General Question

dotlin's avatar

Does someone with 'normal IQ' (85 - 110) have the capability to not only learn but comprehend anything?

Asked by dotlin (422points) September 12th, 2010

Can someone with average intelligence learn and comprehend any topic? (Rocket science, string theory, etc etc)
What inspired this thought:
“Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed, and my own specified world to bring them up in and I’ll guarantee to take any one at random and train him to become any type of specialist I might select – doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant-chief and, yes, even beggar-man and thief, regardless of his talents, penchants, tendencies, abilities, vocations, and race of his ancestors. I am going beyond my facts and I admit it, but so have the advocates of the contrary and they have been doing it for many thousands of years.” – Watson

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13 Answers

marinelife's avatar

No, they can’t.

wundayatta's avatar

According the the Ancient and Incipient Manual of Human Intelligence, “normal” people are proscribed from comprehension of anything requiring advanced education.

Come on. Do genetics determine intelligence? People would like to think that. But it does have almost everything to do with the resources you have growing up. Wealth plays a pretty big role in the development of “intelligence.” So if your man, Watson, was going to provide resources and education from birth, he could make good on his boast.

On the other hand, once you get to be a certain age, you take on certain expectations and you have an idea of yourself that doesn’t include understanding quantum mechanics. Beer and football, sure. But quantum mechanics? Not bloody likely!

If you start right, and you have an ordinary person, they can pretty much end up doing anything they want. Whatever they are interested in. If you start in the middle of life, you don’t have much chance of them being able to understand just about anything.

Vortico's avatar

Funny how the two topics you mentioned involve physics. The next eight years is going to determine how well I am (with a “normal” IQ) can obtain the knowledge of engineering and/or string theory.

I agree with @wundayatta. And IQ number is close to meaningless when it comes to lifetime knowledge acquisition. Too many external variables determine that. Wealth, dedication, a man’s definition of “the meaning of life”, etc.

thekoukoureport's avatar

@marinelife bullshit! anyone can do anything if given the right teacher and environment to thrive.
The problem with IQ’s is that they are tested after the most formative years of ones life.

lillycoyote's avatar

A lot of learning and comprehension is simply a matter of focus and hard work, a matter of applying the seat of one’s pants to the seat of one’s chair, so to speak. It’s not all simply a function of native intelligence. And as @thekoukoureport mentions, the right teachers can’t make all the difference in the world.

Vortico's avatar

@lillycoyote But the right parents, teachers, friends, and other human influences collectively can make all the difference in the world, right?

lillycoyote's avatar

@Vortico Yes, of course. An enriched environment and positive influences are important. And individual and collective expectations also. If you expect someone to fail then they have an increased chance of failing, I think.

letsdance's avatar

The book Intelligence and the Brain by Dennis Garlick talks about exactly this issue. It argues that comprehension is based on a different learning process to memorization, and differences in this learning process lead to differences in IQ. He says that the learning process responsible for comprehension is also more active in the developing brain, based on how intelligence develops over the lifespan.

Jabe73's avatar

Never underestimate the power of motivation and practice to accomplish anything a person wants.

hiphiphopflipflapflop's avatar

Given enough time, I think, yes. Brilliance allows those blessed with it to swim out from shore into the deep water of the ocean much more quickly. One thing builds upon another. But it is a race against time. Most significant discoveries in theoretical subjects like mathematics and physics are made by the young. Comprehension is one thing. Insight and creativity at the highest level is something a bit different, and that tends to recede quickly with age.

lillycoyote's avatar

@hiphiphopflipflapflop And intelligence and creativity are two entirely different things.

sandalman's avatar

The motivation to learn and comprehend something has nothing to do with IQ. If the former can be raised to a high enough level, the latter is a complete non-hurdle.

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