Magens Bay --San Thomas

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Threshold in Intelligence

I once wrote Motivation and Us, where I have mentioned that "Self motivation! Without it, even a gifted child can perform less than one! In fact, I was told that there are plenty of gifted children that aren't doing well in this world and some parents considered gifted is a curse!"

Now I have learned something new about being gifted, so called, higher IQ. --IQ is a lot like height in basketball, according to a British psychologist Liam Hudson. Basically you need to be a t least a certain height to play at the NBA level, and the same true of intelligence. Intelligence has a threshold. Basically, what both Hudson and Gladwell from Outliers were saying that once you are in the threshold of having IQ from 130 and above--there is no much difference. And you don't have to have the highest IQ to win the Nobel prize.

Image from
Gladwell analyzed schools that have produced Nobel Prize winners and discovered that they were not only from the schools like Stanford, Harvard or Yale but also from any school even the less elite ones. In order to be a Nobel Prize winner, all you have to do is to be smart enough to get into College. "This is a radical idea, isn't it," the author asked.

Another drastic example Gladwell has given in his book Outliers was about The University of Michigan law school. Like any elite schools, the university has given 10% of his admission allocation to member of racial minorities due to the policy of affirmation action. The school decided to tally up some statistic on the students admitted solely based on policy of affirmation action. They wanted to understand how successful were these students compared to the Termites--based on their intelligence. --a phrase introduce by Lewis Terman, professor of psychology at Stanford University for gifted individuals. He believed that these Termites were destined to be the future elite of the United States. To the university's surprised that those law school's minority students did extremely well --They're just as successful. There was no discrepancy.

"We have seen," Terman conclude, with more than a touch of disappointment, "that intellect and achievement are far from perfectly correlated."

Aside from intelligence, there is a creativity. Now take the following sample of 'divergence test.' and ask yourself and/or your children. Write down as many different uses that you can think of for the following objects:
1. a brick
2. a blanket
If your answers simply lie between the conventional usage of both items. Think again! Think about what are their usages when you have nothing but those items. --Now you know ...

I really enjoy writing this part of blog as much as I enjoy reading the Outlier. --Simply mind boggling!

If you enjoy my blogs, would you come 'Like' me on my FB fan page: --Thank you!

Thank you for walking with me on this journey ...
Journey of Life


  1. In my business, what you're describing is called an "ante." It basically means, in order to "play," you must reach a certain, minimum threshold. For the NBA example, where height is a critical component, if you are not over a certain height, you have -zero- chance of being a successful player in the NBA. Not sure what the figure is, but I suspect it is around six feet or so. I don't know how many starters in the professional leagues are under six feet, but I would bet it is a tiny number, if not zero itself.

    Gladwell's (and the UofM's) analyses are fundamentally flawed, and surprisingly reach the wrong conclusions.

    First, the idea that, once you are over a certain level, it does not matter how "tall" (smart) you are. There are multivariate factors here, and the reductio of what Gladwell is saying is that, if you took two people of otherwise identical skills (in basketball, say they run at the same speed, have the same vertical leap, same shooting and defensive skills), and yet one player was 6-6 and the other 6-8, it would not matter.

    That does not sound reasonable, does it?

    Terman's study of high-IQ students from 100 years ago failed because it was not a controlled, observational cohort. Here is an analysis done, controlling for various covariates, of truly exceptional achievement and IQ


    BTW, no one (no reasonable person, anyways) would make the argument that intellect and achievement are perfectly correlated. But once you take away the overwhelming majority of the data points (setting a cut-point of 130), the lion's share of the variance is removed, and unsurprisingly, the correlations are weaker.

    1. Love your counter argument! I have to find time to read that link. --Looks like I need to drink a lot of green tea to clear my mind before reading it :-)

      You would think that Gladwell and Hudson would have thought about other skills before they made the statements. I think if I understood it correctly, what they are referring is the per-requisite for both basketball and college are height and certain IQ respectively with given skills. What they are saying is given others skills that they posses, just because you are taller or have higher IQ won't make much difference.

      Maybe the study that you provided would tell me something difference. Yes?

  2. I'm a new follower from a blog hop, if you could follow me back that would be great!

    1. Thank you. Just did! Love to extend my blogger' friend circle. :-)