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Ask A Genius (or Two): Conversation with Erik Haereid and Rick Rosner (Part Three)


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2018/10/15


Rick Rosner and I conduct a conversational series entitled Ask A Genius on a variety of subjects through In-Sight Publishing on the personal and professional website for Rick. Rick exists on the World Genius Directory listing as the world’s second highest IQ at 192 based on several ultra-high IQ tests scores developed by independent psychometricians. Erik Haereid earned a score at 185, on the N-VRA80. Both scores on a standard deviation of 15. A sigma of ~6.13 for Rick – a general intelligence rarity of 1 in 2,314,980,850 – and ~5.67 for Erik – a general intelligence rarity of 1 in 136,975,305. Of course, if a higher general intelligence score, then the greater the variability in, and margin of error in, the general intelligence scores because of the greater rarity in the population. This amounts to a joint interview or conversation with Erik Haereid, Rick Rosner, and myself.

Keywords: actuarial science, America, Erik Haereid, Norway, Rick Rosner, statistics, Scott Douglas Jacobsen.

Ask A Genius (or Two): Conversation with Erik Haereid and Rick Rosner (Part Three)[1],[2]

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Let us talk about good and evil, what defines good? What defines evil? Do these terms suffice in the representation of the reality? 

Or do these terms carry metaphysics and ethical baggage, which detracts from the reality of proper notions of morality?  In a discussion on good and evil, we can analyze the topic from multiple levels. 

Let us talk about the small acts and thoughts, the little world of good and evil, then the next session can engage on a micro-level foundation into dialogue on the medium- and macro-level forms of good and evil. 

What seems like quintessential small acts of good and evil – everyday acts of kindness?  Also, as an aside, does religious belief or faith influence personal conceptions of good and evil?

Erik Haereid: I have experienced a strong connection to others based on mutual feelings and empathy.

One time I met a stranger, a man, on the street downtown, crowded with a lot of people walking in their own thoughts, and he looked me in my eyes and I did the same and both smiled warmly.

It was nothing sexual (I am heterosexual, and I guess he was too), only a friendly empathic mutual silent confirmation (“Hey, I see you”). I felt good the rest of the day.

Small actions like that are good because they enhance something in us. We did both, I am quite sure he did too, became better persons after that moment. I smiled warmly to some others, become more tolerant, friendly and inviting.

Most people, at least in my country, do not understand warmly smiles; they misinterpret it in mistrust. Many, not all, of course, think you want something from them that they don’t have or don’t want to give to you.

The mistrust is basic in our culture. We want the kind smiles and friendly behaviour, but we mix things up. Either we make it sexual, or we think it’s irony and contempt. Trust is essential here; you have to believe in yourself to receive good deeds and implement it into your personality and self-image.

When curiosity is replaced by judging people for their genes or personality, we have a problem as a group, if you ask me. Individual freedom has to be supported by respect for every individual in the crowd.

If not, some maybe gain a lot, but society is polarized, and this implies more conflicts. But, as we can see from for instance my country, the lack of winners strangles each individual; you are forced into an average (the average is the winner).

If you are outside the standard, the average tends to attack you. This system creates polarization too; you have to fit into the average to be accepted by the society.

A good deed or thought is when it makes the other person feel better, also in the long-term. It’s trusting in it. We have to believe in the behaviour. And the same with evil actions; it has to be pointed at us, and we have to believe that the person wants to harm us.

A good thought and deed are one that strengthens the other person’s self-esteem and self-image in a way that does not make him, her or them more extreme egocentric (narcissistic). Evilness is the same with the opposite sign.

In this context, I believe that good and evil deeds (and thoughts) have to make perpetual influences on the object’s mentality. If you save a person from drowning, you make changes to that person’s mentality for the rest of his life.

If you make a person feel bad about herself as part of her perpetual self-esteem, you make eternal changes to her mind. A rape is such a deed. Being bystander to for instance a school-killing, too.

The deeds and thoughts have to be meant; deeds, where the outcome is good/bad for the object, is not good/bad deeds if it is not intended to be. If it’s by chance, by impulse, it’s something else. A condition for good deeds is that the sender has empathy with the other person(s).

To hate or scorn someone for their genes and natural behaviour is evil, even though it’s impulsive and one can’t control the impulse at the moment. This is so, I believe because hate and contempt also are products of some nurturing processes.

You can choose to reflect on your impulsive thoughts, feelings and actions. If you nurture your impulses, you act evil/good. The fact that you have impulses doesn’t make them acceptable or true; they can be worked on and changed.

You can blame the forces of evolution, that something is cemented and not possible to change, and then fasten your immediate emotional experiences.

Or you can believe, as I do, in the elasticity of our brains, and that almost everything is possible beyond the present stringent scientific discrimination and reduction; that we in the future with help from AI, nano- and biotechnology will find a way.

It’s easier to act bad and evil, than good. Then you control your feelings. But the price is high; you also teach others to act the same way to you.

I think the best good act and deed one can do is to open up, and not close others out from your feelings or thoughts and invite others to express their feelings and thoughts whatever they are. This is, of course, more difficult than it sounds.

It assumes that we can handle our own feelings among other reactions and that we really are open-minded towards all other people. As soon we start discriminating, in thoughts or actions (normative, not descriptive), the tense and stress among all in that social realm increases.

Rick Rosner: I wanted one more comment on statistics. Now, it is frustrating because I have many, many years of college courses and extensive training in statistics. But statistics is beyond me now, in terms of being able to do it, because statistics is so coding based that I cannot do anything productive in the field anymore. Because I do not code.

I understand statistics and probability super well, but, at this point, I am nothing but a rank amateur because I cannot build databases, statistical apps, or work with statistical apps.

Now, in terms of good and evil, I look at good and evil as the preservation of order versus the destruction of order, order versus chaos. 

Generally, everything is dressed in story and detail, but, basically, when people are fighting for good; they are fighting for the preservation of structure and order and, usually, higher order.

Star Wars is probably our most prominent good versus evil story now. You can see good as being a higher order that includes individuality and liberty, and the ability to do high-level things. That to be fully developed people who are free to pursue their lives.

The Empire is a suppressive force, which will blow up your planet if you defy them. It is a lower level of order. It is draconian and rule-based and is based on a few simple rules.

The people who are in favour of liberty, the Jedi and the Rebels, stand for a higher level of, say, information processing. The ability to look at the world and address it in sophisticated and creative ways rather than having to reduce the world into a few simple rules as The Empire does.

Good versus evil is about higher-level information processing versus chaos and lower level information processing. The increase in information and order in the world is basically good.

To further clarify based on the questions from you, Scott, evil is associated with the destruction of higher order, whether it is killing a living being, where the living being is higher order, or destroying works of art that are reflections of higher order and so on.

These terms carry ethical baggage, sure, because the ideas are usually brought to us within a philosophical framework that is often obsolete to some extent and has developed its own repressive and not innovative characteristics.

For instance, America is based on, or a lot of American politics is rooted in, the Constitution is the highest level of rule-giving order. 

What we have been running into in today’s stupid American politics, the dumber forces in politics trying to justify whatever they do that is reactionary or repressive by saying that it is based on the originalist conception of the Constitution.

That this is immutable. You must let people have as many guns as they want given the Second Amendment to the Constitution. Then people on the Liberal side arguing less persuasively because they do not have the infrastructure and ruthlessness of the Conservative side.

That our understanding of the Constitution must be tempered by 225 years of history. That the Constitution is centuries old and it is not going to adequately address every possible thing. 

So, the Constitution of this embodiment or this symbol of good, but it is obsolete in a lot of ways. So, yes, conceptions of good and evil can have ethical and historical baggage that fuck things up.

[Addendum from Rick.]

As an addendum, I have said this at greater length, and so have a lot of other people elsewhere. To quickly point out the political situation in the US, due to some demographic game playing that began with the Republicans 30/35/40 years ago – before Reagan, well-funded Republican thinktanks began to research how to wrangle voters.

They found that dumb voters are easier to wrangle. The current situation in American politics is the result of one party spending two generations getting better and better at manipulating dumb voters. 

The Republicans, who started out as a respectable major political party, are, now, at their nadir. Because they have become a party of dumb assholes. Once you start herding dumb people, you have to keep going dumber.

You end with a base and elected officials being more and more amoral/immoral. The values that get lost in the demographic push further and further right. To quickly sum up, it is like smokers.

When I was a kid, a huge percentage of adults smoked, probably well over half. It was in planes and restaurants. Planes would be a bit blue with smoke because so many people smoked cigarettes. Nobody thought anything of it.

I worked in a bar in 1980. 2/3rds of the people smoked. The air was blue-ish with smoke. Over the past 30 years, more and more people have gotten the message about how terrible smoking is – for people and animals around them.

What was widely spread around the general population in 1984, the person who smokes in 2018 is more likely to be either a dick or an idiot. They are like, “Fuck you! I will keep smoking.” They either didn’t get the message.

Or if they did, they don’t care. It is a smaller segment of the population. But in a Bayesian way, as that population shrinks, it keeps proportionately more of the idiots and the assholes. That is basically what has happened with the shrinkage of the Republican base.

If people want a more in-depth conversation on gerrymandering and electoral politics, then they can go elsewhere on other things you and I, Scott, have talked about.

Haereid:I have corrected my view on the evolution process; I see it as brutal, not evil. That’s an important distinction. The evolution process seems evil because it (for humans) contains a lot of evil actions, like manipulations that harm others to gain possession. But in a pure form it’s basically honest and egocentric. I clarify this below.

First a short comment on statistics and data. I also think that statistical methods and math will benefit more in the future, not least because of the huge access to data, such as Google and other big companies has. Greater storage capacity, stronger processors, and “infinite” data access (AI) in the computers will make statisticians’ biggest nightmares, not getting enough data, history.

But, I am not aware of how much and where statistics is used today, but know it’s used in many areas (like medicine and psychology).

Back to the topic: I agree that the development and freedom of the individual must be at the center and that we can and should mature to a higher order; as through a Hegelian dialectic.

It is the outcome of a creative, individual free will. This is what I mean when I say that egoism is altruism (see below); that the good exists in individual freedom and not in the appearance of a straightjacket of conformity and normality.

Egoism is altruism in practice (cf. Aristotle’s Eudaimonia); I use altruism in the sense that all actions we make lead to a win-win situation or any other outcome where one or all loses, and where altruistic actions create win-win situations. I do not believe in complete self-sacrifice. Therefore, I do not use the term altruism in the strictest, most rigid sense.

The best example of altruism is when we feel better after doing others well. Since I feel better, I did it for me, even if you also felt better afterwards. Win-win. You could criticize it and say that it is lack of empathy. But I don’t think so, because the feelings and emotions are contagious.

I do not use egoism and altruism as opposites. When we nurture ourselves, according to our own abilities, opportunities, in freedom, we influence others to do the same, and thus society becomes good (theoretically).

Altruism in the usual meaning of the word, i.e. complete self-sacrifice, often leads to the opposite of intentional intent; violence, war, assault, exploitation, pecking order… It may be a good purpose, but by suppressing your own needs and abilities, your own opportunity to get the best out of your life, and be brainwashed to believe that an overall system, a culture, trumps your own preferences and opportunities, you develop evil.

We become evil of being hindered in our individual growth and development (this is also theoretical: of course not all become evil to others, but perhaps to themselves; self-destructive). The sense of belonging is conditional on being allowed to be oneself in that culture.

In Scandinavia we have a well-developed welfare model, something that I’m a fan of to some extent. And we also have a culture that cultivates equality; by nurturing an egalitarian society everyone gets the same possibilities, worth and we get a good community. This is the doctrine. In practice, it’s almost the opposite.

By cultivating differences, people find each other in mutual respect, and then people act good against each other. It’s about accepting the strengths of others, and using them as inspiration. When we focus on the weaknesses of others, we spend our time on others and not our own abilities and opportunities.

In short, it is not about being equal but about equal worth, and that equal worth is created through acceptance and respect of inequalities. This is good.

At a macro level, such as nations and global societies, one should (to act good) prepare for individual freedom, safety net for those who, for various reasons, should be abandoned, general healthcare, police, etc. (welfare model), and the right to be different; being ourselves (since everyone is different).

When the focus is on equality, the culture undermines the individual’s needs; to develop their abilities, talent, opportunities. Thus, people get frustrated and attack each other.

Egoism (in my sense of the term) is about respecting each other, narcissism about not doing so. An egoist knows how to develop his abilities, but also to see what he is capable of and not. A narcissist believes he is God, Lord above others, and that others obey him.

Competition is important to acknowledge and see how far it is possible to develop. You are not competing to make the others worse, but to make the others even better so you have more to aspire after.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Erik Haereid: “About my writing: Most of my journalistic work I did in the pre-Internet-period (80s, 90s), and the articles I have saved are, at best, aged in a box somewhere in the cellar. Maybe I can find some of it, but I don’t think that’s that interesting.

Most of my written work, including crime short stories in A-Magasinet (Aftenposten (one of the main newspapers in Norway, as Nettavisen is)), a second place (runner up) in a nationwide writing contest in 1985 arranged by Aftenposten, and several articles in different newspapers, magazines and so on in the 1980s and early 1990s, is not published online, as far as I can see. This was a decade and less before the Internet, so a lot of this is only on paper.

From the last decade, where I used more time doing other stuff than writing, for instance work, to mention is my book from 2011, the IQ-blog and some other stuff I don’t think is interesting here.

I keep my personal interests quite private. To you, I can mention that I play golf, read a lot, like debating, and 30-40 years and even more kilos ago I was quite sporty, and competed in cross country skiing among other things (I did my military duty in His Majesty The King’s Guard (Drilltroppen)). I have been asked from a couple in the high IQ societies, if I know Magnus Carlsen. The answer is no, I don’t :)”

Haereid has interviewed In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal Advisory Board Member Dr. Evangelos Katsioulis, some select articles include topics on AI in What will happen when the ASI (Artificial superintelligence) evolves; Utopia or Dystopia? (Norwegian), on IQ-measures in 180 i IQ kan være det samme som 150, and on the Norwegian pension system (Norwegian). His book on the winner/loser-society model based on social psychology published in 2011 (Nasjonalbiblioteket), which does have a summary review here.

Erik lives in Larkollen, Norway. He was born in Oslo, Norway, in 1963. He speaks Danish, English, and Norwegian. He is Actuary, Author, Consultant, Entrepreneur, and Statistician. He is the owner of, chairman of, and consultant at Nordic Insurance Administration.

He was the Academic Director (1998-2000) of insurance at the BI Norwegian Business School (1998-2000) in Sandvika, Baerum, Manager (1997-1998) of business insurance, life insurance, and pensions and formerly Actuary (1996-1997) at Nordea in Oslo Area, Norway, a self-employed Actuary Consultant (1996-1997), an Insurance Broker (1995-1996) at Assurance Centeret, Actuary (1991-1995) at Alfa Livsforsikring, novice Actuary (1987-1990) at UNI Forsikring, and a Journalist at Norsk Pressedivisjon.

He earned an M.Sc. in Statistics and Actuarial Sciences from 1990-1991 and a Bachelor’s degree from 1984 to 1986/87 from the University of Oslo. He did some environmental volunteerism with Norges Naturvernforbund (Norwegian Society for the Conservation of Nature), where he was an activist, freelance journalist and arranged ‘Sykkeldagen i Oslo’ twice (1989 and 1990) as well as environmental issues lectures.

He has industry experience in accounting, insurance, and insurance as a broker. He writes in his IQ-blog the online newspaper Nettavisen. He has personal interests in history, philosophy, reading, social psychology, and writing.

He is a member of many high-IQ societies including 4G, Catholiq, Civiq, ELITE, GenerIQ, Glia, Grand, HELLIQ, HRIQ, Intruellect, ISI-S, ISPE, KSTHIQ, MENSA, MilenijaNOUS, OLYMPIQ, Real, sPIqr, STHIQ, Tetra, This, Ultima, VeNuS, and WGD.

Rick G. Rosner: “According to semi-reputable sources, Rick Rosner has the world’s second-highest IQ. He earned 12 years of college credit in less than a year and graduated with the equivalent of 8 majors. He has received 8 Writer’s Guild Award and Emmy nominations, and was named 2013 North American Genius of the Year by The World Genius Registry.

He has written for Remote Control, Crank Yankers, The Man Show, The Emmy Awards, The Grammy Awards, and Jimmy Kimmel Live!. He has also worked as a stripper, a bouncer, a roller-skating waiter, and a nude model. In a TV commercial, Domino’s Pizza named him the World’s Smartest Man. He was also named Best Bouncer in the Denver Area by Westwood Magazine.

He spent the disco era as an undercover high school student. 25 years as a bar bouncer, American fake ID-catcher, 25+ years as a stripper, and nude art model, and nearly 30 years as a writer for more than 2,500 hours of network television.

He lost on Jeopardy!, sued Who Wants to Be a Millionaire over a bad question, and lost the lawsuit. He spent 35+ years on a modified version of Big Bang Theory. Now, he mostly sits around tweeting in a towel. He lives in Los Angeles, California with his wife and daughter.

You can send an email or a direct message via Twitter, or find him on LinkedIn, or see him on YouTube.”

[2] Individual Publication Date: October 15, 2018:; Full Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2019:


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