Interview with Dr. Greg A. Grove,
|In early 1999, I encountered the High IQ societies of the Internet. One
in particular, The Poetic Genius Society, caught my eye. Founded by Dr. Greg A.
Grove, PGS remains unique among the high IQ societies because it has a particular
focus. After nearly two years of membership, I asked Dr. Grove what he feels should be the
prime directive of high IQ societies.
"Such clubs should foster meaningful dialogue civilly," he replied. "By sharing our intellectual gifts and perspectives, we may help to trigger fresh insights, give rise to richer imagination, or pave the road towards a really important scientific discovery. Bright people always have something interesting to say, and what better platform than a society designed specifically for them?"
Although it takes IQ 141 or above to enter PGS, a rarity of 1/200, which is high, when one considers such entities as Mega Society and Pi Society, groups with requirements as rarefied as one in a million, one cannot help but wonder if it is even possible to measure such levels of IQ.
"As Joe Mensan eyeballs high-ceiling tests on the Internet," Dr. Grove commented, "he experiences immediate psychological distress: visions of grandeur, of beating the IQ odds, with attendant accelerated heart beat, mental fatigue, clinical depression and more! Who is to say that the tests hes consumed with are actually measuring aptitudes beyond, say, 140, or 170, or 200? It takes a carefully selected norm group to validate any IQ test."
I couldnt help but feel that Dr. Grove had echoed my sentiments exactly as he went on to ask, "How many 170s or 200s are there in the world today? Surely, anyone can extrapolate IQ scores into the stratosphere, but is the linear progression of those scores an accurate representation of a sigma 5, 6, or 7 society?"
And so, given that Dr. Groves educational training taught him that "IQs beyond 140 are somewhat meaningless since statistical distortion occurs above IQ 120," he cedes that "What we have are extremely bright people devising tests that possibly calibrate the brightest lights of our century." He adds that, in addition to statistical distortion, "How much more so, then, ego distortion."
I sometimes wonder if psychometricians believe that literally anything can be measured and normed. Do the numbers mean anything at all? Dr. Grove replied that "It was Thorndike who believed, If it exists, it can be measured. Through the use of parametric and non-parametric statistics, nearly anything can be measured, and if you will, normed. The challenge is selecting the appropriate statistical measure for the specified object under consideration, so the results are valid."
Some note that IQ scores seem to be climbing (the Flynn Effect). Although Grove admits that he doesnt consider himself an expert on all of the ramifications of the Flynn effect, he did comment that "Todays graduate is more acutely aware of world events, computer technology, and an array of occupations now available than say, the graduate of five years ago. Judging from my own educational experience," he added, "todays student has a broad-base understanding of many things but lacks intensity of focus and appreciation of the humanitiesart, music, literature, drama. Todays graduate is more motivated to land a prestigious job, to earn big bucks, to drive an enviable car, to wave from the second-story window of a palatial mansion than he is to delve deeply into the sacred arts and sciences."
"As regards change in intellectual performance, a few studies abound in which older, well-normed IQ tests of the 1920s and 1930s have been administered to todays student. A statistical analysis of the results suggest a drop in overall intellectual performance. Although our ancestors did not conquer as much knowledge as todays student does, apparently yesteryears graduates could read and comprehend Shakespeare with depth of comprehension, or analyze a speech and write a dissertation far more deeply than many of todays gifted."
Grove finished his commentary on the Flynn Effect with the observation that his own take on things is that "people, in general, were more intelligent one hundred years ago, greatly more intelligent two thousand years ago."
But, of course, we live in the here and now, which prompted me to ask Dr. Grove what he felt was the greatest obstacle facing the extremely gifted today.
"For those of us with an IQ above 130 being understood and appreciated for who we are namely, extremely unique, sometimes highly fragile or emotionally disabled, capable of intuitive feats unimaginable. If the average person could barely grasp the lofty ideals of Pythagoras or Plato when living in the same age as these philosophers, how much more difficult for the average person today who is greatly distanced from the cultural nuances of these men. Is it reasonable to expect a [store clerk] to appropriate the prized offerings of the ancient genius into the fabric of his 9-to-5 mental life? Todays genius offers humanity insight, aesthetic pleasure, new thoughtbut the common person isnt capable of appreciating, much less understanding, the products of such rarefied creativity.
"What distresses me the most? Is it not the misunderstood genius upon whom the masses must eventually lean if civilization is to progress ever upward toward new horizons? Why isnt the highly creative and innovative individual more prized than he is?"
Since it has been said that an IQ differential of 30 or more points makes true communication between two people extremely difficult, I asked Dr. Grove if this is true.
He replied that, "Lets say that it appears to be true that someone with IQ 160 would have difficulty explaining his dreams, inventions, philosophies to someone IQ 130, if he didnt take into account the 130 would need a less intensive, conceptually demanding sweep of information, geared to his level of comprehension. For instance, imagine a graduate student in music teaching a course in music theory to eight year olds. The graduate student is faced with a serious communication gap. He must translate his expertise into the conceptual world of the eight-year-old if he is to succeed as a teacher. It is for this very reason that I found teaching classroom music to five-year-olds to fourteen-year-olds so very challenging."
Grove did, however, propose what I saw as a human solution to the communication problem, "True communication? True communication must equate to an equalized level of understanding in which the giver and the receiver connect. Sometimes true communication can only be experienced outside oral or written language, as with a gentle touch of the hand on someones shoulder, as if to say, I feel your pain."
Since, according to Grove, IQ scores above 120 are potentially "statistically distorted," I wondered why IQ tests even allow for scores above that ceiling. What is their primary utility?
Grove replied: "IQ tests tend to serve rather specific needs in the educational, psychological, and medical communities. You must recall that IQ tests were originally the outgrowth of concern for effective education for the mentally disadvantaged. It was a bit later in time that those same tests were statistically refined, norm-expanded, then incorporated to screen and place men into appropriate military service during World War I, for example. Today an educational psychologist might administer a clinical intelligence test, such as the Wechsler Individual Scale for Children-III, to check a childs competence in handling spatial relationships, or his ability to use deductive and inductive reasoning; to assess auditory and visual discrimination, and so forth, the result of which may be to target appropriate education or devise some means of intervention, accommodation or remediation."
Groves comments on the accuracy and utility of IQ testing put things into perspective for me. His distress that the highly creative individual isnt "more prized than he is" is echoed by many of the high IQ societies on the Internet today. I cannot help but feel, after consideration of his comments about the upper strata scores, that a great deal of effort is being spent to improve the granularity of tests, when, in fact, it should be addressing the deeper concerns of the high IQ community. In my opinion, it is refreshing to see that some of the IQ societies, rather than focusing on numerics, are beginning to thrust towards these ends. Dr. Greg Grove, founder of The Poetic Genius Society and Mysterium will be remembered as having been part of this new direction in psychometry.