.

Question: Marilyn Vos Savant once tweeted "Members of Congress should not have been offered an opportunity to see photos of bin Laden's body, and those who accepted should be ashamed." Why would you or why would you not agree with that statement?

Answer: I would not agree. It is important that the death of such a person can be verified, for what can not be verified has not taken place. It would even be worth considering making them available to the general public. The argument that the photos are "too horrible" to publish (a politician said something like that) is an example of letting emotion interfere with decision-making; in this case, the emotions of those who supposedly would be so offended by the photos that they would want to avenge the death of the person in question. Who is this Marilyn, by the way?

Question: What is a question you wish interviewers would ask you and how would you answer it?

Answer: There are many such questions, and it would take the rest of my life to list and answer them. But a few that come to mind are: "How on Earth is it possible that someone of your quality is not married or otherwise reproducing his genetic material, given that, from the viewpoint of eugenics, those of higher ability should procreate lavishly?", and "Has the recent episode of herniated disk problems led to any important change or new development in your life?" For lack of time I will answer only the latter: Yes, it made me decide to take up novel-writing in English. This is new to me, although I have written a Netherlandic science-fiction novel when I was sixteen. I have over the years realized that writing is one of my strongest points, but whatever I write in Netherlandic is not read by many people, and since English is no native language to me I have long been reluctant to write prose in it. I think I master it sufficiently now. Other advantages of writing a novel are that it will hopefully be accessible to a larger audience than my tests, and less vulnerable to damage caused by unauthorized publication or public discussion of answers, and therefore more durable. Although the destruction of a work of beauty is much easier than its creation, it is harder to destroy someone's novel than it is to destroy a test.