July 13th, 2015

pic#57300910 triangle

Sextillion

Bethany's definitely a geek - she's learned the word "sextillion" before the word "sex".

She can count in powers of ten, and she asked what was next after 100 quintillion, and Alex told her, and I half-expected childish tittering, but there wasn't any (I guarantee there would have been if the word were "poo-tillion").

Just hoping she doesn't say it in front of friends with less-numerate parents who might think she's teaching their children rude words.
pic#57300910 triangle

Segue

I know the "correct" pronunciation of "segue" is "segway", but it just seems so wrong. It ought to be "sayg", like all the other -gue words in English: plague, rogue, tongue, etc. "Segway" sounds like you're being deliberately silly and sounding out all the letters just because they're there, like the Frenchmen in Monty Python's Holy Grail saying "kuh-nigguts".

I say "sayg" in my head[*], and Alex and I seem to have an unspoken agreement that we say "sayg" to each other because we both know what it should really be but prefer that pronunciation; but I'd feel obliged to say "segway" in front of anyone else for fear they'd think I didn't actually know.

[*]Whole other post about typical mind and whether your internal monologue has any pronunciation at all, but it's been done elsewhere
pic#57300910 triangle

IQ

I had my IQ tested as a teenager, and it was an important part of my identity for a few years. But when I came to Cambridge and started to meet people who were as clever as me and people who were definitely cleverer than me, I was surprised that they'd never had theirs tested. And in the circles I move in now, it's a topic that never comes up. So I suppose if you grew up in that kind of milieu, with clever friends and family all your life, it probably wouldn't seem a big deal or occur to you to have it tested.

(This is leaving aside the sociological criticisms of IQ. I don't especially want to have that debate, unless you really want to. I'm on the pro-IQ side of the debate, FWIW. But this post is mainly about the practice of measuring it, and its distribution, rather than its meaning or validity.)

I was just thinking about it because my mum got in touch with me to say she was watching a TV program where they seemed to be claiming a child had the highest ever IQ, and she said she thought mine was higher than that, and I said that yes it was (and dug the certificate out of the loft just to be sure), and that I'd known other people with IQs higher than that too, and that I'd read about people on the internet with even higher ones. I think mine is probably only average for the social group I'm now a part of. But if it's not customary among very intelligent people to get it tested, the statistics at the top end (which is necessarily a narrow tail) might be distorted due to measurement bias, and the famous very-high-IQ people (like Marilyn vos Savant, etc) might not be as much outliers as is currently thought.

I'm wondering whether my impression that "it's not customary among very intelligent people to get it tested" is accurate. You lot are part of the social group in which I consider myself intellectually average; did you ever have yours tested?