1.1 Brain Health & IQ (Daniel Amen & Jordan Peterson)


Writing assignment

Go to a blank page in your composition book, at the top of the page, write, "Stoic Daily Exercises [and then the number on the upper right side of the maxim below]. Then, in 5 to 10 minutes, quickly write the following:

  1. What does it literally mean (that is how would you state it in your own words);
  2. How do you feel when you read it, and why you feel that way (you'll learn that our decisions are made by our feelings, --so, it's important to recognize our feelings);
  3. Whether you will adopt it as a personal maxim (moral rule) and how:


The Red Wheelbarrow

William Carlos Williams (1883–1963)

So much depends upon

A red wheel barrow.

Glazed with rain water

Beside the white chickens.

The Purple Cow

Gelett Burgess (1866–1951)

I never saw a purple cow,

I never hope to see one;

But I can tell you, anyhow,

I’d rather see than be one.

Daily Introduction

Before I dive-in and start doing the work, I need to properly prepare: I will ask my brain the following questions:

  • Am I willing to spend the time necessary to properly complete this program? If my answer is no, I will then ask my brain:
  • Am I not committed to completing it? And,
  • Is my actual plan just to complete it without truly learning it?

Unless I believe that I am truly committed to doing whatever it takes to properly complete the program (i.e. learn the materials), I won’t succeed. I will have a question and answer dialogue with my brain as to why I am not truly committed. (N.B. this could take a long time to get to the truth and proceed from that point. For example, you may find that your brain tells you that it is too hard, or that you aren’t smart enough, or that it isn’t worth the time, that you won’t be successful. You may find that you are afraid of being successful. When you encounter doubt, just tell yourself that you are going to put in the best effort possible to complete the task before you. You may need to tell yourself that you are just pretending to be smart, that you are pretending that you know it, etc. Then just do your best. Everyone who puts in the time can properly complete the program in 28 days.)

Once I am in the best frame of mind that I can muster (N.B. you don’t have to be in the ideal mindset, just commit to doing your best), I will flip through the pages that I need to complete today. I will take 60 seconds to look at each page: I don’t read, or skim, I just need to look at the pages and listen for a little voice in my head telling me that I can do this.

I will then read, and re-read the following until I know where today’s lesson is going. I will watch Dr. Daniel Amen’s TEDx Talk. In addition to writing my answers to the questions in this course, I will strive to understand the following:

  1. If I have been knocked-out, been in an auto accident, or hit in the head severely, it is likely that I have had a traumatic brain injury and have thus damaged my brain, (N.B. that’s ok);
  2. If I’ve used drugs or alcohol, I have damaged my brain;
  3. If my family has a history of brain disease (Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, dementia…), I may have –or be susceptible to damage to my brain;
  4. Dr. Amen’s 83,000+ brain scans show that the brain can be repaired through what he calls a “brainsmart” program;
  5. This program is such a program: doing it properly will result in improvement to my brain such that, the more I put into it, the more I will get out of it. And, I will remind myself that if I am going to do the program, I may as well do the best I can.

Next, I will watch Dr. Jordan Peterson's talk about IQ. I will strive to understand the following:

  1. If I have damaged my brain, my IQ has dropped, especially my fluid intelligence;
  2. However, if it is only my fluid intelligence (i.e. not my crystallized intelligence), I haven’t noticed that my IQ has decreased because I don’t try to learn new information that often;
  3. Thus, my self-image is of someone who is actually better able to learn, which results in me believing that I am more talented that I currently am;
  4. I can learn whether this is true by taking an IQ test;
  5. I know that every job as an ideal IQ range; that being too low will mean that I will have a lot of difficulty doing the job and other employees will likely treat me as such; and being too high, the job will not be challenging and the other employees will seem as dolts;
  6. I will strive to obtain foundational employment in a position where my IQ is in the top 25% so that the work is challenging and I contribute to my employer’s success.

Once I’ve watched and made notes, I will work on today’s memorization. I may notice that sometimes I will feel frustrated (that’s cortisol). I will also learn to notice how good I feel once I’ve committed (dopamine) and how good I really feel when I’ve memorized it.

Jordan Peterson - IQ and the Job Market


So, here you go.

This is from the Wunderlich people

They're a commercial company that makes

general cognitive ability tests. And it's often used by corporations

(whispering) Even though it's actually illegal.

It's actually illegal to use IQ tests.

But the Wunderlich doesn't...

promote themselves as testing IQ

I think they - I think it's general cognitive ability

which is the same thing but whatever.

The SATs, the GREs, the LSATs, all of those, they are IQ tests.

Now they're more crystalized than fluid; we'll get to that in a minute

Crystalized knowledge is what you accrue across time

So you could say that fluid intelligence is what programs your brain,

It fills it with facts, let's say, it fills it with knowledge

But you can get an estimate of your intelligence then

By sampling your domain of factual knowledge

and the reason for that is, well obviously,

The better the programmer, the better the content

And so what that also means is that you can

If your prefrontal cortex was damaged later in life

your fluid IQ could plummet

but your crystallized IQ remains more or less intact

So even though they're not different,

One produces the other, and then once the producer...

has produced, then the producer could disappear and you've still got the encoded knowledge

so, then at least that's how it looks to me

Okay so how smart do you have to be to be different things in life? Well...

If you have an IQ of 116 to 130, which is 85th percentile and above, so

It's one person in 8 up to one person in… (to himself) 130 I believe is 85, 90? 95? Is it 95?

I think it's 95. One person in 8 to one person in 20.

Then you can be a attorney, a research an analyst, an editor, an advertising manager, a chemist, an engineer, an executive manager, et. cetera

that's the…

Now That's not the high-end for IQ, by the way

You know, it can go up, Well it can go up indefinitely,

Although there's fewer and fewer people as it goes up.

So, if you want to be the best at what you're doing, bar none,

Then having an IQ of above 145 is a necessity

And maybe you're pushing 160 in some situations

and maybe that's making you one person in 10,000 or even in 100,000

And then also, To really be good at it you probably have to be reasonably stress tolerant and also somewhat conscientious. So people, and you think well, Why is it that smart people are at the top of dominance hierarchies? And the answer to that, in part, is because they get there first.

Right? And everything's a race, roughly speaking And the faster you are, the more likely you are to be at the forefront of the pack Intelligence in large part is speed; That's not all it is,

So if you're moving towards something difficult rapidly, the faster people are going to get there first. 

So IQ of 115, 110 to 115; So that's 73rd to 85th percentile Copywriter, Accountant, Manager, Sales Manager, Sales, Analyst, General Manager, Purchasing Agent, Registered Nurse, Sales Account Executive.  If you look at universities, the smartest people are -they're above this- Who are the smartest people at university? What do you think? Mathematicians. Physicists and Mathematicians, right. I could tell you who's on the other end but I won't! (laughter)

Yea I'd like to though! (laughter continues)

Anyways, okay. Going down the - now...103 to 108 is slightly above average, right?

60th to 70th percentile Store Manager, Bookkeeper, Credit Clerk, Lab Tester, General Sales, Telephone Sales, Accounting Clerk, Computer Operator, Customer Service Rep, Technician, Clerk, Typist So you see at this level. People have some technical skill and some ability to deal with complex things Okay, that's dead average

100 is average. Dispatcher in a General Office, Police Patrol Officer, Receptionist, Cashier, General Clerical, Inside Sales Clerk, Meter Reader, Printer, Teller, Data Entry, Electrical Helper.


95th to 98: Machinist, Food Department Manager, Quality Control Checker, Security Guard, Unskilled Labour, Maintenance, Arc Welder, Die Setter, Mechanic. Good IQ range for relatively qualified tradespeople

87 to 93: Messenger, Factory Production Worker, Assembler, Food Service Worker, Nurse's Aide, Warehouseman, Custodian/Janitor Material Handler, Packer. Now what you're seeing - what you're starting to see is that as you move down the hierarchy The jobs get simpler

They are more likely to be assigned by other people,or they're repetitive

because what IQ predicts to some degree is how rapidly you could learn something

but once you've learned it, it doesn't predict how - necessarily how well you do at it.

and so the more repetitive jobs tend - people with lower IQs are more suited to more repetitive jobs

under 87, Is there something? Well! No! Right. That's a big problem. And it's something our society has not addressed at all!  Jobs for people with IQs of less than 85 are very, very rare.

So what the hell are those people supposed to do? It's like, it's one - it's fifteen percent of the population! What are they supposed to do?  Well, we better figure it out. Because one of the things that's happening too is that as the as the high-IQ tech Geeks get a hold of the world

The demand for cognitive power is increasing, not decreasing, right? You want to be a teller? Well you know, those checkout machines they're not so simple! You want to work at McDonald's? You think that's a simple job? You don't see robots working at McDonald's!

And the reason for that is that what McDonald's workers do is too complex for robots to do!

So, Well, so this is a discussion that no one wants to have. But that's okay. It's still a problem.

And it has to be dealt with. So the US Government - I think I told you this at one point already -

It's illegal to induct anyone into the US army if they have an IQ of less than 83, right?

It's about 10% of the population Because the US Army, they've been doing IQ testing since IQ testing began Because they want everybody they could possibly get into the army

Because at peace time they use it as a way of moving people up the socioeconomic ladder...

And in war time, well obviously You need as many soldiers as you can get your hands on

And so you're not going to be any pickier than you have to be So when the US Army says it's illegal to induct anybody into the armed forces if they have an IQ of less than 83,

then you know that they've done it for absolute necessity. Right? And when people have made a finding that contradicts what they want to hear,  and they're doing it out of absolute necessity,

you can be reasonably true that it's one of those facts that just won't bloody-well go away

And so you might think that well if there's nothing for someone with an IQ of less than 83 to do in the army, what makes you think that there's something they can do in the general population?

And then the issue is - because you know the conservatives, they'll say "well, they should just work harder" it's like, sorry that ain't going to fly! 

And the liberals will say "well, there's no difference between people anyhow!......And you can just train people to do everything" and that's wrong!  So they're both wrong! And they're seriously wrong! And the fact that neither side of the political perspective will take a good cold hard look at this problem Means that we're going to increasingly have a structural problem in our societies because we're complexifying everything so rapidly that you can't find employment!

Unless - increasingly unless you're intelligent 

You guys are really going to face this you know, Lawyers are disappearing like mad and the reason for that is - you can look it up online -increasingly you can do things yourself if you're smart and so the working class people have been wiped out pretty nicely you know, in the last 30 years by automation and various other things It's the low end of the white collar class that's coming up next so I'm not saying that lawyers are in the low end, but low-end lawyers are in the low-end of the white-collar class So there are still going to be plenty of positions for people who are creative and fast on their feet and super smart In fact those people are going to have all the money and that's already happening to a great degree you know, because if you're smart and you can use a computer, you're so smart it's just absolutely unbelievable and if you can't use a computer, and lots of people, and I don't mean you know, you can open word, that isn't what I mean I mean - maybe I mean you can program and if you can't program, well, you're right at the next end so if you haven't got that with you, you're... you're going to be left behind (student) what's going to happen to them, when that happens? 

When you have, you know -(Peterson) oh well a lot of them will take Demerol That's what's happening in the United States Yea, it's an opiate. Yea, so there's a massive drug problem emerging and -(student) *inaudible* ... under 83, or whatever it is, is about 15% of the population (Peterson) yea, yea, no I'm telling you, that is what's happening, they're -

(student) what you're talking about seems like that percent of the population is going to increase

(Peterson) Yes. Drugs! Yea, drugs of abuse.

(student) *inaudible* ...15% of the population falling out of society well that's what is happening to a large degree is people drop out of the employment race they get very depressed,

they develop chronic pain problems especially if they're men, because chronic pain and depression are very much the same thing, and then they subsist on opiates, which are subsidised by Medicaid in the US. I'm not kidding about this, this is exactly what's happening!

What else is going to happen to people for whom there is nothing to do? They have a terrible time, especially if they're conscientious. 

(student) how large will that stratum of people grow?

(Peterson) That's a good question! You know, the AI guys are pushing hard on this Hey! What's the biggest employment category? Driver Think about it. What's Tesla doing? What are all the AI guys working on as fast as they possibly can? Driverless Cars! No problem Except that's the biggest employment category for men. So what are those guys going to do? Yea, they're going to sit at home and, you know, be miserable with their wives and take opiates because they have chronic pain problems right Nasty and you might think well - could they think up something else to do? Well if you have an IQ of 83 or less you're not going to be doing a lot of thinking about something else to do you know, that isn't how it works because you're more of a - you're an 'act' person, not a 'thinking' person. roughly speaking, you know, and so if you have a task at hand, and especially if you're conscientious, you can diligently go about it but you know, I've tried to

train people with IQs of 80 and less to do...what I would consider tasks that that one of you could learn to do in 10 minutes and never make a mistake again and it's like tens of hours with bare-minimum mastery of the task Yea it's an ugly situation, no doubt about it.

Daniel Amen - 86,000 Brain Scans


In this talk, I'm going to give you the single most important lesson my colleagues and I have learned from looking at 83,000 brain scans. But first, let me put the lesson into context. I am in the middle of seven children. Growing up, my father called me a maverick which to him was not a good thing.

In 1972, the army called my number, and I was trained as an infantry medic where my love of medicine was born. But since I truly hated the idea of being shot at or sleeping in the mud, I got myself retrained as an X-ray technician and developed a passion for medical imaging. As our professors used to say: "How do you know, unless you look?" In 1979, when I was a second-year medical student someone in my family became seriously suicidal, and I took her to see a wonderful psychiatrist. Over time, I realized if he helped her, which he did, it would not only save her life, but it would also help her children and even her future grandchildren, as they would be shaped by someone who is happier and more stable.

I fell in love with psychiatry because I realized it had the potential to change generations of people. In 1991, I went to my first lecture on brain SPECT imaging. SPECT is a nuclear medicine study that looks at the blood flow and activity,

it looks at how your brain works. SPECT was presented as a tool to help psychiatrists

get more information to help their patients.

In that one lecture, my two professional loves, medical imaging and psychiatry,

came together, and quite honestly, revolutionized my life. Over the next 22 years, my colleagues and I would build

the world's largest database of brain scans related to behavior on patients from 93 countries. SPECT basically tells us three things about the brain: good activity, too little, or too much. Here's a set of healthy SPECT scans. The image on the left shows the outside surface of the brain, and a healthy scan shows full, even, symmetrical activity. The color is not important, it's the shape that matters. In the image on the right, red equals the areas of high activity,

and in a healthy brain, they're typically in the back part of the brain. Here's a healthy scan compared to someone who had two strokes.

You can see the holes of activity. Here's what Alzheimer's looks like, where the back half of the brain is deteriorating. Did you know that Alzheimer's disease actually starts in the brain 30 to 50 years before you have any symptoms? Here's a scan of a traumatic brain injury. Your brain is soft, and your skull is really hard. Or drug abuse.

The real reason not to use drugs - they damage your brain. Obsessive–compulsive disorder where the front part of the brain typically works too hard, so that people cannot turn off their thoughts. An epilepsy where we frequently see areas of increased activity. In 1992, I went to an all-day conference on brain SPECT imaging,

it was amazing and mirrored our own early experience using SPECT in psychiatry.

But at that same meeting, researchers started to complain loudly that clinical psychiatrists like me should not be doing scans, that they were only for their research. Being the maverick and having clinical experience, I thought that was a really dumb idea. 

Without imaging, psychiatrists then and even now make diagnosis like they did in 1840, when Abraham Lincoln was depressed, by talking to people and looking for symptom clusters. Imaging was showing us there was a better way. Did you know that psychiatrists are the only medical specialists that virtually never look at the organ they treat? Think about it!

Cardiologists look, neurologists look, orthopedic doctors look, virtually every other medical specialties look - psychiatrists guess. Before imaging, I always felt like I was throwing darts in the dark at my patients and had hurt some of them which horrified me. There is a reason that most psychiatric medications have black box warnings. Give them to the wrong person, and you can precipitate a disaster. Early on, our imaging work taught us many important lessons, such as illnesses, like ADHD, anxiety, depression, and addictions,

are not simple or single disorders in the brain, they all have multiple types.

For example, here are two patients who have been diagnosed with major depression, that had virtually the same symptoms, yet radically different brains.

One had really low activity in the brain, the other one had really high activity. How would you ever know what to do for them, unless you actually looked? Treatment needs to be tailored to individual brains, not clusters of symptoms. Our imaging work also taught us that mild traumatic brain injury was a major cause of psychiatric illness that ruin people's lives, and virtually no one knew about it because they would see psychiatrists for things like temper problems, anxiety, depression, and insomnia, and they would never look, so they would never know. Here's a scan of a 15-year-old boy who felt down a flight of stairs at the age of three. Even though he was unconscious for only a few minutes, there was nothing mild about the enduring effect that injury had on this boy's life.

When I met him at the age of 15, he had just been kicked out of his third residential treatment program for violence. He needed a brain rehabilitation program, not just more medication thrown at him in the dark, or behavioral therapy which, if you think about it, is really cruel. To put him on a behavioral therapy program when behavior is really an expression of the problem, it's not the problem. Researchers have found that undiagnosed brain injuries are a major cause of homelessness, drug and alcohol abuse, depression, panic attacks, ADHD, and suicide. We are in for a pending disaster with the hundreds and thousands of soldiers coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan, and virtually no one is looking at the function of their brain. As we continued our work with SPECT, the criticism grew louder, but so did the lessons. Judges and defense attorneys sought our help to understand criminal behavior.

Today, we have scanned over 500 convicted felons

including 90 murderers. Our work taught us that people who do bad things often have troubled brains. That was not a surprise.

But what did surprise us was that many of these brains could be rehabilitated. So here's a radical idea. What if we evaluated and treated troubled brains rather than simply warehousing them in toxic, stressful environments? In my experience, we could save tremendous amounts of money

by making these people more functional, so when they left prison, they could work,

support their families and pay taxes.

Dostoyevsky once said: "A society should be judged not by how well it treats its outstanding citizens, but by how it treats its criminals." Instead of just crime and punishment, we should be thinking about crime evaluation and treatment.

So after 22 years and 83,000 scans, the single most important lesson my colleagues and I have learned is that you can literally change people's brains. And when you do, you change their life. You are not stuck with the brain you have, you can make it better, and we can prove it. My colleagues and I performed the first and largest study on active and retired NFL players, showing high levels of damage in these players at the time when the NFL said they didn't know if playing football caused long-term brain damage. The fact was they didn't want to know. That was not a surprise. I think, if you get the most thoughtful 9-year-olds together, and you talk about the brain is soft, about the consistency of soft butter, it's housed in a really hard skull that has many sharp, bony ridges, you know, 28 out of 30 nine-year-olds would go: "Probably a bad idea for your life."

But what really got us excited was the second part of the study where we put players on a brain-smart program and demonstrated that 80% of them could improve in the areas of blood flow, memory, and mood, that you are not stuck with the brain you have, you can make it better on a brain-smart program. How exciting is that?

I am so excited. Reversing brain damage is a very exciting new frontier, but the implications are really much wider. Here is this scan of a teenage girl who has ADHD, who was cutting herself, failing in school, and fighting with her parents. When we improved her brain, she went from D's and F's to A's and B's, and was much more emotionally stable. Here is the scan of Nancy. Nancy had been diagnosed with dementia, and her doctor told her husband that he should find a home for her because within a year, she would not know his name.

But on an intensive, brain-rehabilitation  program, Nancy's brain was better, as was her memory, and four years later, Nancy still knows her husband's name. Or my favorite story to illustrate this point: Andrew, a 9-year-old boy who attacked a little girl on the baseball field for no particular reason, and at the time, was drawing pictures of himself hanging from a tree and shooting other children. Andrew was Columbine, Aurora, and Sandy Hook waiting to happen.

Most psychiatrists would have medicated Andrew, as they did Eric Harris and the other mass shooters before they committed their awful crimes, but SPECT imaging taught me that I had to look at his brain and not throw darts in the dark at him to understand what he needed. His SPECT scan showed a cyst, the size of a golf ball, occupying the space of his left temple lobe.

No amount of medication or therapy would have helped Andrew. When the cyst was removed, his behavior completely went back to normal, and he became the sweet, loving boy he always wanted to be. Now 18 years later, Andrew, who is my nephew, owns his own home, is employed and pays taxes.

Because someone bothered to look at his brain, he has been a better son, and will be a better husband, father, and grandfather. When you have the privilege of changing someone's brain, you not only change his or her life but you have the opportunity to change generations to come. I'm Dr. Daniel Amen. Thank you.

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