September 16, 2015

Do you ever wonder how smart is smart and what intellect qualifies as super smart?  How does one get there?  What does it take?  Are we born with intellect or do we develop intellect as we mature and grow?  Is there a “limitless” pill that can boost mental capacity?  Medical research tells us that maintaining good health is dependent upon: 1.) No smoking, 2.) No excessive drinking, 3.) Daily exercise, 4.) Proper low-fat diet and 5.) Continuous stimulation of our cerebral cortex can provide a long and healthy life.  Good physical condition produces good and lasting mental condition, certainly when mental stimulation is included in the mix.  If we look at I.Q. distribution on our planet, we find the following:

IQ Score Distribution

As you can see, this is a typical bell-shaped curve with the following basic delineations:

  • 140 and above—Genius or near genius
  • 130 to 139—Gifted
  • 120 to 129—Superior intelligence
  • 90 to 109—Average
  • 80 to 89—Dullness
  • 70 to 79—Borderline deficiency
  • 50 to 69—Mild mental retardation
  • 35 to 50—Moderate mental retardation
  • 20 to 35—Severe mental retardation
  • < 20—Profound mental retardation

Please note the percentage of each category.  By far, the average I.Q. lies between 85 and 115.  Let’s face it; we’ve done a lot with a normal I.Q.

It is very interesting to see a list of individuals considered to be the most intelligent people on the planet.  These people have been tested or their works have indicated significant I.Q.  Let me first state this list of ten (10) is subjective but evidence indicates they are definitely worthy of mention.  Let’s look.

  • Stephen Hawking—I.Q = 160. Stephen Hawking was born on January 8, 1942, in Oxford, England. At an early age, Hawking showed a passion for science and astronomy. At age twenty-one (21), while studying cosmology at the University of Cambridge, he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Despite his debilitating illness, he has performed groundbreaking work in physics and cosmology.  He has written several books that have helped to make science accessible to everyone. To my great surprise, Dr. Hawking has penned nineteen books with most being translated into other languages.  Part of his life story was depicted in the 2014 film The Theory of Everything.
  • Albert Einstein—I.Q. = 160 to 190. Albert Einstein was born at Ulm, in Württemberg, Germany, on March 14, 1879. Six weeks later the family moved to Munich, where he began his schooling at the Luitpold Gymnasium.  Sometime later, his family moved to Italy while Albert continued his education at Aarau, Switzerland.   In 1896 he entered the Swiss Federal Polytechnic School in Zurich to be trained as a teacher in physics and mathematics. In 1901, the year he gained his diploma, he acquired Swiss citizenship.   He was unable to find a teaching post so he accepted a position as technical assistant in the Swiss Patent Office. In 1905 he obtained his doctor’s degree.  He spent his entire life working on the great mysteries of creation.
  • Judit Polgar—I.Q. = 170. Judit Polgár was born 23 July 1976 is a Hungarian chess grandmaster and is generally considered to be the strongest female chess player in history.   In 1991, Polgár achieved the title of Grandmaster at the age of fifteen (15) years and four (4) months, at the time the youngest to have done so, breaking the record previously held by former World Champion Bobby Fischer. She is the youngest ever player, to date, to break into the FIDE (Federation International des Echecs ) top 100 players rating list, being ranked number fifty-five in the January 1989 rating list, at the age of twelve.  She is the only woman to qualify for a World Championship tournament, having done so in 2005. She is the first, and to date, only woman to have surpassed the 2700 Elo rating barrier, reaching a career peak rating of 2735 and peak world ranking of number eight, both achieved in 2005. She was the number one rated woman in the world from January 1989 up until the March 2015 rating list, when she was overtaken by Chinese player Hou Yifan; she was the No. 1 again in the August 2015 women’s rating list, in her last appearance in the FIDE World Rankings.
  • Leonardo de Vinci—I.Q. = 180 to 190 (estimated).  Born on April 15, 1452, in Vinci, Italy, Leonardo da Vinci was concerned with the laws of science and nature, which greatly informed his work as a painter, sculptor, inventor and draftsman. His ideas and body of work—which includes “Virgin of the Rocks,” “The Last Supper,” “Leda and the Swan” and “Mona Lisa”—have influenced countless artists and made da Vinci a leading light of the Italian Renaissance.
  • Marilyn vos Savant—I.Q. = 190. Born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1946, the young savant quickly developed an aptitude for math and science. At age ten (10), she was given two intelligence tests — the Stanford-Binet, and the Mega Test — both of which placed her mental capacity at that of a twenty-three year-old. She went on to be listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for having the “World’s Highest IQ,” and, as a result, gained international fame.  Despite her status as the “world’s smartest woman,” vos Savant maintained that attempts to measure intelligence were “useless,” and she rejected IQ tests as unreliable. In the mid-1980s, with free rein to choose a career path, she packed her bags and moved to New York City to be a writer.
  • Garry Kasparov—I.Q. = 194. Garry Kimovich Kasparov born Garik Kimovich Weinstein, 13 April 1963).  He is a Russian chess Grandmaster, former World Chess Champion, writer, and political activist, considered by many to be the greatest chess player of all time.  From 1986 until his retirement in 2005, Kasparov was ranked world number one for 225 out of 228 months. His peak rating of 2851, achieved in 1999, was the highest recorded until being passed by Magnus Carlsen in 2013. Kasparov also holds records for consecutive professional tournament victories (fifteen) and Chess Oscars.
  • Kim Ung-Young—I.Q. = 210.  Kim Ung-yong was born March 7, 1963.  He is a South Korean civil engineer and former child prodigy. Kim was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records under “Highest IQ“; the book gave the boy’s score as about 210.  Guinness retired the “Highest IQ” category in 1990 after concluding IQ tests were too unreliable to designate a single record holder. Kim Ung-Yong was born in Hongje-dongSeoulSouth Korea. His father is Kim Soo-Sun, a professor.  He started speaking at the age of 6 months and was able to read Japanese, Korean, German, English and many other languages by his third birthday.   By the time he was four years old, his father claimed Ung-Yong had memorized about 2000 words in both English and German. He was writing poetry in Korean and Chinese, and wrote two very short books of essays both poems less than twenty pages in length.
  • Christopher Hirata—I.Q. = 225. Hirata was noticed to have an accelerated mind at an early age. At age three, he entertained himself at the grocery store,by calculating the total bill of items in his parent’s shopping cart, item-by-item, by weight, quantity, discounts, and sales tax. He was also reading the Dr. Seuss series to himself, able to recite the alphabet backwards, and had coded the alphabet sequence numerically, e.g. that the letter ‘O’ was fifteenth in the sequence. In the first grade, he was performing algebraic calculations.  Regarding his elementary and middle school years, by age twelve, he was talking college-level courses in physics and multivariable calculus. Hirata, at age thirteen, gained fame by winning gold medal at the 1996 International Physics Olympiad  (IPhO), an international competition among the world’s smartest math and science students (up to age nineteen), becoming the youngest medalist ever. Hirata’s showing at the IPhO was considered so record-breaking that IPhO organizers announced a special award for “Youngest Medalist”, awarded that year to Hirata, an award that has since become one of the most-coveted awards.  During meetings at the local McDonald’s, during this period, he and his friend Ben Newman, from the Physics Olympiad camp, “sat around writing general relativity equations out on the napkins,” recalls Newman. That year Hirata was ranked fifth in the world in physics, math, and science.
  • Terrance Tao—I.Q. 225 to 230.  Terence “Terry” Chi-Shen Tao was born 17 July 1975 in Adelaide. He is an Australian-American mathematician working in various areas of mathematics, but currently focusing on harmonic analysispartial differential equationsalgebraic combinatoricsarithmetic combinatorics, geometric  combinatoricscompressed sensing and analytic number theory. He currently holds the James and Carol Collins chair in mathematics at the University of California, Los Angeles. Tao was a co-recipient of the 2006 Fields Medal and the 2014 Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics.  Tao exhibited extraordinary mathematical abilities from an early age, attending university level mathematics courses at the age of nine. He and Lenhard  Ngare the only two children in the history of the Johns Hopkins’ Study of Exceptional Talent program to have achieved a score of 700 or greater on the SAT math section while just nine years old. Tao scored a 760.  In 1986, 1987, and 1988, Tao was the youngest participant to date in the International Mathematical Olympiad, first competing at the age of ten, winning a bronze, silver, and gold medal respectively.
  • William James Sidis—I.Q. = 250 to 300.  A human calculator and linguistic genius, Sidis was born to Russian immigrant parents in America in 1898, and is estimated to have had an astounding IQ estimated between 250 and 300.  He went to grammar school at six and graduated within seven months.  By eight years of age he finished high school. He petitioned Harvard University for admittance but, being too young, he was advised to wait two years and finally at age eleven, he became the youngest student to have ever enrolled at Harvard. He graduated at the age of sixteen and entered Harvard Law School at age eighteen.  During his course work at Harvard Law he became sick and tired of being considered remarkable and he dropped out before completing his degree. He taught math on the university level for sometime but left try something ordinary.   He tried to become anonymous by being a bookkeeper, a clerk and doing other jobs that were incommensurate with his talents. All the attention he got due to his remarkable mind made him almost a recluse and he died lonely and poor at the young age of forty-six.

These are remarkable individuals and most used and are using their great talents to make the world a better place to live.  Even with this being the case, I would like to close this post with my favorite quote.  It’s from “silent Cal”—President Calvin Coolidge.

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”

Great quote and so true.  Think of all the things individuals with average intellect have accomplished over the past decades and centuries.  Average intelligence coupled with work ethic and resourcefulness can win the day.  You do not have to be a genius to reach your potential and do marvelous things.  As always, I welcome your comments.


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