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Conversation with Michael Baker on Blue Collar Labour, Geniuses, Deism, Collective Intelligence, and His Dog: Member, CIVIQ Society (1)


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

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

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2021/03/15


Michael Baker is a Member of the CivIQ Society, SPIQR, EPIDA, ISI-S, Logiq, IQuadrivium, EPIQ, and IIS. He has sat on numerous executive boards, given more than 100 educational presentations and keynotes, represented the Pennsylvania Department of Education in sharing updates on the Classrooms for the Future program to the US Congress, and been recognized by the National School Board Association as a 20 to Watch in Education. He discusses: growing up; a sense of an extended self; the family background; the experience with peers and schoolmates; some professional certifications; the purpose of intelligence tests; high intelligence discovered; the extreme reactions to and treatment of geniuses; the greatest geniuses in history; a genius from a profoundly intelligent person; profound intelligence necessary for genius; work experiences and jobs; particular job path; the gifted and geniuses; God; science; the tests taken and scores earned (with standard deviations); the range of the scores; ethical philosophy; social philosophy; economic philosophy; political philosophy; metaphysics; philosophical system; meaning in life; meaning externally derived, internally generated; an afterlife; the mystery and transience of life; and love.

Keywords: blue-collar labour, CivIQ Society, collective intelligence, deism, EPIDA, EPIQ, IIS, Iquadrivium, ISI-S, Logiq, Michael Baker, SPIQR.

Conversation with Michael Baker on Blue Collar Labour, Geniuses, Deism, Collective Intelligence, and His Dog: Member, CIVIQ Society (1)

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

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: When you were growing up, what were some of the prominent family stories being told over time?

Michael Baker[1],[2]*: Growing up, my family was made up of steelworkers, construction workers, coal miners, and laborers.  I was drilled on the idea of working smart not hard.  My family didn’t hide their faults and frequently modeled how to be a better person.  All of my family encouraged me to be something different.  

Jacobsen: Have these stories helped provide a sense of an extended self or a sense of the family legacy? 

Baker: Each day, I follow in the footsteps of my family’s encouragement.  Although far from perfect, I hope to set an example for the next generation.  This is what gives me purpose. 

Jacobsen: What was the family background, e.g., geography, culture, language, and religion or lack thereof?

Baker:  I spent some of my youth in the middle class and another in poverty.  The plight of the steel mills in Western Pennsylvania impacted a lot of local families in this way.  We were not an academically focused family, but curious and happy.  Religion never played a true role in my upbringing.  Although I’ve always felt myself a deist, formal religion was never ingrained in me. 

Jacobsen: How was the experience with peers and schoolmates as a child and an adolescent?

Baker: I was quiet but curious.  I would have never stood out.  I think I was in second grade when we were first given a large group aptitude test.  Although I was an amazingly normal student, the school took interest in me after receiving my score.  I was placed in the advanced classes and started to be exposed to a lot of new experiences.  I found my best friends through these classes.  My classmates were deep and knew so much more than me.  Because we were a small school, I stayed with most of the dozen or fewer students throughout high school.  My friends didn’t ask if I would go to college.  They asked what I was planning on majoring in and where would I go.  Being from a family that didn’t have any previous college students, my peers gave me the drive to chase a dream I didn’t know I had.  I am proof that your circle of friends can have a greater impact on your life than even your family. 

Jacobsen: What have been some professional certifications, qualifications, and trainings earned by you?

Baker: I have undergraduate degrees in Elementary and Early Childhood Education and  a minor in Music with emphases in Math and Science.  I received my Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Technology and just recently I finished some post-graduate work in Computational Thinking.  

Jacobsen: What is the purpose of intelligence tests to you?

Baker: They gave me opportunities when nobody seemed to notice me.  

Jacobsen: When was high intelligence discovered for you?

Baker: In my youth, the only real test I took was a group test called the OLSAT.  I think I was in 7th grade.  I missed 1 on the test and outscored all of the gifted students.  When I first started college, I intended to be an engineer.  I took an aptitude test on mechanical ability and was one of a handful of students who receive the 99th percentile.  When I took my first psychology course, our professor gave us the Ravens Progressive Matrices test and he told me privately I received the highest score he has ever had in his classes.  To this day, I have no idea what ‘my number’ really is.  I know I have some natural talents, but am ok with the mystery of my ranking!

Jacobsen: When you think of the ways in which the geniuses of the past have either been mocked, vilified, and condemned if not killed, or praised, flattered, platformed, and revered, what seems like the reason for the extreme reactions to and treatment of geniuses? Many alive today seem camera shy – many, not all.

Baker: Intellect is only one piece of the equation.  Social and emotional intelligence help to harness support and collective intelligence.  Many people smarter than me can lack humility and openness to different ideas.  I try to categorize problems into quantitative and qualitative buckets.  In much of science and mathematics, quantitative solutions can be expressed in a binary way.  In the humanities and society, we see more qualitative problems.  The solutions can be infinite and require relationships, empathy, and popularity to ignite the wisdom of the crowds.  Being smart will always make a larger impact when you are likable.  Innovations only need to be driven by quantitative solutions. 

Jacobsen: Who seems like the greatest geniuses in history to you?

Baker: People like Rosa Parks, Grace Hopper, Upton Sinclair, or anyone else that breaks the functional fixedness society establishes over time.  They are people that conquer qualitatively problems with lasting impact. 

Jacobsen: What differentiates a genius from a profoundly intelligent person?

Baker: A genius changes the world and leaves his/her footprints for future generations to follow. 

Jacobsen: Is profound intelligence necessary for genius?

Baker: No.  Henry Ford was considered to have average intelligence and Andy Worhol was considered dull.  The very idea the reader knows these names speak volumes about their impact. 

Jacobsen: What have been some work experiences and jobs held by you?

Baker: For the majority of my work career, I have had the honor to teach elementary students.  First computers and about 6 years ago, I began teaching STEM.  As a youth, I worked in construction, the steel industry, labor, and a number of side jobs.  The entire time, my family reminded me these were only temporary until I started my career. 

Jacobsen: Why pursue this particular job path?

Baker: You have the greatest impact as a teacher on younger students.  

Jacobsen: What are some of the more important aspects of the idea of the gifted and geniuses? Those myths pervade the cultures of the world. What are those myths? What truths dispel them?

Baker: The first myth would be that they are easy to spot.  I have grown to understand the dunning–kruger effect.  Many people focus attention on confidence and accolades when deciding whom to place their trust.  I have found passion and empathy to better ingredients in the crowd I prefer to follow.  

Jacobsen: Any thoughts on the God concept or gods idea and philosophy, theology, and religion?

BakerI feel comfortable in calling myself a deist.  If I am wrong, I chalk that up to my human imperfection.  I do respect the importance of all religions.  In many ways, religion solves a lot of qualitative problems caused when groups lack faith.  

Jacobsen: How much does science play into the worldview for you?

BakerScience is life.  I understand so little but can learn so much from just listening to those that are curious.  

Jacobsen: What have been some of the tests taken and scores earned (with standard deviations) for you?

BakerMy lowest score came in second grade on the Stanford Ability Test 127.  This is the test that changed my trajectory in life.  The OLSAT was 143.  The Ravens was 150+.  I really enjoy the tests created by Ivan Ivec and have several of my performances listed on his site.  My favorite test I ever took was the SLSE by Jonathan Wai.  I felt my 150+ score was an accomplishment.  Although I don’t share my results with anyone in my direct life, I enjoy seeing my ability to push myself and think deeper.  

Jacobsen: What is the range of the scores for you? The scores earned on alternative intelligence tests tend to produce a wide smattering of data points rather than clusters, typically.

BakerSince college, I typically range between 147-157 on tests I take.

Jacobsen: What ethical philosophy makes some sense, even the most workable sense to you?

Baker: The Golden Rule exists in almost every religion for a reason.  Collective intelligence is proven to be the most consistent path to long-term success.  This is why my philosophy is to be nice and try to empathize with everyone you meet.  

Jacobsen: What social philosophy makes some sense, even the most workable sense to you?

Baker: Concepts like the Diffusion of Innovation and the Tragedy of the Commons have been very useful in understanding why some things succeed while others fail.  

Jacobsen: What economic philosophy makes some sense, even the most workable sense to you?

Baker: Money doesn’t really exist.  All economies are based on trust and faith.  Be careful when trust and faith are fractured.  

Jacobsen: What political philosophy makes some sense, even the most workable sense to you?  

Baker: e pluribus unum – Out of many one.  In the US, our founding fathers understood the importance of group decisions and diversity of power.  I’m not so sure the US always remembers its roots.  This concerns me for the future.  

Jacobsen: What metaphysics makes some sense to you, even the most workable sense to you?

Baker: Things are the way they are until we say otherwise.  =)

Jacobsen: What worldview-encompassing philosophical system makes some sense, even the most workable sense to you?

Baker: I’ve always been a believer in collective intelligence.  This concept only works when you have leadership that can focus on the qualitative needs of the group without personal gain or bias.  Movements that promote elitism gather strong support from the group but fail to spread beyond the entitled.  Our future is together.  This would be the antithesis of an Orwellian view.  A society that promotes every individual’s purpose will always be stronger than a group that attempts to define how each person should live their lives. 

Jacobsen: What provides meaning in life for you?

Baker: Helping others

Jacobsen: Is meaning externally derived, internally generated, both, or something else?

Baker: I guess I enjoy the Oxytocin boost, but I like to think I make the world a little better each day.

Jacobsen: Do you believe in an afterlife? If so, why, and what form? If not, why not?

Baker: I don’t think life is a line, line segment, or ray in time.  You focus on what you can at each moment and work towards goals for the future.  Neural pruning does a nice job of helping us forget and re-invent the past.  I guess the afterlife is created from the waves you make that help carry the future voyagers forward on this pale blue dot.  

Jacobsen: What do you make of the mystery and transience of life?

Baker: It’s a story you read and write as you go.  There is always something exciting only a page away!  

Jacobsen: What is love to you? 

Baker: My family – including my dog.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Member, CivIQ Society; Member, SPIQR; Member, EPIDA; Member, ISI-S; Member, Logiq; Member, IQuadrivium; Member, EPIQ; Member, IIS.

[2] Individual Publication Date: March 15, 2021:; Full Issue Publication Date: May 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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