In research conducted by the University of Edinburgh, more than 40,000 people took a variety of tests that provided a general cognitive ability score, and also allowed their genetic data to be examined. Researchers then probed the genetic data — including looking at more than 100 genomic regions that are associated with enhanced cognition — and found a correlation between intelligence and poor eyesight, with the smarter participants being, on average, 30 percent more likely to need reading glasses than those who scored poorly on the cognition tests.
And because the study involved actual cognition test data, the results shouldn’t be influenced by the “glasses effect” — namely, the general societal perception that those who wear glasses must be smarter because glasses are thought to make you look smarter. Indeed, the lead researcher said the study “has identified many genetic differences that contribute to the heritability of thinking skills.” So in addition to passing along the dreaded nearsighted genes, we glasses-wearers may also be passing along better thinking capabilities, too.
It all makes me want to square my shoulders, adjust my glasses, and — for today at least — proudly bear the name “four eyes.”
Raise your hand if you remember your Mom telling you to sit up straight and look her in the eyes when you were talking. It turns out that those are two of the visual clues people focus on in deciding whether a person speaking is intelligent. It’s not hard to understand why people have that reaction: those who slouch look slothful and undisciplined and speakers who don’t make eye contact seem shifty and deceptive, whereas people who sit up straight and look you in the eye seem engaged, interested, direct, and honest — all qualities that are associated with intelligence.
According to the article, other behaviors that projected intelligence included having self-confidence, being responsive in conversation and not over-talking, using clear language and not unnecessary big words, and — and this is a key one — admitting it when you don’t know something and asking for help rather than trying to fake it. You can bet that, in most situations, your audience will include someone who knows that you’re just trying to bluff your way through and your credibility will take a hit.
Oh, and one other cliche actually turns out to be right: the research shows that observers inevitably conclude that people who wear eyeglasses are smarter. No word, though, on whether darker frames are correlated with higher presumed IQ.
How do you decide which communities are the smartest? There’s no intelligence test given — or at least, if there was, I didn’t have to take it. Instead, the focus seems to be on the characteristics that the city chooses to emphasize, and for Columbus it was technology and collaboration, and the interaction of the academic and business communities. The cities are then evaluated by an international panel of judges.
I like to think that one of the evaluators visited our fair city, overheard the lunchtime conversation of a group of Columbusites, and concluded that any city where professionals can have a highly analytical conversation, chock full of facts, figures, and historical references, about the football Buckeyes’ defensive line options must have brainpower to spare.
Here’s an article on an odd experiment that suggests that chimps can differentiate between the volume of liquid poured into a cup and, for the most part, accurately select the cup that holds more tasty fruit juice than the other cup does. Fine, but . . . where do they come up with these experiments, anyway?
I think chimps are probably much smarter than most people realize. Indeed, the chimps in this experiment probably were wondering what generalized weirdness the guy in the white lab coat was up to this time.
Chimp No. 1: “He’s at it again.”
Chimp No. 2: What is it now? Another test involving banana-flavored pellets?”
Chimp No. 1: “No, it appears to be an experiment designed to determine if we can distinguish between the volume of liquid contained in opaque containers.”
Chimp No. 2: “Do we get fruit juice out of it?”
Chimp No. 1: “Apparently, yes.”
Chimp No. 2: “Who cares, then? Let’s humor the guy.”