Humankind had rough beginnings. Our emergence as a species took place during an epoch of global disasters.
Alternating ice ages with epochs of virtually unbearable heat, alternating rainswamp and epochs of searing drought—and loss not only of our original forest habitat but of a succession of the subsequent habitats to which we had started to adapt in turn. ...
Forming under these extreme conditions, our species had to be able to survive in both old and new and, further, unanticipated environments. ...
Biological definition of intelligence
Relate to the above the biological definition of intelligence: the range of factors, internal and external, that one is able to take into account in pursuit of his or her wants and needs.
To this very day, necessarily, we are born with a far wider range of capabilities than we will ever get around to using—so we can cope with whatever environment we happen to be born into.
We have spent a lifetime learning what awarenesses not to be conscious of.
Some of that is probably good. I don't think I would want to forever be consciously aware of and monitoring my own liver function, for example. (Though there are conditions, like cirrhosis or hepatitis, when one really would like to become consciously aware of that so he or she could act to guide it into preferred directions.)
But a large part of our conscious shut-down definitely is not good, especially amidst modern conditions that separate and insulate us from the immediate consequences of our own choices and our own behavior—especially while we are young and rapidly forming.
Feedback—a/k/a "reinforcement"—is how we learn what works and what does not. Not only that, it is how nerve cells, nerve circuits, and the brain itself develop, more than by any other mechanism, including nutrition, heredity, stimulus, or schooling.
Every complex system, living or non-living, has to be responsive to changes in its environment—especially to those changes that result from its own behavior and choices. Any system that is not responsive to its feedbacks, that is not susceptible to its reinforcements, in this changing world of ours, does not get to be around for very long.
Small wonder that psychology's main natural law, just as gravity is a major natural law of physics, is the Law of Effect: "You get more of what you reinforce."
Putting things together
1. Put this systems/feedback/reinforcement concept together with the opening of this article: that we're necessarily born with nearly infinitely more capabilities than we ever get around to using,
2. Together with the next point in this article above: Which awarenesses we learned to pay attention to and which we learned to not pay attention to have been more or less randomly determined by chance in our shielded-from-consequences upbringing and modern existence, and so is far from optimum.
With #3 below, we will show you simply how to turn on any undeveloped sector of skills and/or intelligence. Before this amazingly simple prescription, though, please let me raise one more key point—
Strategies and games
In the study of strategies, also known as the theory of games, the cardinal rule is to seek to maximize your desired options/access to your various desired options, so you are the one getting to make the choices.
In negative-sum or zero-sum game branches of strategy theory—those sectors where one necessarily has an opponent and someone has to lose—the form of that rule is to work to maximize your own desirable choices while limiting those of your enemy. Make your actions less predictable thereby, so they are harder to counter—and, correspondingly, make your enemy's choices more limited and predictable. This is why, in chess, for example, the emphasis in the early moves is almost always on "developing your position."
In real life, most situations are mainly win-win games. Our outcomes are still affected by the moves of the other player(s), but most or all can win at the same time, often cooperatively. There, the form of the cardinal rule becomes to maximize desirable choices for everyone, including yourself. …
Why this aside on game theory?
It's not an aside. In either type of (game) situation, your cardinal objective is to increase the range, number, and variety of your desired available choices and
—Remember the biological definition of intelligence?—the range of factors, internal and external, which you can take into account [your available choices, in other words!] in pursuit of your wants and goals...
Strategy analysis or game theory writ large, therefore, tells you that its cardinal rule is to increase your intelligence!—aside from all the pleasure and rich reward of really informed awareness and experience. ...
Thus it makes sense to learn or relearn how to turn on some of that 99.999999999% of your awarenesses and capabilities that you've spent a lifetime learning to turn off. Out of all that vast range of undeveloped awarenesses and capabilities, we move from pathologically non-optional toward optimal, by reinforcing into conscious focus those awarenesses and capabilities that better add to our online intelligence, our immediately available positive options. Those resources embody or access best our positive options.
Now we are ready for point #3: how, surprisingly and simply, to turn on any undeveloped sector of skills, awarenesses, and/or intelligence:
3. We are marginally or slightly consciously aware of many things, for each item of awareness we actually pay attention to, respond to, become more fully conscious of. We have hundreds of these "sidebands of awareness" for each item that we are fully conscious of.
* Find a way to focus upon, or even elicit, those among your 1,001 sidebands of awareness that relate to the sector you wish to develop.
* As you get one of these initially subtle or undeveloped awarenesses into the margins of your consciousness, respond to it in order to reinforce it. (For most purposes, to describe that awareness out loud, to a listener, in as close and concrete detail as you can, is usually your best and most convenient method of reinforcement.)
By doing these,
* You reinforce that particular awareness more fully into your conscious focus, discovering more and more and more about it.
* You reinforce the behavior of being aware and perceptive in that area of ability.
* You reinforce, more and more onto line with immediate verbally focused consciousness, those parts of the brain associated with handling of those previously offline awarenesses.
It's the same simple formula as for Image-Streaming, shown to rapidly increase not only "IQ" but a whole host of intelligence-related capabilities and experiences. Or for what's been reported as the European method for training an ordinary person into a sophisticated, sensitive wine-taster or perfume tester:
* Present that person with a sample of that wine or perfume;
* The instant the person samples it, he or she is to rapid-fire describe, in detail, everything that comes to mind, whether or not it seems relevant. And to continue doing so, rapid-fire, for some minutes.
* Present him or her with the next sample. ...
Three days of this intense sensitization, and ordinary people reportedly become highly sensitive, sophisticated tasters, testers, or whatever.
The same clearly should apply to developing skills of interior design in terms of decor and taste; the apparent fact that most highly involved published writers of music criticism or art criticism, even if their reviews are wrong, tend to be—or become—highly intelligent. Any skilled field involving the reading of subtle behavioral cues. …
[Yeah—how do all those supposedly ignorant charlatans develop such sophisticated skills as to give nearly all their customers apparently effective readings? Either you have the human mind working at its finest there, generating a maximum of effective information from minimal cues, or you may have to credit something going on beyond the merely sensory. Some sort of sophisticated high-order function is going on there—and in whatever case, this article shows you how to re-create it if you like.]
There are a million-and-one possible ways to implement what this article has given you—a simple, direct way to turn on major sectors of your underused, underdeveloped intelligence, ability, and awareness.
—To do what?
For this next point I'm indebted to a close and good friend and colleague, Matthew Turco.
While this article shows you a direct, simple way to heighten your intelligence generally, you might do best to pick something specific that you are unable to do now, that you can do once your intelligence is higher. Most of us don't have ready access to qualified IQ tests, and even the "good" ones, which you don't find on the Net, don't give us that immediate a feedback and reinforcement.
Specific targets may be easier to focus on and elicit relevant marginal awarenesses with, than are the more abstract definitions of "intelligence" or the cardinal rule of game theory. Also, probably the more concrete, the more motivating. And once you find yourself able to do that specific thing you hitherto could not, that's a lot more confirming and reinforcing, should you then decide to go on with your further development.
So we think that, besides this basic simple principle of eliciting/focusing relevant marginal awarenesses and reinforcing these brain functions into full verbal consciousness, it will help you to aim at some specific ability (as part of that general "intelligence").
Simple Image-Streaming and its closest related Einstein-type discovery practices seem, as of this writing, to be the form most usefully related to general intelligence turn-on. Just 25 hours' easy, entertaining practice of Image-Streaming appears, in some preliminary university studies measuring the effects of that procedure, to yield dramatic IQ gains (and larger gains in other, related qualities). However, those studies were interrupted before their completion could bring the statistical data up to full scientific standards. Those indicated measured gains match anecdotal data and incidental observation but cannot yet be declared on a scientific basis. Further studies are being sought.
Some Image-Streaming can also serve as a good part of your way of turning on almost any specific part of your underdeveloped or undeveloped awarenesses and abilities:
* As part of your mix of 1,001 easily used ways to focus on your related marginal awarenesses and reinforce them by describing them or otherwise responding to them,
* Reinforcing that sector of your awareness, ability, brain-function, and intelligence into fully conscious focus.
It's that direct and that simple.
A genius is one who goes beyond definition and well beyond how others around him or her conceptualize, perceiving significant facts and relationships that later turn out to be valid.
That rather conventional statement is descriptive but doesn't immediately tell us how the genius got that way.
Sometimes it's a matter of stumbling into a knack, as described in my book Beyond Teaching and Learning. This happens even when the original knack is forgotten that got that genius started. Sometimes on the smallest thing, or on one thing or another, our genius in most cases got on a roll, stayed on a roll, and when he or she fell off, he or she got quickly back on that roll, and stayed on that roll until so much of what he or she was doing had fallen into being part of that roll that others began recognizing him or her as a genius.
In such a case, the genius is one who finds a good horse and rides it farther and better than others can, even if that horse was at first merely a colt.
The parable of the talents comes also to mind as being apt in this context, as reportedly told by Jesus. [In the story, a rich man unevenly distributed talents—a type of money or coin—to three of his servants, to tend and build toward greater wealth. One spent it all, wasting it. One received the most—10 talents—but hid them under a bushel instead of putting them to good use. These first two servants were summarily dismissed. The third servant, hailed as the "good and faithful steward," had put his talent to good use, multiplied it, and came back with more than he started with.]
We can compare types of genius throughout our history. These range from the savant "rainman" type, a narrow splinter kind of genius, through the popular notion of a lopsided tortured fractional genius like Mozart or van Gogh, to the comprehensive holistic genius such as Bach or Bacon, who is really good at nearly everything.
Studies suggest that for the most part—and contrary to the popular notion—people who are really good at one thing tend also to be good at many other things.
How do some people soar miles beyond anyone else? Is it something about them, or is it some little trick or knack of thinking or looking or operation that they somehow stumbled into and got started on?
If it was in them, it usually wasn't a matter of somehow-innate superior intelligence. (Indeed, fractionalized rainmen may find it hard to button their own shirts.) We all know highly intelligent and even well-informed people who definitely are not geniuses! What distinguishes genius from these?
Limbic staying power
It is the "fire in the belly" that theater people and professional athletes often speak about. True giftedness seems to be mainly a function of the physical appetite structures of the limbic brain.
In fact, the times of physical appetite change—adolescence and middle age—are the times also in which we lose most of our really gifted people into being merely intelligent and well-informed.
Fasting is an avenue in many different disciplines toward attaining extraordinary mental and/or intellectual effects.
An association between intellectual sharpening and physical hunger makes sense in bio-evolutionary survival terms—in more rigorous times, all of us were descended from those who got sharper when hunting was poor.
Also, though I'm unaware of any formal study on this, there's a highly apparent incidence of appetite disorders among many of the gifted, which you may rather easily notice upon attending any substantially sized Mensa group meeting.
In other words, the unusual level of drive and persistence so often needed to override the usual discouragements originates in unusual conditions in the physical appetite structures of the brain. The counterpart to this in fractionated rainmen is their slipping past inhibiting higher(?) mental functions that, in their case, simply are missing. In either instance, we see someone manifesting unusual abilities by somehow getting past the usual inhibiting factors.
Lots of people find knacks of one kind or another, but only a few have not only gotten on that roll but stayed there and returned to there until that roll became a grand revolution ... fire in the belly ... as persistent as appetite drives themselves.
What kind of genius? What kind of knack? There is some room in which to find them—the undiscovered country that lies within and around every one of us:
We live in a richly holographic universe, everything affecting everything else, everything relating to everything else. Despite all that is now known in our civilization, we are only a few steps, or a few observations, away from centuries-worth of new science and new civilization, no matter what direction we turn to look.
Engaging Your Genius ©2001 Project Renaissance
On Genius ©2007 Project Renaissance