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Conversation with Anonymous Canadian High-IQ Community Member on Advice, Self-Selection, the Spotlight, STEM, and International Versus National Students, and Hereditarianism Versus Environmentalism: Member, International Society for Philosophical Enquiry (ISPE) (3)


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

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

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2020/10/22


This is an interview with an anonymous Canadian member of the high-IQ communities. He discusses: philosophy professor; tips for high school students; another possible academic pursuit; self-confidence and arrogance; self-selection of environments; and some of the environments.

Keywords: International Society for Philosophical Enquiry, University of British Columbia.

Conversation with Anonymous Canadian High-IQ Community Member on Advice, Self-Selection, the Spotlight, STEM, and Hereditarianism Versus Environmentalism: Member, International Society for Philosophical Enquiry (ISPE) (3)

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

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What makes this “philosophy professor” stand out to you?

Anonymous Canadian High-IQ Community Member[1],[2]*: I went to office hours one time to discuss some research relevant to his research interests. My particular interest was related to race and IQ, and I wanted to hear what my professor had to say. The subjects he was interested in had a relation to my interests, so he likely could hold a conversation with me in person. He recommended various books, articles, and he had even given me a list of academics to take up. The major problem with this discussion about race and IQ is that certain aspects of the debate are always hidden and are difficult to find. Only after a thorough examination of evidence from all possible perspectives could one call themselves an objective scientist. My primary interest was to find rational responses to the hereditarian position. My philosophy professor was a good choice to talk with because he had stated that he was aware of the debate. At first, I was quite unsure where the evidence pointed, and so I knew I’d have to decide for myself. My philosophy professor played an essential role in helping me discover all possible perspectives of the debate. He gave me an excellent grade in the course, which increased my interest in philosophical discussions and topics.

My professor is merely skeptical about hereditarian claims, but my view is more clear after being exposed to everything. My conclusion is that the totality of the evidence indicates no genetic component to racial differences in average IQ and that they are more likely to be around 100% caused by environmental and cultural differences. This holds true both within and between nations. However, the topic is still being explored and won’t disappear anytime soon. Even though it is way too complicated, I am very confident in my conclusion that the differences in test scores are virtually entirely environmental in origin. Hereditarians will claim that universities have brainwashed me. Still, the truth is that I came to my views all by myself, honestly and rationally, free from any bias, after considering every perspective possible.

My professor got me to read Ned Block’s paper “How heritability misleads about race” and told me that was why he didn’t believe heritability would help the hereditarians all that much. This is a very insightful paper because over 99.9 percent of individuals who are aware of this debate seem to have trouble grasping the role heritability plays in this debate. The primary issue with the hereditarian position is that even the most well-known hereditarians have misapplied the concept of heritability. Heritability is an estimate of genetic variation among individuals within a population, either in the context of a formal experiment that controls for potentially confounding environmental effects or with the assumption that such effects are absent. In the case of IQ, we cannot do these formal experiments, so we must assume the environmental effects are absent. But, certain individuals used evidence of heritability for making inferences about whether or not there were genetic differences among populations. This is not an appropriate application of the statistic. Heritabilities could be very high within a population, yet the differences among populations could be entirely attributable to environmental effects. Conversely, heritabilities could be relatively low within the population in which they are estimated, yet the differences among populations could have a vital genetic component to them. Genetic variation within populations is simply a different measure from the genetic differences between populations, so all of those attempts to make inferences about genetic differences in IQ among populations were based on a faulty application of the concept of heritability.

One of the books my professor told me to read was Richard Nisbett’s book called “Intelligence and How to Get it.”

The best well-known intelligence researcher on the culture-only side would be the late James Flynn. He has produced a lot of great arguments and books that support the environmentalist position.

I emailed David Reznick, an expert in human biology, and he has no idea of who he even was but still critiqued Rushton’s views the best he could.

Joseph Graves, the first African American to receive a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology, has refuted Rushton’s application of the theory.

Chris Stringer, one of the foremost experts on human evolution, who also mentions Rushton in his books, says that he is wrong, although I have yet to read them all yet. He recommended I read “The Race Gallery” by Marek Kohn.

In conclusion, my philosophy professor gave me a sense of interest in subjects relating to philosophical inquiry. Thanks to him, I emailed various eminent professors to get more perspectives to understand complex issues.

Jacobsen: Any tips for high school students about pursuing postsecondary educations?

Anonymous Canadian High-IQ Community Member: Know your requirements for every college application but don’t stress over them. Don’t be domineering; plan for your interviews, and appreciate the experience. Represent the person you genuinely are and express it candidly.

I am brought up in the Canadian school system, so there are no standardized tests. However, for Americans, I’d say start studying for the SAT or ACT during the summer of junior or the summer after sophomore year. Take lots of practice tests and buy the prep books, and practice on Khan Academy and with your friends if possible.

I think most people should consider their options before their senior year of high school. I think it will help you research your options thoroughly and figure out what fields should fit your aptitude and interests. STEM majors are more evident toward where you end up, but if your talents and passions genuinely lie in the liberal arts, I would encourage it. The amount of coursework in university is anticipated to be a lot more numerous than in high school, so I recommend developing a stable work ethic as early as possible. Many people struggle in the first year. Most students going into UBC are straight-A students from high school but quickly realize that university is no joke. Just do your best, follow your dreams, consider backup options, and you will have no regrets.

The critical thing is to prioritize school first if you want to get into your preferred program. A friend of mine in high school, who was quite a high achiever, told me he never looked at an admission requirement (GPA cutoff or average) aside from seeing the required courses needed because once you have done your best, you leave no regrets. If you know the requirements, you will continuously accentuate them.

If we include the entire population, the correlation between IQ and educational achievement and attainment is around .6 (IQ. explains 36% of the variance in grades and years of education), so I wouldn’t worry about whether you have the highest IQ in your high school or not. The correlation between achievement drops to around .5 in high school. The correlation declines further in university and then even more in graduate school due to sample restriction, leaving many more factors responsible for achievement differences. It is much more important to see success in life (economically) as more related to grit, conscientiousness with a mindset for growth than any natural ability.

Finally, I would like to share three important YouTube videos (one documentary, two films) that truly influenced me.

1) Ivy Dreams Documentary (You can find a shorter Youtube video called Strict Asian Parents & Stressed, Pressured Youth – College Process). 

  • Director: Yu-Teh Huang
  • Writer: Joy Huang

2) Acceptance – Ivy League Admissions Movie (2013)

  • Director: Ryan Matthew Chan

3) Legally Blonde (2001)

  • Director: Robert Luketic

Jacobsen: As a “viable option… to pursue in the future,” if you had not found this joy in academia, what would be another possible academic pursuit for you?

Anonymous Canadian High-IQ Community Member: I honestly don’t see any other academic pursuit that could be appropriate for me other than academic research at the moment. I could work any job but it won’t be likely for me to reach the top given that those things are not interesting for me and not what my inner motivation tells me I should do. I hope I’ll be able to enjoy the workforce if I have to, but I should be settled down with my goals.

Jacobsen: What differentiates self-confidence and arrogance in this “higher IQ” domain? What is the importance of the latter as a character trait than the latter with the greater responsibility inherent in greater capacity to some degree?

Anonymous Canadian High-IQ Community Member: Arrogance is related to narcissism. Entitlement, insecurities, and low self-esteem seem to be significant indicators of narcissism. It is hard to differentiate narcissists from overconfident individuals, but you realize that most narcissists need validation, but self-confident individuals do not need validation for their achievements.

Overall, having a remarkable ability may allow individuals to be more responsible for helping people, rather than viewing themselves as gods. Be aware of their shortcomings. Self-confidence will enable one to work with others and grow as a person through mutual understanding and empathy. On the other hand, arrogance is a god-complex sort of deal that won’t help anyone form meaningful connections.

Jacobsen: With this self-selection of environments, what are some of those self-selection mechanisms?

Anonymous Canadian High-IQ Community Member: Robert Plomin’s book, “Blueprint: How DNA Makes Us Who We Are” gives a splendid answer. Most people find it hard to imagine how behavioral geneticists can begin to disentangle which behavioral characteristics are caused by genetics or the environment (nature or nurture). The most effective way to explore this question is by studying large longitudinal twin and adoption studies. Another way is to rely on the continuous decoding of the human genome.

Blueprint’s central thesis is what Plomin calls “the nature of nurture,” which posits that our genes push us to react to, cooperate with, and even develop our own environments to fit our genetic inclinations. Plomin states, ‘ Psychological environments are not “out there” imposed on us passively. They are “in here,” experienced by us as we actively perceive, interpret, select, modify, and even create environments correlated with our genetic propensities.”

Self-selection relies on the big five personality traits and intelligence. These traits are polygenic and influenced by environmental and genetic factors and the interaction between the two.

Aside from this, there are many critiques of heritability. The complex interaction of genes and the environment makes these questions endlessly tricky. The next book I plan on reading will be a book by James Tabery called “Beyond Verses: the struggle to understand the interaction of nature and nurture.”

Jacobsen: Following from the previous question, what are some of the environments?

Anonymous Canadian High-IQ Community Member: Deciding what your college major will be, or where you will live will influence your future environments and your responses. If you enjoy reading, perhaps you will find a local library quite fitting for you. If you are quite competitive, maybe you will join a football team. Talent for a particular field will make you more likely to choose to participate, given that people tend to prefer to partake in activities that they perform well in.

In effect, the family effect on IQ seems to fade away in adulthood as the heritability of IQ increases. However, it is essential to note that if an individual is treated poorly in society and their environment somehow becomes more detrimental every year, their IQ scores would drop each year, even though their true phenotypic intelligence may have been a lot higher. Suppose the environment somehow is pushed to become more relevant to solving the problems we see on IQ tests each subsequent year. In that case, IQ test scores will subsequently increase every following year, which may overestimate that particular individual’s true intelligence.

An environment where it is difficult to choose your own environment would be when substantial environmental factors put you on hold. Amy Chua’s book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother gives that sort of feeling.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Member, International Society for Philosophical Enquiry (ISPE).

[2] Individual Publication Date: October 22, 2020: ; Full Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2021:

*High range testing (HRT) should be taken with honest skepticism grounded in the limited empirical development of the field at present, even in spite of honest and sincere efforts. 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.


In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


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