Re: META: IQ distributions

From: Marc Geddes (
Date: Thu Nov 24 2005 - 01:16:34 MST

>I googled about a bit, and:
>Watson: 122 IQ
>Crick: 115
>Feynman: 124
>"Winning a Nobel Prize is no big deal, but
>winning it with an IQ of 124 is really
>--Richard Feynman
>The earlier post about Einstein and his
>blackboard hit the nail on the head: he achieved
>relativity theory by obsessing about it "like a
>dog worrying a bone." It's what you do with what
>you have.
>By comparison, former NH governor and White House
>chief of staff John Sununu reputedly has a 180 IQ
>and eidetic memory (both of which I would kill
>for) but somehow managed to be an utter fool in
>my estimation (among other follies, circa 1990 he
>ran a climate sim on his home computer, which
>couldn't have been much better than a 386 with a
>couple megs of ram, and decided global warming
>wasn't for real! When real climatologists running
>supercomputers weren't willing to place total
>faith in their sims.) If there's a better parable
>illustrating that IQ-isn't-everything, I'd like
>to hear it.
>Tom Buckner

Well, there are many important qualities besides IQ.
Take my extreme disagreement with Eliezer about the
nature of mind. No doubt he's absolutely convinced
(along, I'm quite sure with many others at SL4) that
I'm a total crack-pot and I'm equally absolutely
convinced he's 'mind blind'. It's all horribly
frustrating because there's no way to cure either of
us of our blindnesses. I can never know what it could
be like to be a super-genius (since I'm not one), so
in a sense I'm simply 'blind' to what Eli gets up to.
May as well try to describe sight to a blind-man.
Conversely, my general intuitions about the mind seem
absolutely obvious and clear-cut to me, but apparently
sound like gibberish to most others ;) Again, may as
well try to describe sight to a blind man.
Apparently, it just can't be done *sigh*

Let me tell you a story:

Some years back I was involved in a big world-wide
'treasure hunt' - you know - one of those 'puzzle
books' - you had to decipher the puzzle (hidden in
pictures) and there was a big cash prize at the end.
Any way, this puzzle officially holds the record as
the most complex puzzle ever devised.

There were perhaps 10 000 from around the world
working on it over a sustained period of time -and yes
there were bulletin boards like SL4 where everyone
would come claiming to have the answer ;) - ah those
were the days. Any way, even with tens of thousands
working on it non-stop and sharing their ideas on
bulletin boards, experts thought the puzzle was so
complex it might take 2 years to solve and the
time-limit for the puzzle was in fact 3 1/2 years (the
prize pool went to charity if it wasn't solved after
that time).

Any way, up-shot was, a lot of people became very
obsessed with this big puzzle, including me (I mean
there really were people working on it non-stop).

Strangely (may be this might sound a bit silly), the
quest for a solution that puzzle actually reminds me
very very much of the quest for Singularity. Exactly
the same atmosphere. The same obsession. The same
super-genuius's working on it all day and claiming
that the answer was 'just around the corner'.

And here's the amusing punch-line to this story: I
had my own ideas about what the solution was going to
look like. I kept telling the super-geniuses that the
answer would involve a 'border square locator
algorithim' but they kept pooh-poohing me. I kept
repeating it over and over on messageboards: 'You need
to look for a border square locator algorithm'. The
super-geniues kept pooh-poohing me. Honestly, there
were people EXACTLY like Wilson and Yudkowsky on that
game (perhaps not so quite in their league IQ wise,
but the same kind of personalities).

Guess what: we got the end of the puzzle (after a few
years) and the solution involved - you guessed it -


I whipped the arses of those super-geniuses. No
kidding. This is a true story. I often think of that
puzzle game. I often wonder how someone like Eliezer
or M.Wilson would have fared in that contest - would
they have solved the puzzle? And how long would it
have taken them?

 Those who are curious about my story and want to
check out the puzzle book in question - it's still
available in the shops. Here's a link to the book on
Amazon in fact:

Of course the contest is closed now. (It actually ran
from 1997-2000 if I recall correctly). But I
definitely think that puzzle still stands as the
ultimate IQ test.

The solution to the big puzzle was up on the net for a
couple of years I think, but the solution has been
taken down now. And the solution is not in print. So
the full solution now exists only in the heads of
those few thousands of us that lasted to the end ;)

A true story.





To see a World in a grain of sand,
And Heaven in a wild flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.
-William Blake

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