For some time now I have loved talking to you about HPI. Zebras, gifted, precocious, prodigies, call them what you want. More and more parents have an unfortunate tendency to believe that their children belong to this category subject to many fantasies, that’s why I wanted to debunk the myths maintained about these not so strange people, not so different and on which we must stop sticking labels taken out of our hats.
1. They are necessarily good at school and successful in everything
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WIIIIIIIIIIIIINK (this is the sound of the buzzer when you give a wrong answer).
Ultimate fantasy. We start with the base of the most famous shots. HPI kids are super strong in school and have the answer to everything. Not only is this wrong but it often happens that it is the opposite. This is explained by the fact that children diagnosed with HPI are quicker in their understanding and manage more easily to construct reasoning. Sometimes, however, this speed costs them their attention since they are then out of step with the rhythm of the class, a lag that can continue in their profession into adulthood.
2. They are very bored
As we have just said, a gifted child is not necessarily first in the class, but he is not necessarily either the one who is bored on his class table. In fact, you will quickly understand: there is no typical profile of a gifted child, or a gifted adult (but I talk a lot about gifted children because it is often the parents who love to imagine that their child is gifted so please stop saying that your bichon is a superior intelligence because he does not jerk one off at school).
Be careful, I am not saying either that a gifted child is impossible to spot, but that it is not boat signs such as boredom in progress or good grades that are enough to establish a diagnosis.
3. They are very empathetic
Scientific empathy doesn’t mean much. In theory, an empathetic is someone who is able to adopt the point of view of the other on a cognitive and spatial level. However, we note that many HPI people have difficulty understanding why others do not reason like them (it’s not me who says it but Stéphanie Aubertin, neuropsychologist who we’re going to talk to you about a lot in this top and who was able to make this observation over the course of his many diagnoses).
If all HPI were endowed with an extraordinary empathy, they could all adopt the reasoning of others except they often find themselves in situations of incomprehension. Don’t get me wrong, we’re not saying HPIs aren’t empathic, we’re just saying not all of them are, and no more than others.
4. They are bound to be unhappy
In 2008, Jeanne Siaud-Facchin released a book that would quickly become a bestseller Too intelligent to be happy. Sold in more than 450,000 copies, the book has seriously maintained the myth of giftedness linked to suffering. This psychologist specializing in personal development has been widely criticized for her way of dealing with the subject without scientific foundation with theories bordering on esotericism.
Criticisms to which we can add many analytical biases since Jeanne Siaud-Facchin having met many suffering patients (rare are the people in good shape and fulfilled who choose to consult a psychiatrist), she established a link between this state of suffering and giftedness. But we can very well be HPI and happy.
5. They have “superior intelligence”
The problem with the terms used to qualify giftedness is that they imply a form of superiority: the “gifted”, the “high intellectual potential”, the “precocious”. All these terms do not have a scientific consensus and we should prefer a simple generic but objective term “high intelligence quotient”.
As Stéphanie Aubertin explains in the video below, people with high intellectual potential will use certain brain areas to answer questions, but if we train other people who do not have a high intelligence quotient, they will also achieve this. In fact, we should just translate the high intelligence quotient by a person’s ability to go straight to the point in solving a task and his speed of processing information.
On the other hand, it is not because they have this tool that they necessarily use it well! You can have a great hammer and use it to smash toasters, it doesn’t mean the hammer doesn’t work, it just means you’re using it wrong.
It also doesn’t mean that the HPIs use hammers to smash toasters, damn it.
6. They’re crazy
In reality, many gifted people suffer from a sense of imposture. This can be explained in particular by the Dunning-Kruger effect: the authors of this “effect” conducted a study on many people who wanted to have their performance assessed. People diagnosed with HPI were the ones who doubted this result the most, while those who performed poorly were more likely to over-evaluate their performance. This is not systematic of course, but the effect clearly illustrates this feeling of imposture.
It can be analyzed as follows: the less competent one is, the less one knows that one is incompetent, whereas the more competent one is, the more one suffers from not having enough skills to master a domain. But there again it is very well explained by Stéphanie Aubertin whose work I refer you to and this article among others.
7. They have way more neurons
HPIs don’t have more neurons at all, there’s just a better connection between them. This would be due to the quality of their myelin, a membrane that surrounds the axons of neurons (axons are the extensions of neurons). The HPI would have more of this myelin in their neuronal connection which allows them to process information more quickly.
Overall people with a high intelligence quotient often have a slightly larger brain. However, here again it is not systematic as evidenced by the canonical example of Einstein who farts all the IQ scores despite having a brain smaller than the average (this big boloss serious asshole with his farting theory of E= M6 there tss).
8. They have a strong moral sense and suffer from a sense of injustice
Among the qualities that are often found to characterize HPI people, the moral sense comes up most often. In reality it’s not that simple (nothing is simple in life, I’m sorry to tell you that).
Scientifically speaking, the feeling of injustice does not exist, as Stéphanie Aubertin (who will definitely be considered the star of this top) explains very well. Our relationship to justice varies from one person to another, it is a relative value and not absolute so we cannot really rely on this criterion to diagnose a gifted person.
This is a typical illustration of the Barnum effect, a cognitive bias that involves recognizing oneself in a vague personality description as an exact definition of one’s own personality. Basically, I read that the gifted suffer from a feeling of injustice and I say to myself “wow but it’s my word too I’m too much like that it means that I’m gifted with phew the stupidity of his deaths it fucks the female dog” when clearly I am no more gifted than an oyster.
Small comical example provided by Stéphanie Aubertin: research has shown that many Nazi commanders had an extraordinary intelligence which did not prevent them from being assassins. Proof of this is that one can be intelligent and completely get rid of actively participating in one of the worst genocides in history.
9. There are gifted people even more gifted than others with IQs over 200
The most commonly accepted test to establish IQ is the Wechsler test, which cannot exceed 160. So if we come across a higher result, it simply means that another test has been carried out. with different scales but in fact that does not mean that the person with an IQ of more than 200 is able to communicate with plants and move objects from a distance. Here is another widespread fantasy which consists in seeing the gifted as superhuman saviors of humanity. No. Calm down.
10. IQ is dropping and we are becoming more and more stupid.
No the IQ is not really regressing. In fact since the beginning of the 20th century, the average IQ has continued to increase until reaching stagnation from the 90s in Western countries. This source is called the Flynn effect after the researcher who observed it.
How to explain this evolution ? Already it’s not so much that the IQ has increased, it’s more that during the tests, the patients gradually answered more and more questions. This is due to many things: the improvement of education, food and living conditions that promote more effective reasoning. At present, if the results tend to stagnate it is also because we have reached the “limits” of intelligence. It’s quite logical, we are not going to progress eternally in brains in the same way that we are not going to grow eternally in size!