The Artima Developer Community
Sponsored Link

Weblogs Forum
IQ is a Relatively Meaningless Number Consumed by Egotistical Narcissists

4 replies on 1 page. Most recent reply: Nov 9, 2005 4:30 AM by Jek Cray

Welcome Guest
  Sign In

Go back to the topic listing  Back to Topic List Click to reply to this topic  Reply to this Topic Click to search messages in this forum  Search Forum Click for a threaded view of the topic  Threaded View   
Previous Topic   Next Topic
Flat View: This topic has 4 replies on 1 page
Dale Asberry

Posts: 161
Nickname: bozomind
Registered: Mar, 2004

IQ is a Relatively Meaningless Number Consumed by Egotistical Narcissists (View in Weblogs)
Posted: Apr 19, 2004 2:28 PM
Reply to this message Reply
It has little direct correlation to success at anything (except IQ tests), yet so many people give it weight!


Sometimes I pan through my memories like a camera over a landscape and suddenly these seemingly unrelated thoughts come together in a flash of insight. Many people question my insight, and when I'm put on the spot, I can't point to any good reason to deflect their objections. Frustratingly, I'm at an impasse with the disbeliever(s) -- I have all of these connections at my disposal which the objectors cannot "see". Some of the disbelievers don't have the knowledge to make the insight... that is easily resolved by giving them references to explore on their own. The much larger group of disbelievers, however, are afflicted with a more insidious problem - unwillingness to make the connection. What I'm getting at is that few people are able accept new ideas due to their overwhelming emotional attachment to their old ideas. In other words, no matter how intelligent you are, it is the poorly understood (and regarded) emotional part that makes all the difference. Hence, the observation of all those very personable people that are wildly successful in life/business/love that were never academic stand-outs.


First, a little background on Narcissus. I particularly like the author's interpretation of the myth:
On the one hand there is rapture at the sight of a non object, simple product of the eyes' mistake; on the other, there is the power of the image, "what you seek is nowhere. The vision is only shadow, only reflection, lacking any substance.
Second, I'll touch briefly on IQ research.

Yale professor Sternberg writes in American Psychologist in Nov. 1995:
"Between 75% and 96% of the variance in real world criteria such as job performance cannot be accounted for by individual differences in intelligence test scores."
Howard Gardner, Professor in the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University from his book, Intelligence Reframed:
Sternberg noted that these latter forms of 'practical intelligence' are extremely important for success in our society, and yet are rarely, if ever, taught explicitly or tested systematically....And he has found that people's ability to deal effectively with novel information or to adapt to diverse contexts can be differentiated from their success with standard IQ test-style problems. (These findings should come as no surprise to those who have seen high-IQ people flounder outside of a school setting or those who, at a high school or college reunion, have found their scholastically average or below-average peers to be the richest or more powerful alumni at the event.)

Alternative Perspectives

Now, to the point of this article. Daniel Goleman Ph.D., author of the landmark 1995 best-selling book, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, has this to say:
"I found that 67 percent - two out of three - of the abilities deemed essential for effective performance were emotional competencies. Compared to IQ and expertise, emotional competence mattered twice as much. This held true across all categories of jobs, and in all kinds of organizations."
A number of resources exist on this topic, my favorite is the 6 Seconds Emotional Intelligence Network. Their name comes from an interesting emotional twist on the physiological science behind emotions:
In her usual style, Anabel "research says" Jensen (our President) was sharing some of the latest research on emotional reactions, and said, "it takes around six seconds for those molecules of emotion to get absorbed back into your body after you've had a reaction."
In touchy-feely terms, this means that:
"It takes six seconds to manage anger. It takes six seconds to create compassion. It takes six seconds to change the world."
My pragmatic observations have led me to notice that most people will respond well within six seconds, especially when they disagree. In addition, the six seconds principle only applies to those people aware of their emotional state and then choose not to react. Most people will unknowingly choose actions that continue the same emotional state. Unfortunately, this essentially blinds their cognitive awareness to any higher level functioning such as rational thought. (I can't find the references, but there is a good deal of research showing how the amygdala - the brain's emotion center - can hijack rational thought.)

Next Steps

The good news is that we have the ability in us to consciously intercede and change our emotional reactions. Six Seconds has an interesting model to help guide in the search for emotional awareness:
  • Know Yourself is increasing self-awareness. It is based on understanding how you function.
  • Choose Yourself is building self-management. It focuses on consciously choosing your thoughts, feelings, and actions.
  • Give Yourself is developing self-direction. It comes from using empathy and principled decision-making to increase wisdom and to create a more compassionate, healthy world.
For anyone interested in learning more about these topics, I strongly suggest visiting Six Seconds - they are a great starting point for discovering more about EQ/EI.


Research conducted in the last 10-15 years is starting to show what many have seen anecdotally... IQ/intelligence is a weak factor in determining success. In many cases, the chemical underpinnings have also been discovered. It is time to recognize and move past our archaic understanding of human intelligence and factor in the impact that our strong emotional responses have in coloring our thought processes.

And, for all you conservative, hard-skills nay-sayers: I doubt your IQ is as high as mine and that's why you're unable to "get" this!


Narcissus. Outline of the myth:

Research Findings on Career Success:

The 6 Seconds Emotional Intelligence Network:


Posts: 1
Nickname: eamon
Registered: Jun, 2003

Re: IQ is a Relatively Meaningless Number Consumed by Egotistical Narcissists Posted: Apr 19, 2004 6:49 PM
Reply to this message Reply
I agree that IQ is a measure of one very faculty that does not operate in isolation but although IQ is not everything but it is very clearly something.

I have never been particularly strong at Math. I can remember times marveling at how others could grasp Math in such an unquestioning way. The ruthlessly cumulative nature of Mathematics often left me floundering. I find it fascinating that some people can compute and grasp things so quickly.

I don’t think IQ is so highly rated as you imagine – employers don’t hire people based solely on IQ tests (though a high test may be one necessary requirement)

A great many mathematic and scientific discoveries had been made be people with very high IQs. Granted those people had other very important capabilities that allowed them to harness the power of their IQ.

And of course the highest IQ, EQ or [Insert-Favourite-Measurable-Predjudice-Here]Q would be nothing without luck :)

George Lund

Posts: 1
Nickname: glund
Registered: May, 2003

Re: IQ is a Relatively Meaningless Number Consumed by Egotistical Narcissists Posted: Apr 30, 2004 7:29 PM
Reply to this message Reply
In the same vein (but maybe slightly off-topic), I agree that IQ doesn't mean much and maybe nothing at all. Read theThe Mismeasure of Man by Stephen Jay Gould ( ) on the subject of IQ. He pretty much points out that IQ seems to be mostly developed by rich white males to prove that they were smarter than everyone else. IQ persists because people like nice simple hiearchies, even though it seems pretty obvious that "intelligence" must be made of many different factors.

John D. Mitchell

Posts: 244
Nickname: johnm
Registered: Apr, 2003

Re: IQ is a Relatively Meaningless Number Consumed by Egotistical Narcissis Posted: May 11, 2004 4:25 PM
Reply to this message Reply
> I don’t think IQ is so highly rated as you imagine –
> employers don’t hire people based solely on IQ tests
> (though a high test may be one necessary requirement)

Here's ( a thread about the (mis-)use of Java Certification in the hiring process.

Jek Cray

Posts: 1
Nickname: jek
Registered: Nov, 2005

Re: IQ is a Relatively Meaningless Number Consumed by Egotistical Narcissists Posted: Nov 9, 2005 4:30 AM
Reply to this message Reply
I'm training my IQ with using of special soft/ I've downloaded it from
and hope to increase my IQ score

Flat View: This topic has 4 replies on 1 page
Topic: What would it take for a new language to impress you? Previous Topic   Next Topic Topic: Optimization: Me versus Guy Steele

Sponsored Links


Copyright © 1996-2014 Artima, Inc. All Rights Reserved. - Privacy Policy - Terms of Use - Advertise with Us