Sunday, December 12, 2004

Stephen Hawking Implicitly Disses Triple Nine?

Click here (registration required) to read an email interview with Stephen Hawking in the December 12, 2004 issue of The New York Times Magazine.

Interview tidbits: Hawking answers a question about I.Q. and calls President Bush's plans to put a human on Mars "stupid".

Money quote: "People who boast about their I.Q. are losers."

16 Comments:

Blogger Calluna said...

He's right, people who boast about their IQ probably *are* losers. Most people with some accomplishments and a high IQ will mention what they've done rather than what potential they are supposed to have. Very young people might only have IQ and other "evaluation" scores to indicate that they might be worth heeding, and in that case I would not call it boasting. But TNSers generally do not boast about their scores. In the last year, I think I've only seen one posting by a member mentioning his IQ score (hint: about a week ago). So, no, Hawking wasn't dissing TNS, since the point of TNS is to have a community and discuss ideas in greater complexity and depth than is typical in other discussion boards. Not sure we always reach that goal! If we get really detailed, there is at least one member who will dismiss the argument with "I don't have time to read all that." Hawking *was* dissing people who boast about their IQ scores. If he doesn't know TNS and Mensa and other such groups well, he might think that all the members do is wander around comparing scores :-) Remember that Hawking is surrounded by people who have high IQs - what is important is how clearly and consistently they work on developing their ideas, and whether they are willing to abandon lines of inquiry which have proven unfruitful - a big time-waster among highly intelligent people who get fixated on a pet idea or theory.

December 12, 2004 at 1:08 PM  
Blogger Peter Wizenberg said...

I agree that the key is "boasting". I put up a deliberately provocative title to generate interest. (Hey, this is a new blog!)

There's nothing wrong with people with high I.Q.s wanting to interact with other people with similar I.Q.s. Most people don't choose to "hang out" with other people whose I.Q.s are two to three (or more) standard deviations below their own. (0ne reason is purely statistical.)

Of course, we all operate under time and energy constraints, and I do have sympathy for someone who refrains from pursuing a line of discussion simply because he or she has decided that, for whatever reason, it's just not worth his or her effort.

December 12, 2004 at 1:55 PM  
Blogger Hill Dweller said...

The other amusing feature lies in his very words:

Q:What is your I.Q.?

A:I have no idea. People who boast about their I.Q. are losers. [No idea, perhaps, but he has a "hope"; read on.]

Q:How can we know if you qualify as a genius physicist, as you are invariably described?

A:The media need superheroes in science just as in every sphere of life, but there is really a continuous range of abilities with no clear dividing line.

Q:Are you saying you are not a genius?

A:I hope I'm near the upper end of the range.

--Umm, okay, so you hope you're near the upper end of "the range" (as in home on the range, or an Amana range, or might it be an intelligence range?) but to talk--no, of course, "to boast"--about IQ is, well, just not right from the British standpoint. Ahem. Of course. Jolly right. But you _do_ hope you're near the upper end . . . no contradiction there!

--Very funny!

December 13, 2004 at 12:29 PM  
Blogger Peter Wizenberg said...

As Calluna so aptly pointed out, Hawking is surrounded by people with high I.Q.s. Indeed, it's very likely that many of them, being prominent physicists, have I.Q.s above the 3rd standard deviation, (99.9th percentile).

Hawking's feigned modesty is endearing. Do you recall the "Star Trek" scene where he's playing cards with Einstein?

December 13, 2004 at 12:34 PM  
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