May 24, 2013

"People with higher IQs are slow to detect large background movements because their brains filter out non-essential information."

"From previous research, we expected that all participants would be worse at detecting the movement of large images, but high IQ individuals were much, much worse."

I'm interested in this subject: Things really smart people are especially bad at.

63 comments:

Nomennovum said...

I has grate difikulty detekting larg bakgrowd movments to.

SteveR said...

Drives my wife crazy

Big Mike said...

In my case, remembering to mow the lawn.

Brew Master said...

So, next time my wife complains that I wasn't listening to her I can say it is because of my high IQ making me filter out non-essential background information?

That'd go over real well.....

gerry said...

Does this mean that y'all get obsessed by minutiae?

Mitchell the Bat said...

I supposedly have an IQ of 150.

I'd much rather be very good-looking.

A lifetime of noticing itty-bitty little details here and there has been something of a compensation, I have to admit.

Sheridan said...

I can see movement at the atomic level. Anything larger, not so much. I can't even see the dog walk slowly across the room and pee on the carpet. Maybe he's testing my IQ? He's a smart dog...

phx said...

Don't start me talkin'. I'll tell everything I know.

m stone said...

As long as it's not a truck bearing down on you.

Lem said...

Things really smart people are especially bad at.

Treating less smart people well?

traditionalguy said...

What was that big context change? I missed it focused on everyday tasks of controlling details in an assumed context.

This is humans' #1 weakness.

We want all to stay the same around us. That leads to a Pearl Harbor attack winning so easily. No one admitted the flights oof palnes and the min-sub periscopes were really enemies...they must be mistaken observations.

Which leads us back to the ease with which we let Obama destroy us while he lies with every word he speaks asserting that he is a pro-American president, and the super intelligent progressives assume he must be doing a pro-American job until the fleet wakes up dead and sunk to the bottom.

edutcher said...

Which explains why the guy you never saw who broadsided you had Obama stickers all over his car.

phx said...

Treating less smart people well?

That's the biggest sin.

Mr. D said...

Things really smart people are especially bad at.

Acknowledging their limitations.

Original Mike said...

"I'm interested in this subject: Things really smart people are especially bad at."

Choosing Presidents?

Mary Martha said...

I had a computer teacher in high school who would go on and on about how we might all be 'smart' but we were sorely lacking in common sense. His problem was that computers do exactly what you tell them - no more, no less and often students would be stymied by that simplicity.

He called it "Can't cross the street safely smart". We were insulted... until the next day Bob was hit by a car and broke his arm in front of school.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

People with higher IQs are slow to detect large background movements...

Based on the number of supposedly smart people who supported President Obama, they seem to be pretty slow to detect large bowel movements too.

Bob_R said...

Sit in the lounge on the top floor of Van Vleck Hall and you can collect a lot of data.

Marshal said...

Things really smart people are especially bad at.

#1: Economics.

Paddy O said...

What you all missed was the man in the gorilla suit walking behind this post as you were reading it.

Astro said...

The test supposedly has a 71 percent correlation. I wonder, though, if they correlated it with people who read a lot.
High IQ people tend to expand their knowledge base, and thus they read a lot. There is, though, a small percentage of high IQ people who just don't read that much; conversely there are a lot of lower IQ folks who do read a lot for enjoyment rather than for education.

Reading requires the use of the fovea; reading may reinforce that part of the visual system. So people who read a lot should perform better at detecting the motion in the small circles.

Matthew Sablan said...

Remembering what they heard at their briefings before talking to Congress?

Balfegor said...

I wonder whether these results are robust across different cultures:

The cognitive differences start with basic sensory perception. In one study, Michigan's Taka Masuda showed Japanese and American students pictures of aquariums containing one big fast-moving fish, several other finned swimmers, plants, rock and bubbles. What did the students recall? The Japanese spontaneously remembered 60% more background elements than did the Americans. They also referred twice as often to relationships involving background objects ("the little frog was above the pink rock").

The difference was even more striking when the participants were asked which, of 96 objects, had been in the scene. When the test object was shown in the context of its original surroundings, the Japanese did much better at remembering correctly whether they had seen it before. For the Americans, including the background was no help; they had never even seen it
.

Ann Althouse said...

@Mary Martha This is the typical attitude of people who know they are less intelligent than others. Often the claim is that they, unlike the more intelligent, have "street smarts." Also "emotional" intelligence.

But that's human nature, and it's optimism, really, to look at what you have and think of reasons why it's good and what you don't have isn't really desirable.

Hence, the rich are unhappy, the beautiful ones lack compassion, etc. etc.

Chip S. said...

I don't have to read the study to know it's junk science.

It treats IQ scores as meaningful. Obvious rubbish.

Howard said...

"In an initial study on 12 people, there was a 64% correlation between motion suppression and IQ scores. In this larger study on 53 people, a 71% correlation was found."

A pathetically small sample size. Another bullcrap study for headlines and more grant money.

Bruce Hayden said...

I would suggest maybe a couple of things. One, maybe a lesser ability to multi-task, and another a certain level of obliviousness.

Of course, this depends on how someone is gifted. Some have very quick brains, while others have very deep ones. Einstein was supposedly in that category - slow and through. And, maybe others with very good memories. My partner in crime had a photographic memory (partially lost I think when she lost a lot of central vision through anoxia), which meant that she could ace any test. She would read the book once, then could search and read the video of the book during tests. But, there are other types of intelligence too, some of which are more auditory or tactile, and don't show up as well on IQ tests.

My brain is very quick, but heavily filtered. The latter meaning that I miss a lot of stuff happening. I am more likely to miss auditory information, but that may be because I am a male > 60 years of age and slowly going deaf. But, part too is that I am more much more visual than auditory, and more auditory than tactile. I do greatly enjoy the pushing of my brain, making it think faster, and that is where I get the most adrenaline rush. Not surprisingly, I do quite well on standardized tests - top 1% on SAT, LSAT, and top 2% of MBE. Next brother though is the better mathematician, but doesn't do well on standardized tests, because his mind is slower and more thorough.

The filtering idea is interesting. My mind is usually going 90 mph, but only part of that is processing inputs. It often seems like vision, hearing, etc. are almost separate from "me". Not surprising that I would miss visual stimuli, since vision is almost like a video or TV feed that I can just monitor,and often don't need to pay too much attention to. Something like that.

Tibore said...

Dammit, where was this research when I needed it back in 6th grade basketball? I could've told the coach that in fact I was not a dumbass for missing free throws in hostile environments.

Ann Althouse said...

So... a key thing here is filtering... forgetting... ignoring.

We tend not to credit ourselves with these negative skills.

This discussion reminds me of the description in "Botany of Desire" about what happens under the influence of marijuana -- that it's a loss of this filter that lets you focus on what matters and be unaware of everything at once. This may give insight into why stoned people seem so dumb.

Rusty said...

phx said...
Treating less smart people well?

That's the biggest sin.


I've apologized already.

Rusty said...

Chip S. said...
I don't have to read the study to know it's junk science.

It treats IQ scores as meaningful. Obvious rubbish.


Damn!

Bruce Hayden said...

I found Balfegor's point interesting, that some of these differences are maybe more cultural than IQ related.

One thing that has intrigued me for a long time is that some traits that are rewarded today would have seriously impacted survival several hundred years ago - an eye blink in evolutionary history. If I were transported back then, I suspect that I wouldn't survive well at all. Slightly above average in size, but very near sighted, and often almost oblivious when it comes to the world around me. In today's society, I could do well as a software engineer and later as a patent attorney. But as a farmer? I don't do well with drudgery, and most jobs back then required a lot of that.

I think that a lot of what we consider "smart", etc. is dependent upon what is valued in today's society, and not how well those same traits would have been effective in another time or place. One example of this is that dyslexia is considered a learning disability, but some of those with it whom I know have been almost uncanny in the way that they learn and understand things through other routes. Next door neighbor could watch someone do something fairly complex once on a car, then do it themselves the first time. No books. No reading. Just almost immediate understanding by watching. Seen something similar in others so afflicted. I would think that to have been much more useful than the ability to ace an SAT test 200 years ago in this country, and in much of the world today.

ricpic said...

Really smart people are suckers for systems. There has to be a theory that explains everything. And then when that theory is discovered it has to be realized in a system that has to be imposed on everyone. Ordinary shlubs have no such compulsion.

Seeing Red said...

Stoned people lose IQ I think 9 points per experience.

Bruce Hayden said...

We tend not to credit ourselves with these negative skills.

I must be the exception there, because I have little problem with admitting all of them. Maybe because so many, over so long a time, have pointed them out to me. I hadn't thought though that filtration could be tied to memory, but it makes pretty good sense that it would. Since at least junior high, I have been far, far better able to retain and understand concepts, than to remember facts and figures. Nearly flunked science one quarter in 7th grade because I just couldn't memorize the geologic eras.

ricpic said...

I guess theory is discovered is wrong. When that theory is propounded by a really smart person.

Tim said...

"I'm interested in this subject: Things really smart people are especially bad at."

The irreducible, explicit risks of voting Democrat and the resulting suffocating big government.

Low-information voters have every reason to vote for public subsidies and endless benefits without accountability; smart people, none at all.

Yet, they still do.

"Smart" sometimes isn't so smart.

traditionalguy said...

IQ twets do identify the more mentally alert from the half asleep ones. But real smarts is off their chart and allows a few to do both instantly.

I have known a few like that, and they were socially difficult because bottom lining every experience takes the fun of risky living away from them and those around them.

But they can do wonders at new weapon systems development.

gk1 said...

Voting for president, evidently.

Saint Croix said...

I'm interested in this subject: Things really smart people are especially bad at.

Ha! Althouse, you should watch The Big Bang Theory. And yes, it is a sex joke.

And it's available in the Althouse portal.

Saint Croix said...

Or through the Althouse portal.

Saint Croix said...

Portal was not a sex joke. But now I guess it is.

wyo sis said...

I'm really bad at caring about IQ as a measure of intelligence.
That must necessarily mean I have a low one right?

Chip Ahoy said...

I like Balfegor's example

As I was visualizing Balfegor's astute observation suddenly a similar aquarium-recall-test incident came to mind. I went to a massage guy irregularly just off from downtown and one day I was laying there looking a 20 gallon aquarium in near trance mode but the fish seemed different than before, a few months had elapsed, so I asked him about the new fish, but I noticed them one by one and so asked about them one by one and by the third fish it irritated the guy who was answering one by one until he blurted out very unzenlike, "Yes. Yes. I went to the store and bought new fish, alright?"

"Oh."

elkh1 said...

"From previous research, we expected that all participants would be worse at detecting the movement of large images, but high IQ individuals were much, much worse."

This is definitely a definitive proof that Obama is the person with the highest IQ in human history. He cannot detect anything other than the words displayed on his Teleprompter when he makes all his thrill-up-the-legs better-than-Lincoln's-Gettysburg-Address speeches.

Broomhandle said...

Oh! Well that explains it.

Steven said...

Like evolution, the existence, relevance, and measurability of g is one of those bits of well-demonstrated scientific fact that some people loudly reject because they don't have the emotional maturity to face reality.

David said...

"Things really smart people are especially bad at."

Governing.

University administration.

Journalism.

Or so it seems by current evidence.

Mitch H. said...

When I was a kid, I was told that they didn't want bus drivers or truckers with high intelligence. At the time, I assumed it was because they'd become distracted and were easily bored, and that someone on the left slope of the bell curve would be able to maintain attention steadily, without getting lost in their own thoughts.

"In an initial study on 12 people, there was a 64% correlation between motion suppression and IQ scores. In this larger study on 53 people, a 71% correlation was found."

Damn, really? That's not much better than just asking every other guy that walks down a street for an hour or two. What's the confidence interval on a study that small, 5%?

Kevin said...

So then this must explain why you might hear about someone who's hit by a bus. They must have been too focused on the little things in front of them to not notice the large object in the background...

lgv said...

I'm interested in this subject: Things really smart people are especially bad at.

Long haul trucking. I believe there was a study. Dumber is better for endless vehicle driving.

Deb said...

Humility.

Rocketeer said...

Does a shift from democracy to tyranny count as a "large background movement?"

If so, it would seem to bring a lot of the pet theories of both right, and left, into harmony.

Brent said...

I will give myself away to some by this recounting, but I have to tell it:

Several years ago I worked for a food company that sold to colleges and universities. Many colleges will have a food sampling day each fall where students and faculty are exposed to new menu ideas, and food vendors always love to have such a large audience trying their latest products, both hoping for feedback and possible menu placement. Cal Tech is one of the colleges that always has a fun food faire. The best and the brightest of course go there - future Nobel prize winners, curers of cancer, et al. I always like to ask the students what their majors are, and they are impressive from an intelligence and intellectual standpoint.

One particular year at Cal Tech, my company was pushing freshly made mashed potatoes with various additions, garlic, feta, anchovies, etc. as well as good old plain loaded with butter mashed. the company had gone all out in full color banners and promotional materials always with the words "Mashed Potatoes" featured prominently, including the tags right in front of each warm pot of mashed on the tables. Continually throughout the day, students would come up to the table, look around, look into the warmers that were clearly full of mashed potatoes, look up at me or one of my cohorts assisting and ask in obvious sincerity, "what is this"?

It all evens out.

We told the ones who asked it was "Puree de Potat"

By the way, Cal Tech bought a ton of it for the menu.

Crunchy Frog said...

Stoned people lose IQ I think 9 points per experience.

Per experience? Wow. Considering I passed the Mensa test, I must have really been smart before all the fun I had in my 20s...

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

I'd say that the thing "really smart people" are least good at is recognizing that you can't do everything with just "smarts"; you need a body of knowledge, and you can't necessarily get at it via five minutes' worth of Googling. People tend to think that because they're brilliant in one field, they'd naturally be brilliant in any other field. Nothing could be further from the truth, but if they've managed to collect a crowd of sycophants around them, it's unlikely that anyone will tell them the truth.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

lgv,

Long haul trucking. I believe there was a study. Dumber is better for endless vehicle driving.

Well, I don't drive, but if I did, I think I could do that just fine. Just let me grab a few dozen classical CDs from the massive collection, and I'll be good to go ...

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

David,

Governing.

University administration.

Journalism.


Assuming facts not in evidence. I don't think people in any of these fields are especially intelligent on average. There are certainly politicians dumber than rocks, and university administration is where you end up if you're not really bright enough to teach, but would very much like a pot of money.

Journalism is trickier. There are journalists who work their asses off doing often dangerous work. They are not generally the ones you've likely heard of, though.

Mumpsimus said...

MDT says: "People tend to think that because they're brilliant in one field, they'd naturally be brilliant in any other field." Well, Hollywood certainly thinks so. Just off the top of my head:

Top Gun: Kelly McGillis has a degree in astrophysics (!) and is therefore an expert in fighter tactics.

Good Will Hunting: Matt Damon is a math genius, and so can easily do his girlfriend's Organic Chemistry homework.

mariner said...

Michelle Dulak Thompson,
Well, I don't drive, but if I did, I think I could do that just fine. Just let me grab a few dozen classical CDs from the massive collection, and I'll be good to go ...

Why bother?

Just remember to bring the charging adapter for the phone.

mariner said...

Mumpsismus,
Good Will Hunting: Matt Damon is a math genius, and so can easily do his girlfriend's Organic Chemistry homework.
Will Hunting had an eidetic memory, so he could remember anything he ever read (at one time, apparently, organic chemistry).

tanu sharma said...

Very Very good and usable post. Thank's to share your experience with us. I will try to remember these tips in my blog commenting task.
Dog Walking And Pet Sitting

n.n said...

The really smart people will learn to overcome their emergent flaws. They will overcome their shortcomings through adaptation. The semi-smart people will either evolve or will remain forever ignorant.