On average are older humans proportionately more functionally intelligent than younger humans based on age?

Answering the question: "On average are older humans proportionately more functionally intelligent than younger humans based on age?"

Thanks for the A2A Carl.

I think the key to your question is the use of the term “functionally intelligent.” Here is a paper I wrote on this subject: http://tcollinslogan.com/code-3/images/functionalintelligence.pdf, which you can also read online here (just scroll down on the page): Functional Intelligence. The essence of this hypothesis is that “functional intelligence” is the skillful operationalization of a well-defined values hierarchy; in other words, intelligence that actually matters in both day-to-day life and in what we might call the grander scale of complex interdependencies and relationships. As I disclose in the paper my IQ has declined since my early twenties (by roughly 8%), but my functional intelligence is considerably improved (I would estimate it roughly doubled by age 50). This “real-world” advantage more than makes up for the fact that I likely couldn’t get into Mensa anymore, that my thinking isn’t as quick and agile, and I can no longer memorize text in an eidetic fashion. I am much, much “smarter” than I was at age 20 in almost every dimension - emotionally, spiritually, physically, relationally, in terms of abstract reasoning, etc.

To draw a parallel, in my twenties I hiked a lot all around the North Cascades in Washington State. I was in incredible shape. Now I am in much worse shape physically, without the same strength, swiftness or bursts of energy. However, my physical stamina and endurance are far greater than I had back then, and I could easily achieve hiking feats I could not have dreamt of at that time. Why? Because I know my body’s limits very well, I can pace myself perfectly without even thinking about it, I know just how much to drink and eat as I hike to keep my energy up without inducing lethargy, and I know how to carefully avoid injury or overextending myself. In my twenties I was still figuring all of this out, taking unnecessary risks, struggling to appreciate my limits and capacities.

Now of course society in general (and the STEM community in particular) still loves their child geniuses, ivory tower savants, hyperspecialized experts and so forth - and these celebrity intellects can rely on general intelligence (G factor) as a metric for performance in their field. But how well are they doing in their personal relationships? How are they feeling about their life purpose and happiness? How easily can they navigate complex social situations that are unfamiliar to them? How fuidly can they “think around corners” (in terms of accurate predictive capacity) in fields outside of their specialty? How broad and interconnected is their knowledge…? These are, I believe, the more inclusive and multidimensional descriptiors of “intelligence” we should be promoting in our society. Why? Because doing so will encourage a wiser, more skillfully capable society that can engage both complexity and change with powerful capacities of unitive insight - instead of a hopelessly fractured Cartesian mess where each field can barely understand itself in the most self-referential terms…let alone comprehend anyone or anything outside of it.

My 2 cents.


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