Terence Tao: the smartest man in the world

Terence Tao: the smartest man in the world

Andrea Smadja - C19 Tamar news

His name is Terence Tao. His name probably doesn’t mean much to you, but this 42-year-old Australian mathematician is considered the smartest man in the world, with a stratospheric IQ of 230, unprecedented in human history.

By way of comparison, the average IQ of an individual is usually around 100, and that of Albert Einstein was estimated at … “only” 160.

Terence Tao, also known as the Mozart of math, beats all geniuses by a mile.
And the story goes that this precocious child learned to read on his own, at the age of 2, by watching 1 Sesame Street on TV. Life is very unfair, Nicolas, because nobody ever asked me to evaluate my intelligence despite hours spent in front of Casimir and Goldorak!    
Terence collects the most incredible prizes like one collects Panini pictures. Three years ago, he managed to elucidate a mathematical problem, “the conjecture of discrepancy,” on which all mathematicians had been stuck for 80 years. For the sake of your fragile brains, I will spare you the explanation of the discrepancy.

230 IQ is very impressive, but can we summarize intelligence to a number?

This is the problem with these tests of intellectual capacities with their implacable number – the IQ – which classifies individuals like tomatoes. However, many psychologists say that these standardized tests forget specific fields of intelligence. It is also urgent to consider emotional intelligence, relational intelligence, creativity, motivation, and even humour. Current tests only evaluate logic, comprehension and analytical skills.

However, according to the psychologist and mathematician Nicolas Gauvrit, more than a century after their invention, these tests remain a safe bet when measuring a particular form of intelligence at a given time. And the results change little over the course of a lifetime. In 2000, the longest follow-up study was conducted on Scottish children at the age of 11 and then 60 years later. They show a stability of the IQ between childhood and the end of life.

So these tests remain pretty reliable.  

Yes, because they follow exact rules. But it is true that with its accents of actual science, the IQ quickly inflames the minds: from parents who discover that they have a genius at home, the high potential children; to studies stating that the IQ of Westerners is in free fall. And even if work on endocrine disruptors seems to indicate harmful effects on the brain, this drop in IQ must be put into perspective after decades when the Flynn effect showed a constant rise in IQ over several generations.

So, even if we have a long way to go before we can one day equal Terence Tao’s IQ of 230, the drop in IQ in our countries does not make us all a bunch of idiots.

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