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AcademicGround >> ATTN: Ted Bennett

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6/13/04 3:37 AM
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marck
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Edited: 13-Jun-04 03:35 AM
Member Since: 01/01/2001
Posts: 3313
 
True story: I used to work in a warehouse with a guy named Ron. The thing about Ron was that he was able to learn new tasks faster than anyone I'd ever seen. A procedure that would take an average guy 3 days to feel comfortable with, he'd feel comfortable with it in 2 hours. And he didn't forget anything! In fact, he memorized all the titles of the forms in the warehouse in a short time (this wasn't necessary to do, mind you) and could tell you exactly where they were all located. Nobody else could do this with such precision. He was also a master problem solver. When there was a physical problem, he could immediately think of a good idea. He also remembered almost any phone # after dialing it or hearing it once. He was 45 yrs old and was retired from the military. He had a very limited community college education. He had a hard time with words, however. He wasn't very good at writing, punctuation or grammar. In speaking, he would get his words twisted a bit like G.W.B. does. But that wasn't too often, and if you met him, you'd never know. He was actually quite witty. He was from the south, a staunch conservative and he really knew his history well. He liked to read. We used to have heated political discussions at work. His reasoning wasn't always strong, although sometimes he could make a brilliant connection that passed us by. He was hit and miss, but overall, he wasn't the best in the reasoning dept. Here's my question: Once we decided to take some online IQ tests for fun. He scored very low, between 105 and 125. This is an Internet IQ test! I consistently scored between 125 and 160. But this guy could learn a new task faster and memorize more info than almost anyone I'd ever met. Why did he score so low? I know Internet tests are not real, but they are similar, and I don't think he'd do well on a real test either. Real tests generally score people far lower than an Internet test, right? This guy was no savant type, either. He had a wonderful sense of humor and a reasonably healthy personality. What gives, guru Ted?
6/14/04 5:29 PM
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Ted Bennett
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Edited: 14-Jun-04
Member Since: 01/01/2001
Posts: 493
LOL - dude, if only I knew as much as you think I know ;-) Anyway, your question is an excellent one, and one that far too many people (psychologists included) do not consider. Without getting too technical and spouting off about a bunch of testing jargon and brain structures, think of you brain the same way you think of your muscles. Your muscles have a lot of different functions, but let's stick to strength and speed. Somebody can have huge muscles and be quite slow, or they can be like an NFL linebacker and be both huge and fast. Or you could have guys like Ali who are just exceptionally quick, though I doubt he could bench much. Having the one does not mean you have the other. It's the same with IQ and memory. Memory is in many ways considered a subset of IQ, but some folks like to keep it distinct (and I'm one of them). I've tested bunches of folks like your coworker, or perhaps the opposite. Case in point - I've tested patients with early Alzheimer's disease whose IQ's were fine but their memory was in the toilet. Conversely, I've tested some folks who had memories I couldn't believe (e.g., could recall a two paragraph story *perfectly* after a 30 minute delay and I didn't even tell them to remember it). And that's not even counting the folks with eidetic (photographic) memories. Heck, one of my dad's buddies was a district attorney outside of New Orleans. This guy had a _phenomenal_ memory - as a kind of parlor trick, he'd ask folks to flip to a random page in the phone book, then hand it to him. He'd stare at it for a little over a minute, then hand it back. You could then tell him any name on the page, and he'd tell you the number. Or say the number, and he'd tell you the name. Yet this same guy once told me over lunch that he sucked at math and barely got into law school since his college math grades held down his GPA. Go figure. Tell you what, though, defense attorneys must have a *hell* of a time dealing with this guy in court ;-) If you want, I can go further in depth about the brain structures involved, but by and large it's the norm that people with average IQ have an average memory; however, it is definitely possible to have outrageous gifts in a given area that don't translate to overall faculties. This is why I touched on the idea in the beginning that many folks don't ask this question - say I'm assessing a kid for learning disability. I won't give him an IQ test and then assume I know what his whole brain is like - I have to test memory, too. And I also test his attention, his processing speed, etc., etc. And one final note - memory is a lot like handspeed in boxing - you can train it a bit, but largely it's inborn. Those programs that say they can teach you to memorize books are snake oil ;-)
7/18/04 3:01 AM
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marck
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Edited: 18-Jul-04 02:55 AM
Member Since: 01/01/2001
Posts: 3448
Crap! Sorry Ted. I started a new job and forgot about this thread. Thanks for the response. My main reason for asking about this is becasue there are at least two other people I know who seem to have extraordinary abilities in one area but are lacking, sometimes greatly, in others. My father has multiple degrees in mathematics and was quite talented in physics(and all natural sciences), economics and computer programming. However, he is socially inept and has average verbal skills. There is also an idiot savant I know who can do calculations instantly in his head that would blow you away, yet he seems almost retarded. All of these people have me wondering about Howard Gardner's idea about Multilple Intelligences. Has it been discredited? What's the current consensus? Oh yeah, while I have you here, I just finished reading an undergraduate textbook by David Buss titled "Evolutionary Psychology: The New Science of the Mind". I thought it was EXCELLENT. Are you familliar with this area of study? If so, what do you think of it?

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