Most of what we know about intelligence is wrong. Let me start with an example.
Who has the higher IQ?
The Chess Master or the steel worker?
No peeking! Make a choice.
If you said the Chess Master you would be in good company. Most people say the Chess Master. Their reasoning is that the average IQ for the overall group of Chess Masters is higher than the average IQ for the overall group of steel workers.
Therein lies the problem.
What many will extrapolate from the higher IQ average of the Chess Masters is that Chess Masters are smarter than steel workers. This is only true in broad categories and obscures considerable talent. Using broad group averages instead of flesh and blood humans is misleading.
In Geoff Colvin’s book, Talent is Overrated, he mentions a study of children who begin to study chess.
….The strength of IQ as a predictor of success dropped drastically as the children worked and got better, and IQ was of no value in predicting how quickly they would improve.
The research shows that high IQ is not necessary for great accomplishment. But what about the guy down the block who must be a genius because he is unbeatable at Chess?
He has “domain specific” knowledge. His ability to trounce you at the chess board is not tied to his IQ, it is tied to his commitment to master the game of chess. Indeed, plenty of Chess Masters have below average IQs. Just as plenty of steel workers have above average IQs.
This is very good news. ANYONE can develop domain specific knowledge in essentially any field.*
*Hedging my bets is so tacky, but . . . just in case. 🙂