#IQ Part 2: Humanity’s Superpower

Once you know the shameful history of the  Hijacked I.Q. test it won’t surprise you to learn that there are more holes in the idea that intelligence is a fixed quantity than a box of doughnuts. I.Q. is and always has been a measure of where you are, not of where you can go.

In fact, I.Q. scores have gone up 30 points compared to what they would have been in 1815. This increase is known as the Flynn Effect and it’s not due to changes in our genes. (Sorry, Terman.) The explanation is Humanity’s Superpower.

Joe Henrich explains in his book, The Secret of Our Success, SOCIAL intelligence is Why Humans Seem So Smart Compared to Other Animals


As toddlers we aren’t better than Chimps at anything except the ability to learn from each other. Humans blind copy through Awe-motion.

Joe Henrich reminds us that there are a whole bunch of things that we wouldn’t have figured out on our own. We only understand things like numbers, the alphabet, and the idea of democracy because we downloaded them from our culture.


“…while some of these are installed in your brain as firmware, some are now hardware. Since you are reading this, we can bet that your corpus callosum— the information highway connecting your brain hemispheres— is thicker than it might otherwise be.”  —Joe Henrich


This downloading of knowledge is a result of Cultural Evolution and it’s been happening for thousands and thousands of years. Intelligence and technology have always been improving; our mental tools improve just as our physical tools do.

So we’re smarter than previous generations because our ancestors passed their knowledge down the line to us. Our brains are like smartphones downloading mental apps from the great cultural app store.



This is why parents often refer to their children as “little tape recorders.” Parents know too well how quickly their children pick up their habits.


To recap:

Your I.Q. is not a fixed quantity. I.Q.s not only can change, they have changed. The fastest way to increase your intelligence is to approach learning with a growth mindset and embrace mistakes (Warning: this requires confronting your feeeelings) so that you can make the most of Humanity’s Superpower.


If you’re not yet convinced it’s a superpower, listen to this amazing story of a man from an isolated tribe in New Guinea.



Mixed Mental Arts is here to help provide the opportunity. We’re going to get better and better at refining cultural software. We’re freeing scientific ideas from books and clarifying them so you can use them to up your mental game in a faster and more powerful way. First you need to dump the wrong assumptions our society has spread about intelligence and learning and pick up better ones. The people who do that first will have a huge opportunity to race ahead of the rest of humanity.

The fun is only beginning.

As Rick Dolphin (@rickdolphin1) put it on Twitter…


Read Part 3 here.

[This piece is the second part of a larger science-off between Derek Zoolander (Sam Harris) and Hansel (Hunter Maats). In the first part, we covered the hijacking of the I.Q. Test.]

Right after being born in Saudi Arabia, I was taken to the Callen house. Since then, Bryan and I have travelled the world with our Citibank fathers and somehow ended up in LA together. There we'd run into each other at family gatherings and do something that no one else in LA seemed to be doing: we talked about books. Since Bryan was kind of a big deal, Hunter and Bryan hatched a scheme to use his podcast to get on their favorite authors and professors. Out of that evolved Mixed Mental Arts and this tribe. For me, the marriage of entertainment and education is a return to how things used to be before our culture split story into two separate things. It's exciting to be able to build on the work Katie O'Brien and I did for The Straight-A Conspiracy and expand it out to every area of life. While I play a series of roles in the Mixed Mental Arts community (including Shitty Dutch Uncle and Bryan's #1 fan) my favorite role is as Toto who pulls back the curtain and let's the world see that there are no wizards...only men and women who try and puff themselves up to seem important.

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