William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

Are We Smart Enough To Know What Intelligence Is? — WMBriggs Podcast

Aaron Neville: You’re So Smart

Michio Kaku on the Evolution of Intelligence That was Michio Kaku on intelligence, getting some things right, some wrong. Let’s focus on what he got right.

The clearest difference noticed by mankind about mankind, instantly recognized by all, is that animals aren’t people (though people are animals). The next most obvious contrast is that men aren’t women (though in the West many are trying to be). After that comes race, which at the minimum are the differential features which all know. Fourth is intelligence: everybody knows some people are smarter than others.

All four distinct banal scientific biological undeniable facts are under Orwellian attack these days, because why? Because none of these truths share an accord with Equality theory. We already talked about equality, which you can listen to here. Our subject today is intelligence.

Intelligence is the ability to reason and to comprehend and comprehending is what separates humans from (other) animals. Intellection describes the acts of apprehension and comprehension and reasoning, and none of these are precisely the same. There are different ways to comprehend, so that intelligence is not simple. Take inductive reasoning of the highest sort as a for instance. Quoting philosopher Louis Groarke: Induction-intellection “Operates through infallible exercise of [nous], through the activity of intellection, understanding, comprehension, insight.” It produces “Abstraction of necessary concepts, definitions, essences, necessary attributes, first principles, natural facts, moral principles.”

In this way, induction is a superior form of intelligence than mere deduction, which is something almost mechanical, and can be done on a mindless computer. Induction-intellection is instantaneous learning, it proceeds by “flashes” of insight. How this happens is not a question here answered; that it happens is indubitable. Intellection-inductions are not found in the slogging labor of mechanically working out consequences of accepted premises, like deductive reasoning is, as for instance is found in working through a well-delineated mathematical problem. One can be facile at figuring but can find finding fresh forays in philosophy futile—follow me?

I do not, in any way, mean the listener to confuse the idea of complex, multifaceted intelligence with the so-called theories of “multiple intelligences”, which have a pop-psychology flavor about them. I mean to say intelligence is a thing and not many things. It is a thing in just the same way the painting of the Last Supper is a thing. This masterpiece is not a simple univariate thing and cannot be broken down into “multiple paintings.” We must take it as a whole.

The subject is important because the most common way to quantify (and who said we had to do that?) intelligence, the IQ test, produces one number. Because intelligence isn’t singular, even if the test hit precisely what it was aiming it, which nobody believes, one number can’t capture all there is about intelligence. It would be like saying the Last Supper has an Painting Quotient of 162.

Well, what do we know about IQs? What do we know about anything? Let’s ask Sam.

Sam Cooke: Wonderful World (Don’t Know Much)

Unambiguously, IQ tests measure how well one can take the sort of test IQ tests are. Beyond that? Ask this: Is a person with measured IQ score of 141 smarter than another person with score of 140? Yes, but only if the IQ test measures intelligence perfectly and the persons taking the tests were doing their utmost. A lazy genius might not be persuaded to concentrate on such a dull assignment. Plus, I don’t think anybody claims IQ tests perfectly measure intelligence. Insisting on rankings via differences of only a few points, unless the purpose of ranking is some contest, is not reliable.

IQ tests measure intelligence to some degree, though. For instance, we can say conclusively that, all else equal, a man scoring 180 is more intelligent than a man scoring 60. There is always the possibility the second man shirked, or a mistake was made in scoring, or whatever. But absent any eccentricity, the higher-scoring man will do better at crosswords, calculations, and cognitions than the low-scoring man.

There are two points of interest. The relative difference between scores and capabilities versus intelligence. Some of the relative difference we already dealt with, insisting a few-points difference has little meaning. Capabilities I’ll talk about in a moment. First, another remark on the quantification of intelligence.

It can’t be done. Not wholly. To think we can devise an intelligence yardstick that captures all essentials of intelligence is hubristic. We can create a tape which captures large features of intelligence, though. IQ tests give useful information. This is proven by all the things intelligence is associated with and the positive correlation (I use this word in its plain-English sense) with IQ score.

Chess grand masters are seen to have large IQ scores. Particle physicists, professional mathematicians, and analytical philosophers are seen to have large IQ scores. Ethnic Studies majors and activists-for-hire have low IQ scores. It’s these empirical results that prove the IQ test has value in measuring intelligence. Why? Because these professions or avocations either require or don’t need intelligence. Other empirical measures, like income, are ambiguous: after all, a Beatles fan can win the lottery.

Confusion has arisen over the way IQ tests are quantified. Normal distributions are used, an unfortunate choice. Nothing in the world (or universe!) is “normally distributed”, and so neither are IQ scores. The danger of refication is real and common. Notice that most say “He has an IQ of X” and not “Has has an IQ score of X”. The score is reified into intelligence itself. This can be of little harm when speaking in generalities, but it leads to mistakes when thinking about cause.

Some things—certainly an enormous number of things: biology plus environment—caused a person to have the intelligence he does. His intelligence, in turn, plus other things (like breakfasts, fatigue, desire, etc.) caused his IQ score. The causal path to IQ score is long and tortuous. Normal distributions have nothing to do with any of this.

What normal distributions can do is to crudely—and only crudely—quantify our uncertainty in the score of a man or group. If all—pay attention to that word; I mean it—you know is the uncertainty in the IQ score of a certain man or group is to be quantified with a normal distribution with a given or assumed central and spread parameter, then you can make statements like this: “That man is of Group G; therefore, using the normal specified for Group G, he has an X% chance of having an IQ score larger than Y.” The accuracy of X will be greater or lesser depending on how well the normal was measured and on X and Y themselves (and on whether one is handling the uncertainty in the parameters properly, which few do). Even given all these caveats, there is some accuracy in quantifying the uncertainty IQ, which again we know via empirical verification.

The probability statement I gave an as example is what is known as a stereotype, which proves stereotypes have validity and are rational. Sorry. Of course, once you meet the man, or even test him, the stereotype (and the normal distribution) goes out the window.

BB King can tell us what happens to an intelligent man.

BB King: Woman Makes You Stupid

It is dangerous and foolhardy to judge a man based on his group after you have took his measure (in every sense of that phrase). But it is also why it is sane and rational to judge a man by his group before you have met him. And it is also why it makes eminent sense to make predictions of groups of un-met men. For instance, suppose our probability model (which is all IQ scores applied to groups are) says, “Given two Groups, G and H, and given the normals specifying uncertainty in their IQ scores, and also given the correlations between IQ score and passing this particular test, there is an X% chance more men from Group G will pass than Group H.”

Swap “passing a test” for “having a high income”, “becoming a surgeon”, “inventing a new protein”, “proves a theorem”, and so on and you’ll get the idea. Of course, since most people aren’t careful with modeling, results are usually exaggerated. But not so much that IQ scores are useless.

Back to our two men with IQ scores of 180 and 60. The high man is, all things equal, more intelligent than the low man. But it could very well be the low man is happier, stronger, handsomer, more likable, and more intuitive in social situations. He may also have better eyesight or be less prone to disease and be more fertile. The second man may exceed the first in any number of other capabilities not related to intelligence or, rather, to the causes of intelligence and of these other abilities.

Intelligence isn’t everything, or the autistic, who have a fearsome sort of intelligence, would be our leaders, and the highly intelligent would be having more offspring than they do. That maybe high intelligence is itself a causal detriment to fertility is discussed and is plausible. For example, this young beauty queen will have no trouble finding a mate.

Whirled Peas clip

Suppose, dear listener, that you are more intelligent than I. Does that you make you better, i.e. superior to me? Well, yes, partly. In the component of intelligence, since by assumption you have more of it, you are therefore superior to me. Is being more intelligent better, though? That is an entirely different question.

You are better than I at tasks which require intelligence, or are likely to be better, and therefore you are to be preferred when Intelligence Teams choose sides. Incidentally, have you noticed the only times when saying someone is smarter than another doesn’t hurt somebody’s feelings is when the person being compared against is obviously, unapproachably ahead? Anyway, you’re smarter but are you the better person? Better in the sense that you should be accorded more dignity in being human? Certainly not.

The fear many have is if it is really true that Group G, a recognizable real class of humans, has lower average intelligence than Group H, in the sense that (given our measurements) any H man has 50%-plus probability of being more intelligent than any G man, than if the peoples of both groups realize this, disharmony will result. This is why some lie about the differences in intelligence, in order to forestall conflict. (These comparisons are before the individuals themselves are measured.)

The lying works in a minor way. It convinces people of mediocre intelligence to believe in the “blank state” theory of intelligence, which holds everybody could come to the same point in intellectual ability if each person were given sufficient resources. Never has their been a belief more misaligned with observation (it even beats global warming for error).

Nobody knows how much of biology and how much of environment are the ultimate cause of a man’s intelligence. There is definitive evidence that both are important. There is no evidence, except hope and wishes, that we can ignore either one. For instance, scores for groups in come countries tend to improve in those areas which have improving infrastructure. But they don’t improve forever. Just as a man born with a certain muscle mass can only get so strong with ideal training, a man born with a certain biology can only get so smart with ideal education.

Real differences exit between peoples—and between sexes. Some find this fact appalling as it violates Equality theory. This causes mental conflict in those highly intelligent people who cherish Equality theory, or claim to. Which proves smart people can be very, very dumb. Just as the powerful man is capable of greater mayhem, the more intelligent man has the potential for more egregious fallacy. Which is more evidence, obviously, that although intelligence is much, by itself intelligence is not enough. Let’s ask the Tams if they agree.

If You’re So Smart, Why Do You Have A Broken Heart?

A consequence of being highly intelligent is to not know what it is like to be of low intelligence, and vice versa. A person of very high intelligence will be able to characterize a low-intelligence person, and vice versa to less success, but neither will be able to understand what it’s like to be the other person. This has deep implications. Uncle Fred says

People of IQ 130 [notice the reification] and up tend to assume unconsciously—important word: “unconsciously”—that you can do anything just by doing it. If they wanted to learn Sanskrit, they would get a textbook and go for it. It would take time and effort but the outcome would never be in doubt. Yes, of course they understand that some people are smarter than others, but they often seem not to grasp how much smarter, or what the consequences are. A large part of the population can’t learn much of anything. Not won’t. Can’t. Displaced auto workers cannot be retrained as IT professionals.

Unpalatable and judgmental. But true. How did this happen? Cognitive stratification is the term. The highly intelligent marry one other and thus produce progeny that are intelligent, and vice versa. Intelligence is surely partially heritable, and so are conducive environments, to speak loosely. Interests and professions of the highly intelligent can and do differ from those of low intelligence, which further exacerbates the stratification.

Yet while there will be deep and important cultural and economic consequences, there is no reason to foresee an eventual Eloi-Morlock divide, where the brightest sink into the mire around our nation’s Great Capitol and only emerge at night to feed on those in flyover country. Or wait. Maybe this can happen. I don’t know.

That’s it for this week. Next week: Lucky You. You may have enjoyed this podcast, but don’t assume the insights you might have gained will be profitable.

Louis Jordan: If You’re So Smart

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55 Comments

  1. J.K. Rowling has Dumbledore say, in book 6 (I think?)
    “I make mistakes like the next man. In fact, being–forgive me–rather cleverer than most men, my mistakes tend to be correspondingly huger.”

  2. Since this is a family blog, I can’t tell you what I call Kaku.

    Wait a minute—animals ARE people. Ask pet parents. Their dog is their child. Animals have families, they love each other, they mourn their dead. How dare you say otherwise? (No, I don’t believe this but there are many who do so I thought I should get it over with right up front.)

    Watching political campaigns, I’m inclined to believe most people lack intelligence. They emote and that’s it. Induction is a dying art, if not virtually dead at this point.

    “Incidentally, have you noticed the only times when saying someone is smarter than another doesn’t hurt somebody’s feelings is when the person being compared against is obviously, unapproachably ahead?” True—few seem insulted if they are told Steven Hawking is smarter than they are. The best response they can have is “I am better at other stuff”. Few would argue they actually are smarter than Hawking.

    Blank slate does allow people to be lazy and blame others. It does serve a psychological purpose. I don’t think smart people actually believe the Equality Theory, mostly because it never applies to “them”, only everyone else.

    No one actually understands what it is like to be another person. It’s just how it is. Like the sun coming up—it just is.

    (I read the transcript only, not listen to the podcast.)

  3. “A large part of the population can’t learn much of anything. Not won’t. Can’t. Displaced auto workers cannot be retrained as IT professionals.”

    The Navy’s measure mapped somewhat like I.Q. is the GCT-ARI (General Comprehensive Test; Arithmetic Test). Other tests exist including spatial awareness, comparing columns of numbers, even audio tests to see if you can hear the doppler shift of a tone.

    The GCT-ARI is normalized to 100 but cannot go higher than 145 anyway so its ability to plumb the higher elevations is somewhat limited, but not many people go there so its adequate for its purpose. I’m not going to say what mine was but the lowest in our boot camp company had a score of 36. He was also the happiest person there. This was Vietnam era. No branch of military now accepts anyone with scores that low.

    I taught myself the General Macro Assembler Program, GMAP, the native language of the Honeywell DPS 8 mainframe computer back in the 1980’s. It took about a year and consequently enjoyed some interesting employment. To be permitted to join the system development team working on the operating system itself I was required by my lieutenant to train my successor in doing what I do. There’s basically no hope of that. I struggled for a couple of months to impart my knowledge, but I cannot impart the passion or motivation without which learning does not take place even where capacity exists.

    Anyway, after a couple of months I realized that no one was in a position to judge whether my successor actually possessed my knowledge so I proclaimed him “trained” and proceeded to the systems development department.

  4. Sheri,
    Half the people score below average on intelligence tests and the other half aren’t all that smart either. Years ago I read a paper on Jean Piagets theory of cognitive development. The paper concluded that Piaget had studied small groups of children and didn’t realize that most children didn’t develop the ability to deal with abstractions. If true, it explains why lots of people can’t do math.

  5. Was his name Forrest? Is your real name Bubba?

  6. Michael 2: Great realization! Sad that it was probably true, but inspired that you realized it!

    Ray: Much of psychology suffers from very low numbers used in research and much exaggeration of how far those numbers can be extrapolated to the general population.

  7. The discussion seems to assume intelligence is a scalar quantity; you are talking about greater-or-less-than comparisons between two people’s intelligences.

    Is a person who is great at chess but hopeless at crossword puzzles more intelligent than a champion crossword-puzzle solver who is hopeless at chess?

    And how about a third person who is (1) a better crossword-puzzle solver than the former and better chess player than the latter but (2) a worse chess player than the former and worse crossword-puzzle solver than the latter?

    How do you compare those intelligences?

  8. acricketchirps ::

    I hate that when others get their comment between my comment and the comment my comment addressed

  9. No, I was talking about Piaget and Ray. Ray, is your real name Bubba?

  10. Dean Ericson

    May 4, 2016 at 1:49 pm

    Enjoyed the podcast, Briggs; quite smart, no dope. Listened to the MP3.

  11. In this way, induction is a superior form of intelligence than mere deduction, which is something almost mechanical, and can be done on a mindless computer.

    Hate to break it to you but computers can also do induction. Abduction at least. .

    There are different ways to comprehend, so that intelligence is not simple.

    Precisely. The only way we can tell if a human can comprehend is by asking questions is by asking — something we can’t do with other species. But then comprehension is a vague word.

    Animals exhibit it as well. The dog experiment where the dog pushed a chair into the middle of the room to reach a goal hanging from the ceiling (mentioned in a previous post) is a good example.

  12. Briggs

    May 4, 2016 at 2:08 pm

    DAV,

    Computers, and non-human animals, cannot do the sort of induction I used as an example, nor can they do some others.

  13. cannot do the sort of induction I used as an example, nor can they do some others.

    So, your definition of intelligence does not include merely the ability to induce but instead the ability to do specific examples of induction? Math problems for instance? Seems parochial to me.

    If more evidence of animals demonstrating abilities fitting your definition were to arise would your definition become more narrow?

  14. Briggs

    May 4, 2016 at 2:50 pm

    DAV,

    No, induction itself is not a thing, but several; there are different facets (at least 5). I gave the example of the highest level of induction. Animals can’t do that; animals can’t abstract universals. Et cetera.

  15. I gave the example of the highest level of induction. Animals can’t do that; animals can’t abstract universals.

    OK but how do you know animals can’t abstract universals?

    In the dog/chair example, for example, the goal hanging from the ceiling had to be recognized as a goal. This requires abstracting characteristics of the goal from sensory input. Moving the chair requires recognizing, not necessarily a chair, but something higher and movable and that getting on it will allow movement closer to the goal. Why isn’t this abstraction? Or even reasoning?

    Do you think animals randomly move about until they come across a prize? How do they know it’s a prize? Just something built-in? If so, then how is that some do dogs come to recognize a ball as a prize?

  16. Whatever a “do dog” is 🙂

  17. Precisely on topic: I almost forgot that May 4th is International Respect for Chickens day. To that end, and to the end of definitively answering the question of whether there are indeed exactly 5 stages of Induction, or only 4 1/2, I submit for your edification the following, which is the definitive Chicken scientific study.

    By all means, read the whole thing. It explains so much.

  18. For many of us induction merely means reasoning from the particular to the general. E.g., an animal might reason, Several large clothed bipeds have tried to harm me before, so I’m going to steer clear of that further large clothed biped.

    It seems to me that an animal that can thus learn from experience is indeed abstracting universals. It has seen instances, abstracted a class, and decided whether new instances belong to the class it has now identified.

  19. There’s a mathematical method called induction which I’ve never quite grasped but as it is a method it lacks the intuitive feature of inductive logic.

    Inductive logic can also be called an “educated guess”. Induction starts with the end result and tries to figure out the cause. Deduction starts with the cause and calculates the inevitable consequence depending on the steps of the algorithm.

    Suppose you have a pair of 2’s, and the algorithm is “addition”. Deduction then is simple: Given a pair of twos, added together, what is the result? Four. It is compelled and easily computed by a computer.

    But suppose you come across a “four”. Just a four. Never mind four WHAT, just a four. But for now, let us presume the 4 is the result of a mathematical operation. What operation? We have no idea.

    So we speculate. Addition! What combinations produce 4? Well, it is infinite. Shall we suppose integers? Well it is still infinite but not as infinite as allowing any real numbers.

    That is, if I remember right, Bacon’s Problem. Nearly all inductions have an infinite number of possibilities but the human mind tends to automatically and incredibly rapidly remove most of the silly possibilities, through the power of simplification.

    The simplest math operation is addition, and the simplest combination of numbers is integers and make them equal. So the human mind on seeing “4” might, and probably would, conclude that it resulted from 2 + 2, rather than 1 + 3 or 546 – 542.

    Troubleshooting, machines or computers or networks, depends considerably on induction. What you have is a failed system; your mind has to imagine the possibilities that can lead to the observed failure. It is true that a computer can be programmed to “brute force” the problem; it has no idea what is silly and needs not to be considered.

    The family of programs called genetic algorithms are instructive, especially the TSP; Traveling Salesman Problem. It is usually pretty easy for a human to look at a map and very quickly decide the optimum path to visit each city. It is intuitive; it is induction. A computer must “brute force” the problem by exploring every possible path combination but once you reach 10 or more cities the permutations become large and the problem becomes unwieldy. Of course some techniques exist to reduce this a bit, “branch and bound” which I also never quite understood.

    But a human would never assume to start from the east coast, then the next city be the west coast, then back to east. A computer has no reason to NOT do it that way.

    GPS route finding is an example of the TSP algorithm and they do pretty well; but I suspect a geographically literate person could choose a route faster than GPS receiver sometimes, and sometimes better. I let my GPS serve as a guide but sometimes I know something it doesn’t; or I feel its choice of route is not optimum or maybe just not desirable.

    Religion is an obvious place for induction. What we have is the Earth and the life on it. How did it come to be here? Is there any reason it could not have been created yesterday by an omnipotent supreme being; such that we have false memories, false radiocarbon dating and so on? There is no reason to discard this possibility, but it is unlikely and also serves no purpose to think it. So it remains a possibility.

    Induction is like that. It leaves many possibilities on the table and rarely, if ever, produces a linear effect-from-cause chain of events where only one cause is possible.

    In mathematics you check your work by reversing the operation. If 2 + 2 = 4, then 4 – 2 = 2.

    So it is with induction. Once you have decided on a possible cause, reverse the logic, use deduction, and proceed from your imagined cause forward to the observation. If that cause always and necessarily produces what is observed, it is still not perhaps the only cause, but it is a good possibility.

    So we can suppose that a Supreme Being is a cause, or we can suppose there is no Supreme Being and that everything caused itself. How to distinguish this? Logic cannot, but experience *can*.

  20. Briggs

    May 4, 2016 at 3:39 pm

    All,

    For all those guessing about induction, and misunderstanding its complexities, I highly recommend the source I linked to. Induction is not nearly as simple as it is usually taught. I don’t have time to give a thesis of it, but Groarke has already done it.

    As far as animals go, a good place to start is Ed Feser. Here are some links:
    http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2015/04/animal-souls-part-i.html
    http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2015/05/animal-souls-part-ii.html
    http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2012/08/animals-are-conscious-in-other-news-sky.html (see esp. the video).

  21. “Induction is not nearly as simple as it is usually taught.”

    Dr. Briggs has given us no compelling reason to believe it isn’t.

  22. Briggs

    May 4, 2016 at 3:54 pm

    Joe Born has given no compelling reason for ignoring the references.

    Remember everybody: intelligence varies.

  23. Joe Born wrote “Dr. Briggs has given us no compelling reason to believe it isn’t.”

    Nor is it necessary for him to do so. You can deduce that induction is complicated by the wide variety of comments right here on what people think it is.

    I think you mistake the general purpose of blogs and the duty of bloggers to provide compelling reasons for anything. Those that want to pursue a topic will do so while those that refuse cannot be compelled to it.

    If your views differ, you can offer your alternative views which is the demonstrated behavior of most of the readers.

  24. http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2015/05/animal-souls-part-ii.html

    Well there’s some serious straining at gnats.

    But I can do that too. Christ tells us that those in Heaven “neither marry nor are given in marriage” (Matthew 22:30).

    Supposing this is accurately transcribed and accepted, I propose that there is also no divorce in Heaven. “Given in marriage” clearly denotes the action of marriage; not cohabitation (or lack thereof).

    Will there be freedom of assoication in Heaven? I believe it is so. If I choose in Heaven to associate with my wife that I knew on Earth, is there a rule preventing it? No, there is not. What exactly is marriage? It is association!

    I read this passage as saying the ritual of marriage won’t be performed in Heaven although it is a bit weak as to reasons why. I do not seem much else that is prohibited in heaven.

    It is straining at gnats because the passage isn’t about cohabiting in heaven, it is answering a trick question with a vague answer. Jesus rebuked the questioners because they ought to have known the answer: The woman will be married to the first man she was properly married to and Jesus was annoyed that so simple a thing had to be explained.

    What God joins let not man put asunder, and there’s no indication that I know where God is going to unjoin what he has joined.

  25. As to animals in heaven, yes; and it probably includes mosquitos. We can surmise that the four beasts of God’s throne are actual beasts; but of course you can choose to believe otherwise, and strain at more gnats.

  26. 1) it’s mainly for weird but interesting stuff like this that I read this blog. I do not watch video or listen to casts – these are just way too slow.

    2) You might “enjoy” a true story that may bear on the heriditaryness argument. A few years ago my son (who can’t spell either) was in kindergarten at St. Martha’s school here in beautiful Lethbridge – and they, of course, brought in experts to assess the children.

    After taking several tasks the little monster became increasingly impatient and finally gave off-by-one answers to all of the questions on one test, then turned the interview into a ramblefest – thereby causing the experts to write a report classifying him (the smartest kid in the school – read all of Harry Potter in kindergarten) as mildly retarded.

    A key reason I love the story is that, after coming to Canada and while learning English in grade 9, the same thing happened to me – and (although I had never told him) I responded the same way. I never saw the report, but I’ll bet it says something similar.

    3) Is it just me, or is this by Groarke just dressed up gibberish?
    Quoting philosopher Louis Groarke: Induction-intellection “Operates through infallible exercise of [nous], through the activity of intellection, understanding, comprehension, insight.” It produces “Abstraction of necessary concepts, definitions, essences, necessary attributes, first principles, natural facts, moral principles.”

  27. “Joe Born has given no compelling reason for ignoring the references.”

    Dr. Briggs is correct if he’s implying that I have ignored the references. The lack of clarity he’s exhibited gives me no reason to believe that following his direction would be any more than a wild-goose chase.

    Also, this is not my first experience with the slovenliness of his reasoning. His argument last year that the climate models relied upon by the IPCC “used the wrong equation” similarly lacked coherence.

    I persist in attempting to follow Max Ehrmann’s advice that I “listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.” Still, there are limits.

  28. Well, your thesis about a person being smart and stupid at the same time is well referenced by your references.

    http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2015/04/animal-souls-part-i.html

    “the dog does not have the concept ‘master’ or the concept ‘home,’ and thus lacks any mental state with the conceptual content of the thought that ‘The master is home.’ ”

    That is just so wrong as to be absurd. Canines, more than any other animal I think, have a clearly defined concept of master, the “alpha”, and they know perfectly well what is “home” — it is the den, it is the place to be defended, to whelp your pups and so on. When I come home from work my dog is delighted to see me, “the master is home” indeed. She communicates quite effectively and has moods and emotions, including guilt. Not only that, I can tell when she is guilty so all I need to do is find out what minor disaster now needs remedy.

    So I don’t take a philosopher’s word as worth very much with regard to the nature of Heaven, who and what is going to be there, and so on. The proper source of that kind of information is a prophet; but even then there’s no assurance that he is acting as such, and is such a thing, when making any particular pronouncement. But I’ll take a prophet over a philosopher any day.

  29. Briggs

    May 4, 2016 at 4:38 pm

    Michael 2,

    Feser does not mean ‘master’ as in ‘top dog’. About whether any dogs make it to heaven, well, I don’t care; not here. His larger point about animal cognition is the point.

  30. Took a while, but animals are equal to people has definately arrived. (Dogs don’t “recognize rewards” short of food treats. That’s not even universal as I have dogs that food treats did not work on. Humans recognize what the dog views as a reward and use it.)

    “OK but how do you know animals can’t abstract universals?” Because there are more animals than humans yet humans have complete dominance over animals. Only in SciFi do animals take over the planet. Animals are stated to have existed eons before humans, so there was plenty of time for buffalo condos to be built, countries to be formed by animals, etc. It is possible animals are so bad at abstracting universals that there is no visible evidence therof, or maybe the dolphins really are the supreme leaders of the planet and hide it well (scifi reference—ignore if it you don’t understand it).

    Michael 2: Really doesn’t matter what is and isn’t in heaven. We won’t know until we die and then we won’t care.

  31. The dophins messed with my post “ignore it if you…..”. Oh sigh…..

  32. Paul Murphy,
    Is it just me

    Not just you.

  33. Briggs

    May 4, 2016 at 4:59 pm

    DAV, Paul,

    The ideas are Aristotle’s, originally. The subject is fascinating and it took Groarke an entire book to detail it. Imagine not being able to adequately summarizing the whole book in 40 words.

  34. OK but how do you know animals can’t abstract universals?
    Because there are more animals than humans yet humans have complete dominance over animals.

    Since when does dominance indicate anything about abstraction of universals? Dominance implies better fit for the environment if anything. Whether that dominance is obtained by better ability to abstract universals would be hard to show.

  35. Briggs,

    In all fairness, I didn’t read most of Groarke and “Operates through infallible exercise of [nous], through the activity of intellection, understanding, comprehension, insight.” is an assertion that is very reminiscent of stringing words together in a sentence when asked.

    How he goes about proving that intelligence “operates through infallible exercise”, let alone what intelligence actually is, would be interesting to see. And whatever would “infallible” mean? No mistakes? Mostly correct?

  36. Ye Olde Statistician

    May 4, 2016 at 6:03 pm

    In the dog/chair example, for example, the goal hanging from the ceiling had to be recognized as a goal. This requires abstracting characteristics of the goal from sensory input. Moving the chair requires recognizing, not necessarily a chair, but something higher and movable and that getting on it will allow movement closer to the goal. Why isn’t this abstraction? Or even reasoning?

    Is the ‘goal’ a diploma of competency? a bag of acorns? perhaps a star for his forehead? or is it something the dog already finds desirable? Animals already possess the power of “estimation,” i.e. the power to “discern the useful or obnoxious character of certain objects” and therefore to approach or avoid them. Thomas observes:

    Some things act without judgment; as a stone moves downwards; and in like manner all things which lack knowledge. And some act from judgment, but not a free judgment; as brute animals. For the sheep, seeing the wolf, esteems it a thing to be shunned, from a natural and not a free judgment, because it judges, not from reason, but from natural instinct. And the same thing is to be said of any judgment of brute animals.

    The difference may be seen in the dog who has been trained by its master to fetch a certain sponge which the master uses to wash his car. If the sponge is not in the usual place, the dog will cast about in an effort to find it and look in other places where he remembers having seen it. But what he will not do is bring a rag instead of the sponge. The former requires prudential judgment, while the latter requires rational judgment. That is, the former acts are based on the concrete particulars (what the sponge looks and smells like, where it has usually been found) while the latter is based on abstractions (what the sponge is to be used for).

    Similarly, the dog needs no abstraction when he has the actual chair itself before him. (And perhaps the memory of seeing the little master climb atop one to filch cookies.

    Animal prudence acts on perceptions (including memories) in a way that is analogous to the actions of intellect on conceptions. The combination of imagination, memory, and estimation is what allows many animals to be trained to marvelous feats, such as pressing buttons on a keyboard or making hand signs that it remembers will enable it to obtain a treat. Animal prudence (or “estimation”) is certainly a precursor for intellection, but one would have to have been in thrall previously to Cartesian meat puppetry to suppose it is the same thing.

  37. Briggs – Doh – I can’t see a link to an MP3. What am I missing?

  38. Briggs

    May 4, 2016 at 6:16 pm

    gareth,

    There should be an embedded player right above the italicized words “Aaron Neville: You’re So Smart”. Can you see that? Or do you need a link for the file itself?

  39. Sheri writes: “Michael 2: Really doesn’t matter what is and isn’t in heaven. We won’t know until we die and then we won’t care.”

    It matters to those for whom it matters.

    As to what “we” know, there is no WE. You know what you have learned; and I know what I have learned. John the Revelator saw four beasts around God’s throne. Any other human that lives or ever lived will know with certainty whatever God reveals to that person.

    DAV writes “Then why would a dog fight over a piece of rope or towel?”

    Dominance. Dogs, and people, even angels in Heaven, are endlessly in a battle of dominion. It doesn’t matter who is fore-ordained to win this battle; to engage is instinctive.

    Above you see Joe Born playing “tug-o-war” with our blog host, trying to establish dominion. There’s no hope of winning for Joe and yet he plays the game because he must.

    As do I. As do you.

  40. John K: I can’t have respect for chickens even at gunpoint….

    DAV: Because they consider a fight over a piece of rope or towel to be entertaining—ie a reward. They’re dogs. They like what they like. If they could think, they probably would wonder why humans stare at that stupid screen all day…..

    YOS: Another example close to my heart (and unfortunately close to my computer). We though our little Yorkie was peeing on her pee pad to get a treat reward. I moved the pee pad recently, and surprise—it wasn’t the pee pad that she believed to yield the reward, it was the particular place on the floor where the pad had been. After odor treatment and cleaning, I returned the pee pad to its original place.

    Michael 2: Nitpicking and playing with semantics gets you ignored. (How in the world do get from “we won’t know until we die and then we won’t care” to we all believe the same thing about heaven and I am making a blanket statement? It is nothing of the sort.)

  41. Ye gods!!!
    Some academically prescribed, arbitrarily derived, “deductive method” is assumed to be an indicator of someone’s “intellectual worth”?

    Pompous, self-congratulating, arseoles!

    I bet that the most ordinary folk who have a humble appreciation of who and what they are, are way “pragmatically smarter” than the self-appointed “high IQ intellectual aristocrats”.

    The berks proposing some “assessment” of “intelligence” as an indicator of some genetic or evolutionary “improvement” are essentially proposing a justification for another wave (version) of “ethnic cleansing”, genocide and/or eugenics; essentially proclaiming that God didn’t know what He was doing and we’ve got to “fix it”.

    I know lots of people who may be smarter than me, and I know many who are almost certainly “gooder” than me. I’d rather spend eternity with the “gooder” ones than the “smarter” ones.

  42. Oldavid says “I’d rather spend eternity with the gooder ones than the smarter ones.”

    I hope to spend eternity with smart and good.

  43. Sheri writes “Michael 2: Nitpicking and playing with semantics gets you ignored.”

    I suppose so, but I can think of no way to detect who is ignoring me.

    “How in the world do get from ‘we won’t know until we die and then we won’t care’ to we all believe the same thing about heaven and I am making a blanket statement?”

    That’s what your words mean. It might not be what you meant. But I cannot know what you meant except by your words. How can you possibly know that I won’t care? How can you decide for me what I can and cannot know?

  44. Michael 2
    May 4, 2016 at 11:53 pm
    Oldavid says “I’d rather spend eternity with the gooder ones than the smarter ones.”

    I hope to spend eternity with smart and good.

    These blogpost comments are somewhat inconvenient to someone like me. I can’t determine how to post a quote as a quote, or how to apply emphasis and all that.

    Anyhow, M2, Just link arms with your preferred mates and you’ll likely be found in the same place at the same time.

  45. Oldavid mentions “I can’t determine how to post a quote as a quote, or how to apply emphasis and all that.”

    Blog software varies somewhat but it seems all of them accept simple HTML tags. The italic, for instance, starts with (I have spaced it out hopefully to show, but when you use it, no spaces in the tag). To stop italic,

    Bold is with “b”: then what is bolded then not.

    In the case of blogs that just append comments, it is a good idea to reference the person and the key sentence being responded to, in quotes and perhaps italic. It is particularly useful if you comment on several sentences interspersed, making it easy to distinguish what you write and what I have written.

    A quote tag exists but I have not explored its use. It will indent and do some other things all automatically.

    “M2, Just link arms with your preferred mates and you’ll likely be found in the same place at the same time.”

    That is my thinking as well and I suspect a fundamental reason for the existence of churches.

  46. Drat. It didnot work.

    Italic is with a less-than sign, then an “i”, then a greater-than sign. Stop the italic with less-than sign, a slash of this direction /, the letter “i”, then the greater-than sign. For bold use “b” instead of “i”. It’s just HTML so you can use an HTML tutorial.

  47. Your article reminds me of a running gag between my mother and I:

    She tells me that “you aren’t any better or worse than anyone else,” and of course I respond that Mother Teresa is certainly better than me 🙂

    Christi pax,

    Lucretius

  48. Eyerk!
    Should I go with that? Me, who thinks that the only way a real human can get along with these computer thingies is to have a brain surgeon remove the rational part of the brain and replace it with some gadget that responds to beeps and flashes?

  49. As for detecting “smart”—-think back to the playground when you were a kid. Everyone knew where they were when “God passed out brains” (according to one of the jokes we had). Even though the teachers bent over backwards to not offend or hurt the feelings of the less smart, everyone knew, within a few degrees, who was the smartest, who was next smart, and on down the line.

  50. DAV: I doubt it would be that difficult to show dominance is obtained by a better ability to abstract universals. Even among humans, those with the lowest ability are dominated by those with a higher ability to abstract universals. Can I find a study or an almighty Link, probably not. Since reasoning is not acceptable as proof, it shall remain unproven at this point.

    Why we intelligence is discussed does every insecure, whiny person in the readership have to dive in an throw a hissy, “I am smart as you are you dimwit, just not in the same way” comment? It was clearly stated that intelligence is not the only human trait and may not be the most important even. Yet the insecure must SCREAM out how evil measuring any characteristic is and why one cannot ever compare them. Why not just tattoo “insecure” on your forehead and use it as an avatar?

    Michael 2: That is not what my words mean. Just so you know, I am ignoring you from here on out. That’s one way you’ll know.

    Can someone other than Michael 2 explain how:
    “How in the world do get from ‘we won’t know until we die and then we won’t care’ to we all believe the same thing about heaven and I am making a blanket statement?”
    There is nothing about what beliefs we have about what happens when we die. One might object to the idea that we won’t care what heaven is like, though I know of no religious belief that says a person in heaven is going to complain they don’t like the accomodations. Perhaps a random individual here and there, leading back to my complaint about semantics. Maybe someone can produce such a person? Otherwise, there is nothing in my comment that says anything whatsoever about what anyone believes or does not believe.

  51. My typing is lousy right now so please interpolate the words I messed up.

    Lucretius and Anon’s comments are in line with my complaint about people whining when intelligence is measured. Anon, you’re right—we all know, but no one is allowed to speak that truth without being flogged for it.

  52. Sheri asks “there is nothing in my comment that says anything whatsoever about what anyone believes or does not believe.”

    The word WE comes to mind (everyone), combined with what:

    we won’t know

    we won’t care

    There is no “we”. I will know and I will care. Or maybe not, but I’m pretty sure it will be yes to both for me.

    “Just so you know, I am ignoring you from here on out.”

    So why the announcement?

  53. Is being more intelligent better, though? That is an entirely different question.

    Isn’t it though? I agree that it isn’t better in the sense of making you a better human being (ie having more moral human worth), but isn’t having higher intelligence better than having low intelligence full stop? If nobody was intelligent, the human race would lose out on the myriad contributions that only the intelligent can make. What, if anything, would we lose out on if nobody were stupid? Do the dim have anything whatsoever to offer that the intelligent cannot?

    Anyway, you’re smarter but are you the better person? Better in the sense that you should be accorded more dignity in being human? Certainly not.

    I agree with this, but let’s look at it from the premises of the secular, materialistic liberal for a second: According to that worldview, man is just an animal who happens to have evolved a larger brain than others, with a higher degree of intelligence. The power of induction that you described, including the ability to abstract universals, is merely a difference of degree from other animals, not of essence. There is no essence to humanity, according to this view (Ignore for the moment that this is incoherent).

    It follows from this view that a stupid man is simply an animal that has a lesser degree of the trait that makes humans stand out from other animals than the smart man. The stupid man is therefore “less human” by the only real metric of humanity that exists under this view. He might be more athletic and stronger than the smart man, but it won’t be anything compared to the athleticism of, say, any given chimpanzee. We eat animals and make clothes out of them because they have a lesser degree of intelligence than we do. We justify aborting infants on the grounds that they haven’t developed sufficient intelligence yet, and so don’t count as humans with human rights.

    And if a whole race is sufficiently less intelligent on average than another? Well, it follows on this view that they are “less human.”

    I suspect that this drives a lot of the blank slatism on the left. In order to maintain their secular materialism, while avoiding the uncomfortable conclusion that some people (and especially some races!) are more human than others, they must dogmatically uphold the fiction that everyone, or at least all groups, are of exactly equal intelligence.

  54. Acricketchirps asked two questions.
    “Was his name Forrest? Is your real name Bubba?”
    I assume you mean the author of the article. The answers are I don’t remember and no. Raymond is my real name. I use Ray to fool people and prevent identify theft.

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