Wednesday, March 31, 2010

General Factor of Intelligence, Genius, Experts and Chess

Half Sigma is at it again.  In his post entitled Chess and David Shenk, he discusses how a blogger has debunked an author who argues genius is made and not born.  I've saved articles on the subject of becoming a genius/expert before ... here and here.  Half Sigma goes on to add that "playing chess at a high level doesn't create value; it increases the chess player's status, and because status is [a] zero sum game, he can only increase his own status by making everyone else slightly less important."  He goes on to say that chess is a value transference activity rather than a value creation activity.

It was entertaining reading the pages and pages of comments.  If you don't understand Half Sigma's premises, then you will be riled up with his comments and opinions.

In a subsequent post entitled Intelligence and reasoning, chess, computers, calculus, he further clarifies why he thinks learning chess does not require as much intelligence because it is mostly about memorization and "being able to compute board positions many moves out into the future."

In my opinion, the best argument against Half Sigma's is this one:

"-Chess talent requires the ability to make quick connections and recognize patterns. There are nearly an infinite number of moves possible. You cannot "memorize" your way through chess. It might be possible to have a repertoire of the three first moves memorized, but soon after that the combinatorial possibilities become overwhelming. What's needed, then, is an ability to make connections (recognizing the opponents intentions/strategy) and an ability to perceive what the most damaging move is at any moment. Have you ever looked at chess problems? They can be very difficult and people with chess talent can solve them simply.
-Chess talent depends heavily on working memory, which is a key component of g and perhaps might be what underlies analytical ability. On the LSATs, for instance, students who can solve the logic games the fastest no doubt can simply retain and manipulate a greater deal of information in their heads -- the same thing that's required for chess.
-And for the last time, just because talented chess players are intelligent does not mean all intelligent people will be chess champions. So relax."

Agree with him or not, his opinions spark debates and reading the debates and comments is entertaining and interesting.

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