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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Talent vs. Striving III

Back to Hambrick and Meinz, who are really starting to annoy me.  I found the following attributed to Hambrick on a site called psychcentral.

“A person with a 150 IQ is in theory much smarter than a person with a 120 IQ, but those additional 30 points produce little measurable benefit when it comes to lifetime success,” Brooks writes in “The Social Animal.”
Hambrick’s response: “David Brooks and Malcolm Gladwell are simply wrong. The evidence is quite clear:  A high level of intellectual ability puts a person at a measurable advantage — and the higher the better.”

The problem is that Hambrick is oversimplifying.  Like a true scientist (I suppose), he has "controlled" all the other variables, and yes, ALL other things being equal, the person with 150 IQ -- or better working memory -- will, in the majority of cases, have a "measurable" superiority at some specific task for which working memory is important. But that's not what Brooks and Gladwell are saying.  They are saying that in the overall mix of things, those IQ points do NOT typically result in more success in life.  And although I don't know what statistics they are pointing to, I have little trouble accepting what they say, especially since Hambrick admits that PRACTICE is a much larger contributor to mastery than is "working memory."  If people in the 120 IQ range "practice" more, then Hambrick's critique goes out the window.

And just to play it out, let's consider who the 150 IQ crowd is.  As you start going up the IQ scale,   you'll find more introverts, and introversion often puts a cap on just how "successful" a person can be, at least in most business environments.  And you start encountering more and more weirdos.  Admit it, you know it's true.  Sure, some of them go on to start companies like Microsoft and Apple, but some of them move to Montana and mail letter bombs. To say without any proof that the Gladwell/Brooks assertion about "success" is "wrong" shows a serious lack of mental rigor and scientific objectivity.

'Nuff said.


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