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Here's the bald truth: There is no such thing as "intelligence". There are only many, many different abilities. Some of us are genetically luckier than others; some of us got better environments; some of us had more motivation or curiosity to learn; some of us had more free time to use for learning. Some of us have problems with the skills that are required in daily life and at school, and we call them "intellectually disabled". Others have unusually high levels of socially valued skills, and we call them "gifted".

Certainly people differ in what they can and cannot do. Even performance on an IQ test can be a useful gauge of what one might be good or bad at doing.

But "intelligence", as a real thing independent of anything else? No. Doesn't exist. It's a social construct. It's an abstract idea, an estimate, an opinion that one person has of another. We may use it as a shortcut to talk about what a person might generally be capable of doing, but the less specific your statements about someone's capabilities, the less they apply to a real person. By the time you get general enough to talk about "intelligence", you've become so vague that your statements have no practical application and no predictive value--or else your statements have become stereotypical, limiting, and ultimately false.

Book recommendation: The Mismeasure of Man, Stephen Jay Gould.
Includes a very accessible discussion of factor analysis, explanation of how error and bias creep into even honest experiments, and an overview of the history of mental measurements, from brain volume to IQ tests.



Indie Film about Autism

Hi everyone, my name is Sam Fleischner, I'm a director of films and music videos. In November 2009, I read an NY Times article about a 13 year-old boy with Autism who ran away from home, riding the NYC subway for 11 days. The story captivated me and a year later I reached out to meet the family in hopes of learning more about their experience.

With their help, I spent the next two years developing the screenplay, STAND CLEAR OF THE CLOSING DOORS, the adventure of an outsider kid looking for his place, and trying to survive a system that wasn’t designed for him. I am reaching out to the Autism community for support and collaboration. As a film that will illuminate the multi-faceted nature of Autism in a positive light, I hope to engage individuals and organizations that work to spread awareness and raise funds for research.

Check out our Vimeo ( and Facebook pages to share with friends, and help support this project! If you have any questions it, send me an email at -- thanks guys!