Richard Haier on the Nature of Human Intelligence

June 25, 2020

Today we have Richard Haier on the podcast. Dr. Haier is Professor Emeritus in the School of Medicine at the University of California, Irvine. His research investigates structural and functional neuroanatomy of intelligence using neuroimaging. He created an eighteen lecture video course called The Intelligent Brain and he is author of The Neuroscience of Intelligence. Dr. Haier is co-editor of The Cambridge Handbook of Intelligence and Cognitive Neuroscience and is editor-in-chief of Intelligence, a scientific journal. Dr. Haier received the lifetime achievement award from the International Society for Intelligence Research (ISIR).

Time Stamps

[00:35] Introduction of Richard Haier

[01:47] Richard shares his initial study on brain efficiency’s link to intelligence

[04:50] Sex differences in neural efficiency

[09:37] Scott and Richard reminisce on Nicholas Mackintosh and Earl “Buz” Hunt’s works

[14:35] Richard shares why he avoids discussing race differences

[17:12] The value of compensatory education to develop intelligence

[21:38] Addressing the elephant in the room

[26:26] Understanding individual intelligence on a neurobiological level to increase intelligence and solve social problems

[31:25] Future molecular biology research programs for understanding intelligence and treating mental disorders like Alzheimer’s disease

[34:57] Impact of environmental factors in developing intelligence

[37:08] Intelligence vs. kindness

[39:06] The g factor

[41:05] Richard on whether IQ scores can predict academic and life success

[49:44] On effective communication of science to the public

[53:54] Abuses of IQ tests

[1:00:29] The impact of IQ on human value

[1:02:37] On trading off IQ points for other traits

[1:05:36] On reductionism

[1:06:52] Richard reflects on his experience as an admissions officer

[1:13:43] Richard’s final message


 Richard Haier’s website

Nicholas Mackintosh- IQ & Human Intelligence

Nicholas Mackintosh- ISIR 2013 Distinguished contributor Interview

Call to Action

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2 Responses to “Richard Haier on the Nature of Human Intelligence”

  1. Jonathon Webster says:

    First time listening…really enjoyed it, well done.

  2. Rodrigo says:

    I believe most of the difficulty of having a balanced conversation about intelligence with the public emerges from the same difficulty that experts seems to have when discussing it. I remember that somewhere in the middle of the episode Scott raises the worry that intelligence could be used as an discriminator factor. Richard responds to that saying that it should definetely not be used to this intent. Eventually you both agree that the exceptions are too numerous for it to be so decisive, but also that the signal is strong enough for it to be real. So you see how you put us listeners in a conflicting state?

    For example: IQ seems to be strongly correlated with high complexity job performance (R > 0.6). You both would say, I imagine, that this result is probably sound, but that there are too many exceptions for it to be a rule that will lead us to perfect accuracy of someone’s performance. But suppose I am a employer. 36% of predicted variance is just too high for me to simply not use it as a discriminator factors in the selection. From what I got from this episode, it appears to be the only reliable metric we have (since Richard said that people can easily hack interviews). I actually believe that Big 5 can also increase the prediction accuracy, but that’s another topic.

    Anyways, so we arrived at a situation where, if we are to believe in intelligence research, it is simply too powerful to ignore it in a lot of social situations (job interviews, for example). But, at the same time, we are told that we shouldn’t use it as a metric to discriminate. It seems contradictory.

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