Wednesday, December 26, 2012

How to Get Smarter

Intelligence--the ability to reason rigorously, generate good ideas fluently, and learn rapidly--is no guarantor of career and life success, but it sure helps.

While intelligence is partly hard-wired, not all is. My latest AOL piece takes a shot at helping you figure out if you're optimizing your brainpower and, if not, what to do about it.


Maria Lopez said...

I'm puzzled. First you say that can't change IQ test scores by practice, then you say can get smarter.

When you said you couldn't change IQ scores, what I thought you were actually thinking is that you couldn't change g, something I have no issue with since I can't claim to understand how g was derived.

Are you saying it can, in fact, be changed?

Marty Nemko said...

I have never said IQ/g is 100% genetic. Like most things, there's a genetic maximum but environment is required to actualize the potential.

Practice on tests like the n-back have been found to not affect g.

What I am referring to in the subject article is not so much changing "g" but maximizing what you can do with it. For example, while I don't have data to support it, if there were two identical twins, one who interacted primarily with people with less g and the other who interacted primarily with people with more g, in practical, functional terms, the 2nd person would be somewhat "smarter"--e.g., more likely to make wiser decisions.

One rarely can turn a dullard into a genius, but some malleability is possible lest we need to toss out the entire education enterprise. Education needs reinvention but not tossing into the trash.

Maria Lopez said...

It is far easier to turn a genius into a dullard than a dullard into a genius. The former can be accomplished by poisoning, deprivation, or physical insults to the brain.

I think that what you said in your AOL article is good. However, there are other things that one can do.

When it comes to functioning better in day to day life it is important to do stuff like implement organizational strategies, minimize distractions, and maintain skepticism about supernatural/paranormal linkages between events.

Also using computers to make this stuff easier can help.

Some more academic things like understanding expected value, logical fallacies, and propaganda techniques can also help.

While these things don't deal with politics they can help with day to day independent living.

Marty Nemko said...

Thank you for your good comment, Maria.

Anonymous said...

Good article. Two others I might add from personal experience:

1) Adequate aerobic exercise. There is a growing body of scientific evidence to back this up. Neurologists regularly recommend this to all their patients.

2) Eating a relatively whole foods plant-based diet at regular hours and never over-eating. I find that if I eat slowly and mindfully, I never feel overly full, tired or sluggish afterwards. Eating until only 60-80% full is probably one of the most overlooked ways to better health in my opinion. I actually feel smarter and more clear-headed eating this way as well.

Marty Nemko said...

Good comments, Anonymous. Thanks. I have a hard time following the advice, alas. I know I should only eat until I'm no longer hungry, not until I'm full but I can't often enough make myself. (sigh.)