Thursday 29 May 2014

The year I lost eidetic memory was the year I became creative


I was always very good at exams - the best in my non-selective school - heavily reliant on a strong eidetic/ literal/ photographic memory; and this continued for my first year at medical college where I gained a Distinction.

In my second year - aged 19-20 - at some point the eidetic memory went. I realized it at the time, and indeed, for a while, my exam results suffered a bit - I dropped out of the top ten.

I went from the eidetic memory typical of childhood to the 'semantic' - meaning-based, memory of adulthood. Once I had changed my learning strategy, my exam results improved again - and I graduated near the top of the class.

But I have only just noticed that this eidetic/ semantic shift was exactly the time when I began seriously to do 'creative writing' (although I never attained any competence at it) - for example I worked fairly hard at writing a play which I submitted to a competition.

It strikes me that this is probably a reason why children are seldom (if ever) really creative - and why eidetic memory savants are not creative.


Wednesday 28 May 2014

Maybe very high intelligence IS (nearly-) always creative - although high IQ test scores are not


I have been thinking lately that it seems possible that very high intelligence is always (or almost always) creative - despite that people with very high IQ scores are not always creative.

It is a matter of definitions.


Very high intelligence is clearly not the same thing as scoring very high on IQ tests - thus it is possible that all those people who really are creative are actually intelligent (if general intelligence - or 'g' - could be validly measured).

(For example, very few - some but very few - women are genuinely creative - and this is a much smaller proportion than the women who score very highly on IQ testing - at least modern IQ testing.)


And we need also to look-at the definition of creative.

People of recognized high creativity are only a - probably small - proportion of genuinely creative people; because some very creative people are working in areas where the general public has little or no interest, and the subjects may not be useful or profitable in a particular society. Therefore their genuine creativity is not recognized.

This applies to people like the high-IQ prodigy William Sidis - - who is popularly supposed to have 'burned-out' and wasted his life - but who was actually very creative in fields that were not given recognition.

Another example would be Grady M Towers, who had an ultra-high IQ but worked as a night watchman. his creativity was in the form of some superb essays written for high-IQ societies.


Given that it is possible for high levels of creativity (such as that of Sidis) to be unknown or invisible for many years - it is reasonable to suppose that some very highly intelligent people are highly creative in domains that are never known to other people - for example in private, unpublished, destroyed journals.


Furthermore, creativity requires luck, as well as ability - so that some very creative people are simply unlucky, and never make the achievements of which they are capable.

Putting all this together - the deficiencies of IQ tests in measuring general intelligence plus the limited ability for us to recognize genuine creativity -  it is certainly possible that highly intelligent people are always creative - indeed are driven to be creative.

And conversely, that many (or almost all) of the supposed examples of unintelligent people being creative, or creative people being unintelligent, are due to misclassification. As when a creative achievement is actually (knowingly or unconsciously) stolen from the work of a truly creative person; or when a low score on an IQ test has simply failed to measure real intelligence.

In other words maybe very high intelligence just is the creative personality - could we but measure intelligence and creativity validly.


Monday 19 May 2014

A challenge to those who disagree that sRT speed and/or general intelligence has declined a lot over the past 150 years


Replicate Galton's sRT 183 ms group.

During 1884-93 Francis Galton found about 2,500 men with a median simple Reaction Time (sRT) of 183 milliseconds (ms).

The challenge is to find any population of 2500 modern people with a median reaction time of 183ms

This will, in itself, be difficult - I think.

But if this succeeds and we have 2,500 people median sRT of 183ms - then what is the average IQ of this sRT 183ms modern population?

Or if IQ data is not available - what is this sRT 183ms 2,500 population's characteristics in terms of reasonable IQ proxies such as examination results, educational attainment, or even occupational class?


(According to Silverman, other authors contemporary with Galton reported average sRTs between 151ms and 200ms - so instead of 183ms average, perhaps 200ms would be an acceptable replicate? And maybe n = 900, or even n = 200 would suffice? So - even 200 modern men with a media sRT of 200ms would be of considerable interest.)


Sunday 18 May 2014

Is there really such a thing as 'low hanging fruit'?


It was only after I started getting interested in intelligence research about seven years ago that I heard the phrase 'low hanging fruit' being used as an explanation.

The first time was, indeed, a suggestion that the field of intelligence research itself was full of low hanging fruit - easy pickings - because most people were too afraid to work in the field.


Since then I have been hearing the phrase more often, especially as a way of explaining why scientists in the past seem to be so much better than scientists nowadays.

The implication is that the breakthroughs of the past were more frequent because the problems were easier to solve and the answers were more obvious, whereas nowadays it is supposedly harder to make breakthroughs than in the past because the problems are much harder...

Or, to put it another way, the 'low hanging fruit' notion assumes that it is easier to make significant breakthroughs when the field is new, virgin territory, unexploited - supposedly breakthroughs are simply waiting there to be 'plucked' by the first person who stumbles upon them.


The 'low hanging fruit' argument is built on many assumptions - most of which are false.

1. That creativity is relatively common.

2. That creative ability is constant across time, place and circumstances.

3. That history is progressive (assuming that modern people and circumstances are overall 'better' than those of the past).  

4. That an analogy of creativity as picking fruit makes sense.

I disagree with all of these. 


To decide whether people of the past were (as people) better, worse or the same at making creative breakthroughs it is necessary to understand creative breakthroughs.

This means that we must study creativity - via history and biography and acquaintance with creative people - and understanding creativity requires some minimal level of creativity otherwise it could not be recognized.

But my judgement is that 1. creativity is rare - and even mundane levels of creativity are uncommon.

Furthermore, 2. there are many eras, places and circumstances when creativity is apparently absent. And 3. there is really nothing to suggest that creativity is progressive, and the amount of it accumulates through time within any culture - rather creativity seems to come in blips - in creative eras whether shorter or longer, and then may disappear. 


But my major disagreement regards the nature of the creative process itself, and the cognitive difficulty of making a significant breakthrough.

Most people are not creative, and few people have struggled to solve a problem for more than a few minutes (and that includes nearly all so-called 'scientists' - who simply get their problems from other people and try to solve them by following recipes).

Experience and knowledge of creative insight and invention makes it clear that breakthroughs are very very hard to achieve.

The simplest breakthroughs (i.e. simple in retrospect) are, in fact, by far the hardest to make - as should be obvious from the fact that despite the simplicity of the solution, nobody had actually made the breakthrough!

And, the more (potentially) important the breakthrough is, the bigger the difference between the difficulty of solving the problem and the ease of understanding and using the solution.


The best and most important technological breakthroughs have often been astonishingly simple - once achieved. Things like the spade, bow and arrow, wheel, arch. We know of  cultures that failed to discover these for centuries - yet as soon as they were discovered they spread 'like wildfire'.


The pattern of creativity is that it is very hard to discover things; yet sometimes very easy to understand, use and exploit them after they have been discovered.

Therefore it is clear that creative discovery is nothing like picking fruit!


Indeed, experience suggests that creative people who have themselves experienced creative science will never dismiss past breakthroughs as 'low hanging fruit'.

To regard the simple, major work of the past as akin to plucking low hanging fruit is, indeed, evidence of either an uncreative mind (such as the vast majority of people have) or a potentially creative person who has not yet actually achieved anything creative.

It is okay to speculate about whether or not major breakthroughs of the past were analogous to 'easy pickings' - a matter of scooping-up goodies that were just waiting to be gathered by the first person to stumble-upon them - but anyone informed and competent will swiftly conclude that the 'low hanging fruit' explanation is arrogant, blind, complacent, foolish nonsense.


Saturday 17 May 2014

Mutation accumulation as the major cause of declining intelligence - WD Hamilton


I have come across a useful round-up the idea of mutation accumulation as the most likely significant mechanism for rapid decline in human intelligence over the past eight or so generations:

This author came across the idea in WD Hamilton's second volume of Narrow Roads of Gene Land - just as I did:

and he fills in the background and more recent history of this idea.

My only major quibble with this article is that the first and most-important and earliest cause of mutation accumulation was the decline in childhood (i.e. pre-sexually-mature) mortality rates starting from the agricultural and industrial revolutions.

This means that mutation accumulation very probably began in Britain from 1750-1800 and was becoming measurably apparent by 1850. Apart from public health and hygiene (e.g. water supply) improvements, medical breakthroughs would only have begun to have an effect on natural selection from the early 20th century.

So mutation accumulation as a cause of dysgenesis is not an abstract and theoretical speculation about the future - something possible unless we do x, y, and z...

No! Whatever may happen from now onwards - mutation accumulation is something that has already happened, beginning several generations ago - and the product of dysgenic change is us, i.e. the modern population in developed nations: we are it.


Friday 16 May 2014

What do simple reaction time measurements mean to intelligence research?


Simple reaction time measures a very simple situation - how quickly somebody can respond by pressing a button (or equivalent) to a sudden-onset stimulus such as a light flashing or a sharp noise.

This correlates with general intelligence - very robustly, but not with a very high correlation.

In other words, the sRT-g positive correlation is found in all populations - but there is a lot of scatter around the correlation line; so there are apparently many individuals with slow sRT and high IQ and vice versa.


(I would suppose that when there is a dissociation between sRT and g, that in principle this should be explicable; for example I would suppose that a person with rapid sRT but low measured IQ would have some factor, such as poor vision, concentration or motor control, which affected their performance in IQ testing - but not {or hardly at all} performance in reaction time testing.)


The advantage of measuring the sRT (compared with other ways of measuring intelligence) is that it is highly objective (e.g. culture- and education-independent); and also that it reduces to a low level of influence things like perceptual differences (good eyesight and hearing), concentration (this does not need to be sustained for sRT), and 'motor' differences - such as muscle strength and fine motor control.


(Many people grossly misunderstand reaction times as being analogous to reactive power sports actions such as boxing prowess, or batting in baseball; but the sports most related to fast sRT are finesse, minimal-movement, quick-reaction but not strength-dependent sports such as Ping-Pong/ Table Tennis, or perhaps foil fencing - in other words, the kind of competitive sports at which East Asians tend to excel.)


The simple reaction time therefore measures the speed of a nerve path through the central nervous system while minimizing the effect of perception and musculature - and this presumably provides an imprecise but valid measure of the processing speed of the CNS.

And this is a measure of the efficiency of processing.

So, I assume that sRT is a measure of CNS efficiency - and this is why sRT correlates with g; because g is perhaps most profoundly a measure of efficiency: and increased CNS efficiency is the reason that increased g improves (to a greater or lesser extent) average performance on all cognitive tests and tasks.


It is a truism of complex systems research (and for very good reasons) that the main method to increase efficiency is via an increased in complexity - more specifically efficiency in a process usually entails functional specialization and coordination of specialized functions.


(The best known example is in a factory - such as Adam Smith's pin factory described in Wealth of Nations - by breaking down pin manufacture into multiple specialized functions - division of labour - and careful coordination of these functions, the efficiency of the factory can be greatly increased when measured in terms of daily productive output of pins per employee. )


By this argument - sRT measures speed of processing, which is a measure of efficiency, which is a measure of complex functional specialization of organization.

So, the sRT correlation with g is telling us that - at root:

A more intelligent brain is a brain with a greater functional complexity.


(Complexity of the brain is partly a matter of size as a way of accommodating more neural connectedness; but probably also of the density of connectedness. In computer technology, the density of connectedness of circuits is a constraint on processing speed - and probably something similar applies to brains.)


If a more intelligent brain is more complex (hence more efficient and faster-processing) then this, in turn, explains a number of otherwise puzzling things about general intelligence - for example that higher intelligence in a human group or population is achieved at some cost - such as reduced athleticism and reduced fertility in that population.

Some cost, because building a more complex brain is costly - it requires extra resources (or transfer of resources from other functions) and extra time to make something that is extra complex - and there are more things which can go wrong either in making it, or after it has been made.


Monday 12 May 2014

"All" modern geniuses will probably be oddballs


Due to the 150-200 year decline in general intelligence, there are not many potential geniuses born nowadays (not many in total, and only as in a tiny percentage of births) - furthermore, six to eight generations of accumulated deleterious genetic mutations (due to extremely low infant and child mortality rates) mean that almost-all modern geniuses will be oddballs: difficult personalities, significantly crazy, stubborn, aggressive, disobedient; socially maladaptive due to lacking in careerism, networking-abilities and constantly 'saying - or doing - the wrong thing'.

This seems to be the case from the geniuses and near-geniuses I have known - hardly any of them are/ were good at building their careers or nurturing their success - quite the reverse: either they are utterly obscure and apparently happy to stay that way, or else they are always 'trailing their coats', picking fights and making powerful and influential enemies.

This is another factor in the apparent disappearance of genius - intolerance of eccentricity, and the dominant tendency to write-off as insignificant and incompetent (or even dangerous) those who do not tick all the right boxes - many such people drop out from education early, or fail to get good jobs/ promotions/ publication/ prizes - and consequently have near zero influence.

In such an environment, actual achievement means nothing. Literally nothing.


Thursday 8 May 2014

The evolution of genius. The necessity is for the production of enough geniuses, and a society which values products of genius


I had a valuable conversation with Michael A Woodley yesterday, in which he gave me a new and very significant insight into the nature of genius in its social context.
Michael had noticed and recognized the crucial importance of a comment by HJ Eysenck, in his 1995 book Genius - that noted that many geniuses were short lived.

(There are a particularly large number of mathematicians in this short-lived category; but there have been many short-lived examples among geniuses of all types.)

Furthermore, Michael already knew that many geniuses have either zero children - or few/ zero children who survive.

(Shakespeare had zero direct descendants, so far as known. Same for Beethoven and Schubert. Same for Pascal and Turing. Same for Newton and Maxwell.)

Therefore, there is a high probability of reproductive extinction for geniuses - and this implies that geniuses do not need to live beyond early adulthood and do not need to reproduce.

I believe that this insight of Woodley's is the missing key; when added to the insights of Eysenck, he has essentially solved the problem of genius, as I understand it.


One thing that must be emphasized is that each individual genius potentially has a disproportionately massive impact on their society as a whole.

For instance, it is plausible that the unknown Byzantine inventor of Greek Fire quite possibly ensured the survival of Constantinople for several hundred years beyond what would otherwise have happened.

This is totally different from the way that genetics works!

So a single genius may affect - may massively-enhance - the likelihood of survival and growth of a whole human society - even when their genetic impact on that society is near-zero or actually zero.


Which means that the problem in explaining the emergence of a society where there is a high concentration and number of geniuses (e.g. Western Europe from the late Middle Ages and until recently) reduces to the simple problem of first producing geniuses and secondly of society being such as to appreciate and use the products of genius.

In other words, geniuses do not need to live long or have children, they simply need to survive long enough to make their contribution. And having made their contribution they do not personally need to be rewarded for it - because it is likely that they will not live very long anyway.


Why should geniuses so often be short lived (and sterile)?

Plausibly, because that the genius has a brain of exceptionally high complexity (in relevant ways), which means (from the predictions of general complex systems theory) that in the first place this kind of super-brain is harder to grow and therefore more likely to have developmental faults; and in the second place that an exceptionally complex brain is harder to maintain and therefore more likely to malfunction fatally (in many possible ways).
(The minority of long lived and fertile geniuses would include those few who have had the good fortune to develop an extra highly complex brain without any significant or potentially fatal faults; and therefore whose brain is more robust and easier to maintain over the long-term.)
So, what is needed to produce a society with a high concentration of geniuses is:

1. Enough potential geniuses are born
2. Enough of these potential geniuses survive to early adulthood (at least)

These two factors are enough to ensure that geniuses will produce - because the innate tendency to practice genius is a property of geniuses: it takes very little in the way of encouragement, and indeed geniuses will 'do their thing' even in the face of considerable dis-couragement.
The final step is that:

3. Society must value and use the products of genius.

Not all societies do this - or, more often, they only use certain restricted products of genius - such as decorative arts, improvements in statecraft or military technologies.

But, to reiterate, the society need not value or reward the genius himself, indeed the genius can safely be neglected, defrauded of his credit, or even killed (after making his discovery) since he will probably be dead soon anyway.

So long as the genius has the minimal psychological appreciation/ positive valuation - perhaps from just one or two or a few persons - then he will do his thing anyway.


So what kind of society produces geniuses?

Probably all societies produce sporadic geniuses, but only a few produce a high enough concentration of geniuses to make a difference to the society as a whole.

Although even one single genius who produces a particular invention may make a vast difference.

But the genetic pre-requisites of genius are already known: a society with a sufficiently high average general intelligence ('g') and also an average personality of a moderately high level of Psychoticism

('Psychoticism' embodies both creativity and the personality traits necessary for a genius to produce a distinctive contribution - see )

This will ensure a sufficient production of geniuses - then these must survive to adulthood in sufficient number.

I think this implies that the society must have a sufficiently large proportion of 'middle class' people - in other words those whose economic role involves a high level of technical or cognitive skills - and where possession of technical or cognitive skills gives a high probability of a higher than replacement-level of survival for your children.

In other words, what is needed is a sufficiently large and successful middle class.


But what kind of society tends to value the products of genius?

My guess is that it needs to be a society where the middle class of skill-workers has a substantial role in serving itself - because where the skill workers serve the upper classes, then only the types of genius which serve upper class interests will be used - mostly innovations in statecraft and war, and to a lesser extent in upper class luxury goods such as the arts and crafts and architecture, cooking and clothes and the like.

But when a middle class person can sell their skills to other middle class persons, then conditions are ripe for the recognition and use of a wide range of products of genius - including those which increase the functionality of society in many ways - innovations in economics, industrial organization, agriculture, transport, power machinery, communication and so on.

But a society of mandarins, a society in which the skilled middle class survive by serving the ruling class, a society in which the middle class of predominantly officials and bureaucrats, is NOT, on the whole, a society which will be likely to recognize or use the innovations of genius.


All that is somewhat speculative.

But Woodley's insight has simplified, and thereby solved, the basic problem of how genius is produced - by clarifying that genius as such is not, cannot coherently be, regarded as a direct product of natural selection: genius does not happen because it brings reproductive success - quite the reverse.

Genius is a product of heredity - but is itself (on average) a genetic dead-end.

And, having had enough geniuses born and survive to adulthood - the crucial factor is that society as a whole recognizes and uses the innovations which individual (and often short-lived) geniuses produce.


Wednesday 7 May 2014

Cognitive Neurointelligence - an agenda for case-based clinical research into intelligence


Following from:

If it is agreed that intelligence research has (thus far, and in general) been deformed and devalued by its origins in population-level and statistically-orientated research methods (especially warped by aiming at group--level social scientific uses in education research, demographics and epidemiology)

-then there is a clear need for individual-level research methods;

without which we can never understand the qualitative nature of 'general intelligence' but will remain stuck in the present (and for the past century plus) situation of merely an abstract and statistical and correlational non-definition of general intelligence, which utterly fails to describe or explain 'what intelligence actually is'.


This problem seems very obvious to me, coming into intelligence research (as I do) from a background in medicine, psychiatry and evolutionary biology.

It is clear that mainstream intelligence research is and always has been (to put it crudely, but accurately) non-biological.


One remedy would be to develop new strands of intelligence research which focus on individuals; in other words case study methodologies.

Specifically, intensive 'clinical' study of individuals who are selected for their unusual attributes: in other words an adaptation of the approach pioneered in Cognitive Neuropsychology (in which individuals with unusual forms of localized brain damage were studied intensively).

This was later extended to psychiatry as Cognitive Neuropsychiatry - for example, the 'looking for exceptions to a theoretically-grounded prediction' (or 'black swan') approach I used in Walston F, Blennerhassett RC, Charlton BG. (2000). ‘Theory of mind’, persecutory delusions and the somatic marker mechanism. Cognitive Neuropsychiatry 5: 161-174.

(Authors who have written in this tradition include Oliver Sacks, Antonio Damasio and (in a useful textbook) Tim Shallice. - see my references in the previous blog post.)


Focus of case studies

While traditional, population-based intelligence research has focused on as-large-as-possible, norm-based, representative samples - and on studying population differences, average effects and correlations...

in contrast, case study based research focuses on the unusual.

For example, while Terman's 1920s longitudinal, follow-up cohort research on high IQ children, or Deary's recent analysis of a more-representative cohort from the same era, focus upon normal, averages, correlations etc. - case based research would focus upon the exceptions to these correlations.

Possible suitable and potentially-fruitful subjects for a Cognitive Neurointelligence approach would be:

Those people who had high IQ as children but who did NOT have successful careers as adults. In other words, Grady M Towers 'Outsiders' -

The misfits, the people who sometimes congregates in high (and ultra-high) IQ societies; whose personalities stand in the path of successful careers (e.g. Grady Towers was a night watchman).

And/ or very high IQ people who suffer illness, localized brain damage, who are psychopathic, neurotic, psychotic - who have poor concentration, a small working-memory...

Or people who have very fast simple reaction times, probably indicating fast processing and highly efficient brains - but who have low IQ test scores.


In such studies population norms ('averages') are used in a qualitative fashion which does not depend upon great precision and is not sensitive to the exact representativeness of population sampling  - measures simply to indicate whether the person has about-average performance - or significantly above or significantly below average performance.

So, test measures are used in a yes/no fashion - and a profiles can be built up for each individual in terms of three categories:

1. About average
2. Certainly above average
3. Certainly below average


Why? because is it (for instance) much easier to understand the nature of intelligence when intelligence is pretty much the only advantage a person has - when they have high intelligence but - say - poor concentration - what can they do and what can they not do?

When somebody has high intelligence but a psychopathic personality - how do they function socially, educationally, vocationally, under formal testing - what can they do at normal levels, what better than average, what worse than average?

What kind of a person shows very fast reaction times but performs badly on IQ tests - are there any subtests (with modifications) tests on which they perform very well - if so, what characteristics do these subtests have?


The great thing about this kind of research is that it can be done (in fact, needs to be done) by many people of many types (including, of course, self-study, detailed autobiography, and self-experimentation)  - it can be amateur science - and thereby escape from the wholesale careerism, bureaucratization and in-general corruption of mainstream modern 'science'.


Monday 5 May 2014

The need for individual case studies in intelligence research


Intelligence research grew as the study of comparatively-tested groups - and indeed the IQ measure is comparative, since it describes relative performance on these tests compared with a reference group.

But this is a very strange and unusual way for a biological subject to originate - since most biology developed on the basis of individual studies - with groups merely being used to check that individual observations were not unique, and to increase the precision of quantitative estimates by the use of averaging.


So IQ research has suffered this distortion - and the IQ measure has seldom been very useful for understanding individuals - except when there is a dissociation between general intelligence and other abilities.

(In contrast, IQ is very useful for predicting group level performance.)

Furthermore, this distortion has gone to the very heart of intelligence research, and has - I judge - exerted a paralysing effect on it; since the conceptual understanding of what-intelligence-actually-is remains pathetically weak.

The simple reason for the feebleness of understanding of the central concept of intelligence research (by its leading researchers!) - is that IQ, and indeed general intelligence/ g itself - is a group-level comparative measure

- but what is needed to understand intelligence a description of what happens at the individual, personal level - without reference to other people.


In sum, intelligence research needs individual case studies - it needs very rich and detailed descriptive studies of the cognitive functioning of specific people in order to be able to develop an understanding of what-intelligence-is.

Or, to put matters another way, until intelligence researchers can do conceptualize and conduct proper (scientifically valid) individual case studies, then they won't really know what they are talking about.


(More to follow on this theme...)


A critique of biological psychiatry. Psychological Medicine, 1990;20:3-6

Endocrine physiology and the value of case studies. Journal of Endocrinology, 1991;130:1-2

The scope and nature of epidemiology. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, 1996; 49: 623-626. 

Charlton BG, Walston F. Individual case studies in clinical research. Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice 1998; 4: 147-155.

Thursday 1 May 2014

Understanding dreaming sleep, the awake state and deep sleep from an Einsteinian perspective - different relative speeds of time


The three consciousness states of Dreaming Sleep, Awake and Deep Sleep can be understood by analogy with Einstein's theory of General Relativity - in terms of time always running at the same speed as experienced from within a state, but being perceived to run at relative different speeds when observing one state from a different state.


Time runs at the same rate for every state from within that state. One hour always feels like one hour, whether a person is dreaming, awake or deeply asleep.

But, for instance, if awake is taken as the reference point; then one hour of being awake seems to be able to encompass many hours, even days, of dreaming. On the other hand, many hours in deep sleep feel like an absence, or just a few moments - from the perspective of being awake.

So Deep Sleep passes almost like no time at all (as when somebody wakes-up and says: "how long have I been asleep?", and he can't believe that the answer is three hours because while deeply asleep it felt like a few moments); while dreaming can encompass what is experienced as a very long, complex, vivid, perhaps exhausting dream - and on wakening the dreamer find that they have only been asleep 45 minutes.


Perhaps there is a helpful analogy in considering falling into deep sleep as an acceleration, and falling into deep sleep as a deceleration - a slowing.

Thus, from the perspective of an observer located on Earth,  an astronaut on a spaceship which accelerates away from earth to high relative speed, for example in a round trip to Jupiter, will be found to have 'aged more slowly'; when he returns to Earth. For the observer on Earth time has slowed down for the astronaut - for the astronaut, time on Earth has speeded-up.

Thus, dreaming sleep is like an acceleration to high speed: within the dream the time is unaltered, but from the awake perspective the dream can cram more into each unit of time than is possible for the awake mind.

And presumably the opposite is true of deep sleep; where (from the awake perspective) very little seems to be happening per unit of time.


So our lives are spent oscillating between different times. Being awake is in the middle of two states, and when we are awake we see events speeded-up or slowed-down, or time running slower or and faster: in dreaming events are speeded-up or time appears to run slower to allow more to happen per unit time; and in deep sleep events are slowed-down or time seems to run quicker so that not much happens per unit time.


This provides a way of understanding why our memories of the times when we are asleep are so limited: when we are dreaming, too much is happening, too fast for memory to 'take it all in': like a videotape sped up to 1000 times normal speed, and reduced to a mere blur of shapes and colours.

But when we are deeply asleep, not enough is happening for the memory systems to make sense of it - it is like a sound recording played back a thousand times too slowly: a single word becoming just a deep, incomprehensible, modulating rumble.

However, it would be reasonable to assume that although the waking mind, and waking memory systems cannot make much explicit sense of what happens in dreams and deep sleep - the experiences of dreaming and deep sleeping do change things (presumably by their own memory systems): although how this happens is only indirectly knowable to the awake state - being mostly unconscious, inaccessible, implicit.


Some implications of men cognitively-maturing more slowly than women - men reaching maximum intelligence at an older chronological age than women


It is general regarded as a solid fact that women reach full maturity earlier than men, and this almost certainly applies to brains - and therefore almost certainly applies to intelligence - yet this fact is very generally neglected.

(Except by Richard Lynn - whose argument is apparently being ignored - although surely it is far more biologically plausible than the alternative tacit assumption that a 16 year old man and women are at exactly the same stage of development.)


Suppose, for the sake of discussion, that on average women reach their maximum intelligence at 16 and men at 18  - the actual numbers are not really known, because it seems that the matter has not been thoroughly looked-into.

The average 16 year old woman is at her maximum intelligence, while the average sixteen year old man is at about 16/18ths of his maximum intelligence  - that is to say the average 16 year old man is at somewhat less than 90 percent of his full intelligence (assuming that development is linear).


To get a more precise estimate of the maturation of men and women - probably the best measurement would be serial simple reaction times (sRTs) - sRT could be measured every few months in a longitudinal study of individual children right through into their twenties - and the (average) age at which the sRT reaches its shortest (i.e. the average age when reaction times are fastest) would be the age of full cognitive maturation for intelligence.


The implications of this matter are considerable.

1. When comparing boys and girls or young men and young women - they should not be age-matched, but maturation matched - so that an 8 year old girl who is at about 50 percent maturity, should be matched with a 9 year old boy - who is at an equivalent level of maturity - and so on.


2. What does the age difference in maximum intelligence mean - in biological terms?

It seems plausible that intelligence is a consequence of brain complexity - in the sense that as a general principle (from systems theory, and confirmed by biology) increased complexity of organization allows (and it necessary for) increased efficiency - and general intelligence is substantially about greater brain efficiency.

But increased complexity of brain organization implies:

i) A longer period of brain development

ii) A greater potential for things to go wrong during brain development.

So, on these grounds we would expect the 'more-intelligent' sex (i.e. men) to have on the one hand a longer 'normal' (which is not necessarily the same as 'average') period of brain development with later maturation (which is indeed observed);

and, on the other hand, also a higher rate of things going wrong and leading to sub-optimal intelligence (which is also observed - in that there are more men than women who suffer from mental handicap/ subnormal intelligence).

Also, it would be assumed that - in considering genetically-separated populations, the 'normal' period of brain development would have a broad correlation with average intelligence in that population (assuming other relevant influencing factors were sufficiently controlled) - so that the most intelligent populations had a significantly longer development than the least.

This also seems to be the case - and the shortest normal development period - which is, I think, seen in pygmies who mature at about age 12, seems to be associated with low average intelligence, and so on.


In passing, it may be suggested that the reducing average age of sexual maturation that has been seen in Western populations may also be happening at the same time as reducing average intelligence in the same populations - and this statistical association may (to some significant extent - although not necessarily entirely) be causal.


One interesting conclusion of this line of research is that when young boys and girls of the same age test at the same level of intelligence -


this is actually strong evidence that adult men are more intelligent than adult women!


Another implication of this line of reasoning is that we should be less interested by differences (or not) between averages when comparing men and women or different populations, and more interested by differences at extreme or peak levels.

In other words, we should think of intelligence more like we think of athletic ability - when we are interested in the best, rather than the average.

For example, the interesting men-women comparison is between (say) Olympic standard runners and weight lifters, or professional tennis or soccer players - rather than between the population average ability - which is mostly unknown and also very difficult to measure (due to the in-practice impossibility of getting truly random population samples).