Tuesday, April 11, 2017


I keep getting asked to comment on EQ on Quora, because I do comment on IQ, and the former only seems to come up in comparison to the latter. That may be revealing.

EQ is not really a thing.  It seems to include the ideas of charm, getting along with people, managing others skillfully, being empathic.  We have plenty of words for those things already, which allow us to speak much more precisely about them than a vague unmeasurable catch-all. On the surface, it would seem to be a simple exploration of differing abilities and different types of people, which seems a worthy enough endeavor.  But because it only comes up in relation to IQ, I have come to suspect something more defensive is in play.  I can't tell if people are drawn to it as some sort of consolation prize, or to insist that people-skills are clearly more important anyway, or to put others in their place.

In my IQ answers, I have taken to stressing each time that wisdom is more important anyway. Sometimes I will list the Four Cardinal Virtues of Temperance, Justice, Prudence, and Fortitude, figuring that any of those will keep a serious student occupied for some time if they choose to pursue it.  Wisdom can be learned and improved, which is another important distinction.


james said...

I think of it in connection with Aspergers, and of having difficulty reading emotions. Perhaps that's a technically a variety of empathy, though I notice that when the other's emotions are finally communicated the Aspie's reactions are normal.

I'd have to think for a long while about whether the skills you mention seem to be independent in that situation. I don't know.

Roy Lofquist said...

Intelligence is being smart. Wisdom is realizing you're not nearly as smart as you think you are.

Texan99 said...

All talk of EQ strikes me as a way of saying, "Well, maybe I'm not as smart as a lot of people, but that's not important." It's as if you were trying to discuss which basketball player was tallest, and someone kept insisting that height doesn't make you a good free-thrower. Well, we know that, but height still measurably exists and means something. There's also a tremendous romanticism about IQ's malleability. As Heinlein said, though, if inherited IQ were really meaningless you could teach calculus to a horse.