I would really appreciate if someone with knowledge of the subject could tell me, if there can be a significant change between child (8-10 years old) IQ and adolescent/early adulthood IQ. I am worried that I have caused such a thing with quite excessive substance abuse in my teenage years. I have been tested in a comprehensive overall intelligence examination in the 150s (age 8-10), but I feel like that brightness I can recall isn’t there anymore ( I am 20 now).

Though I feel like this could be mostly due to high anxiety, OCD and other emotional instability which I feel expends a significant deal of my processing power, I am worried about the possibility of having dumbed my self down. How volatile can one’s IQ be? (I know that IQ is only a measure of intelligence, but since it would seem absurd to compare one’s actual intellect as a child to that of one’s adulthood… :)

Thanks

]]>Does anyone have a counter-example? Someone not very highly intelligent that became great after much struggle? Or maybe, someone of very high intelligence that made important contributions without putting much effort? I do really doubt it, but I’m listening!

Probably all examples of people that became great are of ones that had intelligence very much above average and were very obsessed about math (this quote of Wiles comes to my mind: “I was so obsessed by this problem that for eight years I was thinking about it all the time—when I woke up in the morning to when I went to sleep at night.”).

Seriously, the level of competition in math is so insane that many frustrated researches could have been very successful in many other careers requiring related skills had they invested the same effort on them… Let’s be realistic: people of average intelligence can’t reach the level of Gauss, Euler, Newton, Poincaré, Hilbert, Fermat, Abel, etc. no matter how much effort they put forth. Analogously, one can go and watch those long jumpers from the Olympiads and then go and try to jump similar distances… After a few tries one just concludes that it’s impossible for him (and giving up is the best idea sometimes…), but for some reason, when the talk is about “intellectual possibilities”, the reluctance to say it’s impossible is much higher than for “physical possibilities”. Many would like to become like those men, but almost always the case is: to remember your limitations and give up the impossible (otherwise you will be a sad and very unhealthy person).

Just my two cents (since I’m a person of low intelligence, I may be very wrong about all of this, but I was sincere exposing my opinion — it’s what I think, no demagoguery on it).

]]>*[See my previous comment at https://terrytao.wordpress.com/career-advice/does-one-have-to-be-a-genius-to-do-maths/#comment-3277 – T.]*

This is starting to get longer than I intended, so I will end on this point. Take, for example, Carl Gauss, “The Prince of Mathematicians,” the greatest mathematician since antiquity. As a professor at the University of Göttingen he rarely, if ever, taught classes to the students because his gargantuan brilliance could not tolerate the extreme boredom and ennui that overtook him every time he had to endure teaching students of almost no math ability or perceptible promise at all. Consequently, he avoided teaching maths to students altogether. However, there were some exceptions for those who showed mathematical talent and/or promise. One of these was Bernhard Riemann, a student who fulfilled his doctoral thesis under Gauss. It is noteworthy that Gauss was only too happy to give his student Bernhard Riemann the time of day because he immediately recognized this young man’s genius for mathematics and his exceptional promise as a mathematician. (Gauss was not disappointed by his likewise brilliant student. As a result, we today owe Riemann a debt for the legacy of the Riemann Hypothesis, arguably the most famous unsolved problem in number theory.)

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