January 20, 2010

Is facial recognition a non-g factor mental module?

Physicists are not particularly well known for never forgetting a face, while some politicians are. Physicists tend to have higher IQs than politicians, but politicians have probably been evolving longer. So, is facial recognition just the general factor of intelligence in action once again, or is there a specifically evolved cognitive mechanism for it?

One of the more intriguing epistemological questions of recent decades has been over the prevalence of a g or General Factor of intelligence versus specific "mental modules."

The dominance of the "blank slate" theory of social conditioning was undermined beginning in 1958 by linguist Noam Chomsky's observation that children seemed to be particularly good at learning and speaking their native tongue, better than the existing behaviorist / Pavlovian worldview would suggest, which implied that humans have what Steven Pinker called in 1994 a "language instinct."

Although Chomsky remained agnostic over whether natural selection could account for this instinct, a school of evolutionary psychology grew up late in the century, exemplified by John Tooby and Leda Cosmides's 1992 book, that hypothesized the existence of multitudinous inherited mental modules for skills besides language.

Psychometricians, such as Arthur Jensen and Chris Brand (in 1998 books both entitled The g Factor) suggested that the very old (Spearman 1904) concept of a general factor of intelligence could account for quite a bit of the hypothesized mental modules. This seems particularly likely for mental demands that people only recently encountered, such as understanding quantum mechanics. It seems implausible that humans evolved a specific mental module for, say the Physics BC Advanced Placement test. Instead, people seem to rely for that upon the general factor plus some specific factors such as three-dimensional imagination.

Therefore, evolutionary psychologists have tended to focus their hypothesizing on cognitive skills that would have been useful in navigating the social life of a low tech tribe, such as learning a language or recognizing faces.

From an MIT press release adapted in Science Daily:
Recognizing faces is an important social skill, but not all of us are equally good at it. Some people are unable to recognize even their closest friends (a condition called prosopagnosia), while others have a near-photographic memory for large numbers of faces. Now a twin study by collaborators at MIT and in Beijing shows that face recognition is heritable, and that it is inherited separately from general intelligence or IQ.

This finding plays into a long-standing debate on the nature of mind and intelligence. The prevailing generalist theory, upon which the concept of IQ is based, holds that if people are smart in one area they tend to be smart in other areas, so if you are good in math you are also more likely to be good at literature and history. IQ is strongly influenced by heredity, suggesting the existence of "generalist genes" for cognition.

Yet some cognitive abilities seem distinct from overall IQ, as happens when a person who is brilliant with numbers or music is tone-deaf socially or linguistically. Also, many specialized cognitive skills, including recognizing faces, appear to be localized to specialized brain regions. Such evidence supports a modularity hypothesis, in which the mind is like a Swiss Army knife -- a general-purpose tool with special-purpose devices.

"Our study provides the first evidence supporting the modularity hypothesis from a genetic perspective," said lead author Jia Liu, Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at Beijing Normal University in China of the study published in the Jan. 7 issue of Current Biology. "That is, some cognitive abilities, like face recognition, are shaped by specialist genes rather than generalist genes."

"Our finding may help explain why we see such disparities of cognitive abilities within the same person in certain heritable disorders," added co-author Nancy Kanwisher of the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT, where Liu studied before moving to Beijing. In dyslexia, for example, a person with normal IQ has deficits in reading, while in Williams Syndrome, people have low IQ but excellent language skills.

For the study, Liu and his colleagues recruited 102 pairs of identical twins and 71 pairs of fraternal twins aged 7 to 19 from Beijing schools. Because identical twins have 100 percent of their genes in common while fraternal twins have just 50 percent, traits that are strongly hereditary are more similar between identical twins than between fraternal twins. (Identical twins still show variability because of the influence of environmental factors.)

Participants were shown black-and-white images of 20 different faces on a computer screen for one second per image. They were then shown 10 of the original faces mixed with 20 new faces and asked which ones they had seen before. The scores were more closely matched between identical twins than fraternal twins, and Liu attributed 39 percent of the variance between individuals to genetic effects. Further tests confirmed that these differences were specific to face recognition, and did not reflect differences in sharpness of vision, general object recognition abilities, memory or other cognitive processes.

In an independent sample of 321 students, the researchers found that face recognition ability was not correlated with IQ, indicating that the genes that affect face recognition ability are distinct from those that affect IQ. Liu and Kanwisher are now investigating whether other cognitive abilities, such as language processing, understanding numbers, or navigation, are also heritable and independent from general intelligence and other cognitive abilities.

Generally speaking, language is so central to human thought that the ten question vocabulary test in the annual General Social Survey can be used as a rough proxy for IQ, so I don't think "language processing" is likely to pan out as heritable and terribly independent from general intelligence. There are presumably, however, specific language-related skills (such as, say, noticing when you are being insulted) that are less correlated with IQ than general language processing.

Even though vocabulary correlates closely with g, the Chomskyan idea of a language instinct seems fairly reasonable, since the vast majority of human beings who are not suffering an obvious organic problem (such as deafness or severe retardation) learn to speak a native tongue well enough to pass the famous Turing Test that has proven so difficult for artificial intelligence technologists.

In contrast, many other skills are much more widely distributed, such as singing on key.

Researchers at the Beijing Normal University and Graduate University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences contributed to this research: Qi Zhu, Yiying Song, Siyuan Hu, Xiaobai Li, Moqian Tian, Zonglei Zhen and Qi Dong.

In addition to providing new insight into the structure of the mind, this work could shed light on the underlying causes of developmental disorders like autism and dyslexia. "The heritability of these cognitively specific diseases suggests that some genes have specific cognitive effects, but it's a big mystery how genes produce cognitively specific effects," said Kanwisher.

Here's the abstract:
Heritability of the Specific Cognitive Ability of Face Perception

What makes one person socially insightful but mathematically challenged, and another musically gifted yet devoid of a sense of direction? Individual differences in general cognitive ability are thought to be mediated by “generalist genes” that affect many cognitive abilities similarly without specific genetic influences on particular cognitive abilities [1]. In contrast, we present here evidence for cognitive “specialist genes”: monozygotic twins are more similar than dizygotic twins in the specific cognitive ability of face perception. Each of three measures of face-specific processing was heritable, i.e., more correlated in monozygotic than dizygotic twins: face-specific recognition ability, the face-inversion effect [2], and the composite-face effect [3]. Crucially, this effect is due to the heritability of face processing in particular, not to a more general aspect of cognition such as IQ or global attention. Thus, individual differences in at least one specific mental talent are independently heritable. This finding raises the question of what other specific cognitive abilities are independently heritable and may elucidate the mechanisms by which heritable disorders like dyslexia and autism can have highly uneven cognitive profiles in which some mental processes can be selectively impaired while others remain unaffected or even selectively enhanced.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer


Underachiever said...

To answer the question in your title: Of course! After all babies can recognize faces, how smart do you think they are?

James said...

Sounds like a simple enough study; surprised it wasn't done before.

Anonymous said...

I have a good friend with the aforementioned perfect memory for faces. My favorite instance of this was when he recognized a barista who had served us coffee, once, on the other side of the country, 7 years previously.

Anonymous said...

Brain science shows that some chess masters use the face recognition module to process chess piece patterns.

ben g said...

My current understanding of "g" is that it corresponds to reasoning/analytical abilities. Many mental abilities are "g-loaded" because many mental abilities are related to reasoning and analysis. Mental abilities that are largely separate from reasoning, such as aiming at a target, recognizing faces, being creative, keeping a drum beat, and socializing we should not expect to be very g-loaded.

Sensitive Jerk said...

"Physicists are not particularly well known for never forgetting a face, while some politicians are."

Some of these politicians' skills may be exaggerated. We all learned about Farley Files from Double Star. But I've known a few girls with almost no facial-recognition module and accused them of seeing people as moving furniture.

Ray Sawhill said...

One of the things that living in the NYC art-and-cultureworld has forced on me is the difference between brains (in an IQ, test-taking sense) and talent. Loads of brainy people wish they were creative in an arts sense, but just don't have the arts talent. Loads of arty people are super-talented, but are amazingly dim in an SAT sense.

As a consequence, for my own personal use, I've adapted the 7 types of intelligence model and given it a twist. I think of 7 types of *talent* -- in other words, talent (not intelligence) is the meta-category. In my model, IQ-style braininess isn't dominant or defining, it's just one of many different talents.

I don't know if there's any scientific reason to respect my model, but it does have the virtue of seeming to suit the facts on the ground, at least where I live.

jody said...

"So, is facial recognition just the general factor of intelligence in action once again, or is there a specifically evolved cognitive mechanism for it?"

the latter. this is something that has been extensively studied in both psychology and cognitive science.

back in 1999, the last time i did anything in this field, the generally accepted idea was that the average human was capable of remembering about 1000 faces. i think. but there was a limit. of course this capability varies from person to person, but a number was discovered, not unlike the 7 plus or minus 2 rule for short term memory.

this is a capability built into humans, in the same way that the ability to throw is built into men but not women. hence my tirade about why it makes no sense for women not to have a built-in ability to figure out which men to have sex with. they have to rely on intelligence for this instead, meaning even the average european or east asian woman, with her IQ of 100, is almost defenseless against lying men.

facial recognition is a part of object recognition, a major area of research for cognitive science in the application of robotics. it is mind boggling how much non-conscious problem solving an IQ 70 person's brain does. in 2010, the most advanced robot in the world is far less capable at object recognition that the typical minimum wage cashier at a supermarket. this is why, for many low brainpower jobs, it will be cheaper to use humans than robots for a LONG time. the best robot today CANNOT look at grocery cart filled with $200 worth of food and correctly identify everything. this is why RFID could be the future of check-out.

when using robots for war, it might NEVER make economic sense to replace infantry with machines. i went to the DARPA grand challenge, both years, and robotic tanks are coming for certain. but terminators, also possible within a few decades, would be way too expensive to use as infantry, when you can just use 22 year old IQ 100 volunteers instead.

Anonymous said...

This is not new knowledge: in Rome, Senators bought slaves who were good at this, and who stood behind them and whispered who was approaching. These slaves were very expensive, and had a much nicer life than the guys who were sent to the asbestos mines to die. dave.s.

Tsoldrin said...

Facial expressions are a secondary (perhaps primary) language. Those who evolved in (splendid) isolation are much less likely to have the ability because they don't need such a crutch to deal with language barriers and they probably already know everyone they deal with on a day to day basis via many other subtle cues.

Bruce Charlton said...

Does this answer the question?


Title: Sheep Are Highly Adept at Recognizing Faces, Study Shows

ziel said...

Another irony is that facial-recognition software has been developed based on principle components analysis (PCA) which was of course invented by Karl Pearson in discovering "g", the general intelligence factor.

Mr. Anon said...

"Physicists are not particularly well known for never forgetting a face, while some politicians are."

That's probably true. Also probably true is that politicians are more willing to lie about remembering a face ("Sure, I remember you.")

Anonymous said...

It's likely that those things that were *crucial* for survival evolved into modules. Those things that were just desirable are g-related.

Language learning is automatic. Vocabulary learning is IQ-related.

Anonymous said...

Humans evolved living in social groups of perhaps 5 to 20 members (my guess). In those circumstances you only really need one or two people that are good at a particular function because they can act in that function for the other members of the group. Obviously it is great if everyone can sing, but if only one "sings for his supper" which is enough to entertain the group, then so be it.

Redundancy is crucial for certain tasks in case the navagator or chief hunter dies but not all tasks are necessarialy skilled or complicated. Gathering acrons takes more persistance than IQ.

Anonymous said...

The evol psychs are probably right. Occam's Razor. Someone ought to do a study (or has someone done it already?) on Ray Sawhill's hunch, above. However, g captures amperage. Although bright people devoid of this or that talent are legion, I refuse to believe a talented dullard gets far (or is even talented); he always forgets to buy the right paints or habitually mistotals his bank statements and is in constant trouble. Also hard to write a fugue if musical notation is beyond you. A more interesting possibility: talented dullards aren't really dullards. Like the failing student who is a world-class expert on baseball cards, perhaps they channel their g - qi? - to one thing only. Perhaps they're even average people who concentrate their brainpower and let go of everything outside the ring of focus.

Mike43 said...

Curuously enough, a facial recognition sub-test is used in some cognitive assessments. It involves a 5 second exposure to a face, then an opportunity to pick the face out of a small, medium, or larger group.

On one test, that I use with school children, facial recognition contributes to G(v), usually attributed to visual processing.

So by itself, non-g; in combination with other sub-tests, it does contribute to g factors.

Curious said...

Does anyone know of a good summary of potential mental modules like facial recognition, LT and ST memory, etc and which are thought to relate to g?

Polymath said...

While it is clear that some mental abilities are much more g-loaded than others, I find it hard to believe that there is any mental ability (even keeping a drum beat or recognizing faces) whose correlation with g is actually 0 or negative. Can anyone provide a link to a study finding such a result?

Peter Frost said...

If we look at neurons that specialize in recognizing alphabetical letters (the Visual Word Form Area), they seem to have evolved out of the same neuronal population that recognizes faces. In fact, face-recognition neurons are still scattered throughout the VWFA. So certain aspects of language processing are probably not G-related, at least not wholly.

This is an area of research where we will see much evidence of gene-culture coevolution and variation among human populations. The VWFA seems to develop differently in Europeans and East Asians, and I suspect we'll see even starker differences once we examine human populations with only recent exposure to reading and writing.

Max said...

Quite Interesting. Also I wonder how much general memory plays into IQ, I am interested in geniuses and it appears many of them(but not all) had exceptional memory -they could recite whole pages word for word after only reading once

Having a memory like that would allow one to move and think faster as I personally think I spend way too much time remembering basic things .

Le Mur said...

Of interest is the large number of genetic problems that cause distinct mental conditions with other physical characteristics, e.g.: "Williams syndrome is caused by the deletion of genetic material from the region q11.23 of chromosome 7."

People with Williams Syndrome are talkative, stupid and tend to look like Alfred E. Neuman*. That genetic material (there's sometimes more missing) partly controls what you look like as well as how you think. There's probably hundreds of genes responsible for 'g' and for personality.
*The 'net used to have a pic of a guy who looked like he was the model for the "what me worry" painting.

Personally I've always found math/physics type thinking to be almost trivially easy (at least before old age set in) yet I can't remember the words to ANY songs, even if I've heard them literally thousands of times. My mom sold everything she painted but was terrible at math and I can't paint. If someone tells me a name and phone number I instantly forget the name but remember the number.

And here's related article (new today):
"Video Gamers: Size of Brain Structures Predicts Success"

Anonymous said...

Obama Realizes He Can't Use Jedi Mind Tricks to Produce Middle East Peace

By Philip Klein on 1.21.10 @ 9:16AM"

More stuff leaking out of the Stevosphere.

kurt9 said...

I don't know about facial recognition, but I never forget a voice. Someone whom I have not seen or talked to in 10 years can call me up and I will recognize who they are by their voice by 5-6 words into the conversation.

I think this, along with music and other abilities are non g-related "talents".

Glossy said...

I'm 100% sure that Chomsky was't the first to figure out that parts of the human brain specifically evolved to process language. This is self-evident. If he's claiming to have "discovered" this, can I get credit for inventing the color blue? Seriously, elephants have much bigger brains than humans - has anybody, during the dark, ignorant ages before the appearance of Chomsky, tried to teach them English through Morse Code? If not, why?

The sense of rhythm is a famous mental capability that's independent of g. This is evidenced by dumb drummer jokes that rock musicians love telling and, of course, by rap music.

Social skills of all sorts, not just face recognition, are not positively correlated with IQ. IQ tests measure abilities needed to deal with the impersonal (tools, abstract ideas, the natural environment), not the personal. Population density in Ice Age Eurasia must have been very low, but the challenges presented by the natural environment must have been very high. Same thing for neolithic farming in cold regions. This must have nurtured the object-oriented mindset that does well on IQ tests in modern times. Interpersonal intelligence has nothing to do with this. For one, it works on the intuitive, subconscious level. Object- (and idea-) oriented intelligence normally works on the conscious level, with the person explicitly going through each mental step in his reasoning in his inner voice.

I'm glad that somebody at Beijing U is trying to make contributions to the science of human intelligence. I would think that the political environment for that would be friendlier in China than in the West.

Dutch Boy said...

As the British periodical, New Scientist, put it: “Over the past
century it [quantum theory] has passed every single test with flying colours, with some predictions
vindicated to 10 places of decimals. Not surprisingly, physicists claim quantum theory as one of their
greatest triumphs. But behind their boasts lies a guilty secret: they haven’t the slightest idea why the laws
work, or where they come from. All their vaunted equations are just mathematical lash-ups, made out of
bits and pieces from other parts of physics whose main justification is that they seem to work. I.e., nobody understands quantum mechanics.

Svigor said...

Ray if I believed in the merit of the NYC art world I might be able to go along with you there. Do you?

Anonymous said...

>My mom sold everything she painted but was terrible at math<

Beethoven was ignorant of multiplication. And he was not reliably competent at addition. So much for the "music = math" canard.

Half Sigma said...

Ray Sawhill: "Loads of arty people are super-talented, but are amazingly dim in an SAT sense."

Or they have the social skills needed to convince people that their talentless creations are art.

Anonymous said...

"Mental abilities that are largely separate from reasoning, such as aiming at a target"

Actually hitting the target on the other hand isn't separate from reasoning. Application of the marksmanship principles etcetera. If hitting was simply a matter of holding the crosshairs over the target then we'd all be badged snipers.

Ray Sawhill said...

David -- Fugues would indeed seem to take some analytic-style brainpower to master. But by what standard is a fugue automatically "better" than a blues song? All those barely-literate early-20th-century blues artists? Their work has already outlasted the work of tons of smart fugue writers.

Hey, something I often think the IQ-obsessed need to wonder about: If IQ is everything, why is it that one of the major culture events of the last century is the worldwide triumph (whether you like it or not) of African-American and African-American-derived music? It's influential, it's hugely popular, much of it has lasted, and some of it seems self-evidently great. If black people are IQ deficient ... If culture-creation requires loads of IQ ... How in the world did this happen?

Svigor, Half Sigma -- Don't fall victim to easy cynicism. The world is seething with talented people. Take visuals for instance. Forget gallery art; visit a booktore or a magazine rack instead. Many of those books and magazines are dazzling visual creations -- snazzily designed, photographed, laid-out and illustrated. There are talented people involved at every step there. Look at TV commercials, many of which are about as visually grabby and poppy as visuals have ever been ... Or at the production design in movies ... Or at the cars that surround you on the road. You don't think that the people who designed and executed the visuals on "Avatar" (or who created the look of that nice Infiniti that just passed you) are untalented, do you?

Anyway, FWIW and make of it what you will, I've found that SAT-style brains and art talent occur nearly completely independently of each other. (Art talent is by no means uncommon, by the way, though art talent of the "can make a living as a dancer at the New York City Ballet" level certainly is.) The bright person with no art talent and the artistically-talented person with ho-hum brains are both ultra-common types.

You're better off thinking of art talent as analogous to athletic talent than you are thinking of it having anything to do with IQ, I've found. The average NBA player is a pretty superb athlete -- but do you thereby conclude that he's a really, really smart guy? (Let alone that his basketball talents are a function of him being a really, really smart guy?) No. You assume he's a terrifically athletically gifted guy with a lot of training and dedication. You're best off thinking about the arts in similar ways.

This wasn't what I'd been led to expect by critics, intellectuals, and profs, by the way. Nope, they sent me into the cultureworld believing that smarts and art-talent automatically have something to do with each other. Wrongo.

Anonymous said...

"Ray Sawhill said...
David -- Fugues would indeed seem to take some analytic-style brainpower to master. But by what standard is a fugue automatically "better" than a blues song? All those barely-literate early-20th-century blues artists? Their work has already outlasted the work of tons of smart fugue writers."

More defensiveness from jazz/blues fans who don't want to admit that "Take Five" and Jelly Roll Morton are the only halfway memorable things their art has produced.

Really, who are these "smart fugue writers"? Baroque composers mostly wrote fun, popular, fashionable stuff - dance music, concerti, operas, more concerti - and almost all of it was forgotten in a few years or decades, exactly like the blues has been/is being/will be.

They didn't write many fugues, because writing a decent-sounding fugue has a rather low reward/effort ratio. One particularly smart Baroque composer named J.S. Bach had a fondness for fugues; his contemporaries thought him rather a fuddy-duddy for it. Of course J.S. Bach has already outlasted almost every early-20th-century blues artist, and it is an absolute certainty that by the time Bach is forgotten, nobody will even remember what "the blues" ever were.

Anonymous said...

As far as talent vs. IQ discussion -- let's remember that even Gardner endorses the 120 IQ or so threshold for "talented" people to make groundbreaking social contributions.


SKT said...

I'm in medicine. If I remember my neuroanatomy right, the brain has a region that's dedicated purely to the recognition of faces.

Half Sigma said...

Ray Sawhill,

I've worked with people who do graphic design and video editing, and they don't seem any dumber than other white collar workers, so I don't know where the original comment about these people not being smart comes from.

Anonymous said...

I think the difficulty lies in equating being a straight-A student in mid-20th-century American public schools with having high g. 'Taint necessarily so.

Leaving aside conformity to stupid school bullshit, E. Michael Jones showed in his book Brooklyn Existentialism that Kaplan gamed the SAT and it is eminently coachable. Dull people who are nevertheless grinders can memorize tons of typical SAT questions and get acceptably high scores. According to Jones, this is how the bulk of Jews who constitute their characterisic statistical overrepresentation got into the Ivies and subsequently into their fields.

You ask:

>If black people are IQ deficient ... If culture-creation requires loads of IQ ... How in the world did [black influence on 20th century popular music] happen?<

The music is not "self-evidently great." Even jazz isn't. Jazz establishes a jokey, ironic-cool atmosphere in films or provides sonic wallpaper in bookstores and restaurants, but that's all. (That said, I have a Coltrain mix CD in my player right now.)

This success is a combo of a dumb public (which exists in all eras and populations), the "talented tenth" phenom, and lots of help from the culture of critique. Not loads and loads of art talent. How many jazz-blues-rock "musicians" can read music?

I agree that loads of art talent does exist today, even of the highest degree. But it demonstrates high intelligence. The designers of luxury cars, the layout people and artists in magazine work, the technicians who bring us "Avatar" et al. are no dummies; they have to be razor-sharp. Even if they were only "C" students in school, I would wager that all of them would score high on an IQ test.

High g does not necessarily mean high grades, for a variety of reasons. Nor does it have equal "air pressure" in every area of life, depending on the person, though the overall pressure is good. (I count out autistics as damaged and not comparable.) That's my theory, anyway.

Paul Mendez said...

If prosopagnosia is the clinical term for not recognizing faces you know, what's the term for recognizing faces you don't know?

I have the awkward tendency to warmly greet perfect strangers only to realize a nano-second into the conversation that they only REMIND me of someone I know. Like Sandra Bullock or someone I went to highschool with.

ben g said...

"Actually hitting the target on the other hand isn't separate from reasoning. Application of the marksmanship principles etcetera."

I'd like some evidence that g plays a significant role in hitting targets. I don't doubt that g might play some role but I'm not sure it's the most important thing.

"If hitting was simply a matter of holding the crosshairs over the target then we'd all be badged snipers."

Well, I never said that it's simply an issue of hitting the crosshairs. I think "hunting" and "aiming" are actual abilities (with significant heritabilities) that are largely separate from g.

Anonymous said...

Correction: Brooklyn Existentialism is by Arthur DiClementi and Nino Langiulli and was reviewed by Jones. Apologies. (The relevant passage is discussed here.)

Paul Mendez said...

RE/ "hunting & aiming & g"

I know a little bit about marksmanship, shooting in hi-power matches with targets up to 600 yards and using open sights.

The basics of marksmanship are mainly muscle memory -- getting into the exact same position each time, mounting the rifle the same way, squeezing the trigger the same way, following through.

Decent eyesight is a plus.

Once you get your positions down, anyone can be a good shot if someone sets your rifle's sights up and reads the wind for you.

The intelligence part comes in figuring bullet drop and windage for yourself. During a match you are constantly correcting for wind, temperature, ammunition, light conditions.

Their is also a personality factor. Good shooters keep meticulous records of literally every shot they take. They are constantly & methodically experimenting with their position, equipment, etc., holding else everything constant and statistically analyzing results. I'd say good shooters border on OCD, the way they fuss over their equipment, keep logs, set up their position, know where every single item in their kit is at all times.

When you get to the top levels, long-distance rifle shooters are often engineers, builders, scientists or other professions that are combine hands-on and mathematical activities.

I never met a moron at Camp Perry.

Therefore, I'd say being a good long-distance shooter is heavily g-dependent.

NOW HUNTING is very different from competition shooting. Most hunters are relatively poor shots at the range, and many are completely disinterested in guns. Hunting involves thinking like the prey, stalking, observation, alertness. I'd say hunting is probably much more instinctive.

I've met a hell of a lot of morons out hunting!

Tod said...

A.Jensen said somewhere that teachers cited the ability of black newcomers at a school to quickly put a name to hundreds of faces as evidence he was wrong.

Anonymous said...

How many jazz-blues-rock "musicians" can read music? I can read music excellently... but I would love being better at playing from memory and improvising. Musical ability is not one lone skill but several different skills, and some musicians are better at some of them than others. (By the way, I play the violin, and largely gravitate towards classical music.)

jody said...

nice, some gun talk. i'm always up for that. of course, i just watched the hurt locker on DVD, which contained a sniper shootout that was somewhat bad from a technical perspective. the director did not research enough of the details in some of these scenes. now, every movie can be nitpicked, which i'm fine to overlook, but there were some mistakes in the hurt locker that bordered on almost breaking the scene.

hitting a running man at 850 yards with non-match 750 grain .50 BMG from a barret M82? i don't think so. especially when you're not a trained sniper, but part of the ordnance team.

i do think sniper shooting, in which g does matter, is a lot different that visually tracking and intercepting objects in sports, like baseballs, soccer balls, hockey pucks.

as for reading music, you definitely do not have to be able to read to be able to create great stuff. michael jackson could not read, and had to sing the melody and harmony of "we are the world" to bruce springsteen so bruce could transcribe it.

ben g said...

Paul Mendez,

Thx for the comments. It makes sense that sniping would be g-loaded. My friend mentions that snipers also have a smarter guy called a "spotter" who help guides them to adjust for win effects and applies trigonometry etc.

As a member of the video game generation, when I say "hitting a target" I'm thinking more of games like call of duty which don't seem to be based on intelligence much.... Also I think that the mental skills involved in hunting, fighting, and close range shooting are not very g-loaded if at all.

catperson said...

g is defined as the common factor to all mental abilities so if anyone ever identifies a cognitive ability that is not g loaded, then one has falsified g. I believe evolution would favour g over specific abilities because specific abilities are only useful in specific environments while g helps one to adapt to any environment and humans are the most adaptable creatures on Earth (at least on the behavioral level).

Of course the artistic geniuses who lack high IQ (i.e. JD Saliger) remind us that artistic skill depends not just on g but also specific brain modules and if you believe Malcom Gladwell 10,000 hours of practice, in addition to a little psychoticism so if one has these other traits, they can probably succeed despite a low IQ.

As for the ability to hit a target, this is probably a cognitive ability so it must be g loaded to some degree, however as humans evolved, this specific ability was replaced by g. Bushmen who average IQ's 1 SD below other blacks are the best target hitters in the world.

Social skills must be quite g loaded because they require the ability to understand the mind of others and human minds are complex abstract constructs. But some high IQ people appear socially unskilled because they don't like people or are unattractive or lack a warm personality or have aspergers.

Anonymous said...

"Thx for the comments. It makes sense that sniping would be g-loaded. My friend mentions that snipers also have a smarter guy called a "spotter" who help guides them to adjust for win effects and applies trigonometry etc."

The 'spotter' is a sniper. Snipers work in pairs and they are trained to both spot and shoot.



You apparently can't (or couldn't back when that was filmed in about 2002) be a sniper in the Royal Marines without being good at drawing or having a pronouced regional accent, "by day or noight!"

"As for the ability to hit a target, this is probably a cognitive ability so it must be g loaded to some degree, however as humans evolved, this specific ability was replaced by g. Bushmen who average IQ's 1 SD below other blacks are the best target hitters in the world."

Really? Show evidence, 2300hrs at the guardroom!

If we are going to talk about shooting back when they used jezails (ten ruppee ones!) the Pathan was supposedly a noted marksman, but it appears that automatic weapons have wrecked their ability to aim.

Anonymous said...

Is g like amperage or air pressure, and it's expressed in a variety of ways? Like a balloon bulging in all areas, or just a number of areas and not others.

We used to hear frequently the old phrase, "He was the type of man who would be good at anything he undertook." (Good at everything though not necessarily equally excellent at everything.) This would probably be someone with high g.

Someone with not much of it, though, can focus what he has on a simple task and become good or even excellent at that task (e.g. target-hitting). There is a little g in everyone. That's my feel-good theory of the day, anyhow. I think it comports pretty well with observation.

Such exclusive focus can occur with high-g-ers, too. For example, Bobby Fischer's personal life was a mess, but he was the chess champ of all time. Chess is where his balloon bulged....

Anonymous said...

Political Affiliation Can Be Differentiated By Appearance

It's not the way they dress, but the appearance of their face. A study published in PLoS One by Nicholas O. Rule and Nalini Ambady of Tufts University used closely cropped greyscale photos of people's faces, standardized for size. Undergrads were asked to categorize each person as either a Democrat or Republican. In the first study, students were able to differentiate Republican from Democrat senate candidates. In the second, students were able to differentiate the political affiliation of other college students. Accuracy in both studies was about 60% — not perfect, but way better than chance.