How To Increase Your IQ
Do you want to get smarter?
I have some good news and some bad news.
The good news is that you can get smarter. You can increase your IQ, despite what the average internet idiot seems to think.
The bad news is that it’s not easy and there aren’t any magic bullets. This is despite what the nootropic salesman and the average internet guru wants you to believe.
This might sound like I’m falling into full-guru territory, here.
Am I? What’s the magic secret for raising your IQ?
Let’s find out.
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Is IQ Fixed?
A while back, I wrote on Twitter (I know, perfect medium for this sort of thing,) that IQ wasn’t fixed.
This obviously struck a chord with people, because I had a ton of messages from people over the next few days. Most of them said, “IQ is fixed!” or “You can’t change your IQ, I’ve read the studies!”
Well… I might have a small brain but I have been known on occasions to admit I’m wrong. But before I did so, I decided to look into the studies on IQ and read as much as I could.
I went on Google Scholar and looked up everything I could find.
And you know what?
For all that people say, “I’ve read studies and they say this,” very few people seem to have done so. Those that have seem to misinterpret whatever they find. Here’s what I discovered:
There’s not a single scientist, psychologist or professor of neurobiology anywhere in any study who has said that IQ is fixed.
Again, I’m willing to admit that I’m wrong, so if you’re a learned man of any persuasion who has written a paper saying the opposite of the above, by all means email me to tell me I’m a moron.
That said… nobody who knows what they’re talking about has said IQ is fixed.
I couldn’t find a single instance of this claim.
I could find a ton of evidence supporting the opposite:
- Better education leads to higher average IQs
- Diet can affect IQ
- IQ changes in the population at large as equality of environment is reached
The closest I could find to an argument that IQ is fixed was that IQ was heritable and each person had an individual ceiling. This seems to be the argument that IQ purists run with most frequently.
But you get no points for saying this if you then go on to argue that IQ is fixed outright.
There’s a ceiling on my physical potential. I’m 5’10 and slim-built. I’ll never win the World’s Strongest Man competition. Does this mean I won’t benefit from exercise? No. I can even gain weight and become less slim. But there’s a ceiling on how much muscle I can gain and I’ll never look like Arnold Schwarzenegger. That’s for the second point.
For the first, heritability is not the same as saying something is genetically set in stone. It’s not even the same as “inherited.”
Genes aren’t an astrological magic-key where everything about you is set in stone before you’re born. Genes express themselves differently depending on the stimulus and environment they’re in.
If you take an athlete, ban him from exercise and feed him terrible food, he’ll shrink. His genes haven’t changed. The blueprint that makes him hasn’t changed. It’s just expressed differently because of the stimulus/environment combination.
IQ Is The Same
What is IQ?
IQ is a measure of something called g-factor; which is general intelligence.
Now, the armchair warriors who know all about the realities of IQ seem to be mistaken once again, because actual experts can’t agree on what constitutes general intelligence. So we’re off to a good start.
Amongst the competing theories, there seem to be a ton of possible factors that are ordered in different ways. But generally each ideal has a pyramid of things like this:
Where general intelligence consists of things like processing speed, pattern recognition, verbal abilities and arithmetical prowess.
Here’s where the “IQ is Fixed” argument gets weird.
IQ is comprised of all those different aspects of intelligence. Now, it’s possible to train all of those elements. You’ll never hear someone say, “You can’t get better at arithmetic” or “your reading comprehension is fixed for life before you’re born.”
There are ways to get better at all of these things, and there’s no controversy.
It’s illogical to say, “You can improve every part of something but that’ll have no effect on the whole of the thing.”
So it is with intelligence.
So that’s the good news dealt with. Let’s get on with the bad news…
How To Increase Your IQ
Remember when I was talking about genes being affected by environment and stimulus?
Well, that’s the stage we’re at now. Increasing your IQ is two-fold.
Fixing your environment will have an effect on your IQ. If you want to increase your IQ, the best way to start is by improving your health. Exercise, good sleep habits, eating the right diet and reducing your stress will improve your brain function.
It is undeniable your intelligence comes from your brain and your brain performs better on the above environment factors. So it’s a prerequisite of intelligence increase that you get your environment together.
Conversely, if you want to mess up your IQ, then do the opposite. I’m prone to insomnia and for the last year or so, I’ve had nightmare disorder which ruins my sleep quality. Unsurprisingly, my ability to recognise patterns and behave reasonably has decreased as well within this time frame.
Anyway, let’s talk about the hard work that goes into raising your IQ.
Stimulate your brain. Look at the above chart and you’ll see the various factors that go into general intelligence.
- Pattern recognition
- Verbal comprehension
- Decoding symbols
- Processing speed
You can improve all of these things.
Sure, you can seek out specific examples, but general intelligence is all of the systems working together.
So improving your general intelligence is, somewhat unsurprisingly, best achieved by doing difficult stuff.
Learning a language will improve most of these things. So will learning better ways to perform mathematical calculations. Your memory will be improved the more you use it and this can mean learning trivia or doing something more useful.
As I said earlier in this article… I’m welcome to somebody telling me I’m a moron with some good scientific evidence.
However, the anecdotal side of this is – I want you to take an IQ test. Then I want you to spend six months fixing your diet, earning more money whilst working less, exercising and living a healthier life and moving to some relaxing environment.
That’s step one.
Then step two is that I want you to get better or learn chess, learn a language to at least B1 or B2 and read a couple of books on cryptography.
Once you’ve done that, I want you to take ten practice IQ tests.
Then go and, when well-rested, take another IQ test that’s verified by an outside source (i.e. not one of those dumb Facebook tests that everyone does.)
If you do all of the above and there’s no positive change in your IQ, then you can leave me a comment calling me a moron. Even though your life will be better anyway.
But that’s not really an option because if you do all of the above, your IQ will be higher so you’ll be able to thank me.
P.S. With that, I’m never talking directly about IQ again, because I’m pretty sure it makes me more stupid.
However, I’ll talk about nerd hobbies and other stuff that’ll improve your intelligence, so check back for more articles on becoming smarter and more interesting.