Frequently asked questions (old version)

Answers by Paul Cooijmans


Most of these questions and answers are quite old (from 2001 on) and some answers may not correspond to the most recent insights. The questions are presented here as originally asked by visitors, hence the grammatical errors.


The questions and answers

How do you know if your test items are good?

When enough submissions have come in to a test I perform item analysis to detect possible bad items. A good indicator of item quality is an item's correlation with total score, or with total score minus score on the present item, which some say is better. If this is negative, near zero, or markedly low compared to the other items, I examine the item to understand the cause of its poor performance. Often I remove such an item from the test, and sometimes I make an alteration to it, after which the new version is analysed in the same way when possible. It takes fairly many submissions to get a reliable item analysis, say around 60. Until a test has reached that amount, item quality is monitored by studying comments from candidates, which are in some cases useful (other comments result from not having understood the item and being completely in error). I aim for supreme standards in item quality, but due to the difficulty of creating and selecting items for the high I.Q. range, where all regular psychological I.Q. tests are known to lose their correlation with intelligence (that is, where they fail to measure intelligence) I can not guarantee the absence of bad items.

Also note that items doing poorly in item analysis are not always flawed; sometimes they are perfectly sound internally but still correlate negatively with total score, either because of their non-intellectual nature (e.g., dealing with common household matters that "everyone knows"; the test designer is then punished for trying to keep it "culture fair") or because they are too esoteric, far-fetched, or sublime.

Why do some think your test norms are too generous?

There are basically two groups of people who say that; the vast majority are those who have never had a test scored by me, but have merely looked at a test and estimated how much they could solve. They then look at the norms and decide "too generous". I trust no further comment is needed on this group.

Then there is a group of high scorers who greatly underestimate their distance to the mean in intelligence, and therefore think the norms are too generous. This underestimation is inherent to high intelligence, and is sufficiently explained by Arthur Jensen in this article. The relevant section reads:

"I have interviewed persons (none of them psychologists) from every segment of the IQ distribution about their estimates of their own IQ. Most people seem to know on which side of the population mean they fall, but those in the extremes greatly underestimate their extremity, especially at the high end of the distribution. Extraordinary achievements are typically attributed to interest, effort, and persistence. However important these factors might be, there is typically little awareness of the level of cognitive ability without which individuals' achievements would have been impossible, regardless of their effort and persistence. Even Richard Wagner was said to have at times felt depressed for his deficiency of musical talent because of the tremendous effort he had to muster while creating some of the musical miracles for which he became recognized as one of the world's great geniuses."

Can you qualify for Giga or Grail society if you make retests of the same IQ test?


Could Robert Sternberg's triarchic theory of multiple intelligences eventually replace the widely held belief that there is a general intelligence that can be measured by IQ tests?

Question contains false assumption. There is no widely held belief in general intelligence; general intelligence is a scientifically proven fact. The existence of general intelligence is proved by the positive intercorrelations among virtually all tests for mental abilities, that have been found from the early twentieth century onward. The hypothesis of multiple intelligences though is a scientifically disproved belief. It is disproved by the same positive intercorrelations, because the hypothesis of multiple intelligences requires that all intercorrelations among the "intelligences" are zero; that they are independent, perpendicular. Obviously a fallacy can not replace a fact. This is further explained excellently by Arthur Jensen in "The g factor".

What is your definition of "intelligence"?

The sum of evolutionary ability.

With genetic modification becoming a reality will general mental abilities (assuming everyone wants it) soon become a ubiquitous attribute, and if so about when will this take place?

No. It will take long before it becomes technically possible to genetically improve the future intelligence of an embryo, which I assume you mean (because the brain is largely formed during pregnancy) and then once it becomes possible it will initially only be available to who can afford it (so it will enlarge the differences in intelligence between groups of people) and then it will take a few decades before those embryos have grown up.

Also there will be tremendous protest from the "politically correct" who shout "fascism" et cetera at the mere thought of it. They will lose eventually, but slow the process down. I would say it will last until about 2100 before genetic modification of I.Q. will take place on a significant large scale. And even then it will only be certain groups who practice it; other groups will not be able to afford it or choose not to do it, which will cause huge differences, even speciation. By that time things will have become more complex by the presence of artificial intelligence equal to humans, and human/machine hybrids (e.g., chip implants in the brain, which will be possible long before genetic modification).

And, you can't teach a pig to sing; even with genetic manipulation not everyone will get highly intelligent offspring. The parents will need to have a certain minimal genetic constitution. It will need to be a combination of manipulation and selective procreation for best results. Actually, selective procreation (eugenics) is a much easier and faster way to improve intelligence, only it doesn't work on the individual level. It works on the group level, to increase a population's mean I.Q by preventing those at the bottom from procreating. When combined with prenatal scanning for health and intelligence (and abortion if needed), it will make genetic manipulation as you probably mean it superfluous. Even better is the method of creating a number of embryos, and selecting the best for implantation. Even then, individual differences in intelligence will remain. As said, all these techniques will enlarge the differences in intelligence rather than make intelligence ubiquitous as you suggest.

Finally, if you perhaps meant that with genetic modification an already grown-up person might become more intelligent, please realize that genes are like a blueprint of the brain and body; changing the blueprint of an already built bridge will not change anything at all in that bridge.

The question isn't about proving that absolute truth exists, the question should be if it is possible to ever know the complete truth of things, to have complete knowledge of life and the universe, and what it means. Spirituality isn't a separate thing to explain what isn't understood, it is part of what we are, what the universe is and how it works. What is the difference between proving that something does exist and proving that something doesn't exist?

That the first is possible and the latter impossible. That is why "its existence has not been disproved" is not a valid argument in favour of irrational beliefs.

Whats the correlation between chronometrics and intelligence?

Depending on what measure or combination of measures is considered this varies from about .2 to about .7. Also, as mentioned by Chris Brand in his book The g Factor (not to be confused with A. Jensen's book of the same title), the correlation is not constant over the entire range, but highest in the low range and lower in the above-average range; in the very high range there may be no correlation at all.

Is creativity an ability that can be measured by creativity tests like intelligence is measured by IQ tests, or is it a synergistic combination of many factors such as 'g', personality traits, special talents, etc...?

It can not be measured by "creativity tests". It should best be seen as a synergy of conscientiousness, intelligence, and associative horizon.

What are the similarities and differences between simple information processing and complex information processing in relation to 'g'?

Complex correlates higher with g than simple. A similarity is they both correlate positively with g.

What are the fundamental similarities and differences between the personality traits of psychoticism and social deviance in relation to genius?

Deviance includes introversion and unusualness, while psychoticism (as meant by Eysenck) consists mainly of anti-social tendencies, sensation-seeking, reward dependence and so. Similarities are the preference for complex structure and the disposition for psychosis. A problem is I have not been able to find the factor psychoticism as meant by Eysenck myself in my personality tests. Only Eysenck's personality test gives a psychoticism score.

What more is there, if any more, to 'g' besides the speed, efficiency , and capacity of information processing?

Depends on which level you are looking at. One level below g are physical qualities of the brain like conduction speed, the number of connections between neurons, the quality of the insulation material around the axons, the number of cortical neurons, the efficiency of the glucose metabolism and so on. The physical substrate of "g".

Two levels below g are the genes that deal with the forming of the brain. We don't know all the details about that yet, but there are a number of them and the combination thereof you have is largely responsible for the quality of your brain.

One level above g are pattern recognition and reasoning; or maybe those are levels on their own. The quality thereof depends largely on the quality of the elementary cognitive tasks mentioned by you, which in turn depends on the quality of the physical brain.

Does social deviance fall into the dimension of personality?

Yes, although the word "dimension" is not appropriate here. Deviance is a dimension in the realm of personality.

What are, if any, the sex differences in social deviance?

Not much difference according to the GAIA statistics. There does seem to be a difference in how deviance relates to intelligence: in males it reduces intelligence, in females it perhaps not, or even seems to go with higher intelligence than that of non-deviant females.

Could chronometrics turn out to be the best method of measuring cognitive abilities at high levels?

Unlikely. A significant correlation between those measures and intelligence in the high range has never been found, and mainstream science does simply not practice high-range testing. Even for the medium I.Q. range, the correlation with E.C.T.'s is not impressive, and they are certainly not replacing I.Q. tests, but are used in research only. Also see my above answer to "Whats the correlation between chronometrics and intelligence?"

In your "Gifted Adult's Inventory of Aspergerism,", one of the features which you say may be useful in genius research is "not well able to read another's facial expression." Wouldn't this go against genius since an aspect of emotional intelligence is being able to read the emotions off of anothers facial expression?

No, and the word "since" in the question is misplaced. "Emotional intelligence" does not exist. It is just a made-up concept to make people who are not so intelligent feel they are quite something after all. A genius certainly can do without that.

What is in your opinion the correlation between social deviance and creativity?

My current opinion (2005): Deviance delivers one of the three pillars of creativity, to wit associative horizon. The other two are intelligence and conscientiousness. I do not know the correlation as asked because I have no numerical measure of creativity. A problem with that is that it would require the use of personality test scores, and people could and would manipulate their personality test answers in order to arrive at a high creativity score.

In Dean Keith Simonton's "Origins of Genius," he says that Francis Galton estimated true genius to be as rare as 1 in 4000. Why do you think in your previous answer that a true genius level of ability comes as rare as 1 in 50,000 to 500,000?

I looked at the rareness of the I.Q. and deviance scores required for the estimated cutoff on the genius scale, and thus arrived at those numbers. Also my genius definition is an intrinsic one, based on potential present in the individual. Galton's definition, which I know, is a tautology; it boils down to "a genius is someone who, over a long period and by many people, is considered important, influential etc." It is based on the effect afterwards of genius, while mine is based on intrinsic potential, and therefore is more fundamental, courageous, and true. Galton never ran the risk of failure of his definition, as he defined it by its effect without making predictions. My definition however does take that risk; it predicts, and therefore is falsifiable. The number of 1 in 4000 by the way seems ridiculous to me; that would mean there are a million geniuses alive now! Where do you see them? I am much more conservative in my use of the term "genius". Galton really meant "eminence" with that 1 in 4000 estimate.

Do you feel that test anxiety can prevent children and adults from achieving their highest potential I.Q. score on timed, standardized tests (WISC, WAIS, Stanford Binet, etc.)?

It can cause one to score lower than one would without anxiety, which is what you probably mean. The score without anxiety - "potential" score - is hypothetical though and it is no foregone conclusion that anxiety is an independent factor. Most anxiety is caused by not being up to the task at hand. In any case, test anxiety is part of what a test measures. The tests you mention by the way are administered in a way that, in my perception, minimizes anxiety.

Have you ever contacted I.Q. societies that do not accept your tests for admission to inquire why they do not? Perhaps their reasons would help you to improve your tests (not to hint at the fact that they need it; I think they are great tests.)

No. I have the experience that contacting organizations and presenting my work does not work. What works is when they contact me after having seen my work. Because then they are selected for ability to understand my work. The ones that do not understand can not help improve my work anyway.

Can you give an estimate as to the correlation between I.Q. and social deviance?

Yes. It's around -.55 in the high range. (In 2004, a few years after the previous answer, the Questionnaire for High Scorers put it at -.51).

What are the areas of genius?

There is only one: universal genius.

What will be left for human mental abilities when soon artificial intelligence will be able to outperform theworld's greatest geniuses on cognitive tests?

The same as now. The world's greatest geniuses have always been outscored on cognitive tests anyway, so that's nothing new. You must not confuse I.Q. with genius; see the previous question on Genius, Intelligence and Deviance. Artificially intelligent machines need not be geniuses even though they outscore humans, just as humans who outscore geniuses need not be geniuses. Actually, according to H. Eysenck's book "Genius", geniuses typically have high, but not the highest intelligence. Note also the negative correlation between I.Q. and deviance (confirmed in 2004); those with the very highest I.Q.s are low at deviance, and therefore probably lack the associative horizon to be geniuses.

On your Genius, Intelligence and Deviance scale can you give an estimate as to the rarity of scoring 1000(or genius level) on the scale?

Yes. About 1 in 50 000 to 500 000.

Why'd you get a negative correlation between Thinkfast Brain Power and IQ if both are supposed to be related to intelligence?

I can only speculate now; I suspect the correlation is positive below Theta Silver, and becomes negative above that. BP and I.Q. go different ways above a certain level because they tap different sets of factors. I suspect the inclusion of long-term memory in Thinkfast would make the correlation positive up to higher BP levels. Also it should be realized that the online version of Thinkfast allowed much higher scores than the diskette version of the 1990s, and that the hardware of one's computer (like the possible graphics card) influences one's score.

Another thing to consider is that the higher BP levels may mostly be achieved after very much practising, and that such increased BP levels lose their "g" loading and become "crystallized" ability. The people who go on practising and increasing their BP may be not intelligent enough to understand this, which may explain the negative correlation. In other words, the smartest people will not go on practising so long because they do understand that practised, learnt, crystallized skill loses its g loading. Also see my above answer to "Whats the correlation between chronometrics and intelligence?"

On your "Gifted Adult's Inventory of Aspergerisms" questionaire, how many aspergoid features would be needed to receive a possible diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome?

Of course GAIA itself can not diagnose, only a psychiatrist can, or at least a consult with an expert is needed. But from about GAIA 17 on a diagnosis of Asperger seems possible. Additional disorders may be present though, some of which, e.g. Schizophrenia, get priority over Asperger in diagnosing.

Given the Thinkfast scores reported to you by people who took your tests, can you give an estimate as to the difference in IQ points (16SD) between brainpower levels?

Yes. To anticipate your next question, it's 2.3 I.Q. points per BP level. The correlation between BP and I.Q. is -.53 over 28 score pairs. The norms according to what I have now (in I.Q.):

Theta Silver 156
Theta Gold 148
BrainMaster 147
BM+1 146
BM+2 145
BM+3 145
BM+4 145
BM+5 140
BM+6 138

Note for people who do not understand: Yes, the norms are "backwards", because the correlation is negative. No, this is not a mistake.

How do you see the future of Glia Society and GliaWeb?

Glia will provide intelligent persons, especially those who are not recognized for what they are or isolated in their direct environment, with possibilities for contact, self-improvement, education, work, and in doing so further intelligence-related research.

What is the most effective and available method we have for determining general intelligence?

A test containing a variety of item types, like verbal, numerical (not: learned math skill) and "spatial" (both actual spatial insight and diagrams or whatever things for visual abstract logic). If such a test is not available in your language, a test with only the latter two or the latter item types is best.

Also the test should best be administered individually, have no or broad time limits, not multiple-choice (or with very many answering alternatives), allowing reference aids if unsupervised, not self-scoring, and constructed for the I.Q. range in which the candidate probably belongs.

In your article, "Genius, Intelligence, and Deviance," you describe social deviance as features of Asperger's Syndrome. How can features of Asperger's Syndrome go into making up genius if people with Asperger's Syndrome are said to lack imagination and creative play, a key ingredient to genius?

Lack of imagination and creative play are not features of Asperger but of low-functioning, classic, "Kanner" autism. People with Asperger are characterized by an unusual and rich imagination an creative play.

According to Bill Mcgaughs score pairing for Thinkfast CD version (at the predicted equivilancy for theta silver comes 1 in 44 of the total population. How'd you get the estimate for theta silver to come 1 in a 1000 of the total population?

On the Mcgaugh page I can not make out with certainty what version(s) are involved there; diskette, CD, free online, or paid online. All that seems to make a difference for how high one scores.

Also it is not clear what I.Q. tests were involved, apart from the SAT. In any case, the Thinkfast scores mentioned there seem absurdly high from my experience, so either he had all very good players or it's not the same game. My norm for Theta Silver is based on Thinkfast scores reported to me by people who took my tests.

What I miss in Bill Mcgaugh's interesting report is if he thinks his intelligence has improved by playing Thinkfast. He says his nervous system has improved, but has his intelligence improved? It is very interesting that playing the game apparently may cause changes in the nervous system (although I myself did not note such changes) and I wonder if Thinkfast could be a cure for depression for that reason, possibly in combination with physical exercise and anti-depressants which both stimulate the brain too (depression goes with a deterioration of the nervous system).

What is according to your opinion connection between SpiritualQ and IEQ or IQ?

No direct connection, although the higher the I.Q., the less likely one is to be spiritual; spirituality is typical for the average and lower I.Q.'s. SpiritualQ does not exist, in the sense of an ability in its own right. Insofar spirituality exists in high-I.Q. people it serves to cope with absurdities the individual cannot rationally explain. The greater one's ability to explain things rationally and the fewer absurdities one is facing, the less need there is for irrationality (= spirituality). The combination irrationality/extremely high I.Q. may still occur, in extremely intelligent persons facing extreme absurdities, as caused by steeply uneven aptitude profiles like one has in disorders like Asperger or Schizoid personality. An example is the scientist Newton who was also an alchemist.

How accurate are those free online IQ tests - not the high-range tests but the more normal ones - for people of around average intelligence?

The scores should not be taken seriously; such tests are only good for fun and education purposes, and for practising for a real test. The I.Q.'s are not accurate at all, even for average people. The tests used by regular psychology are better. To create a good test and norm it takes a lot of expertise, work and money. You can not expect a good test to be offered for free on a commercial site.

Child IQ scoring is a difficult area. I believe that children who have their IQ's measured when young should redo an IQ test in adult life for a more accurate assessment. What do you think?

I agree. Childhood scores, and the everlasting quotation thereof, are a great source of confusion in the high-I.Q. world. There are several reasons why childhood scores are not good indicators of adult I.Q.: they are expressed against age peers, while it is known that the younger the age group, the lower the correlation with adult I.Q. is. Also, when expressed as mental/biological age ratio I.Q.'s, high scores above about 130 are way overrepresented and can therefore not be compared to deviation I.Q.'s as used for adults. In my opinion, scores of children should be expressed according to adult norms. That would be much more clear and less confusing.

Don't you feel left out, Paul? After all, anybody can be Thoth except for yourself unless you try Logima Strictica.

No. I cannot try LS as I have seen answers to it from others (in the initial period, submissions to Logima Strictica were sent to me, and I regularly forwarded them to the test designer; this arrangement was because he was often abroad and could not respond to mail for long periods then). Also, you overlook the possibility that the test on which Thoth will qualify is yet to be created by someone other than I.

Are we still waiting for Thoth? How much more will it take? Didn't we actually miss him? Wasn't Sidis or Goethe the real Thoth?

Yes. A decade or two. No. No. Criteria for identifying Thoth. Childhood (age-corrected) scores, let alone estimated ones, must not be confused with actual scores on specific high-range tests. The "I.Q."s given for famous historical persons are a myth and have nothing to do with current high-range testing. They have no meaning and must be discarded.

How can I raise my intelligence?

I fear this is only possible if you currently are held down by nutritional shortages, stress, medication and the like. Things you can do: Expand your social network (trusted people you can talk to), exercise, both aerobic and anaerobic (e.g. running), drink enough water to prevent your urine from becoming concentrated and dark, moderate to low food intake, study and work in a field of your interest, live in a way that avoids negative stress and other depressing factors.

In case it was not entirely clear yet to everyone, intelligence is a largely inborn thing that remains constant over most of your adult life and is virtually untrainable (but can be depressed by various factors). It is obviously possible to increase your I.Q. score by practising for the test, but that is an empty gain not accompanied by an actual rise of intelligence (it is typical for the lesser intelligent to not understand this sentence).

How did you get Thoth as editor?!

Thoth is a pseudonym of the Grail Society member, selected at the level of 1 in 100 billion (it is estimated 100 billion humans have lived to date). Thoth will qualify for The Grail Society early 3rd millennium and, being the smartest to ever have lived, will discover the laws of Time Travel and t-mail (variant of e-mail that allows sending a message to past or future). Thoth will move to the White Lodge, a niche in time-space where one can observe destruction of the Earth by meteorite impact on [date censored]. From there and then he edits Papyrus, t-mailing me the HTML files (Thoth visited me early 2001 to install a t-mail client on my computer). Who Thoth is I do not know, he will apparently qualify in the future, but this has not happened yet. In fact he could be any of you reading this. He could be you. Do you wish to find out if Thoth is you; if you will qualify for Grail Society? See Grail Society brochure.

Can you recommend books related to intelligence, genius etc.?

Gödel, Escher, Bach (Douglas R. Hofstadter); Who got Einstein's office (Ed Regis); The g factor (Arthur Jensen); Genius (Hans Eysenck); The Bell Curve (Herrnstein and Murray).