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    The Dark Side of Smart

    Intelligence is associated with coming up with more convincing bullshit and with being a better liar, but not associated with a better ability to recognize one’s own bias.Photograph by ArTono / Shutterstock Manipulative communication surrounds us. With misinformation and disinformation about the pandemic, “cheap” and “deep” fakes of elected officials, and targeted ads and emotionally […]

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    How a Genius Is Different from a Really Smart Person

    The most intelligent two percent of people in the world. These are the people who qualify for membership in Mensa, an exclusive international society open only to people who score at or above the 98th percentile on an IQ or other standardized intelligence test. Mensa’s mission remains the same as when it was founded in […]

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    How Poverty Changes Kids’ Brains

    Hill Street Studios/Getty Images When children grow up in poverty, their brains can take a different shape. That’s one of the stark and uncomfortable findings from the lab of Kimberly Noble, a pediatrician and cognitive neuroscientist at Teachers College, Columbia University. Noble has used MRI scans to study the brains of children and found that […]

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    Why Facebook Is the Junk Food of Socializing

    Have you ever been walking in a dark alley and seen something that you thought was a crouching person, but it turned out to be a garbage bag or something similarly innocuous? Me too. Have you ever seen a person crouching in a dark alley and mistaken it for a garbage bag? Me neither. Why […]

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    Will Humans Be Able to Control Computers That Are Smarter Than Us?

    The ominous eye of HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey If humans go on to create artificial intelligence, will it present a significant danger to us? Several technical luminaries have been open and clear with respect to this possibility: Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX, has equated it to “summoning the demon”; Stephen Hawking warns […]

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    Why Are You So Smart? Thank Your Mom & Your Difficult Birth

    A reconstructed skeleton of Lucy, the famous human ancestor. By 3.2 million years ago, Australopithecines were walking upright, imposing strict limits on the size of the female pelvis.Cleveland Museum of Natural History Looking around our planet today, it’s hard not to be struck by humanity’s uniqueness. We are the only species around that writes books, […]

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    Before We Painted Like Picasso, We Had to Share Like Gandhi

    A comparison of the facial features of ancient modern humans (left) to more recent modern humans (right). Modern specimens have a less prominent brow ridge and a shorted upper face. Researchers suspect these changes were caused by a decrease of testosterone.Robert Cieri   In Earth’s not-so-distant fossil record of human ancestors, an important change appears […]

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    How Is a Genius Different From a Really Smart Person?

    The most intelligent two percent of people in the world. These are the people who qualify for membership in Mensa, an exclusive international society open only to people who score at or above the 98th percentile on an IQ or other standardized intelligence test. Mensa’s mission remains the same as when it was founded in […]

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    Steal a Skull, Understand a Genius

      On May 31st, 1809, famed composer Joseph Haydn died, and he was soon buried in a simple ceremony—but his peaceful rest would not last long. Five days after his interment, a friend of his dug up his body and cut off his head. Joseph Carl Rosenbaum kept a detailed dairy chronicling his theft, noting […]